GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG – ISSUE NO. 161

2 NOVEMBER 2012

Jonathan Green: “Nancy, will be taking notes, I suspect”

Michael Rowland: “Nancy…yes.  We’ll get a nice write-up on Friday.  Good morning as well, Gerard. Thanks for watching, by the way.

– ABC 1 News Breakfast, 18 October 2012

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

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

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

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

“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

“Henderson…What a pompous, pretentious turd you are.”

– Mike Carlton, Saturday 13 August 2011 (after lunch)

“Go to the Sydney Institute Media Watch Dog website to marvel at [its] work”

– Mark Latham The Spectator Australia 11 June 2011.

Media Watch Dog – “disgraceful”, “sick”

– Professor Robert Manne, April Fool’s Day 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are private correspondence and not for publication” – ABC News Radio’s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.

“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

“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.

“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.

●  Stop Press : Karina Carvalho Channels the Greens on Carbon Tax

Can You Bear It:  Dee Madigan on the Liberals; Paul Ham Writes to the Emperor of Japan; Elizabeth Harrower and Suburban Roast

Five Paws Awards: Step Forward Christine Wallace on David Marr & Nicolle Flint on the Handbag Hit Squad

The Thought of Mark Latham (contd) : From Gillard Attack-Dog to Gillard Guard-Dog

Nancy on the Couch Talks to Inky on Emily’s List & the Feminist Ascendancy; Ms Gemmell, Ms Woolf & Mr Abbott; Judith Brett’s Lady Macbeth Moment

News Breakfast Insights:  Mohammed El-liessy’s Rants; Dr Burchill’s Shirt-Exchange Offer

Correspondence: Terry McCrann Documents the Economic and Historical Ignorance of Mr Koukoulas – Defender of the Whitlam Economic Record (Believe it or Not)

STOP PRESS : KARINA CARVALHO (CHANELLING BOB BROWN) V GREG HUNT ON NEWS BREAKFAST THIS MORNING

The taxpayer funded public broadcaster still does not have one conservative presenter or producer or editor or commentator for any of its significant television, or radio or on-line products.  It is a matter of fact that greater pluralism can be found on Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News than on the ABC.  Fox News employs a number of left or left-liberal regular commentators – including Juan Williams, Kirsten Powers, Bob Beckel, Alan Colmes and Joe Trippi.  The ABC has no conservatives in comparable positions. Not one.

The ABC has some neutral presenters/producers/editors along with quite a few leftists and left-of-centre types.  It’s just that some of the latter give the impression that, when interviewing Coalition MPs, they are running the Labor and/or Greens line.

Take, for example, Liberal frontbencher Greg Hunt’s appearance on ABC 1 News Breakfast this morning. Mr Hunt is the Shadow Minister for the Environment. This is how his interview ended this morning – with News Breakfast co-presenter Karina Carvalho asking leading questions aimed at embarrassing the Opposition.   The exchange commenced with Ms Carvalho arguing that the Coalition’s focus on Julia Gillard’s involvement with Slater & Gordon in the early 1990s concerning the Australian Workers Union is a feint designed to take the focus off its policy and leadership problems.

Karina Carvalho : Is it also because your anti-carbon tax campaign has been a failure in the electorate and you’re trying to find something to pin the Government with? And isn’t it hypocritical of Tony Abbott to, on the one hand, say he’ll leave the smear in government to the Labor Party and, on the other hand, continue to attack Julia Gillard over claims and allegations from seventeen years ago?

Here Ms Carvalho is stating an argument – not asking a genuine question.  When Hunt replied that the tax impacted on consumers and small business alike, Carvalho went back to the attack.

Karina Carvalho : But they’re compensated for any increase as a result of the carbon tax.

Once again, Carvalho was running a line. Many Australians are not fully compensated for the carbon tax and small business receives no compensation whatsoever.  Recently Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly said that business should simply pass on the cost of the carbon tax – clearly she does not run a business.

Carvalho continued to bore on, as the following two assertions – posed as questions – indicate:

Karina Carvalho: Power prices have been going up for years and that’s as a result of more spending from power companies on infrastructure, on poles and on things like that….

Karina Carvalho: But it’s a bit hard for you to prosecute your case when the lived experience is that people see their power bills and they see that they’re compensated for the rises as a result of the carbon tax, and when you put up as evidence bills in parliament showing huge increases in electricity cost without showing what is as a result of a carbon tax, it really doesn’t help your case, does it?

Karina Carvalho’s leading questions/assertions would be unexceptionable if they were coming from a politician or a commentator.  But the presenter of News Breakfast is employed to be a presenter – not a barracker –  and to ask telling questions – not to advocate causes.

 

CAN YOU BEAR IT?

▪ Dee Madigan on “Weird” Liberals

On The Contrarians last Friday, Julia Gillard supporter Dee Madigan appeared on the panel with the Kevin Rudd supporter Rhys Muldoon and Ainslie Van Onselen.  Peter Van Onselen was in the chair.

The most touching moment in the program occurred when the passing of Jasper, the Rudd family cat, was announced.  Mr Muldoon had co-written a book with Rudd called Jasper and Abby And The Great Australia Day Kerfuffle or was Jasper the co-author?  The highlight of the program took place when Dee Madigan confidently declared that the Liberals “chose weird leaders”.  So there you have it. All leaders of the Liberal Party are “weird” – according to Dee Madigan, that is.  Can you bear it?

▪ How Paul Ham Told The Emperor

The late (agnostic) Frank Knopfelmacher was wont to say that the encyclicals from the Pope made the best form of correspondence.  Because no one was expected to reply to such a letter.

But what to make of author Paul Ham’s letter to the Emperor of Japan dated October 2012 which occupied an entire page of The Australian on 2 October 2012?  It should have been labelled an advertisement – but was not since the missive was a publicity gag designed at drawing attention to Mr Ham’s latest book Sandakan: The Untold Story of the Sandakan Death Marches (Random House Australia).

Paul Ham took it upon himself to demand that the Emperor of Japan “apologise on behalf of the Japanese nation for the crimes committed in Borneo between 1942 and 1945”. However, he provided no return address – apart from the somewhat generic “Paul Ham, Sydney, Australia”.  That’s all. Can you bear it?

Elizabeth Harrower and the Smell of  Suburbia

Great photo of writer Elizabeth Harrower in the 1970s – as depicted in the “Review” section of last Saturday’s The Weekend Australian.  Just loved the sandals.  As befitting her role as left-wing sandal-wearer, Ms Harrower reflected to The Australian’s  Helen Trinca about that familiar sandalista obsession – suburbia, of course.  As Elizabeth told Helen:

At one point I lived in a rental place in [Sydney’s] Hunters Hill and when I was out walking, I loathed knowing there was a savage dog at the end of the street protecting someone’s place and a terrible smell of roast cooking. I would want to flee. I just loathed that imprisoning domesticity.

Can you bear it?

 

FIVE PAWS AWARD

At this time of Rampant Misogyny, Nancy is oh-so-pleased to announce that the latest winners of this most prestigious award are both sheilas.  Step forward Christine Wallace and Nicolle Flint.

● Christine Wallace on David Marr’s Mocking of Size

Ms Wallace commenced her review of David Marr’s Quarterly Essay Political Animal: The Making of Tony Abbott in the Fairfax Media newspapers on 6 October 2012 as follows:

If you want to hit a man where it hurts, hit him in the groin. David Marr doesn’t miss in his Quarterly Essay profile Political Animal: The Making of Tony Abbott. Mocks Marr, of the Liberal leader’s profile in Speedos and lycra cycling knicks: ”Never in the political annals of this country have so many seen so much of so little.” The only surprise is that Marr waits until page 14 to emasculate him. What took him so long? After all, he declares on page one that: ”Australia doesn’t want Tony Abbott. We never have.” Readers know what they’re getting from the outset and Quarterly Essay’s audience will enjoy every word.

The trouble is that contending with Marr’s figurative emasculation of the federal Opposition Leader is his portrayal of him as the thuggish, marauding destroyer of the peace and dreams of a long list of people, from student politicians, gays and lesbians, republicans, refugees and Laborites in all their forms. So which is he: the man who underwhelms in lycra or the big swinging dick of religiously motivated conservative politics in Australia? Marr, surely, can’t have it both ways. He does, in fact, try….

Apart from MWD, no other reviewer has focused on David Marr’s (apparent) obsession with the size of the Member for Warringah’s member.

Christine Wallace – Five Paws.

Nicolle Flint on Hypocrisy and the Handbag Hit Squad

Nicolle Flint is a Ph.D. student at Flinders University. Yesterday The Age published an opinion piece by her titled “Handbag Hit Squad hypocrisy damages merit-based success”. Ms Flint rejected the fashionable leftist critique of Tony Abbott declaring:

Politically, the facts are that Mr Abbott does extensive charitable work for women in need, employs a female chief of staff in what is the most senior Coalition staff position in Australia and has a strong record of employing women in senior roles. This is not the behaviour of one who is sexist.

Nicolle Flint went on to query what she called “the campaign by Australia’s ‘literary ladies’ over alleged gender discrimination in the world of words”.  She concluded her piece as follows:

What is troubling about these debates is the impact they must be having on young women. The establishment of the women-only Stella Prize for literature and the behaviour of Labor’s Handbag Hit Squad communicate clear messages that women still cannot compete on an intellectual basis with men. The literary implication is that women need their own special award to be recognised for they are incapable of merit-based, mixed-sex competition. The political implication is that women are incapable of defending themselves on a policy basis and so must resort to personal attacks for political gain.

It also sends a message that where it suits their purposes they will not take action against those who denigrate women or stereotype them. Undoubtedly, the last vestiges of a once-patriarchal society still influence the lives of Australian women, but Handbag Hit Squad-style hypocrisy will not change this and, in fact, can only damage the plight of women who believe in merit-based success built on hard work and ability, not quotas or affirmative action, to succeed.

Nicolle Flint – Five Paws.

 

THE THOUGHT OF MARK LATHAM (CONTINUED) – FROM GILLARD CRITIC TO GILLARD PROTECTOR-IN-CHIEF

What a stunning performance by former Labor leader Mark Latham on the Sky News Showdown program on Tuesday.  Appearing with his new best (Tory) friend Michael Kroger, the Lair of Liverpool paid out on Maxine McKew.

According to Latham, McKew in her book Tales from the Political Trenches has “stitched up” Julia Gillard.  In his latest manifestation as the Defender of the Prime Minister, Latham took umbrage at the fact that McKew had received financial backing from the University of Melbourne to write her political tome.

Shocking, don’t you think?  Except for the fact that the failed Labor leader was out of work when he prepared The Latham Diaries for publication.  Latham financed this endeavour by relying on his taxpayer funded superannuation scheme – currently a mere $78,000 per year (fully indexed).  Latham told Sky News viewers that politicians should not rely on subsidies when writing their memoirs – but failed to mention that the writing of The Latham Diaries had been fully funded by the Australian taxpayer since it was written by the recipient of a taxpayer funded superannuation scheme.

▪ This is the Thought of Mark Latham – Now

Latham on Why Criticism of Julia Gillard is a Disgrace – September 2012

In his recent role as the PM’s Protector-in-Chief, Mark Latham has described the criticism of Julia Gillard in recent times as “a disgrace”.  Speaking on the Sky News Australian Agenda program on 30 September 2012, Latham declared:

It is a trend in our body politic that is most regrettable and is dragging down Australian democracy – no attention on issues, no attention on the battle of ideas.  It’s the politics of hate, it’s directed at Gillard, it’s disgraceful.

Fine sentiments, indeed.  It’s just that it was not so long ago that Mark Latham was criticising Julia Gillard on a personal basis in a disgraceful manner and without reference to ideas.

▪ This Was the Thought of Mark Latham – Then

Latham Crashes Gillard’s Campaign With False Claim – August 2010

In the lead up to the August 2010 election, Mark Latham was commissioned by Channel 9’s 60 Minutes program to cover the campaign.  Latham breached security by physically confronting the Prime Minister at the Brisbane Show. He had developed a conspiracy theory that Julia Gillard had complained about him to Channel 9. This was pure paranoia stuff.  There was no evidence of a complaint by the Prime Minister or the Prime Minister’s Office about Latham.  But he was convinced there was – so the following exchange took place after Latham breached security by pushing through a crowd to interrogate Ms Gillard.

Mark Latham : Julia, long time no see.

Julia Gillard : How are you?

Mark Latham: Now I want to say something. Julia!  Can I just ask why the Labor Party has made a complaint about me working for Channel Nine?

Julia Gillard : I don’t know anything about that, Mark. If you want to work for Channel Nine, that’s a matter for you.

Mark Latham : If you want to make complaints, you really should make them about Rudd, who’s the one who’s sabotaging your campaign.

Julia Gillard : Nice to see you. And I hope you enjoy your life as a journalist now.

Mark Latham and 60 Minutes used the Brisbane Show confrontation to publicise Latham’s piece which was woefully lightweight.  Apart from confronting Ms Gillard, Latham’s two interviews were with Greens leader Bob Brown and one-time Independent MP Pauline Hanson.  That was all. The only memorable occasion in the 60 Minutes program was Mark Latham’s rude and unprofessional behaviour with respect to the Prime Minister.

▪ Latham on Gillard as a Loveless One-Trick Pony – February 2011

Writing in The Spectator Australia on 5 February 2011, Mark Latham made the following comment:

The media has enjoyed a feeding frenzy on Gillard’s wooden style in dealing with the floods. At one level, it is hard to blame her. Is there a worse way of spending one’s summer than traipsing around the sodden streets of Brisbane, visiting a sea of Hawaiian shirts and hotpants? The poor woman was bored witless. That’s the problem with modern political leadership. It requires empathy, or at least the appearance of empathy for the TV cameras. High-quality actors like Bob Hawke and Peter Beattie were well-suited to the challenge. B-grade performers like Gillard are easily caught out. I put this down to two factors.

First, she is reading off the wrong script. When Gillard and Kevin Rudd took over Labor’s leadership positions in late 2006 they tried to adopt a reliable, risk-free public persona — or as Rudd put it, playing the role of “Captain Reasonable”. This means avoiding displays of emotion and real-life temperament. Gillard, in effect, has become a one-trick pony, with a carefully measured media style, bordering on the robotic, even when circumstances require something more freewheeling. Perhaps the real Julia and the fake Julia should swap roles. Even if this were to occur, however, the real Julia is still a fairly dry fish. She is not a naturally empathetic person – displaying, for instance, noticeable discomfort around infant children. The femocrats will not like this statement, but I believe it to be true: anyone who chooses a life without children, as Gillard has, cannot have much love in them.

▪ Latham on Why Lesbians Can Exhibit Love – But Not Childless Heterosexual Women – April 2011

On 4 April 2011 Mark Latham was interviewed by Fran Kelly on the Radio National Breakfast program – following the release of a new edition of The Latham Diaries. Towards the end of the interview, the following exchange took place:

Fran Kelly:Can I just ask you, finally, you’ve had a go at the Prime Minister a couple of times recently. You were a fan of Julia Gillard’s once but you’re critical of her performance during the Queensland floods. You said, she’s not a naturally empathetic person, displaying noticeable discomfort around infant children. Anyone who chooses life without children, as Gillard has, cannot have much love in them. Now, that’s a pretty outrageous generalisation to make. Isn’t it condemnation of all childless people – they can’t have empathy.

Mark Latham: Oh no, Fran. You’re childless but in your circumstances it’s not a choice, is it? The key word is choice.

Fran Kelly: No, no, that’s not the point. It’s about, the point is you say anyone who chooses life without children cannot have much love in them. There’s millions of Australians who make that choice.

Mark Latham: What? To choose a career ahead of the opportunity of having children? Well, I think having children is the great loving experience of any lifetime. And by definition, you haven’t got as much love in your life if you make that particular choice.

Fran Kelly: Different thing to have not as much love in your life, to not being able to display empathy.

Mark Latham: I think the two are closely linked: empathy around small children is a pretty good test of what sort of person you are in life. And I wrote there about my experience with her and I can’t do any more than tell what I believe to be the truth.

Fran Kelly: Yeah, but when you say it’s a test of what sort of person you are, what do you mean? I mean, you didn’t have children for a long time – what did that say about what sort of person you were?

Mark Latham: Well, Fran, in no time in my life did I make a choice not to have children. There was a time where I had testicular cancer and thought I couldn’t have children because of a disease, because of nature’s way.

Fran Kelly: Choice is a broad term though, isn’t it? It’s really open for interpretation about what your choice, what context your choice is made in. But, that aside, to brand people that do not have children, maybe choose to not have children for whatever reason you can’t know, that they don’t have as much love in them or as much empathy is an horrendous generalisation to make.

Mark Latham: No, Fran, that’s not to say choice is a broad concept. Choice, in Gillard’s case is very, very specific. Particularly because she’s on the public record, saying that she made a deliberate choice not to have children to further her Parliamentary career.

Fran Kelly: And what’s the link between not having children and not having empathy? You tell me that.

Mark Latham: One would have thought that to experience the greatest loving experience in life, having children, you wouldn’t particularly make that choice. That you would think you…

Fran Kelly: No, that’s a different thing. What’s the proof that you can’t have empathy?

Mark Latham: Well, I think you could look at her performance during the Queensland floods, when she was actually up there with the people, and think it was very wooden. I’m not the only one saying that. And I also had some experience where, around small children, she was wooden.

Fran Kelly: Okay, alright, well leave it there.

Mark Latham: I think the two go together. You know, I had a talk about people’s character, I have my character spoken about a lot. Well, I think you can talk about the Prime Minister’s character, particularly when there’s a public performance, a public appearance consequence.

Fran Kelly: Alright. It’s the generalisations I’m talking about. Mark Latham, thank you very much.

Mark Latham: No, Fran, it’s a very specific thing. We shouldn’t beat around the bush. Gillard was clearly on the public record about this. And people shouldn’t think this is some generalisation. I was talking about a specific statement she made and she should be accountable for it.

Fran Kelly: Mark Latham, thank you very much for joining us.

Mark Latham: Thanks Fran.

Fran Kelly: Mark Latham. And the comment he did make was: “Anyone who chooses life without children, as Gillard has, cannot have much love in them.” Sounds like a generalisation to me.

Mark Latham’s Misogyny Metamorphosis

So there you have it.  In early 2011 Mark Latham joined with Liberal backbencher Senator Bill Heffernan in condemning Julia Gillard as “childless”. But in late 2012 Mark Latham railed against the disgraceful criticism of Ms Gillard for being childless.

 

 

NANCY ON THE COUCH TALKS TO INKY

● In Which Nancy Gets A Little Confused About Emily’s List

Nancy Asks : I have had a busy week.  But I recall glancing at a piece by Miranda Devine in the Daily Telegraph recently where she claimed that Julia Gillard’s rise and rise up the Labor Party ladder had been made possible by affirmative action.  Ms Devine suggested, I think, that the PM had been assisted by her membership of an organisation called “Emily’s Pissed”. Can this be right?

Inky Responds: Er, No.  The correct name is Emily’s List.  This was a brilliant Aussie initiative which our Aussie sisters copied from their sisters in the United States with the aim of sisters helping sisters by obtaining, and filling, quotas and the like.  And it has worked pretty well.  In late 2003, Mark Latham managed to obtain the support of Emily’s List types – like Julia Gillard and Nicola Roxon – in his campaign against Kim Beazley for the Labor leadership.  Never before in the history of feminist endeavours have so many Labor feminists done so much to elect a just-so-blokey misogynist Labor leader who called Janet Albrechtsen a “skanky-ho” and who went around breaking no more than one arm of the occasional taxi-driver.  I never saw Mr Latham’s feminine side – but  Emily’s List’s sisters sure did. That’s their perspective.

In Which Nancy is Impressed with Nikki Gemmell’s Insights About the Tony Abbott/Virginia Woolf Connection

Nancy Asks: As a feminist with a conscience, I was delighted to read Nikki Gemmell’s column in last Saturday’s The Weekend Australian Magazine titled “The man in the mirror”. By golly, she got stuck into that Tony Abbott.  I found it hard to believe that someone who aspires to be Prime Minister of Australia has admitted to calling a woman senior to him a “chairthing” for a whole year – despite her wishing to be known as “chairperson”.  And this happened in 1976-1977, a mere 35 years ago. It’s like yesterday. It’s just shocking.

I note that Ms Gemmell wheeled out all the big guns against Tony Abbott – including Virginia Woolf, “one mum” and David Marr.  What greater authorities could there be?  No wonder Ms Gemmell stopped writing about herself for a whole week to address this matter of huge public importance.

Inky Responds :  It’s a good point.  I, too, thought that this was a devastating critique of Mr Abbott.  Ms Gemmell is correct. It is truly shocking that the Leader of the Opposition should be “negative” as in opposing things.  And Margie Abbott’s confession that her husband loves Downtown Abbey was a dead giveaway.  Clearly, Mr Abbott’s not the show’s patriarch, the Earl of Grantham, since the Earl is a real gentleman. Enough said. That would be Nikki’s local member Malcolm Turnbull.

I thought that Ms Gemmell’s most telling point was when she wrote: “Would that decorous gentleman [the Earl of Grantham] ever turn his back on a woman socially as Nicola Roxon says Tony Abbott does to her?”  This is a rhetorical question.  So we all got the rhetorical answer.

I know that on Insiders a couple of weeks ago, Nikki Savva produced a photo of Julia Gillard turning her back on Tony Abbott – see below.  So what? What a ridiculous pathetic debating point.  Tony Abbott is not a female and he is not in authority. So there.  Moreover, as Nikki Gemmell reminded us,  Virginia Woolf once wrote: “How to speak to a man who does not see you?”  So that settles that, then. I look forward to the gorgeous Nikki Gemmell writing about herself, her husband, her kids once again next week now that Tony Abbott has been despatched.

In Which Nancy is Impressed by Judith Brett’s Insights Into Lady Macbeth’s Role in Modern Australian Politics

Nancy Asks: Have you read Professor Judith Brett’s piece in The Monthly?  Brilliant.  Dr Brett (for a doctor she is) nailed Tony Abbott’s action in standing in front of a “Ditch the Witch” sign as “deliberate”.  That cut through.  La Brett dismissed all the evidence that the sign was placed behind Abbott without his knowledge and just went for him.  I’m proud that my taxes are used to fund such scholarship at La Trobe University.

Inky Responds : Rightly so.  That was a brilliant piece.  Judith Brett’s academic career never looked back after she predicted the death of the Liberal Party in 1994.  I was particularly impressed by her references to Lady Macbeth in The Monthly.  According to Brett, Lady Macbeth has been “evoked” against Julia Gillard by both Tony Abbott and Kevin Rudd.  She didn’t say where or when.  But I’m sure Brett is correct.  After all, she’s an academic at La Trobe University.

In any event, Judith Brett is correct when she says that “Lady Macbeth is a figure of female ambition, using underhand and illegitimate means to dispatch men from power”. Using Lady Macbeth against Julia Gillard is a low down, misogynistic act – pointing, as it does, to the same archetype of an evil, manipulative female power that threatens to kill and emasculate men – as La Brett puts it.  Compared with this, Julia Gillard’s description of  Tony Abbott as “Jack the Ripper” is of no moment. No moment whatsoever.

 

TWO DAYS IN A WEEK OF THE NEWS BREAKFAST “NEWSPAPERS” SEGMENT

Monday 29 October  – Mohammed El-leissy Rants With the Crows

Today’s guest is Mohammed El-leissy who describes himself as a Melbourne-based community worker, comedian and contestant on the Amazing Race Australia.  Mr El-leissy quickly goes into comedy mode when analysing the coverage in Monday’s newspapers concerning the launch of the white paper on Australia in the Asia Century.  Let’s go to the transcript:

It’s good to see, you know, that someone, somewhere in Canberra has found a map and they’ve realised that we do have these neighbours around us and it is Asia…in Australia, I guess,  being an island nation we tend – maybe not so much in Darwin, obviously I think there’s a lot more Asian literacy up north – but certainly for us, you know, in the South Eastern states we don’t really have any connection with Asia – you know, I  mean as obviously as it should be.  So I think it’s great that we are sort of taking a much broader, bigger picture here and realising that and I guess, well, the unfortunate thing is I think it’s come with Asia’s rise. You know. We’ve almost had to wait for them to become so big before we’ve realised that they’re there. So, yeah, it is a shame, but at least it’s happening.

Soon after, Mr El-leissy decided to reflect on Tony Abbott.  Here we go:

…The question is – is Tony [Abbott] about misogynistic or not? And I think he does need to answer that. What he did with putting his wife out on the parading tour I think was just horrible because if someone had called Tony Abbott a racist, would he have sent out his Asian friends to go do the, uh, to do the morning TV shows as well to say “oh you know, I’m his friend and I’m Asian.  So it’s not, you know”?

So there you have it.

▪ Mohammed El-leissy believes that “someone, somewhere in Canberra” has suddenly discovered Asia. He seems unaware that Australia’s interaction with Asia goes back at least eight decades to the mid-1930s.

▪ Mohammed El-leissy claims that Tony Abbott put his “wife out” on a “parading tour” to declare that he was not a misogynist.  He seems unaware that Margie Abbott decided herself to speak out against criticisms that her husband had a problem with women – and that she did so before Julia Gillard described Tony Abbott as misogynist.

Mohammed El-leissy concluded his inarticulate rant by declaring that he had been a candidate in the local government elections in Victoria the previous Saturday. He described the event as “one of the worst council elections actually in living memory” but did not get around to saying that he had been defeated in the ballot. He did, however, declare that councils should improve “their game in the future”. Thanks for the advice.

Tuesday 30 October – Dr Burchill Gets the Shirts

The morning’s host is Deakin University’s Scott Burchill.  Dr Burchill (for a doctor he is) makes some sensible points about the Australia in the Asia Century White Paper.  But the sanity does not prevail for long – and after a discussion on Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party leadership, the following exchange takes place:

Michael Rowland : Your good mate Gerard Henderson has a very interesting opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald on leadership issues – which you should read after you go off the program –

Scott Burchill: Oh I’ll send him my shirt in exchange and have a quick look

Michael Rowland: That sounds like a fair swap

Scott Burchill: A fair swap?

Michael Rowland: Yeah a fair swap. Very quickly, The Financial Review

Scott Burchill: It’s a nice shirt though. Do you like my shirt?

Michael Rowland: It’s a very nice shirt, actually

Scott Burchill: Very respectable. You can’t get this sort of stuff at a tip.

Michael Rowland: No you can’t, you can’t. Very nice shoes as well, I noticed.

Scott Burchill: Thank you.

Michael Rowland: No sandals to be seen.

Scott Burchill: They’ll be on eBay later.

Nancy’s co-owner has commented on Dr Burchill’s on-camera wear before (See MWD passim and ad nauseam).   It was good to see that he is finally taking some fashion advice.

 

CORRESPONDENCE – McCRANN v KOUKOULAS ON GOUGH WHITLAM (CONTINUED)

As MWD readers will be aware, News Limited columnist Terry McCrann and Gerard Henderson have been in argument with Stephen Koukoulas over Gough Whitlam’s 1974 budget.  Terry McCrann returns to the topic this week – documenting Koukoulas’ numerous howlers and historical ignorance.

Terry McCrann to Gerard Henderson – 2 November 2012

Your occasional correspondent, former Julia Gillard advisor Stephen Koukoulas, is apparently of the genus of Labor Party shills that believes if you put your fingers figuratively in your ears, close your eyes, and just keep reciting, “my assertions are the facts, my assertions are the facts,” that you can make them so.

Unhappily for him, though, the facts of the Whitlam government’s dreadful 1974 budget are obtainable. For someone like Koukoulas who has little knowledge of history, and even less, it would appear, of analytical rigour, he would no doubt find puzzling the source I have used.

As you know Gerard, it is what is known as an original or primary source: the actual budget documents of the time. And more specifically, the 1975 budget, which had the full numbers in all their awfulness of the outcome of the 1974 budget for the 1974-75 fiscal year.

The relevant page from that budget is reproduced below. Two broad points need to be made upfront. Presumably Koukoulas does not understand that in those days the budgets were in August, so they contained essentially finalised figures for the preceding year ended 30 June. Unlike today’s May budget, which has “estimates,” usually wrong, for the financial year still to finish.

Secondly, the 1975 budget was not a creature of the incoming Fraser government dressed up to make the Whitlam Government’s total economic irresponsibility look worse. Apart from the fact that would simply not have been possible to achieve, the 1975 budget was brought down by Labor treasurer Bill Hayden, who back then, before the scales would subsequently fall from his eyes, was still a rusted-on “true believer”.

Indeed, I can vividly remember personally praising Hayden for aiming to exactly halve the growth in fiscal spending from 1974-75’s 45.8 per cent to “just” 22.9 per cent.

As you and your readers can see, the facts of the 1974 budget are as I stated in my previous correspondence – and you, with one trivial mistake excepted, did as well.

Outlays leapt as noted 45.8 per cent – as you wrote “close to 50 per cent.”  The budget deficit exploded to $2.57 billion. In those days it was broken down into a domestic and overseas deficit. Perhaps one day, I’ll explain why to Koukoulas.

The domestic deficit in 1974-75 was stated as being equal to 3.3 per cent of GDP. It is a calculation perhaps beyond your correspondent, but for his benefit and that of your readers, the total deficit was equal to a little over 4.3 per cent of GDP.

In an impressive combination of yawning ignorance and rather clunky abuse, Koukoulas has plucked purported figures for the 1974 budget from a table in the back of the current 2012 budget. He seems completely unable to understand that they are merely a theoretical reconstruction of the actual numbers, in an attempt to put them on the same cash basis as the modern budget numbers.

Koukoulas accuses me of making up numbers; he clearly does not understand that the Treasury ones he quotes are quite literally made up. They exist only in the Treasury computer. They are not, as he implies, “revised” or to “improve accuracy” – as for example, GDP numbers are revised, often years after the event.

The lie to that is the fact that the source you quoted for the 1974 budget numbers was published in 1982, some seven years after the 1974-75 fiscal year. Written by the distinguished Reserve Bank economist Bill Norton, whom Koukoulas seems never to have heard of.

The Koukoulas-(modern) Treasury numbers are not a “revision” but an inevitably crude attempt to adjust the earlier numbers to provide some hoped-for comparability with the modern numbers. If Koukoulas had more understanding of both statistical method and the structure of budgets, he would understand how approximate and indeed unreliable such an adjustment is.

Koukoulas seems particularly offended at being accused of “springing to the defence” of the 1974 budget. This demonstrates he has as little understanding of language and rhetorical method as he does of budgets and history. That he literally does not understand what he is writing.

How else could anyone characterise his abusive attack on your comments on the 1974 budget? If he’s not “defending the budget” what is he doing? Especially, as he seems to think it was triumph – his now, the budget’s then – that its spending jumped by only 39.6 per cent in 1974-75, not your “close to 50 per cent?”

As I noted, the correct increase was 45.8 per cent. As I further noted, even using his made-up, for want of a better word, lower figure, it would be the equivalent of lifting budget spending today by $140 billion, in a single year.

From his response, Koukoulas seems unable to understand the arithmetic. Given his former role advising Ms Gillard, perhaps that explains an awful lot about recent budgets. And the word “awful” is used advisedly.

 

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Until next time.