It was rude, ranging, intensely personal and sharply pointed. The speech delivered at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Business Association dinner on Tuesday night was classic John Marsden.
The Wood Royal Commission, the long-running battle against Channel Seven, the deficiencies of our legal system, the financial troubles of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, donkey ownership -¦ they all rated a mention in Marsden’s after-dinner address.
There were a few barbs, most noticeably directed toward independent MLA Clover Moore.
It was Marsden’s view that Moore had not done enough for gay men during the Wood Royal Commission, which he said had ruined and caused the suicide of many gay men who were not pedophiles.
Labor MLC Meredith Burgmann also came in for a serve, for a claim she made at a SGLBA dinner in April that the ALP expelled its homophobic members.
Well, Meredith, Deirdre Grusovin started this whole show. She’s still a member of the Labor Party, she’s still a member of parliament, and she was not expelled, Marsden said.
Burgmann’s comments were made at a dinner convened in honour of Justice Michael Kirby, shortly after he had been attacked by Liberal Senator Bill Heffernan under parliamentary privilege.
I didn’t get the support of the gay community like I should have done, Marsden stressed. Certain people said things like, -˜Where there’s smoke there’s fire.’ But they didn’t say anything like that with Michael Kirby. In fact we went one step further, we tried to canonise Michael. I don’t have a problem with that, he’s a friend of mine and I support that. But I do say that as gay people we should stand together. I’d like to think that the gay community could have banned Channel Seven, or taken them on, or something like that.
With a judgment expected on the defamation case appeal shortly, Marsden was careful to focus more on the Wood Royal Commission than the particulars of the defamation case in his speech -“ although he did clear up some points which dogged the case, such as exactly when he kept a donkey as a pet.
Marsden also revealed how the defamation case (which he called the longest and most acrimonious -¦ in the history of this country) had tested him to the utmost.
It was a difficult seven years, he said. On a number of occasions -¦ I reached the edge and almost jumped off.
The 90-strong audience also heard that, from his account, there were 27 suicides resulting out of the Royal Commission, including a Supreme Court judge.
[Then attorney-general] Jeff Shaw was so concerned about the Royal Commission and the abuse of it, he funded myself to challenge the warrants that were issued on a gay man’s house, Marsden revealed. We took it to the Supreme Court and won; they held that all warrants issued by the Royal Commission were illegal.
Although Marsden’s speech was characteristically revelatory about his own and others’ personal lives, he hinted that there was more detail to come: specifically in his memoirs, due for release next year.
I assure you it will be worthwhile buying because you’ll hear a lot of things you’ve never heard before, he said.