GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG – ISSUE NO. 138
25 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.
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 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are private correspondence and not for publication” – ABC News Radio’s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: 7.30’s Confusion; Taxpayers Fund ABC’s Legal Bills; Robert Manne Rationalises Margaret Simons’ Historical Errors
● Can You Bear It? Mark Latham’s New Best (Tory) Friend; Jeff Waters’ Morbid Confusion; Jeanette Winterson Bags Sarkozy with Abuse; Nick Dyrenfurth’s Class Confusion
● Nancy’s Pick-of-the-Week: A Fran Kelly Moment on Craig Thomson
● On the Couch – Mark Latham’s Continuing Broken Promise on Vladimir Lenin
● Five Paws Award: Step Forward Paul Terracini, Kathy Jackson, George Monbiot & Dennis Shanahan
● Nancy’s Old Bones: Hugh White and “The Battle of Taiwan” That Never Happened
● 7.30’s Irrelevant Comparison
What was the 7.30 program on about last night in its coverage of the Craig Thomson affair? The program dwelt at some length about the death by suicide of Labor MP Greg Wilton in June 2000. This matter was introduced by Labor Whip Joel Fitzgibbon and followed up by presenter Chris Uhlmann.
Mr Uhlmann overlooked the fact that Mr Wilton’s suicide was not directly related to any argument in the House of Representatives within or between the Coalition and Labor. According to reports at the time, the tragic circumstances surrounding Mr Wilton’s death involved personal relationships – not political controversy. There were also allegations that Mr Wilton was upset about media coverage following the break-up of his marriage.
Chris Uhlmann did not seem to recall the facts of the case. Hence a large part of the 7.30 key interview focused on an extraneous issue. There was a Labor senator who attempted to take his life during the time of the Howard government. He was under considerable political pressure at the time. However, this was not the case with the late Greg Wilton.
● Your Taxes at Work – Per Courtesy of Aunty
The news this morning is that the taxpayer funded public broadcaster has paid Echo Entertainment, owner of The Star Casino in Sydney, $190,000 to cover its legal fees. On 16 April 2012, the ABC’s 7.30 program ran allegations concerning the lack of regulation and oversight in The Star’s VIP rooms. The ABC has admitted to using confidential information which belonged to The Star. This is well reported in today’s Sydney Morning Herald.
This follows a case last month when an apology was made by the ABC and production company Southern Star concerning the manner in which Alastair Macdonald, the former husband of Ita Buttrose, was portrayed in the mini-series Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo. Mr Macdonald’s defamation case was settled out of court following mediation. The terms of the settlement are subjected to a confidentiality agreement. In view of the fact that an apology was made, it is likely that the ABC made payments for reputation damage and legal costs.
Both cases highlight the lack of accountability of the ABC. For the ABC to pay legal costs or make payments for reputational damage means little – since the money comes immediately from the Australian taxpayer. The ABC has no shareholders to which it is accountable and no one within the organisation suffers personally when payments for damages or costs are made.
The essential problem with the ABC remains that no one really runs it. Recently Bruce Belsham has conceded that material placed on the public broadcaster’s The Drum website is not fact-checked prior to publication. Mr Belsham does not seem to care about factual errors in The Drum and The Drum Online websites. Likewise Kim Dalton, the ABC’s head of television, is unconcerned about factual errors in major ABC documentaries. See MWD passim.
The absence of a proper accountability within the ABC effectively means that no one is disciplined for breaking confidentiality or for defaming people or for making or failing to correct errors. And when a financial settlement is made – it is the Australian taxpayer who pays up.
● Professor Manne Defends Error-Ridden Malcolm Fraser/Margaret Simons Book
In his blog on The Monthly website today, Robert Manne is self-described as having “been twice voted Australia’s leading public intellectual”. Wow. Professor Manne is Professor of Personal Polemics and Self-Regard at La Trobe University (Proudly 131st on the Top 500 Big Polluters List).
Once upon a time intellectuals – public and private alike – used to welcome debate. Not any more, it seems. Robert Manne resents the fact that Professor Margaret Simons has been subjected to debate in The Australian and elsewhere. He has also objected to what he describes as Gerard Henderson’s “dreary and obsessive campaign against Margaret Simons’ work on the Malcolm Fraser autobiography”.
How about that? Professor Simons and Mr Fraser won a $50,000 prize in the 2011 NSW Premier’s Literary Award for Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs – which is replete with factual errors. [See MWD passim]. Margaret Simons refuses to address – let alone correct – the howlers in her award winning book. And Robert Manne describes an analysis of these errors as merely “dreary and obsessive”. Maybe it is. But facts are invariably dreary and obsessive to those who don’t like criticism and/or corrections.
CAN YOU BEAR IT?
● Mark Latham (Now a Journalist) in Liberal Love-In
Could this be the start of another Political Party? Or is it just another social party? MWD is on to the TOP STORIES OF OUR TIME – which include the analysis by brand new Age columnist Dr Germaine Greer (for a doctor she is) of Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s jackets. (See MWD Issue 136).
Yesterday James Jeffery’s “Strewth!” column in The Australian carried this photo (see below) of former Liberal Party supremo Michael Kroger and former Labor leader Mark Latham sitting together at the New South Wales vs Queensland Rugby League State of Origin match in Melbourne last Wednesday night. [I wonder if Mr Latham travelled to Melbourne on his taxpayer funded gold pass entitlements? – Ed].
This must be one of the great political metamorphoses of our time. It is not so long ago that Mr Latham declared his hatred for Liberals and the Tory Establishment and such conservatives as Janet Albrechtsen – whom he once described as a “skanky-ho”.
Now your man Latham is seen dining with the likes of Mr Kroger and Dr Albrechtsen at posh restaurants and attending the football, kitted out in the light blue NSW colours sitting next to the blue-blooded Michael Kroger. It seems evident that Michael Kroger is the Lair of Liverpool’s new – and perhaps only – best friend.
Stand ready for Mark Latham to offer himself as a volunteer guide within the George W. Bush Presidential Library which opens in Dallas sometime in the future. He could lead the on-going conga line of pro-George W suck-holes (to use a Lathamism). Can you bear it?
We’ll keep you posted about Mr Latham’s increasingly Tory-focused social calendar. [Talking about the post. There’s news about the so far undelivered book which Mark Latham promised to post to Nancy’s co-owner – See “Nancy on the Couch Talks to Inky” segment below – Ed].
● Jeff Waters Rises From the Dead – In His Mind
ABC journalist Jeff Waters has been busy of late plugging his book Every Beat of my Heart (ABC Books) about his near fatal heart attack in February 2010. That is all well and good. Except for the fact that – like the late Kerry Packer in his post-heart-attack days – Mr Waters claims to have died and to have returned to the living. This is how the Herald-Sun’s Peter Wilmoth reported the matter last Saturday:
For 56 minutes Waters was dead. “It was like being asleep without dreams. It was just being out. It was dark, black. Nothing was there. I subsequently have realised that I could have made a lot of money had I woken up and made up a story. I might be a cult leader by now, have my own religion. But I have nothing to report from the other side.”
And as a reporter? “It”s very frustrating. I”d like to come back and write a feature about heaven or hell. But I can”t. But I do know what it feels to have death fall upon one.”
What a load of tosh. If Jeff Waters had died in 2010, he wouldn’t be working for the ABC today and writing books published by the ABC Books. Only the brain dead are dead – and Mr Waters was never brain dead. But an author is more likely to get a book contract if he or she claims to have come back from the dead. Can you bear it?
● Tax Payer Funded Abuse – Jeanette Winterson Disses Sarkozy With a Little Help from Jonathan Green
Just when it appeared that ABC Radio National’s new format seemed full-up with sandal-wearing leftists and shoed social democrats, ABC management decided that it would be a you-beaut idea to give Jonathan Green his own program – hence the creation of RN’s Sunday Extra program. Mr Green has all the necessary qualifications to become one of the ABC’s presenters. After all, he worked for The Age, then Crikey and then the ABC’s The Drum and The Drum Online (both of which he edited without engaging a fact-checker). Moreover, Jonathan Green is an inner-city type who is given to sneering at those with whom he disagrees and he just loves to mock conservatives.
Here is a taste of Sunday Extra under Mr Green. Last weekend, he interviewed novelist Jeanette Winterson, who was in Australia for the taxpayer subsidised Sydney Writers Festival. Being a leftie, Ms Winterson was assured of a soft interview. And so it was no surprise that Mr Green declined to indicate any displeasure when Jeanette Winterson made the following comment about former French conservative president Nicholas Sarkozy:
Jeanette Winterson: I was very excited when Francois Hollande was elected and Sarkozy, that ridiculous cartoon character, was booted out of the Élysée Palace. What was his last words? He said “If I’m defeated you won’t see me, I’m going to make some money”. That shows you entirely the values of the little jerk. It’s the only thing he’s interested in. And he somehow thinks that makes him a big man. It doesn’t. I don’t know how we got into worshipping this god, money.
So there you have it. Mr Sarkozy is both a “ridiculous cartoon character” and a “little jerk”. For the record, Ms Winterson was paid a fee for her appearance at the taxpayer subsidised SWF. That’s considered debate – RN Sunday Extra style. Can you bear it?
● Nick Dyrenfurth Only Sees Class War In The Soviet War
Andrew Bolt of The Bolt Report tries hard to get a Green or a leftie or a social democrat on to his Melbourne-based program on Sunday mornings. Occasionally he succeeds. But those who front up are usually somewhat alienated with the Labor Party or the trade union movement. Or both.
Not so on 13 May 2012. Labour historian Nick Dyrenfurth was on the interviewee chair and was desperate to defend Labor against Bolt’s line that Julia Gillard, Wayne Swan and the like had gone into class-war mode with their attack on some miners, Sydney’s North Shore and the like.
Talk about a confusing exchange. First up Dr D said that the allegation that Labor was waging class war in Australia was “mistaken”. Then he said that the Prime Minister’s attack on Sydney’s North Shore was “also mistaken”. Then Dr D claimed that the line run by the Prime Minister and the Treasurer was:
…definitely an aggressive pitch to what they believe is Labor’s base, Labor’s working-class base. But it’s not class war – it’s a bit crude, it’s certainly populist, and there’s no guarantee it’s going to work.
Then when Andrew Bolt suggested that Labor was “bashing the rich”, Dr D went into rationalisation mode by claiming that the only class war which ever took place occurred in the Soviet Union and other communist nations. Let’s go to the video tape:
Nick Dyrenfurth : Well there’s certainly a belief in the Labor ranks that they’ve lost the base, so to speak. So this is an aggressive, direct pitch to win that base back. Now, one of the problems is the base aren’t just going to return because a few lines are trotted out. But this is not class war, Andrew, and I have to say –
Andrew Bolt : It’s just bashing the rich.
Nick Dyrenfurth : It’s actually offensive to those who’ve suffered under class warfare, the people in Russia who [were] turned up against the walls and shot down like dogs.
What a load of tosh. The concept of “class” was never confined to communist regimes. The idea that Western societies contained an upper class, a middle class and a working class goes back before the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. Karl Marx, for example, wrote about class in the 19th Century.
And yet Nick Dyrenfurth fronted up on a Sunday morning on The Bolt Report and argued that anyone who spoke about class war in contemporary Australia was offending the memory of the victims of Leninist/Stalinist terror. Dr D is an academic. Can you bear it? [Er, no. You should follow up the fact-free careers of Nick Dyrenfurth and Tim Soutphommasane and see how they are doing since both failed to produce evidence to back up their fact-free assertions in their book What’s Left? See MWD passim – ad nauseam. I see that the leftist Dr S now has an occasional column in The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra – this might be worth checking out. – Ed].
A FRAN KELLY MOMENT – IN WHICH MS KELLY FINDS CRAIG THOMSON’S CASE PLAUSIBLE
What a stunning return by Fran Kelly to ABC microphones after her time-off last week. [Don”t you mean well-earned break? – Ed].
Ms “I’m an activist” Kelly is one of the new breed of ABC journalists who doubles up as a presenter (of Radio National Breakfast) and a commentator (on such programs as The Drum). On ABC 2’s The Drum on Tuesday, Fran Kelly commented on the speech given to Parliament by Independent MP Craig Thomson – whose continuing support for Labor is crucial to the survival of the Gillard Government. Ms Kelly was one of the few journalists who saw Mr Thomson’s address as a victory for him and the Gillard Government. Here’s how she got there.
First up, Fran Kelly accused Tony Abbott and the Opposition of engaging a “wedge” tactic. It went like this:
…they’ve been calling and calling for Craig Thompson to give an address to the Parliament, to make his case, explain himself; as soon as he does they say: “Well that’s implausible, you’re off to the Privileges Committee for misleading the House.”
Er, not really. For starters, it was Independent MPs Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott who demanded that Mr Thomson make a speech to the House of Representatives concerning the allegations made against him.
Then Fran Kelly suggested that there was plausibility to Craig Thomson’s speech:
Fran Kelly: At the same time, and, if you believe, I mean it’s so difficult, isn’t it, to hear an MP get up, speak for an hour and then think to yourself: “Well, I”m not going to believe a word he said.” I mean, it’s a difficult – for me, I find it a difficult, sort of, bar to jump, that this, everything is unbelievable. But it’s not –
Sue Cato: But the electorate’s been pre-conditioned to believe that by this term of [the Gillard] government.
Fran Kelly: No but, that’s true, but also by a ferocious attack and preparation by the Opposition. If he’s telling any of the truth – we already know that he’s not, according to the AEC, in breach of those things. He’s, according to his own self, didn’t put the $100,000 out of the ATMs into his pocket – according to him.
Gosh. Amid the confusing verbiage Fran Kelly declared that the Australian Electoral Commission had declared that Thomson was not in breach of union rules in using Health Services Union money to fund his election campaign in 2007. But the AEC made no such finding. And then Ms Kelly declared that Craig Thomson did not put any of his $100,000 in cash withdrawals from HSU funds into his pocket – because he said that he did not do so.
So, that settles the matter then. Verily, A Fran “I’m an activist” Kelly Moment.
NANCY ON THE COUCH TALKS TO INKY
About Mark Latham’s Broken (Leninist) Promise and Good News from Martin English
Nancy Asks : I am feeling a sense of loss. As you will recall, in The Spectator Australia on 21 January 2012 Mark Latham wrote that he had “now posted a copy” of Tamara Deutscher’s book Not By Politics Alone “to Hendo”. Hendo is my co-owner, otherwise known as Gerard Henderson.
I have spent weeks, no months, sitting by my co-owner’s letter-box waiting for the arrival of the Ms Deutscher tome – which Mr Latham has indicated should be read by my co-owner in order that he might yet enjoy “all the pleasures of a healthy human existence”. But, alas, Not By Politics Alone: The Other Lenin has not yet arrived.
When Mr Latham was a politician, he broke many a promise. However, I assumed that in his life away from politics Mr Latham would honour his commitments. Even though he earns a mere $75,000 a year in his taxpayer funded (and fully indexed) superannuation along with his media payment and it must cost an unhappy $6 to post a book from out Camden way to the Sydney CBD. What should I do? Where am I at? How long can I wait?
Inky Responds : I feel your pain. But there is good news. I do not believe that Mark Latham ever had a copy of Not By Politics Alone: The Other Lenin which he intended to send to Hendo. He just made this up – and Tommie Switzer (editor of “the Aussie Speccie”) was foolish enough to run Mr Latham’s bull. Young Mr Switzer tends to believe the crap of older, high profile men – including the likes of Mr Latham whom he would regard as a “warmist” in the climate change debate.
However, help is at hand. A certain Martin English has followed the saga in MWD. He sent the following email to Hendo on 8 May 2012 – just eight days after May Day, which was once a holy day in Mr Latham’s social democratic calendar. This is what Martin English wrote:
Given Mr Latham”s financial state (this is being written prior to the Treasurer”s Budget speech), I have taken the liberty of ordering, for delivery to your Phillip St address, a copy of this book, via Amazon.com. The book is being sourced from an Amazon reseller, and the delivery estimate is between June 8, 2012 and July 10, 2012. Given that Mr Latham”s ascent to leadership of the ALP can be considered a major part of the history behind their (the ALP”s) current state of disarray, I would appreciate any insight that this book provides about Mr Latham.
I hope that when the book arrives sometime after 8 June 2012 your co-owner will read Not By Politics Alone immediately and learn to enjoy life the Lenin way – perhaps by establishing a kinder/gentler, KGB-style secret police force, or by inventing the gulag or maybe by slaughtering revolting sailors in places like Kronstadt. Or, on second thoughts, maybe not. Maybe Hendo might follow Comrade Lenin and overthrow a provisional government or two.
In any event, I look forward to hearing from you again about this. Stay by the post-box every morning. But, this time, look for a delivery from Amazon. Unlike Mark Latham, Amazon delivers on its promises. Remember to thank nice Martin English for his generosity and his inherent wisdom.
FIVE PAWS AWARD
Due to overwhelming popular demand, Nancy’s Five Paws Awards returns after a brief interlude. And what a cast of winners. Step Forward:
● Paul Terracini Demolishes ABC Vietnam War Doco All The Way’s Conscription Myth
As avid MWD readers will be aware, the ABC 1 documentary All The Way, which was co-written by documentary maker Anne Delaney and historian Paul Ham, falsely alleged that conscription was introduced by the Coalition government headed by Robert Menzies to make the United States happy at the time of the Vietnam War. This is nonsense – and is inconsistent with Paul Ham’s own explanation in Vietnam: The Australian War on which All The Way was based. See Pages 167-168 of Mr Ham’s book.
In his Sydney Morning Herald column on 17 April 2012, Gerard Henderson wrote:
All the Way also claimed that the Americans forced “conscription on Canberra” because the US wanted more Australian troops in Vietnam. This is mythology. Conscription for overseas service was introduced in November 1964, well before Australia decided to send combat forces to South Vietnam. Also, as Peter Edwards makes clear in the 1992 official history Crises and Commitments, the prime reason for conscription was to help Britain defend Malaysia against an attack from Indonesia, and to help defend Papua New Guinea.
On 24 April 2012, the SMH published a letter by Paul Ham objecting to Henderson’s article which read in part:
The film [All The Way] is grounded in hard facts. It is a fact, for example, that America pressured Australia to introduce conscription in 1964 – after the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which was the closest thing America came to a declaration of war against Vietnam. They well knew the likely combat zone was Vietnam and not the Malayan barrier.
On 28-29 April 2012 the SMH published the following letter from Paul Terracini – who has just completed his Ph.D in Australian history at the University of Sydney which involved an analysis of the Prime Minister’s Department and Cabinet Office files for the 1950s and 1960s. In other words, he has researched the period by reading primary sources.
Paul Terracini described the All The Way view – which has been endorsed by ABC television head Kim Dalton – that conscription was introduced in Australia in response to an American request at the time of the Vietnam War as “simplistic”. The letter is printed in full below:
My PhD research of the cabinet, and Prime Minister”s Department files at the National Archives has revealed it is simplistic for Paul Ham (Letters, April 24) to suggest that “”America pressured Australia to introduce conscription in 1964″”. The decision taken in November 1964 by the government was actually to reintroduce national service. The National Service Act had been in force from 1951-1959. Since the beginning of the Korean War, Australia had therefore been without national service for only five years.
The cabinet documents for 1964 and early 1965 reveal great concern over a possible escalation of the Indonesia/Malaysia conflict in which Australian soldiers were already involved. The Malaysian government had requested Australian troops in April 1964. New Guinea was specifically mentioned on 7 April, 1965 as a possible flashpoint when cabinet was preparing its response to the American request for troops to Vietnam.
The primary sources suggest that there were many more nuances present in the deliberations of the Australian government than seem to exist in Mr Ham”s interpretation.
Paul Terracini – Five Paws.
● Kathy Jackson Matches Conspiracy Theories on 7.30
MWD quite likes feisty sheilas. Hence MWD’s appreciation of Kathy Jackson’s performance when interviewed by Chris Uhlmann on 7.30 last Monday. Ms Jackson, national secretary of the Health Services Union, is in dispute with former Labor MP, now Independent MP, Craig Thomson concerning his time at the HSU. Let’s go to the ABC’s transcript which has been corrected by MWD’s obsessive fact-checker:
Chris Uhlmann: You mentioned the HR Nicholls Society. Who is paying your legal bills?
Kathy Jackson: I”m paying my legal bills. I”ve got a $40,000 debt already that the union won”t pay for. And Brett Shields [and] Farid Assaf are doing all the work pro-bono and so is Stuart Wood.
Chris Uhlmann: Are you still using Harmers Workplace Lawyers?
Kathy Jackson: Yes I am.
Chris Uhlmann: Why?
Kathy Jackson: Well, because I went to every labour law firm in town and they couldn”t represent me, they”re all conflicted.
Chris Uhlmann: And are they [Harmers] doing that work pro-bono?
Kathy Jackson: Yes they are.
Chris Uhlmann: Are you aware that it”s the same law firm that”s representing James Ashby, the man who has accused the Speaker [Peter Slipper] of sexual harassment?
Kathy Jackson: I am now.
Chris Uhlmann: Doesn”t it seem odd to you?
Kathy Jackson: No, well, why? It seems odd to me that Maurice Blackburn is representing Peter Slipper when they are an employment law firm. Why isn”t that strange?
Chris Uhlmann: It does seem that the two big cases that are going in parliament at the moment should both be represented by the same law firm. [This] does seem at the very least to be just a touch strange.
Kathy Jackson: Well, why isn”t it strange that the federal office of the Health Services Union is being represented by Holding Redlich who are the same lawyers that Craig Thomson is using?
Chris Uhlmann: And why do you thick Harmers Workplace Lawyers is representing you pro-bono?
Kathy Jackson: I think they are representing me pro-bono because they believe in my case.
Quite so. If there is something odd in Harmers representing Kathy Jackson and James Ashby on separate matters – why isn’t odd that the labour law firm Maurice Blackburn is representing the speaker Peter Slipper (who was the effective employer of James Ashby) and so on?
Kathy Jackson. Five Paws.
● George Monbiot Slams the Cant of Noam Chomsky and John Pilger
George Monbiot is a leftie, but not a reflex one. So MWD welcomes Mr Monbiot’s on-going battle with such hard-line lefties as Edward Herman, Michael Albert, Noam Chomsky, John Pilger and the like. Monbiot is angry about the refusal of what he terms sections of the “international left” to acknowledge the mass murders of Muslims undertaken by Bosnian Serb troops in 1995 along with the killings by the Hutu militants of the Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994. Moinbot makes the point that the likes of Herman, Albert, Chomsky and Pilger are only willing to criticise the governments of Western democracies – but not regimes “considered hostile to the US and its allies”. Writing in The Guardian on 21 May 2012, Monbiot declared, with reference to the current trial of Ratko Mladic:
Attempts to downplay or dismiss this crime matter…especially when they emerge from the unlikely setting of the internationalist left. Tacitly on trial beside Mladic in The Hague is a set of ideas: in my view the left”s most disturbing case of denial and doublethink since the widespread refusal to accept that Stalin had engineered a famine in the Ukraine.
George Monbiot – Five Paws.
● Dennis Shanahan Documents Tony Windsor Cant
Great piece in The Australian today by Dennis Shanahan pointing to the hypocrisy of Independent MP Tony Windsor. In 2004 Mr Windsor, without any evidence, used parliamentary privilege to (falsely) accuse the Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson of corruption. Yet today he criticises Tony Abbott for making evidence based criticisms of Craig Thomson. It’s called a double standard.
Dennis Shanahan: Five Paws
NANCY’S OLD BONES
PROFESSOR HUGH WHITE FORSEES POSSIBLE CONFLICT BETWEEN AUSTRALIA AND INDONESIA – BUT WHATEVER HAPPENED TO HIS “BATTLE OF TAIWAN” SCENARIO?
MWD heard Hugh White, Professor of Strategic Studies at the Australian National University, on The World Today last Tuesday advising Australia about Indonesia. Hugh White concluded his interview with the following warning:
Hugh White : Well one doesn”t want to overemphasise the gloomy side of the picture. But the fact is that for Australia, for a long time, our security has been dependent amongst other things on the fact that none of our neighbours had armed forces that were big enough to cause us any kind of a problem. As Indonesia grows richer, its armed forces will grow. Indonesia has always had a big army but until now it”s had relatively weak air and naval forces and we”ve depended for our security from Indonesia on the fact that our air and naval forces have been much bigger. In future, Indonesia”s air and naval forces will grow, so we will face the risk of a significantly more dangerous strategic relationship with Indonesia if it becomes contested and conflictual. And that I think increases the imperative for Australia to manage that relationship very carefully.
Well, he might be right. But then, as MWD reader Frank Mount in Melbourne has reminded Nancy’s co-owner, your man White is not always right. This is what Professor White wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald on 24 March 2005:
Two big anniversaries this year mark turning points in Australia”s strategic history. In 1805, Nelson destroyed Napoleon”s navy at Trafalgar. For nearly a century afterwards, Britain”s naval supremacy made Australians secure from the European rivals which then seemed our only potential threats. Then, in 1905, the Russian fleet was destroyed by Japan”s new navy, the first time an Asian power had defeated Europeans at sea. Australia was shocked. Ever since, Australia”s strategic priority has been to support Britain and the United States – especially the US – in their domination of Asia so they could prevent threats materialising there.
From 1805 and 1905 to 2005: you have to wonder whether we may face another strategically transforming naval battle this year. And no prizes for guessing what it would be: a battle of Taiwan between the US and Chinese navies, ostensibly over Taiwan”s independence, but in reality over which power would emerge pre-eminent in Asia in the 21st century. The battle probably will not happen. But in a way it”s not needed. The strategic competition is happening anyway. And China is already effectively challenging the US. Even Australia is being drawn into its sphere of influence.
How about that? In 2005 Hugh White was foretelling a possible Battle of Taiwan fought between the United States and Chinese navies. It never happened, of course. And now, in 2012, Professor White is foretelling a possible “contested and conflictual” relationship between Australia and Indonesia in the not too distant future. We shall see.
Then, in The Age on 17 April 2012, Hugh White wrote:
[Henry] Kissinger is of course not just the doyen of the US strategic and foreign policy establishment. He is the architect of America”s historic opening to China in 1972, which paved the way for the US to get out of Vietnam, and made the US the uncontested leader of Asia, at the same time as setting the stage for China”s rise.
Umm. The US withdrawal of combat forces from Vietnam was well under way by 1971 –sometime before Henry Kissinger or President Richard Nixon went to China. There was no causal link between the US withdrawal from Vietnam and the decision of the Nixon administration to open up contacts with China. Hugh White made more sense before he headed to the Australian National University.
* * * * *
Until next time.