31 AUGUST 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are private correspondence and not for publication” – ABC News Radio’s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: Mungo Calls for an End to Rudeness

● Can You Bear It? AM Joins the “Kerr’s A Bastard Club”;

The Leigh Sales/Gina Rinehart Double Standard; Julian Morrow Broadcaster but not a Listener

● Nancy’s Sectarian Pick-of-the-Week: Step Forward the Sun-Herald’s Reg Lynch

MWD Exclusive: Nancy’s Transcript of the Robert Manne/Mark Latham AFR Lunch

● History Corner: Jenny Hocking’s Second Volume on Gough Whitlam & Media Responses

● Correspondence: With a Little Help From Peter FitzSimons and Marius Benson



Did anyone see ABC News 24’s The Drum last night – starring Tim Palmer as presenter along with panellists Kerry Chikarovski, Andrew Clennell and Mungo MacCallum with a guest appearance by John Barron?  [Probably not. It’s usually oh-so-boring. Ed].

Well, the bearded Mungo MacCallum – whose most recent book Eat My Words (ABC Books) is being plugged relentlessly by ABC Radio National – made a stunning appearance.  Truly stunning.

Towards the end of the program, discussion turned on bad language on the internet – following the on-line attacks on actor Charlotte Dawson. This is what Mungo MacCallum had to say.

Mungo MacCallum:  …One of the problems is that we are becoming a less civil society.  There’re all sorts of reasons for this. One is the great attacks on what used to be called political correctness.  “Go on; let it all hang out – if you think somebody’s a bastard, tell ‘em. Don’t be politically correct about it”.  You know, in other words, don’t be polite. Don’t be decent. Don’t be civilised. Be as rude as you want to be about everybody you don’t like…

So, last night on the taxpayer funded The Drum, Mungo MacCallum calls for politeness, decency and civility in debate and warns against rudeness with respect to people you do not like. Really.

And this is how Mungo MacCallum concluded his book Run Johnny, Run: The Story of the 2004 Election (Duffy & Snellgrove, 2004).

…the unflushable turd [John Howard] set out on a leisurely victory circuit of the toilet bowl.

Elsewhere in Run, Johnny, Run, Mungo MacCallum referred to John Howard as (i) “the little c-nt”, (ii) “a shithouse rat”, (iii) “a jerky little man with a manic grin” and (iv) “a lying little rat”.  MacCallum also declared that the Liberal Party’s policy launch for the 2004 election “had a touch of the Nuremberg Rally”.  When MacCallum looked at Liberals, he saw Nazis. How about that for civilised debate?

Earlier in Run, Johnny, Run, Mungo MacCallum wrote that:

…as even the Liberals have admitted, it was hard to imagine Howard reading a book, let alone writing one.

Of course “the Liberals” quoted were not named.  How convenient.

In fact, John Howard is both widely read and recently become a best-selling author of a book which he wrote himself – John Howard: Lazarus Rising – A Personal and Political Biography (HarperCollins, 2012).

And yet Mungo MacCallum went on The Drum last night and sanctimoniously moralised about the need for civility in debate and urged an end to rudeness. [Perhaps this should have run in your immensely popular “Can You Bear It?” segment – Ed].


AM – Looking Only For “Kerr’s-A-Bastard” Opinions

While on the topic of your Mungo MacCallum, how about his appearance on AM last Monday.

According to MWD researches, leftist author Jenny Hocking is a fully paid-up member of the “Kerr’s A Bastard Fan Club” – which was born on 11 November 1975 when the Governor-General Sir John Kerr dismissed Gough Whitlam’s Labor government.

These days the taxpayer subsidised Monash University academic uses taxpayer largesse per courtesy of the Australian Research Council to write leftist-luvvie biographies of such leftist heroes as Frank Hardy (the author and one-time Stalinist hack), Lionel Murphy (the Labor politician who was appointed to the High Court by Gough Whitlam) and Gough Whitlam.

Extracts from Jenny Hocking’s second volume of her Gough Whitlam biography – titled Gough Whitlam: His Time – were published in Fairfax Media newspapers last weekend.  There was a follow up story on Monday.  See History Corner and Correspondence sections. That day the key ABC AM program invited another high profile member of the “Kerr’s A Bastard Fan Club” – Mungo MacCallum – to comment on Jenny Hocking’s reference to John Kerr in her Gough Whitlam biography.

Needless to say AM reporter Emily Bourke asked soft questions of your man MacCallum. And your man Mungo used the taxpayer funded facility to get stuck into his old enemy Kerr.  No other view was heard.  Can you bear it?

▪ A Sales/Rinehart Double Standard

One-time John Howard staffer Grahame Morris [It was a long time ago – Ed] was in the news again for bad language this week.

You see, Young Grahame (born 1951) is an old-fashioned kind of guy. He is of Murrumbidgee Irrigation stock, was schooled at Yanco Agriculture High School and learnt his journalism at the Wagga Daily Advertiser.  And he sometimes uses old-style Aussie language which is now very much verboten.

Recently on Sky News, Mr Morris suggested that Julia Gillard should be “kicked to death” by the human rights  lobby for some or other transgression of civil liberties.  He was not being literal – but nevertheless received a very real bollocking.  A kick in the arse, in Yanco/Wagga terminology circa of half a century ago.

Then on Monday – on Mornings With Linda Mottram, no less – Grahame Morris was asked to comment on Leigh Sales’ recent interview with Tony Abbott.  See MWD Issue 151.  He commented: “Well, Leigh can be a real cow sometimes when she’s doing her interviews”.  This caused umbrage. Even umbrage squared.

As MWD recalls, such terms as “kicked to death” and “old cow” are old Australian English.  They are best junked today.  Even so, Ms Sales seemed to go somewhat over the top when she tweeted: “I’d rather be a cow than a dinosaur.”  Brilliant. For the record, Nancy would rather be a hammer than a nail, a dog than a cat and so on.

In time, Grahame Morris felt the need to apologise on 702 – which Ms Sales graciously accepted, an acceptance which was widely reported in the media.

But what about double standards?  At the Mid Winter Ball of recent memory at Parliament House, Canberra (see MWD Issues 144 and 145), part-time comedian and part-time RN Drive presenter Julian Morrow described Gina Rinehart as “the elephant not in the room”. This was clearly a reference to Ms Rinehart’s body shape.

For the record, most of the assembled media types laughed. LOLed in fact. Which suggests that it is not at all okay to link (even though not literally) the oh-so-progressive Leigh Sales with a cow.  But it’s quite okay to link the miner Gina Rinehart with an elephant (in a quite literal sense).  Can you bear it?

▪ Julian Morrow – Presenter But Not A Listener

While on the topic of Julian Morrow, consider the dialogue which took place on the “Week In Review Panel” segment on his RN Drive program last Friday.  Let’s go to the audio tape where the panel was discussing the high levels of New Zealand immigration to Australia.

Bernard Lagan: …I’m from the other side of the Tasman, a long time ago. When I came here 25 years ago the people who came over were running around 15,000 a year, if that. Now, it is up to 53,000 dollars [sic] a year. And, I have to say, I’m in the camp, I care about New Zealand, the time has come to say enough! Because, because we’re going to be left over there with a whole lot of very young people and a lot of very old people…

It is a serious issue in the sense that New Zealand is being hollowed out in the way Tasmania was. So you’re left with, the tax base is shrinking, all that sort of thing is going on and I think there’s a serious issue for Australia of what New Zealand is going to look like say. Say I mean, it was forecast this week that the numbers would climb to 100,000 dollars [sic] in ten years time.

Anyone can make a slip on live radio.  It’s just that Julian Morrow did not pick Bernard Lagan’s reference to New Zealand immigration to Australia moving from 53,000 dollars a year to 100,000 dollars by 2022 indicates that presenter Julian Morrow was not listening to his guest. Can you bear it?


Step forward Reg Lynch who drew the art-work (see below) of Tony Abbott in a Catholic confessional which featured in last weekend’s Sun-Herald.  Can you imagine a cartoonist drawing a sketch featuring a Muslim politician speaking to a mufti? [Not on your nelly – Ed].

The cartoon was an illustration for Peter FitzSimons’ weekly Sun-Herald column.  See Correspondence.  Last Sunday, Peter FitzSimons accused Christians, Jews and Muslims who teach belief to their children of “condoning child abuse”.  Mr FitzSimons quoted favourably from the late Gore Vidal.  That old codger did not believe in any traditional religion.  But he did believe in one of the many JFK assassination conspiracy theories.


MWD has been able to get hold of Nancy’s original transcription of the Mark Latham – Robert Manne lunch that formed the basis of Mark Latham’s “Lunch with the Financial Review” column which appeared in last weekend’s Australian Financial Review.

Mark Latham & Robert Manne on Narcissist Soup, Alienated Lawn Mowers and Much, Much, More

Mark Latham : Great to meet you again Robert. The last time we hung out together was at La Trobe Uni when I spoke to you about how ungrateful the Australian electorate is. They’ve never had it so f—cking good. And I should know. Since I know how hard it is – as a house husband – to survive on a taxpayer funded superannuation pension of a lousy $78,000 a year (fully indexed). These people living in those f—cking McMansions between Tullamarine Airport and La Trobe’s Bundoora campus are doing better than me out in Mount Hunter in south west  Sydney. They should appreciate this. Can you believe that most of this conga line of suckholes plan to vote for that Santamaria/DLP/NCC/clerical fascist Tony Abbott arsehole?

Robert Manne : Absolutely. As Australia’s leading public intellectual (I was twice voted to this esteemed honour, which I mention on my website), I understand exactly what you are saying. In fact, I have constructed an ideal type model for this – of which I am immensely proud. One, life is good – especially for tenured academics who have never worked outside the academy. Two, people living between Tullamarine and Bundoora should believe me. Three, they should thank Bob Brown and the Greens for making the world such a good place. Even as we face environmental catastrophe. Four, let’s get rid of the coal industry. Except for that part of it which finances my taxpayer subsidised salary and makes it possible to fund the ABC and print The Monthly.

Mark Latham : As Australia’s leading public intellectual, have you always voted for the Greens?

Robert Manne : Alas, no. As Australia’s leading public intellectual, I actually voted for John Howard in 1996. I am immensely aghast about this – as I told Maxine McKew some years ago (The Bulletin, 16 May 2000). But I have made amends since. I voted Labor in 1998, 2001, 2004 and 2007 before supporting the Greens in 2010. Some might say that I am inconsistent – having supported the Coalition, Labor and the Greens in a 15-year period. But I say that I am Australia’s leading public intellectual. That’s what I say. I do. That clears up the matter, I’m sure.

Mark Latham : For sure. Bloody Oath. Thanks for setting up this lunch at the BBQ House Seafood Restaurant in Richmond. I have never been to inner-city Richmond before. I could have got lost since I forgot the address. But I told the f—cking taxi driver that I was having lunch with Australia’s leading public intellectual. Fair dinkum. He put the “ALPI” letters into his GPS and followed the map to 240 Victoria Street, Richmond. Apparently you are a regular here. I suppose because it’s just a short trip from The Monthly’s office in inner-city Collingwood.

Robert Manne : That’s right. Correct. As Australia’s leading public intellectual, I usually write 8000 words before breakfast and submit them to my brilliant, multi-millionaire property developer comrade-publisher Morry Schwartz. He invariably tells me that my work is brilliant. I’m sure it is – which I suppose is why I was voted Australia’s leading public intellectual. Morry chooses the best of my 8000 word polemical essay each month and publishes it in The Monthly. My friends at the taxpayer funded ABC invariably also publish my taxpayer funded polemics on The Drum website. As they should. After all, I am Australia’s leading public intellectual – which means that everyone else is not. Think about it. They certainly know about I and Me and Myself at the BBQ House Seafood Restaurant.

Mark Latham : My relations with cabbies are not always cordial. After all, I bashed the tripe out of that Bashir Mustafa low-life in Sydney in 2001. What a drop kick. He thought he knew the quickest way home after I attended Gough Whitlam’s 85th birthday bash. What a dickhead. Fancy a cabbie thinking he knows more about distances than a tired and emotional Labor MP who’s just been toasting Gough Whitlam with buckets of vodka. I’m glad I broke Mustafa’s arm. It’s up to Labor leaders to make sure the working class is properly class conscious. I’m classier than Mustafa and I sure learned him on this.

Robert Manne : Exactly. However, as Australia’s leading public intellectual, I’m more concerned about saving the planet than breaking taxi drivers’ arms. But I understand where you are – or were – coming from. It was, after all, the Leader”s 85th Birthday booze-up. Currently at La Trobe University (“Proudly One of Australia’s Top 500 Big Polluters”), I am teaching my students that the end-of-the-world-is-nigh. In short, that we’re cooked. All due to human induced global warming. I find that all my best students agree with me. It’s quite a co-incidence that they get the best marks. These days, I’m into consciousness raising. That’s all. Understand what I mean?

Mark Latham : I’m glad you are. Us taxpayer subsidised types must stick together. I’m very concerned about global change which is why I ordered steamed scallops with vegetables today for entree. Okay. Perhaps I should have skipped the steaming. And maybe I should have avoided the fish. But, hey, it’s a more eco-friendly meal than coal fired, post-farting beef with an elephant trunk side-salad. That’s for sure.

Robert Manne : As Australia’s leading public intellectual, I’ve started with alphabet, narcissist soup. They do a great drop here. A handful of my shredded articles, first published in The Monthly, mixed with tap water and served at room temperature. It works for me.

Mark Latham : I’m a knock-about bloke. Some call me the Lair of Liverpool. When people disagree with me, I break their bloody arms. That’s what I do. What about you?

Robert Manne : As Australia’s leading public intellectual, I have to have a thick skin – as I told Crikey on 31 January 2012. So, if I’m criticised, I usually wait a whole 5 minutes before complaining and responding. Then I look for motive. Since no-one would criticise Australia’s leading public intellectual unless he/she had a motive. A base motive. Take Gerard Henderson. When I was a leftie in 1969, I and my left-wing friends refused to publish Hendo’s article in Melbourne University Magazine. Or was it 1959? I have a bad memory these days. Anyrate, I know that every time Gerard Henderson criticises me for changing my mind, I know it’s all motivated by the fact I sent him a rejection slip in 1959. Or was it 1969? Or maybe 1939?

Mark Latham : I understand where you are coming from. Especially since you are Australia’s leading public intellectual and have been voted to this esteemed position on two occasions as reported on your website. Gerard Henderson keeps documenting the fact that, like you, I also change my mind all the time. I think you and I have a lot in common. Let’s do lunch next time I’m in Richmond. By the way, how was your narcissist soup? And what do you think went wrong with the left?

Robert Manne: As Australia’s leading public intellectual, I would like to answer your highly perceptive two-part query in 39 steps. First, I would like to further develop the theory which I first developed near Hornsby Town a quarter of a century ago concerning the relationship between broken down lawn-mowers and [continues for 69 pages].



Last Saturday, the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, and the Canberra Times ran extracts from the second volume of Jenny Hocking’s biography of Gough Whitlam titled Gough Whitlam: His Time.  The publisher is The Miegunyah Press, part of Melbourne University Press.

The Sydney Morning Herald (along with other papers) ran a news story by Michael Gordon which commented:

John Kerr identified the former chief justice, Anthony Mason, as the “”third man”” who secretly advised and “”fortified”” him in the lead-up to the most divisive event in Australian political history – his decision to sack the Whitlam government in 1975.

The former governor-general”s private records say Sir Anthony “”played the most significant part in my thinking”” and reassured him he had made the right call two days before he dismissed the government on November 11. They also assert that Sir Anthony, at the time a High Court judge, was the author of a statement that Kerr incorporated in his public statement justifying his actions.

The record was uncovered by the Whitlam biographer Jenny Hocking, whose book Gough Whitlam: His Time will be published next month. Hocking says Kerr”s records suggest “”Mason was not merely the third man: he was, in many ways, the man””.

However, later in his piece, Michael Gordon made the following qualification:

While the Herald columnist Gerard Henderson has reported that Kerr told him he directly consulted Sir Anthony before the dismissal, the detail laid out in Kerr”s private papers on their “”running conversation”” staggered Hocking, who researched the biography for seven years.

Michael Gordon’s comment is accurate.  It’s just that many journalists who interviewed Jenny Hocking regarded her account of Sir Anthony Mason’s involvement in the Dismissal as breaking news – totally unaware that it has been in the public domain for around two decades. Here is the chronology.

Sir Anthony Mason’s Role In The Dismissal: The Background

In private discussions in the late 1980s, John Kerr told Gerard Henderson that Sir Anthony Mason was the person referred to at Page 341 of his memoirs Matters for Judgement: An Autobiography (Macmillan, 1978) viz:

My solitude was tempered by conversation with one person only other than the Chief Justice [Sir Garfield Barwick].  The conversation did not include advice as to what I should do but sustained me in my own thinking as to the imperatives within which I had to act, and in my conclusions, already reached, as to what I could and should do.

The person with whom I spoke was not and has never been engaged in politics.  His name has never been mentioned in any of the speculations about persons I might have consulted.  The substance of our conversation is recorded and will some day, when for history’s sake the archives are opened, be revealed, I will not disclose it further.

Kerr requested that Henderson not report that Anthony Mason was “the person” while Kerr lived and/or while Mason was Chief Justice of the High Court.   This individual subsequently came to be referred to as “the third man”.  Henderson agreed not to reveal the name of “the third man” in the short-term.

In May 1990 Henderson interviewed Sir Garfield Barwick for his book Menzies’ Child: The Liberal Party of Australia, which was scheduled for publication in late 1994.  During the course of the conversation, Barwick said that in November 1975 Kerr asked him to check his (i.e. Barwick’s advice to Kerr) with Mason. Barwick said that he did so – and told Kerr that Mason agreed with him (Barwick) that the Governor-General had the power to dismiss the Whitlam Government.  Barwick requested confidentiality concerning the revelation – and Henderson agreed.

Sir John Kerr died on 24 March 1991.  Henderson then honoured Kerr’s remaining condition.  Namely, that he would not reveal Mason’s role in the Dismissal while Mason remained a Chief Justice of the High Court – his term was due to expire in 1995.

Mason First Indentified As The Third Man – January 1994

In January 1994, ABC TV ran an interview between Bruce Donald and Garfield Barwick in its A Life series.  Barwick told Donald that he had cleared his opinion on The Dismissal with Mason before passing it on to Kerr. Donald subsequently wrote that he was “absolutely intrigued” by Barwick’s revelation but did not draw the conclusion that Mason was “the third man” referred to in Kerr’s memoirs. Donald felt this matter was unresolved.

In view of the fact that Barwick had linked Mason with the Dismissal, Henderson felt that he was no longer bound by the confidentiality agreement with Barwick and, consequently, Kerr. Especially since Mason’s role as Chief Justice was in its final year.

On 4 January 1994 Henderson wrote to Mason advising that he would write about his discussions with Kerr and Barwick concerning the Dismissal in the Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday 8 January 1994 (see here and here].  The Chief Justice’s office phoned the following day acknowledging receipt of the latter and to express thanks for the courtesy of providing the information in advance.  Henderson did not talk to Mason about the matter until sometime after his Herald article was published.

So, Mason’s involvement in the Dismissal was widely known in early 1994. It was canvassed by Bruce Donald and documented by Gerard Henderson.  Henderson wrote up the full story in the first edition of his book Menzies’ Child: The Liberal Party of Australia which was published in October 1994. See Pages 242-246.

Sir Garfield Barwick later referred to Mason’s involvement in The Dismissal in his book A Radical Tory: Reflections & Recollections which was published in 1995.  See Page 298.  Paul Kelly also wrote about Mason’s role in the Dismissal in his book November 1975: The Inside Story of Australia’s Greatest Political Crisis, which was also published in 1995.  See Pages 226-227.

Journalists And Jenny Hocking’s “Revelation”

In spite of this, a number of senior ABC journalists interpreted Jenny Hocking as breaking the news that  Sir Anthony Mason was the third man in the Dismissal – along with Kerr and Barwick.  This in spite of the material being placed on the public record by  Gerard Henderson and others around two decades ago. Here is what they said last Monday.

Jim Middleton’s Revelatory Moment

On the ABC 1 News Breakfast “newspapers” segment, ABC journalist Jim Middleton said that Jenny Hocking last Monday has “revealed” in her new book that Sir Anthony Mason had been “an adviser to “ Sir John Kerr concerning the Dismissal.  Middleton also referred to the fact that Mason had written a piece for Monday’s Fairfax Media newspapers.  Middleton described it this way:

Jim Middleton: Sir Anthony Mason…has said yes he did advise him [Kerr] but he also crucially advised…Sir John Kerr that he must tell Gough Whitlam of his intention to dismiss him. He never did –

Michael Rowland: No –

Jim Middleton : – and he deceived Whitlam up to the last minute. And Anthony Mason says – yes he did advise him – but crucially he was disappointed effectively that he had not warned Whitlam of what he intended to do.

Jim Middleton’s criticism of John Kerr reflected the traditional left-wing criticism of the Dismissal. It is true that Anthony Mason declared on 27 August 2012 that he had told John Kerr in November 1975 – close to 40 years ago – that he had advised Kerr to warn Whitlam about his imminent dismissal if he did not call a general election to resolve the political conflict following the Malcolm Fraser led Opposition’s refusal to pass supply (i.e. money).

But as Middleton should be aware, this is Mason’s recollections at age 87 – 37 years after the event.  There is no contemporaneous record to support this recollection. Kerr did not refer to it in his extensive private papers.  Moreover, Barwick did not refer to it in his autobiography.

Also, Middleton did not discuss how Kerr should have given Whitlam a warning – in view of the fact that Whitlam had told Kerr that if he moved against him he (Kerr) would be sacked first.

As it turned out, the Dismissal was followed by a double dissolution election – which Fraser won.  On the other hand, the sacking of Kerr by Whitlam would have led to political disorder – without the possibility of resolution by means of an election.  Moreover, Kerr was always intent on keeping the Queen out of Australian domestic political dispute.

Later on News Breakfast, Michael Rowland and Karina Carvalho interviewed Jenny Hocking about Gough Whitlam: His Time.  Dr Hocking conceded that her Mason/Kerr story was not quite a revelation:

Karina Carvalho : Probably the most explosive revelation in the book is the third person involved in Whitlam’s dismissal. Tell us who that is and how you came about discovering it.

Jenny Hocking : Well, it’s long been suggested that there was somebody else involved in talking to Kerr in the lead-up to the actual dismissal of the Whitlam government. The term the “third man” I think was first used probably about two decades ago, where it was indicated that Sir Anthony Mason, who had at that time been a justice of the High Court, had played some role, had perhaps spoken to Kerr in the lead up to the dismissal.

Well, this is not quite so.  It was known as early as 1994 that Kerr had indeed spoken to Mason – there was  no “perhaps” scenario.  But at least Dr Hocking’s account was more extensive than Jim Middleton’s

James Carleton: Revelatory Moment

At around 8.30 am on Monday James Carleton (standing in for Fran Kelly) interviewed Jenny Hocking on RN Breakfast. This interview went on for an extraordinary 13 minutes – very long for a story about a man who was prime minister close to half a century ago.

This time Dr Hocking was not so frank about her “revelation”.  This is how the interview commenced:

James Carleton: First things first. You reveal the so-called “third man”. This is the person long-suspected for all these years since the dismissal of having advised John Kerr in the weeks before the Dismissal. It was High Court justice at the time, Anthony Mason. What is the significance of this?

Jenny Hocking: Look, it is a, it is a remarkable find. And this was the result of some very extensive research periods that I spent in the National Archives of Australia going through Sir John Kerr’s personal papers which had been lodged there.

Most of the interview focused on the Dismissal – with James Carleton completely unaware that Mason’s role in the Dismissal had been revealed close to two decades ago.

Marius Benson’s “Revelatory” Moment

On “Mornings with Linda Mottram” on ABC Metropolitan Radio 702 in Sydney on Monday, ABC News Radio’s Marius Benson also ran the “revelation” line – despite the fact that, as a young journalist, he had reported the Dismissal in November 1975.

Marius Benson (incorrectly) told 702 listeners that Jenny Hocking had “discovered” that Anthony Mason was the “third man” in the Dismissal.  See Correspondence section.

Eleanor Hall’s “Revelatory” Moment

Then on The World Today on Monday, presenter Eleanor Hall fell for the “revelation” thesis.  This is how her interview with Jenny Hocking commenced:

Eleanor Hall : Jenny Hocking, just how shocked were you to discover who this third person in the dismissal was?

Jenny Hocking: Well it was an enormous shock to see this particular document in John Kerr”s private papers, which are in the National Archives. Anthony Mason”s name had been mentioned previously, but really in a limited capacity. I think it had been suggested that he might have seen the advice from Sir Garfield Barwick before it was given to John Kerr, but beyond that, really there hadn”t been any indication of him playing anything like the role that has been revealed from this material.

This is pure fudge – as was the later claim in the Hall/Hocking interview where the author of Gough Whitlam: His  Time claimed that the Mason revelation has “finally brought forward what is really the last remaining piece in the jigsaw puzzle”.

Additional Information – Yes; Revelation – No

It is true that Jenny Hocking’s book provides valuable additional information about Sir John Kerr’s dealings with Sir Anthony Mason in the lead-up to the Dismissal. However, Hocking did not discover or reveal the name of the third man.  Gough Whitlam: His Time has yet to be released.  It remains to be seen whether Hocking acknowledges the fact that Mason was identified as the third man in the Dismissal in 1994 and again in 1995.

Jenny Hocking’s Political Naivety

Jenny Hocking seems unaware of the political realities of what turned out to be the final year of the Whitlam Government. In interviews last Monday, she found it improper that Kerr and Mason had discussed the possibility of Whitlam being dismissed as early as August 1975.

This is somewhat naive. The Opposition, when led by Billy Snedden, had attempted to block supply in early 1974.  Whitlam, sensing correctly he would win, called a double dissolution election.

Malcolm Fraser replaced Snedden as Liberal Party leader in March 1975.  From this time it was always a real possibility that Fraser would block supply and that Whitlam would attempt to govern without supply – sensing, correctly, that he could not win an election in 1975 against  Fraser.

In October 1975 Fraser found a reason to block supply and Whitlam soon indicated his intention to govern without supply.  The evidence unearthed by Jenny Hocking reveals that Sir John Kerr was prepared for this eventuality (hence the early discussion in August 1975).  That’s all.  Sadly the journalists who interviewed the author of Gough Whitlam: His Time did not know enough contemporary history to properly cross-examine Dr Hocking about her important book.



Over the last couple of years, MWD has focused on attacks on mainstream Christianity in the media – along with the revival of anti-Catholic sectarianism.  MWD has focused in particular on Peter FitzSimons (in the Sun-Herald) and Mike Carlton (in the Saturday Sydney Morning Herald).  See MWD passim.

Noticing that Peter FitzSimons rarely bags black Christians like President Barack Obama, MWD wrote to the red-bandannaed Sun-Herald columnist to see whether he is as critical of black athletes who thank God in public as he is of white American footballers who do the same.  Here is the correspondence. Only one matter – unrelated to the main topic – has been deleted. The red-bandannaed columnist requested confidentiality.  However, MWD takes the view that journalists who reveal the private correspondence of others should not get too upset if someone reveals their own correspondence.

Gerard Henderson to Peter FitzSimons – 28 August 2012

Good afternoon Peter

And thanks for your recent generous comments concerning my 2004 column on the Eureka Stockade. By the way, best wishes for the success of your new book on Eureka.

I very much enjoyed your reporting on the London Olympics. However, I have just one query.

In recent times you have criticised acts of “public wankery” by sporting types – meaning those men and women who openly thank their Christian God for their success on the sporting field.

Now here’s a query. In view of the fact that sprinter Usain Bolt and marathon gold medallist Stephen Kiprotich both blessed themselves and kissed the ground after their London Olympic victories, do you regard Bolt and Kiprotich as public wankers?

Over to you.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

Peter FitzSimons to Gerard Henderson – 29 August 2012


Thanks…. As to my “public wankery”, I stand behind the comments.

Everyone is welcome to their own Gods – whatever the nonsense of it – but pointing to God after you hit the winning putt is exactly that.

As to Usain Bolt and the other bloke, the weird thing is that as one who was actually in the stadium, I saw less than those who watched it on tv.

I saw one grab of Bolt doing that well afterwards, but had no idea of Kiprotich doing the same and must confess his name does not loom large on my sporting radar.

A question for you, meantime: do you think your own religious background – I am not sure of your current beliefs – predisposes you to give the likes of Cardinal Pell and the rest of the Catholic Church, the benefit of the doubt on the matter of covering up child abuse?

And obviously, I intend for this correspondence to be between us. I will not quote whatever you reply, and write my own views, on the same understanding.

Best regards,


PS. Am I mixed up? Did we not conceive the whole Mate for Head of State thing on your premises, driven by me? I thought I had, but may be mistaken. If that is the case, I am confused as to why someone would tell me that you regularly have goes at me on the matter of the republic? You”re welcome to those views of course, if that is the case, but it just doesn”t fit, if my memory is correct.

Gerard Henderson to Peter FitzSimons – 29 August 2012


Thank you for your note.

I should deal with your PS first. As a big-selling non-fiction author, you should know not to believe what people tell you without checking. Many people make mistakes and a few make things up. I have never criticised you on the issue of the republic – either in my Sydney Morning Herald column on in my Media Watch Dog blog. Your suggestion to the contrary is manifestly false. For the record, I remain a member of the Australian Republican Movement.

It is true that I have criticised your mocking hyperbolic attacks on believers – especially Christians – in Media Watch Dog. In response to your question, I am an agnostic. However, I have a deep respect for believers. Some of the cleverest people I know are Christians. As the agnostic Lord Melvyn Bragg pointed out when he addressed The Sydney Institute earlier this year, William Shakespeare was a Christian and so was Isaac Newton. They were more intelligent than you or I.

The fact is that Usain Bolt and Nixon Kiprotich both blessed themselves and kissed the ground after their victories at the London Olympics. This was highly visible on TV. I regarded these actions as fine gestures by two brilliant black athletes. You, however, regard them as acts of “public wankery”. I note that – so far at least – you have not bagged Bolt or Kiprotich in your Sun-Herald column. Yet you did comprehensively mock the white American footballer Tim Tebow in the Sun-Herald on 17 December 2011.

As to child abuse within the Catholic Church – and other religious and secular organisations – my position is simple. Victims should be encouraged to report crimes to the police.

Your assertion that I have given “the likes of Cardinal Pell and the rest of the Catholic Church the benefit of the doubt on the matter of covering up child abuse” is wilfully false on several grounds. First, I have not done so. Second, there is no evidence that Cardinal Pell has been involved in covering up child abuse. Indeed, when Archbishop of Melbourne, Pell set up one of the first systems aimed at handling sexual abuse allegations within the Catholic Church.

On a separate issue, I have never seen the sense in you and Mike Carlton bagging Christians – particularly Catholics – in your Fairfax Media columns most weeks. For starters, the abuse is invariably mocking and hyperbolic. Moreover, your abuse is directed at many fine readers and advertisers who support such  papers as the Sun-Herald and the Sydney Morning Herald each weekend….

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson


Today’s “History Corner” documents the fact that it was revealed as long ago as 1994 that Sir Anthony Mason (when a judge of the High Court) advised the Governor-General Sir John Kerr in the lead-up to the Dismissal of Gough Whitlam on 11 November 1975.  This was some 18 years before sections of the media reported last Monday that Mason’s involvement had been revealed for the first time in Jenny Hocking’s Gough Whitlam: His Time – sections of which were extracted in the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and the Canberra Times last weekend.

Last Tuesday Gerard Henderson wrote about the Jenny Hocking’s  Mason “revelation” in his Herald column. Later that day he sent a private note to James Carleton and Marius Benson to correct the error which they had made about Mason on RN Breakfast and Mornings with Linda Mottram respectively the previous day.  Mr Carleton was gracious in his response.  However, not so Mr Benson – as the following correspondence demonstrates:

Gerard Henderson to Marius Benson – 28 August 2012

I was in a generous mood when writing my Sydney Morning Herald column for today. Hence I did not give you a mention.

For the record, in yesterday’s comments you were completely conned by Jenny Hocking.

The role of Tony Mason as the third man in the Dismissal was widely reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian in January 1994. It was also covered in my book Menzies’ Child (1994) and by Garfield Barwick in his book A Radical Tory (1995) and elsewhere. In other words, there is no “revelation” in Gough Whitlam: His Time – just additional detail about Kerr’s discussions with Mason in 1975. I just thought you might like to know.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

Marius Benson to Gerard Henderson – 28 August 2012

Nothing new in Kerr”s notes and “archival record” on Mason, the Queen via her private secretary Charteris, Gerard?

Gerard Henderson to Marius Benson – 28 August 2012


Thanks for your prompt reply. It provides an interesting case study in how some journalists respond to legitimate and considered criticism. Namely, very badly. You are just so sensitive to criticism of yourself while being paid by the taxpayer to dish out criticism concerning others.

On “Mornings with Linda Mottram” on 702 yesterday, you said that Jenny Hocking’s book Gough Whitlam: His Time had led you to “discover” that Sir Anthony Mason was the third man in the Dismissal. You also said that Hocking’s revelation “shed a bit more light” on the first political story you covered.

When I pointed out to you that Sir Anthony’s role in the Dismissal was discovered in January 1994 – i.e. nearly two decades ago – you switched the subject matter to declare that Jenny Hocking’s book provided new information on Kerr’s report of his conversation with Sir Martin Charteris in 1975.

Well, so it does. But you did not even mention Charteris when talking to Linda Mottram yesterday. You spoke only about Mason.

My point was not that Gough Whitlam: His Time contained no new information about the Dismissal. My point was that you were hopelessly wrong in telling 702 listeners that Dr Hocking had revealed Sir Anthony’s role in the Dismissal when this fact was both well known and on the public record. That’s all.

Best wishes


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Until next time.