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are private correspondence and not for publication” – ABC News Radio’s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

“Gerard [Henderson] is a complete f-ckwit”

– Malcolm Farr, via Twitter, 29 June 2012 (circa pre-dinner drinks)

●  Stop Press: John Buchanan and Michael Brissenden – Per Courtesy of Aunty

● Some Linda Mottram Moments Re Government Spending and North Korea

● The Aunty Balance Clock Returns

● Can You Bear It? Not a Dangerous Idea at the Dangerous Ideas Gig; Jonathan Green’s Greens’ Fantasy; Tony Walker’s Wilfred Burchett’s Fantasy; Mary Kostakidis David Hicks’ Fantasy

● Great U-Turns Of Our Time: Robert Manne on Kevin Rudd

● Five Paws Award to Sarrah Le Marquand, Bill Leak & Michael Danby MP

● The Thought Of Mark Latham : Episode II

● Correspondence: Covering Paul Bongiorno/George Pell; Counterpoint; Gough Whitlam’s Rejection of Vietnamese Refugees Circa 1975


● The Socialist Rises Early

The cock had not even crowed once when John (“I’m a socialist”) Buchanan was knocking on the door of the ABC TV studio – ready to appear on ABC 1 News Breakfast this morning.  You have to admire the man’s convictions to get up so early in the morning to appear on ABC TV – without even the inducement of an appearance fee.

In any event, Professor Buchanan had a message, albeit of a socialist kind.  He described the mining industry “highly important for our exports” but said that it “still employs less than two per cent of the Australian workforce”.  This overlooks the flow-on effects of the mining industry into secondary industries.

John (“I’m a socialist”) Buchanan went on to suggest that Australia should imitate big spending/high taxing Norway.  He also advocated that Australia adopts the “welfare state” model. According to the learned professor: “This is a kind of vision we’ve got to start developing and that’s been lacking for some time”.

And so the session concluded:

Beverly O’Connor : John Buchanan, thanks for those insights .

John Buchanan :  Thanks for having me.

Yes. Well, thanks indeed. It’s always great to have a socialist arriving early at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster ready to advocate the welfare state without fear of contradiction.

Michael Brissenden Goes On RN Breakfast – and Goes On and On

Did anyone catch ABC personality Fran Kelly interviewing ABC personality Michael Brissenden about his book American Stories: Tales of Hope and Anger (UQP) this morning?

Nancy thinks the interview might still be going on somewhere. Anywhere.

Seldom before have two journalists spoken so much and said so little of consequence about such an important subject as contemporary America.  Both Fran and Michael agreed that Obama was not at all responsible for the disturbingly high level of unemployment within the African American community and Ms Kelly suggested to Mr Brissenden that United States politics is “not nice at the moment”.  How profound can you get?  In reply the ABC’s man in Washington criticised the Tea Party.  How predictable can you be?

One MWD informant was unkind enough to suggest that the non-event interview was really an advertisement for Michael Brissenden’s book on prime time radio. [That’s what you would expect MWD readers to say. – Ed].


● On $70 Million As Loose Change

On ABC Metropolitan Radio 702 yesterday, presenter Linda Mottram ran the familiar line that spending has no negative consequences.  Let’s go to the audio tape:

Linda Mottram : The Premier Barry O’Farrell is our guest this morning. We’re talking about the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the deadlock that there is in Canberra over this. I have to say to you Premier that, you know, pouring in on our text messages at the moment are people saying, “Blah blah blah, just do it Barry”.

Barry O’Farrell : [Interjects, inaudible]

Linda Mottram : But why can’t the NSW Government just find the 70 million? We have people saying this is playing politics with disability rights.

Barry O’Farrell : Alright Linda, so which service do you want us to cut? You’ve seen the difficulties we’ve had with our budget – which has seen Grafton Jail downsize [and] which has seen concerns expressed already about the impact of the State Budget on our fire services….

So, what’s a mere $70 million?  After all, the ABC gets by every year on a mere $1 billion.

Verily, A Linda Mottram Moment.

On North Korea’s “Bizarre” Kingdom

And how about Ms Mottram’s apparent position that the murderous communist dictatorship in North Korea is really just a slap-the-thigh LOL joke? Here’s what the Mornings with Linda Mottram host said yesterday:

Linda Mottram :Or maybe you’d just rather read Kim Jong-un’s wedding vows in the New Yorker which is quite interesting. I don’t know if you heard that song that they were playing on at the end of AM. It was, apparently, you know, written by comrade Ri Sol Ju who is Kim Jong-un’s new wife in North Korea. I just love watching North Korea because it is completely bizarre. We will keep you up to date on North Korea.

Yeah, just completely bizarre.  Like the forced famines. Totally bizarre.  And the prison camps.  So bizarre.  And the purges.  Just so totally bizarre that you love watching North Korea.

Verily, A Linda Mottram Moment.


This new segment is dedicated to holding ABC managing director Mark Scott to account for his promise – made on 16 October 2006 – that, under his watch, there would be a “further diversity of voices” on the ABC.

Number of weeks since Mark Scott

promised greater diversity on ABC                   301

Number of conservative presenters/

producers/editors on prominent ABC Radio/

ABC TV/ABC Online outlets                                        Zip

One reader has suggested that Counterpoint – which airs on Radio National at 4 pm on Mondays – is an example of an ABC program which has a conservative presenter (see Correspondence Section).

This claim is rejected by Nancy’s co-owner. Counterpoint, which was introduced in May 2004 (some years before nice Mr Scott was appointed ABC managing director and editor-in-chief), is not a prominent program.  Counterpoint did not even rate a mention when Michael Mason (in his capacity as Acting Manager Radio National) announced RN’s 2012 line-up.  [See Michael Mason’s statement of 15 November and MWD Issue 143].


Not a Really Dangerous Idea in the (Opera) House

The Festival of Dangerous Ideas has just announced its line up for this year’s love-in at the taxpayer subsidised Sydney Opera House.

The leftist sandal-wearing types who attend the Festival of Dangerous Ideas in Sydney each year just love to convince themselves that they are devoting an entire weekend discussing DANGEROUS IDEAS.  In fact, the event is an annual leftist turn-out where virtually everyone agrees with everyone else and a re-assuring leftist ideological time is had by all.

Here’s Nancy’s suggestions for some really dangerous ideas which would challenge leftist sensibilities. Namely: (i) “Abortion Is Murder”, (ii) “If We All Become Gay, Western Civilisation Will End”, (iii) “George W. Bush is America’s Greatest President and Tony Blair is Britain’s Greatest Prime Minister”, (iv) “If The Arab States Were As Good as Israel, The Middle East Would Be A Better Place”, (v) “Julian Assange Should Stand Trial For Treason In the United States”, (vi) “Germaine Greer Has Become A Dreadfully Boring Media Tart”, (vii) “Only Re-Colonisation  Can Solve Africa’s Problems”, (viii) “Private Schools Are Best”, (ix) “Human Induced Climate Change Is A Load Of Crap”, (x) “Greed Is Good” and (xi) “Vietnam Was a Just War”.

Alas, none of these topics qualify as “suitably dangerous” at this year’s festival.  Instead, the line up of talent consists mainly of leftists (including Eva Cox, Germaine Greer, Marilyn Lake and Ilan Pappe) with a couple of conservatives thrown in to give the impression of balance (Bishop Julian Porteous).

Topics regarded as “dangerous” include (i) “A Foetus Is Not A Person”, (ii) “Abolish Private Schools”, (iii) “All Australians Are Racist”, (iv) “Anzac Day: Best We Forget”, (v) “Israel Is An Apartheid State”, (vi) “Let Banks Fail”, (vii) “The Joy of Sin” and so on.

The overwhelming majority of the Festival audience would agree with all of the above propositions. And yet the Opera House set has convinced themselves, that come 28-30 September, they will be dealing in truly dangerous ideas. Can you bear it?

Jonathan Green On the Massive Swing To the Greens in Melbourne

By midnight on Saturday, it was evident that Labor had retained the Victorian State seat of Melbourne and that the Greens, despite all their optimistic hype, had failed to defeat Labor. This was a huge disappointment to the Greens Acting Leader Adam Bandt and his colleagues.

Yet on RN Sunday Extra the following morning, presenter Jonathan Green claimed that there had been a “massive swing” to the Greens in Melbourne.  In fact, the primary vote swing to the Greens was just over a miserable 1 per cent.  Can you bear it?

Tony Walker Lets Wilfred Burchett Off the Hook

In his obituary of journalist Denis Warner (1917-2012) in The Age on Tuesday, Tony Walker made the following comment about Wilfred Burchett:

No account of Warner”s life would do justice to the subject without reference to a toxic relationship with his contemporary and rival, the rebel journalist Wilfred Burchett, whom Warner regarded as a traitor after he was accused of siding with the Chinese during the Korean War and being present when Australian prisoners of war were interrogated by their captors.

This remains a contentious issue and subject of lingering disputation. But Warner never had any doubt that Burchett had crossed the line. In his book, Not Always on Horseback, Warner distils his views of Burchett who was variously accused of being a KGB officer, or simply a dedicated agent of influence.

It is known that Wilfred Burchett was a member of the Communist Party who worked for the Soviet KGB.  He also wrote numerous books in support of communist regimes in Eastern Europe and Asia. Yet, according to Tony Walker, Burchett was merely “accused of siding with the Chinese during the Korean War”.

Can you bear it? [Er, no.  You must return to the traitor Burchett in a future edition.]

Mary Kostakidis Overlooks David Hicks’ Taliban Past

How about Mary Kostakidis’ piece in Wednesday’s Sydney Morning Herald about David Hicks and all that?  According to Mary Kostakidis, Hicks is a victim who pleaded guilty to a trumped-up-charge of providing material assistance to terrorism.  That’s all.

Forget about the United States, military commissions, Guantanamo Bay and all that. We know from David Hicks’ own correspondence – which was released by his family – that he: (i) joined the Taliban, (ii) praised Islamist beheadings for those who disagree with Mohammed, (iii) attempted to kill individuals on the Indian side of the Kashmir line-of-control when firing on targets from the Pakistan side of the line-of-control and (iv) advocated the overthrow of what he termed “Western Jewish domination”.

We also know from what David Hicks told the AFP and ASIO that, while in Pakistan, he watched al Qaeda’s attack on the US on 11 September 2001 – following which he voluntarily crossed into Afghanistan and re-joined the Taliban, which was by then at war with the US.  We also know that David Hicks trained with al Qaeda and met Osama bin Laden on at least eight occasions.

Yet, according to Mary Kostakidis, David Hicks did nothing wrong. Can you bear it?


Robert Manne Forgets What He Once Wrote About K.Rudd

It seems that all that rain in Melbourne – the home town of Nancy’s co-owners – has caused the memory failure at “The Guardian-on-the-Yarra”. [I thought that Dr Tim Flannery (for a doctor he is) had said that there would never be significant rain in Melbourne again. Surely he’s not another false prophet? – Ed].

Last weekend The Saturday Age ran a Page One puff. It read: “Rudd’s Return – The case for change – Robert Manne – Forum”.

A scoop for The Saturday Age from the Professor of Politics at La Trobe University?  Eh, not really.

As MWD readers well know, these days Robert Manne has a bad memory. And so, it appears, has The Age.  In fact, The Age had already run Robert Manne’s view that Julia Gillard should be replaced by Kevin Rudd.  On 24 January 2012, in fact.

It was one of those circular-hand-me-around articles for which Robert Manne is well known. His Gillard-Must-Go article first appeared on The Monthly’s blog (23 January 2012). It was immediately picked up and run in the taxpayer funded The Drum Opinion (23 January 2012).  Then it ran in The Age (24 January 2012).

In his January 2012 article, Robert Manne declared that Labor had two options – to “go quietly to an ignominious death” or “try to save itself by electing a new leader”.  Manne recommended “a return to Rudd”.

Professor Manne threw the switch to personal.  He described Julia Gillard as “the least impressive Australian prime minister since Billy McMahon” and referred to the Prime Minister, Bill Shorten, David Feeney and Mark Arbib as behaving like “members of a mafia gang”.  The learned professor also declared that the creation of “some form of Labor-Greens alliance is vital”.

That was then.  Last Saturday Robert Manne re-cycled his (learned) opinion that Julia Gillard should be replaced by Kevin Rudd.  He concluded his article in the “Forum” section of The Age – titled “Labor’s choice is obvious: reinstate Rudd, rapidly” – as follows:

…the political situation facing caucus members is straightforward. With Gillard as Prime Minister, Labor will almost certainly be crushed at the next election. With Rudd, the party has, at least, a reasonable chance of minimising the electoral wreckage and even a remote chance of victory.

Before Parliament resumes next month, members of the Labor caucus have in essence to choose between two loyalties: to the Prime Minister, or to their party and their country. The stakes are high, but the choice, in my opinion, ought to be simple.

So, no news there.  However MWD has just loved Robert Manne’s U-turn on matters K.Rudd.  This is what R. Manne wrote about K.Rudd in last weekend’s Saturday Age.

In June 2010, the caucus, led by the Right faction”s leaders, deposed Kevin Rudd, one of the more popular prime ministers in the postwar history of Australia, and installed Julia Gillard. Almost no one now thinks it was a clever idea. The reasons given for the coup were rather trivial: a mixture of complaints about Rudd”s personality and management style and three months of stormy politics following the decisions to postpone the emissions trading scheme and to introduce a new mining tax.

No one disputes that for more than two years the Rudd government had maintained an always comfortable and usually handsome lead over the Coalition. However, the supposed weakness of Rudd”s performance in opinion polls in those final three months was a crucial ingredient in the coup leaders” argument for his removal. At the time and since, this weakness has been greatly exaggerated.

Fancy that.  But this is not what Robert Manne believed about Kevin Rudd in the lead-up to what he now regards as the anti-Rudd “coup”.  The July 2010 issue of The Monthly carried an article by Manne titled “Rudd’s Collapse” which was dated 16 June 2010.  That is, a week before the Caucus revolt which saw Rudd replaced by Gillard.

This is the core of Robert Manne’s view about K.Rudd as at 16 June 2010:

Whatever the cause of the backdown [on the Emissions Trading Scheme] the consequence was not long in coming. On the weekend following the decision, Newspoll reported that Labor’s primary vote had collapsed from 43% to 35%; that the prime minister’s personal satisfaction rating had plummeted from 50% to 39%; and that, for the first time since Rudd had become Labor leader, the Coalition led the ALP 51% to 49%.

In the Nielsen poll of early June [2010], the Labor party’s primary vote had reached the calamitous level of 33%. In the two-party-preferred vote, the Coalition led Labor 53% to 47%. Rudd’s personal popularity had moved, in just two months, from 59% to 41%.

Rudd is by temperament hyperactive, controlling, hectoring and interfering. While he prides himself on his command of policy detail, others think that what he lacks is native political instinct. The prime minister works too hard and sleeps too little. He drives those around him to near-exhaustion. A manic work ethic is unhappily no substitute for judgment.  The prime minister is also said to be bad at delegation.

But there is more to the sudden collapse of the government’s fortunes than a failure of style and process. With Rudd there is also a deep confusion and an unresolved tension between word and action.

So there you have it. According to Robert Manne, Kevin Rudd is both “one of the more popular prime ministers in the postwar history of Australia” (21 July 2012) and a prime minister who presided over a Labor primary vote which “had collapsed” (16 June 2010). Pretty clear, eh?

Also, according to Robert Manne, “the reasons given for the coup were rather trivial” (21 July 2012) or Kevin Rudd was “a domineering prime minister, lacking personal touch, who has surrounded himself with advisers too obsequious or too cynical or too constrained to be of any great assistance”.  He “lacked high-level political skills” and engaged in “Walter Mitty dreams”. (16 June 2010).

For the record, Professor Manne is a taxpayer subsidised academic who has never worked in politics or the public service or in business. According to Robert Manne’s website he “has twice been voted Australia’s leading public intellectual”. [Only twice? – Ed].

R. Manne – believes           Professor Manne – believes

K.Rudd is a                            K.Rudd was a hopeless

political genius                    Walter Mitty dreamer

(July 2012)                          (June 2010)


Due to overwhelming popular demand, this prestigious award returns after a brief absence. And the winners are:


Great piece by Sarrah Le Marquand about the “Sex, Lies and Julian Assange” program on Four Corners last Monday.  The presenter was Andrew Fowler, the producer Wayne Harley and the presenter Kerry O’Brien.  A veritable left-of-centre Blokes Trio.

Julian Assange is something of a hero among the sandalista set at the public broadcaster.  So it came as no surprise that the Fowler/Harley/O’Brien piece was overwhelmingly supportive of Assange and overwhelmingly critical of Assange’s accusers.

What was surprising, however, turned on the line of “Sex, Lies and Julian Assange”. Namely that the two leftist Swedish women, who had made allegations of sexual assault against the Wikileaks founder, are somehow responsible for his alleged actions.  Or, in old fashioned blokey parlance, they were “asking for it”.

As Ms Le Marquand put it:

So when Four Corners host Kerry Obrien referred to the curious circumstances surrounding the allegations, he was echoing a commonly held perception that the claims against Assange are merely the trumped up charges of lovers scorned.

It”s not only the usual suspects – woman haters and convicted sex offenders – who have been quick to ridicule the women, with many arguing their complaints do not amount to real rape. Even people who should know better have readily swallowed the line that the case against him is based on nothing more than the unreliable testimony of discarded groupies eagerly seized upon by meddling authorities.

If a conservative male faced similar allegations to those confronting Assange in Sweden, then it is most unlikely that the Four Corners’ Blokes Trio would have expressed any concern. It’s just that leftists like Assange are judged by a double standard.

Step forward Sarrah Le Marquand for nailing Four Corners Julian Assange Fan Club.  Five Paws.


In last Saturday’s Weekend Australian, Bill Leak reflected how he had been dropped by his leftist mates once he commenced laughing at Labor, the Greens, Robert Manne and so on. However, Leak predicted that he will be embraced by the left intelligentsia again if the Coalition wins the next election and he commences to mock Tony Abbott. Let’s hear it from The Weekend Australian’s cartoonist:

If, as is widely anticipated, we soon see the advent of an Abbott government, it won’t be long before I’m accused of having switched sides again. The moment I start knocking out cartoons that display an acceptable level of hostility toward the Mad Monk, the luvvies on the Left will welcome me back into the fold like some sort of prodigal son.

But for now, such a Murdoch arse-licker have I become that I even saw fit to have a go at Robert Manne when he wrote that splendid Quarterly Essay about how The Australian is destroying public debate in the country. In hindsight, I see now that I really should have just dropped to my knees in awe of the comic genius Australia’s Leading Public Intellectual had shown when he’d flicked the switch to parody, writing an impassioned plea for the suppression of free speech mocked up to look like a defence of it.

The Weekend Australian’s editor Nick Cater asked him at the Byron Bay Writers Festival why he’d never accepted any of Cater’s requests to have his views published in The Australian and Manne responded by saying he didn’t want to give that squalid rag ‘legitimacy’ by writing for it. I witnessed that little exchange and, fascist that I am, misinterpreted his answer as pompous and sanctimonious, when I really should have considered myself lucky to be there, able to gaze on admiringly while the great Manne put that Murdoch lickspittle in his place.

Bill Leak, Five Paws.


On Tuesday 19 July 2012 Michael Danby debated Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon – Lee Brown who became variously Lee O’Gorman (by marriage) and then Lee Rhiannon (by deed poll) – on the ABC News 24 Capital Hill program. See here.

Mr Danby reminded Senator Rhiannon that when he had been supporting Soviet dissidents in the 1970s and 1980s she had been swanning around the Eastern Europe communist dictatorships and contributing to or editing the magazine Survey – which supported and received financial assistance from the communist dictatorship in Moscow.

As readers of MWD will know, Senator Rhiannon has declined to answer Gerard Henderson’s detailed questions concerning her political activities between the time she joined the pro-Moscow Socialist Party of Australia circa 1970 and the collapse of European communism circa 1990 when she joined the Greens. In particular, Rhiannon has refused to confirm or deny that she undertook a course at the Lenin School in Moscow in 1977 during the time of Leonid Brezhnev’s dictatorship.

In other words, Senator Rhiannon refuses to discuss her political involvements over a two decade period – close to half of her adult life.

And what did Senator Rhiannon say in response to Mr Danby’s comments on Capital Hill that she was once a Stalinist? Well, Rhiannon branded Danby a “Cold War Warrior”. Shucks. Nancy’s co-owner reckons that Michael Danby would be happy to be labelled a Cold War warrior. After all, it was a war which the anti-communist side won.

Michael Danby – Five Paws.


“Why is it that every time I come to Adelaide there’s a problem?

– Mark Latham, The Latham Diaries, Wednesday 24 November 2004.

Good question, eh?

Due to enormous popular demand, MWD is continuing a new series devoted to recording for posterity the thoughts of (the superannuated) Mark Latham.  This segment is devoted to exploring the former failed Labor leader’s evident lack of self-awareness – as demonstrated in the above quote, which is taken from The Latham Diaries.

What Mark Latham Really Thinks About Kevin Rudd’s Behaviour

Here is what Mark Latham had to say about former Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd on the Paul Murray Live program on Sky News last Monday.  The Lair of Liverpool’s comment followed a showing of the now famous/infamous clip of Mr Rudd having trouble taping a message in Mandarin. Paul Murray led off the segment by playing the YouTube clip of Kevin Rudd which gained notoriety in the lead up to the Labor leadership challenge earlier this year:

Kevin Rudd : This f-cking language – it just complicates it so much, you know? How can anyone do this?  You know what I mean?  It’s just – tell them to cancel this meeting at six o’clock will you? I don’t have the f-cking patience to do it.

At the invitation of Paul Murray, Mark Latham was given the first opportunity to analyse Kevin Rudd’s personality on Sky News.  He welcomed the opportunity:

Mark Latham:  It’s a public service to leak that. Because, those of us who were once in the Labor Party, or still there, had to suffer this mongrel. And, that sort of behaviour, day in, day out – and this is why they all revolted against him. They didn’t just make it up. That clipping verifies the nature of the man and the Australian people know this as well. And, truthfully, any return to Rudd – the bounce would be so artificial. There’s no great love for the man out there. These polls show him up against Gillard. But up against Abbott in a real electoral context, Rudd would be deflating like a massive balloon within five minutes of getting into the office….

That footage there shows that the gig is up for Rudd. People have worked out, that is the real Kevin Rudd, you see. When Chris [Kenny] and others say, “Oh, Rudd’s coming back” – that’s the person they’re talking about, that’s the real Kevin Rudd! And, not even his own brother supports him these days. You know, what sort of credentials are they, what sort of popularity is that….

Look, the public reality is that people have twigged. People have twigged that that clipping there is the real Rudd. And they’ve twigged to the fact that Labor didn’t get rid of him for no reason – took them a long while to tell us why. But when you hear Swan, Conroy, Gibbons, Burke, Roxon and all these other people saying that this bloke is Satan – well, the public think maybe there is something wrong with him. And guess what? There is. Not even his own brother supports him, so why should the Labor Party?

Fancy that.  According to Mark Latham in 2012, seemingly private behaviour reflects reality.  In other words, you can judge Kevin Rudd by his YouTube clip on the difficulties of talking to Chinese in Mandarin.  According to Mark Latham, that is.

What Former Latham Staffer Mike Richards Really Thought About Latham’s Behaviour

But what about Mark Latham?  Here is how Dr Mike Richards, chief-of-staff to Mr Latham in 2004, described Mark Latham’s private office behaviour when he was Leader of the Opposition in the lead-up to the 2004 election:

A feature of Latham’s persecutory fantasies is the paranoid rage that sometimes attended them. In January 2004, Latham gave the opening speech to the ALP national conference, less than two months after his election to the leadership. This was an important speech, one that would chart the policy course for the party in an election year, and cast his leadership profile more fully on the national stage. The speech was rapturously received and the leader was exhilarated by the response of delegates and journalists alike.

Latham’s euphoria turned to rage and despair, however, when the soft-copy release of the speech was discovered to have unintentionally included meta-data, so-called editing “track changes”, which revealed earlier draft comments by Latham’s speechwriter — a former Labor leader’s staffer — that should have been deleted before its public release.  [Howard] Government staffers had evidently scoured the emailed media release of the speech file to reveal the track changes and fed them to journalists with a political spin about the “real” author of the speech.

The track change elements of the speech were an embarrassing staff production gaffe, and they allowed Labor’s political opponents to distract attention from the policy and performance in Latham’s speech to a media sideshow of momentary consequence. Latham was entitled to be upset at the mistake; his paranoid response, however, was disproportionate and revealed his narcissistic vulnerability: “WHY—IS—EVERYONE—OPPOSED—TO—ME?” he bellowed as he raged around the leader’s conference office in a 20-minute tantrum. “THIS—WAS— THE—MOST—IMPORTANT—SPEECH—OF—MY—LIFE. WHY—ARE—THEY— GETTING—AT—ME?!”

How about that?  Mark Latham’s behaviour following the critical response to his January 2004 speech was very similar to Kevin Rudd’s behaviour following his inability to read a Mandarin autocue.  To paraphrase Latham’s comments in another context: That sort of behaviour – day in and day out – that is why his colleagues revolted against him;  they didn’t just make it up,  Mike Richards’ verifies the nature of the man.

[Mike Richards” paper titled Portrait of paranoid: An insider”s account of the Latham years is available on the web]

This is the photograph taken by the Daily Telegraph in January 2005 when Mark Latham announced his retirement as Opposition leader in a park in south-west Sydney just a year after his office rant as described by Dr Mike Richards.  Mr Latham’s stylish crew-cut was made possible by a passing shearer who gave the Lair of Liverpool a loan of his wide-comb.


The late Dean Martin was wont to thank viewers of his TV show for sending in their “cards and letters”.  That was another era, of course. [Of course. Ed].  For its part, MWD is grateful to readers for forwarding their emails each week on a range of issues. Here’s a selection from this week’s inbox.

Remember MWD readers – keep sending those emails.


There was enormous interest among MWD readers to last week’s story about how Paul Bongiorno, Network 10’s national affairs editor, had once (allegedly) seen George Pell hit an Australian Rules football from the centre at St Patrick’s College oval to the forward pocket.  MWD depicted this remarkable feat as a 50 metres hit.

Among the multitude of correspondents regarding this story, Darren (“call me Maws”) Mawson came up with a unique theory.  Here it is:

Darren (Maws) Mawson to Gerard Henderson – 24 July 2012

Hi Gerard

Have a great time reading Media Watch Dog.

I grew up in Werribee, with regards to Bonge seeing Pell once tap an AFL ball from the Ruck into the Forward Pocket. Maybe he saw Pell do this on the St. Andrews Primary School oval.

Once played a game there and the full back regularly kicked the ball into the forward line, as the ground was only 50 metres in length.



Gerard Henderson to Darren (Maws) Mawson – 25 July 2012


Thanks for your note of Tuesday.  Your rationalisation of Paul Bongiorno’s memory about the one-time football feats of Cardinal George Pell is quite impressive.

Fascinating theory, indeed.  Even so, not many primary school kids can hit an Aussie Rules football 15 metres or so – which would be the case with a hit-out from the centre of a 50 metre oval to what Bonge termed the pocket.

In response to your oh-so-cunning defence of Bonge’s theory, I proffer the following rebuttals:

▪ George Pell and Paul Bongiorno went to school at Loreto Convent in Ballarat and then St Patrick’s College in Ballarat.  Ballarat is a long way from Werribee – as the football flies.  I doubt whether there was ever a Loreto Convent (Ballarat) versus St Andrews Primary School (Werribee) encounter.  As Bob Ellis (the False Prophet of Palm Beach) might say: “Prove that I lie”.

▪ If the oval in your Werribee school days was a mere 50 metres long – from goal posts to goal posts – it would not have had a forward pocket.  Or, indeed, a back pocket.  Just flanks and wings and so on.

▪ It seems to me that Bonge’s account of Pell The Footballer is just as reliable as his (so far failed) prophecy that Tony Abbott will be interviewed by the Australian Federal Police about the fact that he made Peter Slipper unhappy – or something like that.

Maybe, like Bonge, my memory is fading.  But I seem to recall seeing Bonge – when he was studying for the priesthood at Corpus Christi Werribee circa 1963 – kick a black biretta from the centre circle into the crowd behind the goal square.  Must have travelled a hundred metres.  And it was into the wind – which happened to be blowing from the Werribee Sewage Farm.

A remarkable feat, to be sure – especially since he was wearing a cassock at the time.  Which helps explain Bonge’s subsequent brilliant (secular) career as a star of the Canberra Parliamentary Press Gallery.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson


There is nothing quite like a clock to get the brains of MWD readers ticking.  This week Robert Reid reflected on whether there was one – just one – conservative in any prominent part of the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.

Robert Reid to Gerard Henderson – 20 July 2012

Michael Duffy & Paul Comrie-Thomson appear to buck the ABC trend.

RN had been worth listening to for much of the time in the car, even though there were consistent outright declarations of allegiance to all things left & even centre right – anything that was not supportive of a Coalition (the tried & true one). Recently there seemed to be a purge & many sessions now seem to be devoted to social engineering especially encouraging society to navel gaze. It seems that there is much more “talk back” – a lazy & cheap way to run a segment.

Amongst the discards were two of the most enjoyable presenters I remember, the late Alan Saunders of By Design, on Saturday mornings was one. The programme was repeated one afternoon in the week. He was retained to continue his Philosopher’s Zone. He died recently. The other was Ramona Koval who presented a literary programme at 10am on weekdays. They were both erudite, articulate, relaxed & unpretentious, very conversational, seemingly on good terms & effective with their many interviewees (not a given to always agree) .Once, some years ago, I was surprised to hear Alan Saunders confess that he had liked Menzies but disliked Whitlam. It was in context & gently. Other than that, I never had any idea of the leanings of either of them, & I listened to them a lot. I had thought that they would have been enjoyed at the SI [Sydney Institute].

Of course they could have chosen to resign for many ordinary reasons. I thought they were both outstanding in their unassuming ways but sadly they have been replaced by much more ordinary presenters, one of whom I have heard to offer leftist utterings on a few occasions. He is knowledgeable. The By Design segment content seems authentic but is jerky, it does not flow. At least they do not seem to embrace talkback.


Bob Reid

Gerard Henderson to Robert Reid – 26 July 2012


Thanks for your note concerning MWD’s Aunty (Balance) Clock which was published for the first time last Friday.

The point made in the Balance Clock was that the ABC does not have one conservative presenter or producer or editor across any of its “prominent” TV or Radio or Online outlets. Not one.

Counterpoint – which airs on Radio National 4 pm on Mondays – is not a prominent program.  For example, it is rarely if ever promoted on RN itself or on any other ABC outlet.

I note that Michael Duffy, the inaugural presenter, has quit the program and Paul Comrie-Thompson bailed out last Monday.

I expect that this might lead the ABC to revamp the program in order to maintain the fiction that Counterpoint is an adequate counter to Radio National’s prevailing leftist culture.  Even if ABC management does this, Counterpoint will not become a prominent program while it remains at the unattractive time slot of 4 pm on Mondays.

Ramona Koval was a good broadcaster with a sound knowledge of both fiction and non-fiction.  But she is not a conservative.  The late Alan Saunders rarely commented on politics or morality.  Neither fitted the bill of a prominent conservative presenter.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson


The sandal-wearing left just love to claim that Labor’s Gough Whitlam, when prime minister after the fall of Saigon in April 1975, was sympathetic to South Vietnamese refugees fleeing communist dictatorship.  For example, Senator Lee Rhiannon made this claim in her appearance on the ABC News 24 Capital Hill program on 19 July 2012.  See Nancy’s Five Paws Awards.

In fact, the governments led by Malcolm Fraser and Bob Hawke were sympathetic to Indo-Chinese refugees. This was not the case with Gough Whitlam.  John V. Ryan, who worked for Rex Connor in the Whitlam Government, reflects on his memory of what took place in 1975.

John Ryan to Gerard Henderson – 20 July 2012

Dear Gerard

At the time of the actual fall of Saigon, my then boss, Rex Connor was the Acting PM (both Whitlam and his deputy being abroad).  Connor, to give him his due, was quite sympathetic to the despairing calls for asylum reaching him from the desperate Vietnamese who had worked for the [Australian] Embassy [in Saigon].

Both Foreign Affairs and Immigration were totally resistant to doing anything to help them, even in the face of requests from the Acting PM, stating that they had received strict instructions from both Whitlam and Cameron, the Immigration Minister, NOT to do so.

I came close to tendering my resignation on that occasion and would have done so but for the humanitarian impulses of Rex Connor.  (Rex Connor was still, of course, a bit of an old-fashioned racist of the “White Australia” persuasion.)


John V Ryan

Gerard Henderson to John Ryan – 24 July 2012

Dear John

Thanks for your note of yesterday which I found most interesting. I would like to run your letter, or a revised version of it, in next Friday’s Media Watch Dog.  I agree with you that Rex Connor was an old-fashioned White Australia type. Nevertheless, when it came to people in distress, he obviously had a humanitarian side to his character.  Unlike Clyde Cameron and the self-proclaimed humanitarian Gough Whitlam.

I would like to document Rex Connor”s attempted intervention in support of South Vietnamese refugees.

Let me know.

Best wishes


John Ryan to Gerard Henderson – 24 July 2012

Dear Gerard

I am happy for a version of my letter to go into Media Watch Dog.  Unfortunately, I can’t actually document the facts of the matter, unless I went to the National Archives to see what I can dredge up.  (This would take me a bit longer than an item in next Friday’s MWD would permit).

However, I am quite confident that the main points I made are correct.  Rex Connor’s reaction – it may have been to cable reports of the imminent fall of Saigon– was to initiate enquiries about what could be done to save the unfortunates who were associated with our Embassy.  At his request, I made phone calls to Foreign Affairs (and possibly to Immigration) myself, and was advised basically that it was immaterial what the Acting PM wanted, as those Departments were bound by specific instructions from Whitlam and Cameron not to assist them.  I was told by Foreign Affairs that it was not Australian policy to be involved in “adventurism” (or words to that effect) by undertaking a rescue mission.

As I say, I don’t have any documents to support this. At this distance in time, I couldn’t tell you, for example, who in FA’s or Immigration I spoke to.  However, the instructions issued by Whitlam and Cameron should be easy to trace in the Archives.  As to Rex Connor’s reaction, I have only my own distinct recollection to go on.  It was, in my view, a humanitarian response and whatever he might have had in mind to help the Vietnamese was thwarted by the prior instructions of Whitlam and Cameron.


John V Ryan

Gerard Henderson to John Ryan – 26 July 2012

Dear John

Re your note of last Tuesday.

The correspondence works well since your memory is consistent with the written record – including the released Cabinet Papers – about the response of the Whitlam Government to South Vietnamese refugees in 1975, following the fall of Saigon to communist forces.

Best wishes. And thanks for your recollections about an important moment in Australian history.

Gerard Henderson

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Until next time.