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Polly Peck
7 December, 2005  
Capital Offences

The terror laws pass and Fabbo Ruddock is over the moon. This is a victory for human rights, he insists. Polly Peck traces another frantic week in the media for the attorney general, who throughout his performances keeps his Amnesty badge nicely gleaming


imageIsn’t it terrific that the terror laws have been passed by the Senate?

The Chauncey Gardiner character that plays the part of the attorney general was over the moon, saying that the new laws were a victory for “human rights”.

Fabulous Phil said that preventative detention had worked well in Britain after the London bombings, which just goes to show how useful the legislation will be.

I’ve wondered before just how the attorney gets any real work done, such is his love of having his grey, tortured sentences clogging-up the airwaves.

Last week it was five interviews in three days and I can recap some of the most fascinating moments.

On Monday he joined that damn leftie Fran “The Man” Kelly on Radio National Breakfast. Fran wanted to know whether the nation or at least the Senate, which was exchanging fire over WorkChoices on Friday, should observe a minutes silence to mark Van Nguyen’s execution.

Of course, Fabbo reminded her, “it was a matter for the Senate office bearers”. But personally he thought the death penalty was “very barbaric” and he would have a moment of personal reflection.

This was a slight departure of the official line that no one should go silent because to do so was an insult to those who had made the “ultimate sacrifice” in war to keep the land girt by sea free and democratic.

On Tuesday (Nov. 29) morning Phil was back on Aunty, this time in AM’s parliament house studio with Catherine McGrath.

McGrath is a highly respected and persistent interviewer. She wanted to shape the interview around the Senate Legal and Constitutional Committee’s recommendation to remove the sedition provisions of the anti-terror bill, but forgot she was dealing with Fabbo, who is able to pose probing questions to himself.

Ruddock: “Well no, let’s look at them as alternatives, because that’s what they are and if you ask me this question: is it appropriate to remove any law that deals with people who urge the use of force or violence to overthrow democratic institutions or against other groups in our community? I would say no, there is a proper place for that law.

“If you’re asking me whether or not we should recognise that proper reporting of activity in our community ought not to be hindered, I would agree with you and it’s a question of getting the balance right.”

Needless to say, the balance in the government’s legislation is spot-on.

On Wednesday (Nov. 30) Fabbo was on 2SM’s Leon Delaney morning show, and the interviewer wanted to know if the Skyhooks would have been arrested in the late 70s for a song with line Hang-Joh.

“No,” replied the attorney, with his impeccable, instant knowledge of popular culture.

Also on Wednesday, Fabulous got on the telephone after he heard Professor George Williams spruiking his bill of rights on the John Laws program.

Brillo Pad took the opportunity to ask for an assurance “once and for all [that he] wouldn’t face prosecution for talking about extremist views or potential terrorists”.

The answer was lengthy and not all together clear. An exasperated Brillo asked if there was anything else Williams had said that bothered the attorney?

“Oh probably a good deal … he’s a bit of a barracker on these things and so, you know, I don’t expect him to be on side, but I do expect him to be right.”

But in FabboWorld to be “right” is to be on side. It’s all so confusing.

* * *

The attorney general ended his huge week on the media with a doorstop at parliament house’s mural hall on Thursday (Dec. 1).

One of the hacks noted Liberal MP Michael Ferguson had said it was “breathtaking hypocrisy for members of parliament to campaign to save Van Nguyen while campaigning for an abortion drug that would kill unborn babies”. Did the attorney think this linkage was appropriate?

“Well, it’s interesting isn’t it?” said Fabbo. While he saw the linkage as “somewhat different” the attorney nonetheless reaffirmed his commitment as a right to lifer.

And then came the recurring intrigue that surrounds the attorney’s lapel.

Question: “Is that an Amnesty badge you’re wearing”

Ruddock: “Mm …”

Question: “And is there any particular reason today?”

No, replied Fabbo. It was just the “best known Amnesty badge in Australia”.

Sounds like a good enough reason to keep on wearing it.