Nothing stimulates frankness like an imminent departure from politics. From the deceptions, dissimulations and general obtuseness offered by the political craft, a person appointed to a diplomatic position can be reassured to lie in a different way. Mendacity is less taxing and always more civil, away from the dirt and dust of political tussling. Views can be expressed with more sophistication and, even occasionally, candour.
Senator George Brandis, Australia’s conservative Attorney-General, was one such creature. A political beast given to punching holes in the law, he has been given a chance to pursue the Sylvan fields in London as Australian High Commissioner. He will be suitable for this station, a period of easy living in London lubricated by the Australian tax payer. As an ideological hard knocker in the Liberal Party, he has earned his stripes.
His valedictory speech to fellow parliamentarians should have created more waves than it did. Australian journalists and commentators tend to nod off on such occasions. A man without glamour, a product of the law, will never stir the heart. But his words were worth noting on several levels.
Brandis has witnessed, during his tenure, a greater centralisation of security matters in the form of a Home Affairs ministry overseen by Peter Dutton, a ruffian immune to the finer points of jurisprudence. In his farewell speech, thinly veiled swipes were taken against various figures of his own side of…