“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are private correspondence and not for publication” – ABC News Radio’s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.

“Henderson…What a pompous, pretentious turd you are.”

– Mike Carlton, Saturday 13 August 2011 (after lunch)

Stop Press: Dr Chapman’s Sociological Expertise on the Prostate;

Malcolm Farr Ignores Journos’ Pokie Machines

Maurice Newman Segment: 7.30; Stephen Long & Mates Bag Qantas;

Deb Cameron & Mates Bag Opinion Media

Can You Bear It?  Jonathan Holmes On the Burden of Writing 60 Words a Day; Paul Bloxsom’s Interest Rates False Prophesy;

Dr Summers’ Money-Inspired Conspiracy; John Buchanan’s Socialism – Only in the Pub; Plus the False Memories of Rowan Cahill and Kathy Lette

Nancy’s Howlers of the Week: Margot Saville and Don Watson;

Richard Gill and Asylum Seekers

Exclusive: Robert Manne’s Diary As Told to Nancy

Nancy’s Old Bones: Robert Manne’s 1990 letter to Bronwyn Bishop

History Corner: Sophie Cunningham’s Melbourne Howlers


▪ Trust Me – I’m A Doctor (In Sociology) – The Age Does

In Hobart this morning, Nancy’s co-owner’s first reading of the interstate newspapers involved The Age and the Herald-Sun.  Turning to The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra’s “Focus” section, Nancy’s co-owner saw a you-beaut pic of Professor Simon Chapman alongside the statement: “Many men consciously choose to remain ignorant of their PSA status after reading widely for themselves.”

Professor Chapman, who was variously described as a “public health expert” and “a respected public health professor”, was one of the bevy of experts enlisted by The Age’s health editor Julia Medew to rail against the prostate cancer screening test known as PSA.

What Julia Medew and The Age neglected to mention is that Professor Simon Chapman has no medical or scientific qualifications.  He studied Government and Politics at Sydney University and did his Ph.D. in Sociology.  In other words, public health expert Professor Simon Chapman has as many qualifications as Nancy’s co-owner to discuss medical science.  Exactly zip.  Perhaps someone should tell The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra.

▪ Malcolm Farr’s Double (Or Quits) Standard

In Hobart, Nancy’s first activity was to check out The Punch website. It brought her soon to tears. Today’s lead titled “Pokie palaces are sucking the life out of communities” is a heart rending piece from Malcolm Farr on poker machines and all that. Mr Farr, you see, is against poker machines and Tony Abbott’s response to the problem of problem gamblers.

Nancy’s tears flowed readily on to the Salamanca Place footpath this morning as she read Mr Farr’s comment:

Now, here’s a radical view – at least radical for the current Liberal Party. What if all that money lost to poker machines instead was spent in the local high street where individuals not clubs were powering enterprise?

Good question, don’t you think? Reflecting from Hobart, Nancy raised a similar query about the money obtained from the poker machines at the National Press Club in Canberra – whose board contains many a Canberra Press Gallery member and many mates of Malcolm Farr. This is Nancy’s thought line:

Now here’s a radical view – at least for the current journalist board of the National Press Club. What if all that money lost in this club to poker machines instead was spent in the local Canberra suburban high street where individuals – not the National Press Club – were powering enterprise.

What if. As Nancy says: there’s no standard like a journalistic double standard.


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.

7.30’s Non-Debate on Qantas

Last Monday, 7.30 ran a special on the Qantas industrial dispute – presented by Leigh Sales. The lead piece was put together by 7.30’s house leftist Stephen Long. First up, Stephen Long bagged out Qantas for engaging “the law firm of choice for union busters”. Then Professor Andrew Stewart (of the University of Adelaide Law School) also bagged the Freehills law firm. Then Tony Maher, National President of the CFMEU Mining and Energy Division, bagged Qantas and Freehills. Then Ron McCallum, Dean of the Sydney University Law school, proferred some neutral advice. But, essentially, Stephen agreed with Andrew who agreed with Tony who agreed with Andrew. No pro-Qantas view was heard in Stephen Long’s piece.

Deborah Cameron’s Opinion Against Opinion – With a Little Help From Lachie Harris & Monica Attard

Then, Tuesday’s “Mornings with Deborah Cameron” on ABC Radio 702 featured a discussion on the media. Leftist Deborah Cameron agreed with left of centre Lachlan Harris who agreed with leftist Monica Attard that there was too much opinion in the Australian media. [That’s strange. These days Ms Cameron sounds like a left-wing version of Alan Jones and is invariably serving up her opinion on everything from the lack of cheap pancakes at the local Coles supermarket to Rupert Murdoch. You should discuss the debate again next week. Ed]

At the end of the 15 minute discussion, where everyone agreed with everyone else, Deborah Cameron remarked that this was the “fastest” 15 minutes of radio she could remember.

Maurice Newman : 2

Jonathan Holmes: Zip


▪ Jonathan Holmes’ 60-Words-A-Day Job

As Nancy is wont to observe: Most employees have holidays, but journalists have well-earned breaks.

Last Monday, Jonathan Holmes announced that next week’s edition of the ABC1 Media Watch program would be the last for 2011.  Just how much the Media Watch staff deserve a well-earned break is evident from Andrew Murfett’s sympathetic piece titled “Watchdog has his day” which was published in The Age’s “Greenguide” on 27 October 2011.  Holmes told Murfett:

We have six well-paid journalists working on 2000 words a week. We have three full-time researchers, a producer, a story editor and executive producer.

And then there is Jonathan Holmes himself – who is the seventh left-wing presenter (out of seven) to present Media Watch since it first went to air in May 1989.  His predecessors are the lefties Stuart Littlemore, Richard Ackland, Paul Barry, David Marr, Liz Jackson and Monica Attard.

So Media Watch has seven full-time staff producing 2000 words a week to occupy 13 minutes on-air time for the nine months or so in which the program is shown each year. ABC management and staff are invariably whinging about not receiving enough taxpayer funds. Yet, according to Jonathan Holmes, seven well-paid full-time staff are flat out at Media Watch producing 2000 words between them each week – which works out to less than 60 words per working day.

Can you bear it?  [Er, not really. MWD produces about 5000 words per week with no full-time staff and with Nancy (who graduated in Lost Causes at the Yagoona Lost Dogs Home) as its only part-time assistant – Ed].

▪ Paul Bloxham As (False) Interest Rates Prophet

Great piece by Paul Bloxham in the Australian Financial Review on Tuesday titled “RBA will dodge rate cut”. Here’s how the HSBC’s chief economist Down Under commenced his piece:

History is rife with examples of generals using tactics from previous wars to attain victory in current ones.  Such tactics can often result in disastrous outcomes. But the trap of fighting the last war does not just apply to military strategy.  Policy makers can be culpable. The key lesson is that every battle is different and requires a new strategic approach.

The Reserve Bank of Australia is well aware of the “last war” trap.  Just because market pricing seems to reflect an expectation that the RBA could behave in the way it did in late 2008, when rates were cut aggressively, does not mean it will necessarily do so this time.

Paul Bloxham went on to predict that “we will not see any cuts this year”.  The ink was barely dry on the AFR’s print edition when the RBA announced a reduction of 25 basis points in the official rate – without any reference to military strategy.  Can you bear it?

Q&A, Dr Summers and the Money Conspiracy Trail

According to Q&A, last Monday’s audience was made up of ALP 27 per cent, Coalition 49 per cent and Greens 16 per cent.  However, as MWD revealed in Issue 117, ABC health and safety rules require that no sandals or thongs are worn on the Q&A set.  This makes it possible for leftist sandal-wearers to borrow sensible shoes and present themselves for admission to the live telecast as shoe-wearing, Tony-Abbott-admiring, Coalition-voters. This artificially boosts the (alleged) Coalition turn-out on Q&A each Monday.

Watching last week’s Q&A, Nancy’s judgement of the audience was as follows: Leftist sandal-wearers 73 per cent, Labor 7 per cent, Coalition 21 per cent. [Do you reckon that Robert Manne will pick this Deliberate Mistake – since the total adds up to 101 per cent? – Ed. See MWD Issue 118].

Last Monday, Rebecca Weisser (The Australian’s Opinion Page editor) was the only member of the Q&A panel who was sympathetic to Qantas in its dispute with various trade unions.  For those who understand Ms Weisser’s position, this was hardly surprising.  She is not known to hold the view that trade unions, rather than management, should run Qantas.

However, fellow panellist Anne Summers sensed a conspiracy.  Following the program, Dr Summers tweeted:

Should #Rebecca Weisser have disclosed on #qanda last night that she used to work for #qantas management? #Just asking.

In fact, Rebecca Weisser had disclosed on the Q&A website that she joined the Qantas public affairs department in 1998.  So what? The interesting point in the Summers tweet is that Dr Anne seems not to be able to believe that anyone could disagree with her – unless they are paid to take an “heretical” view.

In her article on Andrew Bolt in the October 2011 issue of The Monthly, Anne Summers explained Bolt’s conservative and right-of-centre opinions as stemming from financial considerations. She quoted, with approval, Robert Manne’s claim that Andrew Bolt “obviously saw there was reputation and money to be made from being conservative”.  In other words, you have to be paid to hold conservative views.

So, according to Summers, Andrew Bolt does not accept her version of “the truth” because there is money in being conservative. And Rebecca Weisser does not hold Summers’ version of “the truth” because she once worked for Qantas. Can you bear it?

John Buchanan – Gramsci Admiring Socialist – Lectures Lateline Viewers on Qantas

Wasn’t it just great to see John Buchanan, from Sydney University’s Workplace Research Centre, giving lectures on the ABC – and elsewhere – about the Qantas dispute.

For example, on Lateline last Monday Dr Buchanan had this to say about the relationship between Qantas management and the Qantas workforce:

John Buchanan : There is a huge problem Qantas has now with its core workforce. I’ve seen this on the coal fields in 1990s when similar disputes were held. The workforce loves their immediate workplace, in this case they love the airline. But they have a deep mistrust of management. And you can sustain that for a while. In the service sector, if you’ve lost the trust of your workforce, you’ve got a serious problem.

John Buchanan is an academic member of the reinvigorated Industrial Relations Club. His employment background includes stints in the Commonwealth Department of Industrial Relations and the trade union movement.  He has never worked in business.

There are times, late at night, when Dr Buchanan appears on Lateline and expresses concern about the relationship between private sector employers like Qantas and their workforce.  And there are times, late at night, when Dr Buchanan addresses – say – “Politics in the Pub” and rails against capitalism and all its works and all its pomps.

Take, for example, John Buchanan’s address to a “Politics in the Pub” gig on 18 February 2005. In this speech – which was placed on the internet – Dr Buchanan spoke as a socialist and proffered advice about “what socialists and the left” should do.  The ABC’s industrial-relations-locum then told his (largely inebriated) audience just how he felt when John Howard led the Coalition to victory over Mark Latham in the 2004 Federal election. Here’s how:

John Buchanan :  I didn’t read a newspaper for two months after the [2004] election. I could hardly talk to my friends.  I was traumatised and I don’t think I was alone there.

John Buchanan concluded his “Politics in the Pub” address by reiterating his commitment to socialism, praising the thoughts of the Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci and advocating the cause of “the militants in the workplace”.

This is the very same John Buchanan who is invariably interviewed by the ABC as a stand-alone expert on how businesses should be run. Can you bear it?

Rowan Cahill Fudges Comrade Elliott’s Stalinist Past

Yet another obituary about yet another deceased member of the Communist Party of Australia – without any mention of the fact that CPA members supported every communist dictator of the Soviet Union from Lenin to Stalin and on to Brezhnev.

The latest entry in the field is Rowan Cahill’s obituary of Della Elliott (1917-2011) in last Monday’s Sydney Morning Herald. Della Elliott (nee Kondelea Xenodohos) first married CPA functionary Laurie Aarons, then became Della Nicholls and later married CPA functionary Eliot V Elliott.

Rowan Cahill had this to say about the Della/Laurie match:

She [Della] met a young communist activist Laurie Aarons, future leader of the CPA. They married in 1937 but the marriage lasted only a few years. During their partnership, however, they were active in organising young people, and in illegal underground activities after the Menzies government used a regulation of the National Security Act to ban the Communist Party in 1940. (The ban was lifted by the Curtin government in 1942).

What Rowan Cahill did not mention was the reason the Menzies conservative government banned the Communist Party in Australia in 1940. 1940 was the mid-point of the Nazi-Soviet Pact – under which Hitler and Stalin divided Eastern Europe between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

In 1940, Della Aarons and Laurie Aarons and Eliot v Elliott and all other CPA members supported the Nazi Soviet Pact and opposed the Allied war effort. In other words, in 1940, the CPA wanted Hitler – not Britain, Canada, Australia and the like – to win the war.

That’s why the CPA was banned in 1940. But there was no word of this in Rowan Cahill’s obituary. Can you bear it?

Kathy Lette: Curtseying One Day – Mocking the Next

A couple of weeks ago, Kathy Lette was meeting the Queen at Buckingham Palace, curtseying and all that.

Last Sunday, the very same Kathy Lette wrote a piece in the Sun-Herald mocking Australians who turned out to see the Queen during her recent visit to Canberra, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth. Ms Lette recycled her old jokes about the need for a monarch-ectomy and Stephen Fry as queen and so on. And the Sun-Herald paid Ms Lette for such repetitive sludge. Can you bear it?


▪ On Margot Saville, Paul Keating And Don Watson

What a touching piece by Margot Saville in last Monday’s Australian Financial Review concerning the launch, on the previous day, of Paul Keating’s book After-Words : The Post Prime-Ministerial Speeches. Ms Saville wrote:

Instead of “don’t mention the war” it was “don’t mention Don Watson” at yesterday’s launch of Paul Keating’s book…Keating severed the relationship with his speechwriter following the 2002 publication of Watson’s seminal book, Recollections of a Bleeding Heart: A Portrait of Paul Keating PM, contacting him only to say that he thought it was an act of treachery.

Fancy that.  Nancy’s co-owner attended the launch of Don Watson’s Recollections of a Bleeding Heart at the Sydney Town Hall in 2002.  Guess who gave the speech at the launch?  Paul Keating – that’s who.

[I note that, according to Paul Maley’s report in The Australian, the launch of After-Words at the Sydney Writers Festival last Sunday involved a two-hour conversation between Paul Keating and “Red” Kerry O’Brien. In view of this, perhaps this item should have appeared in your Can You Bear It? segment. – Ed].

▪ Richard Gill Repeats Common Air/Sea Asylum Seeker Error

On Q&A last Monday, conductor and musical educator Richard Gill had this to say about asylum seekers:

Richard Gill : Allan [Asher] and I were talking about this prior to the show, about the horror of detention and putting people in camps and the fact that people coming by plane are treated differently from people coming by boat. The boat seems to be a terrible threat, whereas plane seems to be not such a terrible threat.

This is pure mythology.  Anyone who arrives unauthorised in Australia – without a valid visa – is placed in detention.  This is the case whether such an arrival takes place by sea or air.  The difference between the two kinds of arrivals is that those arriving by air invariably have a valid visa whereas those arriving by boat invariably arrive without any personal papers. Anyone who arrives by air and whose visa is found not to be valid is placed in detention or returned.


Robert Manne writes regularly to MWD – and was kind enough to submit an endorsement which appears on the first page of each edition.  Last Saturday, Nancy’s co-owner received an email from the learned professor which concluded: “Look after yourself; we’re worried”. How touching.

On 15 October 2011, The Spectator Australia published Robert Manne’s thought in its “Diary” section – see here. Professor Manne had dictated an earlier draft of his “Diary” to Nancy.  This version, which is remarkably similar to the final draft, is printed below as a MWD EXCLUSIVE:

▪ Good news. Tom Switzer has been on the blower asking me to write “Diary” again.  It’s one of my favourite projects – since it gives me the opportunity to write at some length about my favourite subject.  Myself.  I’m an expert on Me. I’m the Manne – that’s what I am.

▪ Bad News, my “Quarterly Essay” on The Australian, came out in early September.  This bullying and disgraceful newspaper acts as the cheerleader in this country for the values at the heart of the Murdoch Empire.  United States global hegemony, neo-liberalism/economic rationalism and marriage to Wendi Deng (who is a real straight shooter).  Mr Murdoch is responsible for all society’s ills,  including the common cold.  Friends look at me with evident pity and ask: “Do you realise what will happen when you take on Mr Murdoch and The Australian?”

▪ Good question.   Bad News was launched at the Melbourne Writers Festival – in conversation with Eric Beecher whom I have called “one of Australia’s shrewdest newspaper people”. Except that Eric doesn’t work in newspapers any more. He is managing editor of the online newsletter Crikey and manages to lecture newspapers about morality and standards.  It’s one of those conversations I love.  I praise Eric.  And Eric praises me. Then we both damn Rupert.  I do not mention that Crikey publishes unattributed rumours along with personal home addresses.  Nor do I point out that Crikey cannot afford a fact-checker. MWF audiences aren’t interested in this kind of thing. But, God, they just hate Rupert.  I love that.

▪ There is more of the same.  I do an interview about Bad News with Nick Feik for The Monthly’s “Slow TV” website.  Nick essentially agrees with me about Rupert. Then it’s up to Sydney for an intellectual love-in with David Marr at Gleebooks.  David essentially agrees with me about Rupert.  This is what we call “debate” in the Politics Department at La Trobe University – where I’ve had a tenured job since the late Professor Hugo Wolfsohn recruited me in early 1975.  I was a part-time tutor at Melbourne University at the time looking for life-time employment when Hugo gave me the nod.

▪ My wife Anne and I repair [sic] to a thoroughly enjoyable conversation over lunch with author Richard Flanagan, ABC personality Marieke Hardy and her family.  I have always admired Ms Hardy for her mind and for that topless photo of herself which she posted on her website.  She’s got great tats – one on each arm, as I observed after repairing to watch The First Tuesday Book Club last night. It’s great having lunch with a table full of lefties.  I started off the discussion by damning Rupert as a war-monger.  Marieke said that he was a war-criminal.  And Richard depicted Rupert as the Whore of Babylon. (For those who are not tenured academics, Babylon is a town north west of my Cottles Bridge abode).  Anne says nothing.  I find out later that she is thinking of our horse Isabella, which ran stone-motherless-last in its first  and only gallop on the track and now grazes in our paddock at Cottles Bridge, eating left-over copies of The Monthly.  Sometimes I wish that Rupert had the quietude of Isabella.  Then there would be no war, no pestilence, no Australian.  And no common cold.

▪ At night I hear Richard Flanagan deliver the Alan Missen Lecture.  Senator Missen was a genuinely small “l” liberal member of the Liberal Party, a political species extinct since 1990.  Nowadays Liberal senators are all like the appalling Bronwyn Bishop.  Marieke comes along – fully dressed for the occasion.  Alas. I don’t think that Richard has ever voted for the Liberal Party in his life. These days, like me, he’s a Greens voter – I think.  I just love listening to lefties praising small “l” liberals like the late Alan Missen and the on-time Malcolm Turnbull.

▪ I much admired Marieke’s great-aunt Mary Hardy.  She put the great into great-aunts. Mary Hardy was just so funny, when she appeared each morning with the gay actor Noel Ferrier on 3UZ in Melbourne in the late 1960s.  Well, I maintain that Noel was “gay” – even though he was married and had a son.  Perhaps he was just happy.  Because of the Mary/Noel 3UZ program, I did not attend university lectures before midday.  Especially the ones which commenced after lunch. I wish that Mary was alive to share my joy at Geelong’s victory in the AFL Grand Final, which took place just days after Bad News was published.

▪ Or perhaps not.  For some days The Australian maintains an eerie silence over my “Quarterly Essay”.  A silence, I could bear.  But an eerie silence is, well, just so eerie. And then the dam breaks.  In a space of four weeks more than 25 million words are used to attack Bad News and its author (by the way, that’s me). Even Bill Leak depicts Isabella breaking wind at Cottles Bridge.  How far can Rupert go in this persecution?  As balance, The Australian published a sympathetic review of Bad News by Matthew Ricketson and a mere 1000 words by me.  I had asked for 25 million words. Rupert and his editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell are a cunning lot.    In Bad News I argued that The Australian “requires a different editor-in-chief and owner”. Guess what?  The Australian’s response is to run a review which suggests that my thesis in Bad News might be correct and advocating that readers of The Australian read my latest 45,000 word lecture in “Quarterly Essay”.  This is just a trick to fool people that Rupert is fair and balanced.

▪ I am surprised at the viciousness of The Australian’s response to Bad News.  After all, all I have ever said about the Murdoch/Mitchell duumvirate  is that they are a pair of racism-tolerating war-mongers.  That’s all.

▪  I decide to document the whole bizarre episode in my new blog “Left Right Left”

on The Monthly’s website.  I clear up a few ambiguities – pointing out that my comment about replacing Murdoch and Mitchell “was in fact tongue-in-cheek”. Or perhaps foot-in-mouth.  Or maybe elbow-in-arse.  That sort of thing.  I read the “ageing Cold Warrior” Peter Kelly’s letter in The Australian arguing that I had turned my back on my mentor Hugo Wolfsohn.  I am astonished – and, unlike ageing Peter Kelly, I am a young 64.  As I wrote on my website on 5 October 2011: “Wolfsohn and I were never even friendly”.  Sure, he gave me a permanent tax-payer funded job at La Trobe in 1975 – where I have remained ever since.  But I never, ever liked him – and I never trusted his judgment.  The fact is that you do not have to be friendly to someone who gives you a life-time job. Especially after you take up the tenure.  I tend to despise people who give me jobs – just as much as I despise Rupert and his war-mongers. These days I talk down my past close personal associations with such anti-communists as Frank Knopfelmacher, B.A. Santamaria and Hugo Wolfsohn. After all, they were part of the Murdoch Empire and advocates of US global hegemony.

▪ Next Sunday (6 November) I will be interviewing Paul Keating at the taxpayer subsidised Wheeler Centre in Melbourne about his new book After Words: The Post Prime-Ministerial Speeches.  I’m a great admirer of Paul Keating – especially in his post prime-ministerial mode.  As readers of my Age column in 1996 will know, in March 1996 I voted for John Howard and the Coalition.  My problem is – should I tell the audience this on Sunday?  And how can I blame the Murdoch Empire for seducing me into voting against Paul Keating in March 1996?  I’ll let you know next time if Mr Switzer asks me to write about myself again. Preferably in 45,000 words.


In his “Diary” column in The Spectator Australia on 15 October 2011, Robert Manne wrote that the late Senator Alan Missen (1925-1986) was “a genuinely liberal member of the Liberal Party, a political species extinct since circa 1990”.

Professor Manne gave the impression that, up to around 1990, he was sympathetic to such small “l” Liberals as Senator Missen. In fact, in 1990, Robert Manne was supportive of such tough-minded conservative Liberals as Senator Bronwyn Kathleen Bishop – who moved to the House of Representatives in 1994.

Attached below is a letter which Robert Manne sent to Bronwyn Bishop on 30 April 1990 – when he was editor of Quadrant and she was a Liberal Party Senator for New South Wales.  The letter contained a typographical error.  The addressee should have been “Senator B.K. Bishop” not “Senator K. Bishop”.

In his 1990 letter to Bronwyn Bishop, Robert Manne said that Quadrant deserved support because it advocated “free enterprise, traditional morality and the open, unregulated society”.  He also said that Quadrant had broken new ground with the publication in September 1983 of the Industrial Relations Club expose – which was written by Gerard Henderson, Nancy’s co-owner.  Fancy that.  Here we go:



Nancy just loved Sophie Cunningham’s latest book – simply titled Melbourne (UNSW Press). It’s a truly fetching tale of the city – told by Sophie Cunningham and her partner Virginia as they interact with the Age-reading and ABC-watching/viewing sandal-wearing residents of inner-city Melbourne from their abode in – oh, yes – Fitzroy.  [This, surely, would be a suitable case for the “Sandalista” spot in the next edition of The Sydney Institute Quarterly – Ed].

To make MWD’s many factoid inclined readers happy, Nancy offers the following corrections to Melbourne, published by UNSW Press. [Is this the same publisher who published What’s Left which was edited by academics Nick Dyrenfurth and Tim Soutphommasane and contains some false assertions about Nancy’s co-owner?  See MWD passim. – Ed].

▪ Page 10 : SC describes Melbourne as “endlessly flat”.

Not so. From Doncaster, for example, you can see the entire Melbourne CBD set out below. [Perhaps SC has never been to Doncaster. After all, it’s a 15 minute drive from Fitzroy.  Or 15 hours on a bike, some of the way uphill. – Ed].

▪ Page 30 : SC writes: “From the forties, the Fitzroy Council was, reputedly anyway, stacked by John Wren’s men”.

Not so. The Catholic business entrepreneur John Wren was involved with Richmond Council – not Fitzroy Council.

▪ Page 30 : SC writes: “Wren’s grip [on Melbourne politics] was firm and held for much of the 20th Century”.

Not so.  John Wren died in 1953, half way into the 20th Century.  His influence died with him.

▪ Page 54 : SC writes that Melbourne criminal Squizzy Taylor “died of gunshot wounds – inflicted by a standover man from Sydney – in Fitzroy’s St Vincent’s Hospital in 1927”.

Not so.  Squizzy Taylor died on 27 October 1927 following a shoot-out between him and the Melbourne based criminal John “Snowy” Cudmore.  The shootings, which took place in Barkley Street, Carlton, were regarded by police as a double murder. Taylor suffered bullet – not gunshot – wounds. [Let’s pause for Nancy’s brush-with-fame moment.  The uncle of Nancy’s co-owner, Bill Dargavel, went to school in Carlton with Snowy Cudmore’s brother. How about that?]

▪ Page 86 : SC writes that around 1966 “Aboriginal Australians received full citizenship”.

Not so  This is clearly  a reference to the 1967 referendum.  This provided for Aborigines to be counted in the Census and gave the Commonwealth Government power to make laws with respect to Aborigines.  That’s all.  Many Aborigines were citizens before 1967.

▪ Page 94 : SC writes that she is “retrospectively amused by the fact that the star of the Monash Labor Club was future Liberal deputy leader Peter Costello”. (Ms Cunningham enrolled in Monash in 1980).

Not so. Peter Costello was never a member of the extreme left Labor Club at Monash University.  He was a member of the Evangelical Union and later the Monash Association of Students.  As Shaun Carney documented in his book Peter Costello: The New Liberal (2001), Costello led the opposition to the extreme left on the Monash campus.  He was bashed by a leftist thug while a student.

▪ Page 99 : SC claims that “in retrospect it seem [sic] that Manning Clark’s History of Australia: The Musical was one of the first victims in the culture wars”.

Not so.  This was a dud production which failed dismally at the box office. That’s all. If the lefties had booked seats, it would have been a stage success.

▪ Page 144 : SC looks back in happiness on “Burke Street” in Camberwell.

Not so.  It’s Burke Road – and it’s a major road in Melbourne’s east.  Even Fitzroy residents should know this.  By the way, Bourke Street is in the Melbourne CBD.

▪ Page 185-186 : SC writes: “Garner’s first novel, Monkey Grip, was published in 1976. While Melbourne was rapidly changing, the establishment was still stuffy – as headlines like this one for the Herald show: ‘Head Prefect of Tammy Fraser’s old school at the centre of storm about junkies and the counter culture’.”

Not so.  Monkey Grip was published in 1977.  There was no such headline in The Herald, the then Melbourne evening paper.  The article referred to is by Jan McGuinness – it was published on 27 December 1977.  It had three small headings – which lead to the main heading “HELEN THE STIRRER”.  Here is how the heading looked:

Head prefect at Tamie Fraser’s old school –

Teacher in the centre of a storm about a frank talk on sex –

Author of a controversial book about junkies and the counter culture –


In other words, the focus of the Herald’s heading was on Helen Garner’s controversial comments on sex – not on the fact that she went to the same school as Tamie Fraser, The Hermitage at Geelong.

[Well done. You must return to the scene of UNSW Press’ Dyrenfurth /Soutphommasane “crime” next week and check out if it’s still a case of “Factless at UNSW”. – Ed]

▪ Page 213 : SC refers to Davis McCaughey as “a Presbyterian minister, vice-chancellor of the University of Melbourne and the governor of Victoria from 1986 to 1992”.

Not so.  Davis McCaughey was never vice-chancellor of Melbourne University.  Thanks to Peter Pierce’s review in The Weekend Australian on 6-7 August 2011 for drawing attention to this.

* * * * *

Until next time.