In March this year the member for Mt Isa and leader of Katter’s Australia Party (Qld), Robert Karl Ignatius Katter tabled the private members bill excerpted above in the Queensland House of Broken Dreams and is seeking to have it passed into law.
The tabled bill is titled the Honourable Angelo Vasta (Reversal of Removal) Bill 2017, and if enacted it would reverse the 1989 decision made by the Queensland Parliament made to remove a judge named Angelo Vasta from the Supreme Court bench and strip him of his office, or in laymen’s terms sack him and throw him out the door.
I will explain more about Vasta’s copping the chop and the circumstances surrounding it in some detail later, but for now all you need to know is that it happened, it was based on the recommendation of three judges (including a former Chief Justice of the High Court) contained in a 248 page report they wrote after taking 6 weeks of evidence, a majority of members of the House of Broken Dreams voted for it – including Bob Katter, the father of this private members bill’s sponsor – and that Vasta was then and remains still spewing about axing, and has been trying to get his job back ever since.
Now if it were true that every Pineapple Lander was treated equally under the law then Vasta would simply be pissing on his shoe in the dark thinking he had a sh*t show in hell of being reinstated to a job that he copped the pink slip from almost three decades ago. But E-quality is something that you hope to get from your dealer at the doof-doof festival when you swap him a tonne note for a couple of happy pills, not something lads and lassies from the better side of the tracks (the Geebung side) ever expect to find when circumstances like being sprung rooting the boss’s daughter in his wife’s private dunny at work force them out the door and into the unfair dismissal courts.
And so the sly rooter gets 21 days to start an action to get their job back, but the crooked Judge is allowed 28 years, because that’s exactly what this private member’s bill-sh*t of Katter Junior’s is – a reinstatement application made for and on behalf of the disgraced judge Mr Angelo Vasta – and don’t be fooled into ever thinking it’s anything else.
If it is passed into law it will render Vasta’s removal from office invalid, and create the curious legal fiction that your memory of him being stripped of his role as a judge all those years ago is just a trick of the imagination, for it never in fact happened at all.
Don’t believe me son?
Then look over there!
That’s Angelo Vasta sitting right in front of you on the Supreme Court bench, but don’t blink whatever you do or you’ll miss it, for now you see him now you don’t because suddenly in our strange journey through truth and space and time its the 8th of January 2011 and it’s the old crook’s seventieth birthday and statutory retirement time, and that’s him in the corner wearing the party hat at his farewell soiree surrounded by all his friends, or at least the couple of them that aren’t in jail or were blocked by security at the door because they have been.
Fast forward again and we hurtle through the temporal insensible vacuum back to the year 2017, and I guess you are wondering about all those strange numbers and bits of paper that looked like hundred dollar bills that you saw flashing past as we traveled across time.
No I didn’t slip acid into your cup of tea in the refreshment room at the Tardis train station Tommy, those things you saw were real, they’re all the oarts of the back payment bill we punters of the Pineapple Land are gunna get landed with if Roberto the Hatter pulls a miracle and resurrects the once Great (in his own mind at least) Angelo, the judicial carcass staked, shaked and baked my Katter’s Dad and his mates.
It’s biblical in many ways isn’t it?
God creates the world and all that’s in it, and it’s beautiful for about five seconds, but then a snake enters through the back door bearing all that glitters and tells the suckers that its gold, and the fools bite and in an instant the world becomes filled with sin and before you know it the sinners have swiped the keys to the Kingswood and the bad buggers are running the whole Earthly show.
So God sends down his only begotten son to save them. The kid’s names Jesus, and there’s a big hullabaloo in a horse stable when he arrives and then for a couple of decades he disappears from sight. We hear the odd whispered word from the North that during the working week the young bloke’s studying hard and learning his trade, and that on weekends he’s dazzling them at fullback for the Jerusalem Donkeys under 17’s, but by and large God’s boy lives a quiet life and few are at that stage aware of what ‘s to come.
They don’t have to wait long though because before he’s reached his thirties young Jesus bursts into the public arena like Billy Slater off a short ball slipped from Cam Smith, and suddenly the young bloke’s being spotted all over town and his mug shot is featured in every woman’s magazine in the land.
It’s not because he’s a looker that they love the lad, even though he is, because just as blokes didn’t buy Playboy for the pictures the fans who are buying the magazines with God’s son on the cover are rabidly reading the articles.
The articles of faith, especially the ones where Jesus is spruiking harder than the Demtel man flogging a product he has that is so damn good at getting the stains out of things that you can even use it to wash away sin. All you have to do is buy into his hype and believe in the miracles he’s promising and the kingdom is yours for the taking.
To prove it the young aspiring world leader sets off on a smile and shoeshine tour of the State, and everywhere he goes he’s doing amazing things like touching lepers and and blessing cheating tax collectors and washing cheap whores feet, and in no time he’s got the masses enthralled to the point that they’re eating out of his hand and will believe just about any tale that he wishes to tell.
The rising star’s hubris grows with each round of applause he receives. He is the Son of God, and he is omnipotent. There is nothing he cannot do.
It is time to perform his next miracle.
He will raise a man from the dead.
Of course that dead man’s name was Lazarus, and he was actually dead.
Rob Katter is merely trying to revive the fetid, rotting corpse of a rotten crook who was once upon a time an impersonator who played the role of a judge.
But you can see the similarities in the two stories can’t you?
I just hope someone’s given young Katter the tip about the next step he has to take if he really wants to wash away all his old man’s sin and set things with Angelo straight.
Setting the allegory and the metaphor and all attempts at mirth aside for a second though, let’s take a proper look at the consequences of the private member’s bill that Rob Katter is proposing, sponsoring and spruiking, because the KAP leader is not being completely transparent about would transpire if on the off chance he was to pull of the miracle and have in enacted as law.
In fact he’s not being honest at all.
The truth is that the Honourable Angelo Vasta (Reversal of Removal) Act 2017 bill is as crooked as the bloke whose name it bears, which means that its more crooked than a dog’s hind leg and thrice as bent again .
Angelo Vasta is not Honourable, and has no right whatsoever to be referred to as such. Quite to the contrary, Vasta appears upon any reasonable read of the Commission of Inquiry report to be thoroughly dishourable, and his conduct subsequent to his sacking firmly reinforces this view.
It is entirely debatable whether Katter is honourable either, and if you based your opinion solely on the explanatory notes that the MP has tabled with this bill you would have to argue in the alternative, for the contentions made in the note are misleading to the point that a bloke would be surely be considered reservedly polite if he were to describe them as complete and utter bullshit.
To illustrate the veracity of this rather forceful contention that I’ve just made – from which a cynic may wrongly or rightly draw an inference that Katter is a liar and a cheat – I draw your attention to the explanatory notes in question, in particular to the claims that Katter makes under the heading Estimated cost for government implementation.
Robert Katter states that under this heading that if his private members bill is enacted then the costs associated with its implementation are expected to be minor, but like so many members of the House of Broken Dreams,the MP for Mt Isa lies.
If Vasta is restored to the bench – even nominally or for a nanosecond – he will immediately become entitled to payment of a Supreme Court judges salary from 8 June 1989 (the date of his removal from office) until 8 January 2011 when he reached the statutory retirement age of 70.
Vasta would also be entitled to payment of the allowances that he would have been paid during these 21.5 years, and compounding interest would be applied to the salary and allowances that he ceased being paid when he was removed from the bench.
Given that the current remuneration package of a Supreme Court judge is in excess of $440 000 per year, at even the most conservative of non-actuarialised estimates the adjusted sum that the Queensland taxpayer will become liable to pay to Vasta if the bill is enacted into law will be well in excess of $15 million.
Minor costs indeed Mr Katter. If your name is Scrooge McDuck.
But wait, there’s more.
Vasta will also qualify for payment of a judicial pension pegged at 60% of his annual salary, which affords him another $270 000 or so a year prior to retrospective interest being applied, and it will be payable from the date of his now imagined retirement from office in 2011.
What this means is that the State – that’s you and I suckers – will be liable for payment of a further $3 million or so to Vasta in back paid pension entitlements and accrued interest
It doesn’t stop there though sportsfan, for if Katter’s bill becomes law then the punters of the Pineapple Land be not only be required to continue dipping into our collective pockets to pay Vasta’s pension for the term of his natural life, but if he drops off the perch before his missus does we will have to continue throwing cash at the crook beyond the grave. ,
I kid you not, and urge you to take a Captain Cook at Part 2 of the Judges (Pension and Long Leave) Act 1957 if you have any doubts about the matter that require dispelling before you accept that the mail I’m giving you is correct weight and totally true.
Now I don’t know how you view the issue, but as the spouse of one feminist and father of two more I find it somewhat remarkable that in these enlightened days of (admittedly still) evolving gender equality a law exists decreeing that a dead Judge’s spouse is entitled to continued payment of half of her husband’s judicial pension (annually adjusted) from the date of his death until the hour that she joins him in the grave.
It’s bloody amazing isn’t it?
(As a brief aside, the retirement of the McMurdo’s must surely be the most lucrative in recorded judicial history, given that their is no provision in the clearly misogynist-designed archaic act that envisages the situation where both partners in the marriage are Supreme Court Judges.
By my reading of the Act this means that when either of Phillip or Margaret die – and I want to be clear that I wish such a fate on neither of them, and sincerely hope that they live long and happy lives – then the surviving spouse will both continue to receive their own legislated pension AND be entitled to receive 50% of their dearly beloved spouse’s.
If you’ve gotta get old, that’s not a bad way to do it I reckon).
Back to Angelo Vasta, and we haven’t even got to the steak knives yet.
During the course of the 43 days of hearings held in the course of the Commission of Inquiry into Vasta’s suitability to remain a judge that was conducted by three of his eminent fellow jurists – note there were no sheila’s involved, they were all probably in the kitchen making cucumber sandwiches for hubby’s lunch except for Margaret McMurdo – and before and after, Vasta claims to have incurred approximately $1.25 in legal costs, and the Queensland Government – quite rightly in my view – refused his request to pay them.
It’s believed that after Robert Borbidge became Premier in 1996 the National Party led-coalition Government agreed to a secret deal that allowed Vasta to recoup $600 000 of his legal expenses, but it is understood that no actuarial revaluation of the amount of the fees was undertaken, and that $600 000 was paid to Vasta on an ex-gratia basis that did not apportion the sum as reimbursement of the legal fees incurred.
This leaves a hefty but undisclosed portion – or even possibly the entire amount – of the legal fees that Vasta incurred still open to claim, and arguably payable in the event that we enter the twighlight zone and pretend that the crook wasn’t sacked.
So there’s another million or so dollars that we will owe to the newly re-bestowed Honorable Angelo, and when interest is thrown over the top then its a fair guess to say it will end up as around $2 million.
All up then. taking a wild but reasonably informed guess, these ‘minor costs’ that Rob Katter tells us that the State of Queensland will incur if his private members bill to reverse history and turn back time is enacted in fact amount to in excess of $20 million, payable directly to a bloke we sacked because he was a crook.
Lovely Robert, just lovely.
But hey son, do you reckon you could slip me a minor loan?
Next up – Why Angelo Vasta copped the bullet, and why the crooked judge deserved it