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Comment: Has Tim Wilson been a naughty freedom boy?

Crikey logo Crikey 7/02/2019 Crikey

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Call to arms? Liberal MP Tim “freedom boy” Wilson has been in a lot of strife this week after reports that he appeared to collude with his relative Geoff Wilson (whose company he owns shares in), to set up an inquiry into Labor’s franking changes. During the inquiry, Wilson created a website Stop The Retirement Tax to sign people up to hearings, which in turn came under fire for initially making people sign a Liberal Party petition. But a sharp tipster got in contact to point out that Wilson’s website may have abused other conventions. At the bottom of the page, it displays the Commonwealth coat of arms.

According to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet’s guidelines on use of the Commonwealth coat of arms, it may be used by an MP “in the course of their duties as parliamentarians”. Since the website is authorised by Wilson in his capacity as chairman of the economics committee, it might be legitimate, although reasonable minds may differ on whether what looks awfully like a campaign website falls within the course of Wilson’s parliamentary duties.

The guidelines also say the coat of arms should be placed prominently, and at the top of the page. Wilson’s site relegates it to the very bottom. Wilson could be a little confused about what his parliamentary duties actually are. He recently spent a lot of time arguing on Twitter that he wasn’t part of the government.

Great minds think alike? Ms Tips is a big fan of The Australian Financial Review‘s Rear Window column, where the splendidly vituperative Joe Aston and our former colleague Myriam Robin skewer all without fear or favour. But we couldn’t help noticing certain things in a recent savaging of Labor’s Andrew Leigh over an opinion piece on competition. Aston cites a paper by US economist John Van Reenen at last year’s Jackson Hole gathering, quotes a 2017 figure from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics start-ups figure and ABS data on start-ups, and mentions the NBN as an example of Labor’s attitude to competition. All fair enough points. Except…

Just before Christmas, The Australian‘s “Cut and Paste” column (where, admittedly, you get what it says on the label, a series of quotes without insight or context) had a crack at Leigh as well. And you’ll never guess, but it quotes the same figure from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the same Van Reenen paper from Jackson Hole, the same ABS figures, and uses the NBN as an example of Labor’s attitude to competition.

a man in a red shirt: Tim Wilson © Provided by Private Media Operations Pty Ltd. Tim Wilson

We’re certainly not suggesting Rear Window cuts and pastes from Cut and Paste — Aston’s sprays at the Oz over the years are some of the finest snark we’ve read in the Australian media — but we wonder if the same information points might have been circulated to both? From someone with an email address ending in aph.gov.au, perhaps?

Did Nazi that coming. Liberal backbencher and man who needs to be rescued more than a woman tied to some traintracks in a very old movie Craig Kelly is, in all conceivable ways, Tony Abbott run through a malfunctioning photocopier. And now, to complete the look, he has his own grassroots movement looking to do what the leadership of his party are so reltuctant to: oust him.

And, oh, he does give them plenty to work with. He recently updated his Facebook header image into a kind of kamikaze Godwin-ing, apparently comparing his own struggles as a climate change denialist to those of Germans opposing the Nazi regime. The iconic photo of August Landmesser, arms folded as all around him perform the Nazi salute, is overlaid with the caption “support the 97% consensus, let others do the thinking for you”.

Yes, he really did do that. 

a person standing in front of a crowd © Provided by Private Media Operations Pty Ltd.

Today, he changed it — to William Strutt’s apocalyptic depiction of the Black Thursday fires of 1851* — but the Landmesser image remains, with the message slightly diluted to excise the 97% stat. In another politician’s hands, it might seem odd to commemorate a fire that killed 12 people 168 years ago on the 10-year anniversary of fires that killed 173, but Ms Tips would venture that 1851 is the last time Kelly picked up a newspaper. 

Once I had mountains, in the Palmer my hand. Nazi meme enthusiast, clingy texter and billboard occupier Clive Palmer is continuing to jostle for your attention. A tipster sent us the latest flyer to turn up in letterboxes; on a delightful retina-stinging yellow background, Palmer runs through all the hits: “Make Australia Great”, ‘the Chinese are taking over’ (he all but accuses WA Labor whip Pierre Yang of being a Chinese spy), and an exhortation, apropos of absolutely nothing, that the reader “stand up for your country like the ANZACs did”.

He ends by asking the reader to join his United Australia Party and seek endorsement to run as a candidate in the upcoming election.

© Provided by Private Media Operations Pty Ltd. a screenshot of a cell phone © Provided by Private Media Operations Pty Ltd.

a close up of a device © Provided by Private Media Operations Pty Ltd.

Incidentally, while the United Australia Party’s infamous text messages created localised messages depending on where the recipient lived, the letter-writing arm of the UAP is clearly not nearly so assiduous. The lengthy two-page flyer is more or less about how WA Labor are selling out the state to powerful Chinese influences. The tipster who sent this through lives in northern New South Wales. 


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