24 OCTOBER 2014

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.

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Nancy’s Five Paws Award: Steve Cannane and Craig Emerson Demolish Peter Carey’s Conspiracy Theory


The Adoration of Gough Whitlam – Featuring 7.30 & Lateline with Q&A to follow on Monday


A Linda Mottram (Whitlam) Moment


Can You Bear It? Tony Jones and Brian Cox Laugh at Old White Males; The Age’s Nick Miller’s Julie Bishop Confusion; Sky News Finds the Sportsman in Gough


The Left’s Double Standards: Featuring Andrew McMicking & The Age’s Cartoonist Dyson


Correspondence: Barrister Fleur Ramsay, Historian James Franklin and Academic Lawyer Patrick Emerton Help Out


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five paws graphic


Fancy this. On The Drum last night, an ABC presenter and an ABC guest challenged New York-based Australian novelist Peter Carey’s conspiracy theory that the CIA was involved in the dismissal of the Whitlam Labor government on 11 November 1975.

Peter Carey looked confused – and had nothing to offer – as The Drum’s Steven Cannane and former Rudd/Gillard cabinet minister Dr Craig Emerson dismissed his Oliver-Stone-like conspiracy. Let’s go to the transcript:

Steve Cannane: The main source of these allegations [of CIA involvement in the Dismissal] is normally Christopher Boyce, who was a contractor for an organisation that helped transmit CIA communications. And he was the subject of that book The Falcon and The Snowman. He did a very interesting interview on Dateline with Mark Davis this year and he said: “I cannot sit here and prove it, but I believe it.” If even he [Boyce] can’t say it can be proved, how are you so sure about that?

Peter Carey: Well I don’t know. He did a lot of time in jail for his actions.

Then it was Craig Emerson’s turn.

Craig Emerson: I was a 21 year old Whitlam admirer. I thought he was marvellous. And I remember at a friend’s 21st birthday party, that’s when the Whitlam government was defeated. And it was defeated because of the economy, because of the state of the economy. The Australian people voted very, very strongly to remove the Whitlam government. That’s sad but it’s true.

Peter Carey: [interjecting] That’s part of the truth of course.

Craig Emerson: Well, I don’t think frankly that the CIA got to 10 million voters and told them how to vote. Whether or not they were involved in the actual dismissal process, I don’t think they [the CIA] inculcated to the Australian people [and said] “You should vote for Malcolm Fraser”.

Needless to say, Peter Carey had no response to Emerson’s criticism and began discussing Gough Whitlam’s policy platform which he took to the 1972 election. Which was hardly the point. Clearly, when it comes to the dismissal and the CIA, your man Carey doesn’t know what he is talking about.

Steve Cannane – Five Paws

Craig Emerson – Five Paws

[That’s a lot of paws to award in one afternoon – Ed].


ADoration Sans Facts

As Nancy’s (male) co-owner advised in the Media Watch Dog Special which went out on Wednesday 22 October 2014, he spent much of Tuesday lying on the floor with a wet towel on his forehead. The hours passed as person after person appeared on radio and television offering praise for former prime minister Gough Whitlam whose death was announced around 8 am on Tuesday morning. As to be expected, the Conservative-Free-Zone that is the ABC was the worst offender in that there was only adulation without context.

Gerard Henderson had just risen from the floor at 7 pm when he heard – on ABC1 TV National News – a schoolgirl praising Gough the Great for making it possible for women “to get a vote”. So Hendo immediately resumed a horizontal position.

The North Sydney Girls High student comment was approved for running on the ABC1 News by an ABC reporter, an ABC producer and an ABC editor. Apparently all three were so caught up in the emotion of the occasion that they simply forgot that women voted in the 1903 Commonwealth election – more than a decade before Mr Whitlam was even born.

It seems that the Saint Gough experience will continue on the ABC for some time to come. The sassy Jenny Hocking – author of the two volume biography of Gough Whitlam – has been added to the panel for next Monday’s Q&A. Dr Hocking (for a doctor she is) seems to have become the left’s bespoke biographer when it comes to writing soft accounts on such left-wing heroes as Gough Whitlam, Lionel Murphy and Frank Hardy. She has been fortunate to have her opus magnums – or is it opus magna or perhaps magna opus? – subsidised by Australian taxpayers per courtesy of Australian Research Council funding. Nice hand-out if you can get one.

The inclusion of the Whitlam-loving Jenny Hocking on Q&A next Monday is likely to stand in contrast to how Margaret Thatcher’s death was announced – as breaking news – on Q&A on 8 April 2013. Then contemporary writer and retired hooker Brooke Magnanti sparked no condemnation from presenter Tony Jones when she called for the champagne to celebrate the death of the so-called Iron Lady. But, then, Baroness Thatcher was a Conservative prime minister. And the ABC is very much a Conservative-Free-Zone.

But now, let’s examine how the ABC’s stars handled Gough Whitlam’s death.

▪ Leigh Sales Allows Paul Keating to Bag the Menzies Era

On Tuesday evening, Leigh Sales interviewed former Labor prime minister Paul Keating on 7.30. Ms Sales asked some pressing questions of Mr Keating. But she declined to remind the former Labor prime minister that he had once condemned Whitlam’s economic incompetence. And the 7.30 presenter allowed Keating to turn his comments on Gough Whitlam into an attack on Robert Menzies. Let’s go to the transcript:

Leigh Sales : Do you consider that he has been important in your life?

Paul Keating: He front-run the system. I mean, you know, I had a couple of people in my political life I was interested in. [Jack] Lang was one, Whitlam was another. I mean Australia was a post-imperial outpost, effectively, in the post-war years. In the years of the Menzies torpor, it was like sort of wading in molasses, you know. And to shock the system and change it – to change Australia’s idea of itself is what Whitlam did.

Reorientate the country in foreign policy terms, he wanted to make Australia, take Australia from an outpost to a bridge. We were a post-imperial outpost. With all the glue of the Anglo-sphere hanging on us. We missed the sort of, by getting out of white Australia, we missed the marginalisation that South Africa had, we missed it by seconds in time. And that change in orientation and the shift in policies and domestically in the big social programs like Medicare, you know, the health of any one of us is important to all of us. The right to get yourself a secondary education and a tertiary one, and further and technical and further education, these things.

This is complete tosh – which Leigh Sales failed to challenge. Here are some facts:

Australia was a prosperous society in the 1950s and the first half of the 1960s – during Robert Menzies’ prime ministership. Australia experienced low inflation, low interest rates and full employment. There was no topor.

▪ In 1957 the Menzies government signed the Australia-Japan Commerce Agreement – which was the very antithesis of the Anglo-sphere. And what did Labor have to say about this? Well, the ALP opposed the Australia-Japan Commerce Agreement and Labor MPs, including Gough Whitlam, voted against it in the House of Representatives.

▪ Contrary to the implication in Paul Keating’s comments, Harold Holt’s Coalition government abolished the White Australia Policy in March 1966. Gough Whitlam became prime minister over six years later. Labor supported White Australia in the 1950s and the first half of the 1960s. Whitlam, as a loyal ALP parliamentarian went along with Labor policy.

▪ The claim that Gough Whitlam made it possible for Australians to get a “secondary education and a tertiary one” is a complete myth. Secondary education was available in government and non-government schools throughout the Menzies era. Certainly the Whitlam government introduced so-called “free” tertiary education. Fees for tertiary education were re-instated when Paul Keating was treasurer – because they were a strain on the budget and because they were primarily of benefit to higher income earning families.

Leigh Sales allowed Paul Keating to get away with this distortion of Australian history in what was supposed to be a tribute to the late Gough Whitlam.

▪ Emma Alberici Covers Gough Whitlam in China & The Dismissal Inadequately

On Tuesday’s Lateline Emma Alberici interviewed ABC chairman James Spigelman, who was private secretary to Gough Whitlam from late 1972 until shortly before November 1975. The discussion turned on Mr Whitlam’s visit to China as prime minister in 1973. Spigelman made some interesting comments. Let’s go to the transcript:

Emma Alberici: In fact Tony Abbott credits Gough Whitlam with shaping the modern Australia/China relationship. Is evidence of his influence still obvious there now?

James Spigelman: Oh, absolutely. It’s not remembered that the host of the touring party, when he was there as prime minister, was in fact Deng Xiaoping who had only a just recently, about a week I think, been released from house arrest. And the Gang of Four was actually still in control and we met a number of them during the official engagements then.
But everyone knew that when Jiang Qing [Madame Mao] brought Deng Xiaoping out of house arrest that things were going to change. I don’t think anyone realised the extent to which Deng Xiaoping would in fact change the nation. He started off by getting rid of the Gang of Four but after that the policies he implemented are one of the great transformations in world history.

Emma Alberici neglected to take the hint from her guest. The key criticism of Whitlam’s visits to China in 1971 and 1973 did not turn on his attitude to the recognition of China. But, rather, Gough Whitlam’s adulation of the brutal dictator Mao Zedong. Close to 50 million Chinese died during Mao’s forced famine that was the so-called Leap Forward of 1958-1962. And around 100 million Chinese were purged during the Cultural Revolution – which ran from 1966 to Mao’s death in 1976 – including Deng Xiaoping. But Whitlam said nothing about Mao’s excesses or those of the Gang of Four who supported Mao. Rather he glorified Mao.

Gough Whitlam never supported human rights in China – just as he never condemned human rights abuses in Ho Chi Minh’s Vietnam or Pol Pot’s Cambodia. Emma Alberici neglected to get James Spigelman’s view on this. Oh yes – and she repeated the howler that Whitlam brought “the troops home from
Vietnam”. He didn’t.

Later in the program Ms Alberici presided over a discussion between journalist Paul Kelly and former NSW Labor MP Rodney Cavalier. Both were admirers of Gough Whitlam who had some useful things to say about Whitlam and his government.

However, when it came to coverage of the Governor-General Sir John Kerr’s dismissal of Whitlam, the discussion reverted to an all-too-typical ABC “debate” where everyone agrees with everyone else. Let’s go to the transcript:

Paul Kelly: As far as the Dismissal itself is concerned, we know a lot about the Dismissal. This was an unforgiveable abuse of constitutional power by Sir John Kerr. He ambushed Gough Whitlam. It was unforgiveable. He didn’t need to resort to that particular solution. I recognise that Whitlam misjudged Kerr and that Whitlam’s tactics were wrong during the crisis. But the mistakes and errors Whitlam made in no way justified what Kerr did.

Emma Alberici: What have been the ramifications since then on the Australian political landscape, do you think?

Rodney Cavalier: I think Paul is absolutely correct in his analysis and he has played no small role in that in his book about 1975, “Twenty Years On”.

The fact is that, like it or not, the Dismissal was constitutional. It was regarded as such by four people who have held the position of Chief Justice of Australia – Sir Garfield Barwick, Sir Harry Gibbs, Sir Anthony Mason and Murray Gleeson. Also, when he was Opposition leader, Gough Whitlam supported the notion of an Opposition forcing a government to an election by blocking or defeating finance bills in the Senate.

Sir John Kerr’s wisdom in acting the way he did can be argued. However, his decision was not unconstitutional or an abuse of constitutional power. Which is why it was not challenged in the High Court. But Ms Alberici did not query the wisdom either Paul Kelly or Rodney Cavalier. No other view was heard. How frightfully Aunty.

▪ Tony Jones Prompts Kevin Rudd’s Mythology

Then on Wednesday, Lateline presenter Tony Jones interviewed former Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd about former Labor prime minister Gough Whitlam. More soft questions. And more historical fudge. Let’s go to the transcript:

Tony Jones : As a young boy who grew up in very modest circumstances in a small town in Queensland, who rose to become prime minister, do you feel you have any kind of a personal debt to Gough Whitlam and that particular government?

Kevin Rudd : I think all of us who grew up in that period, if we’re honest about it, have such an obligation. It’s another reason for speaking out tonight. Gough did things for me. Gough did things for my ability to get on and pursue my own dreams in life. And we all know how that came about for an entire generation of Australians when he made university education accessible to everybody on the basis of ability, academic ability, as opposed to your ability to pay. And so, in my case, my family I think had been in Australia since the Second Fleet – and so far as I can work out, I’m probably the first to ever go anywhere near a university. And Gough Whitlam made that possible for me and for so many others, opened this extraordinary array of possibilities. So for that I owe him an extraordinary debt, as do many people watching your program tonight.

In short, a loaded question. Followed by yet more tosh.

The Menzies Government introduced the Commonwealth Government Scholarship Scheme in 1951 which provided free tertiary education plus a generous means-tested living allowance. Kevin Rudd, who was dux of his school, would have won such a scholarship. There were also generous bursaries provided by State governments for arts and science students who were willing to enter the teaching profession.

Mr Rudd’s comment that, during the period of the Menzies government, entry to university was determined on the basis of “ability to pay” is completely false. It should have been corrected by Tony Jones. Alas, it seems that Mr Jones was too subsumed with the Whitlam legend to bother about facts. In any event, if Kevin Rudd is such a believer in so-called “free” tertiary education, how come it came to pass that he did not reintroduce “free” tertiary education (which had been junked by the Hawke/Keating government) when he was prime minister. Needless to say, Mr Jones did not ask this question.

It was much the same when the topic got around to Vietnam. Kevin Rudd praised Gough Whitlam for “taking our troops out of Vietnam, ending conscription”.

All Australian fighting troops were withdrawn by the Coalition government in the late 1960s and early 1970s. When Whitlam came to office in December 1972, only a few Australian military advisers remained in Vietnam. It’s a complete myth that Whitlam withdrew Australian forces from Vietnam. However, Tony Jones was happy to go along with it. It was that kind of “Holy Gough We Praise They Name” night where facts were not invited guests.




The announcement of Gough Whitlam’s death co-incided with the commencement of the Mornings with Linda Mottram program on ABC Radio 702.

It was very much a Whitlam-love-in. Except for the (honest) statement of former Hawke government minister Gareth Evans that the Whitlam government was “dysfunctional”. No one really wanted to discuss this. So the conversation moved on – as the saying goes.

Ms Mottram was able to restore the solemnity of the occasion when, close to 9 am and in response to “I love Gough” caller, Linda Mottram enthused:

Linda Mottram: So there is nothing he [Whitlam] wasn’t responsible for? Fantastic stuff.

[Yeah, truly fantastic. Like introducing votes for women in 1903, perhaps – Ed]

Verily, a Linda Mottram Moment.


Can you bear it graphic


It was wall-to-wall alienation on ABC’s Q&A program last Monday. The tone for the evening was set when the question was raised about the only minority which it is fashionable to bag in contemporary Australia. Namely, OLD WHITE MALES.

Let’s go to the transcript where presenter Tony Jones called on an authorised question from a certain Dianne McDonald.

Dianne McDonald : The national curriculum review panel consisted largely of three almost dead white males. No classroom teachers, no women, who dominate the teaching profession were involved in the panel. The review actually ignored decades of significant research into education and the progress that we have made. So, how can our education system afford this way that students are now being forced to move backwards to the 1950s, in perhaps Brian Cox’s time travel system, rather than education moving into the 21st Century….

Richard Gill : I think you make a really good point about the national curriculum….

Tony Jones: ….we he have to say it’s probably quite wrong to say those men are almost dead. We won’t say that. They are men of a certain age – and we can say that.

Nalini Joshi : And I think there are only two of them, not three.

Brian Cox: What, one died?

Nalini Joshi : Unless one has. Well, I’m sorry.

Tony Jones : Not while we’ve been speaking, right?

What a hoot. The white male Tony Jones will never see age 55 again. And he spent time on Q&A last Monday laughing at “almost dead white males”. Can you bear it?


Nick Miller on How Julie Bishop Failed to Talk with Vladimir Putin in Milan – 17 October 2014:

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop appears to have missed an opportunity to “shirt-front” Vladimir Putin over Russia’s role in the MH17 tragedy. There had been speculation that Ms Bishop could confront Mr Putin at a meeting in Italy on Thursday, in a preview of his encounter with Prime Minister Tony Abbott at the G20 meeting next month in Brisbane.

Video evidence suggests Ms Bishop and Mr Putin were in the same room on Thursday night – but an Australian diplomatic source said she “never saw him”. However, she did buttonhole Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov over problems with access to the Ukraine crash site.

This story also appeared in The Age’s print edition on Saturday 18 October 2014.

Nick Miller on How Julie Bishop Succeeded in Talking with Vladimir Putin in Milan – 17 October 2014:

Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister has buttonholed – not shirt-fronted – Vladimir Putin, and won from him a promise to help international forensic teams regain access to the MH17 crash site.

The Netherlands-based experts identifying MH17 tragedy victims urgently need one more visit to the crash site in eastern Ukraine before winter sets in, Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop says. However when she raised the matter directly with Russia’s Foreign Minister, in the sidelines of a summit in Milan on Thursday, she was met with frustrating disinterest.

On Friday morning Ms Bishop again pushed the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin, during a 25-minute one-one-one chat that also covered the upcoming G20 meeting in Brisbane, and the ISIL threat. During the conversation, Ms Bishop told Fairfax Media, Mr Putin agreed to use his influence on the rebels in eastern Ukraine, to help teams return to the crash site. He also agreed to co-operate fully with the investigation into the causes of the crash.

So there you have it. Or not. Can you bear it?


Nancy’s (male) co-owner was still prostrate on the floor, with his cold towel drying out, when the Sky News Sport’s program commenced with Jim Bracey on Tuesday night. However, he recalls, albeit at a time of certain stress, that the following comments in praise of Gough Whitlam were made.

▪ Australian Olympic Committee vice president Peter Montgomery said that Margaret Whitlam was a gold medallist at the 1938 Empire Games (wrong) and Gough Whitlam established the Australian Institute of Sport (also wrong).

▪ Then Rebecca Wilson declared that the MCG was part of the Whitlam government’s legacy. Wrong – no MCG grandstands were constructed or planned during the time of the Whitlam government.

MWD is willing to run a correction. But Hendo, despite his evident stress, is certain that he heard all of the above. Can you bear it?



This is how Brisbane-based leftist Andrew McMicking responded to the mild criticism of Gough Whitlam’s government on Paul Murray Live by Paul Murray last Tuesday:

Andrew McMicking: @PMOnAir Paul, is it OK to say now your dead son Leo is a grub and deserved to die? Just thought I’d match your editorial tonight. Reply pls.

This was a truly shocking low reference to Paul Murray’s beloved son Leo who died at birth. Moreover, Paul Murray never said that Gough Whitlam was a grub who deserved to die.  How unprofessional can you get? Mr McMicking denied that he personally put out the tweet and blamed friends at a social gathering who had access to his account.

Irrespective of who authored the tweet, the facts are as follows. The critique of the Whitlam government by the likes of Paul Murray, Greg Sheridan and Miranda Devine was considered and not personal. Gough Whitlam lived to 98 years of age and enjoyed a successful and wonderful life with his family. Leo Murray died at birth. The Andrew McMicking tweet represented the lowest of the low as far as political trolling goes.

It’s noticeable that Andrew McMicking and his left-wing mates said nothing following the Dyson cartoon which was published in The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra yesterday.


Clearly Dyson is stating – with the support of The Age’s editor – that Gough Whitlam was somehow responsible for the deaths of the five journalists who were killed at Bilbao, East Timor, in 1975.

This is an appalling – and unfair – allegation. Yet the left – who take umbrage at any criticism of Whitlam’s economic or social legacy – remain silent when he is associated with the deaths of journalists.


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.

This week Nancy’s (male) co-owner received emails from (i) an angry barrister, (ii) a mild mannered mathematician/philosopher and (iii) a pony-tailed legal academic. What fun. Here we go:


On Tuesday night, ABC TV News throughout Australia ran a package praising the Great Gough (Whitlam) and all his works and all his pomps. Included in the piece – which was cleared by an ABC reporter, producer and editor – was a comment by a female student that Gough Whitlam had made it possible for women “to get the vote”. Apparently, the powers-that-be at the taxpayer funded broadcaster were unaware that females have been voting in Federal elections since 1903 – over a decade before Edward Gough Whitlam was born.

On Wednesday, a MWD Special appeared titled “Can You Bear It? ABC News Re-Writes History To Honour Edward Gough Whitlam”. Alas, this really upset a certain Fleur Ramsay who – ignoring Katharine Murphy’s wise counsel – wrote to MWD. Here we go:

▪ Fleur Ramsay to Gerard Henderson – 22 October 2014

Dear Sydney-Institute,

For some reason unknown and unfathomable to me, I seem to be getting your ideological dribble sent to my work email.  I have unsubscribed from the email list, but after reading the email, I wanted to let you know that anyone with a brain would consider that the reported opinion of a North Sydney High School girl is not a ‘fact’ but an opinion.  However, I understand that people who are so far right, like yourselves, no longer understand the distinction between fact and opinion.

Please ensure that no more emails are sent unsolicited to me.  Thanks to Mr Whitlam, I had the benefit of a university education and have the capacity to reason.  If the email you sent me is an indication of the reasoning abilities at the Sydney-Institute, perhaps media/public comment and policy is not the right fit for you.

Kind regards,

Fleur Ramsay

▪ Gerard Henderson to Fleur Ramsay – 24 October 2014

Ms Ramsay

I have no idea how you received a copy of the Media Watch Dog special which I put out on Wednesday. I will make sure that you do not receive any such emails in the future.

In view of your somewhat angry note, I feel that I should make a couple of points in response:

▪ Whether Gough Whitlam gave the vote to women is not a matter of opinion. Women voted in all states in the 1903 Federal election – as ABC reporters, producers and editors should understand. This is a matter of fact. I am not concerned about schoolgirls expressing ignorant positions. My point was that the ABC should not run uncorrected howlers in a 15 minute profile devoted to praising the contribution of the late Gough Whitlam.

▪ I do understand the difference between fact and opinion. It’s just that the issue of when women received the vote in Australia is not a matter of opinion – even at North Sydney Girls High.

▪ As you may or may not be aware, there was a generous Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme in operation before the election of the Whitlam Government. It covered all tertiary fees and provided a generous means-tested living allowance. When I studied law in the late 1960s and early 1970s, there were many females in the Melbourne University Law School – this was before Gough Whitlam’s time.

Moreover, it was the Menzies government which presided over the huge increase in Commonwealth funding for universities which took place in the 1950s and first half of the 1960s.

▪ It is true that Gough Whitlam introduced what is sometimes termed “free” tertiary education – this invariably meant that the tertiary education of the middle class and the wealthy was subsided by middle and low income earners not at university – including manual workers.

▪ As I understand it, you studied Law in Australia under the Hawke Labor Government’s HECS scheme which continues today. This replaced Gough Whitlam’s so-called “free education” since it was not financially sustainable.

▪ It is delusional for you to believe that your tertiary education circa 2000 – to which you made a financial contribution – was made possible by Gough Whitlam’s three year prime ministership some four decades earlier and after the Menzies Government had implemented the Martin Report.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson


In MWD Issue 245 (3 October 2014), Gerard Henderson documented the howlers in Mary Elizabeth Calwell’s essay on her old man – Arthur Calwell – who led Labor to a “hat-trick” of losses in 1961, 1963 and 1966. Put simply, Ms Calwell’s piece in the edited collection What Did you Do In The Cold War, Daddy? was – well – a load of tosh.

Alas, the historian James Franklin did not agree – and wrote to Nancy’s (male) co-owner putting an alternative position on Mr Calwell’s contribution during the Cold War.

▪ Jim Franklin to Gerard Henderson – 4 October 2014


Given that your complaints about Calwell and Lenin are true, it’s still not right to say that Calwell did “nothing useful” in the Cold War.

For a start, the 170,000 Eastern Europeans who were the core of his immigration policy were refugees from the Red Army, and Australia was among the most generous nations in taking them when the anti-communist IRO parcelled them out; due largely to Calwell. Tribune didn’t carry on about “Calwell’s Balt Fascist concentration camp guards” for nothing – they knew a serious threat when they saw it.

In 1948, he admitted in Parliament to providing a phone connection for the Industrial Groups organiser in the Clerks’ Union, W.T. (“Diver”) Dobson; no doubt not a one-off.

Calwell represented and promoted a form of socialism that was unlike Communism, in e.g. ‘What the Popes have said on capitalism and the employing class, the wage system, trade unions’ (1949). That may or may not have been a credible economic theory, but surely some alternative to Communist theory was exactly what was needed in the early Cold War.


Gerard Henderson to Jim Franklin – 24 October 2014


Thanks for your note of 4 October 2014 concerning my comments in MWD Issue 247 on Mary Elizabeth Calwell’s essay on her father Arthur Calwell in What Did You Do in the Cold War, Daddy? Apologies for the delay in replying. In response, I make the following comments:

▪ It is true that, when Immigration Minister in Ben Chifley’s Labor government between July 1945 and December 1949, Arthur Calwell encouraged immigration to Australia from Eastern Europe. This included some individuals chosen by the United Nations specialised agency titled the International Refugee Organisation.

As you will be aware, Arthur Calwell primarily wanted immigration to Australia from the British Isles (including Ireland). He was willing to take other immigration from Europe – primarily because he was a fervent supporter of the White Australia Policy and vehemently opposed to any kind of Asian immigration. In other words, Calwell was happy to accept European anti-communists fleeing from the Soviet Union’s Red Army. But he was not willing to accept Asian anti-communists fleeing from the communist Peoples’ Liberation Army in China. Even with respect to Europe, Arthur Calwell preferred immigrants from northern “fair haired” nations.

▪ Arthur Calwell did co-operate with the anti-communist Industrial Groups in some trade unions in the late 1940s and early 1950s. But he abandoned the Industrial Groups by the mid-1950s.

▪ I read some years ago Arthur Calwell’s 1949 pamphlet What the Popes have said on capitalism and the employing class, the wage system, trade unions. From memory, it was both boring and poorly written. Moreover, it had little – if any – impact on the public debate.

None of the above, convinces me that I should modify my comment that Arthur Calwell did “nothing useful” during the Cold War. Here’s why:

▪ In the late 1940s and early 1960s, Arthur Calwell was well placed to provide leadership to the anti-communist forces in both the Australian Labor Party and the trade union movement. He shirked the opportunity. Calwell’s lack of political courage ultimately cost him the prime ministership.

▪ Arthur Calwell’s anti-communist outbursts in the late 1940s were precisely that – i.e. outbursts. He never delivered a considered critique of communism in general or communist totalitarian regimes in Europe and Asia in particular.

▪ Towards the end of his life, after the Soviet Union’s invasion of Czechoslovakia and the crushing of the Prague Spring in 1968, Calwell went to Moscow and sucked up to Stalin’s heirs. He then wrote an intellectually dishonest account of the Soviet Union since the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.

All of this is consistent with Arthur Calwell doing “nothing useful” during the Cold War. Indeed, as Mary Elizabeth Calwell’s essay (unintentionally) documents – Arthur Calwell spent most of the Cold War in Australia fighting anti-communists. Not communists.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson


As avid MWD readers will be aware, a certain Dr Emerton (for a doctor he is) has written to Nancy’s (male) co-owner suggesting a person who has not even been charged with a crime can be properly regarded by a judge as a criminal. You be the judge as Patrick Emerton of the Monash University Law School writes more turgid prose in defence of his position.

▪ Patrick Emerton to Gerard Henderson – 20 October 2014

Dear Mr Henderson
I don’t understand the basis on which you assert, “The fact is that only a person convicted of a crime can be said to have committed a crime.” In paragraph 62 of his judgement, Justice Adams said that the ASIO officers in question had committed crimes, although neither had been charged or convicted. Are you suggesting that Justice Adams made an error of law? What is the error?
I received your letter, although I’m not entirely sure what the material is. Am I correct in inferring that you have posted our correspondence, together with your remarks about my hair, on the Sydney Institute website?
I also take it that you are not interested in a public debate, whether on the details of a judge’s powers to exclude evidence on the grounds that it was tainted by the commission of a crime, or on the broader issue of constitutional and legal policy issues raised by Australia’s anti-terrorism laws. Let me know if you change your mind.
Yours sincerely
Dr Patrick Emerton
Senior Lecturer and Associate, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law
Monash University

Gerard Henderson to Patrick Emerton – 24 October 2014

Dear Dr Emerton

How wonderful to hear from you again. In response to your missive, I make a few comments.

▪ I happen to be old-fashioned enough to believe that a judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales has no right to find that someone committed a crime when the person concerned had no right to legal counsel or to trial by jury – or even to trial by a judge alone. The ASIO officers in the Ul-Haque Case were never charged with any offence. Clearly, at the very least, the Director of Public Prosecutions did not believe that there was any prospect that the ASIO officers would be convicted of the crimes of kidnapping and/or false imprisonment.

Justice Michael Adams finding was never challenged at law since there was no conviction in this case and, hence, no right of appeal to a superior court. You and your colleagues at the Monash University Law School may be happy to support a situation where Justice Adams finds that individuals are criminals without a hearing or a defence – and without a jury verdict. But I am not.

▪ I publish some letters written to me – which do not contain personal material – on my Media Watch Dog blog. In the public interest, of course. MWD’s “Correspondence” segment is highly popular among MWD’s avid readers.

It seems to me that someone who works at a taxpayer subsidised tertiary institution should welcome the widespread circulation of his/her views on important topics on sites like MWD. Such as your good self.

▪ In MWD last week you were referred to as the proud wearer of a well-maintained possum-style, bushy pony-tail – and the question was asked whether you wear sandals. An accurate description – followed by a highly pertinent question, I would have thought. Although Nancy’s (female) co-owner has suggested that some possums don’t have bushy tails. Perhaps this could provide an intellectually challenging topic for debate at the Monash University Law School.

▪ I have spent most of my life in public debate. Unlike you – who seem to like ABC Radio National Late Night Live “debates” where everyone agrees with everyone else and a fine (leftist) ideological time is had by all. I understand that similar so-called “debates” take place in contemporary university law schools.

It’s just that I do not propose to travel to Melbourne to provide you with an audience where you will argue that ASIO officers who have never been charged with, or convicted of, crimes are in fact criminals. I happen to believe in the rule of law and of the right of the accused to trial by jury. How about you?

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

Until next time – keep morale high.


Oh Gerard. You total clown.”

– Jonathan (“Proudly the ABC’s Sneerer-in-Chief”) Green on Twitter, Friday 3 October 2014, 4.31 pm [Mr Green must be an obsessive avid reader to respond so soon. – Ed]

“Good morning. All the gooder for being attacked (for thousandth time) by silly Gerard in the Oz”

– Phillip Adams via Twitter,  27 September 2014

“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

“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 TwitterSaturday 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