15 JULY 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.

Lately it’s Hendo’s tendency to self-harm that has us losing sleep.

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.”

– Byronbache via Twitter, Monday 7 February 2011

“Before going further can you write to confirm that these emails are private correspondence and not for publication”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.

La Chocolat in Melbourne – Age Gets Story Two Weeks Late

● Five Paws Award: Barry O’Farrell’s Warning to Taxpayer Funded Journos

● The Latham Diaries : As Hacked By Nancy

● Guardian-on-the-Yarra’s Predictable Stories

● Maurice Newman Segment – All Hail Carbon Sunday

● History Corner: Mike Carlton and Wendy Bacon Let “Red” Lee Off The Hook

● Correspondence: UNSW Says Facts No Longer Matter



Can you bear it?  It only took The Age two weeks to report that a violent demonstration occurred outside the Max Brenner Chocolate Bar in the Melbourne CBD.  The protest – in which three police were injured – took place on 1 July.  It was first reported in The Age today – following Gerard Henderson’s column in last Tuesday’s Sydney Morning Herald which mentioned that the protest had been covered in the Herald-Sun but not by The Age or the ABC.

The Max Brenner shop was targeted because it is owned by a Jewish group whose parent company supplies confectionary to the Israeli Defence Force, which defends the Jewish state.

Kevin Rudd and Labor MP Michael Danby had a hot chocolate at Max Brenner’s Chocolate Bar yesterday afternoon to express solidarity with the owners.  Mr Rudd made the point that Australia has historically supported a two-state solution for Israel and said that anyone with an historical memory should deplore boycotts of Jewish businesses.

The pro-Hamas demonstrators – who acted like a modern-day version of Sir Oswald Mosely’s British Union of Fascists – called for the destruction of Israel.   MWD will continue to monitor whether the public broadcaster will get around to reporting the violent demonstration of a fortnight ago.


This week’s prestigious gong goes to New South Wales premier Barry O’Farrell.   Let’s go to the transcript of Mr O’Farrell’s interview with Deborah Cameron on ABC Radio 774 last Tuesday, where the “Green-Left-Daily” presenter criticised the premier’s view that a carbon tax would be particularly harsh on Sydney in that it would cost jobs and lead to cost increases.

Deborah Cameron: I suppose that though, the other way of looking at that is that this is an entirely successful, you know, this city has great patches of huge success, where people are doing incredibly well. And where, if not there, do you look for people to be prepared to put their hand in their pocket and, you know, not ask for a hand-out, from the Federal Government?

Barry O’Farrell: I just think those of us who work in tax payer-funded jobs need to remember not everyone is as comfortable.

Good point. Not everyone in Sydney has spent their entire career in journalism at the Sydney Morning Herald (when classified advertisement revenue was substantial) or the ABC (whose core financial plan is about heading off to Canberra and asking for a hand-out).  But inner-city Deborah Cameron has.

Barry O’Farrell’s reminder that those in tax-payer funded secure employment need to think about others is timely.

Five Paws to BOF.


▪ Mark Latham on John Faulkner

MWD just loved Mark Latham’s column in the Australian Financial Review on Thursday which commenced: “Sometimes, in filling this space, a column raises more questions than it answers”.  You can say that again.

The former Labor leader wrote about John Faulkner.  According to the AFR columnist, “even though he [Faulkner] is the quintessential fixer, the mastermind of numerous intra-party deals, he is regarded as a honest broker”.  The Latham column did not mention that Senator Faulkner had supported his bid to lead Labor in December 2003 and was a key adviser in Latham’s disastrous 2004 election campaign when he was out-performed by John Howard.

In preparing this MWD section, considerable assistance has been provided by Nancy – who has provided some special insights into The Thought of Mark Latham (at the moment).

The Latham Dairies – As Hacked By Nancy

Using some abandoned equipment found on a tip near Wapping, Nancy has been able to hack into Mark Latham’s personal computer.  With a little help from Nancy, MWD can reveal that the superannuated former Labor leader (age 50) is writing another edition of The Latham Diaries.  This week, shortly after Mass on Sunday, Nancy accessed Mr Latham’s computer and discovered this entry for Friday 8 July 2011.  Here it is.

Friday, 8 July

Woke up late this morning. It’s bloody cold in Sydney’s west, out Camden way. I stayed in my pyjamas until 11 o’clock and then realised I must get dressed.  It’s tough being a superannuated 50 year old in Western Sydney at my age. The taxpayers are only kicking in $75,000 a year, fully indexed, for life. A bloke and his sheila and three kids can’t live on this. Thank God that the Australian Financial Review pays for my fortnightly column and that neo-con fascist Tom Switzer is foolish enough to pay me 50 cents a word for writing in The Spectator Australia.  The fool doesn’t realise that I would abuse everyone for free.

That Tory Peter Van Onselen has offered me a gig on The Contrarians program on Sky News this afternoon, along with the Liberal lickspittle Chris Kenny and that Murdoch sheila Claire Harvey.  But I turned up.  It gave me an opportunity to blame Rupert Murdoch for my defeat by John Howard and his awful wife Janette in the 2004 election.  What a pair of suck-holes. Despite the show’s name, no one stated a position contrary to mine. At the end, the Tory Van Onselen arsehole asked me whether I would join him again on the show.  I replied: “Oh yes, absolutely.”  I mean it.

The Sky News studio in Macquarie Park is dull country. But it’s better than watching grass grow in Camden. I got to drive in a taxi through the suburbs where those upstarts are trying to live like I do. Greedy bastards – as I told La Trobe University’s Robert Manne during our recent webcast discussion. He seemed to agree.

The Contrarians gave me another chance to bang on about the childless Julia Gillard.  She didn’t even try to have a family – as I told Fran Kelly recently. Look at me.  As I have said publicly before, like Napoleon, I have only one testicle.  But I’ve got three kids whom I am bringing up to hate Liberals, Catholic priests and red-headed feminist atheists who become Labor leaders.  Just imagine how many haters I could have sired if only I had two balls in the air – so to speak.

On the way back to Camden, I asked the taxi driver to stop by the newsagency where I picked up a copy of today’s issue of The Spectator Australia.  The neo-con fascist Switzer has put my column on the front cover with the heading “The anti-Thatcher: Gillard has failed women, says Mark Latham”.  The cartoonist has drawn a large caricature of Thatcher and a small caricature of Gillard.

Switzer is clever.  The Thatcher cover may help hide the fact that I have written my “Julia is a hopeless, red-headed, childless feminist” on 69 previous occasions.  I thought about writing something original.  But I do not have much that is original to say.  Not for 50 cents a word, at least.  Switzer seems to believe that I admire Thatcher.  Bollocks.  It’s just that I will praise anyone in comparison with that Turd Gillard.  Talk about bad judgment.  She even voted for me in the Labor leadership ballot where I knocked over that other fool, the fool Beazley, in December 2003.

My taxi driver seemed nervous.  I assured him that I wouldn’t break his arm this afternoon – and he cheered up a bit.  Even so, I was surprised that he had a knuckle-duster hanging from his mirror.  On second thoughts, perhaps it’s Steve Hutchins’ Rosary beads or maybe Don Farrell’s.  The Labor right-wing Catholics, they’re the scum of the earth – as I told my “Aussie Specie” readers.

I’m proud of what I wrote in today’s “Aussie Specie”.  I also had a real go at Kevin Rudd.  I called him a “madman”.  And I meant it. I know a madman when I see one. There are mirrors in Camden, after all.  Believe me.

I also referred to Bert (“call me Doc”) Evatt as “a great Labor leader”.  Okay.  This is the very same Bert Evatt (1896-1965) whom I described in the 2005 edition of The Latham Diaries as a “three-time-loser” (Page 45) and as bad as that fucking hopeless former Labor leader Kim Beazley (Pages 103, 167).  It hurt me writing this – especially since I wrote in my diary on 29 March 1999 that “I’m from the Whitlam school of sticking by great Labor Prime Ministers”. (Page 100).  But I felt that I had to do it.  It’s a bit like tackling taxi-drivers after dark when a bloke’s tired and emotional and a bit confused about how to find the way home.  Someone has to do it.

Anyrate, it’s great now to make it up to the “Doc” and call him a “great Labor leader”.  After all, he wasn’t a Catholic or a red-head or an atheistic childless sheila. Just an atheistic, childless bloke – and that’s different. Men don’t have wombs, you know. Certainly not in western Sydney.

Fortunately the neo-con fascist Switzer doesn’t engage a fact-checker for my “Latham’s Law” column in the “Aussie Speckie”.  Otherwise it would be called “Latham’s Lore”. Off to bed. I don’t have to get up until 11 o’clock tomorrow.  It’s a great life in Camden when the shout is always on the Aussie taxpayer.  What a conga line of foolish arseholes these taxpayers are. [Great stuff. Any chance of Nancy hacking into Mr Latham’s medical records for next week?  That could be lotsa fun – and quite revealing – Ed].



And so it came to pass that Carbon Monday came just after Carbon Sunday. [Was that done so that, in New Testament speak, the prophecy might be fulfilled? – Ed].

And on that day ABC News led with an item declaring that “the independent Grattan Institute” had supported the Gillard Government’s policy to introduce a carbon tax which will lead, in turn, to an emissions trading scheme.

Nancy’s co-owner immediately wrote to ABC management asking on what basis the Grattan Institute is classified as “independent”. Alas, there was no reply. [Didn’t nice Mr Scott sign up the ABC to the Right to Know Coalition? – Ed.  See MWD passim, ad nauseam].

MWD has no problem with some of the Grattan Institute’s many employees being interviewed for the ABC Radio and ABC TV.  However, the Grattan Institute is essentially government funded.  It was set up following a grant of $15 million by the Rudd Government in Canberra and $15 million by the Brumby Government in Melbourne – and would not be in existence without taxpayer funding.  The Grattan Institute was established to please Melbourne after the Howard Government gave $30 million of taxpayer funds to help establish the United States Studies Centre in Sydney.

Consequently The Grattan Institute is no more “independent” than, say, the privately funded Institute of Public Affairs whose staff oppose a carbon tax/ETS.


Nancy’s co-owner was in Hobart yesterday and picked up his copy of The Age.  In any event, Thursday’s Age was up to Nancy’s expectations.

The Page One lead was titled “Coalition falters on carbon tax”.  A big call – especially since the Michelle Grattan/Ben Schneiders story merely revealed that former Liberal Party leader Malcolm Turnbull had spat the dummy (once again) about carbon tax/losing the Liberal Party leadership and so on.

Page Four contained an “Economists give Gillard, themselves thumbs up” by economic correspondent Peter Martin.  He pointed out that a survey of 145 economists who belong to the Economic Society revealed that 59 per cent of economists thought that a carbon tax was “good economic policy” with 11 per cent supporting Tony Abbott’s direct action alternative. Bruce Chapman, the Economic Society’s president, said that this was just “basic economics”.

MWD recalls that Bruce Chapman was one of a near unanimity of economists who supported the centralised industrial relations system in the early and mid 1980s and opposed industrial relations reform.

Since last week’s issue, MWD has received a few names – just a few – of economists who supported industrial relations reform when the issue was first raised in 1983.  But nowhere enough to contradict Nancy’s co-owner’s claim that the overwhelming majority of economists were “asleep at the wheel” on labour market de-regulation three decades ago – and if everyone had followed the near-unanimous view of economists then, there would have been no industrial relations reform.

Then, on the Opinion Page, the lead article was by the oh-so-pompous Geoffrey Robertson QC.  As a general rule, Mr Robertson is a civil libertarian type.  However, when Rupert Murdoch is involved, different standards seem to apply.  Geoffrey Robertson asked readers of The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra “Should it [the law] require Rupert Murdoch’s detention in custody long enough to assist the police with their enquiries?”  This could set a new standard – whereby police enquiries can only be properly conducted if the person subjected to question is in the clink. Needless to say The Age just loved Robertson QC’s (leading) question – as highlighted in The Age’s front page.


This (popular) segment is devoted to ABC Chairman Maurice Newman’s suggestion that a certain “group think” might be prevalent at the ABC – and to ABC 1 Media Watch presenter Jonathan Holmes’ certainty that no such phenomenon is extant within the public broadcaster. See MWD passim.

▪ On ABC TV News last Sunday, Kirrin McKechnie did three case studies on the response to the Prime Minister’s carbon tax announcement.  Namely a female pensioner (who supported the carbon tax), a Lesbian couple with two children (who supported a carbon tax) and a heterosexual couple with two children (one of whom supported a carbon tax). So, according to Ms McKechnie spot poll, 80 per cent of Australians support a carbon tax. Yet, according to empirical polls, around 60 per cent of Australians oppose a carbon tax. Fancy that.

On Radio 702 on Monday, Mornings with Deborah Cameron’s political forum heard from former Federal Labor minister Susan Ryan and former State Liberal MP Stephen Doherty.  Mr Doherty is in a minority of Liberals who support a carbon tax/ETS. So Ms Cameron essentially agreed with Ms Ryan who essentially agreed with Ms Doherty who essentially agreed with Ms Cameron. Then on Lateline on Monday, presenter Ali Moore did two key interviews.  The first was with Tony Wood – formerly of Origin Energy who has worked with Ross Garnaut and now works with the Grattan Institute.  Origin Energy has long supported a carbon tax/ETS.

Soon after Ali Moore interviewed Grant King, managing director of Origin Energy Australia. He supported a carbon tax/ETS.

Enough said.

Maurice Newman: 3

Jonathan Holmes: Zip


Lee Rhiannon (nee Brown) was elected to the Senate at the August 2010 election and took her seat in the upper house chamber on 1 July 2011. She defeated Labor’s Steve Hutchins for the sixth vacancy in New South Wales.  Rhiannon won on the preferences of minor parties and Independents but her victory had been assured by obtaining Liberal Party preferences. This means that if Senator Rhiannon had scored 4000 fewer votes, the Coalition’s preferences would have been distributed and she would have defeated Hutchins by an even greater margin – with a lot of help from the political conservatives.

Lee Rhiannon is the leading figure on the left of the Greens.  As such, her political affiliations – now and in the past – are a matter of public interest.  However, some media commentators are running the line that there is something improper about enquiries into Senator Rhiannon’s political past – as distinct from the political background of Julia Gillard or Tony Abbott.

Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald on 9-10 July 2011, Mike Carlton commented:

The Tory commentariat has been frothing all week at the thought of the Greens controlling the balance of power in the Senate. The voters have made a frightful mistake in allowing this state of affairs, apparently. There’s particular angst over the new NSW Greens senator, Lee Rhiannon, whose parents, Bill and Freda Brown, were card-carrying members of the Communist Party of Australia yonks ago. She, therefore, must also be a Red.

You can take parental precedent a bit far. My father was a Catholic priest for 13 years, a Missionary of the Sacred Heart, but that hardly makes me one, as I am sure Cardinal Pell would agree. If the Tories want to go down the road of guilt by family association, what then would they say of the new opposition leader in the Senate, Eric Abetz, whose great uncle was an SS Standartenführer and Hitler’s ambassador to Vichy France? Please explain.

How disingenuous can you get?  Here are some facts:

▪ It is true that some political conservatives have expressed concern about the Greens having the balance of power in the Senate.  However, one of the most outspoken critics of the Greens is Michael Danby, the Labor MP for Melbourne Ports. Another is AWU national secretary Paul Howes.  The leading critic of Rhiannon’s attempt to fudge her past is Mark Aarons. Like Rhiannon, Aarons is the son of Communist Party parents and he is no Tory – having worked as a senior staffer for the New South Wales Labor government.  Rhiannon’s political past was revealed by Mark Aarons in his 2010 book The Family File.

▪ The case against Lee Rhiannon is not that her parents were Communist Party members – but, rather, that she continued her parents’ political allegiances until the collapse of European communism around 1990.  Lee Brown was born in 1951.  The Berlin Wall came down in 1989 – when she was 38 years old.

▪ Mike Carlton’s father, Jimmy Carlton (1909-1951) left the Catholic priesthood in 1945 and died six years later.  Mike Carlton was not brought up a Catholic. The comparison to the Rhiannon case is non-existent.  Also, Jimmy Carlton was a democrat – he did not support totalitarian regimes.

▪ Eric Abetz is the grand nephew of Otto Abetz (1903-1958). Otto Abetz was arrested in 1949 and sentenced as a war criminal.  He was released from prison in 1954 and died in a motor accident four years later.  Eric Abetz was born in 1958 and never knew his great uncle.

So, what about Lee Rhiannon?

Lee Rhiannon was born in 1951 to Bill Brown and Freda Brown.  Bill Brown joined the CPA in 1940.  Freda Brown joined the CPA in 1936.  In other words, both Browns were in the CPA when, on the direction of the communist dictators in Moscow, the party supported the Nazi-Soviet Pact which prevailed between August 1939 and June 1941.  The Pact made it possible for Germany to invade Poland on 1 September 1939, which effectively commenced the Second World War.

The Nazi-Soviet Pact was an agreement by which Germany and the Soviet Union divided up Eastern Europe between themselves.  As CPA members, the Browns opposed the war effort between August 1939 and June 1941 and effectively backed Adolf Hitler and the Nazis.

Bill Brown and Freda Brown also supported the Red Army’s conquest of Eastern Europe after the end of the Second World War – along with the suppression of workers’ uprising in East Germany and Poland.  They also backed the Soviet Union’s invasion of Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968.

In 1968 the CPA, under the leadership of Laurie Aarons, decided that it could no longer support the communist dictatorship in the Soviet Union. This was a courageous decision, breaking off a half century link between the CPA and Moscow.  During this time Moscow provided funds to the CPA and some CPA members spied for the Soviet Union.  All this is documented in such books as Mark Aarons The Family  File and Breaking the Codes: Australia’s KGB Network 1944-1950 by Des Ball and David Horner.

As Mark Aarons documents, the CPA split around 1970.  The Aarons group, which by then opposed Moscow, kept control of the CPA.  The Brown group, with the support of Moscow, set up the Socialist Party of Australia in 1971.  Mark Aarons documents that, according to declassified Soviet Union records, Moscow paid US$40,000 to the SPA in 1971.

In the early 1970s, Lee Brown went by her married name Lee O’Gorman.  She joined the SPA – which was the continuing Leninist/Stalinist party – in 1971.  The SPA rationalised the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and supported the communist dictatorships in Eastern Europe in their on-going suppression of workers’ rights and intellectual and religious freedom.

MWD Issues 62 and 65 documented Lee Rhiannon’s support for European Leninism/Stalinism throughout the 1970s and 1980s – including her role in the editorship of the SPA’s magazine Survey.  Rhiannon’s contributions to Survey were covered at great length by Christian Kerr in his article “Brown, Red, Green – and a Tokyo Rose” which was published in The Weekend Australian on 2-3 July 2011.  He documented that Rhiannon continued to edit the SPA’s magazine up until the middle of 1990.

Rhiannon was asked about Kerr’s article by Hugh Riminton on Meet The Press (3 July 2011). The exchange was as follows:

Hugh Riminton : This wasn’t the reason that we asked you onto this program, but I want to clear it up and get it out of the way – did you write for and edit a newspaper in the 1980s called “Survey” that was funded in whole, or in part, by the Soviet Union?

Senator Lee Rhiannon: Yes, I assisted with it to some extent. You’re referring to the Christian Kerr’s article yesterday?

Hugh Riminton: There’ve been reports in the media that this was something you’ve not been entirely frank about?

Senator Lee Rhiannon: I’ve always been frank about my work. Absolutely. What we’ve just seen here is another one of these articles. I mean, when you read it, it was a little bit hard to get to the end, but it was sort of like being hit with a wet sock. I’m quite proud of my history. I’ve always been very open about it.

Hugh Riminton: If you’re proud of it, why isn’t it part of your official Senate biography?

Senator Lee Rhiannon: Not everything is part of my official Senate biography. When I was young, I also worked at Regent Park Zoo. I’ve travelled widely. I’ve done a whole range of jobs in different countries.

Hugh Riminton: But the argument is that, for a number of years, you were working for an organisation that was being funded by the Soviet Union as a communist entity, and that’s not on your official Senate biography. And there is a view that perhaps people should be aware that that is part of your past?

Senator Lee Rhiannon: Well, firstly, I’m quite proud of my past. I have no problems in discussing any aspect of it. I think we also need to see it in the context of why this carry-on is occurring – it’s because the Greens are in the balance of power, and that’s why I’m being targeted. We’ve also seen these comments from Tony Abbott this week where he made the extraordinary statement of likening the carbon tax to socialism masquerading as environmentalism. We’re back to Cold War rhetoric that is really out of place.

In fact, Lee Rhiannon has not been frank about her past.  In a letter to the Sydney Morning Herald on 28 July 2010 she denied that her parents were Stalinists.  They were.  All CPA members supported Josef Stalin when he ruled the Soviet Union.  She made a similar claim in a letter to The Weekend Australian on 12 April 2011.  She concluded this letter as follows:  “I was never a member of the Communist Party. I was a member of the Socialist Party”.

This conveniently overlooks the fact that by 1971 the SPA was more communist than the CPA.  The SPA backed – and was funded by – Moscow.  There are similar rationalisations on Lee Rhiannon’s blog – see “Responding To Attacks On My Family And Political Background”, 21 April 2011.

Senator Rhiannon told Channel 10 that she is “proud” of her past political involvements. However, she refused to answer Christian Kerr’s questions.

Mike Carlton’s claim that Lee Rhiannon’s association with European communism turns on a “family association” only is completely misleading.  As Mark Aarons documented in his profile on Rhiannon in the May 2011 issue of The Monthly, she even led an SPA deputation to the  Soviet Union in 1977 during Leonid Brezhnev’s time. As Aarons commented, Rhiannon has never acknowledged “how dreadfully wrong she was about the Soviet Union” throughout her twenties and thirties.

Mike Carlton would never be so soft on someone who supported a fascist regime for half their adult life.

A similar double standard is evident in the comments of former journalist and UTS media academic Wendy Bacon.

Writing in The Drum Opinion on 27 April 2011, Wendy Bacon commented:

Last August, Lee Rhiannon after 11 years in the NSW Legislative Council, was elected to the Senate. Even before her election, the attack on her character had begun. Her sin: her family’s membership of the Socialist Party of Australia which continued to support the Soviet Union after its 1968 invasion of what was then Czechoslovakia. All of that happened more than 40 years ago.

This attack smacks of McCarthyism, the 1950s period named after the right-wing US Senator Jo McCarthy. During this period, people were demonised if they were suspected of having being associated with communism…. Holding someone accountable for the crimes of Stalin because they did not in their youth publicly recant the ideology inherited from their family upbringing is like holding ex-Catholics responsible for child abuse crimes inside the church.

Once again, there is an unpleasant double standard here. Rhiannon is not being attacked for her past association with Eastern European communism but, rather, for fudging her past and refusing to discuss it.  Also Rhiannon’s support for Soviet Communism extended beyond 1968 up until 1990 – when she suddenly joined the Greens, following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The criticism of Rhiannon is not that she failed to publicly recant her communist past.  It is that she remains proud of it even today. Wendy Bacon concluded her piece in The Drum Opinion as follows:

Rhiannon makes no secret of her family’s political history. She condemns the appalling crimes of Stalin while remaining proud of her political family for their work for peace and the rights of their fellow citizens.

Professor Bacon simply overlooks the fact that Rhiannon is less than frank about her past associations.  The UTS academic would not give such slack to, say, the member of a pro-fascist party who declared pride in past involvements.

According to Wendy Bacon, criticism of Lee Rhiannon is “character assassination” which she declares is “yet another tool of Stalinism”. In other words those who criticise Rhiannon for refusing to be frank about her parents’ one-time Stalinism and her decades-long flirtation with Soviet Communism are themselves adopting Stalinist practices.

It seems that professors at the University of Technology teach media students that legitimate criticism of Lee Rhiannon amounts to “Stalinism”. This is an extraordinary claim – even for a UTS leftist academic writing on the ABC’s taxpayer funded The Drum Opinion.



MWD Issue 96 published correspondence concerning Gerard Henderson’s request that Nick Dyrenfurth and Tim Soutphommasane provide evidence for the claims made in the introduction of their co-edited book All That’s Left: What Labor Should Stand For (New South, 2010).

Four Questions Nick Dyrenfurth and Tim Soutphommasane Cannot Answer

Gerard Henderson asked four specific questions concerning the claims made about him in All That’s Left by the books’ co-editors, viz:

  1. What is your evidence to support your assertion that I “believe that Labor has returned to its socialist ways”?  Where did I ever write or say this – and when?
  2. What is your evidence to support your assertion that I believe that “everything is symbolic and hollow”?  Where did I ever write or say this – and when?
  3. What is your evidence to support your assertion that I hold the view that “political correctness has run riot”. Where did I ever write or say this – and when?
  4. What is your evidence to support your assertion that I hold the view that “Judeo-Christian values are under threat”?  Where did I ever write or say this – and when?

Dr Dyrenfurth and Dr Soutphommasane refused to respond to, or even acknowledge, Gerard Henderson’s correspondence.  They told New South – which is a part of University of New South Wales Press which, in turn, is part of the University of New South Wales – that they would not respond unless they were guaranteed that their correspondence would not be published.  Gerard Henderson rejected the offer – on the basis that taxpayer funded academics should be prepared to publicly defend assertions made by them in taxpayer subsidised university presses.

Professor Richard (“We’re all Post-Modernists Now”) Henry Intervenes On Behalf Of UNSW

MWD’s Correspondence Section resumes on 2 June 2011 when Gerard Henderson wrote again to the co-editors.  It ends with a quite extraordinary email from Professor Richard Henry who, writing on behalf of the University of New South Wales, declares that UNSW is not willing to stand by material published in UNSW Press publications or even to ask its authors to provide evidence for undocumented assertions in UNSW Press publications.

In other words, it’s official UNSW policy that, in UNSW Press publications, facts do not matter and authors can publish claims unsupported by any evidence of any kind.  UNSW Press is an academic publisher.

Professor Henry seems to be suggesting that, post-modernism prevails on the UNSW Kensington Campus.  So much so that if UNSW Press authors do not want to reply to, or even acknowledge, correspondence asking for evidence – well, that’s okay too.

Here is Gerard Henderson’s empirical request to the authors and UNSW – and Professor Henry’s post-modernist response.  The correspondence speaks volumes for what passes for intellectual standards at the University of New South Wales today.

Gerard Henderson to Nick Dyrenfurth  and Tim Soutphommasane 2 June 2011

Is anyone home? – my unanswered emails refer.

I noted that in his “Ask the Philosopher” column in The Weekend Australian last Saturday, Tim Soutphommasane was critical of the “quality of our contemporary politics”.

Fancy that.  What about the quality of academic scholarship? – when the co-editors of All That’s Left refuse to provide any evidence of any kind to support the assertions made about me in the Introduction of their edited collection.

Such cowardice is the fault of the co-editors – not the publishers.  In standard form contracts, editors and authors guarantee publishers about the accuracy of their work.

I do not expect New South to provide the evidence, for example, where I (allegedly) said or wrote that the Labor Party was “socialist”.  But I do expect that taxpayer funded academics should either produce the documentation or concede that they just concocted their claims.

Still waiting.

Gerard Henderson

cc:      Kathy Bail

Phillipa McGuinness

Gerard Henderson to Fred Hilmer – 8 June 2011

Dear Professor Hilmer

I have attached a copy of the correspondence which passed between me and Nick Dyrenfurth and Tim Soutphommasane (the editors of All That’s Left) and Kathy Bail and Phillipa McGuinness (at the University of New South Wales Press). All That’s Left was published by New South in 2010. Due to a sense of frustration, I published this correspondence in a recent edition of my Media Watch Dog blog.

As Vice-Chancellor of the University of New South Wales, I assume that you take ultimate responsibility for the publications of the University of New South Wales Press Ltd.

As the correspondence indicates, in the “Introduction” to All That’s Left the co-editors make certain allegations about my political and economic beliefs.  Since the book contains neither footnotes nor endnotes, none of the assertions are documented.

I have written to Dr Dyrenfurth and Dr Soutphommasane on several occasions requesting that they provide evidence to support their claims with respect to me in All That’s Left. So far, neither has responded.

As I understand it, the standard contracts signed by authors require that the authors assure their publishers that the material in their books is correct.  In my view, Dr Dyrenfurth and Dr Soutphommasane – not New South – are responsible for the claims made about me in All That’s Left.  However, both Ms Bail and Ms McGuinness appear to support the stance taken by the editors of All That’s Left not to provide evidence to back-up their (undocumented) assertions.

Apparently New South is concerned that I might publish the responses by Dr Dyrenfurth and Dr Soutphommasane. This is puzzling – since the claims made about me are published in a New South book.

There is a serious issue here. I have been a public commentator for decades and avoided exaggeration and hyperbole.  Yet the editors of All That’s Left trash my reputation by claiming – for example – that I regard the modern Labor Party as “socialist”.  When I ask the editors to provide evidence for their claim – they lack the courage to reply. Moreover, their evident cowardice is apparently supported by the University of New South Wales Press.

I know how busy you are.  However, I would be grateful if you could arrange for one of your staff to review the issue.

I have always enjoyed a good relationship with New South and some of its authors have addressed The Sydney Institute over the years.  On this occasion, all I am asking is that the editors of a New South publication provide evidence to support their claims with respect to me – or acknowledge that they have no evidence.  This is not an unreasonable request – especially concerning academics who mark down their own students for failing to provide evidence to support allegations.

On another note, Professor Herbert Huppert who, as I understand it, is a friend of yours – will be addressing The Sydney Institute on Tuesday 12 July 2011.  You and Claire are most welcome to attend his talk – which, as I understand it, will include an experiment or two.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

Fred Hilmer to Gerard Henderson – 9 June 2011

Copy to Julie Romanowski


In Europe until end of month. Have fwdd to exec assistant


Gerard Henderson to Fred Hilmer – 9 June 2011

Copy to Julie Romanowski


Thanks for that.  Have fun in Europe.



Julie Romanowski to Gerard Henderson – 9 June 2011

Dear Gerard,

I am currently chasing up and will get back to you as soon as possible.


Gerard Henderson to Julie Romanowski – 9 June 2011

Dear Julie


It is all very simple really. All I am asking is that the co-editors either produce the evidence to support their claims or acknowledge that they have no evidence.

This matter should have been resolved weeks ago without the intervention of UNSW Press or Professor Hilmer.  If I am asked to support claims with evidence, I do so.

I look forward to hearing from you in due course.



Richard Henry (Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academic)  to Gerard Henderson – 10 June 2011

Dear Gerard,

I have asked University Press to forward your correspondence onto the editors of the publication.  Whether or not they respond is a matter for them.  The views expressed in the publication are of course subject to public comment, criticism and discussion as part of the usual discourse of academic and public life.

Yours sincerely

Richard Henry

Gerard Henderson to Richard Henry – 10 June 2011

Dear Professor Henry

I refer to your email received today.  If you have read the material you would know that the correspondence was forwarded to the editors some time ago and they simply refused to respond or even acknowledge my letters.

Please correct me if I am wrong. But as I interpret your letter, the University of New South Wales is not willing to stand by material published by the University of New South Wales Press Ltd.

The final sentence in your note is meaningless.  Of course, the views expressed in All That’s Left are “subject to public comment, criticism and discussion as part of the usual discourse of academic and public life”.  This is the case with all books, surely.

But here you have a situation where the University of New South Wales Press Ltd has published a book without endnotes or footnotes and the co-editors refuse to support any of the allegations in the book with documentary evidence.

To me this seems remarkably unprofessional and I am surprised that, in your official capacity as the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), UNSW you would choose to tolerate such unprofessional behaviour.

Yours sincerely

Dr Gerard Henderson

Executive Director

The Sydney Institute

cc:      Professor Fred Hilmer AO

President & Vice Chancellor

University of New South Wales

Richard Henry to Gerard Henderson – 10 June 2011

Dear Gerard,

Thank you for your insights.  I don’t have anything to add to my previous email.

Yours sincerely

Richard Henry

cc: Fred Hilmer

* * * *

Until next time then.