GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG – ISSUE NO. 115
7 OCTOBER 2011
“Media Watch Dog on Fridays…is a sort of popular read in the Crikey office”
– Crikey’s Andrew Crook on ABC 2 News Breakfast, 24 September 2010.
“Gerard Henderson is big enough to take care of himself, but that doesn’t stop us worrying about him from time to time.
For example, peruse the correspondence he’s published in his latest Media Watch Dog blog…..There’s a
part of us that just wants to ask: “Hendo, are you OK?”
– James Jeffrey’s “Strewth!” column, The Australian, 8 November 2010.
“I realise this makes me practically retarded, but until five minutes ago
I thought Nancy was Gerard Henderson’s wife, not his dog.”
“Before going further can you write to confirm that these emails
are private correspondence and not for publication” – ABC News Radio’s
Marius Benson, 11 March 2011. He did go further – see MWD Issue 86.
Media Watch Dog – “disgraceful”, “sick”
– Professor Robert Manne, April Fool’s Day 2011.
“Go to the Sydney Institute Media Watch Dog website to marvel at [its] work”
– Mark Latham The Spectator Australia 11 June 2011.
“Henderson…What a pompous, pretentious turd you are.”
– Mike Carlton, Saturday 13 August 2011 (after lunch)
● Stop Press : The Age and Dr Summers on Mr Bolt
● Nancy’s Pick-of-the-Week : Sex on Q&A
● Why Nancy is Pining for the Return of Deb and Fran
● Fancy That : Can Mike Carlton and Peter FitzSimons Meet the New Fairfax Invective-Free Manners Standard?
● Can You Bear It? US Studies Centre Bags US Anti-Terrorism Strategy in The Australian
● History Corner: Errors-A-Plenty in Susan Mitchell’s Tony Abbott Hatchet Job
STOP PRESS – IN THE AGE OF BOLT AND SUMMERS
Last weekend The Age (aka The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra, see MWD passim) was the only newspaper to run an extract from Susan Mitchell’s error-ridden anti-Catholic sectarian rant Tony Abbott: A Man’s Man. It even gave Dr Mitchell’s views pride of place on the editorial page of The Saturday Age. Clearly The Age regards this as a serious book.
Meanwhile, MWD has lost count of the number of pieces – mainly critical, of course – that The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra has carried on Herald-Sun columnist Andrew Bolt in recent times.
On Saturday there was an article by Martin Flanagan. Followed on Sunday by pieces by Peter Munro (accompanied by a huge photo of Bolt) and Marcia Langton.
(Click to enlarge)
On Monday, the culture journalist A. Bock was on the attack. Then on Thursday Karl Quinn flagged an article on Bolt by Anne Summers in today’s issue of The Monthly. Then today’s Business Day online in The Age features an extract from the Summers essay.
Dr Summers has clearly been digging into Andrew Bolt’s past. According to Quinn, she has unearthed “a woman to whom he [Bolt] was once engaged”. But today’s excerpt refers to “a woman who lived with Bolt in the early 1980s”. Is this the same woman? And if so does she have a name? Or do they have names? And does anyone care?
Interesting that Anne Summers is so devoted to revealing details of Andrew Bolt’s (apparent) past personal life. Especially since – as Susan Varga once pointed out – there is so little of Anne Summers’ past personal life in her autobiography titled Ducks on the Pond.
A WANK AT THE OPERA (HOUSE) – WITH APOLOGIES TO GROUCHO, BUT NOT KARL, MARX AND FEATURING Q&A AS A DANGEROUS IDEA
A Night at the Opera is one of Nancy’s favourite films. But the other night she put her Marx Brothers DVD set aside to have a look at Q&A.
Nancy’s a bit like Mark Latham. She never, ever watches Q&A – except when she does. And then, like Mark Latham, Nancy writes about the experience. Like now.
In fact, this week, Nancy missed watching Q&A on Monday at 9.35 pm due to a travel commitment. However, she decided to view a recording – after reading Mel Campbell’s piece in Crikey on Tuesday where he declared that the best part of last Monday’s program “was watching proper intellectuals – people who spend their lives thinking broadly and critically about the world around them”. [He must have missed Q&A on 19 September when the proper intellectual Professor Rai Gaita commenced an answer which he is still yet to finish. – Ed].
Campbell praised four members of the panel of five. Namely, Slovenian Marxist philosopher Slavoj Zizek, British journalist Kate Adie, British writer and television presenter Jon Ronson and Egyptian-born liberal Muslim lecturer and researcher Mona Eltahawy who now resides in New York. Mel Campbell bagged the remaining panellist – The Australian’s foreign editor Greg Sheridan, the lone conservative on Q&A last Monday.
So how did these overseas based “proper intellectuals”, in the words of Crikey’s reviewer, go? Well – they were stunning. Absolutely, stunning.
In his introduction, presenter Tony Jones welcomed ABC1 viewers to “this special edition of Q&A, live from the Sydney Opera House and the Festival of Dangerous Ideas”. In fact – as demonstrated in MWD Issue 114 – there was hardly one dangerous idea in evidence at the Sydney Opera House last weekend. Instead it was an occasion for an audience of essentially inner-city, sandal-wearing leftist luvvies to get together and hear speakers who were essentially of an inner-city, sandal-wearing, leftist-luvvie bent.
Here’s an example of how a Q&A program which was intent on living up to its billing as “A Very Dangerous Q&A” might have commenced:
Tony Jones : Let’s go straight into dangerous territory. Our first question is from Nancy – a practising Christian who lives in a heterosexual monogamous relationship.
Nancy : The question is related to sexuality. What does the panel think about this proposition? If everyone was gay – then the end of the world really would be nigh.
Now that really would have been a DANGEROUS IDEA. But this is how last Monday’s Q&A really started:
Tony Jones : Well, our panel tonight includes some quite dangerous thinkers. So let’s go straight into peril with our first question from Stewart Lung.
Stewart Lung : This question is related to sexuality. More and more people are openly embracing other forms of sexuality that are previously considered taboo. For example, polyamory. What is the panel’s opinion of openly embracing these other forms of sexuality as an avenue of releasing previously suppressed sexual energy, hence improving the overall wellbeing of our society.
Under question from the compere, Mr Lung defined polyamory as a state which exists when “you love more than one person, with honesty and integrity”. In other words, polyamory means lotsa screwing with lotsa screwees – in an ideal state where jealousy has been wiped from the face of the earth.
Believe it or not, all on the panel – with the exception of the sensible Mr Sheridan – thought that this was a new, fresh, you-beaut idea. Even dangerous.
Kate Adie declared that all you need to be is a “loving person”. Ms Adie declared that: “We live, I hope, in more liberal societies, where we don’t actually impose rules which were thought up by old men a long time ago.” Which suggests that she has a naive view of the attitudes of old men – then or now. Then Ms Adie asked Slavoj Zizek: “Don’t you love me?”. Good question – except that no one could understand the answer. According to MWD’s research, the incomprehensible Slovenian philosopher is best understood in his native tongue – provided that the listener speaks a language other than Slovenian. Or something like that. Zizek’s response contained a claim that “there is more frigidity/impotence than ever” – but it is not clear what this comment related to.
In any event, Zizek literally exploded on stage in an avalanche of words, spittle, hand gestures, dandruff and facial jerks. A veritable stream of unconsciousness. From her kennel Nancy attempted to tweet: “WE’LL TAKE THAT AS A CONVULSION”. But, alas, she was watching a replay and it was a futile gesture. A bit like the program, when you think about it. [If you do think about it – Ed].
Then Slavoj Zizek threw the switch to masturbation. So to speak. Let’s go to the transcript:
Slavoj Zizek: Yeah, but we most of our real sex [sic], I think, is masturbation with a real partner. You have real partner there but you just use the real partner to realise your dream. So is all sex like that? No, it’s love, which is why today I claim this is very old-fashioned romantic idea – what is transgression is not sex. You can do it with animals, with dogs, cats, no problem. Falling in love is a problem. Which is why, as I mentioned yesterday, more and more you have this dating and marriage agencies advertising their services in this way: “We will enable you to be in love without falling in love. Without the fall. Everything will be safe and so on.”
Nancy is somewhat conservative. So she blanched at Zizek’s suggestion that you can do sex – or what he would call mutual masturbation – with dogs and cats but without problems. [Does he mean at the same time? – Ed]. But for humans, only “transgression” will do. [What’s he talking about? – Ed].
Then Jon Ronson declared that he was “in favour” of “slamming your penis in a filing cabinet”. Unfortunately, since Q&A took place at the Opera House, there was no office equipment on stage. Then Mona Eltahawy declared that polygamy was “crap” as presently available – since it only applied to men and sheilas missed out on the rotating pleasure. For which situation she blamed, wait for it, “religions like Mormonism”. The Egyptian journalist made no reference to Muslim men who, in many Muslim societies, are allowed four wives. [Perhaps such a frank admission was too dangerous – even at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas – Ed]. Ms Eltahawy also used the term “bullshit” here. Then Greg Sheridan spoke up for monogamy. This was an unfashionable, even dangerous, idea in this audience so the conversation moved on.
Then it was on to psychopathy. When Jon Ronson declared that one per cent of the population “is a psychopath” – or three out of 300 people in the room – Greg Sheridan asked: “Are they all on the panel?”. Good question – and the best joke of the night. Alas – Greg Sheridan did not raise a laugh. Q&A audiences rarely find conservatives funny. And so the show went on – with the unidentified psychopaths remaining in situ.
Slavoj Zizek became more and more agitated. [Did anyone check the Q&A set for fleas? – Ed]. Then Jon Ronson used the f**k word once. Not to be outdone, Mona Eltahawy used the “f” word on three occasions. According to a report in The Australian , she had previously sought permission from the Q&A team to occasionally drop a four-letter word live-on-air. [How bold – Ed].
Other highlights of the Q&A exchange between this lot of “proper intellectuals” occurred when:
▪ Mona Eltahaway asked Kate Adie whether Colonel Gaddafi ever twisted her nipple. The answer was in the negative. For the record, the Colonel did not do the twist with Mona either. But one of his thugs allegedly did.
▪ Tony Jones declared that an audience member was “off topic”. [What about the panellists? – Ed].
▪ Eltahaway promised to email Sheridan with the evidence that George W. Bush invaded Iraq because God told him to do so. As The Australian’s “Cut & Paste” section demonstrated yesterday, the alleged Bush quote commenced as hearsay, was translated into Arabic and then translated back into English. Still, this is good enough for many a “proper” intellectual.
▪ Kate Adie declared : “I do think that we need to think about how we could live life and be happier and warm, comfortable and full of food without endlessly building more, destroying the environment and living at greater speed”. After the program ended, Ms Adie took a taxi back to her 5 star hotel. The following morning she jetted out of Sydney at even greater speed.
▪ Jon Ronson declared that “growth is the problem”. [Would he say that on a Q&A program in, say, Bangladesh? – Ed].
Soon after, Tony Jones thanked his “wonderful panel of dangerous thinkers”. Then the panelists dispersed into the Sydney night intent on releasing previously suppressed sexual energy and, in so doing, improving the overall well being of society. Reports from the local hotel industry indicated strong demand last Monday night for eight-in-a-bed accommodation.
COME BACK DEB AND FRAN – NOTHING IS FORGOTTEN
Rising (very) early on Friday morning can be especially difficult in times like these – when Deborah Cameron (ABC Radio 702’s Green-Left-Daily presenter) and Fran Kelly (Radio National Breakfast) are on what in journalism is termed a well-earned-break. You see, MWD needs copy. Which means, MWD needs Ms Cameron and Ms Kelly Now.
Here’s are some examples of what MWD readers are missing. Listen here to Fran Kelly interviewing New South Wales Liberal Premier Barry O’Farrell and here for Labor’s socially-conscious Finance Minister Penny Wong on the same day – i.e. 9 September 2011. Note how tough the interview is with O’Farrell (who opposes a carbon tax) and how soft the interview is with Wong (who supports a carbon tax).
And remember Deborah Cameron’s “The Spin Doctors” feature on 15 September 2011? First up, Ms Cameron proclaimed that Tony Abbott and the Coalition has “an obligation to listen to what the [Gillard] government’s got in mind and not play games”. In other words, according to Cameron the role of the Opposition is to support governments – well, Labor/Greens governments. Then spinner Sam North accused Abbott of engaging in a “stupid tactic” and “continuing to be an obstructionist”. Then spinner Adam Kilgour accused Abbott of acting in a “puerile” and “stupid” manner. And then Deborah Cameron indicated contentment that Sam and Adam had agreed with her that Tony Abbott had got it wrong.
MWD needs more copy like this.
FAIRFAX MANNERS – MIKE CARLTON AND PETER FIZSIMONS
Here’s what Sydney Morning Herald readers’ editor Judy Prisk had to say on Wednesday about the behaviour to be expected from contributors to the Herald.
There are a lot of very angry people out there, and a lot of you want to vent that anger online. If you veer slightly, or completely, off the topic, so? And if you are spewing invective, abuse, insults, vulgarity, disparagement and just plain old rudeness, well that’s your right, no? Actually, no it is not. Toxic sprays do nothing to take a discussion forward, and nor do they ever convert readers. Only people already glued to a cause will rejoice in that sort of vitriol.
So that covers the Herald and Sun-Herald readers. So what standards are acceptable for the Herald’s and Sun-Herald’s contributors? Here’s what.
▪ Mike Carlton in last Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald :
The usual reactionaries have risen as one in defence of Andrew Bolt, the Melbourne columnist and village idiot, convicted on Wednesday for breaching the Racial Discrimination Act. An attack on freedom of speech, they howled. A dark day for democracy.
Mr Carlton went on to describe Miranda Devine as “a hack”, depict the Institute of Public Affairs as “that sink of right wing propaganda” and describe Andrew Bolt, who is of Dutch extraction, as “the Lying Dutchman”.
▪ Peter FitzSimons in last weekend’s Sun-Herald :
It’s been a terrible week, I’m afraid. Devastating, a staring-at-the-cracks-in-the-ceiling-night-after-night kind of week. I mean, why? Why? WHY? Why are Betty Windsor and Phil the Greek coming on a tour to Australia this month – all so royal grovellers can debase themselves before them – and not passing by Sydney? I feel so, so, so SNUBBED!
So, Peter FitzSimons reckons that it’s consistent with Fairfax manners to depict the Duke of Edinburgh with reference to an ethnic label. Would he do the same to a person of Middle-Eastern descent?
CAN YOU BEAR IT?
US STUDIES CENTRE BAGS US IN THE AUSTRALIAN
It is some years now since John Howard agreed to tip some $30 million of taxpayers’ funds into the Sydney based United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney. At the time concern was expressed that the Centre would become yet another hang-out for leftist inclined academics – on taxpayer funded salaries – to fang United States and Australian foreign policy. See MWD Issue 111.
On 30 September 2011 the United States managed to kill the American born Islamist preacher Anwar al-Awlaki. Awlaki had been linked to most of the terrorist attacks in the US and Britain this century. From 9/11 itself, to the London attacks of 7/7 in 2005, to the Fort Hood murders in 2009 and on to the failed “underpants bomb” attempt by Ulmar Abdulmuttallab over Detroit last Christmas Day.
Awlaki had been named as the West’s Public Enemy Number One by Barack Obama’s administration in Washington and David Cameron’s government in London.
So when Awlaki was killed by a US drone attack in Yemen, what did the US Studies Centre do? Well, the Centre’s Leah Farrall wrote an article in The Australian on Monday titled “Yes, Awlaki Execution Was A Triumph – But Mainly In The Propaganda Wars”. Farrall wrote that, in essence, the removal of Awlaki was really a waste of time since “senior figures in al-Qaeda considered him an inexperienced outsider”. [How would she know? – Ed]. Also Leah Farrall accused the Obama administration of exhibiting “triumphalist sentiments”.
Australian taxpayers have funded the US Studies Centre to the tune of $30 million. And some of this money is used to fund Leah Farrall to write in The Australian decrying the fact that the US has killed one of the world’s most dangerous advocates of terrorism.
Can you bear it?
FACTUAL ERRORS AND TENDENTIOUS CLAIMS IN SUSAN MITCHELL’S POLEMIC TONY ABBOTT: A MAN’S MAN (Scribe, 2011)
Susan Mitchell’s Anti-Catholic Sectarianism
In the Acknowledgements section of her book Tony Abbott: A Man’s Man, Susan Mitchell praised Scribe managing director Henry Rosenbloom “for his impeccable taste and fine-tuning”. Dr Mitchell’s book is essentially an anti-Catholic sectarian rant in which the author claims that the Opposition leader “never left the Catholic Church”. Mitchell’s anti-Catholic sectarianism was analysed by Gerard Henderson in his Sydney Morning Herald column on 4 October 2011 – here. The focus of this MWD analysis turns on Mitchell’s factual errors – which Rosenbloom left uncorrected in the text – along with some tendentious claims which are not supported by evidence.
Susan Mitchell’s Howlers
▪ Page 3. Susan Mitchell writes that Tony Abbott is “also opposed to RU 486 (the morning-after pill)”. In fact, RU 486 and the morning-after pill are not the same. Abbot publicly opposed the former (RU 486) – but not the latter.
▪ Page 4. According to Susan Mitchell, “an analytical study of the results of the 2010 election show that Tony Abbott had “a woman problem”.
Since the last election was nearly a dead-heat between Labor (led by Julia Gillard) and the Coalition (led by Tony Abbott) – if Mr Abbott had a “women problem” at the August 2010 election then, to be consistent, Ms Gillard must have had a “men” problem”. Yet no such claim is made in the book.
▪ Page 5. Mitchell claims:
Even now, when the polls demonstrate the Coalition’s lead over the Labor Party, and Abbott’s current dominance over Julia Gillard as the country’s preferred leader, there is still a consistent lack of approval for him from women.
Tony Abbott: A Man’s Man coincided with the release of Newspoll’s reanalysis of surveys conducted over July-August 2011 (The Australian, 27 September 2011). According to Newspoll, some 39 per cent of female voters think that Gillard would make a better prime minister than Abbott – compared with 37 per cent of female voters who think that Abbott would make a better prime minister than Gillard. In other words, Susan Mitchell’s assertion is not supported by evidence.
▪ Page 5. Mitchell claims that “every one of Abbott’s policies has been reduced to simplistic mantras beginning with the word ‘stop’ or ‘kill’”. This is mere hyperbole – unsupported by any evidence of any kind. For example, Abbott’s parental leave plan does not commence with mantras such as “stop” or “kill”.
▪ Page 11. According to Mitchell:
The Jesuits are the intellectuals of the Catholic teaching orders, open only to men of the highest intelligence.
This is arrant nonsense. There is no intelligence test for admission into the Jesuits – i.e. the Catholic order formally titled the Society of Jesus. Gerard Henderson spent most of his schooling at schools run by the Jesuits and he has known many Jesuits in his professional career. Some are men of the highest intelligence – and some are not.
▪ Page 14. According to Mitchell, Tony Abbott had an “adoring father who believed that not only was his son brighter than his intellectually superior Jesuit teachers, but that he could do no wrong”.
This is pure mythology. Many teachers at Jesuit run schools in the 1960s and 1970s were laymen – who were neither priests nor Jesuits.
▪ Page 15. Mitchell writes:
During his time in power, Menzies had rebuilt the conservatives and skilfully manipulated the anti-communist fears of the Cold War in the population. In 1954, he had engineered a massive scare campaign based on the defection of Vladimir Petrov, a junior diplomat and Russian KGB agent, who claimed there was a large spy ring operating in Australia that included members of the Labor Party. This accusation caused great turbulence in the party.
This is an old-fashioned leftist conspiracy theory. If Mitchell has read such books as Robert Manne The Petrov Affair, David McKnight Australia’s Spies and their Secrets, Desmond Ball and David Horner Breaking the Codes : Australia’s KGB Network and Mark Aarons The Family File, she would be aware that (i) Vladimir Petrov and his wife Evdokia Petrov were among the most important Soviet diplomats to defect to the West during the Cold War, (ii) there was a spy ring operating in Australia in the 1940s and 1950s and (iii) some spies for the Soviet Union in Australia were members of the ALP while most were members of the Communist Party of Australia.
▪ Page 15. Mitchell claims that, following the defection of Vladimir Petrov:
Eventually, a split resulted in the emergence of a right-wing Catholic splinter group that became the Democratic Labor Party, which helped keep Labor out of power for a generation by giving its preferences at elections to the conservatives. Bartholomew Augustine (“B.A.” or “Bob”) Santamaria was their evangelistic leader.
More mythology. The principal cause of the Labor Split of 1955-1957 was the erratic behaviour of the then Labor leader Dr Bert Evatt. The Democratic Labor Party was not a “Catholic group”. Its inaugural leader, Robert Joshua, was not a Catholic. Nor was Jack Little, the DLP Senator for Victoria between 1968 and 1974. B.A. Santamaria was never even a member of the DLP – although he had some influence, but no more than influence, within the party.
▪ At Page 19, Mitchell writes:
During his university days, Abbott was heavily influenced by his mentor, B.A. Santamaria, the evangelical-like leader of the Democratic Labor Party and the man responsible for the split in the ALP, which helped keep it out of the office for 23 years.
As discussed, Santamaria was never the “leader of the Democratic Labor Party”. Nor was Santamaria “responsible for the split in the ALP”. The highlight of the Split occurred in 1955 when seven Federal Labor members crossed the floor and voted with Robert Menzies’ Coalition government. They were Tom Andrews, Bill Bourke, Bill Bryson, Jack Cremean, Robert Joshua, Stan Keon and John Mullens. Of this group, only Andrews and Mullens were close to Santamaria. Santamaria did not control the likes of Keon, Bryson, Cremean and Joshua. And Bourke disliked Santamaria.
▪ At Page 21 Mitchell writes:
Abbott also loved the aggression with which Santamaria had smashed the power of the communists, whom he believed were infiltrating the trade unions in the 1950s. Santamaria’s favourite tactic was to create a climate of fear and terror by the use of inflated rhetoric7.
The footnote (numbered 7) is a reference to an article by Robert Manne titled “On Your Bike, Tony Abbott” was published in The Monthly in May 2010. The fact is that communists were infiltrating the trade union movement in the 1940s and 1950s. This is not contested by any serious historian – and is not a matter of Abbott’s belief. Moreover, in his Monthly article, Manne did not use the word “terror” with respect to Santamaria. Mitchell just made this up.
▪ At Page 24, Mitchell writes:
The National Civic Council was aggressively hostile to the new social movements such as feminism and gay liberation: Robert Manne noted that when Abbott joined, it was characterised by a “profound hostility to the new social movements – feminism, gay liberationism, environmentalism”. Santamaria was a political and religious zealot, and so was Abbott: “Santamaria believed that a New Dark Age was approaching, like at the time of the fall of Rome…the role of young Catholics like Tony Abbott was to devote their lives to the grand battle to save civilisation and turn back the cultural tide”.
Mitchell mentioned that Robert Manne’s article was published in May 2010. She did not indicate that the reference to Santamaria turned on Manne’s subsequent assessment of Santamaria’s beliefs in 1978. Nor did she say that in the 1980s and early 1990s Manne was a supporter of B.A. Santamaria. For example, Manne addressed the 50th Anniversary of the formation of Santamaria’s Movement – along with Bishop (as he then was) George Pell and Santamaria himself. Manne used the occasion to criticise Gough Whitlam. Concerning Santamaria, Manne declared: “Bob Santamaria is one of the great post-war Australians. In part, he has proved himself, over fifty years, an unequalled political strategist whose analyses have displayed an almost Cartesian clarity and penetration”. See News Weekly, 26 October 1991. In other words, like Abbott, Manne was once a supporter of Santamaria and did not regard him as a zealot.
▪ At Page 53, Mitchell writes with reference to Christopher Pearson:
During his university days, he [Pearson] also voted for the ALP at state elections, marched in the anti-Vietnam moratoriums, and registered as a conscientious objector – all common political activities for students in the 1970s (except, of course, for Tony Abbott).
It is pure mythology for Mitchell to assert that voting ALP, marching in anti-Vietnam moratoriums and registering as a “conscientious objector” were all common to political activities for students in the 1970s. In any event, Tony Abbott (who was born in November 1957) was not even a teenager when the first Vietnam Moratorium march took place in 1970. And conscription was dropped by the Whitlam government in December 1972.
▪ At Page 65-66 Mitchell writes, that at the 1998 Constitutional Convention, Abbott “backed Howard’s preference for the McGarvie model, in which the president of the republic would be nominated by a council of three wise elders”. In fact, John Howard always supported the continuation of Australia’s constitutional monarchy – and did not support any of the proposed republican models, including that proposed by one-time governor of Victoria Richard McGarvie. This is made clear in John Howard’s autobiography Lazarus Rising. As Howard points out, the prominent Liberals who supported the McGarvie model were Peter Costello, David Kemp and Jeff Kennett. Howard opposed the McGarvie model.
▪ At Page 81 Mitchell refers to Liberal MP Don Randall as being “a member of the Queensland right-wing conservatives then representing the Swan electorate”. Mr Randall is a West Australian.
▪ At Page 86. Mitchell writes:
When [Cheryl] Kernot ran for the Senate again in 2010, she did not secure a seat. We can only speculate as to the reasons for this, but it is likely that the damage that Abbott and [Laurie] Oakes had done to her career almost a decade earlier had played a role.
The fact is that Cheryl Kernot announced her intention to contest the 2010 Senate as an independent relatively late in the election campaign. She did not head a political party. Moreover, Kernot had no campaign and no funds. She was never likely to win a Senate vacancy, irrespective of the likes of Laurie Oakes or Tony Abbott.
▪ At Page 128, Mitchell writes:
By early June , Rudd’s approval ratings were dropping and Abbott’s were rising. On the evening of 23 June, Julia Gillard spent two-and-a-half hours in Kevin Rudd’s office, having been told by key Labor powerbrokers that she had the numbers to win a leadership challenge. On 24 June, just before Question Time, Gillard sounded out a select group of cabinet colleagues, after which she agreed to challenge Rudd in a leadership ballot. Rudd at first decided to fight, but eventually stepped down when he saw that he didn’t have the numbers to win.
This is hopelessly wrong. Julia Gillard announced on the night of 23 June 2010 that she was intending to challenge Kevin Rudd. Rudd, realising that he did not have the numbers in the Labor Caucus, stepped down as prime minister during the morning of 24 June. Ms Gillard was sworn in as prime minister of Australia at 1 pm on Thursday 24 June 2010. This was well before Question Time, which commenced at 2 pm. This can be ascertained by going to YouTube.
▪ At Page 138, Mitchell writes:
On 14 September 2010, Julia Gillard was sworn in as the first Australian female prime minister by the first Australian female governor-general.
Once again, this is hopelessly wrong. Julia Gillard was sworn in as the first female prime minister on 24 June 2010. She contested the August 2010 election as the incumbent prime minister. Mitchell and Rosenbloom should know this. Clearly Scribe does not employ a fact-checker.
▪ At Page 139, Mitchell writes that, following Julia Gillard’s formation of a minority government:
His [Abbott’s] first reaction, born of rage, was to declare that Gillard’s government was illegitimate, and to consider refusing to grant supply. This was the equivalent of throwing a bomb into our system of democratic government. Wiser heads must have dissuaded him from considering this course of action, as he didn’t pursue it.
Tony Abbott never spoke about refusing supply to the Gillard Government. No source of any kind is cited by Mitchell for her wild assertion.
▪ At Page 163, Mitchell writes:
It took the news of a massacre of more than 70 innocent people in Norway by a white Christian far-right extremist to stop all talk of killing anyone. Chilling, too, was the praise of John Howard, Archbishop Pell, and Keith Windschuttle that appeared in the murderer’s manifesto. This man was not mad; he just saw himself as an instrument of a cause far greater than himself, and he believed that his mission was to destroy those who opposed him.
Anders Behring Breivik, in his manifesto 2083: A European Declaration of Independence, wrote favourably of Australia’s border protection and unwillingness to appease Islam. He then murdered scores of non-Muslim Norwegians. For the record, the Norway judicial system has yet to determine whether Breivik is sane. Once again, Mitchell just made this up.
▪ At Pages 168-169 Mitchell writes:
The previous Liberal leader, Malcolm Turnbull, is so broadly popular with both Labor and Liberal voters that he may ultimately defeat those conservative members of the Coalition who have taken control of the party under the leadership of Tony Abbott.
There is no evidence to support Mitchell’s assertion that Malcolm Turnbull is popular with Liberal voters. Moreover, the leader of the Liberal Party is elected by Liberal MPs – not by the Coalition, which comprises Liberals and Nationals. Susan Mitchell is one of many Labor or Greens voters who want Turnbull to lead the Opposition at the next election.
Apart from her evident sectarianism, Susan Mitchell clearly dislikes Tony Abbott because she regards him as a proud-and-out heterosexual who once expressed views that the focus of women should be on domestic duties and who had older male role models. Apparently, according to Dr Mitchell, this makes Abbott unsuitable to become prime minister. However, she is not on record as finding that such traits should have hindered the likes of Bob Hawke and Paul Keating – and John Curtin – from making it to The Lodge in Canberra.
In her 1982 book Robert J Hawke: A Biography, Blanche d’Alpuget wrote about Hawke’s “emotional relationships with older men”. In his 1996 book Keating: The Inside Story, John Edwards recorded that in his first speech in 1970 Paul Keating suggested that governments should act “to put the working wife back in her home”. Keating then believed that, wherever possible, mothers should be at home with the children.
Both Hawke and Keating became successful prime ministers. Yet, according to Mitchell, the case against Abbott includes the fact that he “has been very reliant on a series of older male mentors throughout his life” (Page 3) and because he once supported the idea that “women belonged in the home and the kitchen as wives and mothers” (Page 22).
On the Showdown program on Sky News last Tuesday, Susan Mitchell acknowledged that her book on Tony Abbott was “a polemic”. She should have added that it was replete with errors and should have confessed that Henry Rosenbloom at Scribe does not have a fact-checker.
* * * * *
Until next time.