Scott Morrison and George Brandis visiting Cornwall
Scott Morrison and George Brandis visiting Cornwall (Image: Old Quay House)

The 40k cuppa The Sydney lockdown has brought the Ben Roberts-Smith defamation trial to a temporary ceasefire, as the former soldier has had to have a COVID-19 test and is awaiting the result. The matter has been adjourned until 2.15pm today. His counsel, Arthur Moses SC, told Justice Besanko this morning that Roberts-Smith had been notified by the NSW Health Department that he had been in a venue in Sydney on Thursday at the same time as a COVID-positive person.

Accordingly, he had a test on Sunday and the result is pending. Moses, who had his own starring role on Friday night with the revelation of his relationship with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, did not mention which particular venue had triggered the test. However, it’s thought that he may have stopped off at the food court at the nearby MLC Centre for a coffee on the way to court and used his phone to check in. 

There are three senior counsel currently sitting at the bar table — Moses, Bruce McClintock SC, and Nicholas Owens SC, all of whom are thought to charge about $20,000 a day to appear in court. So this morning’s four-hour adjournment will cost their clients about $40,000. Let’s hope the test comes back negative.

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ScoMo’s ‘secret’ sojourn It’s been said before, but for a man who has the reputation of a slick but ultimately hollow marketing guy, Scott Morrison regularly betrays a staggeringly bad sense of optics. The man is so pathologically incapable of denying himself a holiday he can’t seem to grasp how it looks when his office lies to the press about his whereabouts during catastrophic bushfires, how it looks when he goes to the football during the early stages of a pandemic (let alone that he gets himself vaccinated at the first opportunity while royally stuffing up the rollout to his constituents), or how it looks when his office keeps a speech to a Pentecostal church conference secret.

And so it is with his trip to St Keverne, a small village 45 minutes south of the G7 meeting, to “explore his convict roots”. As Cornwall Live put it, he popped into the Three Tuns pub and enjoyed a pint of Korev and a sandwich while Australian High Commissioner George Brandis tucked into one of the pub’s Sunday roasts. The trip wasn’t disclosed to the media — indeed the travelling press pack, which could have followed Morrison around on a single tandem bicycle, didn’t appear to pick up on it.

Better Call Ben Back in Australia, this morning Morrison talked about mate and QAnon adherent Tim Stewart with Ben Fordham on 2GB, his first public acknowledgment of the friendship. Fordham’s show was also the place he first conceded that he had asked for Hillsong pastor Brian Houston to be invited to the White House — after months of dismissing the story as “gossip”. The confession to Fordo — after which, of course, the matter can be described as “dealt with” — appears to be the most coherent part of the Morrison media strategy.

Send me the bill Having already shared it with his followers on Telegram, Independent MP (and thinker) Craig Kelly has posted his “No Domestic Covid Vaccine Passport” bill (plus an explanatory memorandum) to Twitter, which was in turn presented to Parliament this morning. While this time it didn’t include the drafting notes pointing out the impracticality of what he’s proposing, it does appear to be the first explanatory memorandum we’ve encountered that includes an extremely on-the-nose political cartoon:

Kelly says he has “drafted the bill similar to that of Florida Governor [Ron] DeSantis’ Bill”. It’s no surprise that Kelly is now taking cues from DeSantis. Kelly’s contribution to public life has gone from echoing former PM Tony Abbott to taking up Donald Trump’s talking points (plus a healthy dose of Facebook brain) once Abbott was ousted. Now that Trump is gone and DeSantis is being groomed as a possible successor, why wouldn’t Kelly start cribbing from his notes?

A new post for Campion The return of Barnaby Joyce to Nationals leadership may be bad for the country, but it’s great for content. Apart from anything else, the news made us wonder what Vikki Campion, whose affair with Joyce started him on the path to the political wilderness, has been up to. The answer is apparently writing posts for Catallaxy Files, Australia’s kookiest “libertarian and centre-right” political blog.

Cattallaxy makes it clear that you will not be paid for your work. So is Campion, a former hotshot political adviser, getting a little bored dealing with a whining, crying, pooping handful? (And there’s the kids to deal with as well.) Regardless, she’s in good company. Catallaxy, among the usual reactionary stuff — say, abject horror at queer readings of J R R Tolkien, or watermarked pictures of exploding wind turbines — is running big on the idea that the ABC lost the Christian Porter defamation case, and spruiking the COVID-19 miracle cure ivermectin. The real question is: was her take on Australia’s ports too spicy for her Daily Telegraph column?

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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