11 MAY 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are private correspondence and not for publication” – ABC News Radio’s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

“What a haughty flapping half-arsed buffoon he [Henderson] is”

– Bob Ellis on his Table Talk blog, 8 May 2012 (before breakfast)

Stop Press : La Tingle & the False Prophet of Palm Beach on Canberra Politics

Nancy on the Couch Discusses: Prof Manne’s Big Polluter La Trobe Uni

● Germs Greer Joins The Age & Gives Gillard Jacket the Elbow

● Can You Bear It?  On Bob Ellis, John Buchanan, Michael Mullins and the Jesuits plus Ross Gittins and the Barber

● Nancy’s Pick-of-the-Week: Mark Latham Tells Labor How to Sell Policy

● Anti-Catholic Sectarianism of the Week: Step Forward Waleed Aly and News Breakfast

● History Corner:  Museum Of Sydney Fudges Australian History 1939-41

● Correspondence: Let’s Hear from Phillip Adams on the (Mythical) Menzies/Fairfax Bonk of 1938


● La Tingle Rings (Possible) Election Bell

What a scoop.  In today”s Australian Financial Review, political editor Laura Tingle has raised the possibility of the fall of the Gillard Government with an election to be held around the middle of the year. Really.  Here’s how La Tingle put it this morning:

…the possibility of Labor losing the numbers in the House are very, very real between now and the end of May, but not certain. If that were to happen – and there are various scenarios about what processes would be involved – we would be facing the likelihood of the writs being issued for a House of Representatives election by June 8 at the latest for an election held in late July.

The significance of this timing is that the earliest date on which a “normal” election for the House and half the Senate can be called is August 3.  An election before that date would put future elections for the two houses out of “sync”, and mean a (presumed) incoming Abbott government would face a hostile Senate.  Labor would go to the polls – some would say the gallows – at least with a coherent election platform, as set in the budget Treasurer Swan handed down on Tuesday night.

Go on. The Tingle thesis suggests that any two of Rob Oakeshott, Tony Windsor, Andrew Wilkie, Bob Katter and Tony Crook would vote no confidence in the Gillard Government and force an election.  This would almost certainly lead to Mr Oakeshott’s defeat  in Lyne and possibly Mr Windsor’s defeat in New England.

It’s possible. Just possible.  But most unlikely, unless, of course, you take Mr Oakeshott’s public musings seriously.  [Does anyone? – Ed].

Also, Laura Tingle declared today that the Parliament does not have power to expel an MP.  MWD will check this out.  Hugh Mahon was expelled from the House of Representatives in November 1920 for comments he made on, believe it or not, British policy in Ireland.


MWD has received most helpful advice on this matter. It is true that Section 8 of the Parliamentary Privileges Act 1987 removed the power of Parliament to expel a member or a senator.  However, the Parliamentary Privileges Act 1987 is an act of Parliament which – like all other pieces of legislation – can be readily and quickly amended or repealed.

So MWD maintains that Parliament – if it wishes – can expel an MP, since such action is not prohibited by the Constitution. All that would be required is a majority of votes in both the House of Representatives and the Senate – i.e. legislation introduced by the Gillard government which is supported by Tony Abbott and the Coalition.

● False Prophet of Palm Beach’s $6,000 (Soon to be Broken) Promise

At the end of the budget week, the Commonwealth Parliament is reeling – literally reeling – with Bob Ellis’ “A Modest Proposal” – which he posted on Wednesday.  You see, the False Prophet of Palm Beach has a solution to the current political malaise – which is as follows:

I myself will pay back the six thousand dollars Craig Thomson spent on hookers for visiting drunk unionists plus ten per cent interest if the Parliament leaves him alone.  Okay?

Well, er, not really. Bob Ellis turned 70 this week. As MWD readers will know, it took the False Prophet of Palm Beach a decade to pay Gerard Henderson $1000 for a lost wager which fell due in 2001. This suggests that Mr Ellis repays his creditors at the rate of $2 a week – without interest.

At this rate, not counting the acquired interest, it would take the False Prophet of Palm Beach at least 60 years to repay a $6000 debt.  By the time the deal was completed, Mr Ellis would be no less than 130 years of age.  If interest is included, he would be around 150 – which would make him the longest living prophet since Methuselah.

For the record, Ellis believes that Mr Thomson’s “firm denials are probably true” – on the basis that he “spent a day campaigning with Craig in 2007”.  [That could be compelling evidence.  Or it could be that the Ladies of the Morning/Afternoon saw the False Prophet of Palm Beach at their front door in 2007 and, realising that they would not be paid for services rendered for many decades, declined to enter into a contract – Ed].


Robert Manne’s La Trobe Uni As  A Big Polluter

Nancy Asks: Late last Friday the Gillard Government released the inaugural list of the 500 big polluters which will have to pay the carbon tax from 1 July this year.  There were 248 companies named. I was disturbed, deeply disturbed, by the fact that La Trobe University was listed number 131 out of the top 500.  Isn’t this the place where Robert Manne has had a taxpayer subsidised job since 1975?  Since Professor Manne has been warning about catastrophic climate change for eons, how come La Trobe University is such a big polluter?

Inky Responds: It is true that La Trobe University is a really, really big polluter.  This is partly due to the effort La Trobe staff put into combating dangerous climate change and saving the planet.  Such a task emits lotsa carbon on travel, computers, printing and so on.  It’s also true that Robert Manne has been at La Trobe since Moses was in short pants. I understand that he is the Professor of Personal Polemics in the Politics Department  there – and that, in this capacity, he has welcomed Saint Bob Brown to a debate where Robert agreed with Bob and Bob agreed with Robert about the looming catastrophe.  The truth is that there is not much that Professor Manne can do to reduce his carbon footprint.  But he could stop writing 90,000 word essays for The Monthly and he could desist from talking about himself.  This would probably move La Trobe University from 131 to 132 on the big polluters list.


MWD has been banging on for years about how The Age has become a Melbourne version of The Guardian – The Guardian-on-the-Yarra, no less.

Just when Nancy’s co-owner was becoming weary of his joke, The Age readily obliged by appointing feminist leftist – and one-time columnist for The Guardian (i.e. the real thing) –   Germaine Greer as its new columnist. [Don’t tell me that The Age doesn’t have enough lefties on board already. – Ed].

Here’s how The Saturday Age announced its brand new recruit on page one last Saturday:

Dr Greer’s inaugural column in The Age focused on THE CRUCIAL ISSUE OF OUR TIME. Namely, Julia Gillard’s jackets.  Really.  In her column titled “It’s high time for Gillard to roll up her sleeves”, Dr Greer:

▪ Declared that when “it became clear to Rupert Murdoch that a change of government was in his best interest” he got “professionals to restyle” Margaret Thatcher.

Reality Check: There is no evidence that Rupert Murdoch arranged for Mrs Thatcher to be re-styled by a person or persons unknown.  Nor is there any evidence to support  the claim that Margaret Thatcher needed the assistance of  Rupert Murdoch – or anyone – to win the 1979 British general election.

▪ Claimed that underneath Julia Gillard’s work clothes are “the same black pants and black top she once would have worn under her gown for court appearances”.

Reality check: Before entering politics, Julia Gillard was a partner in a law firm.  She was never a barrister  who was required to dress for court appearances.

▪ Sneered that Julia Gillard “looks as if she’s wearing clothes that don’t belong to her, like an organ-grinder’s monkey”.

Reality check: The organ-grinder’s monkey reference is an old, very old, joke.  The Age’s brand new columnist should be able to bring new material to The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra. Otherwise The Age should continue to highlight, say, Ken Davidson of Carlton (see MWD passim).

▪ Argued that the future of the Labor Party will depend on the Prime Minister’s image and maintained that “Australians are big enough to cope with the sight of their female Prime Minister in shirt-sleeves”.

Reality check : Labor’s problems are well-known and centre on the carbon tax broken promise. The idea that the Prime Minister’s jackets or shirt-sleeves are the cause of Labor’s discontent is, well, a Greerism.


● Bob Ellis Forgets His Ugly Comments on the PM

Now hear this. Bob Ellis, the False Prophet of Palm Beach, is not only wrong about the future.  He cannot even get the past correct.

In his Sydney Morning Herald column last Tuesday, Gerard Henderson made the following comment:

At the weekend Jonathan Green interviewed Wendy Harmer, editor-in-chief of The Hoopla, on his ABC Radio National Sunday Extra program.  Harmer referred to her compilation of the “ugly top 10” barbs directed at Gillard over the last couple of years and specifically named such right-of-centre types as George Brandis, Bill Heffernan, Sophie Mirabella, Janet Albrechtsen and Graeme Morris.  She made no reference to various “ugly” comments that have been made against the Prime Minister by such left-of-centre types as, Bob Ellis, Mark Latham and Dr Germaine Greer….

On reading Henderson’s column before breakfast, the False Prophet of Palm Beach went into denial mode – and posted on his Table Talk blog the following comment:

Gerard this morning said I was part of the “ugly” campaign against Julia Gillard: a lie, I think. I have criticised the Prime Minister’s voice and her speed of utterance and her tendency to cliché, not the same thing; not the same thing at all….Gerard gets it so wrong. But of course, he does so deliberately. “Out Of Context” are his three middle names.

So on 8 May 2012, Bob Ellis denied he was ever part of an “ugly” campaign against Julia Gillard.  Interesting. This is what Ellis wrote about the Prime Minister on the ABC’s The Drum Opinion website on 28 June 2011:

Julia fits no type the animal brain can latch onto.  She is short, crow-voiced, intermittently bulbous and living in sin with an affable barber.

How’s that for ugly? And this is what Bob Ellis wrote about the Prime Minister on his Table Talk blog on 21 February 2012:

Gillard’s proud atheism has lost her three per cent, her shafting of a Queenslander [Kevin Rudd] one percent, her marital status one percent, her hatred of gay marriage one per cent….

And Bob Ellis maintains that it is a lie to claim that he has never engaged in “ugly” criticism of Julia Gillard and only criticised her voice and the content of her speeches. Can you bear it?

● Sydney Uni Business School Says Finance Sector Loves Austerity – The Teachings of John Buchanan, Socialist

Dearly beloved brethren, we come together at a time when, due to labour market re-regulation, the Industrial Relations Club has returned.  You know – the group of registered organisations, industrial relations journalists, academics, public servants, Fair Work Australia judges and the like who believe that all will be for the best if only trade union officials retain their influence, employers are more regulated, IR lawyers become IR judges, academics get sabbaticals at the International Labour Organisation in Geneva and so on.

Whenever industrial relations or employment/unemployment is in the news, the ABC has a habit of contacting a member of the IR Club in secure employment at a taxpayer subsidised university to make a comment.  The self-avowed socialist Professor John Buchanan, director of the Sydney University Business School, is one of this lot.  See MWD passim.

Last Wednesday, RN AM reporter Mathew Carney decided to interview Professor Buchanan about what to do concerning underemployment. Needless to say, Dr Buchanan (for a doctor he is) declared that governments should spend more money to stimulate growth. John Buchanan, a former trade union researcher, is an academic.  Let’s go to the audio tape:

John Buchanan: There’s a lot of people suffering out there.  Austerity is good for the finance sector and good for balancing budget books. But where even in Australia, which is one of the best performing economies in the western world, you’ve got one worker in eight either unemployed or underemployed, there’s basically economies functioning way below what they”re capable of delivering….

How about that?  According to the Director of the University of Sydney Business School, “austerity is good for the finance sector”.

How could this be?  Could Dr Buchanan name one business in the finance sector which wants a period of austerity because it believes that it is good for business?  Almost certainly not. Yet Dr Buchanan apparently preaches this garbage to his students. Can you bear it?

Jesuit Online Magazine Unfussed About Job Losses in Big Media

Once upon a time the Society of Jesus – or Jesuits – saw itself as the defender of the Pope in his capacity of successor to Saint Peter as head of the Catholic Church.  But that was before Jesuits over recent decades joined the leftist sandal-wearers and saw themselves as the Vatican’s critics on this earth.  [Funny that. I thought it was the Franciscans and the Carmelites who wore the sandals in the Church of Rome. Do you mean that the Jesuits joined the sandalistas? – Ed].

Once upon a time Melbourne based sandalista Morag Fraser edited the print edition of the Jesuit journal Eureka Street.  According to MWD’s calculations, during this decade long period Eureka Street lost a mere $1 million. That’s all folks.  Eureka Street is now an on-line journal edited by Michael Mullins. This is what Mr Mullins wrote in Eureka on 6 May 2012.

The end of big media businesses such as Seven, Nine, Ten and the newspapers would be bad for media proprietors such as Kerry Stokes and Rupert Murdoch, but not necessarily a great loss at all for the rest of us, given the NBN”s empowerment of small media enterprises and the diversity that implies.   However it also provides an uncertain future for the ABC and SBS, which exist largely to promote Australian culture and identity.

So here is Michael Mullins, of the Jesuit subsidised Eureka Street, declaring that it would be no bad thing if Channel 7, Channel 9 and Channel 10 – along with all newspapers – went out of business.  According to Mr Mullins, such an eventuality would only be bad for “media proprietors such as Kerry Stokes and Rupert Murdoch but not necessarily a great loss for the rest of us”.

Michael Mullins seems unaware that media proprietors like Kerry Stokes and Rupert Murdoch employ journalists and editors and accountants and printers and camera crew and that TV Channels and newspapers sustain other businesses including newsagents.

To Mr Mullins the future of the media lies in such publications as Eureka Street getting a bucket load of money from the Society of Jesus and the ABC and SBS getting a truck load of money from the Australian taxpayer.  Can you bear it?

Ross Gittins Regrets Demise of $1.50 Haircut (Circa 1958)

On Richard Glover’s ABC 702 Drive program yesterday, The Journos’ Forum panellists were asked to describe their most memorable moment at the hairdressers.  Here’s what Ross Gittins had to say:

Ross Gittins : My most memorable moment?  I don’t think I’ve ever been to a hairdresser. I do go to barbers. One memorable moment was when they increased the price from $8 to $10. But, worse than that is that they’ve got this new rule where if they move from the clippers to a pair of scissors at any point in this operation then the price goes up to $12. And what’s more…they charge me double because I get a top and a bottom.

So here is the Sydney Morning Herald’s economics editor, and The Age’s economics columnist, whinging about the cost of a barber’s hair job rocketing from $8 per head to $12 per head. Can you bear it?  [No.  Can we take up a collection to send the bearded Gittins to a hairdresser where proper attention might cost a whopping, say, $30. Remember that Mr Gittins is attempting to recoup the expenses following his purchase of a TV set just a few years ago – Ed]



What a stunning column in the Australian Financial Review yesterday by former Labor leader Mark Latham.  [Go easy on your man Latham. After all, he’s struggling to get by on a taxpayer funded subsidised parliamentary pension of a mere $75,000, fully indexed – Ed].

Mark Latham’s column, titled “Far too hot to handle”, criticised the likes of Prime Minister Julia Gillard,  Treasurer Wayne Swan and Climate Change Minister Greg Combet for failing to sell Labor’s carbon tax, which will transition to an emissions trading scheme. Wrote Latham:

The minister is either too feeble to confront Labor’s critics or he has given up on explaining the science of global warming.  Whatever the case, he is unfit to discharge his executive responsibilities.  He has become irrelevant to the community debate…. If Labor won’t crusade on saving the planet from global warming, what will it crusade on?

Mark Latham did not mention Penny Wong, the previous Minister for Climate Change.  The fact is that Senator Wong was not able to sell the Rudd government’s ETS.  But Latham is a true believer in a carbon tax/ETS and he chose to ignore the fact that the policy may be unsaleable.  Easier to blame Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan and – in particular – Greg Combet.

MWD has examined Mark Latham’s political record and came up with some tactics which Combet might imitate from the former Labor leader in order to sell Labor’s message and, in the process, save the planet and all that.

▪ Get tired and emotional after (yet another) Gough Whitlam Dinner.  Bash up a taxi-driver on the way home. Use the resultant media publicity to advocate a carbon tax.

▪ Launch a carbon tax initiative in the presence of the wife and the kids.  Get the missus to give a speech and say how good you are.  Encourage the young children to smile at the cameras.  Write in your diary that night that you should not have used the kids in a political stunt. Get up the next morning.  Ring Louise Adler at MUP and offer to write “The Latham Diaries” in book form.

▪ Call an impromptu media conference in a local park in south-west Sydney.  Roll up looking like something the cat dragged in – with a hair cut styled by a sheep shearer’s wide comb.  Tell everyone that you are leaving politics for good and that you will never deal with the media again – except if, in later life, you decide to write columns for the AFR and The Spectator Australia and appear on Sky News because you cannot live on a taxpayer funded pension of a lousy $75,000 a year.


In a highly competitive field, this week’s gong goes to the ABC 1 News Breakfast program last Monday – featuring presenters Michael Rowland and Karina Carvalho discussing the morning’s newspapers with RN Drive presenter Waleed Aly.

It was a busy morning.  The Eurozone was in crisis with elections in France and Greece.  In Australia it was budget week and there were the continuing Craig Thompson and Peter Slipper controversies.  Then there was discussion over the fate of Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng.  Nevertheless, the News Breakfast team managed to have yet another sneer at the Catholic Church – on the basis of a story which appeared in the Herald-Sun. It went like this:

Michael Rowland : Now, we’re running out of time. But I want to talk about the latest advice from the Catholic Church.

Waleed Aly : I had a feeling you really wanted to get to this –  this is in the Herald Sun. Apparently, women are too choosy when it comes to getting married. They’ve got, they don’t take men that are available. And then, when they decide that they want to get married, there’s no one left.

Karina Carvalho : I think what was really interesting about this article is that it quotes three men telling women what to do when it comes to marriage.

Michael Rowland : Including a member of the Catholic Church.

Waleed Aly : Yeah, Reverend Father Tony Kerin. Yes. I think, though, this is one of those fields where, clearly, there’s a voice that needs to be heard here.  And the Catholic Church has decided to fill that void, and you can make of it what you will.

Michael Rowland : And they also reckon living together is not a great idea as well.

Waleed Aly : Don’t do that before you get married. [Laughing]. I don’t know what proportion of people are taking that advice.

And so it went on.  In fact, the advice proffered by Fr Tony Kevin was not any different from that offered by the very secular – and very female – Bettina Arndt. The likes of Ms Arndt have advised young women to marry at a relatively young age rather than being at risk of being affected by what demographer Bernard Salt has calculated is an excess of eligible women aged 24-34 over eligible men.

In any event, can anyone imagine the likes of Waleed Aly being given time on ABC TV to sneer at advice which an imam might give young Muslim women about the time they should marry or sex before marriage – with Mr Rowland and Ms Carvalho joining in a group-sneer?  [Not on your nelly – Ed].



The Museum Of Sydney (on the site of the first Government House) invariably presents valuable exhibitions – albeit usually enshrining a left-leaning interpretation of Australian history.

This is the case with the MOS’s current exhibition titled Home Front: Wartime Sydney 1939-45. Indeed the exhibition contains one statement which is historically inaccurate, one which is ambiguous and one which is highly controversial. In short, Home Front: Wartime Sydney 1939-45 fails the test of accuracy and balance.

Labor’s Opposition to ADF as Expeditionary Force

The display covering Australia’s response to the outbreak of hostilities reads as follows:

When Germany invaded Poland the vast majority of Australians supported the decision to join the Allied forces in Europe.

These are the facts:

▪ At 9.15 pm on Sunday 3 September 1939, Prime Minister Robert Menzies announced that “in consequence of a persistence by Germany in her invasion of Poland, Great Britain has declared war upon her and….as a result, Australia is also at war.”

▪ On Wednesday 6 September 1939, John Curtin (the leader of the Labor Opposition) delivered an ambiguous statement.  He said that the Australia Labor Party “believes that resistance to force and armed aggression is inevitable if attacks on free and independent people are to be averted”.  However, Curtin merely stressed that Labor “will do all that is possible to safeguard Australia”.  This re-stated Labor’s support for the defence of Australia but opposition to the deployment overseas of the Australian Defence Force.  In his book John Curtin: A Life, David Day wrote that “prior to the war…he [Curtin] had also made clear on many occasions the Labor Party’s opposition to Australian involvement in another European War”.   Curtin also indicated that Labor would not enter into a national war-time government and opposed the introduction of conscription, even for service within Australia.

▪ As Paul Hasluck pointed out in the official history The Government and the People: 1939-1941, “during the September [1939]  sittings the Opposition reiterated its objection to sending forces overseas”.  John Curtin’s speech to this effect was delivered in the House of Representatives on Wednesday 6 September 1939.

▪ On 28 November 1939, the Menzies government decided that the 6th Division of the Second AIF should be sent to the Middle East in early 1940.  As Craig Stockings has pointed out in his edited collection Anzac’s Dirty Dozen, the Menzies government’s decision “was attacked vigorously by the Opposition on the grounds that the men were needed to defend Australia”.

▪ It was not until the Corio by-election in February 1940 that John Curtin announced that Labor, if elected to office, would reinforce the Second AIF – i.e. that a Labor government would join the hostilities against Germany in Europe and the Middle East.

Communist Party’s Support For The Nazi Soviet Pact

▪ The MOS’s Home Front: Wartime Sydney 1939-45 exhibition does not refer to the Nazi-Soviet Pact.  On 28 August 1939 Joachim von Ribbentrop and Vyacheslav Molotov – representing Nazi Germany and the communist Soviet Union respectively – signed what became known as the Nazi-Soviet Pact. Under this agreement, the totalitarian dictators Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin divided Eastern Europe between Germany and the Soviet Union.  The Nazi Soviet Pact effectively commenced the Second World War – since it made possible Germany’s invasion of Poland from the west.  The Soviet Union also invaded Poland – from the east.

The Nazi Soviet Pact had a significant influence on Australia – members of the Australian Communist Party were directed by Moscow to oppose the Allied war effort.  The CPA had considerable influence among the Australian intelligentsia in universities, the media and the public service and controlled many important trade unions.  The CPA attempted to sabotage the Australian war effort  from August 1939 until Germany invaded the Soviet Union on 22 June, 1941.

The Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

On leaving the MOS exhibition, there is a display titled “Victory in the Pacific”. It commences:

The events of 6 and 9 August 1945 are infamous.

Well, are they?  The reference is to the nuclear weapons which were dropped by the United States on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 August 1945 and 9 August respectively.

The US’s decision to drop a nuclear weapon on two Japanese cities may have become controversial – in that it is supported by some and opposed by others.  But there is no consensus that the action was – or remains – “infamous”.
Summary – Taxpayer Financed Dud History

The MOS statement that “when Germany invaded Poland the vast majority of Australians supported the decision to join the Allied forces in Europe” is misleading.  First, for almost six months after the outbreak of hostilities, the Australian Labor Party  opposed the sending of Australian forces to Europe and/or the Middle East. Second, the influential – and, at times, powerful – Communist Party opposed the war effort between August 1939 and June 1941. This is not covered in the MOS exhibition. Moreover, the MOS’s claim that the US nuclear bombing of Japan was infamous is mere opinion.

The taxpayer funded MOS should be able to do better than this – especially, since many school children visit the museum.



Last Saturday commenced well. Nancy’s co-owner turned to Phillip Adams’ column in the “Life & Style” section of The Weekend Australian Magazine – and was delighted to find that, for a change, the Man In Black was not writing about himself and his various medical ailments. [That’s a pity. I have become mightily interested in the fate of your man’s heart – or is it his head? – Ed].

Last week’s Phillip Adams column was titled “Let he who is without sin…” and focused on sex scandals in federal politics. Sounded good.  But, alas, it was soon evident that the Man In Black was merely re-cycling ancient rumours.  The column commenced with the “folklore” that Robert Menzies (as he then was) had a torrid affair with Betty Fairfax (as she then was).  Adams did not cite a date – but the extended rumour has the year as circa 1938, i.e. a mere three quarters of a century ago.

According to the hackneyed myth, the (alleged) affair led Sir Warwick Fairfax to instruct the Fairfax owned Sydney Morning Herald to oppose the Menzies government at the 1961 Federal election.  So, presumably, it took over two decades for Sir Warwick to get upset about the alleged hanky panky engaged in between Lady Fairfax (as she had become) and Sir Robert Menzies (as he was to become) all those years ago before the outbreak of the Second World War.

In view of the fact that the Menzies/Fairfax rumour was completely discredited just a couple of years ago, Gerard Henderson sought to find out if Phillip Adams had any new evidence to support the first para of his sex-scandal-focused column.  You be the judge.

Gerard Henderson to Phillip Adams – 7 May 2012


I read, as always, your column in last Saturday’s The Weekend Australian – which commenced as follows:

Sex scandals in federal politics are few and far between.  Folklore suggests that Robert Menzies was denied membership of the Melbourne Club because of an affair with the wife of a Fairfax heavy.

This is an important statement by a significant commentator on Australian politics and history.  In view of this, I ask the following questions:

▪ What evidence is there that Robert Menzies applied for – and was denied – membership of the Melbourne Club?

▪ What evidence is there that Robert Menzies ever had “an affair with the wife of a Fairfax heavy” – presumably Lady (Betty) Fairfax?

Just the facts will do.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

Phillip Adams to Gerard Henderson – 7 May 2012

Folklore Gerard, not facts. Folklore means unwritten.

Gerard Henderson to Phillip Adams – 8 May 2012


Oh, I see.  You can write any crap you like – and then defend yourself against the charge that you have no evidence by pointing out you are into “folklore”.  How convenient – and how tabloid, in the News of the World genre.

Perhaps “folklore” is your defence concerning the factual errors about me in your book Backstage Politics – my (unanswered) emails to you and Penguin Australia dated 11 November 2010 and 18 November 2010 refer.

For the record, when Mungo MacCallum made the reference about (alleged) Menzies/Fairfax affair some years ago – he was asked about his sources.  MacCallum said that his claim was based on a story told to him many years before by unnamed politicians, unnamed political staffers, two deceased journalists and some unnamed and deceased Commonwealth car drivers.  Later, under pressure, the Mungo conceded that he had “no direct evidence” that “more than a platonic friendship was involved” between Robert Menzies and Betty Fairfax.  You would be aware of this if you did any research.  The Menzies/Fairfax allegation does not even make it to folklore status.

By the way, if you know anything about Menzies you would understand that he did not really like the kind of senior businessmen who belonged to the Melbourne Club.  That’s why, for clubland, he chose the less formal Savage Club and West Brighton Club.  You would also know this if you did any research – it’s even written.


Gerard Henderson

* * * * *

Until next time.