ISSUE – NO. 287


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.



  • Stop Press: Peter Hartcher’s Beat-Up, later channelled by Gael Jennings & Virginia Trioli Scores an Unlikely Five Paws Award
  • Can You Bear It? Fran Kelly’s Confusion; Aunty Gives Advertising a Chance; Waleed Aly’s Jargon Affliction
  • A Linda Mottram Moment: With a Little Help from Lenore Taylor
  • ABC Comedy in the Post-Abbott Period featuring The Chaser “Boys” & Clarke and Dawe
  • MWD Exclusive: Crikey’s Paddy Manning Tells Sky News all about Malcolm Turnbull – Or Does He?
  • Correspondence: Chris Simpson, Jason Steger & John Barich help out re Robert Menzies, Winston Churchill, Anne Henderson, John Curtin, Paul Keating, Ray Cassin, B.A. Santamaria and Bruce Duncan



What a beat-up in this morning’s Sydney Morning Herald by Fairfax political editor Peter Hartcher – who should know better.

Half of the SMH’s front page is taken up with Mr Hartcher’s “Exclusive” headed “Guess who’s still in the PM’s office” – accompanied by a huge photo of Peta Credlin, the head of the Prime Minister’s Office in Tony Abbott’s time. Ah yes – Ms Credlin is photographed in a leopard-print jacket. [That’s a good call. I didn’t realise you were such a fashionista. – Ed]

Here’s Peter Hartcher’s (hyperbolic) lead (which spilled to Page 6):

New Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is operating from his old office as Communications Minister, without full access to the prime ministerial diary, more than three days after winning the leadership. While the former prime minister Tony Abbott is understood to have left, his staff are still occupying the prime minister’s office suite, led by his former chief of staff, Peta Credlin.

The office is not expected to be fully vacated until Saturday, making it one of the slower transitions for a head of government of recent years.

So there you have it. The former prime minister’s staff – led by Peta Credlin is – is OCCUPYING THE PMO. But what’s the evidence for this assertion? Well, not much at all if anyone gets to read the final four paragraphs of the Hartcher beat-up, viz:

If the PMO is fully vacated by Saturday as expected, it will have been four days since Mr Turnbull won the leadership.

When the then prime minister Paul Keating lost to John Howard in 1996, he had fully vacated the office in two business days, three days in all, according to people involved in the transition.

When Julia Gillard deposed Kevin Rudd, Mr Rudd and staff fully vacated the PMO in two days, according to people involved.

When Mr Abbott was elected prime minister, Kevin Rudd and staff fully vacated in four days in all, three working days, according to people involved, although Mr Abbott chose not to be sworn in until some days after this date.

What a load of tosh. Peter Hartcher’s Page One lead seems to be based on the proposition that PMO staff only work Mondays to Fridays. In fact, most work seven days a week. On the basis that PMO staff work every day, these are the times it took the above mentioned prime ministers to vacate their offices:

Paul Keating (1996): 3 days

Kevin Rudd (2010): 2 days

Kevin Rudd (2013): 4 days

Tony Abbott (2015): 4 days

And this is the SMH’s justification for its claim that Peta Credlin is “occupying the PMO”. [Perhaps you should give your version of the Sydney Morning Herald’s logo another run below – along with your own – Ed]

smh v mwd



five paws graphic

Meanwhile on ABC1’s News Breakfast program this morning, Gael Jennings (from the pretentiously titled Centre for Advancing Journalism at the taxpayer subsidised University of Melbourne) uncritically ran the Hartcher beat-up in the program’s “Newspapers” segment.

Dr Jennings (for a medical doctor she is) declared that Peta Credlin “won’t leave the Prime Minister’s office” and has “refused to move” from the PMO. Just what sort of journalism is “advanced” at Melbourne University, under Jennings’ command?

At least News Breakfast co-presenter Virginia Trioli had the good sense to correct Gael Jennings’ crazy conspiracy theory, declaring that the situation is “not that unprecedented”. For which La Trioli wins this week’s coveted Nancy’s Five Paws Award. Well done.

Virginia Trioli: Five Paws

Can you bear it graphic


What a difference a leadership change makes.

For two years or so, Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly has been proselytising about the urgent need for some form of emissions trading scheme and for the instant introduction of same sex marriage. Moreover, the ABC Radio National Breakfast presenter was publicly hostile about (then) prime minister Tony Abbott’s reluctance to embrace either cause.

But, now, following Tony Abbott’s replacement by Malcolm Turnbull, it seems that Ms Kelly’s sermonising has dropped a notch or two – or perhaps, three. On ABC1’s The Drum on Wednesday, Ms Kelly declared that there were “a lot of positive elements” about Tony Abbott’s direct action proposals and that Tony Abbott’s proposal for a plebiscite on same sex marriage has “won the argument” in the public debate.

In other words, the Abbott government’s proposals – once demonised by Fran Kelly – are quite acceptable under the Turnbull government. Fran Kelly said much the same the following morning on her RN Breakfast program.

However, in MWD’s view, the truly stunning performance by Ms Kelly this week occurred towards the end of her interview with Barnaby Joyce – the Minister for Agriculture and deputy leader of the National Party. Let’s go to the transcript:

Fran Kelly: Barnaby Joyce, as deputy National Party leader, as Agriculture Minister, did you vote for Tony Abbott or Malcolm Turnbull?

Barnaby Joyce: I’m in the National Party, I tell you what we –

Fran Kelly: Oh, you don’t get to vote?

Barnaby Joyce: That’s right –

Fran Kelly: Oh, I beg your pardon –

Barnaby Joyce: But what we get to do is do Coalition agreements after they’ve finished [the leadership vote] – that’s how we bargain.

This is no verbal “typo”. One of the leading ABC presenters did not know as of Wednesday morning that the Liberal Party – and the Liberal Party alone – elects the leader of the Liberal Party. Can you bear it?


The ABC proudly claims that it carries no advertising for commercial products. So how to define this promotion for ABC Radio 702 presenter Richard Glover’s latest book Flesh Wounds which aired on the ABC’s “Mornings with Linda Mottram” program on Tuesday?

Narrator: Flesh Wounds by Richard Glover. Part poignant family memoir, part rollicking venture into a 1970s Australia, this is a book for anyone who’s wondered if their family is the oddest one on the planet.

Richard Glover: I hope it’s a story for anyone who’s had a parent who doesn’t necessarily give you the love you’d want to give a child of your own.

Narrator: A sad, funny, revealing and ultimately optimistic story. Flesh Wounds by Richard Glover. Available from ABC shops, centres, online and book sellers.

Linda Mottram: There you go. Mr. Glover’s memoir. That’ll be fun to read, won’t it?

Well, yes. Almost certainly so. In fact, Hendo just can’t wait to hear just how bad Father Glover and Mother Glover were to Baby Glover and to share his pain. It’s just that the ABC’s publicity, for an ABC Books publication, sounds like an advertisement, eh? But how can this be so since Flesh Wounds is published under the imprint “ABC books”? And ABC Books is part of HarperCollins Publishers Australia.

So here you have the ABC flogging a book by one of its presenters, published by a commercial publishing house, all the while pretending that the taxpayer funded public broadcaster does not do advertising. Can you bear it?

[Er, no. But to be fair to your man Glover, I have also heard the ABC flogging Grantlee Kieza’s Monash:The Soldier Who Shaped Australia which is also published by that odd ABC Books/HarperCollins Publisher unity ticket – Ed]


Can ABC favourite, star of The Project and Monash University academic Waleed Aly be any more confused than today?

This morning’s Fairfax Media ran a piece by Mr Aly concerning the Liberal Party after Tony Abbott’s prime ministership. The problem is that it is rife with jargon.

For example, Aly depicts Tony Abbott as “neo-conservative”. Nonsense – Mr Abbott is a traditional conservative and is not in any sense “new” (or neo). Moreover, the term neo-conservative was coined in the United States to describe former social democrats who had become conservative by supporting Ronald Reagan. It seems that your man Aly likes the term “neo”. He also predicted that Senator Cory Bernardi might establish “his own neo-Hansonite operation” after he leaves “the Liberal Party altogether”. It is not at all clear that Senator Bernardi will leave the Liberal Party and most unlikely that he would set up an operation which had anything to do with Pauline Hanson since he is in disagreement on some issues with the founder of One Nation.

Then Aly declared that John Howard “famously predicted the times would suit him and they did”. Not really. John Howard’s comment was made in 1986 – a decade before he became prime minister. Between 1986 and 1996, Mr Howard lost the Liberal Party leadership and the Labor Party won three elections (1987, 1990, 1993).

Finally, according to Aly, “unlike Labor, the Liberal Party loves success”. So, according to the Monash University academic, the Labor Party does not love success. What absolute tosh. Can you bear it?

A Linda Mottram Moment


While on the topic of Linda Mottram, did anyone hear her Mornings with Linda Mottram on Wednesday?

At least Lenore Taylor, The Guardian Online’s political editor, had an excuse for temporary memory loss last Wednesday – in view of her self-declared lack of sleep reporting the very latest leadership challenge in Canberra. But what about ABC Radio 702’s Mornings with Linda Mottram presenter – Ms Mottram herself?

Let’s go to the transcript as Ms Mottram and Ms Taylor join with “Rick in Maroubra” in bemoaning the “fact” that, under the Abbott government, Australia did not have a Science Minister:

Linda Mottram: Rick in Maroubra on the text says: “Can we please have a science minister?” What chances do you think, Lenore?

Lenore Taylor: I think high chances because Malcolm Turnbull’s whole sort of shtick has been the economy and the sort of future of the economy – and how to make a modern, forward looking economy that grasps the challenges of the future and in that context he mentions science regularly. So I think it’s odds on that there will be a science minister.

In fact, Australia already has a science minister – a certain Ian Macfarlane who was appointed to the position on 23 December 2014.

Verily, A Linda Mottram Moment.



What will the comedians of the ABC laugh at now that Tony Abbott is no longer around in a political leadership role? Malcolm Turnbull? Possibly. Bill Shorten? Possibly (in line with the ABC’s habit of criticising the Labor Party from a Green/Left perspective). Green Saint Bob Brown? – you’ve got to be kidding.

Last night on ABC1, The Chaser Boys (average age 391/2) went back to such usual conservative targets as Tony Abbott and Andrew Bolt. But this won’t suffice for the remaining episodes in The Chaser’s Media Circus series.

So what about Clarke & Dawe? Despite the tendency of ABC types to condemn the prevalence of Old White Males (OWM) anywhere, John Clarke and Bryan Dawe have been doing their faux-interview gigs since the Berlin Wall came down over a quarter of a century ago. It’s usually a leftist sneer at conservatives and social democrats alike from a Green/Left Perspective.

It was much the same on ABC1 last night – repeated in the morning – as Malcolm Turnbull (aka John Clarke) was interviewed by Bryan Dawe (aka Bryan Dawe). The Clarke/Dawe duo ran the ABC’s agenda on such intellectually fashionable issues as “gay marriage” (yes, please), renewable energy (more please, and don’t mind the taxpayer subsidies) and – wait for it – ABC funding (let’s give the ABC lotsa money now).

Here is how Clarke & Dawe’s very latest attempt at humour ended last night. Let’s go to the transcript:

Bryan Dawe: Well good luck and thank you very much.

Malcolm Turnbull (aka John Clarke): Thank you very much. Could you just get someone on your staff Bryan to run my bags down to the car? I’ve got to go and talk to Chris Uhlmann on radio.

Bryan Dawe: Someone to take your bags down?

Malcolm Turnbull (aka John Clarke): Someone from the staff, could you just run those down?

Bryan Dawe: No, I’m sorry we haven’t got enough staff. I’m glad you’re doing a change of ministry.

Malcolm Turnbull (aka John Clarke): Really?

Bryan Dawe: Yeah well the last communications ministry took 50 million dollars a year out of our budget.

Malcolm Turnbull (aka John Clarke): 50 million dollars a year?

Bryan Dawe: Yeah.

Malcolm Turnbull (aka John Clarke): So you haven’t got any staff?

Bryan Dawe: No.

Malcolm Turnbull (aka John Clarke): That’s shocking. How are going to create an economy if you stifle opportunity?

Bryan Dawe: I agree.

Malcolm Turnbull (aka John Clarke): I’ll have a word with the previous minister, what was his name?

Bryan Dawe: Turnbull.

Malcolm Turnbull (aka John Clarke): Pardon?

Bryan Dawe: Turnbull.

Malcolm Turnbull (aka John Clarke): Can you spell it Bryan?

How funny can you get?

[I’m not sure. Is this a joke about Prime Minister Turnbull? Or is this a send-up about the ABC – that, with an annual budget of over $1 billion and many more staff per capita than SBS or Sky News, it cannot find even one person to carry a prime minister’s bag down a flight of stairs? – Ed]



What a stunning performance by author and Crikey’s business editor Paddy Manning on Sky News last Monday– whose brilliantly timed Born to Rule: The unauthorised biography of Malcolm Turnbull (MUP) is due to be published on 26 October 2015. MWD understands that Mr Turnbull declined to speak to the author.

While Sky News presenters David Speers, Kiernan Gilbert, Peter van Onselen, Paul Murray and Jeannine Perrett (who barely got a word in edgeways) discussed the possibility of Malcolm Turnbull defeating Tony Abbott in the leadership ballot, someone thought it was a you-beaut idea to hear from Paddy Manning – a self-declared expert on matters Turnbull.

It was not your man Manning’s finest 31/2 minutes. Let’s go to the transcript:

David Speers: There’s a book due out in a few weeks from now, on Malcolm Turnbull. Now I guess what happens tonight could make this a red hot seller. It’s an unauthorised biography of Malcolm Turnbull, we should stress, and it’s written by Paddy Manning who joins us now. Paddy Manning thank you for your time. Malcolm Turnbull, we think we know him, we’ve seen him at a senior level of politics for a long, long time. What is something we don’t know about Malcolm Turnbull that we should perhaps be bearing in mind this evening?

Paddy Manning: I suppose we don’t know what kind of PM he’d be. Uh, and you know, this is the um this is the question is how to, for me tonight is, is, if he’s given up his, you know, long held positions on, on, climate change or, you know, um, if he’s willing to you know meet the right of the party on a plebiscite, on gay marriage – I mean what does a Turnbull prime ministership actually mean?

David Speers: Are you surprised about that? That he is willing to cop the party line on gay marriage and on climate change in order to get the leadership.

Paddy Manning: Not really. I suppose one thing we know, we, we, we do know about um Malcolm Turnbull just over the years is he wasn’t going to do a Peter Costello and sort of sit around waiting and wondering. Uh, he was always going to bring it on and uh and he’s been impatient you know, all through his career. And uh, and it’s the high risk, high gain strategy that we’ve seen from him before and um – and so that’s what, you know, uh, that’s what we’ve seen tonight it’s, you know it’s an absolute roll of the dice.

David Speers: I wanted to ask you too, he did refer this afternoon to not just Liberal MPs but many others, a broad section, urging him to do this. Presumably he’s talking about those in business but maybe those former senior figures in the Liberal Party as well. Who do you reckon would be urging him on to actually take it up to a sitting prime minister and challenge him for the job?

Paddy Manning: Oh well you know we’ve seen Arthur Sinodinos come out tonight and um, you know, I think he’s an example of someone who um, you know, who, who knows how, what good government um does look like and how it works and um and probably um you know believes that you know it’s, here again I suppose is a government that’s lost its way. Um, you know, I’ve never heard in my time of a government that’s had a, had a cabinet meeting without a policy submission. And we saw that just a few weeks ago so ah, it seems to me unfair to be um criticising Turnbull for destabilisation. A lot of these, um, you know goals seem to be own-goals. I mean even just on Friday um you seem to have alienated a whole bunch of um you know the err, you know, cabinet, just with a, with a leak to The Telegraph and a bunch of winners and losers out of a reshuffle. So um it doesn’t surprise me in a way that um there’s a move on.

Kieran Gilbert: Paddy Manning thanks so much for your thoughts on Malcolm Turnbull. Your book Born To Rule coming out, well it looks like at a timely moment in Australian history. Thank you very much for that.

Yes, thanks a lot. Well, um, er, you know. That was, you know, an um, er, great interview. You know, what does, er you know, Paddy Manning mean? And, you know, what’s his evidence that Tony Abbott, or his office, ever leaked to the Daily Telegraph about a cabinet reshuffle? And how come, you know, er, Crikey’s business editor is just so inarticulate?

Meanwhile Nancy’s (male) co-owner, who declined to be interviewed for Mr Manning’s unauthorised biography, eagerly awaits its publication. You know. Hendo has a policy of not talking to Crikey journalists. You know.


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 tens of millions 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 MWD 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, for over a year historian David Day has not been willing to provide evidence in support of the assertions – based on deductions – in his book Menzies & Churchill at War concerning the then prime ministers of Australia and Britain.

Earlier this year former Labor prime minister Paul Keating successfully attained the pulping of Dr Day’s book Paul Keating: The Biography which consists of many false assertions, supported by Day’s “deductions” concerning Mr Keating’s reading ability.

As documented in MWD, now readers of David Day’s John Curtin: A Life (HarperCollins, 1999) have expressed concern about the assertions of Dr Day (for a doctor he is) – based on deductions – in his biography of Mr Curtin (1935-1945). Now read on.

Chris Simpson to MWD – 16 September 2015

Dear Ms Henderson

Can you tell me whether David Day has ever answered your request for a source for his assertions re Menzies. It seems not but I want to be sure as I am doing a critique on some of his writings re Curtin and the same bunk appears in them.


Chris Simpson

Gerard Henderson to Chris Simpson – 17 September 2015

Dear Mr Simpson

Anne Henderson passed on your email of 16 September 2015 – since I have conducted the correspondence with David Day concerning his assertions in Menzies & Churchill At War.

The answer to your question is – No.

As you are aware, I have asked David Day to cite the name of one Churchill biographer or one historian of 20th Century British history who shares his view (i) that there was a serious move to replace Winston Churchill with Robert Menzies as prime minister of Britain in 1941 and (ii) that Menzies encouraged such a move.

I first wrote to David Day requesting a source or sources for his assertions on 4 August 2014. Over a year later, no reply has been received – apart from David Day saying that he is too busy to provide the requested material. Nor did Dr Day seek to respond to Anne Henderson’s detailed article titled “Dreams of Menzies in Wartime London” which was published in the March 2015 issue of Quadrant. Anne’s article demonstrated that none of David Day’s footnotes in Menzies & Churchill at War support the book’s thesis about Robert Menzies and Winston Churchill.

You may be interested to know of my recent phone conversation with Paul Keating. We were discussing Mr Keating’s one and only meeting with Dr Day when there was a conciliation conference concerning legal action against David Day and HarperCollins. As you will be aware, Paul Keating objected to the unsourced assertions which David Day made about him in Day’s now pulped book Paul Keating: The Biography (HarperCollins, 2015).

During our conversation – which took place on the morning of Wednesday 8 July 2015 – Paul Keating said words to this effect:

Paul Keating: When I met with Day, I said to him “I have never been an admirer of Robert Menzies. But your claim that Menzies was willing to undermine Churchill in 1941 when Britain was close to defeat does not make any sense at all. The Brits would not have dumped Churchill for an Australian and Menzies would not have tried to undermine Churchill at such a time”.

I asked Paul Keating as to David Day’s reply – it was as follows:

Paul Keating: David Day said that he did not want to talk about his Menzies/Churchill claim and declined to continue the conversation.

Clearly David Day has not provided evidence because he does not have evidence.

I have attached an extract from my Media Watch Dog blog on 22 May 2015 (Issue 270) which documents David Day’s unsourced assertion that John Curtin was sexually abused by a Catholic priest when he was young. As you know, David Day’s biography of Curtin was written about half a century after the former prime minister died. I understand that no one in Curtin’s family had previously heard of this allegation. Moreover, no one – apart from Dr Day – has ever made such a claim concerning John Curtin. It’s just one of Dr Day’s (ahistorical) theories. As was made clear during the conference concerning Paul Keating: The Biography, David Day calls such claims “deductions”.

I would be interested in reading anything you wrote about David Day and John Curtin.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson


In last week’s (hugely popular) “Can You Bear It?” segment, Gerard Henderson referred to Jason Steger’s foolish error in promoting the late Archbishop Daniel Mannix to the position of Cardinal (The Age, 2 September 2015). Fortunately, your man Steger responded to Gerard Henderson. Which made possible the publication of this material. Wacko.

Jason Steger to Gerard Henderson – 14 September 2015

Dear Gerard

Banged to rights on non-cardinal Mannix.

Best wishes,


Gerard Henderson to Jason Steger – 18 September 2015


How wonderful to receive your email on 14 September 2015. And how great to learn that you are an avid Media Watch Dog reader. In response, I make the following comments.

Normally, I would have ignored your howler in describing Archbishop Daniel Mannix (1864-1963) as “Cardinal” Mannix – even though the fact that Daniel Mannix was never given a red hat by the Pope is central to an understanding of Mannix’s career.

I only made the correction because you – in your capacity as The Age’s literary editor – had allowed Ray Cassin to wrongly imply that Cardinal Norman Gilroy’s first name was misspelt throughout my book Santamaria: A Most Unusual Man. In fact, Norman Gilroy was referred to by his full name on over 20 occasions – including in the photograph of him talking to Pius XII. Only once, on Page 352 of a 500 page book, was there reference to “Normal” Gilroy – a clear “typo”.

Likewise, in his review, Mr Cassin failed to mention that, on two occasions, Eric D’Arcy was correctly referred to as the Archbishop of Hobart. On only one occasion was he referred to as the Archbishop (rather than Bishop) of Sale. It’s not much of a basis on which to lecture MUP about editorial standards.

Initially I advised MUP not to provide a review copy of Santamaria: A Most Unusual Man to The Age. I told MUP that, in all likelihood, you would give the book to one of my opponents who would use it to score points against me and the book.

MUP went along with my initial request not to send the book to The Age. I was advised, however, that you then specifically asked MUP for Santamaria: A Most Unusual Man. In view of this, I accepted MUP’s decision to provide a review copy – and so Ray Cassin’s review ran in The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald on 22 August 2015. So far, the Canberra Times – which usually shares reviews with The Age and the SMH – has not run Mr Cassin’s piss-poor contribution. I hope this remains the case.

It is not at all clear whether Ray Cassin (who has a busy day job working as a speech writer for Senator Kim Carr, the spear carrier of Labor’s left-wing) read Santamaria: A Most Unusual Man in its entirety. He appears to have focused on that part of my book which is also covered in Bruce Duncan’s Crusade or Conspiracy?: Catholics and the Anti-Communist Struggle in Australia (UNSW Press, 2001). Mr Cassin describes Dr Duncan’s book as “magisterial” but does not advise readers that the author did not have access to B.A. Santamaria’s private papers.

I had many disagreements with Santamaria. But, unlike Duncan, I did not barrack for Cardinal Gilroy in Sydney against Archbishop Mannix and Mr Santamaria in Melbourne. In his final chapter, Fr Duncan depicted Gilroy as “one of the Church’s leading figures in Asia and the Pacific” while describing Santamaria as “an Italian godfather”. Both propositions are ridiculous. Bruce Duncan also supported Jacques Maritain’s advocacy of collaboration with the Stalinist regimes of Eastern Europe during the 1960s. How magisterial is that? Crusade or Conspiracy? contains some valuable material, as I acknowledge in my Santamaria biography, but it is by no means a dispassionate account.

In his review in The Age, Ray Cassin made much use of an article by Alan Reid in September 1954 which is cited (incorrectly as it turns out) in Crusade or Conspiracy?. I did not refer to Dr Duncan’s error, when reviewing his book in the Sydney Morning Herald some years ago, since it was an obvious “typo” and I’m not into trivia. Unlike Mr Cassin.

Contrary to Ray Cassin’s claim in his Age review, I did not rely a “great deal” on Crusade or Conspiracy? My book Mr Santamaria and the Bishops was published in 1982 and I covered the dispute fully in the Australian Hierarchy between Melbourne and Sydney there – some two decades before Dr Duncan’s book was published.

In editing Ray Cassin’s review for The Age, you highlighted his comment that “The Split…did not only take place in the Labor movement but in the Catholic Church as well”. The point is so obvious to anyone who knows anything about the topic that it’s a bit like saying “Sydney is north of Melbourne”. Or as ill-informed as asserting that the Vatican appointed Mannix as a cardinal.

Moreover, Ray Cassin’s suggestion that Santamaria: A Most Unusual Man does not cover the debate within Catholicism concerning “the philosophical and theological controversies arising from the Spanish Civil War about the proper relationship between church and state” is bunk. Complete bunk.

Lotsa love



As avid MWD readers will know, Peter Westmore (B.A. Santamaria’s successor) reviewed Santamaria: A Most Unusual Man in News Weekly on 29 August 2015. Hendo wrote a (courteous, of course) response, which was published in MWD Issue 284 and later in News Weekly (12 September 2015). On 12 September 2015, News Weekly also published a letter from John Barich who, in turn, asked Hendo to comment on his views. Hence this correspondence.

John Barich to Gerard Henderson – 15 September 2015

Did you see my letter in NW?

Gerard Henderson to John Barich – 16 September 2015


I am pleased that you regard Santamaria: A Most Unusual Man as “fascinating” – our earlier correspondence refers.

As requested, I read your letter which was published in News Weekly on 12 September 2015, viz:

Three Observations

Peter Westmore’s review of Santamaria: A Most Unusual Man elucidates some of the lacuna in the [B.A. Santamaria] biography, but three major aspects are still missing.

One, Bob’s and the NCC’s contribution to retaining the US Alliance is not mentioned. If the NCC and DLP had not opposed the anti-American drive within the ALP, led by Jim Cairns and the left-wing unions, Australia would have found itself in the same position as New Zealand, who tore up the Anzus treaty. Without a nuclear umbrella we would have been subjected to greater pressure from both China and Russia. Bob’s analysis of our strategic situation was universally recognised as without peer.

Two, the work of the NCC for Church and state has been acknowledged by such luminaries as Cardinal George Pell, Sir Charles Court and John Howard. In a conversation in 1991 in Canberra between Sir Charles and Bruce Ruxton I heard one say to the other that if Bob’s name had been Jones he would have been PM of Australia.

Three, 17 years after Bob’s death the NCC continues to function despite having to share public support with groups such as the Australian Christian Lobby and Family First, some of whose members in the past were involved with the Movement. If the fight for the preservation of marriage is won, it will be in large measure due to the 10-year struggle the AFA/NCC has waged.

John R. Barich

Claremont, WA

In view of your wish for response to your letter in News Weekly, I make the following comments:

Santamaria: A Most Unusual Man points to the important role played by the Democratic Labor Party between the late 1950s and the early 1970s. In particular, I demonstrate how DLP preferences saved Robert Menzies in 1961 and John Gorton in 1969. In both elections, foreign policy – including the Australian-American Alliance –was a big issue.

As you are aware, the ANZUS Treaty was signed in 1951 and the Australian American Alliance is still in existence today. It’s possible that a Labor government in the 1950s and 1960s might have junked ANZUS. But Labor did not win the crucial elections of 1961 and 1969.

The book gives considerable coverage to B.A. Santamaria’s foreign policy views. It’s just that BAS was not the only advocate of the Australian American Alliance. I also point out that Santamaria did not trust the United States and believed that Australia should be self-reliant in defence.

▪ I quote Cardinal George Pell’s praise of Santamaria’s work for the Catholic Church in the first chapter of Santamaria: A Most Unusual Man. In this chapter, I also cover John Howard’s regard for BAS.

The view that “if Bob’s name had been Jones he would have been PM of Australia”, does not stand up. As I demonstrate in Santamaria: A Most Unusual Man, Bob Santamaria never joined a political party and declared that he did not have the temperament for making the compromises involved in leading a political party or a government. As Patrick Morgan has pointed out, Santamaria did not readily compromise or coalition with individuals or organisations. In view of what Santamaria said and wrote, he was never prime ministerial material.

▪ My book is a biography – not a study of the National Civic Council. The Epilogue contains the following comment:

The contemporary NCC continues to raise finance for what is a significantly smaller – and substantially less influential – organisation than in Bob Santamaria’s time. The NCC has not one public figure capable of playing a prominent role in public debate.

This statement is both accurate and fair.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson


Until next time – keep morale high.

I’ve been shot at by the Viet Cong. I once met Gerard Henderson. I can take any shit thrown at me…

Mike Carlton via Twitter, 9:22 PM – 9 Sep 2015

Gerard. You are an idiot #insiders

Bevan Shields via Twitter, 9:46 AM, 23 August 2015

“[Gerard Henderson is a] professional filing cabinet”

– Leftist scribbler Jeff Sparrow, Crikey, 13 August 2015

Leaving the house to avoid listening to GHenderson on @774melbourne

– Jonathan Green via Twitter, 31 July 2015

“gerard henderson trending on twitter, omg [looks out window, where the sun is eclipsed and the sky blood-red] oh yeah that makes sense”

– Adam Brereton

via Twitter, 31 July 2015

Gerard Henderson on @891adelaide right now & I find myself shouting at my radio. What a morning”

– Louise Pascale via Twitter, 31 July 2015

“oh hell why is Gerard Henderson trending? Has boredom become the new black.”

– MNihilon via Twitter, 31 July 2015

Told I made the late Gerard Henderson’s little blog today. Read it. What a rancorous, nauseating, humourless little turd he is.

– Mike Carlton via Twitter during Gin & Tonic Time on 12 June 2015.

“On Sunday before Insiders…I was giving you a rich and full account of what a weird shit I think you are…”

– David Marr to Gerard Henderson, 1 June 2015

To #swf2015 this morning. Sunlit harbour, fabulous crowds radiating civility. And no Gerard Henderson ! It doesn’t get any better.

– Mike Carlton, via Twitter, 1:48 PM – 21 May 2015

Gerard Henderson’s friday self-harm update is here

– Adam Brereton, via Twitter, May 15, 2015

[Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch Dog is] batshit mad.

– Guy Rundle in Crikey, 14 May 2015

I’m in the sort of mood that if I saw Gerard Henderson in the street I’d hit him with his own umbrella

– Ben Pobjie, via Twitter, 8 May 2015

It’s a glorious day when Gerard Henderson has a go at you

– Adam Gartrell, via Twitter, 8 May 2015

Meeting of Gerard Henderson Appreciation Society tonight Sydney Opera House phone booth

– Phillip Adams, via Twitter, 28 April 2015, 1.36 pm (after lunch).

“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