As you well know, heroes emerge from the most unlikely places, at the most expected times. For instance, Superman came from (after arriving on Earth) a poor farming family in Iowa and then became a mild-mannered reporter for the Daily Planet (a similar newspaper to our Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun except that none of our editors are tough, cigar-smoking bosses with strict ideas about how their employees should operate because none of them smoke cigars). He is considered the prototypical superhero and established the major conventions of the archetype: a selfless, prosocial mission; extraordinary, perhaps superhuman, abilities; a secret identity and codename; and a colourful costume that expresses his nature.
Friends and readers, we have one walking among us now. He came from a tough working-class background. Both parents left school before they were 16 and both sacrificed a lot to get their kids a great education. One of those kids ended up topping the school, becoming a super cricket and football player and going on to top law. Better still, for a lawyer who became a Federal Court judge, he is a petrol head and drives a Subaru WRX STi.
Of course, Justice Lindsay Foster exhibits all the conventions of the archetype including a colourful costume that expresses his nature. His Honour wears black wool robes with a red trim when he is on the tools. And as one of his friends said about the time he worked as general counsel for McDonald’s, Lindsay was spotted at Sydney Airport with a “rather striking gold-coloured plastic suit bag which was kindly donated by your then employer, as has been mentioned, McDonald’s Australia, the home of the Double Whopper”.
Last Wednesday Lindsay was thinking about increasing a record $75m civil penalty settlement reached by Volkswagen and the ACCC over the Dieselgate scandal. Apart from some fictional TV show, when have you ever heard a politician or anyone in the establishment say the people of Australia would be upset if they knew about some of the outrageous terms to which the consumer watchdog had agreed?
In fact, not only was the former McDonald’s crew member critical of VW, he wasn’t smiley face about Rocket Rod Sims’s ACCC. The ACCC and VW made a joint submission that there was no evidence of any loss suffered by consumers, or any actual harm to public health or the environment. Acting for RR’s ACCC was Jeremy Kirk SC. Now let’s not get too spooky here but could it be that Jeremy is related to one of the other great heroes of ours and any other time, Jim Kirk (same initials), glorious leader of the USS Enterprise whose parents (wait for it) were also born in Iowa?
Here’s what Justice Lindsay Foster, Scooby Rex driver, had to say to JK:
“I’m really outraged by that submission. I don’t accept it, I think it’s outrageous. If the people of this country thought that its champion was prepared to agree to something like that they would be very upset, as I am.” And, “yes, but you don’t have to agree to things which are obviously completely wrong”. JLF hadn’t finished: “Usually people use their bargaining powers in settlements and I don’t think the respondent’s bargaining power is so powerful that you could have been made to agree to this joint submission. I don’t accept the submission Mr Kirk and you need to know that.” And: “So apparently the position is that this all happened without the persons running this company at the highest level having the slightest idea about it? This is no minor matter. This is a substantial, enormous breach of propriety and consumer protection obligations, and perhaps basic decency. They want to say the big bosses didn’t know about it and they’ve been saying that consistently around the world, forever and a day. That’s what you’ve accepted and that’s what I must work with.” Here’s the zinger: “The message is that another organisation as big, powerful and dishonest as yours would not get away with it again.”
The screen goes to black and white. We see a group of ordinary, quiet citizens dressed like they are in ScoMo’s 1950s Australia. One gentleman in a felt fedora hat points to the sky above Parliament House: “Look! Up in the sky! It’s an ACCC boss! It’s an Industry Minister! No it’s Scoobyman! Faster than a corporate regulator. More powerful than a federal government. Able to leap big car companies in a single bound, etc.”
Moving right along can we get JLF to consider the case of Mazda? We’ll talk about this more next week but can I, after years of warning you about these cars, can I modestly say I was right? Mazda Australia is recalling more than 35,000 Mazda 3, 6 and CX-5s because of problems that could result in engine failure.
Last weekend, I used my old tech controller to toggle between the Bathurst 1000 and the Japan F1 on my version 1 Foxtel set-top box. Foxtel is now up to an iQ4 box which I am reliably informed does everything except make your hair grow back. While the Bathurst race was riveting, competitive at every level and even had Shane van Gisbergen driving around the mountain full tilt while holding his door closed, over at Suzuka competition was, as usual, limited to the same five cars with most of the field being one lap behind the leaders. No wonder 478,000 loud Australians watched Bathurst on Fox (the highest ever) and only 128,000 persons took a snooze during the F1 procession.
Jon Faine just left ABC radio in Melbourne. Apart from being a top-rating announcer, Jon is a true petrol head who writes for a car mag and used his long-service leave to drive with his son from Melbourne to London. We need more at Aunty like him.