12 APRIL 2013

 See the end of this week’s MWD for details of much appreciated comments on/endorsements of Nancy’s work by Mike Carlton, Peter Munro, Mike Carlton (again), Jonathan Green & Michael Rowland, Malcolm Farr, Bob Ellis, Tom Cowie, Mike Carlton (yet again), Mark Latham, Robert Manne, Marius Benson, James Jeffrey, Andrew Crook and more besides. Well done chaps – and lotsa thanks.

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MWD  Exclusive: David Marr Changes His Line on Tony Abbott’s Alleged “Punch” Circa 1977 – But Without Explanation

● Can You Bear It?  Anon of Crikey Condemns Eastern European Anti-Communists; “The Guardian-on-the-Yarra” Uses the “B” Word Against Margaret Thatcher; Mike Carlton Rails Against News Ltd’s Sheilas; Leigh Sales Believes Thatcher Invaded Britain’s Own Territory (Apparently)

● Five Paws Award: The Age’s John Spooner Steps Forward With a Cartoon on Tim Flannery’s Climate Contradictions

● Andrew Catsaras on Polls and  Superman & Clark Kent & JFK 

● History Corner: SBS’s Mark Davis Forgets That The Experts Once Did Believe that Saddam had Weapons of Mass Destruction

● Correspondence: In the Matter of Judith Brett Resumes; In the Matter of Political Animal – also Continues



The ABC’s Love Affair With David Marr

The evidence suggests that ABC executive producers just love giving David Marr – formerly of The Sydney Morning Herald and now with The Guardian Australia’s  planned online publication – a free kick to bag Tony Abbott.

Last Monday, Q&A presenter Tony Jones announced that David Marr – whom he described the “journalist and author whose revised essay on The Making of Tony Abbott has just been released” – will be on Q&A this Monday.  Fellow panellists will comprise Labor MP Dick Adams, Coalition frontbencher Sophie Mirabella, Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson and Jan Davis of the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association.  It will be the usual 3 left-of-centre/2 right-of-centre Q&A divide – which is about as close as the ABC ever gets to “political balance” in its current affairs programs.

This will be, on MWD’s count, the fourth occasion on which David Marr has been given the opportunity to appear on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster to discuss his book Political Animal: The Making of Tony Abbott  without facing the prospect of being challenged by a similarly qualified journalist/author who broadly supports Tony Abbott.  This tome commenced life in September 2012 as Quarterly Essay Issue 47 and has been republished in book form by Black Inc.  Both publications are produced by the Melbourne leftist property developer Morry Schwartz.

David Marr usually receives soft interviews when he criticises Tony Abbott while plugging his Political Animal essay on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.  Other occasions are:

Radio National Breakfast, 10 September 2012 A soft interview with presenter Geraldine Doogue in which Ms Doogue referred to Abbott’s “savagery”.

Lateline, 10 September 2012a soft interview with presenter Emma Alberici.

▪ ABC 1’s The Drum, 21 March 2013 – a relatively tough interview with presenter Steve Cannane but one in which David Marr spoke longer than his fellow panellists (Bruce Baird and Katharine Murphy) combined.  Neither Baird nor Murphy made a contribution to that part of the program in which Marr plugged the second edition of Political Animal and bagged both Tony Abbott and Gerard Henderson.

Since David Marr is never asked by the ABC to debate a journalist/author who both knows and is broadly sympathetic to Tony Abbott, MWD offers the following critique.  In the public interest, of course.

Political Animal – First & Second Editions Compared and Contrasted

For the sake of convenience, the first issue of Political Animal (published in September 2012) is identified as PA1 and the second issue of Political Animal (published in March 2013) is identified as PA2.

▪ PA2 has an introductory quote which is not in PA1.  It’s from The Bible – Mark 8:36 “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul”.

The implication seems pretty clear.  According to Marr, in order to become prime minister Tony Abbott is prepared to surrender all his Christian principles and risk eternal damnation.  Alas, Marr’s biblical quote is not a product of his own inspiration.  He got the idea from ABC TV 7.30 political editor Chris Uhlmann who commented favourably on David Marr’s essay on Abbott in the “Correspondence” section of Quarterly Essay 48, 2012.

It is not clear why the ABC encourages the political editor of such an important program as 7.30 to make such opinionated comments about the Opposition leader – but there you go.  Under the management of nice Mr Scott – ABC reporters can double up as opinionated commentators.  It is a matter of record that the ABC employs many social democratic (Chris Uhlmann) and leftist presenters (Fran Kelly). But not one conservative presenter in all of its main TV, radio and online outlets.

▪ David Marr has a new introductory sentence in PA2. PA1 commenced: “Australia doesn’t want Tony Abbott. We never have.”  But PA2 commences: “Australia has never shown much enthusiasm for the man.”  There is no explanation for the change. Maybe David Marr is studying the opinion polls more closely these days.

▪ PA2 has a new allegation. Namely that sometime in 1976, when Tony Abbott failed to win an election to become a fellow on the University Senate, he came down to the SRC office and kicked in a glass panel on the door.  The only source for this assertion is the student newspaper Honi Soit – then a captive of the University of Sydney campus left.  There is no explanation why the claim was not made in PA1. Nor is there any explanation of the fact that the Honi Soit source is dated February 1977 when the event is alleged to have take place the previous year.

▪ The only real news in PA1 turned on the allegation that, after being defeated in the SRC election by leftist Barbara Ramjan in 1977, Tony Abbott confronted Ms Ramjan and punched a wall on either side of her head.  This was the (alleged) act which Geraldine Doogue equated with “savagery”. PA1 contained no evidence to support Ramjan’s uncorroborated allegation made some 35 years after the event.  Marr relied entirely on Ms Ramjan’s memory.

There was no contemporaneous report in Honi Soit of the incident – or of damage to a university wall or to Abbott’s hands or fists which almost certainly would have resulted from the commission of such an aggressive act. Moreover, as mentioned previously, there was no evidence of a contemporaneous complaint by Ramjan or any of her supporters with respect to the alleged punch.

▪ In PA1, David Marr dated “The Punch” as having occurred September 1977 – after Abbott was involved in an incident with a leftist female student at Ku-Ring-Gai College in August 1977. He was charged with indecent and common assault but subsequently acquitted of all charges.

▪ In PA2, however, Marr dates “The Punch” as having occurred on 28 July 1977 – that is, before the Ku-Ring-Gai College incident.  Marr provides no explanation for the change in his account of the alleged punch between the publication of PA1 and PA2.  In his interview on The Drum on 21 March 2013, Marr told Steve Cannane that there were “two separate bad nights involved with this single election”. The first in July 1977 (which is not mentioned in PA1) and the second in “early September” 1977 (which is mentioned in PA1).  This is a significant change of the story concerning “The Punch” – which Marr originally claimed to have got from Ramjan.

▪ In PA2, David Marr has produced an (alleged) witness to “The Punch”.  The only problem is that, as Marr concedes at Page 30 of PA2, “he [the witness] did not see the punch land”. Moreover, the person is question declines to be identified in PA2 – and is referred to as “a professor of biomedical science”.

Marr, a lawyer by training, expects readers of PA2 to accept the account of a man who did not see the (alleged) punch land and who requests anonymity some 35 years after the event.

▪ PA2 introduces another self-declared “witness”. A certain David Patch whom Marr describes as a “senior barrister”.  The only problem here is that Patch did not see the incident either.  David Patch acknowledged this in an article published in The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age on 13 September 2012 – i.e. after the publication of PA1. David Patch wrote “I did not see the incident but I was nearby”.

This crucial qualification is not mentioned in PA2. As a lawyer, Marr should know that a person cannot be a “witness” to an event which he or she did not see.

▪In PA1, David Marr failed to acknowledge that Barbara Ramjan and some of her colleagues had complained about Tony Abbott’s behaviour in letters published in Honi Soit on 13 September 1977 and 3 October 1977 without mentioning the alleged punch.  Marr claimed on the ABC1 The Drum  program on March 2013 that he was aware of this correspondence but did not regard it as relevant when writing PA1.  He mocked Gerard Henderson, who first referred to the Honi Soit  letters, as “the Inspector Clouseau of forensic journalism”.  Marr maintained that he had examined the September 1977 letters in Honi Soit but did not explain why there is no reference to them in PA1.

This is a most unsatisfactory account – as Steve Cannane implied when he interviewed the author on The Drum.  It is a relevant fact that Barbara Ramjan had an opportunity to complain about the alleged punch in 1977 but did not do so. The essential fact is not specifically mentioned in either PA1 or PA2. The 1977 letters to Honi Soit are cited in PA2 but not in PA1.

▪ In PA1, Marr made no reference to Tony Abbott’s reported bravery, as a young man, in rescuing children from a burning house in Rozelle.  This omission was criticised by Gerard Henderson in his Sydney Morning Herald column on 11 September 2013.  The incident is mentioned, somewhat belatedly, by Marr in PA2.  No explanation is provided for the exclusion of this incident – which presents Abbott in a favourable light – from PA1.

▪  The only substantial fresh material in PA2 turns on correspondence between Tony Abbott and B.A. Santamaria which was discovered by Geoffrey Browne in the Santamaria Papers in the State Library of Victoria.  Historians Ross Fitzgerald and Stephen Holt wrote about the Abbott/Santamaria letters in a front page story in The Weekend Australian on 13-14 October 2012.   The correspondence is interesting but no more than that – and is consistent with Abbott’s own previous accounts of his relationship with Santamaria.

▪ Marr attempts to support his case about “The Punch” towards the end of PA2 by throwing the switch to snobbery.  He refers to Barbara Ramjan as “a respected figure in Sydney with connections to the highest levels in the judiciary”. Really.  The fact is that Ms Ramjan’s memory in 2012 of an uncorroborated event which took place in 1977 is not enhanced – or diminished – by the fact that she currently has connections to the highest levels in the judiciary in New South Wales. It’s an irrelevant consideration.

▪ In PA2 Page 180, Marr quotes a Crikey analysis of Abbott’s media appearances. Marr’s point is that he has been “busy dealing with the press while screening himself from scrutiny”.  Marr neglects to mention that the Crikey analysis was erroneous and was subsequently corrected by Crikey.

▪ For PA2 (but not for PA1) Marr interviewed at least one prominent (non-Catholic) Australian commentator who spoke favourably of what Tony Abbott would be like as prime minister if the Coalition wins the September 2013 election.  But the person is not quoted or even mentioned in the second edition of Political Animal.  Instead David Marr found a new source who is critical of Abbott. Namely former Liberal Party leader – and long time Liberal Party critic – John Hewson.

▪ Page 181 of PA2 contains the following comment about  Tony Abbott:

“The talk about town is that he’ll be run by [Cardinal George] Pell on one side and [John] Howard on the other,” says John Hewson.  He’s not endorsing the view, only reporting what he hears in Sydney when business men and women gather.]

This gives an idea of Marr’s scholarship with respect to Abbott.  Marr is willing to give credence to John Hewson’s hearsay evidence concerning what unnamed business men and women allegedly think about Abbott – even though Hewson apparently does not endorse such a view. This is mere tosh.  David Marr should be able to do better than this.

* * * * *

Political Animal is much loved by many of Tony Abbott’s critics – at the ABC and elsewhere.  But it is essentially an ideology driven hatchet job by a man of the left who believes that all journalists should be left-wing. Moreover, David Marr’s record demonstrates that he is an anti-Catholic sectarian who is profoundly opposed to what he regards as Abbott’s social conservative agenda. Political Animal does not deserve free kicks or soft interviews – on the ABC or elsewhere.

See also the Correspondence section.

* * * * *


Crikey’s Anon Condemns Opponents of Stalin

If it comes to a dust-up between the police and university students, there is only one place to be.  On the side of the police that is – invariably the only members of lower socio-economic groups involved in such get together.

And so it came to pass on the evening of Thursday 4 April when a group of students in Melbourne attempted to disrupt Rupert Murdoch’s address to the 70th Anniversary of the Institute of Public Affairs at the National Gallery of Victoria.  All in the name of free speech, of course.

Crikey, the upholder of all that is great and good in the media, sent someone along to report the IPA dinner.  However, for reasons undisclosed, he/she chose anonymity when reporting the event in Crikey last Friday.  This is how Anonymous assessed the IPA audience:

Finally comes an intermission, and a chance to check out the crowd. The vast majority of folks are elderly Caucasian males. There is a sea of dark suits topped with grey balding heads as far as the eye can see. Possibly 20% of the guests are female, and maybe 5% Asian. We also have some bankers, but I'm not sure if they're fully committed to the cause or simply working the room for clients. Finally, some Eastern Bloc immigrants with a profound grudge against communism.

The dinner isn’t bad; but it isn’t El Bulli either.  There’s cold-pressed chicken with marinated cucumber and “chicken chips”, and char-grilled beef with “textures of broccoli”. Dutch carrots (in [Andrew] Bolt’s honour presumably) and grain mustard jus.

Great news about the grain mustard jus – which, no doubt, is of special interest to Crikey’s large number of inner-city sandalistas.  But what about Crikey’s claim that some of those who turned out to hear Rupert Murdoch were “Eastern Europe Bloc immigrants with a profound grudge against communism”?

How unreasonable can you get?  European communism suppressed much of Eastern Europe after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and virtually all of Eastern Europe after 1944 following the Red Army’s conquests.  There were murders and forced famines and gulags aplenty all due to Vladimir Lenin, Josef Stalin and their heirs.  Most recently, this is documented in such books as Anne Applebaum’s Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe (Allen Lane, 2012) and Robert Gellately Stalin’s Curse (Knopf, 2013).

And Crikey maintains that Eastern Europeans who detest Stalinism are merely suffering from “a profound grudge against communism”.  That’s all folks. Can you bear it?

The “Guardian-on-the-Yarra” Embraces Misogyny, of the Anti-Thatcher Genre, And Uses the “B” Word

In recent times the powers that be at The Age in Melbourne have railed against misogyny. Fair enough.

But, then, former British Conservative Party prime minister Margaret Thatcher died. On Page 19 of Wednesday’s newspaper, The Age’s editors decided to puff an article by its sports writer Michael Lynch.  Here it is:

So there you have it.  The Age endorsed Michael Lynch’s use of the “B” word with respect to Margaret Thatcher.  The comment was repeated in Michael Lynch’s article titled “An iron will to rule in her vision by division”.

The Age rightly objects when Julia Gillard is termed a “bitch” by Lunar Right protestors.  However, there’s no problem at “The Guardian on the Yarra” when one of its senior journalists describes the late Baroness Thatcher as a “bitch”.

Can you bear it?

▪ Mike Carlton and the Beer-Garden Nutters

So how is Mike Carlton going in his continuing campaign to alleviate Australia of what he has termed “puerile, beer-garden insults of third-rate minds” (Sydney Morning Herald, 23 July 2011)?

Just beaut, in fact.  In the SMH last weekend, Mike Carlton referred to Janet Albrechtsen and Miranda Devine as “those uber-right News Ltd nutters”.

That’s all.  But, don’t worry.  Mr Carlton is opposed to “beer garden insults”.  In Gin & Tonic Country, where your man Carlton resides, it’s quite okay to refer to people whom you do not happen to like as “nutters”.

Can you bear it?

Fair Sales on the Good Ship Confusion

MWD is an admirer of 7.30 presenter Leigh Sales who wrote an important, and fair, book on David Hicks.  However, from time to time, MWD regrets that Ms Sales is not better versed in history.

For example, in On Doubt (MUP, 2009) Leigh Sales argued that Martin Luther had “sought truth…from a premise of doubt, not certainty”.  No one pre-Sales had ever considered the founder of the Protestant Reformation as a man convulsed in doubt and scepticism.

Then on Tuesday, Ms Sales read the following script when introducing a 7.30 segment on the late Margaret Thatcher:

Leigh Sales : Love her or loathe her, there's no denying Margaret Thatcher was one of the most powerful political leaders of her generation. Baroness Thatcher died last night from a stroke aged 87. In death as in life, her legacy continues to polarise people. Her fierce and uncompromising stance against her foes, particularly trade unionists, earned her the nickname the Iron Lady, and in Argentina she's remembered bitterly as the instigator of the 1982 Falklands War.

Margaret Thatcher may be remembered in Argentina as “the instigator of the 1982 Falklands War”.  So what?  Sales’ introduction overlooked the fact that the right-wing military junta instigated hostilities when it invaded the British territory of the Falklands.  Margaret Thatcher was prime minister of Britain when British forces drove the Argentinean invaders out of the Falklands.
And yet Leigh Sales went along with the view that Margaret Thatcher instigated the Falklands conflict.  Can you bear it?


John Spooner Depicts Dr Flannery’s Contradictions

MWD is continually surprised by just how seriously Tim Flannery, the chairman of the  Climate Commission, is taken by sections of the media – especially the ABC.  This despite the fact that so many of Dr (for a doctor he is) Flannery’s predictions have been proven false.  Including the (false) prophesy that the dams which supply Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne would not fill again.

So what a surprise to see the cartoon by Spooner in The Saturday Age last weekend.

John Spooner: Five Paws



On Sky News’ Paul Murray Live on Wednesday, SBS presenter Mark Davis criticised John Howard’s view that, a decade ago, it was widely believed that Saddam’s regime in Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

Not so declared Mark Davis. He continued:

Mark Davis :  Who believed they had weapons of mass destruction? People at best were perhaps sceptical of whether they had them. There was no one saying they had them. None of the experts said they had them.

No so. On 28 January 2003 Richard Butler, the former United Nations Chief Weapons Inspector in Iraq, addressed The Sydney Institute.  At the time he was one of the world’s leading experts on Iraq’s WMD capacity. Mr Butler opposed the invasion of Iraq by the Coalition of the Willing unless it was authorised by the UN. But he did believe that Iraq had WMD and he made this clear to The Sydney Institute when he commented:

Iraq does have weapons of mass destruction.  There’s no question of it, and that is serious.

In fact, Richard Butler was one of the many experts who believed that Iraq had WMD in 2003.


MWD looks forward to Insiders on the first Sunday of each month.  For it is then that Andrew Catsaras does his truly wonderful “Poll of Polls”.  In this exercise, your man Catsaras puts all the main opinion polls together for the previous period and draws his own conclusions.

In the lead-up to the August 2010 election, Catsaras’ work was printed in the Australian Financial Review and he had articles published on 21 June, 8 July, 19 July, 21 July, 27 July, 3 August, 4 August, 17 August and 21 August.  He did reasonably well in accounting for the fluctuating mood in the electorate – until his last article, when the following prediction was made:

We do know that the final weekend’s polls, one week out from the election, are a reasonable guide as to the likely two-party preferred result, averaging about a 1 percentage point difference between the polling and the result.  Based on the previous weekend’s polls, it is most likely that the ALP’s two-party vote will at least be slightly more than 51 per cent and the electoral pendulum suggests that this will most likely be enough for Labor to hold government…Whether polling data or betting markets, there are never any certainties, just probabilities, and currently and ALP victory with a reduced majority still remains the most likely outcome.

Not bad – but not correct. In fact, Labor scored 50.1 per cent of the total vote and failed to win a majority of seats in the House of Representatives.

In recent times, Andrew Catsaras has opined once a month on the ABC1 Insiders program.  He commenced this year on 3 February 2013 with the following assessment:

Andrew Catsaras:  The summer series of polls shows the ALP's primary vote is on 37. The Coalition is on 45 and the Greens are on nine. And that translates to a two-party preferred vote of 52 to 48 in favour of the Coalition. And if we look at the two-party preferred graph we can see that it was, following the introduction of the carbon price in July of last year, that the gap between the two parties narrowed considerably….

Barrie Cassidy:  Okay. Well it is an election year, there'll be all sorts of polls week in and week out and all sorts of analysis to go with them. What should we take from all of that?

Andrew Catsaras : Well there is a great deal of misunderstanding about polls. An opinion poll is not some Delphic Oracle delivered to us from the gods. It's just an estimate of how people are likely to behave in a hypothetical situation: that being, if an election were held now. And by aggregating the polls as we do on Poll of Polls, we're trying to get a more complete estimate, from a series of estimates, of how people are likely to behave in a hypothetical situation. And then we track those estimates over time to see if there are any trends emerging.

Then on 3 March 2013 Andrew Catsaras had the following assessment:

Andrew Catsaras : Well there's been a shift in the last month. The ALP's primary vote is now on 33 which is down four points. The Coalition is on 47 which is up two and the Greens are on 10. And that translates to a two-party-preferred vote of 55-45 in favour of the Coalition. And if we look at the two party preferred graph we can see that there's been a clear blow out in the last month….

Now clearly these figures are not good for the Government or the Prime Minister seven months out from the election which has led many people to think well that's game, set and match and that's not an unreasonable response. But I thought you might be interested in these historical comparisons.

Catsaras’ point was that in 1980, 1993, 1998, 2001 and 2004 governments had recovered from bad polls to retain office. He concluded:

Andrew Catsaras:  We don't know what's going to happen, nobody does. It's just pure opinion. And when you mix opinion with opinion polls it makes for quite a heady cocktail. What we do know is that, on 14 September, 14 million voters will cast their ballots and they will ask themselves the same question that they always do: Which party and which leader will do a better job? Now I know that doesn't make for any dramatic headlines but the facts rarely do.

Last Sunday, however, Andrew Catsaras abandoned facts and threw the switch to drama – with the help of film and documentary footage.  First up, he dealt briefly with the data.

Andrew Catsaras: Well the ALP's primary vote is on 32, the Coalition is on 47, and the Greens are on 11. And that translates to a two-party preferred vote of 55 to 45 in favour of the Coalition.  And if we look at the two-party preferred graph we can see that the gap between the two parties now stands at 10 points. Now, the final Newspoll following the leadership turmoil suggests that the position for the Government and the Prime Minister might be much worse than that, but we'll know more about that at the end of this month.

Whereupon Andrew Catsaras decided that it was time to opine on matters other than opinion polls.  He decided to criticise the media – with a little help from the Superman TV series.  Here we go:

Announcer (Bill Kennedy): Look, up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Superman! Yes, it's Superman, strange visitor from another planet who came to earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. And who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never ending battle for truth, justice and the American way!

The Catsaras point was, well, that the media is not only into truth and justice.  For balance, he then quoted President J.F. Kennedy as declaring why the media was really necessary.  Then Catsaras concluded:

Andrew Catsaras: Now that was a mild mannered, but super contribution.

Wacko.  But what did the Poll of Polls – in its day –  say about (i) Superman, (ii) the mild-mannered Clark Kent and (iii) JFK?  Maybe we’ll find out on the first Sunday of May – especially if there is not enough data for your man Catsaras to fill his allocated time on screen.


This enormously popular section of MWD relies on folk writing to, or responding to, Nancy’s (male) co-owner.  This week, Dominic Kelly, stepped forward once again – See MWD Issue 176.  And David Marr was kind enough to respond, in his usual way, to a query.  Lotsa thanks to Messrs Kelly and Marr. Here we go.


Dominic Kelly to Gerard Henderson – 5 April 2013

Dear Gerard,

Nice work on replying just as the new MWD was posted – is this a standard tactic of yours in order to have the final word? I'll ignore the numerous instances of you deliberately misrepresenting my points, it just gets boring. Let us simply return to the issue that I raised in my initial email, as you have so far failed to adequately respond. Did Judith Brett, or did she not, provide a definition of neo-liberalism in her Monthly article? A simple yes or no will suffice.


Dominic Kelly

Gerard Henderson to Dominic Kelly – 10 April 2013

Dear Mr Kelly

I refer to your missive received on Friday.

If you want me to answer just one question – why did you send me (on 2 April) a 944 word rambling and accusatory email which made many false claims about me?

I note your specific question, viz: “Did Judith Brett, or did she not, provide a definition of neo-liberalism in her Monthly article. A simple yes or no will suffice.”

Okay. My simple answer is “No”.

As you will recall, even you have conceded that Dr Brett’s account of what some call neo-liberalism “is not the most expansive definition one could write”.  You can say that again.

What Judith Brett did in The Monthly (March 2013) was to provide a definition of an entity, as at 1 January 1980, which she called neo-liberalism and implied that this entity was in place under Malcolm Fraser in Australia and Jimmy Carter in the United States in early 1980.  This is complete nonsense and demonstrates that Dr Brett’s definition is useless.

The problem with so much of Dr Brett’s work is that it is based on theory and highly contentious psychological babble.   Consequently, it has virtually no application to contemporary politics – which Dr Brett attempted to analyse in her Monthly article.  As I wrote in MWD Issue 171, her article was incomprehensible.

Here’s some gratuitous advice. Like Dr Brett, you would be well advised to work in a practical field before you theorise about politics, think tanks and the like.  Then you might begin to realise that practical politicians do not think in terms of theoretical  models nor attempt to impose a theory on reality.

Please pass on my personal regards to Dr Brett whom, I understand it, is one of your colleagues at La Trobe University.  I note that when you first wrote to me in defence of Judith Brett you made no mention of the fact that you were an academic and a Ph.D. student at La Trobe University and, as such, a colleague of Judith Brett.  And you accuse me of “misrepresenting” you.  Fancy that.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

Dominic Kelly to Gerard Henderson – 10 April 2013

What makes you think that I haven't already worked in a practical field?

Gerard Henderson to Dominic Kelly – 11 April 2013

Re your recent email.

I am always willing to clarify issues or correct errors.

So, I would be interested in you advising me when you gained practical experience through working in (i) government, (ii) opposition, (iii) the public service or (iv) business.

Just the occupations and the times will do.

I note that you have copied Media Watch Dog’s  style by printing critical comments about yourself at the top of your Twitter feed.  How fascinating.  You have joined the list of people who have imitated my MWD style.  Including Mark Latham whom, I understand, has something of a fan club at La Trobe University (headed by Professor Robert Manne). What fun. As they say about imitation….

Looking forward to receiving advice about your practical experience in government or opposition or the public service or business.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

Dominic Kelly to Gerard Henderson – 11 April 2013

Australian Public Service, May 2006 – February 2011.

Gerard Henderson to Dominic Kelly – 11 April 2013

What department/s and at what level/s?

Dominic Kelly to Gerard Henderson – 12 April 2013

How is it relevant and/or any of your business?

Gerard Henderson to Dominic Kelly – 12 April 2013

It works like this.

You are claiming that five years employment in the Australia Public Service gave you practical experience about how the process of government works.

Consequently, it is relevant where you worked and what you did.

I have listed my work experience throughout my professional life. Since you have declared that you worked in the Australian Public Service, it is reasonable to say where you worked and what you did.

* * * * *

Editor’s Note:  Alas, Dominic Kelly declined to advise as to what he did in the Australian Public Service between May 2006 and February 2011 and instead attempted to change the subject.  Also he threw the switch to ridicule and suggested that MWD  was interested in his Grade 4 teacher’s report.  Really.

It remains to be seen whether Mr Kelly ever worked in an area of the public service which would have given him first-hand experience in the administration of government.


Gerard Henderson to David Marr – 11 April 2012


How wonderful to read the personal message to yours truly at Page 193 of the new edition of your Political Animal: The Making of Tony Abbott (Black Inc, 2013). The last person to do this to me was Bob Ellis – the False Prophet of Palm Beach – and I am just so grateful.

As you will recall, endnote 80 on Page 193 of the new edition of Political Animal reads:

80 “when you haven’t got the numbers, be vicious”: this is not a quotation but a comment. Is that clear, Gerard?  It is my analysis. I am the source.

I assume that this is a (belated) reference to my criticism of your comment at Page 39 of the original Quarterly Essay where you wrote:

That was always the Santamaria way: when you haven’t got the numbers, be vicious.

In my critique of your Quarterly Essay in Media Watch Dog, I noted that you provided no source for your claim. I wrote that, to my knowledge, B.A. Santamaria never said that when you haven’t got the numbers you should be vicious nor did he ever act in a way that could be properly described as “vicious”.

Now, in the new edition of Political Animal,  you acknowledge that this was not a comment that Santamaria ever made. Rather it’s your (undocumented) analysis of what you allege Santamaria stood for. Well, at least you have now made this clear.  You have verballed the late B.A. Santamaria in order to facilitate your criticism of Tony Abbott.

For the record, it is misleading for you to describe me in the new edition of Political Animal as a member of the “Santamaria alumni” – whatever this sneering comment means.  As you are aware, I was a critic of B.A. Santamaria in the last quarter century of his life – and was also acknowledged as such by him and his supporters.

Best wishes


David Marr to Gerard Henderson – 11 April 2013


You disappoint me. It’s taken you a fortnight to find my little note. Alas I remain an unrepentant holder of views on Santamaria that don’t square with yours. Put it down to ingratitude.


* * * * *


“[Henderson] You are mad.   In the 18th century you would have been caged, with the mob invited to poke you with sticks.”

– Mike Carlton, 5.23 pm (Gin & Tonic Time) 25 March 2013

 “[Media Watch Dog is] not a moan, more of a miserable dribble”

– Peter Munro, 21 March 2013

“You are a fool, Henderson, a malicious and mendacious piece of shit…Now F_ck off”

– Mike Carlton, 11 March 2013 (Hangover Time).

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

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

– Michael Rowland, 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.

* * * * * *

Until next time. In the meantime, keep morale high.

2017-04-23T16:15:49+10:0012 April 2013|Categories: Media Watch Dog|Tags: |