24 FEBRUARY 2012

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are private correspondence and not for publication” – ABC News Radio’s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

“We’d better be careful what we say, just in case Gerard’s offsider pooch Nancy is keeping an eye on us for his delightfully earnest Media Watch Dog”

– Tom Cowie of The Power Index, Crikey 20 January 2012

Stop Press: Laura Tingle Look at Canberra – Sees Beirut, The Somme and Stalingard

● Can You Bear It?  Scott Burchill ABC “Tip” Attire; Kerry O’Brien’s Oh-So-Soft Robert Fisk Interview

● Nancy’s Howler of the Week: Jon Faine Can’t Remember 1939

● Hyperbole of the Week: Step Forward George Negus + Tim Palmer

● Nancy’s Pick-of-the-Week:  Robert Manne Fudges Rudd’s Polls

● History Corner : Scribe Books’ John Curtin Errors

● Sectarian Watch : Why Mariam Margolyes Doesn’t Like Jews

● Five Paws Award: Senator Sinodinos on Senator Rhiannon

● Bob Ellis’ Blog: As Told to Nancy

● Documentation: The Age Squibs on Gene Patents Debate



What a brilliant set of performances by Australian Financial Review political editor Laura Tingle last night and this morning.  Some people look at the current leadership contest in the Australian Labor Party and see, well, a leadership contest in a modern parliamentary democracy.  Like Paul Keating v Bob Hawke or John Howard v Andrew Peacock or Gordon Brown v Tony Blair. However, to La Tingle it’s bigger than this.

How big.  Well BIG – like Texas perhaps. According to Laura Tingle:

▪ The Rudd v Gillard contest has led to a “position which is a bit like Lebanon in the 1970s with a lot of little warlords controlling two or three votes and not much else” (Laura Tingle on Late Night Live, 23 February 2012).

▪ The Rudd v Gillard contest as viewed on the morning of Thursday 23 February “was a bit like one of those pre-dawn artillery raids on the Somme to soften things up” (Laura Tingle, Late Night Live, 23 February 2012).

▪ The Rudd v Gillard contest is a bit like the Battle of Stalingrad.  This is how Laura Tingle’s column – titled “Common good a victim in war of ideas” commenced and ended in this morning’s Australian Financial Review.

We will now leave our live coverage of the battle of Stalingrad – and the two snipers stalking each other amidst the rubble of their civilisation – to give you an overview of the broader state of the war….

And, of course, not much debate happens in Stalingrad. We return you there now as media units from both armies set up photo opportunities with the heroic snipers.

And now for a reality check.  The Lebanese Civil War of 1975-1976 was a brutal event in which  tends of thousands of Lebanese were killed and large parts of Beirut were destroyed.  On the first day of the Battle of the Somme, the British suffered 60,000 casualties.  The Battle of Stalingrad (1942-1943) was a major battle on the Eastern Front between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.  Casualties at the Battle of Stalingrad are estimated at between 1.5 million and 2.5 million.

And yet, to La Tingle the Rudd v Gillard main event is a bit like Beirut in 1976, the Somme in 1916 or Stalingrad in 1942. What a load of tosh.


● Scott Burchill – from Local Tip to News Breakfast

Has anyone noticed that Dr Scott Burchill only appears to drop in the ABC TV Studios in Melbourne to do the “Newspapers” segment on ABC’s News Breakfast when he is on the way to the tip?  Or, perhaps, coming back from dumping a really big load.

Dr Scott Burchill is a Senior Lecturer at Deakin University in Melbourne, no less.  As such, he turns up at News Breakfast with usual load of fashionable left-wing opinions – which are invariably critical of the United States, hostile to Israel and ignorant of economics.  As a taxpayer funded academic, Dr Burchill seems to believe that governments should spend and spend – preferably on education.  Also, he seems to believe that private banks do not have to make significant profits on funds invested.  To repeat, Scott Burchill is an academic.

Last Tuesday, Scott Burchill turned up in a black zip-up top over a white tee shirt.  Unshaven, as usual.  With trousers carefully chosen from the St Vincent de Paul’s second-hand op-shop.  There was one occasion – in 2011 – where your man Burchill fronted up at News Breakfast wearing – wait for it – a business suit, white shirt and dark tie and was shaven. Believe it or not.

It seems that, on this occasion, the learned doctor was not dropping in at the ABC on his way to the tip.  Rumour has it that he was heading off to a job interview – seeking promotion from a senior lectureship to, who knows?  Perhaps an adjunct professorship. [Do you mean a junk professor? – Ed].

Maybe Scott Burchill did not get the job and has returned his business suit to the hire shop.  Or perhaps it’s at a pawn shop. In any event, Dr Scott Burchill is back to giving left-wing opinions on News Breakfast looking like something the cat dragged home.  Can you bear it?

●  Kerry O’Brien’s Soft Robert Fisk Interview

What a soft interview between ABC in-house leftie Kerry O’Brien and Lebanon-based leftie Robert Fisk on Four Corners last Monday.  It was very much a mutual admiration society. O’Brien admired Fisk and Fisk enjoyed O’Brien’s soft questioning.  No other view was heard.  During the course of the interview:

▪ Robert Fisk declared this about the conflict in Syria: “It’s a very brutal war, a very civil war and we, of course, are doing nothing about it.”  This from a journalist who opposes Western intervention on Arab lands.  Mr Fisk did not say precisely what “we” should do.

▪ Robert Fisk claimed, despite evidence to the contrary, that Israel wants to keep Bashar Al Assad in power.

▪ Robert Fisk maintained that “William Hague, the British Foreign Secretary…spends much of his time impersonating himself”.  Funny, eh?  Four Corners could have edited this abuse out of the pre-recorded interview.  However, it chose not to do so.

Towards the end of the interview, Robert Fisk opined:

There is a story, which I suspect may be true, but I can’t confirm it, that some of the Syrian tanks on the edge of Homs and on the edge of Idlib are not carrying live shells. They’ve got soldiers with heavy machine guns on top of the Russian-made tanks. But no shells, because the government are worried that if they put shells in the tanks, a tank unit may defect and then be using big firepower against government forces. So you can see the constraints on the government army are in fact much greater than we realised.

Within days of Four Corners going to air, British journalist Marie Colvin was killed by a live shell fired at her apartment from a Syrian tank. Which demonstrates that Robert Fisk’s “story” was absolute tripe.

Can you bear it?



Well, last week actually.

Thanks to a MWD fan from Box Hill North (in Melbourne) who drew attention to the following exchange which took place on ABC Radio  774 in Melbourne.  The date is Monday 13 February 2012. It’s after 10.30 am and The Conversation Hour with Jon Faine is under way.  It’s time for an historical flashback. And Jon Faine (BA, LLB, Monash University) decides to play a recording of Prime Minister Robert Menzies declaring war on Nazi Germany.  Let’s go to the audio tape:

Jon Faine : Look, we’ve found another lovely archival bit we thought we’d join [sic] with you. More dramatic, perhaps, than the funny moments that radio’s brought to you as well.

Here is the Prime Minister of Australia – The Right Honourable R. G. Menzies: “Fellow Australians, it is my melancholy duty to inform you, officially, that in consequence of a persistence by Germany in her invasion of Poland, Great Britain has declared war upon her and that, as a result, Australia is also at war.”

Jon Faine : Yes –  19 eh.  What was it? ’36, I suppose it was ’36, ’37?  Can’t remember. I should, shouldn’t I, off the top of my head. I should just know that. The Honourable R. G. Menzies.

How about that?  One of the ABC’s star performers could not recall that the Second World War commenced in September 1939.  Britain’s prime minister Neville Chamberlain declared war on Germany, following Adolf Hitler’s invasion of Poland.  Soon after, in Australia, Robert Menzies declared that Australia was also at war with Germany. Robert Menzies became prime minister in April 1939.

And the oh-so-clever Jon Faine just can’t remember when the Second World War commenced. A listener phoned to suggest it might have been in 1938. Thanks. But no thanks.


In a highly competitive contest, Laura Tingle still won in a canter. See Stop Press. However, it is appropriate to award what the Miss Universe title classifies as First Runner Up and Second Runner-Up.  Step forward George Negus and Tim Palmer.

▪ George Negus on the Insanity of Others

On the Richard Glover Drive program on ABC Radio 702 yesterday evening, George Negus had this to say about the Rudd/Gillard leadership contest:

George Negus:  I’m gonna try and stay outside the square. I reckon anybody who thinks that they’re good enough to be the leader of a country needs to be locked up.  They don’t need a vote. They don’t need a vote. They don’t need a caucus. They don’t – they need a shrink.  Nobody can do it.

So there you have it.  No one can lead a country. Not Bob Hawke. Not John Howard. Not John Keys. Not Margaret Thatcher.  They’re all nuts and they all need a shrink.

▪ Tim Palmer Throws the Switch to Stalinism Again

Late last night presenter Tim Palmer had this to say on The Drum – about Wayne Swan’s criticisms of Kevin Rudd:

Tim Palmer : It was almost Soviet condemnation, wasn’t it, at one point where he [Swan] described him [Rudd] as “not even a Labor man”, “lacking the party’s values”.

Mr Palmer wins the Second Runner-up prize for this.  Apparently he sees little difference in Kevin Rudd being described by Wayne Swan as not a Labor man and Leon Trotsky being described by Josef Stalin as anti-party.  Except that Trotsky ended up with an ice-pick in his head. Whereas if Rudd loses on Monday, he will have to have iced tea outside the Prime Minister’s Office.  Otherwise, in Tim Palmer’s view, contemporary Australia and Stalin’s Soviet Union are much the same.



Professor Robert Manne voted for John Howard and the Coalition in the March 1996 election. Then he voted Labor in 1998, 2001, 2004 and 2007.  Then he voted for the Greens in 2010.  In June 2010, Manne criticised Kevin Rudd but in The Age on 24 January 2012 the learned professor wrote that Rudd is Labor’s “best hope”.

In his Age article in support of Rudd, Manne wrote:

Rudd lost office because he made some errors, because he made some serious mining and media enemies, but perhaps most importantly because he had spectacularly failed to win even the minimal loyalty of his cabinet and caucus colleagues. He did not lose office because he or his government had lost the confidence of the Australian people. On the eve of the coup, the Rudd government led the Abbott Coalition 52 per cent to 48 per cent. The enduring popularity of the Rudd government was, of course, no accident….

This, of course, is pure mythology.  Here are the facts, as described by Newspoll’s Martin O’Shannessey on PM and Lateline last night.  First, the PM interview:

David Mark : The Gillard camp would probably point back to the time when Kevin Rudd was ousted as prime minister when his popularity was flagging. Just remind us; what was it like at the time when he was ousted as PM?

Martin O’Shaughnessy : At that time he’d had two successive falls in the Labor primary vote and his personal vote – 7 points in one case, which was the largest we’d ever measured in a single poll. Going from the election in 2010 to the point where he was deposed, the primary vote for Labor had fallen from 43 per cent to 35 per cent. That’s a fall of 8.3 per cent, compared to Julia Gillard who won an election on 38 and now has the Labor primary vote around 32 or a 6.4. I mean, they’ve both actually led very unpopular governments.

And now, the Lateline interview:

Kerry Brewster: Several senior Labor ministers have stated their preference for Julia Gillard, describing Kevin Rudd as chaotic, dysfunctional and demeaning to his colleagues. But Kevin Rudd’s supporters are using the result of last September’s Newspoll [i.e. September 2011] when 57 per cent of those surveyed said Kevin Rudd would make a better prime minister than Julia Gillard.

Martin O’Shannessey: I imagine that that’s part of the narrative they’re putting about. And I imagine that they’re also saying that the two-party vote for Kevin Rudd when he was deposed was 52 per cent, which would have given them a nice little majority of about 16 or 18 seats.

You have to ask yourself, though: given that he’d burned over 8 per cent of primary vote since the election and had taken the Labor Party into new territory of 35 per cent of primary vote, whether that fall would have continued if he’d remained.  There may be a very good argument that suggests that Kevin Rudd would have led the Labor Party just to exactly where it is now – 35 per cent when he finished, 32 per cent now, that’s within the margin of error on the poll.

In other words, Professor Manne’s claim that, when Kevin Rudd left office in late June 2010, Labor was enjoying enduring popularity is just a myth. A complete fudge.  Professor Manne is a Greens voting academic.



While on the topic of history, did anyone read Nicholas Wapshott’s article “Out of the mouths of Keynesians” which was published in the Australian Financial Review on 4 January 2012?  This, in turn, was extracted from Nicholas Wapshott’s book Keynes/Hayek: the clash that defined modern politics, which is published by Scribe.  Henry Rosenbloom is the Melbourne based publisher of Scribe books.

According to Nicholas Wapshott:

▪ Australian Labor prime minister John Curtin “attended Keynes’ London memorial”. A remarkable achievement, surely – since Curtin died on 5 July 1945 and John Maynard Keynes died on 21 April 1946.

▪ John Curtin in 1946 introduced a “full employment in Australia” legislation “mandating the government to find a job for everyone capable of working”.  No such legislation was introduced by the Curtin Government or by Ben Chifley who succeeded Curtin.

▪ John Curtin visited Britain in 1945.  In fact, he went to the United Kingdom in 1944.

It seems that, like UNSW Press, Scribe does not routinely employ a fact-checker [By the way, is UNSW Vice-Chancellor and President Fred Hilmer still in post-modern mode and oh-so-relaxed about the factual howlers  in UNSW Press’ All That’s Left by Dr Nick Dyrenfurth and Dr Tim Soutphommasane?  See MWD ad nauseam – Ed].

This is how the AFR illustrated the Wapshott article on 4 January 2012:

John Curtin certainly looks a bit under pressure in what is said to be a photo of him in 1946.  No wonder – since he was already dead.  At least the AFR did publish a correction in the form of a letter to the editor from Professor Selwyn Cornish (it was published on 6 January 2012). So far there is no word from Henry Rosenbloom about Scribe engaging a fact-checker for its historical tomes.


These days sectarian attacks are out of bounds.  Except, of course, when they are directed at Christians or Jews.

On Tuesday the British actor Miriam Margolyes, who is of Jewish background, had this to say – in response to a question form Alex Sloan on ABC Radio 666 about whether Charles Dickens’ portrayal of Fagin was anti-semitic.  Let’s go to the audio-tape:

Alex Sloan : …Many people describe it [Dickens’ Fagin] as an anti-Semitic description. What do you make of those?

Miriam Margolyes : No, I don’t believe that at all. I don’t think that he was anti-Semitic. Look, I’ve said this before. People don’t like Jews.  And sometimes I’m not surprised. Because I don’t like some of them either – especially not the way Israel’s treated Palestinians. No of course I don’t….

Alex Sloan said nothing in reply.  So, it’s okay for Ms Margolyes to say that people do not like Jews.  But imagine the outrage if the British thespian had said something like this: “People don’t like Muslims and sometimes, I’m not surprised because I don’t like some of them either, especially not the way Saudi Arabia’s treated Christians.”  Just imagine.



MWD readers will be aware of the research on Greens’ Senator Lee Rhiannon’s past as a friend of the Soviet  Union – with contributions from Labor MP Michael Danby, Liberal MP Tony Smith and Gerard Henderson – along with some correspondence from Senator Rhiannon herself.

On 8 February 2012 Senator Arthur Sinodinos looked at Senator Rhiannon’s career with reference to her (now public) ASIO files.  It was a finely researched critique – and can be read here.

Senator Sinodinos – Five Paws.  [You should look again at this.  It’s interesting that so few Canberra Press Gallery types are interested in Rhiannon’s career in the pro-Moscow communist movement before she joined the Greens in 1990 at age 39 – Ed].


Nancy has successfully hacked into Bob Ellis’ blog and brings to MWD readers this scoop. It’s Bob Ellis’ Table Talk blog for Friday 24 February 2012.  However, as followers of Bob Ellis will know, today’s blog bears a certain resemblance to blogs posted by the False Prophet of Palm Beach over the past three months.

Table Talk:  Bob Ellis on Film and Theatre and Bob Ellis

Published by Nostradamus Services Pty Ltd

Posted on 24 February 2012

▪ The Usual Murdoch Dirty Tricks : Kim Beazley Unstoppable on Monday

It’s dawn at Palm Beach with the finest Sydney water views that any serial debtor can experience.  I’m looking into my Crystal Ball. As we prophets do.  It’s a bit of a murky view.  Perhaps this is due to the mist rising from the Pacific Ocean.  Or perhaps I had too many Dimple tipples last night.  And so it goes.

Or perhaps it’s the sex.  As I wrote on my blog on New Year’s Day: “I have sex five times a fortnight at 69 – a rate unchanged since I was 50.”  You do the maths.  According to my calculations, this means that I have sex two and a half times a week.

Last night was one of my weekly 50 per cent non-performances – there have been some such 494 occasions since I turned 50.  I just couldn’t deliver.  Maybe I was thinking too much of that f-ucker playwright David Williamson, who is now almost as wealthy as Rupert Murdoch.  I remember sleeping with Williamson at Diamond Creek during the last century – or perhaps it was the one before?  What else to do when watching such Williamson crap as Top Silk? There were three in the audience – and we were all asleep. I know a threesome when I’m in one.  Or perhaps you disagree.

On my blog on 18 February I predicted “a narrow LNP victory…by two or four seats, Campbell Newman not gaining his”.  I’m an expert on Queensland politics and I know the outcome of the election on 28 March.  I am also an expert on New South Wales. Sure I predicted that the gorgeous Kristina Keneally would win the 2011 election for Labor over the fatso Barry O’Farrell.  I now realise that my Crystal Ball was clouded at the time.  I should have predicted a Labor victory in 2015 but misread the date.  Prove that I lie.

As for Monday.  I reckon Kim Beazley will win the Labor leadership ballot.  Or perhaps Maxine McKew.  Julia Gillard is a dead loss. She lost 10 per cent of Labor voters due to her atheism and 7 per cent due to her opposition to same sex marriage and 9 per cent due to the shafting of Queenslander Kevin Rudd and 15 per cent due to the fact that she’s not married (unlike me and Anne) and 11 per cent due to the fact that she’s not Marieke Hardy.  Only Beazley and McKew offer the hope of Labor’s renewal – with me as a speechwriter and gag writer and court jester and factotum.  As we say in this neck of the (Palm Beach) woods. Discuss.

If that scrag Gillard gets her come-uppance, then Labor can immediately recover the 52 per cent of voters she has lost.  Add that to Labor’s current 30 per cent primary vote and Beazley/McKew Labor will win 82 per cent of the primary vote – even if Rupert Murdoch once again frauds Newspoll. Then I will be speechwriter and I will be able to afford another two dozen crates of Dimple scotch every fortnight – or one every week.  With perhaps a little left over for (overdue) child support payments – all due to that assignation after my brilliant performance at a Sydney Writers Festival of recent memory.  I have sex five times a session each Sydney Writers Festival – and have done so since I turned 50 years of age in 1842. At the Sydney Writers’ Festival each year, I lay them in the aisles.  Literally. For literacy.  Prove that I lie.

The Henderson Wars (No. 69). Good news on the Second-and-a-Half Coming

No one has written in quoting an instance of Gerard Henderson being right in the last 40 years.  Perhaps this is because Gerard is never right.  Or perhaps no one reads my Table Talk blog. Sure, I had to pay Gerard $1000 for failed bets. But this does not mean that he was right and I was wrong.  No. We were both wrong.  Prove that I lie.

I never criticise the Prophet Mohammed. After all, I am a bit of a prophet myself.  Also, I don’t want my throat cut since it’s difficult to write better plays than David Williamson and/or Kristin Williamson if your brain is disconnected from your old fella.  What’s more, it’s difficult to have sex two and a half times each week if you haven’t got a head. Or even have sex half a time a week. Discuss.

But I like criticising people whom I claim are practising Catholics.  Like Gerard.  Gerard’s madness is due to his bizarre cult of Catholicism, which holds that a dead man – that Jesus Christ bloke – whose blood he drinks on Sundays will come back and turn the planet to cinders before rescuing five billion corpses. And so it goes.  I know this because I’ve seen Gerard and his bloodhound Nancy at Palm Beach on Saturday nights signing contracts with vampires for an early Sunday morning blood delivery at the Church of the Holy Redeemer.

I can say this.  Catholics are all mad.  I don’t drink blood on Sundays.  Just whisky.  And I don’t think that the Christ bloke will turn the planet to cinders.  He doesn’t need to. Global warming will do this.  That’s why Anne and I live on a hill at Palm Beach.  We know that climate change will lead to both rain and drought, fire and flood. By the way, my house was burned down some years ago by blood drinking Catholics who work for Rupert Murdoch.  Prove that I lie.

Tony Jones and the Q&A team just loved my contribution on Q&A on 21 May 2009.  It was there that I came up with a solution for Brisbane’s drought.  I said that we should build a bloody big pipe from the Fly River in New Guinea to Wivenhoe Dam in Brisbane.  At the time, dickheads like Gerard and Rupert were claiming that Brisbane’s drought could be overcome by, wait for it, rain. Knaves. Anyrate, Wivenhoe Dam is now full of water – all due to my idea of a “bloody big great pipe” from New Guinea. This should earn me an AO – like Phillip Adams got.  Or billions of dollars – like David and Kristin have.

Classic Ellis : The Last David Hicks Poem

Attend the tale of David Hicks

Who could this day hit Bush for six

And Howard too and other pricks

Because that’s how he gets his kicks.

When firing shots from Pakistan

At Hindu looking folk

Our man did serve the Taliban

Oh yes, this is no joke.

I love young David, say no more

I admire his style and nerve

For him, of course, I will now pour

My Dimple scotch, a massive serve.

Now it’s time to conclude this poem

I’m absolutely pissed

So, must quickly head for home

Lest this week’s half sex be missed.

Discuss. Prove that I lie. And so it goes.  And so it goes.  And so it went.  Or perhaps you disagree.


On Wednesday 22 February 2012, The Age ran an important editorial titled “genetic inheritance belongs to all humanity”.  This is an important issue, worthy of a serious debate.

But you won’t find one in The Age.  Not yet, anyrate.  For The Age has declined to publish the following Letter to the Editor by Paul MacLeman, the CEO of Genetic Technologies Limited.

MWD publishes Dr MacLeman’s unpublished letter in full – in the interest of considered debate on important matters.

Dear editor

While your editorial comfortably argues that “a company should not own a naturally occurring gene” (Genetic inheritance belongs to all humanity, The Age 22 Feb), the editorial fails to acknowledge the importance of patents in medical discovery.

The US patent holder of the BRCA breast cancer gene test Myriad Inc got its patents because it discovered a combination of gene sequences as well as methods of analysis. It is oversimplifying to claim a patent is awarded for simply identifying a naturally occurring gene.

Some people wilfully mislead or misunderstand the intent of these patents which are to protect the research that delivered this valuable testing.  Had this research not been performed by the American patentees (including public institutions and universities to which royalties are paid) the test would likely not be available.

The circa $2,000 cost of the test in Australia is not a royalty payment as your editorial asserts. In Australia a number of medical institutes perform this test and pay no royalties (and never have), yet charge about $2,000. The test is complex, expensive and takes time.

When Genetic Technologies became the first Australian private test provider it charged less than the medical institutes and delivered the results to women in two weeks instead of up to six months.

The irony is that Genetic Technologies is the only test provider in Australia that did what it believed to be correct by applying for a license to supply the test. We pay the licence fees while competitors do not, charge less and supply results faster. Your editorial however is content to lambast what we do.

Yours faithfully

Dr Paul MacLeman


Genetic Technologies Limited

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Until next time.