22 JUNE 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are private correspondence and not for publication” – ABC News Radio’s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: Julian Assange – The Very Latest; Mark Latham World Newspaper Scoop

● Nancy’s Pick-of-the-Week: Anna Funder Reflects The World Back to Taxpayers

● Geoffrey Blainey On David Syme as Miner

● Can You Bear It? Kara Greiner, Wendy McCarthy; Alan Rusbridger; Andrew Jaspan & “The Respected” Robert Manne

● History Corner: A List of Historical Howlers in Bob Katter’s History of Australia

● Correspondence : With Thanks to RN Breakfast’s Tim Latham & A Bob Katter Staffer


▪ Activity Time On RN Breakfast – Fran Kelly & Julian Assange

What a scoop on RN Breakfast this morning when Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly interviewed Julian (“I’m an activist”) Assange about, of course, Julian Assange.

MWD’s favourite exchange occurred when Activist Assange asked Activist Kelly a question who then responded by asking Activist Assange a question that he wanted to answer.

Julian Assange : I think an important question is : why aren’t I in the Australian Embassy? That’s the real question.

Fran Kelly : Why didn’t you seek protection in the Australian Embassy?

Julian Assange : Because, Nicola Roxon, after very reasonable requests made by my lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, to her in a half-hour meeting, and following reasonable requests by one of my celebrated human rights lawyers, who represents me here in the UK, Gareth Peirce, asking them to ask for very simple conditions of the Swedes and the United States such as that if I was imprisoned in the United States, that I could serve my sentence in Australia, refused any of those requests.

Well, that’s pretty clear then.  Julian Assange went on to declare that “free speech issues” were no worse in Ecuador than in Britain.  In response to Fran Kelly’s point that Human Rights Watch had reported that “journalists get locked up in Ecuador” for campaigning for human rights, Assange replied:

Julian Assange : Oh look, Human Rights Watch is based in New York. Ecuador has an issue with Chevron, which is a US company and so on. There’s been a lot of tussles between the US and Ecuador, which is one of the reasons why Ecuador, I presume, would be happy to grant me asylum, because they understand the difficulties when you square off with the United States.

Fran Kelly : Julian Assange, thank you very much for joining us on Breakfast.

Julian Assange : Thank you Fran. Goodbye.

So that’s pretty clear, too.  Julian (“I’m an activist”) Assange has identified a CIA/Human Rights Watch/Chevron conspiracy theory.  And Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly did not have time to ask him about this.

▪ Non House-Trained Aussie in Ecuador Sleep-Over

Meanwhile MWD’s sympathies go out to the ambassador and staff at the Ecuador Embassy in London who have had to endure Julian Assange as an uninvited sleep-over house guest these recent days (and nights).

On Q&A recently (21 May 2012), the London based author Kathy Lette related how Julian Assange had lived for a while in the London abode which she shares with her husband, the oh-so-pompous Geoffrey Robertson QC. [Is he the Robertson QC with the Epping accent? – Ed (see MWDIssue 74).]

Mr Assange, who lived in the Lette/Robertson attic for a while, was – according to Lette – “a terrible house guest”.  Asked by compere Tony Jones just what was the problem with Julian Assange, Lette replied: “He’s not house trained.”  Enough said.  The dialogue continued:

Tony Jones : I’m sorry, I”ve got to ask this. First thing in the morning when you”re sitting down at breakfast and across the table is Julian Assange staring into his cup of coffee, what does he talk about?

Kathy Lette : Well, he usually – he’s glued to his laptop the whole time and he”s a computer genius. But he couldn”t fix my laptop, I hasten to add.

How strange that, in recent times, Julian Assange has been presenting a program for the Kremlin-controlled Russia Today program and is seeking asylum in Ecuador.  Both Russia and Ecuador persecute journalists who do not agree with the dictates of government. [Shouldn’t this be in the “Can You Bear It” section? – Ed].

▪ World Scoop : Mark Latham Discovers Reason For World-Wide Fall In Printed Newspaper Sales

What a stunning piece in today’s The Spectator Australia by Mark Latham. The former Labor leader (who is attempting to eke out a livelihood on a lousy taxpayer funded superannuation payment of a mere $78,000 per year, fully indexed) has returned to Tommie Switzer’s “Aussie Speccie” after an absence of some weeks. [Perhaps he needs a financial top-up from the vault of the Barclays brothers – Ed].

In any event, Mr Latham reckons that he knows why newspaper sales are falling in Australia.  He has identified a whopping three factual errors and two production mistakes  in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian over the last month. Gosh.

How about that?  Newspaper sales in the Western world are falling as more and more readers access their news online.  And Mark Latham reckons that the fall is sales is due to “clangers”.

Needless to say, Mark Latham made no reference to his own errors in his fortnightly Australian Financial Review column. For example, in the AFRon 8 March 2012, Latham referred to Simon Crean’s “attempt to veto Bob Carr’s appointment as Foreign Minister”.  As Mr Crean wrote to theAFR the following day, this comment was just “plain wrong”.  And Latham had failed to check his so-called facts before writing his column.  [You should consider starting a regular segment on Mark Latham’s quotable quotes – Ed].



The Melbourne-born Anna Funder is one of MWD’s favourite authors.  Her book Stasiland was a compelling account of the East German communist regime. [Wasn’t this the same dictatorship which Lee Rhiannon used to hang out with when she was Lee O’Gorman B.Sc (Hons) Macquarie and Graduate  Diploma: Lenin School,  Moscow? – Ed. (See MWD Issues 116, 125, 133)].

Nowadays Ms Funder has moved into novels and this week was awarded the 2012 Miles Franklin Award for her novel All That I Am.  Well done. On ABC 1’s News Breakfast yesterday, Anna Funder was interviewed by Michael Rowland.  Mr Rowland’s final question invited Ms Funder to criticise new Queensland premier Campbell Newman.  She did not miss her suggested target. Let’s go to the transcript:

Michael Rowland : These awards were handed out in Brisbane last night, our time. Of course, the new premier there, Campbell Newman, has scrapped the Premier’s Literary Prize there as a cost-cutting exercise. What do you think about that? Was that a short-sighted move?

Anna Funder : Yes, it’s a shocking move. I mean he, the awards cost about $250,000 to put on, which is the cost of, I think, one IT consultant that his government might employ for a year. And, actually, although they’re called the Premier’s Literary Awards, I don’t really think that they’re the Premier’s to scrap. I mean, it’s the people’s money, and the people want to have this recognition of the writers who reflect their world back to them. So, I think it’s an odd thing.

I mean, I have spent my professional life studying totalitarian regimes and the brave people who speak out against them. And the first thing that someone with dictatorial inclinations does is to silence the writers and the journalists. I don’t think Campbell Newman is doing that. I think he’s dog-whistling to people who want to see so-called “left-wingers” silenced or something. But, I don’t think writing is particularly political, in a left-wing or right-wing way, and I think it’s a shame for Queensland and a shame for Australia.

Michael Rowland : Miles Franklin winner Anna Funder, with a not-so-gentle slap at Campbell Newman there at the end.

What a load of tosh – coming, as it did, from one so talented.

The good people of Queensland – and elsewhere – do not need writers to “reflect their world back to them”. Most citizens understand their world and do not need novelists, supported by tax-payer funded literary awards, to tell them what their lives are about.  For example, who in Queensland needs –  say – Bob Ellis (the False Prophet of Palm Beach) to interpret the world back to them?  Name just one.

Then Anna Funder said that Campbell Newman was a bit like the former dictators of communist East Germany and Nazi Germany – before saying that she was not really saying this. Clever, eh?

Then Anna Funder suggested that Mr Newman was “dog-whistling to people who want to see left-wingers silenced”.  Turn it up.  This assumes that only lefties win literary awards. [Careful, she might be on to something here – Ed].  In any event, if Campbell Newman wanted to silence taxpayer funded lefties, he would surely advocate closing down the ABC.


Professor Blainey’s Miner Point

A stand out winner this week.

Step forward Hamish Fitzsimons and Geoffrey Blainey.

Interviewed by Fitzsimons for last Tuesday’s Lateline program, Professor Blainey said that Alice Cromwell who bought The Sunday Times in London made her money out of gold mining in Ballarat.  He also said that David Syme, the founder of The Age, “was a gold miner in Victoria” and that “the Barrier Daily Truth, the only newspaper in Broken Hill, has been controlled for more than 100 years by the trade union movement”.

Geoffrey Blainey – Five Paws.


▪ Kara Greiner On Why Most Non-Journalists Are Dumb

On ABC News 24’s The Drum on Tuesday, Kara Greiner criticised Kerry Chikarovski – who had argued that the expanse of media generally made it less important who controlled newspapers.  The discussion took place against the background of the announcement of retrenchments at Fairfax Media and the reports that Gina Rinehart wanted three Fairfax Media board seats along with the right to appoint editors.

Ms Greiner did not take well to Ms Chikarovski’s assertion that citizens could make up their own minds about what they read/listened to/watched in the media.  Let’s go to the DVD:

Kara Greiner : I”m not with you, Kerry, on the whole : “Oh, Twitter will make everything better, throw it open to the people”. I”m sorry, I don’t think that the people are good enough to get past the professional spin – the subterfuge, the big interests that large corporations have. And so I think that there is a very important point, very important role, that journalists do play.

So there you have it.  According to Kara Greiner, most people are too stupid to “get past the professional spin” and need journalists to tell them about the real world. Can you bear it?

▪ Wendy McCarthy on Why The Guardian’s Losses Don’t Really Matter

Meanwhile on the 702 Drive program’s “Political Forum” on Monday, Wendy McCarthy declared that Gina Rinehart had focused “attention on the potential right of a single shareholder to influence editorial policy in a way that people who are defenders of Fairfax, find extremely scary”.  This may have surprised older listeners who could remember that, when proprietors some decades ago, the Fairfax family did influence the editorial policy of the Sydney Morning Herald.  The discussion continued:

Wendy McCarthy : Fairfax is like commercial publication acting as it sees in the public interest because the pillars on which it was built in the 1850s and 60s saw themselves as purveyors for the public good, purveyors of information for the public good.

Hamish Macdonald : But can broadsheet newspapers continue to exist in that way successfully? People keep pointing to The Guardian as an example of a successful model, but the Guardian Media Group is in huge financial trouble.

Wendy McCarthy : Yes, it is. But, you know, it’s got a nice trust and foundation to keep providing the money.

Turn it up.  In his article in the New Statesman on 4 June 2012, titled “The quiet evangelist”, Peter Wilby pointed out that The Guardian – under Alan Rusbridger’s editorship –  has lost between £51 million and £40 million a year over the past three calendar years.

What’s more, due to The Guardian’s heavy losses, the Scott Trust is running out of money. Andrew Miller, chief executive of the Guardian Media Group, has warned staff last year that “the company could run out of cash in three to five years” and has also described The Guardian’s financial position as “not sustainable”.

Yet, according to Wendy McCarthy, The Guardian has a “nice trust….to keep providing the money”.  Can you bear it?

▪ Alan Rusbridger Down Under: A Flashback

It’s less than two years ago since Alan Rusbridger delivered the 2010 Andrew Olle Media Lecture to an adoring audience of inner-city, sandal-wearing, ABC types.  The Andrew Olle Media Lecture is organised and presented by 702 ABC Sydney’s presenters and staff.  Rusbridger used the occasion to bag Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation and to deliver a lecture-at-large about how the media should be run.  That’s the sort of thing a Guardian editor does at an ABC gig.

On Friday 5 November 2010, some weeks before flying to Sydney to deliver the Andrew Olle Lecture, Alan Rusbridger received a soft interview from Mark Colvin on the ABC PM program.  It included the following exchange:

Mark Colvin : Do you think that you will be producing a Guardian in print in the year 2020 say?

Alan Rusbridger : I”ve got no idea. I think the forces that are bearing down on the industry at the moment are so unpredictable and extraordinary it”s sort of fruitless to speculate. And in a sense I don”t mind. It”s beyond my control. It”ll be in the hands of people who are going to invent the digital devices, it”ll be in the decisions of readers and my overwhelming aim is just to keep on producing The Guardian in a form which will suit whatever technology people invent.

Mark Colvin : Okay, but you say that we”re in a sort of five or 10 year transition period. What is your model for getting through that transition?

Alan Rusbridger : The model is to continue producing great journalism, to make it adaptable and sympathetic to whatever technology is there and whatever platform and to have a fantastic, commercial department who will then work out how to monetise it.

Since Alan Rusbridger spoke to Mark Colvin in late 2010, The Guardian has lost around £60 million  And Mr Rusbridger is still waiting for someone to turn up and “work out” how to “monetise” The Guardian’s business model.  In other words, Mr Rusbridger maintains that he should continue to preside over The Guardian’s huge losses until someone turns up and tells him how to convert losses into profits.  Mark Colvin accepted this tosh.

Meanwhile reports indicate that despite The Guardian’s huge losses Mr Rusbridger obtained a 7 per cent salary rise last year taking his annual package to over £600,000.  And he lectures business about ethical standards.

Can you bear it?

▪ Andrew Jaspan – Failed Age Editor – Fails His Own Transparency Test

A number of former Age editors made public comments on the Fairfax Media this week – Michael Gawenda, Andrew Jaspan, Alan Kohler and Mike Smith.  Of this group, two were dismissed. Namely, Andrew Jaspan and Alan Kohler.

On ABC News last Monday, Alan Kohler commented on Fairfax Media’s chief executive Greg Hywood’s decision about moving its newspapers to digital with resultant job losses.  In doing so, Kohler correctly acknowledged that he had been sacked as editor when Conrad Black ran Fairfax.

Andrew Jaspan commented widely on Fairfax Media. However, despite his track record of calling for transparency, Jaspan did not declare that his position as Age editor was terminated in August 2008 at a time when some existing Fairfax Media board members were on the company’s board.

Can you bear it?  [Well, no. Not at all.  Especially after I read about Andrew Jaspan’s panel discussion with Fran Kelly on RN Breakfast which is documented in the Correspondence Section.]

▪ Lateline’s Respect for “The Respected” Robert Manne

On Tuesday Lateline presenter Emma Alberici hosted a conversation (as the cliché would have it) between Crikey publisher Eric Beecher and Professor Robert Manne. Beecher focused on bagging Fairfax Media’s chairman Roger Corbett. And Manne focused on bagging News Limited’s proprietor Rupert Murdoch and Fairfax Media shareholder Gina Rinehart.  It was, after all, an ABC “conversation”.

MWD just loved Ms Alberici’s introduction at the top of the program where she identified her guests as follows:

We will continue the discussion about Australian newspapers in the studio with respected academic Robert Manne and Crikey publisher Eric Beecher.

How about that?  Robert Manne is a “respected academic” but Eric Beecher is not a respected publisher, it seems.  Just a publisher.  But, then, Mr Beecher runs a business in the real world whereas Professor Manne – like many ABC types who give him such respect – has been on the public payroll his entire career.

Can you bear it? [I wonder what the “respected” Nancy would think of this? – Ed].



Bob Ellis got upset about Gerard Henderson’s column on Bob Katter’s An Incredible Race of People: A Passionate History of Australia (Pier 9 – Murdoch Books) in the Sydney Morning Herald last Tuesday – see here.  See also this week’s Correspondence Section.

This is what Bob Ellis wrote in his Table Talk blog last Monday:

[Gerard Henderson] doesn’t say why Bob [Katter] “misunderstands the conscription debate in 1916 and 1917, the background to the Labor Split of the 1950s, the defection of the Soviet diplomat Vladimir Petrov in Australia in 1954 and more besides”, quite a big charge, especially the “more besides”. But he doesn’t say why. He gives no chapter, no verse. He merely asserts that Bob was wrong on all these big things and moves on. How can one “misunderstand” conscription?

On Wednesday 20 June, Narelle Hine (the principal communications adviser in Bob Katter MP’s Mt Isa Electoral Office) brought Bob Ellis’ blog to Gerard Henderson’s attention.  In response to Mr Ellis and Ms Hine, here are the major historical howlers in Bob Katter’s An Incredible Race of People: A Passionate History of Australia – or what Nancy’s other co-owner has called Bob Katter’s “Pub History of Australia”.

● Page 14 : Joseph Lyons, Enid Lyons and Ted Theodore

Early in his book, Bob Katter writes:

The third quote brings us to the central figure in the first volume of my story: Edward “Red Ted” Theodore.  It comes from Dame Enid Lyons, who had an intellectual breadth, some commentators say, in inverse proportion to that of her husband Prime Minister Joe Lyons.

Dame Enid was asked, many years after Joe’s death, why her husband had, during the Great Depression, eschewed the economic prescription of the Australian Treasurer, Ted Theodore, and instead embraced that of the British government’s economic adviser, Sir Otto Niemeyer….  In one of Australia’s most quotable understatements, Dame Enid replied, “Well, you must understand that we did not know at the time that Mr Theodore was right.”

Not so. There are many problems with this assertion.

First Ted Theodore agreed with the deflationary Premiers’ Plan of June 1931 – which was implemented when he was treasurer in the Scullin Labor government.  When Joseph Lyons became prime minister in January 1932, he essentially followed the economic policy laid down in the Premiers’ Plan.

Second, the comment attributed to Enid Lyons is unsourced.  When did Enid Lyons make this alleged statement – and where?

Third, Otto Niemeyer arrived in Australia on 14 July 1930 – a week after Theodore had resigned as Treasurer due to the Mungana scandal. As Treasurer, until his resignation, Theodore had opposed an expansionary policy – even refusing (then) Post Master-General Joe Lyons’ request for loan money to keep postal staff employed. There was no connection between Niemeyer and Theodore – Niemeyer dealt with Joseph Lyons, Jim Scullin and James Fenton.

Theodore only briefly supported an expansionary – Keynesian style – economic policy. This occurred towards the end of 1931 when he was challenged from the left in Caucus by the supporters of the left-wing demagogue Jack Lang. When Theodore returned as Treasurer in January 1931, his expansionary legislation failed to pass in the Senate and he came to accept the Premiers’ Plan. As Neville Cain wrote in his entry on Theodore in The Australian Dictionary of Biography, Theodore was able to “comfort himself that the [Premiers’] Plan itself had uses…” He said this to John Curtin in 1932.

In view of all this, the unsourced quote Katter attributes to Enid Lyons does not make any sense.

● Page 14 – Australia and the Great Depression.

According to Bob Katter, Prime Minister Joseph Lyons imposed “on Australia a depression probably worse than that of any other country”.

Not so.  In fact, Australia – along with Britain – experienced economic growth throughout most of the 1930s. This is fully documented in Anne Henderson’s Joseph Lyons: The People’s Prime Minister (UNSW Press) – where she wrote:

In Australia, relief from the worst of the financial downturn could be seen a few years into the conservative prime ministership of Joe Lyons. By 1936, Australian unemployment percentages were back into single digits. In the USA, where Roosevelt’s New Deal had pumped taxpayer dollars into stimulating the US economy, unemployment continued in double figures until 1940. All of this gave added force to economist S J Butlin’s argument, in War Economy 1939-1942, that “development” per government largesse is not necessarily the answer. Angus Maddison’s study of the world economy for the OECD supports this opinion. Maddison has shown that real growth in the USA between 1929 and 1940 was only 1.6 per cent, while in Australia over the same period GDP growth was 16.6 per cent and in the UK it was 24.6 per cent.

●  Page 15 – Ted Theodore and the Mungana Corruption Scandal

According to Bob Katter:

Innot Hot Springs is 100 kilometres west of Cairns, near the Mungana area. “Mungana” became the name given to the so-called scandal of the 1920s, in which the conservative opposition in Canberra and Queensland claimed that William (“Big Bill”) McCormack and Theodore, as Treasurer and Premier respectively, had the Queensland government, inter alia, purchase a number of mining leases in the Mungana area, in which they had a monetary interest.  It was argued that the mines were purchased at grossly inflated prices.

The Mungana Affair was no “so-called” scandal.  Moreover, considerable sums of money were involved.  The allegation was that the Crown had been defrauded by the sale of State mines worth £10,000 for the price of £40,000. The £30,000 discrepancy in the 1920s would amount to a huge sum today. In other words, this was corruption on a considerable scale – which Bob Katter is willing to whitewash.  In an address to The Sydney Institute on 12 June 2012, David Russell QC, described Theodore as a “corrupt constitutional vandal”.

There is no doubt that, when premier of Queensland, Theodore was a recipient of corruptly obtained money. This is documented in K.H. Kennedy’s The Mungana Affair: State Mining & Political Corruption in the 1920s. Also, in his book The Supreme Court of Queensland 1859-1960, Justice B.H. McPherson wrote that the findings of the Royal Commission into the Mungana Affair – along with the civil proceedings against Theodore and William McCormack (premier of Queensland 1925-29) demonstrated the corruption of both men. As McPherson commented:

…both he [Theodore] and McCormack had stayed out of reach of subpoenas issued by the Royal Commission  and they refrained from giving evidence at the civil trial. His political career at an end, Theodore demonstrated his native ability by turning to business in which he became a millionaire.  Some continued to believe that the whole affair was a foul conspiracy to destroy Theodore but, with the advantage of the contemporary correspondence between McCormack and his solicitor, and in the light of Dr Kennedy’s thorough research, it is impossible now for a rational doubt to survive as to Theodore’s part in the venture.

● Pages 50-51 – Daniel Mannix, Ted Theodore and Conscription

According to Bob Katter, “under the leadership of Melbourne’s Archbishop Mannix, Theodore led and won two referenda banning conscription.”

Not so.  It is pure mythology to describe Dr Daniel Mannix, who became Archbishop of Melbourne in 1917, as the leader of the anti-conscription movement in Australia during the First World War.

There were two conscription plebiscites (not referenda) – the first in October 1916, the second in December 1917.  Dr Mannix, when Co-adjudicator Archbishop of Melbourne, did not play an active role in the 1916 plebiscite.  He was, however, quite vocal and prominent in the 1917 plebiscite on the “no” side – by which time he had become Archbishop of Melbourne.

Moreover, Dr Mannix had little to do with E.G. (“Ted”) Theodore, who was Queensland treasurer at the time of the 1916 and 1917 plebiscites.  Mannix was close to T.J. Ryan – Queensland’s premier at the time.  It seems that Katter has confused Theodore with Ryan in this instance.  Ted Theodore was chairman of the Anti-Conscription Campaign Committee in Queensland but did not owe this position to Daniel Mannix.  In his book“Red Ted” : The Life of E.G. Theodore, Ross Fitzgerald makes no reference to any relationship between Mannix and Theodore.

The opposition to conscription in 1916 and 1917 was led primarily by Labor supporters and trade unionists.  It is simplistic in the extreme to describe Daniel Mannix as the leader of the anti-conscription movement.  He was a prominent voice in the 1917 plebiscite debate but he played no organising role in the anti-conscription campaign.

● Page 52 – Ted Theodore and Frank Hardy

According to Bob Katter:

In all probability, using the influence of John Wren, and – if Frank Hardy in Power Without Glory, is to be believed – at the suggestion of Archbishop Mannix, a national strategy for change in the ALP was devised.  It involved installing Theodore into a safe seat in the federal parliament and utilising his leadership and abilities to run and coordinate the federal ALP’s election campaign in 1929.  Theodore became the member for the safe Labor seat of Dalley in inner Sydney and, after providing much of the dynamism for Labor’s win, he was elected unopposed as James Scullin’s deputy and Federal Treasurer.

Bob Katter is exhibiting enormous naivety in accepting material in Frank Hardy’s novel Power Without Glory as fact. The one-time Communist Party activist was an unmitigated liar – as Pauline Armstrong demonstrated in her biography Frank Hardy and the Making of Power without Glory. There is no evidence that Archbishop Daniel Mannix had anything whatsoever to do with Ted Theodore’s decision to move into Federal politics.

● Page 93 – Britain and the Great Depression

According to Bob Katter, “Britain, with its fairly swift adoption of Keynesian policy, scarcely had a Depression.”

Not so – as Bob Katter would be aware if he had read, say , George Orwell’s The Road to Wigan Pier. However, Britain did recover relatively quickly from the Depression – but it did not adopt what were regarded as Keynesian expansionary policies.  As Robert Skidelsky, John Maynard Keynes’ sympathetic biographer, wrote in his collected essays titled Interests and Obsessions :

What is striking in retrospect is the shallowness of the British depression and the speed of recovery from it in the absence of any deliberate fiscal stimulus. British unemployment, 2.9 million at its peak in late 1932, was half Germany”s and a sixth of America”s at the same date. From 1933 onwards there was a steady recovery (briefly interrupted in the winter of 1937-8) so that John Stevenson and Chris Cook in their recent study, The Slump, could conclude that “most people were better off by 1939 than they had been ten years earlier.” Between 1933 and 1937 inclusive, the British economy grew at 4 per cent a year, unemployment fell from 22.8 per cent to 9.5 per cent, output and real wages rose above their 1929 level.

Australia’s economic policy – and subsequent recovery – in the 1930s was similar to that of Britain, not that of the United States.

● Page 102 – Australia and the Planned Japanese Invasion

According to Bob Katter:

…history’s major turning points will often record the “if onlys” – Australians may well reflect with relief on the averted Japanese invasion of 1942 and the Japanese may well lament “if only”.  It has been argued that if only the Japanese reconnaissance plane at Midway had not had engine trouble and had not been delayed for a crucial forty minutes,  Australia would almost certainly have been invaded.  If the sighter plane had launched on time, the Japanese, not Americans, would have got in the first hit at Midway.

Not so.  There are many claims of a planned Japanese invasion of Australia in Bob Katter’s book. It is understandable why, 70 years ago, many Australians believed that a Japanese invasion was imminent.  But there is no excuse to repeat such claims today.  As Peter Stanley documents in his essay in Craig Stockings’ edited collection Zombie Myths of Australian Military History (New South, 2010), Japan never made a conscious decision to invade Australia. In any event, an invasion of Australia was not necessary.  Australia’s sovereignty could have been destroyed by Japan controlling the nation’s sea-lanes and air-lanes.

● Page 135 – The British Army on the Somme, 1 July 1916

According to Bob Katter, the Encyclopaedia Britannica had this to say about the first day of the Battle of the  Somme:

Where on the first day over 50,000 mostly British soldiers died…[the Germans] exacted a heavy penalty…the skilful German machine gunners who, sheltering in their dugouts while the bombardment flattened…[all around them], dragged out their weapons and opened fire directly it lifted [referring to the British sector of seventeen divisions]. The Germans could justifiably claim a victory with only six divisions; they had yielded only 1983 prisoners [few casualties] and a small tract of ground.

Not so.  On 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of Somme, the British suffered around 60,000 casualties – of whom 20,000 died. MWD has not been able to find any edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, in print or online, which claims that 50,000 British soldiers died on 1 July 1916. Moreover, Mr Katter’s office has not been able to produce evidence in support of his claim.

● Page 182 – The Petrov Affair

According to Bob Katter:

The defection of a relatively minor Russian embassy official [Vladimir Petrov] touched off a train of events that would banish Labor from federal government in Australia for almost a quarter of a century. Prime Minister Menzies quickly took advantage of this defection, announcing on 13 April 1954 a Royal Commission that would investigate what the media was referring to as “the Petrov affair”…  While there was no doubt that the Petrov affair was politically stage-managed by Menzies and arguably cost Evatt the 1954 election, it was Evatt’s truculent opposition to the investigative body that did untold damage to his political party.

Not so. Vladimir Petrov, and his fellow Soviet Union diplomat and wife Evdokia Petrov, were two of the most important defectors from the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Moreover, it is pure mythology to suggest that the Petrov Affair was “politically stage managed by Menzies” and that it “arguably cost Evatt the 1954 election”.  Menzies had nothing whatsoever to do with the timing of the Petrov defection and the Petrov Affair was barely mentioned by either the Coalition or Labor during the 1954 election. This is fully documented by Robert Manne in The Petrov Affair and by A.W. Martin inRobert Menzies: A Life Volume 2 1944-1978.

● Page 182-183 – B.A. Santamaria’s Movement

When referring to the Petrov defection (which occurred in early 1954), Bob Katter writes:

In this tense political climate, and at the instigation of the Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, Daniel Mannix, groups had formed in thousands of workplaces throughout Australia to fight Communism.  They were called the “Industrial Groupers”, or just “Groupers”.

Not so.  The anti-communist Industrial Groups were formed in the early 1940s to oppose Communist Party activities in the trade union movement.  The Groups were not exclusively Catholic and included atheists (Laurie Short), ex-Catholics (Jim McClelland), non-Catholics (Jack Little) and Catholics (John Maynes) alike.

According to Bob Katter, Bob Santamaria’s Catholic Action movement “was the parent of the Industrial Groups”.  In fact, Santamaria worked with, but did not control, the Industrial Groups.  What’s more, Santamaria’s political organisation was called the Catholic Social Studies Movement – or The Movement.  Catholic Action was a separate body – and the Australian Secretariat of Catholic Action was dissolved in early 1954 – i.e. before the Labor Split.

● Page 222 – John Curtin and Conscription

According to Bob Katter :

Prime Minister Curtin, from the very left faction of the trade union movement, refused to introduce conscription for overseas fighting. He would have been strongly influenced by his own personal beliefs but also by a vivid memory of what had happened to Billy Hughes when he had tried to force conscription upon the Australian people during World War I.

Not so.  In November 1941 John Curtin announced that conscription would be introduced for overseas service within the South-West Pacific Zone which included parts of the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), Timor, Ambon and Dutch New Guinea. As Paul Hasluck documents in The Government and the People: 1942-1945, the South West Pacific Zone was defined as “the area bounded on the west by the one hundred and tenth meridian of east longitude, on the north by the Equator and on the east by the one hundredth and fifty-ninth meridian of east longitude”.

● Page 303 – The Whitlam Government and Vietnam

According to Bob Katter :

In fact, some of Australia’s most profound changes in half a century would be implemented by the Whitlam government: Australian troops were withdrawn from Vietnam*.

The asterisk is to a footnote which reads as follows: “This broke the allegiance formed by Curtin during World War II, expressed in his famous ‘We look to the United States’ speech.”

Not so.  All of Australia’s combat forces were withdrawn from Vietnam by William McMahon’s Coalition government.  Moreover, Bob Katter’s claim that the withdrawal of Australia’s combat forces “broke the allegiance” with the United States “formed by Curtin during World War II” is nonsense.  The US itself was withdrawing from Vietnam in the first couple of years of the 1970s.

● Page 346 – Lionel Murphy and the High Court

According to Bob Katter :

Jim Cairns and Rex Connor had both assured Prime Minister Whitlam and the House that there had been no negotiation to secure unauthorised loans.  Through Bjelke-Petersen, however, it became public knowledge that Cairns and Connor had misled the Prime Minister and the parliament. Both men were sacked. Lionel Murphy had already been charged with interfering with the course of justice.

Not so.  Lionel Murphy joined the High Court of Australia in February 1975. He was subjected to allegations of improper behaviour many years later – they commenced in late 1983.

* * * * *

MWD will keep you posted if other howlers in Bob Katter’s book are confirmed.


Nancy’s co-owner is grateful, oh so grateful,  to correspondents who write to him. For, without correspondents, there would be no Correspondence Section.  And the Correspondence Section is one of the most popular sections of MWD.

This week’s email exchanges focused on Fairfax Media, Gina Rinehart and all that. Plus Bob Katter’s book and all that.  Now read on.



Good morning.

You may, or may not, recall that towards the end of my weekly gig on Radio National Breakfast some years ago, you expressed concern about transparency – a matter which you said deeply concerned RN listeners.

I was thinking of this today when I heard Fran Kelly interview Andrew Jaspan, Michael Gawenda and Bryce Nelson about Fairfax Media, the future of newspapers and all that.

As I recall, Andrew Jaspan was very critical of Fairfax Media management. But neither Mr Jaspan nor Fran Kelly revealed that he was terminated as editor of The Age by Fairfax Media management.

As I also recall, Andrew Jaspan gave his online publication The Conversation a plug and described it as “independent”.  However, neither Mr Jaspan nor Fran Kelly revealed that The Conversation is partly funded by government departments.

In short, what happened to transparency this morning?  And will RN Breakfast advise listeners tomorrow that Mr Jaspan was sacked by Fairfax Media and that his newsletter The Conversation is dependent on substantial government funding? Over to you.

Best wishes – and regards to the RN team.

Gerard Henderson

Gerard Henderson to Tim Latham – 20 June 2012


Thanks for your call yesterday afternoon. It was good to speak after more than four years and great to catch up on personal matters.

This is just to clarify a few points in our discussion – since, judging by precedent, we are unlikely to talk again anytime soon.

▪ It is true, as you say, that many commentators on Fairfax Media this week were former Age editors. However, only two were sacked.  Alan Kohler declared on ABC News this week that he was dismissed by Conrad Black.  Andrew Jaspan, however, has not declared that he was dismissed by Fairfax Media at a time when some current board members were on the board.  As you should be aware, neither Michael Gawenda nor Mike Smith were sacked as Age editors.

▪ As mentioned, I accept that Andrew Jaspan believes what he says.  My point here is one of double standards. Jaspan calls for full disclosure.  Yet he boasted on RN Breakfast yesterday that The Conversation was “independent” – without mentioning that it receives substantial funding from the Commonwealth and Victorian governments.  In fact, The Conversation is essentially a taxpayer funded entity.

I understand why you and Fran Kelly did not pick this up – since it is hard to find the information on The Conversation’s website.  However, Andrew Jaspan should have made a declaration – since this is the standard he requires of others.

▪ You mentioned that my Age column had been dropped by Andrew Jaspan when he was Age editor in 2006.  This is true.  However, I never received payment for my Age column – it was simply taken from the Sydney Morning Herald.  So I suffered no financial loss when The Age ceased running my SMH column.

Sure, I was disappointed by Mr Jaspan’s decision for a number of reasons – one of which was that I had a following in Victoria. I was The Age’sonly conservative columnist and The Age’s pervious editor, Michael Gawenda, had praised my role in the newspaper.  At the time my column was dropped, Andrew Jaspan was proclaiming the work of leftist columnist Catherine Deveny, who was dumped by his successor.  The Age was severely damaged by Mr Jaspan’s flirtation with the inner-city left during his period as editor.

My view at the time was that Mr Jaspan was an incompetent editor.  In time, Fairfax Media came to a similar conclusion – which is why his editorship of The Age was terminated.

▪  I appreciate your comment yesterday that I am welcome to come on RN Breakfast occasionally and that I should contact you if I wish to do so.  I know that you are busy and cannot remember everything. However, on 6 March 2008 I wrote you an email in which I stated:

As I have indicated, in future I am willing to treat RNB just like any other media outlet.  Namely, I will consider any invitations to come on the program and accept those which are in accordance with my priorities.

Since then I have received one invitation to appear on RN Breakfast – in April 2008.  I declined the offer. There have been no further invitations. Indeed, I do not recall any specific invitations to appear on any Radio National program (RN Breakfast included) in over four years. As previously advised, I do not intend asking for a slot on RN Breakfast – or, indeed, any other Radio National program.

Over and out.  And lotsa love to the RN Breakfast team – whom I miss terribly.

Gerard Henderson

Tim Latham to Gerard Henderson – 21 June 2012

Thanks Gerard – nice chatting to you.

Stay healthy – and independent.


Gerard Henderson to Tim Latham – 21 June 2012


Thanks for your wonderful and uplifting note. To put a few clichés together – your email demonstrates how we all grow as we proceed on life’s journey, moving forward.

When we last spoke on 5 March 2008, you said that I was infantile and that I reminded you of your mother.

Now – just over four years later – you enjoy talking to me and urge me to stay well. Who knows where this particular journey might end?  Maybe in four years time you might offer me a weekly slot on RN Breakfast, Fran Kelly willing.

Keep morale high.


Gerard Henderson


Narelle Hine to Gerard Henderson – 20 June 2012

Dear Mr Henderson,

Thank you for bringing to our attention your thousand-word promotion of Mr Katter’s book in the Sydney Morning Herald.

You may be interested in subsequent commentary that has also been brought to our attention (

Sincerely yours,

Narelle Hine

Principal Communications Adviser

at the Mt Isa Electorate Office of the

Hon. Bob Katter MP, Federal Member for Kennedy

Gerard Henderson to Narelle Hine – 20 June 2012

Dear Ms Hine

Thanks for your email drawing my attention to Bob Ellis’ “The Henderson Wars (22)”. I do not usually read the False Prophet of Palm Beach’s blog Ellis Table Talk. I am surprised that you take Bob Ellis’ comments on history seriously. Not many do.

With respect to Bob Katter’s An Incredible Race of People: A Passionate History of Australia, I am perfectly happy to give publicity to books – whether or not I agree with the authors.

Last Tuesday, I had 900 words to cover Bob Katter’s 450 page book and I could not deal with all matters.

Bob Ellis’ point about Jack McEwen is pedantic in the extreme.  I know that he was prime minister from 19 December 1967 to 10 January 1968 – a total of a mere 24 days.  It’s just that I do not see the point in wasting valuable space making such a trivial point.

As to the False Prophet’s other points, I always intended to document the serious howlers in Mr Katter’s book in my Media Watch Dog blog which comes out on Friday.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

Gerard Henderson to Narelle Hine – 21 June 2012

Dear Ms Hine

In view of your interest in my comments about An Incredible Race of People in my SMH column last Tuesday, you might like to help in this inquiry.

At Page 135, Bob Katter quotes from the Encyclopaedia Britannica concerning the Battle of the Somme as follows:

Where on the first day over 50,000 mostly British soldiers died…[the Germans] exacted a heavy penalty…the skilful German machine gunners who, sheltering in their dugouts while the bombardment flattened…[all around them], dragged out their weapons and opened fire directly it lifted [referring to the British sector of seventeen divisions].

I cannot locate this quote in the print or on-line editions of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Moreover, this claim is at odds with the widely accepted view that, on the first day of the Battle of Somme, the British suffered 60,000 casualties of whom 20,000 died.

Yet Mr Katter states that “50,000 mostly British soldiers died” on the first day of the Battle of Somme as a result of German machine gun fire.

My question is – what is the precise source for Mr Katter’s claim?

Over to you.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

Narelle Hine to Gerard Henderson – 21 June 2012

Dear Mr Henderson

My apologies for the delayed response attributable to a very busy final day of the parliamentary sitting week.

Your questions on the book would be best directed to the publisher.

Kind regards,


Gerard Henderson to Narelle Hine – 21 June 2012

Dear Ms Hine

I refer to your note advising that my question about Bob Katter’s An Incredible Race of People “would be best directed to the publisher”.

As you may or may not be aware, authors – not publishers – are responsible for the content of their work.  This is made clear on the page opposite the Contents page of An Incredible Race of People – where the following statement appears:

The publisher wishes to acknowledge that all views expressed in this publication are those of the author.

In view of your evident interest in this matter, perhaps you might ask Mr Katter to provide the evidence to support his claim about the Battle of the  Somme in his own book.

I look forward to hearing from you on this in due course.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

* * * * *

Until next time.