The SMH’s high priest is in the bully pulpit

We start today with our constantly handy flow chart:

The Australian discount royal family, the Wilkinson-Fitzsimons of Mosman, are frequent content generators for this site, mainly due to their permanent resident status at the nexus of hubris, moralising, and self-unawareness.

They are the perfectly-suited couple, creating what must be the world’s most securely-vacuum sealed echo chamber in their bijou home. NASA scientists are craving research access to this natural phenomenon, where dissenting opinions cannot enter.

Lisa Wilkinson is the family bread-winner, despite many of her recent salary reviews being shockingly impacted by the patriarchy. She comforts herself in her selfless public service of tweeting helpful improvement suggestions to airport security processes to speed her route past her loyal subjects to the Qantas President’s Lounge

Crueller commentators than I might suggest Peter Fitzsimons’ contribution to the family income is somewhat irrelevant in comparison to his spouse, so much so, that others have even suggested she actually subsidises his army of history research interns churning out his regular contributions to the bargain clearance baskets in Australia bookstores.

Similarly, it seems barely credible his frequent vernacular-rich, comma-heavy columns in the Sydney Morning Herald attract a real wage. Few would be surprised if the rumours were confirmed that Lisa slips a cheque to the Accounts department each month to cover his “earnings”.

There’s no shame in this if it were true; it’s a perfectly respectable way for Executives in Manly to keep their wives busy with loss-making cup cake delivery businesses rather than having the time to spare for extra-curricular lessons with the tennis coach. Why not female TV presenters? Equality an’ all that, it’s 2022, you chauvinists.

Fitzsimons is a complex character nonetheless. I’m reminded of a quote about the late All Black, Keith Murdoch, who was infamously sent home in disgrace from a tour to Wales for cowardly knocking out a hotel security guard; “Keith was an unhappy drunk”.

Fitzsimons is sober these days. It’s unclear to me which is worse, being a thin-skinned bully when under the influence, or continuing this behaviour once the fighting juice has been forsaken?

Why do I ask this?

Consider his latest skirmish in the culture war. Peter has chosen a side on the debate about whether Aboriginal Australians should have further constitutional recognition, or “The Voice”. Unsurprisingly, Peter picked the one requiring least personal cost and maximum public virtue (check the flow chart above).

As is Peter’s idiom however, once a position has been taken, dissenting opinions are not allowed. Alternate takes are greeted as if calls for murder. Peter tends to spend so much time living in the logical fallacy, “ad hominem”, it wouldn’t be surprising to learn Lisa has bought their 5th home in that postcode to save on his rental costs.

(Yes, I’m aware of the irony that I’ve just accused someone of reverting to ad hominem attacks in a column which is almost entirely ad hominem. Sometimes that’s the only language bullies understand).

You can read the details about this week’s moralising in the Spectator. In summary, Senator Jacinta Price believes the energy and resources of the Voice campaign might be better directed to those in need in remote communities. Peter strongly disagrees and is alleged to have been less than a gentlemen about it when they met for an interview on the topic. On verra, if/once the tape is released.

He’s since made veiled legal threats to Price to retract her statement that he bullied her.

Some important context; Senator Price is Aboriginal, has spent a great deal of her life with these communities and devotes huge amounts of time and personal resources to delivering tangible outcomes for disadvantaged Aboriginal communities. She also has very little access to funding for a protracted legal battle.

Peter is a private school-educated spouse of a multi-millionaire and devotes huge amounts of time tweeting signals of virtue on his iPhone from the downstairs toilet of his wife’s prime Sydney real estate. Oh, and he’s a socialist (eye roll).

Bill’s Opinion

I’m genuinely undecided on “The Voice”.

However, it’s my observation there is a very lucrative industry channeling government funds to a growing metropolitan Aboriginal demographic. It’s the political third rail to suggest this is not right, and for your career’s sake, stay well away from what the definition of “aboriginal” is for the purpose of funding allocation.

Meanwhile, the infant mortality rate in some communities in NT and north QLD is STILL equivalent to some sub-Saharan African states despite decades of “intervention”.

Perhaps we can chew gum and walk at the same time. Observed fact suggests we struggle with that.

However, unlike Peter Fitzsimons, I treat situations where people disagree with me as learning opportunities. Particularly when they’ve got a far more relevant CV compared to mine.

As for Fitzsimons’ cup cake delivery business, I’m not across the details of the SMH’s accounts, but if I were Tory Maguire, Bevan Shields, Mike Sneesby, James Chessell, or the directors of Nine Media, I might ask for a reconciliation between payroll and accounts receivables. Is Lisa paying for his column inches?

Actually, it’s probably worse if they discover they really are paying for this bullying thin-skinned 1970’s sports jock throwback masquerading as one of the caring and the good. What does that say about their judgement and authority on the shop floor?

He can dish it out but can’t take it. We’ve all known people like that. When we meet them, if we are brave, we confront them on their terms. They always turn tail and run away.

The best performing teams generally operate a “no dickheads” policy. Perhaps it’s time for Peter to spend more time double parking his coal-powered car outside chi chi Mosman cafés.

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