The inaugural issue of “Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch” was published in April 1988 – over a year before the first edition of the ABC TV Media Watch program went to air. Since November 1997 “Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch” has been published as part of The Sydney Institute Quarterly. In 2009 Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch Dog blog commenced publication.


“What troubles me most is that he [Gerard Henderson] shows such low journalistic standards, yet he is politically quite influential. He is often on Insiders. It’s hard to see why: he comes across as a crank.”

– Kate Durham as told to Crikey, 16 September 2014




Did anyone see the stunning performance by current Melbourne University Public Policy Fellow at the Centre for Public Policy in the School of Social and Political Sciences and former Victorian ALP secretary Nicholas Reece on Paul Murray Live last night? Following a thoughtful discussion between Paul Murray, Channel 7 reporter Robert Ovadia, Miranda Devine and Chris Kenny on the terrorism related arrests in Sydney yesterday, Nicholas Reece offered his thought-for-the-night. Here it is:

Nicholas Reece: Clearly it was a huge police operation. 800 – police involved. That is unprecedented, I believe. I mean, as for these sort of ISIL (Islamist State in Syria and the Levant) guys in Sydney. I kind of think of ISIL to Islam as being like the Ku Klux Klan is to Christianity. And just as these ISIL guys, you know, don’t represent what Islam stands for as a faith – nor does the Ku Klux Klan stand for what Christianity really is as a faith. So just as you wouldn’t go soft touch on the Ku Klux Klan, I think you don’t go in soft against these ISIL guys.

God only knows what Mr Reece teaches his students at Melbourne University about “THESE ISIL GUYS”. But his comments on Paul Murray Live last night were hopelessly wrong. Here are some facts:

▪ ISIL or ISIS or IS (the so-called Islamic State) advocates the imposition of Sharia Law. In other words, IS acknowledges no division between religion and politics and regards itself as a religious organisation.

▪ Currently IS controls large parts of Syria and Iraq.

▪ Contrary to Nicholas Reece’s claim, the KKK was never a Christian church or a Christian organisation. Nor did it even control large parts of the United States. Moreover, the KKK did not claim to be a religion. Rather, the KKK was a secular organisation which advocated discrimination against African-Americans, many of whom were Christians. Moreover, the KKK was both anti-semitic and anti-Catholic.

▪ It may not be fashionable to say so at Melbourne University. However, ISIL is a significant, albeit minority, part of the Sunni Muslim faith. ISIL is currently fighting a religious war aimed at the so-called kafirs – including Sh’ia Muslims, Christians and Jews.

Referring to IS operatives in the Middle East or Australia as “ISIL guys” just diminishes the threat to national security which IS imposes. It would be equivalent to describing the SS in Germany in the mid-1930s by using the soft term “Nazi guys” or the communist revolutionaries in the early 20th Century Russia by the equally soft description of “Bolshevik guys”.

Where Nicholas Reece was up to on Paul Murray Live last night was moral equivalence. No more, no less. Rather than condemn the adherents of IS in Australia as supporters of an Islamist organisation, Mr Reece attempted to fudge the issue by pointing to the (alleged) Christianity of the KKK which has played little role in America for eons.

Can you bear it graphic


Wasn’t ABC1 Q&A a real hoot last Monday? There was a highly talented panel featuring such prominent scientists as Ian Chubb, Suzanne Cory, Peter Doherty and Brian Schmidt along with entrepreneur Martina Cheng. As far as MWD can work out, all are – or have been – on taxpayer subsidised incomes. Except, for Ms Cheng.

The consistent theme of the program was the need for lotsa more government expenditure on science. This theme was embraced by – in order – Peter Doherty, Suzanne Cory, Martina Cheng and Ian Chubb along with presenter Tony Jones and an array of questioners.

No one on the program asked where the money for government to fund more and more science research was to come from. And while there was a lot of criticism of the Coalition for allegedly cutting science funding, no one – but no one – mentioned that the 2014 Budget contains a commitment to establish a Medical Research Future Fund to reach $20 billion by 2020 – which would make possible distribution of funds of $1 billion a year from 2020-2023. This would be the largest Medical Research Fund in the world.

Moreover, according to a report by John Ross in last Wednesday’s Australian, the powers-that-be at Q&A will not explain why no one spoke about the proposed Medical Research Future Fund in a program which spent much of its allocated time bagging the Abbott Government for not spending enough on science. Can you bear it?


Talk about self-delusion. Britain Sky News carried an interview with Julian Assange on Thursday evening (London time). Your man Assange stated that it was “now inevitable that my asylum will cease to be obstructed” and that British authorities will allow him to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Despite the fact that it was Julian Assange himself who jumped bail in Britain and sought refuge in the Embassy.

And Mr Assange reckons that – after an expensive two year wait by Metropolitan Police outside the Ecuadorian Embassy – the British authorities will let him go. Can you bear it?


When Mike (I’ll Pour the Gin) Carlton departed the Sydney Morning Herald he sent out the following tweet:

Mike Carlton @MikeCarlton01: A truly liberated Saturday. Haven’t read one word from the Murdoch sewer. Freedom!

However, it seems that your man Carlton is back in matters sewers since he tweeted on Saturday concerning Gerard Henderson’s column in The Weekend Australian.

Meanwhile, this week Mike Carlton wrote to Crikey to declare that “I don’t drink gin”. Fancy that. Your man from circa Whale Beach apparently has had an irony bypass.

Carlton did, however, make one powerful point. The superannuated SMH columnist – who specialised in abusing his readers – pointed to one error in a past edition of MWD. The tweet where Carlton declared that Hendo was “always on the ABC” was sent at 8.04 pm – not 3.04 am. This was a typo, not a John-Laws-style-deliberate- mistake.

This explains a lot. Carlton’s tweet was sent after dinner. Which may explain his confusion – since Hendo has appeared on the ABC on an average of once a month over the past seven years. Which is a long way south of “Always”. Can you bear it?

five paws global



The 17 September 2014 issue of The Jewish Chronicle Online contains a story by Daniel Easterman on the British historian Simon Schama (who delivered The Sydney Institute’s Annual Lecture in 2010).

Easterman reported on Simon Schama’s address to the recent United Jewish Israel Appeal Annual Dinner in London. The report reads as follows:

Historian Simon Schama has launched a stirring defence of Israel’s military operation in Gaza, strongly rejecting allegations that its forces were guilty of war crimes.

Speaking as guest of honour at the UJIA annual dinner, Mr Schama said: “We are not the killers of children. We grieve when the blood of innocent children is spilt because rockets are stored underneath or outside schools. One million Jewish children were killed in the Nazi slaughter. The point of the Shoah, the Final Solution was to kill children, wasn’t it? Children who would grow up to be Jews. We do not commit genocide. This is a disgusting corruption of the term, which would have George Orwell rolling in his tomb. Genocide was committed on us by the million.”

Mr Schama told the 1,000 guests at the dinner that he was proud to call himself a Zionist despite being a strong critic of the expansion of settlements and the annexation of territory in the West Bank. “How could you not be a Zionist?” he said. “We need to reclaim the word Zionist. It is not a word to be ashamed of or to run away from. Israel, bless it, is a democracy, there are massive differences in opinion. I have fierce reservations about settlement policy. It was not a good idea to annex all that territory the other week. We need to encourage the Palestinians we can talk to, needless to say, not Hamas. But I’m not going to lecture the Israeli government on how this needs to happen.

Simon Schama – Five Paws.


On Tuesday, British writer Howard Jacobson appeared on ABC 1 News Breakfast program to publicise his two-part documentary Brilliant Careers – on Australian expatriates Germaine Greer, Robert Hughes, Barry Humphries and Clive James.

In his discussion with Virginia Trioli Howard Jacobson (who spent time in Australia in the mid-1960s) dismissed the idea that Australia in the 1950s and 1960s was a boring cultural desert. Let’s go to the transcript:

Howard Jacobson: …only later did I think, “How curious it is that I found something so wonderful in Australia.” And it wasn’t just the light and it wasn’t just the beautiful limpidity of the [Sydney] Harbour. It was a real vitality of Australian culture, which those four – and that’s my argument, my affectionate argument with them – claim it was not there. As well as saying they had to leave because they were young, they often said they had to leave because Australia was a cultural desert. I’m here to tell you it wasn’t.

Virginia Trioli: I think that is a most original thesis. Because the cultural cringe – the exodus from a place lacking any culture – has just become a mainstay argument in Australia. It is unquestioned. So, make your case for us. What did you find when you came here? What did you find enlivening? And culturally relevant and important about the place, Howard?

Howard Jacobson: Well I don’t know how long you’re going to give me. But, I mean, what makes the case most powerfully are those four themselves. The fact that they were about to take England by storm so quickly and so young is a testament to, you know, the vitality of the culture that they’d left. They did it as Australians.

But what I found when I came here was I loved the demotic, I loved the lively speech of people, I loved the sense of humour which was disrespectful, I loved the absence of reverence for authority. I’d come as a – I’d been – I’d just come from Cambridge where I’d been miserable as a Northern working class Jewish boy. I felt that was a world that excluded me. I shouldn’t have felt like that but I did.

But the minute I came to Australia, I felt this is a world which is open to everybody. Everybody feels a bit outside here. This is a world that everybody is contributing to, a world that everybody was making. In England it felt then – as it can still feel now – it’s been there so long, the culture is so well established that you have to scrabble to get a little peep in on it. Whereas Australia was wonderfully open to things….The sheer vitality of Australian as it was spoken. The wonderful metaphorical gifts that people had. The fact that they loved making jokes, they loved telling stories, they loved telling tall stories. How much more do you want to know about how much I love the place?

Virginia Trioli: I’m starting to get that….

In fact, contrary to La Trioli’s assertion, Howard Jacobson’s thesis is not “most original”. It’s a leftist myth that Australia was dull and boring during the Menzies Era not shared by many conservatives who lived through, or have studied the period. It’s just that Howard Jacobson makes the point with the authority of a highly intelligent outsider and observer who has no reason to be alienated.

Howard Jacobson – Five Paws.


Dee Madigan be warned. Nancy’s male co-owner is about to take a libel action following the egregious error which Ms Madigan made against Gerard Henderson on Paul Murray Live last Sunday. Let’s go to the transcript:

Paul Murray: And joining me at a brand new and very shiny desk – we’re like an official show now, gone are those bloody awful red couches thank goodness – Dee Madigan, Jason Morrison. Hello, welcome – look at all of this credibility in this desk.

Dee Madigan: But what’s Gerard Henderson going to do if he can’t see the length of my skirt? [Standing up and showing her skirt – laughter/interruptions].

Paul Murray: … I’ll take a photo underneath just for him.

This is a wilful falsehood. As hundreds of thousands of avid MWD readers are aware, Hendo was never interested in the length of Dee Madigan’s skirt when she appeared on such Sky News programs as The Contrarians and Paul Murray Live sitting on the (now replaced) red chairs. Not at all.

Rather, Hendo’s concern was that the sassy Ms Madigan got such late call-ups to go on Sky News that she did not have time to put on a skirt at all. The problem was accentuated by the absence of a desk. Or so it seemed to Hendo.

That’s all. Dee Madigan – see you in court. Bring lotsa money to compensate for Nancy’s (male) co-owners’ deeply hurt feelings, public embarrassment and so on.


David Day made his reputation as an historian for his 1986 book Menzies & Churchill at War. The central theme of the tome of Dr Day (for a doctor he is) is that there was a move in 1941 to replace Winston Churchill as prime-minister of Britain and install the Aussie Robert Menzies in this position. According to this theory, Menzies believed that he had a real chance of replacing Churchill at 10 Downing Street and was “up-for” the appointment. [Perhaps in modern parlance you might say he was so “excited” – Ed].

Put it this way. According to your man Day, the British Establishment in 1941 came to the conclusion that there was not one local gentleman who could lead the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in the war against Nazi Germany – but there was a chap named Menzies in the colonies who would be prepared to move to London and do the job.

David Day’s thesis is that some Brits thought that there was no one in Britain capable of holding the position of prime minister in 1941 and that only a colonial from the Antipodes could do the gig. Sounds strange? Well yes.

In writing her recent book Menzies at War (New South, 2014), Anne Henderson checked all of David Day’s sources in Menzies & Churchill at War. She found no evidence in the book to support Day’s claim about Churchill and Menzies. Anne Henderson happens to be Nancy’s (female) co-owner.

In August this year, Australian Book Review editor Peter Rose gave David Day a free kick – by inviting him to review Anne Henderson’s book. Dr Day also offered a piece in The Spectator Australia on the same topic. David Day used both opportunities to defend his thesis that the Brits wanted Menzies to replace Churchill in 1941 and that Menzies believed that he was in with a chance to lead the Brits – and to attack such critics as the late Allan Martin, Anne Henderson and Gerard Henderson.

On 4 August 2014, Nancy’s (male) co-owner wrote a courteous (of course) note to David Day asking him to provide the name of one biographer of Churchill or one serious historian of Britain in the 20th Century, who ever wrote or said that there was a serious move to replace Churchill with Menzies in 1941 – or any source to show that Menzies went along with the so-called proposal.

Alas, Dr Day is just too busy to provide any sources to back up his claims in the Australian Book Review and The Spectator Australia. He wrote to Hendo on 7 August 2014 advising that he was as “flat out as a lizard drinking” and could not provide the evidence in the immediate future. MWD is still waiting.

Here’s the “Waiting for David” Scoreboard update:

[table id=32 /]

And here’s an exclusive pic of your man David “Lizard” Day in flat-out-as-a-lizard-drinking mode. So busy that he cannot provide one credible source to support his theory that Ming was in with a real chance to replace Winston as prime minister of Britain in 1941. Not one.


We’ll keep you posted. But don’t hold your breath.

In the meantime here’s a helpful illustration of the Hendo v Day historical context:

Two menzies books final




What a you-beaut interview of ABC board member Fiona Stanley by Rafael Epstein on the Drive program on ABC Radio 774 in Melbourne on Wednesday. It took the form of what passes for standard fare for this kind of interview at the taxpayer funded broadcaster. Namely, the ABC interviewer asked soft questions and the ABC board member used the free kick provided to bag taxpayers who criticise the public broadcaster – which happens to employ the interviewer. This tactic has been used in the past by ABC managing director and board member Mark Scott when interviewed about the ABC on the ABC. See MWD passim, ad nauseam.

The Epstein/Stanley grovelling interview followed an article by Professor Stanley which appeared on the Opinion Page of both the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age last Wednesday.

And what a stunning piece it was by Fiona Stanley. First up, she seemed to have a go at Gerard Henderson and some other ABC critics by asking this question:

Have you noticed that journalists critical of the ABC have started to call it “the taxpayer-funded ABC”?

Well, yes. Because, presumably, the ABC really is taxpayer funded. How about that?

According to MWD’s calculations, Nice Mr Scott has more taxpayer funded media advisers than the Prime Minister or Opposition leader. Professor Stanley’s article read as if it had had an input from one or more of the ABC’s many spin-doctors. Even so, it contained one dreadful howler from the ABC board member, who is also a Distinguished Research Professor at the University of Western Australia. Here it is:

Critics allege the ABC is biased in relation to climate change. I give one recent example: on 11 August, The Australian reported that media analysis of the ABC’s coverage of coal and coal seam gas mining suggested that these industries had a negative environmental impact and that investing in renewables should be prioritised. The Australian‘s response was to assume bias and demand the ABC be privatised.

What a load of tosh. If Professor Stanley, or one of the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s spin doctors, had done any research it would be evident that The Australian has never editorialised that the ABC should be privatised. By the way, nor has Gerard Henderson (despite Robyn Williams’ assertion to the contrary some years ago).

It seems that Professor Stanley was referring to an article by Institute of Public Affairs operative James Pattison, who wrote an opinion piece in The Australian advocating that the ABC is privatised. This, after all, is IPA policy. [It’s a counter-productive policy – since it plays into the hands of the ABC barrackers like Fiona Stanley. Don’t you think? – Ed]

Professor Stanley’s logic – if logic it is – is deeply flawed. James Paterson has appeared on a number of ABC programs – including Q&A in 2011 and 2013. However, the fact that the ABC has provided a platform for Mr Paterson’s opinion is no more significant than that The Australian has run his views in print. It’s called opinion. As Professor Stanley should know, The Australian publishes each week The-Thought-of-Phillip-Adams – the ABC’s Man-in-Black – who does not want to privatise the ABC. This does not mean The Australian supports all of Mr Adams’ views.

Fiona Stanley – with all of Nice Mr Scott’s spin-doctors at her disposal – should have been able to do better than this. Moreover, the Opinion Page editor at either the Sydney Morning Herald orThe Age should have picked up Fiona Stanley’s howler before it went to print.

Oh, by the way. Like ABC managing director and editor-in-chief Mark Scott, Professor Fiona Stanley failed to address the issue that the taxpayer funded public broadcaster is a Conservative-Free-Zone, without one conservative presenter or producer or editor on any of the ABC’s prominent television or radio or on-line outlets.

The ABC as a Conservative-Free-Zone was a fact of life when Nice Mr Scott became its managing director in 2006. And the ABC remains a Conservative-Free-Zone eight years later.

remember this graphic


By popular demand, this once hugely popular segment of Media Watch Dog makes a welcome return after what journalists like to call a Well-Earned-Break (or WEB).

“You Must Remember This” is based on the chorus line in the song As Time Goes By which was popularised by the film Casablanca. It is devoted to reminding the usual suspects of what they and/or those they supported once wrote or said.

The current discussion about Islamic beheadings and all that reminded MWD of the rhyme which David Hicks sent to his folks in South Australia in 1998. The poem was subsequently released by the Hicks family to the makers of the film The President versus David Hicks which aired on SBS in 2004.

David Hicks has experienced a standing ovation from the Sandalista Set at the Sydney Writers’ Festival. So it’s time to remind all of your man’s fans of his one-time skill as a poet – as illustrated in the following stanza circa 1998:

Mohammed’s food you shall be fed

To disagree, so off with your head.

Enough said.

History Corner


On Wednesday 3 September 2014, Nancy’s (male) co-owner attended the opening of the Museum of Australian Democracy’s exhibition on the Robert Menzies government of 1939-1941. It was curated by John Howard. Nancy’s (female) co-owner also attended the event.

At the end of the formal proceedings, Hendo went to visit the Opposition rooms in Old Parliament House – where he had worked for John Howard between 1984 and 1986. Old Parliament House has preserved the Government Members’ rooms. However, some years ago the rooms of the Opposition leaders were destroyed to make way for the inaugural National Portrait Gallery. In recent years, there has been an attempt to restore the Opposition Party Room which is now a museum to Australian national politics.

Inspecting the site of the Opposition Members Room, Hendo was confronted by the following words on a wall:

Factional disputes occur in every major political party, but one of the most bitter was the Labor Split which led to the formation of the breakaway Democratic Labor Party.

At the heart of the Split was a [Labor] Caucus meeting held in this room on 20 October 1955. It was the height of the Cold War. In an atmosphere of espionage and counter espionage the anti-communist faction had called for a leadership spill.

What a load of tosh – as the saying goes. Here are the (real) facts :

▪ Bert Evatt, then the leader of the Opposition, commenced what became known as the Labor Split when he attacked the ALP’s Victorian State Executive at a speech in Sydney on 5 October 1954.

▪ The relationship between Dr Evatt (for a doctor he was) and his supporters – and the ALP Victoria State Executive and its supporters – completely broke down at the ALP Federal Conference which was held in Hobart in March 1955 when the old Victorian State Executive was dismissed and a new Victorian State Executive credentialed.

▪ On 25 March 1955 the Victorian ALP suspended the membership of some 24 Labor MPs who supported the old ALP Victorian executive. This included seven Federal Labor MPs. The Victorian Seven comprised Tom Andrews, Bill Bourke, William Bryson, Jack Cremean, Robert Joshua, Stan Keon and John Mullens.

▪ On 7 April 1955, six Federal Labor MPs were formally expelled from the ALP – one other (Mullens) had already been expelled.

▪ On 18 April 1955 there was a ballot for the Labor leadership – following Evatt’s decision to resign and stand for re-election. Bert Evatt (52 votes) defeated Arthur Calwell (22 votes) and Tom Burke (5 votes).

▪ When the Commonwealth Parliament resumed on 20 April 1955 – the Victorian Seven sat on the cross-benches.

Er, that’s about it. The factional disputes which led to the expulsion of the seven Labor MPs from the ALP and the eventual formation of the Democratic Labor Party occurred some six months before 20 October 1955.

There had been a heated Caucus meeting a year earlier on 20 October 1954 – where a motion to spill Evatt’s leadership was defeated by 52 votes to 28 votes. But this occurred some six months before the Labor Split.

The House of Representatives met for the last time in 1955 on 27 October. Soon after, Robert Menzies called an early election which was held on 10 December 1955. It is pure mythology for the Museum of Australian Democracy to assert that Bert Evatt led Labor to the 1955 election just two months after the 1955 Labor Split.

As Private Eye might say with respect to the Museum of Australian Democracy – Surely Some Mistake.

correspondence header caps


This overwhelmingly popular segment of Media Watch Dog usually works like this. Someone or other thinks it would be a you-beaut idea to write to Nancy’s (male) co-owner about something or other. And Hendo, being a courteous and well-brought up kind of guy, replies. Then, hey presto, the correspondence is published in MWD – much to the delight of its hundreds of thousands of readers.

There are occasions, however, when Nancy’s (male) co-owner decides to write a polite note to someone or other – who, in turn, believes that a reply is in order. Publication in MWD invariably follows.

As hundreds of thousands of avid readers are aware, The Guardian Australia’s deputy editor Katharine Murphy put out the following tweet on 6 June 2014 at 4.33 pm – when that issue of MWD was “hot off the press”. Here is Ms Murphy’s tweet: “Without in any way wanting to breach anyone’s human rights or free speech – why do people write emails to Gerard Henderson?” It’s a very good question. Thankfully, not everyone follows Katharine Murphy’s wise counsel.


As avid MWD readers will be aware [Are there any others? – Ed], Issue 242 published a response from Gerard Henderson to a certain Michael Clanchy concerning Malcolm Fraser’s criticism of the Abbott Government’s border protection policies. Hendo’s letter made the point that, when prime minister, Mr Fraser did not experience the difficulties handling the asylum seeker problem that were experienced by his successors. This led to correspondence by a certain Mark Fletcher – who must be an avid MWD reader, albeit of a critical kind. Here we go:

Mark Fletcher to Gerard Henderson – 13 September 2014

Dear Mr Henderson,

I read with interest your claim in MWD 242:

Malcolm Fraser, as prime minister, never faced the problems of unlawful boat arrivals which the governments led by Paul Keating, John Howard, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott had to deal with. During the Fraser government, the overwhelming number of asylum seekers who arrived in Australia were processed off-shore and arrived in Australia with valid visas.

On the face of it, this appears to be an error. From 1976 to 1982, there were 2,059 arrivals. Fraser therefore had to face the “problem of unlawful boat arrivals” that the other prime ministers you mention also faced.

The second sentence appears to be a non sequitur.

Grateful for your correction or, contrariwise, the source of your evidence.

Warm regards,


Gerard Henderson to Mark Fletcher – 16 September 2014

Dear Mr Fletcher

I refer to your email of 13 September concerning material contained in Media Watch Dog Issue 242. In fact, my comment about Malcolm Fraser and unlawful boat arrivals was completely accurate – I have written it before without challenge from Mr Fraser or any of his admirers. The facts are as follows:

▪ During the seven and a half years of the Fraser Government, there were 2,059 boat arrivals in Australia – i.e. around 275 a year.

▪ The total number of boat arrivals during the time of the Keating Government was around 1,490 – i.e. about 370 a year.

▪ The total number of boat arrivals from 1996 to 2001, during the time of the Howard Government, was 13,375 – i.e. around 2,390 a year. At the end of 2001 the Coalition introduced tough border protection policies.

▪ The total number of boat arrivals under Labor from 2009 to mid-2013 (i.e. after the Rudd Government weakened the Howard Government’s border protection arrangements) was 44,150 – i.e. around 9,810 a year.

▪ The largest number of boat arrivals during Malcolm Fraser’s prime ministership was 868 in 1977. This compares with 5,516 in 2001 when John Howard was prime minister and 17,202 in 2012 when Julia Gillard was prime minister. There are no precise figures for Kevin Rudd’s prime ministership but in the financial year 2009-2010 it would have been around 4,000.

▪ During Malcolm Fraser’s prime ministership, all boat arrivals came to Australia from Indo-China, primarily Vietnam. They were first movements of people fleeing persecution from communist dictatorships.

▪ During the prime ministerships of John Howard, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, the overwhelming majority of boat arrivals involved double movements. That is, asylum seekers travelled by air to Kuala Lumpur or Jakarta where they destroyed their passports and paid people smugglers to provide risky boat travel to Australia. They were secondary movements of people who were living in relative safety in Indonesia or Malaysia and not in fear of immediate persecution.

▪ The number of asylum seekers accepted by the Fraser Government is estimated at around 70,000 – of whom 2,059 came by boat. That is around 3 per cent of refugees arrived by boat. The rest, as I wrote in MWD last Friday, were processed off-shore and arrived in Australia with valid visas. This applies to around 97 per cent of asylum seekers who were settled in Australia at the time of the Fraser Government.


I would recommend a bit of research before writing to me again on this issue. Check out the Parliamentary Library’s Research Paper titled Boat arrivals in Australia since 1976. There is also some useful information in Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs by Malcolm Fraser and Margaret Simons.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

Mark Fletcher to Gerard Henderson – 16 September 2014

Dear Mr Henderson,

Thank you for your response. It is clear from your dot points that we agree that you misspoke. Malcolm Fraser, as prime minister, did face the problems of unlawful boat arrivals: ‘During the seven and a half years of the Fraser Government, there were 2,059 boat arrivals in Australia – i.e. around 275 a year.’ It was good of you to admit your error.

Warm regards,


Gerard Henderson to Mark Fletcher – 19 September 2014

Dear Mr Fletcher

Off to logic class for you.

You have deliberately distorted my position. What I wrote in MWD Issue 242 was that “Malcolm Fraser, as prime minister, never faced the problems of unlawful boat arrivals which the governments led by Paul Keating, John Howard, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott had to deal with”. This is true. Mr Fraser’s successors experienced significantly more serious problems with respect to asylum seekers.

Boat arrivals under Mr Fraser were lower than under Paul Keating, John Howard, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard – and lower than would be the case if Tony Abbott had not instituted a tough border protection policy after his election in September 2013. Also, none of the boat arrivals during Malcolm Fraser’s prime ministership deliberately destroyed their passports before engaging a people smuggler to get them to Australia. And none were part of a secondary movement.

The fact is that asylum seekers attempting to enter Australia peaked in 2012 – when the annual intake was 17,202 – that is 15,143 more in one year than for the entire seven and a half year period after the Fraser government.

You are simply in denial. And your suggestion that I conceded my MWD comment was erroneous is just juvenile. You should be able to do better than this.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

Until next time – keep morale high.

“The unhinged but well spoken Gerard Henderson….”

– Bob Ellis, Table Talk blog, 10 August 2014

“Gerard Henderson and Nancy are awful human beings.”

– Alexander White, Twitter, 25 July 2014

“This is my regularly scheduled “Oh Gerard” tweet for every time he appears on #insiders”

– Josh Taylor, senior journalist for ZDNet, Twitter, 20 July 2014

“…that fu-kwitted Gerard “Gollum” Henderson….”

– Mike (“I’ll pour the gin”) Carlton, via Twitter, 12 July 2014

“[Gerard Henderson is a] silly prick”

– Mike (“I’ll pour the gin”) Carlton – tweeted Saturday 27 June 2014 at 4.15 pm, i.e. after lunch

“If Gerard Henderson had run Beria’s public relations Stalin’s death would have been hidden for a year and Nikita [Khrushchev] and co would have been shot”

– Laurie Ferguson via Twitter – 22 June 2014 [By-line: Mr Ferguson is a member of the House of Representatives who speaks in riddles.]

“[Gerard Henderson] is the Eeyore of Australian public life”

– Mike Seccombe in The [Boring] Saturday Paper – 21 June 2014

“Without in any way wanting to breach anyone’s human rights or free speech – why do people write emails to Gerard Henderson?”

– Katharine Murphy, Twitter, Friday 6 June 2014

“[Gerard Henderson is] an unhinged prick”

– Mike Carlton, Twitter, Thursday 12 June 2014

“There’s no sense that Gerard Henderson has any literary credentials at all.”

– Anonymous comment quoted, highlighted and presumably endorsed by Jason (“I’m a left-leaning luvvie”) Steger, The Age, 31 May 2014

On boyfriend’s insistence, watching the notorious Gerard Henderson/@Kate_McClymont Lateline segment. GH: What an odd, angry gnome of a man.

– Benjamin Law, via Twitter, Thursday 17 Apr 2014, 11:21 pm

Can’t believe I just spent my Thursday evening with a video recap of Gerard Henderson. I’m a f-cking moron.

– Benjamin Law, via Twitter, Thursday 17 Apr 2014, 11:23 pm

“[Gerard Henderson is an] unhinged crank”

– Mike Carlton, via Twitter, Saturday 29 March 2014, 4.34 pm

Complete stranger comes up to me: that Gerard Henderson’s a xxxxxx.

– Jonathan Green via Twitter, 8 February 2014

“[Gerard Henderson is] a sclerotic warhorse, unhelpful to debate, unwilling to think…a wonderful study in delusion…ideologically-constipated.”

– Erik Jensen, editor of Morry Schwartz’s The Saturday Paper [forthcoming], 23 November 2013

“The last time Gerard Henderson smiled was in 1978, when he saw a university student being mauled by a pitbull.”

– Ben Pobjie, via Twitter, 13 October 2013 [Editor’s Note: Mr “Why Can’t I Score an

Invite on Q&A?” Pobjie is wrong. In fact, the year was 1977 and the dog was a blue-heeler – like Nancy]

“I think Henderson is seriously ill. There’s enough there for an entire convention of psychiatrists.”

– Mike (“I’ll pour the gin”) Carlton (after Pre-Dinner Drinks tweet to Jeff Sparrow), 8 October 2013

“Wrong, you got caught out, off to Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch Dog for you!”

– Tim Wilson tweet to Jonathan Green and Virginia Trioli, 8 October 2013.

“Nancy as ever will be the judge”

– Jonathan Green to Tim Wilson and Virginia Trioli (conceding to the arbitral authority of Nancy), 8 October 2013

[Gerard Henderson’s analysis of the ABC] is absolutely simplistic.”

– ABC managing director Mark Scott talking to ABC presenter Jonathan Green on ABC Radio National Drive, 2 May 2013.

“Oh my God; you’re as bad as Gerard Henderson.”

– Dr Peter Van Onselen (for a doctor he is), The Contrarians, Sky News, 20 September 2013.

“The nation mourns Gerard Henderson. He’s in perfect health.”

– Phillip Adams, via Twitter, 2 July 2013 (favourited by Virginia Trioli)

“Old Australian saying. ‘He wouldn’t know a tram was up him unless the bell rang’. Wholly appropriate to Gerard Henderson”

– Phillip Adams, via Twitter, 7 May 2013

“I said publicly once that I thought that Gerard’s views on the ABC came not from his brain but from his spinal cord”

– Tim Bowden as told to Phillip (“I was a teenage Stalinist”) Adams, Late Night Live, 11 June 2013 – Queen’s Birthday Public Holiday.

“Gerard Henderson is a crank”

– David Marr at the 2013 Sydney Writers’ Festival (as reported by Mike Carlton)

“The great Australian media nutter Gerard [Henderson is an] ungrateful bastard”.

– Mark Latham, Q&A, 10 June 2013.

“[Gerard Henderson] is a moral dwarf …Gerard, pull your head in”

– Professor Sinclair Davidson, 24 April 2013.

“[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

“I like to think of Gerard [Henderson] as the Inspector Clouseau of forensic journalism”

– David Marr, ABC News 24 The Drum, 21 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).

“[Gerard Henderson is] an internet pest”

– Dr (for a doctor he is) Jeff Sparrow, 26 February 2013.

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.