GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG – ISSUE NO. 166
7 DECEMBER 2012
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● Stop Press: Premier O’Farrell’s Late Plunge at Five Paws Award
● Hyperbole of the Week: The Age Sees Connection between Slavery & Climate Change
● Nancy’s Pick-of-the-Week: Mr Farr and Mr Atkins on Insiders
● Can You Bear It? Paul Barratt Barracks for a GG role in Politics; Jon Faine & Phillip Adams Pretend the ABC has a Conservative
● Activist Fran Kelly Goes Easy on Climate Institute
● Five Paws Award (Again): Derryn Hinch Scores on Sky News
● A Linda Mottram Moment: Alleging Criminality Without Evidence
● Nancy on the Couch Queries the Keith Murdoch/Ben Chifley Connection; Margot Saville Joins David Marr as Legal Snob; Mark Latham Opposes Someone Else’s Pot-of-Gold
● La Trobe Professors Bow Out – And How?
● History Corner: Recycled Myths on Daniel Mannix
● Chris Curtis Clarifies His Censorship by Quarterly Essay
NANCY TO TAKE A W.E.B. – AS IN A “WELL-EARNED BREAK”
As Nancy is wont to opine, journalists and commentators take well-earned breaks – while mere mortals partake of holidays. So Nancy is heading off to her kennel over the Christmas/New Year period for a W.E.B. Due to popular demand, Media Watch Dog’s awards for exemplary media performance in 2012 have been postponed until the first issue of 2013. Stay tuned.
STOP PRESS – LATE BREAKING FIVE PAWS AWARD –
STEP FORWARD PREMIER BARRY O’FARRELL
On Radio National Breakfast this morning, Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly adopted her traditional stance of support for a carbon tax and green energy projects when interviewing NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell. Unlike Ms Kelly, Mr O’Farrell has a sense of humour. Moreover he can detect an ABC “line” from 50 paces. After a while, the Premier seemed to grow weary of Kelly’s green-left advocacy and the following exchange took place:
Barry O’Farrell: Understand this Fran. Let’s not be – let’s not have Gerard accusing you of being an activist again. The fact is that the private –
Fran Kelly: (interjecting): Sorry, Premier. What was that based on?
Barry O’Farrell: I’m just saying let’s not have Gerard Henderson accusing you of being an activist again. I’m trying to make a joke Fran. I’m sorry it didn’t work.
Alas. Humour with Fran Kelly seldom works. Still, Nancy’s co-owner got the joke and is delighted, just delighted that Ms Kelly asked the Premier to clarify his point. Early this morning, Nancy’s co-owner was in search of a Stop Press item. Not any more.
HYPERBOLE OF THE WEEK JUDGED BY LUKE & LEIA:
Step Forward the Letters Editor of “The Guardian on the Yarra”
Brilliant attempt at the hyperbole-of-the-year in last Tuesday’s Age. The lead letter – by a certain Russell Downie in prosperous suburban Balwyn – got the leading gig on the Letters Page. You see, Mr Downie of Balwyn is “struck by the parallels between the struggle to abolish slavery and the struggle to confront climate change”. Really.
What a stunning performance by news.com’s Malcolm Farr (who proudly endorses MWD each week – see cover page) and the Courier-Mail’s Dennis Atkins in criticising Tony Abbott on the ABC1 Insiders program on Sunday. So garrulous were Messers Farr and Atkins that The Australian’s Niki Savva at times appeared to have trouble getting in a word edgeways.
In the past, Malcolm Farr has never exhibited much expertise on the Middle East. But on Sunday he was emphatic that – in initially proposing that Australia should vote “No” on the Palestinian Authority receiving observer status at the United Nations – Julia Gillard (i) was “wrong”, (ii) was “dead wrong on so many grounds”, (iii) “had made the wrong decision” and (iv) “had to be rescued from her own rashness”. Get the point. From a Farr perspective, anything worth saying is worth saying on four occasions.
Farr’s empathetic condemnation overlooked the fact that the Prime Minister’s decision was consistent with that of United States President Barack Obama, his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and his UN Secretary of State Susan Rice. The US’s position was that giving Palestine observer status at the UN could be counter-productive in so far as working out a peace agreement on the ground. The government of Canada and the Czech Republic came to a similar conclusion.
The next panellist to hit the certainty button was Dennis Atkins. He took up a familiar theme of the Canberra Press Gallery by, once again, becoming obsessed with Tony Abbott. According to Atkins, Tony Abbott has a Mark Latham problem. Let’s go to the transcript:
Dennis Atkins : I think that Tony Abbott’s problem – while it’s not exactly the same – is similar to Mark Latham’s problem. Mark Latham in the end looked like too much of a risk for the Australian public to make him prime minister, even though at the time there was a fair bit of a mood in the country to give John Howard a shove, if not get rid of him, at least to, sort of, bring him down a peg or two. Now, in the end, the opposite happened.
Tony Abbott I think this week, what he did on Thursday by going too far, overreaching and then not being able to back it up – a very, very serious charge of criminality against the Prime Minister – he looked risky. And I think Labor have been watching him very, very closely as they would. And they’ve seen him try and change his behaviour – not just in the last week but for about six months. Every now and then he’ll try and do a bit more positive and he’ll try and reposition. But he always slips back and Labor take great heart from that.
In fact, the Opposition leader did not accuse the Prime Minister of “criminality”. What Abbott said, during a “door-stop” interview on the morning of Thursday 29 November, was that Gillard’s behaviour “would appear to be in breach of the law”. An allegation that someone had breached a law is not the same as an accusation of criminal behaviour. There are some breaches of law which do not amount to criminal behaviour. Moreover, criminals are convicted of a crime. However, Farr soon bobbed into the discussion:
Malcolm Farr: [interrupting Savva] He [Abbott] should not have gone on and said that, ah, the Prime Minister – ah essentially say the Prime Minister was a criminal. If he genuinely thought that at one second past 9 he should have marched into the House of Representatives and said “Suspend all standing orders, we have a criminal in charge of the country we must debate it”. He didn’t –
Niki Savva: Well, I don’t think he said that she was a criminal, but –
Malcolm Farr: [talking over]– Oh, he did! He did.
Dennis Atkins : The transcript is clear. He said it.
Niki Savva : He said, he – they’ve all said that there are questions that she has to answer about her involvement in that whole thing. And there are questions that she must answer.
Barrie Cassidy: And then he went on to say and it appears as if she’d broken the law.
Dennis Atkins: [interjecting] No, no, no. He said, he said –
Niki Savva: And it appears. It appears there has been a breach of the law. That’s what he said.
Dennis Atkins: No, no, no, no. What he said, the exact quote was “this is clearly a breach of the law”. “This is clearly a breach of the law”. He wasn’t equivocating, there was no wriggle room.
Niki Savva: Well, anyway. [Farr laughs at Savva]. – the point is their objective that whole week was really to reinforce all the negative perceptions about Julia Gillard –
Malcolm Farr : [Inaudible] (off camera)
Niki Savva : It wasn’t pretty. They misstepped you know, they went too far, I said that before [interrupted] however –
Malcolm Farr : [interjecting] Sorry – it wasn’t quest for the truth, it was a political strategy and I think voters see right through that and they do not give Tony Abbott points for it.
Niki Savva : Well, not according to the Galaxy Poll today they don’t – they don’t believe the Prime Minister.
In fact what Dennis Atkins claimed to be an “exact quote” from Tony Abbott was nothing of the kind. Here Savva and Cassidy were correct – and Atkins and Farr were both wrong. Moreover, the Galaxy Poll did indicate that only some 20 per cent of voters believed the Prime Minister’s account of the AWU affair with some 30 per cent disbelieving her and another 30 per cent convinced she had been economical with the truth.
CAN YOU BEAR IT?
● Paul Barratt Wants Governor-General to have Veto on Military Commitments
On ABC Radio National’s Late Night Live on Tuesday, Phillip Adams gave one-time Defence Department secretary Paul Barratt a real soft interview – as befits a critic of John Howard who is president of the Iraq War Inquiry Group. And so it came to pass that Paul Barratt criticised John Howard for not seeking the approval of Governor-General Peter Hollingworth before committing the Australian Defence Force to war in Iraq in 2003. Let’s go to the transcript:
Phillip Adams: Paul, I was born into a world where wars were formally declared, with certain – rolls of drums and some ceremony. These days, few people understand that all that’s required to deploy the ADF is the signature of the Defence Minister.
Paul Barratt: Yes, and it’s actually pursuant to a power in 1975, a Defence Act that says he’s responsible for the administration of the Defence Force… But, Hollingworth, Governor-General, started asking John Howard: “Well, when am I gonna get involved in this?” And Howard said, “Oh we’ll send it to you for noting.” Not sure if I’ve ever heard of the Governor-General being asked to note something before. But anyway, in the event, he wasn’t asked to note it, Howard never went near him again on this issue. So, neither Hawke in ’91 nor Howard in 2003 thought that the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces ought to trouble his little head about this.
So Paul Barratt believes that the Governor-General, the unelected representative of the Queen in Australia, should have a role in deciding where and when Australia should go to war – rather than the democratically elected government of the day. Can you bear it?
● Jon Faine Pretends There Is A Conservative in the (ABC) House
In recent times, MWD’s mantra that the ABC does not have one conservative presenter or producer or regular paid contributor or editor for any of its prominent television or radio or online products has been taken up by others. Which demonstrates just how influential Nancy has become, when speaking ex-kennel.
Some ABC fashionable left-of-centre and leftist presenters have taken in recent times to denying the claim that the ABC is a Conservative-Free Zone and (falsely) asserting that there are lotsa conservatives on the payroll of the taxpayer funded public broadcaster. Let’s hear from Jon Faine and Phillip Adams.
On 27 November 2012, the ABC’s leading-leftie Phillip Adams joined Kerry Greenwood and Jammaluddin Jaweid on Jon Faine’s The Conversation Hour on ABC Melbourne Metropolitan Radio 774. Shortly into the program, the following exchange took place :
Jon Faine: At various times there’s been a search for the “right-wing Phillip Adams”.
Phillip Adams: Well let’s put that into context, because that’s how John Howard saved my job. There was a lot of pressure to unload me. But John was asked what was wrong with the ABC and he – bless his cotton socks – he says: “Where is the right-wing Phillip Adams?” So that made me un-sackable basically. And since then of course there’s been a whole list of “right-wing Phillips Adams”. And Tim Blair was “the right-wing Phillip Adams”.
Jon Faine: Duffy?
Phillip Adams: Duffy. Salusinszky, the unpronounceable Imre.
Jon Faine: Imre.
Phillip Adams: And these days, Amanda Vanstone. Now isn’t that exciting?
Virtually everything was true in the Faine/Adams exchange – except for the facts:
▪ Fact Number 1: In 2001, when Jonathan Shier was ABC managing director, Tim Blair and Imre Salusinszky were contracted to present a program titled The Continuing Crisis on ABC Radio National at the unattractive time of 9 pm on Fridays. The program was dumped after its initial 12 week season.
As Salusinszky documented in his article “My life as Phillip Adams: a memoir”, which was published in the July-August 2002 issue of Quadrant, The Continuing Crisis presenters were not made welcome by the leftists who inhabit the ABC.
Virtually on the eve of the final program in the series, Phillip Adams appeared on ABC TV and described The Continuing Crisis as “the most self-indulgent tripe” that he had ever listened to. Adams added: “It is smug, complacent, matey, boffo boy stuff and intolerable to listen to.” Around this time Mike Carlton, a friend of the ABC, wrote in his Sydney Morning Herald column that an (unnamed) “ABC grandee” had described the program as “frightful”. Carlton admitted that he had never listened to The Continuing Crisis – he did not need to hear Blair and Salusinszky to know just how bad their program was. The “ABC grandee” to whom Carlton referred was a senior figure in ABC management known to MWD.
▪ Fact Number 2 : Both Jon Faine and Phillip Adams were unaware that Michael Duffy quit as presenter of the Counterpoint program in June 2012. Counterpoint, which airs at 4 pm on Mondays, is not a prominent ABC program.
▪ Fact Number 3 : Amanda Vanstone was a fill-in presenter of Counterpoint following Michael Duffy’s resignation. It is not clear as to what will be Ms Vanstone’s role at Counterpoint in 2013. What is clear is that Counterpoint is not a prominent ABC program due to its timeslot. Moreover, the very name of the program implies that it provides a “counter-point” to all the other Radio National programs – many of which have left-wing presenters.
On 29 November 2012 Jon Faine was talking to Insiders host Barrie Cassidy “on Mornings with Jon Faine” when he took a call from “David” in Woodend, Victoria. The following exchange took place:
Caller – David from Woodend : Can you name me one conservative that hosts a mainstream current affairs show on the ABC?
Jon Faine: Michael Duffy hosts a show on Radio National called Counterpoint.
David: Oh, Radio National. Would you call that mainstream, Jon?
Jon Faine: Of course, it’s mainstream. It’s a national network listened to by hundreds of thousands of Australians.
David: Okay, you’ve named me one. That’s more than I thought, actually. But it seems that you lot would be a giant glasshouse criticising anyone.
Jon Faine: There’s a presenter in Perth of a top-rating radio station…
Once again, virtually everything was true in Jon Faine’s apologia for the ABC – except the facts.
▪ Fact Number 1 : Michael Duffy no longer hosts Counterpoint.
▪ Fact Number 2 : The presenter on the ABC in Perth is so “mainstream” that Jon Faine does not know his name. [It’s Eoin Cameron, apparently – Ed].
Jon Faine is invariably calling for honesty and transparency. Yet he has been on ABC – with a little help from Phillip Adams – pretending there are some conservative presenters on prominent ABC networks. It’s just spin. Can you bear it?
THE AUNTY BALANCE CLOCK – FINAL UPDATE FOR 2012
Jon Faine’s disinformation is a timely reminder to have a final look at the Aunty Balance Clock for the year.
This (highly popular) 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 Nice Mr Scott
promised greater diversity on the ABC Total: 319 Weeks
Number of conservative presenters/producers/paid
regular commentators/editors on prominent
ABC Radio/ABC TV/ABC Online outlets Total: Absolutely Zip
When it comes to the issue of attempting to ensure some political balance at the ABC on Mr Scott’s watch, it’s already 5 minutes past midnight.
A FRAN (“I’M AN ACTIVIST”) KELLY MOMENT – IN WHICH MS KELLY GOES EASY ON THE CLIMATE INSTITUTE ADVOCACY GROUP
Listening to Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly interview an eco-catastrophist on her Radio National Breakfast program is akin to hearing a born-again Christian interview a member of the Southern Baptist Church about the Second Coming. You sure know what the (soft) questions will be – and (predictable) answers they will ignite.
And so it came to pass when Ms Kelly interviewed Erwin Jackson, the deputy chief executive of the Climate Institute on RN Breakfast on Wednesday, about the United Nations’ sponsored talks in Doha on climate change.
Believe it or not [I believe it. – Ed], Fran Kelly conducted the entire interview without describing the role of the Climate Institute. In fact, the Climate Institute is an advocacy group – its staff are employed to campaign for what is termed action on climate change. In other words, the Climate Institute is not an independent organisation in search of scientific truth. Nor are the key figures of the Climate Institute necessarily even scientifically literate. For example, John Connor, the Climate Institute’s chief executive – has a degree in Law and Arts. [ Fancy that, the same as Nancy’s co-owner. – Ed].
did Fran Kelly go when interviewing the activist Erwin Jackson? Well, she didn’t disappoint.
First up, Ms Kelly identified with Ban Ki Moon’s claim that climate change “is an existential challenge for the whole human race, our way of life, our plans and our plans for the future”. Then Kelly told Jackson that he was an “expert” on the Kyoto agreement – rather than an advocate. Then Kelly told Jackson that he was “right” about the Kyoto process. And so on.
RN Breakfast has a left-wing activist for a presenter – Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly. It has an environmentalist as its environment reporter – Gregg Borschmann. The left-of-centre Michelle Grattan from “The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra” provides the political analysis each day. The left-of-centre James Carleton – who criticises Labor from the left – does the newspaper analysis. RN Breakfast’s United States commentator – E.J. Dionne – is a mainstream Democratic Party supporter. All up, RN Breakfast does not employ one conservative presenter or reporter or commentator. Not one.
No wonder Fran Kelly is inclined to engage in a Fran Kelly Moment from time to time. Who is there to stop her?
FIVE PAWS AWARD: DERRYN HINCH SCORES PRESTIGIOUS GONG FOR ON-AIR PUT-DOWN OF THE LAIR OF LIVERPOOL
A MWD reader has written to Nancy’s co-owner suggesting that he should ease up on Mark Latham. According to this view, the Lair of Liverpool is still suffering from the side-effects of chronic pancreatitis which include behaviours which are infantile, belligerent, agitated, depressed or suspicious.
MWD, after careful consideration, has rejected this view. The problem is that the Lair of Liverpool was exhibiting all the above symptoms before he was diagnosed with pancreatitis circa 2004. That’s why Nancy has given her prestigious Five Paws Award to Melbourne identity Derryn Hinch, who let fly the following spray – after much provocation – on Paul Murray Live last Monday:
Derryn Hinch: Paul, Paul why do you let – why do you sit there and let Mark Latham talk this bloody rubbish that he goes on about… I’ve just listened to Mark Latham saying “the sooner newspapers close down, the sooner we get all our news from the internet [the better]”. I bet that’s the same internet that Julia Gillard says is full of nut jobs and misogynists – and there are a few of them out there as well. But the way you talk – when you write your columns, you get freedom to write your columns, in the AFR and all those sorts of things and on Crikey. But Mark, you know, I came on here thinking: “Yeah okay, it’s Mark Latham I’ll humour him.” But you talk such crap at times I think: “Why am I sitting down here in a studio in Melbourne trying to listen to this, this burble you go on with?” And people think that you’re very learned “Here’s Mark Latham”. You’re a failed leader of the Labor Party. You’re now hacking around in the side there and you think you can make a big name for yourself on Paul Murray’s show. I watched you when Paul Murray’s in Brisbane that night trying to host his show and Janine trying to keep you guys under control – like a couple of mad dogs going at each other. And it demeans you, it’s demeaning me now. I find you pathetic.
Mark Latham: Do you feel better now Derryn?
Derryn Hinch: Yes I do
Mark Latham: Why don’t you throw in “Shame, Shame, Shame!”? That was always a beauty, throw that one in. Come on.
Derryn Hinch: Yeah, you know why you’re so accurate. I never ever said that.
Mark Latham: [interjecting] “Shame, Shame, Shame”.
Derryn Hinch: That was Steve Vizard doing [the TV comedy program] Hunch. So as an accurate journalist and columnist, you don’t even know your sources and where it’s coming from. I did not ever say that.
Derryn Hinch – Five Paws for taking on the failed leader of the Labor Party and for correcting one of his on-air factual howlers. The question remains – how long is Sky News going to pay Mark Latham for his rants to camera? Especially when many other commentators are expected to do Sky News performances for free.
So rattled was Mark Latham with Derryn Hinch’s spray that he affected an artificial laugh and declared: “I actually try not to interrupt people and you’ll find tonight I haven’t interrupted Derryn.” Mark Latham made this claim in less than a minute after interrupting Hinch with his “Shame, Shame, Shame” mantra.
A LINDA MOTTRAM MOMENT – IN WHICH MS MOTTRAM MAKES A FALSE ACCUSATION OF CRIMINAL BEHAVIOUR
Nancy’s co-owner has never quite got over the ABC’s decision not to renew ABC 702 presenter Deborah Cameron’s contract late last year – thus depriving MWD of its occasional “Deborah Cameron Moment”.
However, there is now a “Linda Mottram Moment”. Most recently on Radio 702 on 12 November – when Linda Mottram discussed James Hardie Industries and the asbestos scandal with Matt Peacock, the author of Killer Company: James Hardie Exposed (ABC Books, 2009). Let’s go to the transcript:
Linda Mottram: Somebody on the text, actually, has just said this – and it’s been bubbling through my mind as I was reading some of the sort of subsequent, re-reading some of the subsequent episodes with Hardie and think about characters like Meredith Hellicar and various others. And I guess a lot of us wonder why there weren’t more aggressive, criminal approaches on this.
Matt Peacock: Well, I’ve said before, if it were in Italy they’d be in jail by now probably. But nobody has ever been charged, actually. I mean it’s extraordinary, isn’t it, when you think of that number of people dying, and they’re dying because they were knowingly exposed to something that was going to very likely kill them. And yet nobody’s ever been charged with anything, basically. And I mean the only thing that the Hardie directors eventually were prosecuted for was putting out a false and misleading press release.
Linda Mottram: It’s a bit like getting Al Capone on tax evasion, isn’t it?
Matt Peacock: Yeah. They said this fund was going to be fully funded and it wasn’t. And I mean fair enough that they got pinned for that but they mounted a challenge, they won their first appeal, it was only when it went to the High Court that they got nailed.
This is complete tripe – and Matt Peacock at least should know better. James Hardie Industries ceased all asbestos production in 1987 – well before Ms Hellicar joined the James Hardie Industries board. As Terry McCrann wrote in the Herald-Sun on 13 November 2012, the former directors of James Hardie, who were convicted on civil charges, “weren’t responsible…for the underlying asbestos crime”.
In other words, Meredith Hellicar had nothing to do with the production of asbestos. Yet Linda Mottram accused Hellicar of criminal behaviour and equated her with the murderous Al Capone in the face of evidence.
Verily, a Linda Mottram Moment.
NANCY ON THE COUCH TALKS TO INKY
● On The Australian Confusing the Images of Keith Murdoch and Ben Chifley
Nancy Asks: I noticed in The Australian’s obituary to Dame Elisabeth Murdoch (1909-2012) published yesterday, the caption to the main photograph reads “Australian Prime Minister Ben Chifley with Elisabeth Murdoch (later Dame) and a young Rupert Murdoch in 1942”. The photo shows a 30ish-something Elisabeth Murdoch up close and personal with the man in question – while a young Rupert looks on from a distance. Lovely pic. Except that Mr Chifley did not become prime minister until mid-1945 and Mrs Murdoch looks, well, a bit too familiar for a woman of her time and manners. Please explain.
Inky Responds: There has been a (false) rumour that long-serving Liberal Party prime minister Robert Menzies had an affair with Lady Fairfax, the wife of media proprietor Sir Warwick Fairfax. It could be that a new (false) rumour is about to emerge linking Mrs Murdoch to Labor’s Mr Chifley. In which case, watch for such confirmation from such rumour mongers as Mr Mungo MacCallum (of Byron Bay) and the Failed Prophet Bob Ellis (of Palm Beach).
However, there is a simpler solution. The man in the dark suit looks very much like Sir Keith Murdoch, Elisabeth’s husband and Rupert’s father. Which explains the seating arrangements. Also, Ben Chifley was always photographed with a pipe in his mouth – and this man is pipeless. Put it down as a journalistic error. After all, The Australian only had a century to prepare the obit.
● On The Legal Snobbery of David Marr and Crikey’s Margot Saville
Nancy Asks: How can it be that the left is oh-so-impressed with the legal profession? In his contributions to Quarterly Essay Issue 47 and Issue 48, David Marr chose to grovel to the judiciary, top barristers, leading solicitors and so on. See MWD Issue 164. And now Crikey’s Margot Saville has run the same line.
Defending Barbara Ramjan’s allegation about Tony Abbott’s behaviour at Sydney University in 1977 – which were first raised publicly in 2012 – Ms Saville wrote in Crikey on Monday that Ms Ramjan “is married to one of the country’s most distinguished lawyers, Greg James QC [who] has recently retired from the NSW Supreme Court and has returned to the Sydney bar”. Why is this so important?
Inky Responds: As G.K. Chesterton once wrote – “When mankind ceases to believe in God it does not believe in nothing – rather it believes in anything.” Or something like that – after all, I prepared his opinion well before dawn this morning. David Marr BA LLB does not believe in God. But he believes in the legal profession. Ms Saville is much the same.
I am sure that my psychological assessments, popular as they are, would have had a greater authority if only I had married one of the country’s most distinguished lawyers – especially one who put on robes and a white wig before withdrawing to the bar. I’m with Mr Marr and Ms Saville. Initially I wondered why Barbara Ramjan didn’t mention the alleged punch when she wrote to Honi Soit in 1977 complaining about Tony Abbott. Then I found out that she married a lawyer with an LLB and a QC who became a judge and I was convinced by her apparent testimony. It’s called snobbery-induced belief.
● On Mark Latham’s Opposition to Others Receiving A Pot of Gold
Nancy Asks: I was so impressed with Mark Latham’s performance with Paul Murray Live on Sky News last Monday. You know, when Mr Murray expressed sympathy with the young woman in a wheelchair who criticised the Prime Minister for not being allowed to earn more income without losing some of her disability pension – Mr Latham was just so tough. First up, he blamed John Howard – who hasn’t been PM for five years. And then Latham declared that there is no “unlimited pot of money at the end of the rainbow”.
It was only then that I recalled that Mark Latham is on a taxpayer funded superannuation handout of $78,000 per year (fully indexed). And I thought: Is this not an unlimited pot of money – since it will continue to flow as long as Mr Latham and Mrs Latham shall live – which, God willing, could be quite some time.
Inky Responds: Well, in the words of the current saying, “Yes, No”. Yes – Mark Latham manages to eke out a living per courtesy of the taxpayer and support a wife, some children and several bookmakers. Sure, he stopped this pot of money going to current parliamentarians while continuing to pocket the largesse of the previous scheme which he managed to abolish for his successors. But no – it’s a matter of horses for courses.
Mr Latham reminds us of the importance of luck. There is no unlimited pot of money to be tossed at women in wheelchairs. There is, however, an unlimited pot of money to be tossed at former politicians who, like Mr Latham, benefited from the former parliamentary superannuation scheme. It’s much the same with money. Mr Latham is currently a paid columnist on the Australian Financial Review. Yet in yesterday’s AFR he looked forward “hopefully” to the day, “a decade from now, when newspapers…will no longer exist”.
NANCY’S OLD BONES MEETS A BRAND NEW RUMOUR ABOUT THE PROFESSORS BRETT, CAMILLERI AND MANNE
In the early 1970s – nearly four decades ago – Gerard Henderson worked in the Politics Department at La Trobe University in Melbourne. Fellow academics included Robert Manne and Joe Camilleri – both now professors. Judith Brett, also now a professor, joined the La Trobe University Politics Department in the late 1980s.
Believe it or not [I believe it.- Ed], Professors Manne, Camilleri and Brett remained at La Trobe University for the remainder of their working lives – knocking up a century between them. Now, according to reports, all three are about to retire.
And now here’s a rumour. According to a genuinely anonymous source, the La Trobe Politics 3 are about to receive an ex-gratia payment in addition to their superannuation entitlements. Can this be true? You be the judge. This is what “Anon” wrote to MWD recently:
Dear Mr Henderson
You will be interested to learn that under the provisions of the La Trobe University collective agreement, staff who volunteer to make themselves redundant and who are senior professors, over 60 years old (with considerable superannuation packages and close to retirement) will also receive payouts in excess of $300,000.
I think your readers would be interested to know that tax-payers money will be spent on golden handshakes for three senior professors of political science at La Trobe University, Robert Manne, Judith Brett and Joe Camilleri, who have made themselves redundant.
They have not volunteered to donate the extra money from the payouts to keeping less well off and younger colleagues in employment, to charity, or to founding a new school of political science – yet.
Perhaps the headline should read: “High Moral Grounders Get Golden Handshake”.
Can this be true? If so, Gerard Henderson wishes it to be widely known that he deeply regrets ever leaving the Bundoora campus in late 1975. MWD, as is its policy, will publish a correction or clarification if such be necessary. Stay tuned.
HISTORY CORNER – DANIEL MANNIX BOOK LEADS TO MYTH RE-CYCLING
In yesterday’s Crikey, Adjunct Professor Noel Turnbull (RMIT University) wrote a piece concerning the former Archbishop of Melbourne Daniel Mannix (1864-1963) and the current Cardinal Archbishop of Sydney George Pell (1942- ____). His article coincided with the publication of the late Jim Griffin’s book on Archbishop Mannix – which was completed by Paul Ormonde.
MWD will probably look at this tome next year. In the meantime, it’s appropriate to correct a couple of howlers.
▪ Contrary to Dr Turnbull’s claim (for a doctor he is), Daniel Mannix did not lead “the anti-conscription campaign in World War I”. He played a prominent role in the 1917 conscription plebiscite campaign but was not significantly involved in the key 1916 conscription debate.
▪ Contrary to Turnbull’s claim, there is no evidence that “Mannix burned all his papers”. Quite the contrary. This issue is canvassed in Gerard Henderson’s correspondence with Dr Brenda Niall in The Sydney Institute Quarterly (Issue 38 January 2011 pp 23-30; Issue 39, August 2011 pp 14-18)
CHRIS CURTIS – CORRECTIONS/CLARIFICATIONS: RE QUARTERLY ESSAY’S CENSORSHIP OF A DAVID MARR CRITIC
The “MWD Exclusive” in MWD Issue 164 revealed how Quarterly Essay had censored Chris Curtis’ letter in response to David Marr’s “Political Animal: The Making of Tony Abbott”. Mr Curtis, an ALP member, was a member of the Democratic Club at La Trobe University around the time that Tony Abbott was a member of the Democratic Club at Sydney University.
In other words, Curtis – unlike Marr – knew what he was talking about when discussing the Democratic Club phenomenon in the 1970s. MWD Issue 164 published a link to the rejected correspondence – commenting in the process:
Following initial rejection, Curtis offered to cut his piece. But [Quarterly Essay editor Chris] Feik was not willing to publish any of Curtis’ corrections of Marr’s errors, however long or short.
Chris Curtis has advised that this reference is not correct. He has indicated that Chris Feik said that his letter would not be published by Quarterly Essay for reasons of space. Curtis asked for the decision to be reconsidered – but Feik did not reply. As Curtis has commented:
I bought the next issue of Quarterly Essay to see who had submitted the successful correspondence. I now know that re-publication of articles from well-known people who have their own columns is more important than the testimony of one who was actually active in Democratic Club politics at the time.
Quite so. Quarterly Essay re-published the views of Mark Latham (originally printed in the Australian Financial Review) and Jack Waterford (originally printed in the Canberra Times) but did not have space for an original contribution from someone who had first-hand knowledge of Democratic Club politics in the late 1970s.
How frightfully Quarterly Essay – a journal of the left, by the left, for the left.
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Until next time.