GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG – ISSUE NO. 114
30 SEPTEMBER 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.
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.”
“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are private correspondence and not for publication” – ABC News Radio’s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: AFR Power Issue Has PM’s Eyes Wide Shut
While Rupert Runs The Country (From New York); No Dangerous Ideas Evident This Weekend
● Andrew Bolt And The Federal Court : MWD Reads Between The Lines of Justice Bromberg’s Decision
● Can You Bear It? With Contributions From Margaret Simons; Larissa Behrendt; At Home With Julia And 7.30
● Nancy’s Five Paws Award: Step Forward Ben Fordham
● Correspondence : Lee Rhiannon Writes to MWD But Declines To Answer A Dozen Questions
▪ The AFR And The Power Of News
What an extraordinary photograph of the Prime Minister on the front cover of today’s “The Power Issue” of The Australian Financial Review Magazine. Why would editor Jeni Porter want to run a photo of Julia Gillard with her eyes closed on the cover – and her eyes wide open on Page 22?
Then Andrew Cornell reports that, when the panel-of-ten determined who were among the most powerful persons in the land, they saw the American based Rupert Murdoch as primarily responsible for Australia’s political woes. Wrote Cornell:
The panel recognised the failure of the government to exploit its incumbency or articulate its policy positions and the populist agenda of the opposition was in part due to the partisan coverage of the Murdoch media in Australia.
So there you have it. Blame News Limited. Rupert Murdoch’s companies control some 70 per cent of the major Australian newspapers but own no commercial television or radio stations. Then there is the ABC and SBS and social media. Then there is the influential Fairfax Media. The truth is that the Murdoch media is not as powerful as some commentators believe. It has influence for sure – but not much power.
▪ The Festival of Non-Shocking Ideas
The long weekend in Sydney will once again feature what is presented as the Festival of Dangerous Ideas at the Sydney Opera House. The only problem is that, once again, most of the so-called dangerous ideas are not dangerous at all. Rather they tend to be fashionable.
Once again this year there is a substantial turn out of fashionable left-of-centre types – including Bob Brown, Julian Burnside, Kate Adie, Alison Broinowski, David Marr, Cheryl Kernot, Philip Nitschke, Dick Smith, Julian Assange (via video link), Richard Dennis, Slavos Zizek, Samah Hadid, Simon Sheikh, Salil Shetty, Antony Loewenstein, Michael Kirby, Mike Daisey, Mary Kostakidis and Jonathan Safran Foer.
MWD could find only two conservatives on the program – the Australian Jim Wallace and the American Marc Thiessen.
If the well-heeled left-of-centre crowd, which assembles annually at the Opera House each Labour Day Weekend in Sydney, want to be challenged by some really dangerous ideas which might upset them – here are a few (dangerous) suggestions for topics:
▪ “Climate Change is a load of crap.”
▪ “George W. Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard were great democratic leaders.”
▪ “Abortion is always manslaughter and sometimes murder.”
▪ “Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann should be US president and vice-president respectively.”
▪ “Islam is for losers, Christianity and Judiasm are for winners.”
“All festivals of Dangerous Ideas should have as many conservatives on the platform as lefties.”
EATOCK v BOLT, BROMBERG J. PRESIDING: OR HOW TO COME TO A JUDGMENT BY “READING BETWEEN THE LINES”
His Honour Mordecai (“Call me Mordy”) Bromberg is one of MWD’s favourite m’learned brethren. Justice Bromberg, who was appointed to the Federal Court of Australia by the Rudd Labor Government in December 2009, handed down judgment on Wednesday in a case where Pat Eatock, supported by eight others, brought an action against the Herald-Sun columnist Andrew Bolt and his employer, the Herald and Weekly Times, under the Racial Discrimination Act 1975. Since then, Mr Bolt has been elevated to the rare status of a living martyr and two of his forgotten columns currently dominate the Australian public debate.
In his entry in Who’s Who in Australia, Mordecai Bromberg lists details of his professional life. He graduated in law and economics at Monash University, did his articles at the left-wing law firm Slater & Gordon, and became secretary of the Human Rights Committee of the Victorian Bar. He was the founding president of the Australian Institute of Employment Rights and was president of the International Centre for Trade Union Rights. Mordy Bromberg played 34 games for the St Kilda Football Club in VFL/AFL and, wait for it, while a student at Brighton Grammar won the Selwyn Rhodes Prize and the Economics Prize and the Politics Prize and the Accounting Prize. [Is this the same private school attended by leftist comedian and one-time Marxist Guy Rundle, who won the prestigious Karl Marx Humour Prize while at Brighton Grammar? – Ed].
The aim of Pat Eatock and the indigenous Australians who supported her action – Anita Heiss, Bindi Cole, Geoff Clark, Wayne Atkinson, Graham Atkinson, Larissa Behrendt, Leeanne Enoch and Mark McMillan – was to silence Bolt who had written columns in the Herald-Sun titled “It’s so hip to be black” (15 April 2009) and “White fellas in the black” (21 August 2009). As it turned out, Bromberg J. did not order that Bolt’s columns be removed from the Herald-Sun website archives. The unintended consequence of this case was Bolt’s views being better known now than they were before the hearing commenced.
Bromberg J’s reasons for judgment are very long – running for 470 numbered paragraphs. MWD has highlighted some aspects of the case which are likely to reverberate in the public debate for some time to come.
▪ Bromberg J. found that there is a group of Australians who are “fair-skinned Aboriginal people”. They “have fairer, rather than darker, skin” and “by a combination of descent, self-identification and communal recognition are, and are recognised as, Aboriginal persons” (Para 1).
▪ Bromberg J. found that Bolt’s first column, titled “It’s so hip to be black”, contained language which was not “moderate or temperate but often strong and emphatic” and contained “a liberal use of sarcasm and mockery”. The judge commented:
Language of that kind has a heightened capacity to convey implications beyond the literal meaning of the words utilised. It is language which invites the reader to not only read the lines, but to also read between the lines. (Para 26).
Bromberg J’s decision has been welcomed by such civil libertarians as David Marr, Julian Burnside and Greg Barns. Yet his findings went beyond what Bolt wrote and covered the judge’s belief about Bolt’s “tone”. Also, Bromberg J. should know that it is literally impossible to “read between the lines” since there is nothing printed there. Such a statement lacks the precision expected of a judge addressing facts.
▪ Bromberg J. found that Bolt’s second article, titled “White fellas in the black”, contained “a tone” which was “more cynical” and that “mockery” was “used more extensively than is the case for the first article”. (Para 38).
▪ Andrew Bolt’s essential thesis was that some Australians of Aboriginal and other (including European) backgrounds identified as indigenous because it was fashionable to do so and/or because there were benefits for so doing – with respect to government payments, scholarships, awards etc.
As Bromberg J documented (Paras 67-164 and Paras 380-384), Bolt’s articles contained a number of factual errors concerning the backgrounds of the nine “fair-skinned Aboriginal people”. Moreover, contrary to the implications of the columns, all nine fair-skinned Aboriginal people had identified as Aboriginal for all of their lives at least since childhood.
▪ Bromberg J. found that “a person of mixed heritage but with some Aboriginal descent, who identifies as an Aboriginal person and has communal recognition as such, unquestionably satisfies what is conveniently understood to be an ‘Aboriginal Australian’”. (Para 188).
▪ But Bromberg J. also wrote that: “I do not wish to suggest that a person with less than the three attributes of the three-part test should not be recognised as an Aboriginal person” (Para 189). The implication of this statement is that, in Bromberg J’s view, a person can rightfully be considered an Aboriginal Australian even though he/she is not of Aboriginal descent.
▪ Bromberg J not only found that Bolt’s columns contained errors. He also found that there was an “omission of a series of relevant facts” (Para 393). In other words, Bolt went down not only for what he wrote (which was found to be unreasonable and erroneous) but also what he did not write (but, in the judge’s view, should have been written).
Bromberg J. made it clear that his decision turned on what he describes as the importance of social harmony:
In my view, even outside of political discourse, freedom of expression is not merely a freedom to speak inoffensively…. But there are areas of discourse where incivility is less acceptable, including because it is more damaging to social harmony. Additionally, a distinction may be drawn between harsh language directed at a person and harsh language directed at a person’s opinion…. (Para 410).
▪ Bromberg J. also stated that it is acceptable to query whether awards to Aborigines are properly awarded, provided the matter is left there:
I accept that a rational relationship exists between asserting that a group of advantaged Aboriginal people have been the recipients of awards and opportunities for Aboriginal people and the assertion that there needs to be a more just allocation of awards and opportunities to Aboriginal people so that less advantaged Aboriginal people become recipients. But it is neither necessary nor essential to the latter assertion to assert that the advantaged recipients are not genuinely Aboriginal. (Para 445).
▪ Towards the end of his judgment, Bromberg J. used such words as “gratuitous” (Para 413), “mockery and inflammatory language” (Para 414) and “disrespectful” (Para 415). Readers of this judgment could come to the conclusion that Blomberg J. is a frustrated editor or sub-editor who wants to instruct journalists how to write.
▪ At Para 388, Bromberg J. identified with a decision of the Privy Council in Austin v Mirror Newspapers Limited in which the court held that “the public deserve to be protected against irresponsible journalism”. Bromberg J. did not state what might constitute irresponsible journalism.
In the Summary of his judgment, Bromberg J. wrote:
In reaching those conclusions, I have observed that in seeking to promote tolerance and protect against intolerance in a multicultural society, the Racial Discrimination Act must be taken to include in its objectives tolerance for and acceptance of racial and ethnic diversity. At the core of multiculturalism is the idea that people may identify with and express their racial or ethnic heritage free from pressure not to do so. People should be free to fully identify with their race without fear of public disdain or loss of esteem for so identifying. Disparagement directed at the legitimacy of the racial identification of a group of people is likely to be destructive of racial tolerance, just as disparagement directed at the real or imagined practices or traits of those people is also destructive of racial tolerance. (Para 22).
Previously, the concept of multiculturalism was regarded as inclusive – in that it provided a banner under which all Australians could gather and celebrate what they have in common while recognising their diverse backgrounds. Now Bromberg J. has held that the successful implementation of multiculturalism entails that speech should be constrained lest it breach the Racial Discrimination Act.
* * * * *
It is unclear whether Andrew Bolt or the Herald and Weekly Times will appeal against Bromberg’s decision in Eatock v Bolt. As the case law stands following this decision, there are considerable limits on what can be said in Australia’s multicultural society – especially if a person’s “tone” displeases a member of the judiciary.
There is another matter. The Federal Court has conclusively found that there is such an entity in Australia as “fair-skinned Aboriginal people”. What, then, will be said next time when some “fair-skinned Aboriginal people” condemn the European “invasion” of 1788 or take part in “Invasion Day” protests – since the Federal Court has now officially found that Aboriginal people can have significant European heritage? Eatock v Bolt is capable of giving weight to the view that some Australians are the descendants of both the invaded and the invaders.
Justice Bromberg is, no doubt, a well meaning person. But the decision in Eatock v Bolt has given significant publicity to Andrew Bolt’s cause. Also he has brought down a judgment which could severely limit free speech. Bolt’s columns were offensive and contained some errors. However, even after reading Bromberg J’s judgment, it is not at all clear how Bolt committed an act of racial discrimination by querying the aboriginality of what the Federal Court found to be fair-skinned individuals.
CAN YOU BEAR IT?
▪ Margaret Simons On The Importance Of Facts
What a stunning performance by Margaret Simons when interviewed by Mary Gearin on 7.30 last Wednesday about Andrew Bolt and all that. Let’s go to the transcript:
Mary Gearin : Do you agree with Andrew Bolt that it’s a sad day for freedom of speech?
Margaret Simons, Media Analyst, Crikey : Probably, but it’s not a sad day for journalists who get their facts correct. ‘Cause as I say, I think if Bolt had got his facts correct, he probably would have gotten away with this.
How about that? This is the same Margaret Simons who co-authored with Malcolm Fraser the book Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs. As MWD readers well know, the Fraser/ Simons book is absolutely littered with errors. And yet Ms Simons is telling Andrew Bolt to get his facts correct. Can you bear it?
▪ Larissa Behrendt On The Importance of Civility
In last weekend’s Sydney Morning Herald Larissa Behrendt wrote a piece entitled “It is no one’s business what a woman does at home”. Fair enough.
Dr Behrendt defended Julia Gillard against the depiction of her in the ABC comedy At Home with Julia. Fair enough. She then turned her attention to Liberal Party Senator Bill Heffernan:
Observations about a woman’s childlessness encroach on similar terrain and Gillard has had to endure her fair share of those. She has come under attack for lacking empathy as a result of not having children, notably in 2007 from the Liberal senator Bill Heffernan, who described her as being “deliberately barren”.
Fair enough. Except that Larissa Behrendt made no mention of the fact that former Labor leader Mark Latham had made exactly the same criticism as Heffernan and had refused to apologise or back off. The column concluded:
We often wonder why more women don’t seek a public life. The cruel, thoughtless and relentless parodies of the most private aspects of Gillard’s life, with their undercurrents of misogyny, may offer a clue.
Fair enough. They may. But a clue might also be offered by the fact that Professor Behrendt sent out a tweet on 11 April directed at a fellow indigenous woman Bess Price in which the former declared: “I watched the show where a guy had sex with a horse and I’m sure it was less offensive than Bess Price”. There was no reference to this particular cruel and thoughtless put-down in Larissa Behrendt’s article. Can you bear it?
▪ At Home With Julia – With 1960s Footy On The Telly
Episode 3 of At Home With Julia depicted the Prime Minister in her Parliament House office playing with an Australian Rules football while an AFL game was being shown on a television. MWD researchers suggest that the game in question looked like it was half a century old – and possibly the 1961 Preliminary Final between Footscray (now the Western Bulldogs) and Melbourne. And yet there was no suggestion that the PM was watching re-plays from the year she was born. Can you bear it?
▪ 7.30 – The Anti-Nuclear Luddites Have The Numbers
Last Wednesday, Greg Hoy reported on 7.30 about the Australian company Silex Systems which is attempting to sell its new laser technology to United States nuclear reactors.
Michael Goldsworthy, the chief executive officer of Silex Systems, was interviewed on 7.30. Then four critics were lined up to have a go at the company. First up Francis Slakey from the American Physical Society. Followed by Richard Broinowski. Followed by Tilman Ruff from the Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. Followed by anti-nuclear activist Helen Caldicott – who happens to be Richard Broinowski’s sister.
So it was Michael Goldsworthy versus a four-strong anti nuclear team. Can you bear it?
NANCY’S FIVE PAWS AWARD
BEN FORDHAM INTERVIEWS LEE (I’VE-NEVER-BEEN-TO-PALESTINE-BUT-MY-MUM-DID) RHIANNON
This week’s prestigious gong goes to Radio 2GB’s Ben Fordham who interviewed Lee Rhiannon on the Greens support for the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. It’s here.
In a difficult interview Senator Rhiannon admitted she had never been to Palestine but declared that her mother had. Freda Brown, Lee Rhiannon’s mother, died in 2009 – before the BDS campaign commenced. The Greens Senator also failed to explain how protesting outside the Max Brenner chocolate shops in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney could bring an end to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Ben Fordham – Five Paws.
LEE RHIANNON’S POLITICAL DOSSIER: AN UPDATE
A DOZEN QUESTIONS TO THE GREENS SENATOR – BUT, ALAS, NO ANSWERS
During an interview on Meet the Press on 3 July 2011, Senator Lee Rhiannon declared that she had “always been frank” about her previous work. She added: “I’m quite proud of my history. I’ve always been very open about it”.
In view of the fact that Lee Rhiannon is proud about her past – and claims to be willing to be frank about her past involvements – Gerard Henderson submitted 12 questions to the Greens Senator on Wednesday 28 September 2011. On 30 September Lee Rhiannon emailed Gerard Henderson advising that she has declined to answer his questions.
GERARD HENDERSON TO LEE RHIANNON – 28 SEPTEMBER 2011
Dear Senator Rhiannon
I refer to your letter in yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald in which you denied that you said your parents (Bill and Freda Brown) never supported Josef Stalin. In the conclusion of your letter, you wrote that “Gerard Henderson is obsessed with linking me and my deceased parents with the worst of Stalin”.
I note that you have also written letters about me in the Sydney Morning Herald on 28 July 2010 and The Australian on 12 April 2011. On both occasions you wrote: “Neither my parents nor I were Stalinists.” You also referred to me both in a document titled Responding To Attacks On My Family And Political Background which was placed on your website on 3 September 2010 and when you were interviewed on Meet the Press on 3 July 2011.
In your letter to The Australian you wrote: “Henderson has written about my political history many times but has never interviewed me.”
In view of your apparent willingness to be interviewed by me, it would be appreciated if you would answer the following questions – in interview format. Your responses will be cited in any future articles I might write about your political past.
One Dozen Questions
1. You claim that neither Bill Brown nor Freda Brown were ever Stalinists. (SMH, 28 July 2010; The Australian, 12 April 2011).
How could this be the case? Your mother, Freda, joined the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) in 1936. Your father, Bill, joined the CPA in 1940. Josef Stalin dominated the Soviet Union from the mid-1920s and assumed absolute power around 1936. He died in 1953. The first Soviet leader to criticise Stalin was Nikita Khrushchev during his so-called “secret speech” to the 20th Party Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1956.
Between 1936 and 1956 all members of the Communist Party of Australia supported the Soviet Union in general and Josef Stalin in particular. Yet you have written “neither my parents nor I were Stalinists”.
Question 1 : What is your evidence that Bill Brown and Freda Brown were not Stalinists? Did they ever distance themselves from Stalin or Stalin’s policies? If so, when and how?
2. In your letter to the Sydney Morning Herald on 27 September 2011, you wrote, inter alia:
I have not claimed that my parents ”never, ever supported” Josef Stalin. Along with my parents, most in the Western world supported Stalin in the war against Nazi Germany. My parents also supported his efforts to raise the standard of living of ordinary people, but were horrified by his crimes.
Question 2 : Why did you change your position? Why did you once maintain that your parents were not Stalinists but later claim that, like many others, they supported Stalin?
3. In your SMH letter of 27 September 2011, you wrote that like “most in the Western world” your parents “supported Stalin in the war against Nazi Germany”.
As you know, the Second World War commenced on 3 September 1939 when Britain and France – and some other nations (including Australia) – declared war on Germany. The Soviet Union did not enter the war until 22 June 1941, when Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union.
As you are aware, between August 1939 and June 1941 Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union were partners as a consequence of the Hitler-Stalin Pact – which came into effect on 23 August 1939. Both Freda Brown and Bill Brown supported the Nazi-Soviet Pact between 23 August 1939 and 22 June 1941.
Question 3 : Why did you fail to mention that your parents supported Stalin when Stalin supported Hitler?
4. In your SMH letter of 28 July 2010, you wrote that you “joined the 1968 protest against the [Soviet] invasion of Czechoslovakia”. Yet, in a letter published in the University of New South Wales student newspaper Tharunka on 2 May 1972, you specifically declined to take up a challenge from Brian Aarons to say whether you “supported the invasion of Czechoslovakia, the shooting of the Polish workers and the suppression of socialist democracy in the Soviet Union”. As you are aware, both your parents supported the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.
Question 4 : In what sense did you join the 1968 protest against the Soviet Union’s invasion of Czechoslovakia? Did you march in a protest – if so, when? And where? Did you make a verbal or written protest – if so, when and where? Did you ever advise your parents that – unlike them – you opposed the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia?
5. In the SMH on 27 September 2011 you wrote that Bill and Freda Brown supported Stalin’s “efforts to raise the standard of living of ordinary people, but were horrified by his crimes”.
Both your parents contributed to the communist press and Bill Brown wrote a book in 1986 titled The Communist Movement and Australia – which was dedicated to you. Your father did not condemn Stalin’s crimes in this book.
Question 5 : What is your evidence that Bill Brown and Freda Brown ever indicated that they were horrified by the crimes of Stalin? When and where did they condemn Stalin’s crimes – either before or after Krushchev’s 1956 speech?
6. In The Australian on 24 April 2011 – and in the Sydney Morning Herald on 28 July 2011 and again on 27 September 2011 – you wrote that you “condemn” the crimes of Stalin.
As you are aware, Bill Brown was the inaugural editor of the pro-Moscow magazine Survey, which was established in 1975 and which ceased publication in 1990. As you will recall, you wrote the editorial for Survey’s last edition.
Question 6 : Did you, or your parents, ever use the facility provided by Survey between 1975 and 1990 to condemn the crimes of Stalin? If so, when? If not, why not?
7. You joined the Socialist Party of Australia (SPA), the pro-Moscow group (led by Bill Brown) which was expelled by/broke away from the Communist Party of Australia in 1970-71. As you are aware, the SPA itself split in 1980-81, with a pro-Moscow group (again led by Bill Brown) breaking away from/being expelled by the organisation. Around 1985 the pro-Moscow group which left the SPA set up the Association for Communist Unity – which was supported by Bill Brown among others. The Association for Communist Unity held its founding meeting in Sydney on 3 February 1985.
Question 7 : Did you attend the founding meeting – or any other meeting – of the Association for Communist Unity?
8. On 28-31 March 1986, a Broad Left Conference was held in Sydney – comprising those belonging to the Association of Communist Unity and members of some other left-wing organisations.
Question 8 : Did you attend this Broad Left Conference in March 1986? If so, as a representative of which organisation?
9. Bill Brown and you were involved in the pro-Moscow magazine Survey from 1975 to 1990.
Question 9 : Did Survey receive financial contributions from the Soviet Union or any other communist regime in Eastern Europe at any time between 1975 and 1990? If so when – and how much?
10. In his article in the May 2011 issue of The Monthly, Mark Aarons wrote that in the 1970s you “developed close relationships with the Soviet, Czechoslovak and East German communist youth groups” and that in 1977 you “led an SPA delegation to Moscow at the invitation of Leonid Brezhnev’s neo-Stalinist regime”. Also, according to reports in Survey, you made other trips to Eastern Europe in the 1970s and/or the 1980s.
Question 10 : Were any of your visits to the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe fully, or partly, funded by the Soviet and/or East European communist regimes? If so, what was the amount of any such financial support?
11. On your blog you write that “my Mum and Dad worked hard for a more just and peaceful society”.
Question 11 : How do you regard this statement as consistent with the fact that Bob and Freda Brown supported (i) Stalin’s purge trials which commenced in 1936, (ii) the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939 which divided Eastern Europe between Hitler and Stalin and effectively commenced the Second World War, (iii) the suppression of Eastern Europe after the end of the Second World War by the Red Army, (iv) the murderous crushing of the workers’ uprisings in East Germany and Poland in 1953, (v) Stalin’s anti-semitic Doctors’ Plot in 1953, (vi) the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956 and (vii) the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968? How did such events contribute to a more just and peaceful society?
12. During your Meet the Press interview on 3 July 2011, you were asked about your involvement with Survey magazine. Huw Riminton queried whether you wrote for, and edited, “a newspaper called Survey that was funded, in whole or in part, by the Soviet Union”. You responded that you “assisted” with Survey “to some extent”. You also referred to being “young” at the time.
Question 12 : The final editorial in Survey – which was signed by you – was published in July-August 1990, when you were aged 39 Do you regard the age of 39 as being so young that it should provide an excuse for editing a magazine which supported the communist regimes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe?
* * * *
In conclusion, I am happy to interview you face-to-face about the above matters. However, if such a meeting cannot be arranged, it would be appreciated if you could answer the 12 questions posed above about your political life.
LEE RHIANNON TO GERARD HENDERSON – 30 SEPTEMBER 2011
I received your email and your twelve questions. It contains a number of false and offensive assertions.
Having followed your extensive writings on me in the Sydney Morning Herald and in The Sydney Institute’s ‘Media Watch Dog’ I do not believe that answering your questions would bring a more balanced perspective to your blinkered pursuit of my past.
I have responded to the issues you raise publicly a number of times, yet you have continued to make false claims.
What the public deserves is not a continued rehash of your views of my deceased mother and father’s political outlook and my life as a young woman, but an analysis of the political work I have done as their elected representative at a State and Federal level.
GERARD HENDERSON TO LEE RHIANNON – 30 SEPTEMBER 2011
Dear Senator Rhiannon
Thanks for acknowledging my email of 28 September 2011. For the record, there were no “false and offensive assertions” in my email. I merely asked questions following up comments you have made with respect to yourself and your late parents.
In view of the fact that you are on record as saying that you are always frank, and that you are proud of your past, I had hoped that you would see fit to answer my questions in writing – or agree to an interview.
If you change your mind sometime in the future, I would still like to have your responses to my professional questions about your publicly expressed views.
* * * *
Until next time.