6 MARCH 2015

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 a stunning piece by ABC business editor Peter Ryan on AM this morning. Michael Brissenden somewhat emotively introduced the topic as “potentially unlawful tactics that some banks and insurance companies are using to wrestle control of default superannuation funds”. This, believe it or not, has upset Industry Super Australia – which enjoys the support of the trade union movement and some industry groups.

    Peter Ryan spoke to Andrew Proebstl of Legal Super, who is opposed to the “potentially unlawful tactics” of the banks and superannuation companies. No surprise there.

    What was truly amazing about the ABC business editor’s performance on AM turned on the number of leading questions he asked – sure in the knowledge that Mr Proebstl would agree with him. Here are some examples:

    Peter Ryan: But surely that’s a very clear conflict of interest for the employer if they do take those inducements in return for handing over a default superannuation fund?

    Andrew Proebstl: I would agree..

    Peter Ryan: So all they’re concerned about is selecting one of the approved funds, a fund that gets the tick rather than one that might be most suitable for their employees?

    Andrew Proebstl: Exactly right, exactly right.

    Peter Ryan: And of course, staff who are potentially financially exposed to these decisions in the large part might be totally unaware that these types of deals are being done on the quiet?

    Andrew Proebstl: I think that’s quite likely in many cases…
    Peter Ryan: This would appear to be even more important because many employees would take a “set and forget” attitude to their superannuation and believe that the employer would always be acting in their best possible interests?

    Andrew Proebstl: Yes, I think you’re exactly right.

    Peter Ryan: So surely this is a matter for the banking regulator, APRA, and the corporate regulator, ASIC, to ensure that the law is being enforced?

    Andrew Proebstl: I think that’s right.

    So, in a short interview, Andrew Proebstl (i) agreed with Peter Ryan, (ii) said that Peter Ryan was “exactly right”, (iii) said that Peter Ryan was “quite likely” correct, (iv) said that Peter Ryan was “exactly right” and (v) said that Peter Ryan was “right”.

    And, yet, the ABC business editor Peter Ryan was supposed to be asking questions. And Legal Super’s Andrew Proebstl was supposed to be answering questions. Not, it seems, on what Chris Kenny likes to call “Their ABC”.



    The Sydney Morning Herald’s inner-city architect Elizabeth Farrelly, who writes a weekly column each Thursday, got off her bike yesterday. How do we know? Well, because Dr Farrelly (for a doctor she is) led off her column about how she had had a ride in a taxi. Really. And the driver was a Greek Australian. How about that? Who was racist, according to the learned doctor. For which she blamed the Abbott government. No surprise there.

    Elizabeth Farrelly used all this to leap into the defence of Human Rights Commission president Professor (“Call me professor”) Gillian Triggs. And it was not long before Dr Farrelly compared the Liberal Party senators who criticised Professor Triggs at a Senate Estimates Committee meeting a while ago – to wit, Senator Ian Macdonald and Senator Barry O’Sullivan – with, wait for it, the murderers who make up the so-called Islamic State (or IS). This is what the bicycle-riding architect (i.e. when she’s not being propelled by a racist taxi driver) wrote:

    On Monday, the Senate censured Attorney-General George Brandis as “unfit for office” after his pursuit of Triggs. That was proper, but went nowhere far enough.

    The shock of watching Liberal Party thugs sledge the Human Rights Commission for daring to dissent, echoed the shock of watching those black-clad IS psycho-puppies jack-hammer 3000-year-old winged Assyrian bulls. The separation of powers is our priceless cultural artefact. At least IS was sufficiently ashamed to take its video down.

    Abbott remains unapologetic. Apparently it’s bad to criticise government, but just fine to attack the very institutions that differentiate us from the totalitarian regimes against which our government purports to defend us.

    So there you have it. According to Elizabeth Farrelly, there is no difference between a couple of Liberal Party backbench senators criticising Professor Triggs for the timing of – and her inconsistent testimony on – the Forgotten Children report (on children in detention) and the Sunni Muslim IS terrorists who take a break from murdering Shi’a Muslims in Iraq and Syria in order to find time for the destruction of 3000 year old artefacts with jack-hammers.

    According to the SMH columnist, IS terrorists have a better attitude to life than the Queensland Liberal Party senators. Moreover, Dr Farrelly believes that all that separates Australians from living under a “totalitarian” regime at the time of the Abbott-Clerical-Fascist dictatorship is Gillian Triggs and her fellow public servants the Human Rights Commission in Sydney.

    But imagine, just imagine, what Dr Farrelly would have written in the SMH if Senator Macdonald or Senator O’Sullivan had decided to smash up artifacts in Sydney’s Australian Museum. Just imagine. [I’d prefer not. Ed]


    On Friday 20 February 2015, in Aunty’s very own RN Drive’s “The Drawing Room” were presenter Patricia Karvelas, American anti-capital punishment campaigner Bryan Stevenson and Australia’s very own Julian (“I just love to flash my post-nominals”) Burnside AO QC.

    In the course of the (Drawing Room) conversation, JB AO QC made the following extraordinary comment:

    We criticise Islamic State, and rightly criticise Islamic State, for executing people. They do it with a swift blow of the sword, so the person dies within seconds. and yet, America is willing to have a person writhing in the electric chair for 14 minutes whilst they die. You know which one is more savage.

    How alienated can a Melbourne based QC get? For starters, the so-called Islamic State is into murders – not executions. Secondly, the victims of beheading do not die within seconds – rather they suffer a slow and gruesome death. Third, only some states of the United States have executions for capital offences following a trial by jury. Virtually all those states have abolished the electric chair – most executions are done by lethal injections.

    But Julian Burnside AO QC reckons that the victims of the Islamic State die within seconds – so IS murderers cannot be regarded as dispensing “savage” punishment. How alienated can you get?

    Can you bear it graphic


    Along with the ABC, Fairfax Media’s newspapers have been overwhelmingly critical of Tony Abbott and the Coalition government. It remains to be seen whether the widescale criticism of the Prime Minister in sections of the media will be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    However, for the moment at least, there are signs of some increase in the Coalition’s support in the opinion polls. This was the case with Newspoll two weeks ago and with the Fairfax Ipsos Poll last Monday.

    It seems that, according to Fairfax Ipsos’ Jessica Elgood, all polls are bad for the Prime Minister. This is what Ms Elgood told the Sydney Morning Herald.

    They [voters] have read the writing on the wall for Mr Abbott. It possibly indicates that the voters have already moved on from Mr Abbott. But they have not despaired of the Liberal Party [since they anticipate a change of leader].

    So there you have it. When the Coalition’s level of support drops, it’s bad for Tony Abbott. And when the Coalition’s level of support increases, it’s also bad for Tony Abbott. Can you bear it?


    Nancy’s (male) co-owner once heard a senior politician complain that Lateline (which once upon a time, commenced at 10.30 pm on ABC1 on weekdays) interfered with his/her sex life. The point was that, er, if one was watching Lateline it interfered with alternatives of the horizontal kind. [Perhaps this needs to be re-worded. Does anyone watch Lateline dead? – Ed].

    In any event, there have been no such interruptions of the television kind, in so far as Lateline is concerned, since before Christmas. The program has been on a VERY LONG WELL-EARNED BREAK since then. It is scheduled to return at 9.30 pm (Eastern time) on ABC News 24 next Monday. Since ABC News 24 goes out live from Sydney, this means that next Monday’s Lateline will screen in Perth at 6.30 pm. The program will be live in Western Australia – but not at all late.

    Nancy’s (male) co-owner, who gets to take part in a Lateline debate every six years or so, can hardly wait until he receives an invitation to go on the program circa the first half of 2020 – for a chat with Tony (“I was once a youthful Francis James admiring private school boy radical”) Jones, Emma Alberici or Steve (“I still call Triple J home”) Cannane. This time he will know that his half-decade late night performance will be shown in Perth around scones and raspberry jam time each Monday to Friday afternoon. Can you bear it?


    In the lead-up to the much prophesied Liberal Party leadership spill last Tuesday (re which see Nancy’s Pick-of-the-Week about Chris Uhlmann and all that), 7.30’s political editor Sabra Lane offered this gem on Thursday 26 February 2015. Let’s go to the transcript:

    Leigh Sales, Presenter: 17 days ago a leadership spill motion against the Prime Minister Tony Abbott failed, but it left many of his colleagues with the view that he has about six months to turn around his troubled leadership. Already, though, there’s further unrest and pressure’s building once again for another attempt to remove him from the job. Last time, it was backbench MPs who instigated the failed spill. This time, it’s frontbenchers who are worried that sticking with Tony Abbott is doing irreparable damage. Political editor Sabra Lane joins me now from Canberra. Sabra, what’s going on down there?

    Sabra Lane, Political Editor: Well, Leigh, there is a lot of talk about leadership. No-one can deny that. Frontbenchers and backbenchers are discussing it and they’re worried the party’s electoral prospects won’t improve under Tony Abbott….

    Leigh Sales: So is there any suggestion as to how this will be resolved?

    Sabra Lane: No, Leigh, there is no clear idea on how it will be resolved or even if it will be. Backbenchers don’t want to lead the charge this time. They say that they want ministers to agitate this for themselves and they are discussing it. Some argue that it should be resolved quickly. It’s been put to 7.30 it could happen next week, the thought being that a new leader should have the opportunity to reframe this year’s budget, which is just 12 weeks away. And there’s a view that the longer that Mr Abbott stays in the job, well the further damage that he inflicts on the party’s brand. There’s also a view, too, that with the New South Wales state election next month, that the NSW Premier Mike Baird should be given clean air to fight that election.

    Leigh Sales: It seems though from what you are saying that we’re in the same position that we were a few weeks ago though – which is that there’s a lot of discontent but that nobody is stepping up or declaring themselves a candidate to replace the Prime Minister.

    Sabra Lane: You’re right. This feels just like the situation of four weeks ago. There was a lot of talk and open anxiety about how the party was placed with Mr Abbott at the helm. And initially there was no clear idea of how to bring that to a head. Now some are hoping that Malcolm Turnbull might be the one to challenge, but he is not agitating for this at all. So, Leigh, it is a very fluid situation.

    Leigh Sales: Sabra Lane in Canberra, thank you very much.

    Sabra Lane: You’re welcome.

    In other words, the real political news from Canberra that evening was that there was no news at all. But this did not stop Ms Lane talking to Ms Sales about this “very fluid situation”. Can you bear it?



    While on the topic of ABC News and Current Affairs, didn’t Aunty’s political reporter Chris Uhlmann have a wonderful ten days or so.

    In a rush to judgment on the ABC TV News on the evening of Thursday 27 February, your man Uhlmann confidently predicted another Liberal Party leadership spill the following Tuesday (i.e. 3 March). After which, Prime Minister Tony Abbott would be replaced by Malcolm Turnbull.

    It was the kind of failed prediction to make Bob Ellis – the False Prophet of Palm Beach – jealous. There was no leadership spill. Moreover, over the weekend, the word got around that any such contest would see Foreign Minister Julie Bishop also in the field. Then, last Tuesday morning, the Fairfax Ipsos Poll indicated that the Coalition’s vote had increased and it now trailed Labor by 49 per cent to 51 per cent. This reflected the previous week’s Newspoll which had the Coalition behind by 47 per cent to 53 per cent – a reasonable position at this time of the electoral cycle.

    Chris Uhlmann appeared on Insiders last Sunday, just a couple of days before the leadership spill he predicted would take place the following Tuesday. How did your man Uhlmann go? You be the judge.

    First up, CU told Insiders presenter Barrie Cassidy that, in the event of a leadership ballot, Julie Bishop would be in the contest. Go on. CU did not tell viewers why he had just woken up to the possibility. Really. Let’s go to the transcript:

    Chris Uhlmann: I think the obvious thing is that although people are talking about – does Turnbull having the numbers this week – is that the Prime Minister doesn’t have them. If there’s a spill motion and he loses, that’s it. That there’ll be a contest between someone else.

    Well, that’s helpful advice. Well worth getting up at 9 am on a Sunday morning to hear, for sure. According to the ABC’s chief political reporter, if Tony Abbott does not have the numbers to retain the confidence of a majority of his colleagues, he will lose the Liberal Party leadership. Wow.

    Then CU threw the switch to History with a capital “h” – of the Reader’s Digest kind.

    Chris Uhlmann: Everything about this government is like the retreat from Moscow. They ditch things as they return to base and as they go. They win nothing in the process. So, by the time you get to this point, you’ve already told the community, basically, the kind of government you are. You’ve won nothing in the process of change.

    This overlooks the fact that Napoleon did not retreat from Moscow because he could not get the numbers in the upper house. And CU overlooked the Abbott government’s achievements on three key issues – i.e. junking the carbon tax, ending the mining tax and stopping the boats.

    Then Barrie Cassidy raised the BIG QUESTION – namely, whether anything concerning the leadership will “happen this week”. Mr Uhlmann after a very long verbal preamble [Was it as long as the retreat from Moscow? – Ed] declared: “So there’s a standoff on that. Could something happen this week? Absolutely. Will something happen this week? Well, when someone makes up their mind it could.”

    Gee, thanks for that. “Absolutely” Tony Abbott could be replaced. But only if and when someone makes up their mind” to roll the Prime Minister.

    Then Chris Uhlmann got really, really serious as he reported – wait for it – “rumours”. Yes, rumours. Lotsa rumours:

    Chris Uhlmann: There’s a lot of wild rumours going around but Four Corners have been wandering the building, that’s Parliament House, for the last couple of weeks. Now there’s a lot of speculation about what they have. And one of the things that people do believe they have is some documents which show that there was a deal with the Japanese submarines. Now I don’t know whether they do or don’t. All I’m saying, that’s one of the rumours that are going around. People believe that [the Four Corners] program will go to air on Monday the 23rd, which is the Monday before the NSW election, [in] which case you’d have three of four days of that kind of chaos again. Remember Prince Philip in the lead-up to the Queensland election. So they’re the calculations that people are making, rightly or wrongly.

    Dennis Atkins: Are you sure that’s not just insider ABC gossip?

    Chris Uhlmann: Look, I can honestly say I have not been in touch with Four Corners. I support Four Corners but I don’t know what they’re up to, either.

    Brilliant don’t you think? Mr Uhlmann can “honestly say” that he doesn’t know what Four Corners is up to – but the program is up to something. As in: “I don’t really know what I’m talking about – but I’ve got hold of an unsourced rumour which I heard on the Parliament House grape-vine and which I’m going to tell everyone about from the Insiders’ couch”.



    In his Australian Financial Review column on 25 February 2015, Mark Latham bagged anyone – but especially Liberal Party types – who blame staff for their political problems. The column, titled “Liberals take it out on the servants”, started off as follows:

    What is it about the Liberal Party and staffers? Not content with demonising Julia Gillard’s communications director, John McTernan, during the last term of parliament, the Liberals have now turned on one of their own: the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Peta Credlin.

    There used to be a convention in Australian politics that staff were exempt from public criticism. Politicians had to take responsibility for mistakes and misjudgments, not their employees. This is a basic principle of accountability. If staff are targeted when things go wrong, MPs are able to escape electoral scrutiny. Scandals and other problems can be solved by “restructuring” their office and promising to do better next time.

    The convention also reflected another important principle: attacking staff is fundamentally unfair, as they have no right of reply. They cannot call press conferences or make speeches in Parliament defending themselves. If staffers say anything publicly, their comments are immediately linked to their boss – an impossible situation in the workings of a political office. In effect, staff criticism is a one-way fight, the work of bullies picking on defenceless individuals. Political parties should never engage in it and the media should be reluctant to report it, especially when delivered in off-the-record briefings….

    Since the practice of staff criticism commenced against McTernan in 2012, I have been curious to know why the Coalition engages in it, whereas Labor maintains a more respectful culture of workplace solidarity. The problem lies in Liberal and National Party elitism, seeing staff as the equivalent of servants. In this “upstairs/downstairs” view of political offices, members of staff are dispensable – punching bags for when things go wrong….

    So that’s pretty clear, then. According to former (failed) Labor leader Mark Latham, criticism of personal staffers is “the work of bullies” and an example of upstairs/downstairs view of political office prevalent in the Liberal and National parties. Fancy that.

    Which raises the issue. What did Mark Latham say about his own personal staff in The Latham Diaries (MUP 2005) – just a decade ago. In particular, his one-time chief-of-staff Mike Richards who worked with the (failed) Opposition leader on the (failed) 2004 election campaign.

    Here’s what:

    Wednesday, 21 July 2004

    A dysfunctional day’s campaigning in Richmond, I rarely seem to get a clear day any more, of good events without the hiccups. A sign that the office is struggling with the pressures of continuous campaigning. That’s my concern about [Mike] Richards: he’s not a political strategist. He just needs to run an efficient office but that’s not happening. A terrible dilemma: I don’t know what he does of a day but not much I can do about it – it’s too close to an election to find a new Chief of Staff.

    Vivian [Schenker] fluffed the media program today: she failed to send out the notices herself, and left them to Malinda. As a result, the local media missed my main media event at the Tweed Hospital, so they jumped all over me at the opening of Justine Elliot’s campaign office. It was a shambles; the event hadn’t been advanced properly and a railway protestor grabbed the limelight. The worst possible outcome.

    Friday, 15 October 2004

    Mid-year I ask Mike Richards to work on the issue [Tasmanian forestry] – he told me he had close links to the Tasmanian Government – and to draft up policy recommendations. Like [Martin] Ferguson, he delivered nothing, not one scrap of paper.

    Wednesday, 24 November 2004

    I wasn’t hard enough on my Chief of Staff [Mike Richards]; he didn’t have the office campaign ready. All year, it felt we were seven weeks away from election day, so I didn’t have time to find someone new. He’s had a fair bit to say in the newspapers since he left two days after polling day, so this is a fair point to make.

    Saturday, 27 November 2004

    Sacked Staffers – I’ve seen some porkies in my time but check this out in the Jackman Stewart article: “[In August] Latham was all but ignoring the advice of some key insiders, including Chief of Staff, Mike Richards and Media Director, Vivian Schenker”. What advice? I didn’t hear any. Richards was an office manager, not a political person. The only useful thing he told me was the megaphone analogy. At strategy meetings he never said a word, and others used to comment on it.

    Schenker’s standard opinion was to do nothing – if in doubt with the media, ignore them. I reached the conclusion that she was unproductive – she shoved too much of her workload on to [Glenn] Byres. A number of senior press gallery people and Shadow Ministerial media advisers said that they had never had a conversation with her during my time as Leader. That’s why she wasn’t part of the travelling party during the campaign and didn’t stay on my staff thereafter.

    As for Richards, by the second week of the campaign it was clear he was not up to the job… Richards was all over the shop. Thereafter, [John] Faulkner took charge of the travelling party and I asked Mike to look after Leader’s liaison – all the calls to Shadows, candidates, etc. that I didn’t have time to make, and report back to me daily. Unfortunately, he never reported once but just disappeared. As it turned out, he went back to Melbourne to attend personal matters.

    When the campaign was over, I sacked Richards for two reasons. First, he went AWOL during the campaign, and second, Faulkner reported to me a series of complaints from Opposition staff…. Faulkner also said that Richards told him mid-year that he wanted to leave my office. Didn’t Richards have a responsibility to tell me, rather than drift along and then walk off the field in the middle of a national election campaign? Very disappointing.

    As for [Dennis] Glover, he didn’t hit the deck as a speech-writer; most of his stuff was unusable. It came to head the day of my Press Club speech three days before polling day. Dennis submitted a pile of pap, and in the end, I had to write the speech from scratch, assisted by [Geoff] Walsh and [John] Barron – their stuff was top-notch. Dennis looked like a hang-dog when he saw the final version, like the world had ended. In truth, it should have ended last December when [Simon] Crean was about to sack him as the Leader’s speech writer. I kept him on but it never worked out.

    So there you have it. In the Australian Financial Review in February 2015, the Lair of Liverpool declared that “Labor maintains a more respectful culture of workplace solidarity” than both the Liberal Party and the National Party and does not regard political staff as “punching bags for when things go wrong”. However, in his very own The Latham Diaries, the Lair of Liverpool bagged his chief-of-staff Mike Richards along with his media director Vivian Schenker and his speech writer Dennis Glover.

    All were used by Mark Latham as punching bags to cover his own incompetence.

    [I wonder why the powers that be at the AFR pay Mr Latham good money for such tosh. Should it be because they see value in running Australia’s most inconsistent political thinker? Just a thought. – Ed]

    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. There are, alas, some occasions where Hendo sends a polite missive but does not receive the courtesy of a reply. Nevertheless, publication of this one-sided correspondence still takes place. For the record and in the public interest, of course.

    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:

    It’s a very good question. Thankfully, not everyone follows Katharine Murphy’s wise counsel.


    There was enormous interest in last week’s Correspondence section – particularly the exchange between Hendo and Paul Ormonde (of the late Catholic Worker) about something which the late B.A. Santamaria may – or may not – have written in 1936 – no less.

    In passing, Nancy’s (male) co-owner said that he would catch up with Mr Ormonde in Melbourne in August since he (Hendo) had agreed to address the Melbourne Writers’ Festival. Hendo explained that he was currently working on his wardrobe with an eye to addressing the likely taxpayer subsidised inner-city leftist-luvvie turn-out. [Don’t bother. I doubt that anyone will occupy the pews when you are performing – Ed].

    In any event, Hendo advised Paul Ormonde that he is out shopping for a Che Guevara t-shirt along with with Che Guevara sandals. Whereupon a certain Roger Franklin, of down Melbourne way, came up with an offer which is impossible to refuse. Now read on.

    Robert Franklin to Gerard Henderson – 27 February 2015

    Dear Mr Henderson,

    I understand your need for a Che T-shirt, but might I suggest you borrow my Che beanie instead. It is in darkest black with the scourge of Havana’s homosexuals handsomely depicted. It has never been worn (although the cat has slept on it) and was purchased several months ago at the $2 shop in Laverton Mall, where the working class has not yet thrown off capitalism’s yoke (but might at any moment, as your fellow Writer’s Fest guests will surely tell you).

    I also have a splendid pair of sandals in the Jesus style. As these were purchased in Jerusalem, you might find, like garlic and silver bullets, that mere mention of your borrowed Jew shoes keeps any number of fellow guests at a distance. If this includes Jason Steger, so much the better: you might well be spared an extended rendition of his 50 favourite campesino marching songs, the lyrics of which I am sure led his book-review section some years ago.

    If they didn’t they will soon, Nothing surer.

    Roger Franklin

    PS: Let me know if you would like my beanie and I’ll send it off to Sydney without delay.

    Gerard Henderson to Roger Franklin – 5 March 2015

    Dear Mr Franklin

    Thanks for your most amusing letter of last Friday. Your expression of interest concerning the wardrobe for my scheduled appearance at the 2015 Melbourne Writers’ Festival is much appreciated.

    As you know, I was thinking along the lines of a Che Guevera tee-shirt with matching sandals. But your Che beanie sounds quite fetching. So – yes – I would like to borrow it. However, I appreciate that postage costs from Melbourne to Sydney may be more than what you paid at the Laverton Mall’s $2 shop.

    As to your reference to Jerusalem-born sandals – well, that would almost certainly be too much for the taxpayer subsidised inner-city leftists who invariably fill the luvvie pews at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival.

    I did happen to sit next to Jason (“I’m a left-leaning luvvie”) Steger at a lunch in Sydney a few years ago. Unlike you, I found his extended rendition of his Top-50 Campesino marching songs – well – memorable. So much so that I can’t forget the experience – try as I might.

    Come to think of it, your man Steger recently endorsed the view that I have “no … literary credentials at all”. Perhaps this is because I am not a Campesino marching songs kind of guy. I note that The Age has cut Mr Steger’s literary sludge each Saturday by about 40 per cent. But, like you, I guess he will soon be able to find space for a reference to marching songs, of a left-wing beat.

    Best wishes

    Gerard Henderson

    PS: Can I publish your letter in tomorrow’s Media Watch Dog?

    Roger Franklin to Gerard Henderson – 6 March 2015

    Dear Mr Henderson,

    Feel free to use my note as you see fit.

    I’ll pop along to the Post Office at some point during the afternoon and send the Che beanie your way. No need to return it; it’s yours to wear with pride.



    As avid MWD readers will be aware, last Friday’s issue referred to the ABC Radio 702 Drive with Richard Glover program on Thursday 27 February – where sexual child abuse at Knox Grammar School on Sydney’s North Shore was discussed. The Royal Commission Into Institutional Reponses To Child Sexual Abuse heard that day that, when a housemaster at Knox Grammar’s MacNeil boarding house, Tim Hawkes reported an instance of child sexual abuse to the principal – but not to NSW Police. Dr Hawkes (for a doctor he is) appears regularly on “The Monday Forum” on Drive with Richard Glover.

    Tim Hawkes told the Royal Commission that he did not check whether the principal had contacted police (he didn’t). However, outside the Royal Commission, Tim Hawkes said that he had “nothing to regret” concerning his behaviour when on the staff of Knox Grammar School. He apologised for this comment five days later – on Tuesday 3 March.

    On Thursday 27 February, both Richard Glover and David Marr ignored the fact that Knox Grammar is under the control of the Uniting Church. Glover raised the Catholic Church (not Knox) and Marr responded with a reference to the Yeshivah movement in the Jewish community (not Knox). Neither mentioned Tim Hawkes’ extraordinary evidence. Dr Hawkes is currently the high profile headmaster of The King’s School in Parramatta.

    Nancy’s (male) co-owner decided to contact Richard Glover as to whether he still intended to invite Dr Hawkes on to his program to lecture-at-large about education in general and a school’s duty-of-care in particular. A good question, to be sure – which Mr Glover did not answer. Here we go:

    Gerard Henderson to Richard Glover – 3 March 2015

    Good afternoon Richard

    This is just a brief question.

    In view of Tim Hawkes’ appearance at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse last Thursday, do you still propose to invite him on to Drive with Richard Glover’s “Monday Forum” to discuss education and related matters?

    As you will be aware, Dr Hawkes gave evidence to the Royal Commission that he reported an instance of sexual assault of a boy to the principal of Knox Grammar School – but not to the NSW Police. Also, Dr Hawkes said that he did not follow up to check whether the principal had reported the matter to police. Moreover, Tim Hawkes declared outside the hearing that he had no regrets about his behaviour when housemaster of MacNeil House at Knox Grammar School.

    This is not a matter of censorship. Dr Hawkes is entitled to speak at large and publish on the “duty of care” and other matters. But does he deserve a gig on Drive With Richard Glover to lecture-at-large about educational standards, duty of care etc?

    I would appreciate a reply by close of business on Wednesday 4 March 2015.

    Best wishes

    Gerard Henderson

    Richard Glover to Gerard Henderson – 3 March 2015

    Hi Gerard,

    As you know we only book up “The Monday Forum” a few weeks ahead. At the moment we are focused on the period leading up to the state election, in which we drop our usual format of one politician and two people from other fields and attempt a more conventional set-up of one person from each major party, with a rotating chair for independents, Greens and so forth. So Tim Hawkes is not booked in at the moment, but neither is anybody else who is not a serving politician.

    I must confess, I haven’t really given much thought to our guest bookings after March.



    Gerard Henderson to Richard Glover – 4 March 2015


    Thank you for your prompt reply. I know how busy you are on the days you present your program.

    I was surprised by your response – especially in view of the attitude taken by ABC presenters, producers and editors with respect to the slightest suggestion of improper behaviour and/or inadequate action by the Catholic Church concerning past child sexual abuse.

    You state that you “haven’t really given much thought” to guest bookings for “The Monday Forum” once you revert to your normal format after the NSW State election. In the past, Drive with Richard Glover has presented Tim Hawkes with a forum to lecture-at-large about education in general and the duty-to-protect in particular.

    This is the very same Dr Hawkes who failed to report an instance of child sexual assault when he was a housemaster at Knox Grammar School and who declared last Thursday that he had no regrets about his past inaction. It took Dr Hawkes some five days to apologise for his “no regrets” statement. And you apparently still believe that he should be given yet more opportunities on 702 to lecture the rest of us on educational standards, the duty-of-care and so on.

    Can you bear it? – as the saying goes.

    Over and out.


    Until next time – keep morale high.

    “Gerard’s condescension levels high on #insiders this morning”

    – Lenore Taylor, via Twitter, 22 February 2015

    “Gerard Henderson and David Marr are on #Insiders this week. Like a political Felix and Oscar.”

    – Mark Scott via Twitter 19 February 2015 at 1.10 pm

    “I once called Gerard Henderson `a complete f%^wit’. I deeply regret that. I was being much too harsh on f%^wits.”

    – Malcolm Farr via Twitter 14 February 2015 at 10:14 am

    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 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