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.


    * * * *



    It’s truly great to see that, today, the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age have nailed the big economic issue confronting the human race right now.

    Turn to the opinion page and Fairfax Media’s very own Jessica Irvine has found a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research in the United States which draws a causal link between human induced climate change and an (alleged) human disinclination to “do it” when it’s hot. Due to human induced climate change, of course.

    Here’s an insight into Ms Irvine’s mind. She reckons that “there are two factors that are particularly conducive to human conception: holidays and cooler weather”. She also claims that “higher temperatures lead to lower levels of testosterone and poor semen quality in men” and “can also mess with menstruation, ovulation and implantation in women”.

    Mr Irvine’s solution?  To sustain population growth, install air conditioning.  Since Nancy’s (male) co-owner has noticed that there are a lot of air cons around these days – presumably it makes sense to install lotsa more of the stuff. Even though, according to Ms Irvine, air cons contribute to human induced climate change and, consequently, are part of the reason that there is an inverse ratio between conception rates and room temperature over 25 Celsius.

    Can this be for real?  Apparently so – despite the fact that the largest increases in the birth rate are currently taking place in some hot places like the Middle East and places which have little air-conditioning –  for example, India and parts of sub-Saharan Africa.  Jessica Irvine is an economist with 800 words to file every now and then.




    While on the topic of population and all that, the GOOD NEWS is that things are looking up. A little bit, at least.

    As MWD Issue 239 foretold, Paul H Ehrlich appeared on Q&A last Monday. For whatever reason, presenter Tony Jones decided to ask the eco-catastrophist about one of his past false prophecies. Namely, the prediction in 1971 that by 2020 the UK will be a small group of impoverished islands inhabited by 70 million hungry people. Your man Ehrlich’s immediate response was to state that the prophecy was accurate – except for the fact that today’s Brits are “not hungry”. He conveniently avoided the fact that the United Kingdom is not impoverished. Later Ehrlich conceded that his 1971 prediction had been wrong.

    The good news is that, last Monday, Ehrlich downgraded has assessment that there is a 90 per cent chance that civilisation will collapse within 50 years. He now reckons that this is only 89 per cent likely. Phew.

    By the way, after re-reading The Population Bomb over the weekend, Nancy’s (male) co-owner reckons that Paul Ehrlich has more unfulfilled predictions than our very own Bob Ellis- the False Prophet of Palm Beach.




    Can you bear it graphic


    The Melbourne Cup may be the race-that-stops-the-nation (as the cliché has it) but it sure does not stop trivia.

    Early this week, even the expensive ABC Fact Check Unit got into trivia with its analysis of the “historical traits of Melbourne Cup winners”.  Why, even Fact Check presenter John Barron went on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s telly, dressed in a suit and pork-pie hat and delivered some of life’s immortal truths.

    And what did Mr Barron conclude from a study of equine precedent with reference to the Melbourne Cup?  Well – this. Namely, that “if history’s guide is applied to this year’s field”, the likely winner of the 2015 Melbourne Cup would be a male horse, bred overseas, ridden by a jockey wearing mainly blue silks.

    Needless to say, not one of Mr Barron’s “picks” finished in the first three horses across the line. Your man Barron concluded his Melbourne Cup analysis with the following observation:

    Though history shows horses with those characteristics [i.e. male, overseas bred and ridden by jockeys wearing mainly blue] often win, nothing about the horse’s colour or the jockey’s silks makes the horse go faster.

    So now we know.  The colour of the horse – or the colours worn by a horse’s jockey – does not make the nag in question run faster.  How about that? What a good use of taxpayer’s money. Hold the front page – and so on.  This wisdom brought to you by John Barron and the Fact Check team – by Taxpayer Funded out of Useless Information (to borrow some equine language). Can you bear it?

    [Er, no.  Not really.  But the bloated ABC has to find stuff for its reporters to do. For example, I just loved it this week when an ABC News Breakfast presenter in Melbourne interviewed ABC reporter Lisa Millar in London about the crash of a Russian plane in Egypt. Also there were occasions during the Ashes series of recent memory when the London based Mary Gearin interviewed another ABC journalist outside an English cricket ground about nothing much at all.

    Despite Mark Scott’s cuts, these overseas postings will be the last posts to be abolished since they are reserved for Aunty’s favourites – Ed]


    As avid readers will be aware, The Age still has not reviewed Let My People Go: The untold story of Australian and Soviet Jews (1959-89) by Sam Lipski and Suzanne D. Rutland.

    This despite the fact that Let My People Go is a book of special interest to Victorians since it documents the important role played by many one-time Melbourne-based figures – including Isi Leibler, Robert Menzies, Bob Hawke and Malcolm Fraser – in putting pressure on the communist leaders of the Soviet Union to make it possible for its Jewish citizens to emigrate.

    Perhaps the British-born Age literary editor Jason Steger is ignorant of Australian history – or perhaps Let My People Go does not fit the increasingly pro-Green Left stance of what some call “The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra”.  Can you bear it?

    [I note that the Lipski/Rutland book has been reviewed in The Sydney Institute Review – a new online publication born last week – see here.  So forget about Mr Steger’s piss-poor Age literary pages and learn about the significant role played by some Australians in what became one of the largest mass migrations in history by reading The Sydney Institute Review – Ed]

    Let me people go

    THe Review screengrab















    Lateline on Monday came up with the you-beaut idea of getting two views on Sir John Kerr’s Dismissal of the Whitlam Labor government in November 1975 – in the lead-up to the 40th Anniversary of the event next Wednesday.

    The only problem was that the two views contained only one opinion.  Namely, that of Paul Kelly and Troy Bramston, the co-authors of The Dismissal: In the Queen’s Name (Viking, 2015).

    So – first Paul Kelly and then Troy Bramston, and then Troy Bramston and then Paul Kelly bagged John Kerr (who died in 1991) with the encouragement of presenter Emma Alberici. No one was invited into the ABC studio in Ultimo to defend the former governor-general against the allegations that Kerr was a (i) deeply flawed…as a governor-general and a man” (pace Kelly), (ii) was probably the most unsuitable person to be appointed governor-general (pace Bramston) and (iii) was intimated by Fraser to dismiss Whitlam (pace Kelly). All very interesting, to be sure.  It’s just that no other view was heard.  Can you bear it?


    historical howler


    While on the topic of Lateline, did anyone see ABC North Asian correspondent Matthew Carney’s report last Friday on his visit to North Korea?

    Mr Carney was not conned by the North Korean propaganda machine with respect to human rights abuses in Kim Jong Un’s communist totalitarian regime. But he appears to have been snowed about the Korean War of 1950-53. Let’s go to the transcript:

    Matthew Carney: On the first day, along with the rest of the international press, we’re taken to where Kim Il Sung, the founder of the nation, was born in 1912. Kim Il Sung is revered like a God and everything he did or touched has been immortalised. It’s on to the place where Kim Il Sung was based during the Korean War in the fight against the United States in the early 1950s…

    Hold it there. The Korean War commenced in June 1950 when communist North Korea invaded non-communist South Korea. North Korea, which obtained the support of communist China, fought a war against the United Nations which sought to drive it out the South Korea. It so happened that the United States (with the support of Australia, Britain, Canada and others) led the UN force. The conflict ended when North Korea agreed to go back to the 38th parallel – the division between the two nations prior to the commencement of hostilities in June 1950.

    Later on in his Lateline report, Mr Carney had this to say:

    Matthew Carney: On our trip we only allowed to see the best and the           brightest. The horrors and hardships of the countryside where starvation and     human rights abuses are common place are kept well out of sight. In stark   contrast, Pyongyang is undergoing a building boom. It was completely           flattened by the Americans in the Korean War of 1950 to 1953 and three million were killed.

    The Korean War was a brutal conflict and both Pyongyang and Seoul were substantially destroyed. However, the US did not kill three million in the bombing of North Korea’s capital city. Indeed, three million is the estimated number of total deaths – including civilians – of North Koreans, South Koreans and members of the US led United Nations contingent.

    Lateline is an important program. There should be someone in the ABC’s Ultimo headquarters capable of doing a historical fact-check before the program goes to air in order to eliminate historical howlers.


    As avid MWD readers will recall (Issue 292), recently ABC managing director and (so-called) editor-in-chief Mark Scott put out a tweet early in the morning of 23 October where he pointed out an error on Page One of the Australian Financial Review. You see, the powers-that-be at “The Fin” had referred to Malcolm Turbull[sic] not Turnbull in a front-page dinkus. It seems that Nice Mr Scott has nothing better to do in the morning than correct the typos or misspellings of others.

    Normally, MWD does not bother with the typos of others – since Hendo puts a few “John-Laws-style-deliberate-mistakes” into this blog each week. However, in view of Mark Scott’s holier-than-thou standard, MWD provides a screen shot of this recent tweet by the ABC managing director:

    mark scott tweet oct 29

    It’s hordes. Not hoards[sic]. Which suggests that Nice Mr Scott’s future beyond the ABC probably will not include work as a sub-editor, despite the high profile start.


    cliche elephant perspective


    What a stunning contribution by Good Weekend journalist Tim Elliott on The Drum last Friday.  John Barron was in the presenter’s chair and the others guests were Elle Hardy and Paddy Manning.

    This is what your man Elliott had to say about the environment and all that – with a little help from Prince Charles’ intervention in the climate change debate and with lotsa help from the “ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM” and CAPITALISM clichés:

    Tim Elliott:  I think he’s [Prince Charles] entitled to his– what’s wrong with anybody voicing an opinion. I’m not saying it’s great. But, I mean, I also think that it’s just tinkering around the edges. And all the keynote speeches and carbon trading schemes are all – I mean there’s a big fat ugly elephant in the middle of the room. And that’s Capitalism. I know that, this sort of sounds really silly. But it’s true that I don’t think you can have a healthy environment and have an economic system which is predicated on constant growth. I just don’t think those two things go together. And one of them has got to break and currently it’s climate that’s breaking. And there’s this great book of course, Naomi Klein’s book This Changes Everything.  And, you know, despite what you might think of Naomi Klein, she makes a pretty good case.

    Elle Hardy: But communism wasn’t great for the environment either.

    Tim Elliott: No, no! I knew you’d say that. I mean, the thing is, once you mention the word either “capitalist” or – people always start mentioning communism. And I remember talking to Maurice Newman about this. And he was like: “Oh it’s typical of you journalists, you’re all collectivists and you’re all socialists.”  That’s why it’s so hard. The minute you mention that you’re sort of put in this bracket of kind of wacky – you’re simplifying everything. But, I do believe there’s – you can’t have a system where you’re constantly depending on extracting resources from the earth to turn into iPhones or new surfboards which you throw away after a couple of years. And hoping that it’s just going to – it’s a finite resource.

    How about that? Tim Elliott is employed by Fairfax Media – a publicly listed company which, among other things, publishes newspapers in print editions.  Sounds a little bit capitalist with a large environmental foot-print, don’t you think?

    But that’s not all.  You see, Tim Elliott is also a travel writer who is the author of The Bolivian Times and Spain by the Horns.  Now, it should come as no surprise to avid MWD readers that travel writers, well, travel.  In other words, they move around on trains and boats and planes – and cars.  In the process, Mr Elliott uses many finite resources extracted from the earth to pursue his business.  And yet your man Elliott bangs on about how capitalism is (allegedly) destroying the earth.

    But that’s not all.  Tim Elliott presents as an intellectual snob who looks down on his fellow Australians who have not attained his level of education. Let’s go to the transcript where discussion turned on why arts types appear regularly on Q&A but not sports men and women.

    Elle Hardy: For example, there’s an arts person on Q&A every week on the panel. Why isn’t there a footballer ever second week?

    Tim Elliott:  Because half of them can’t talk, that’s why.

    So Tim Elliott reckons that 50 per cent of footballers “can’t talk”. What a cliché-driven intellectual snob.

    [By the way, I think it was a smart move for you to (courteously) decline Tim Elliott’s request last year to interview your good self for Good Weekend. – Ed]


    crikey by crikey



    Few media executives moralise about journalistic standards as much as Crikey manager Eric Beecher.  Yet Mr Beecher presides over the leftist Crikey newsletter which publishes tips and rumours from anonymous sources. Along with lotsa howlers – like the one below. In view of this, Nancy’s (male) co-owner has decided to establish a dedicated segment designed to examine as much of Crikey as is bearable to read.  And now for some action.

    On Monday, Crikey published a piece by Michael Sainsbury titled “The job offers drip in for Abbott, but he’s an ex-PM without a purpose”. Towards the end of the article, your man Sainsbury made the following claim:

    Abbott’s state of mind since his September party room defeat has reminded some close to him of the period following the Coalition’s November 2007 defeat by Kevin Rudd.

    In September 2008, when Malcolm Turnbull replaced Brendan Nelson as Liberal leader, Abbott was still seemingly unable to come to terms with the loss of government. He was despondent, confused and unfocused on work.

    He had lost his late-period political mentor, John Howard. Let’s not forget that Abbott, both the man and politician, is the true heir to the late Democratic Labor Party leader Bob Santamaria; a man wedded to ideology but never tested at the ballot box.

    Santamaria’s insistence on ideology taking precedence over the basic tenets of successful politics — which involves dialogue with opponents, finding middle ground and compromise — would come to characterise Abbott’s premiership and sow the seeds of its fracture.

    What a load of absolute tosh.  B.A. Santamaria (1915-1998) was never a member of any political party. Not the Labor Party. Not the Liberal Party.  And not even the Democratic Labor Party – which broke from the ALP after the Labor Split of the mid-1950s. The DLP’s leaders were Frank McManus and Vince Gair.  Santamaria never led – or even belonged to – the DLP.

    It is true that B.A. Santamaria did not test his views at the ballot box.  But this is of no relevance to Tony Abbott.  Mr Abbott won the seat of Warringah in 1994, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2010 and 2013.  Also, he led the Coalition to victory in September 2013 and to near victory in August 2010.

    Moreover, the idea that Tony Abbott is the “true heir” of Bob Santamaria is bunk. As documented in Gerard Henderson’s Santamaria: A Most Unusual Man (MUP, 2015), Santamaria advised Abbott not to enter parliament as a Liberal Party member and declined to provide a reference for use in his pre-selection contest in Warringah in 1994. In other words, if Abbott had followed Santamaria’s advice he never would have become prime minister.

    Crikey needs a fact-checker.  By crikey, it does.

    A Linda Mottram Moment



    Yesterday, Channel 10s contributing editor and self-proclaimed leftie Paul Bongiorno had his usual Thursday slot on ABC Radio 702’s “Mornings with Linda Mottram”. Bonge meets David Marr’s criterion that journalists should be leftists.  So it was no surprise to hear Bonge once again doing a long-winded leftist rant. This time concerning the dismissal of Gough Whitlam’s Labor government by the Governor-General Sir John Kerr on 11 November 1975.  The 40th anniversary of the Dismissal takes place next Wednesday.  Let’s go to the transcript:

    Linda Mottram: Isn’t it amazing that there’s still new information surfacing about the constitutional crisis, the dismissal of the Whitlam government on that date [11 November 1975]?

    Paul Bongiorno: Well it is – and that’s because the 30 year rule has come into play and so documents that have been kept from the public view are out there for all to see. I don’t know whether you saw the interview with Troy Bramston and Paul Kelly on Lateline the other night. It was just absolutely fascinating. These two, Kelly of course besides being a venerable journalist is a historian of some note. And he and Troy Bramston have been sifting through the documents, the letters from Kerr, all sorts of things. And what they’ve come up with is frankly extremely disturbing. The picture of Kerr that many people had already formed of a venal deceptive man is reinforced and confirmed.

    What’s also disturbing, and this comes out from Professor Anne Harding [sic] who researched, I think going through some of the same documents. It shows that Kerr was acting very improperly as a governor-general according to the conventions that the representative of the Queen takes their advice from their prime minister. For example, whereas Kerr was taking advice from other members of the Establishment. The Chief Justice of the High Court, Barwick, and one of the other justices – Mason. And these people obviously didn’t have, in my opinion, the moral compass to say to Kerr: “Look we can shoot the breeze but you have a constitutional duty to be honest with your prime minister”.

    It’s clear, and this is particularly disturbing, was that Kerr was fascinated by Game’s sacking of Lang in NSW. Governor Game’s sacking Premier Lang in NSW. And he [Kerr] seemed to want to, from the outset, have a place in history. So the biggest mistake in all of this was first of all, Whitlam appointing such a venal man in Kerr. The next biggest mistake – and this, Paul Kelly got particularly hot under the collar on Lateline and I agree 100% with him – that by arrangement with the Palace, the Australian archives will not release the letters from Australia’s head of state, namely her Majesty the Queen, back to Kerr.

     Linda Mottram: Ooh, really?

    Paul Bongiorno: And Kelly rightly says that, hang on, this is the biggest political crisis in Australia’s history, the democracy of Australia, and our head of state is being given the privilege of withholding information.

     Linda Mottram: Goodness.

     Paul Bongiorno: The next thing, and I think that the real lesson from all this. And I know that for example, the new, the republican movement, Peter Fitz Simons wants to have a minimal change basically leave everything as it is except the governor general becomes the president as it were. But I really think that it’s a just astounding that, in our system, the representative of the Queen, both in Canberra and in the States, has more power than the Queen. The Queen cannot sack her prime minister.  The British parliament – after centuries of battle between crown and parliament, the parliament is now supreme. And the Queen can only accept advice from her first minister. Whereas in Australia first ministers can be sacked by the unelected governor-general. And I think that these reserve powers should be scrapped.

     Linda Mottram: Yeah, will this is –

     Paul Bongiorno: And it’s just ridiculous, what’s to stop another venal deceiver getting the job and deciding that they want to make their place in history –

     Linda Mottram: Totally, totally. This has been the unfinished business left over from the Dismissal from the start. And now this just underscores how serious it is. And at least it’s brought it back to our attention. So perhaps time for a robust debate around that along the lines that you’re mounting just there Paul. Thank you very much for your time.

     Paul Bongiorno: Thank you very much Linda, I’m now hot under the collar.

     Linda Mottram: Yes, you go and cool yourself down. Get a little National Geographic and wave it you know, in the way of a fan and you’ll find that you’ll cool down. Thanks Paul.

    What a load of absolute tosh from a garrulous and over-heated Bonge.  Linda Mottram said virtually nothing – apart from an occasional “ooh”, “goodness” and “totally, totally” – as your man Bongiorno ranted and raved in hot-under-the-collar mode.  In the process, Paul Bongiorno:

    ▪ described Sir John Kerr as a “venal deceptive man”.

    ▪ referred to a book by a “Professor Anne Harding”. The book in question is The Dismissal Dossier by Professor Jenny Hocking. Ms Mottram made no correction.

    ▪ ran the leftist line that Sir Garfield Barwick (1903-1997) and Sir Anthony Mason (1925 – __) are members of “The Establishment” but refrained from saying what it is and what it does.

    ▪ alleged that Garfield Barwick and Anthony Mason were bereft of a “moral compass” in 1975.

    ▪ and falsely claimed that governors-general and governors are only entitled to take advice from prime ministers and premiers.

    That’s just for starters.  Bonge neglected to mention that (then) Opposition leader Malcolm Fraser had blocked supply and that (then) Prime Minister Gough Whitlam wanted to govern without supply. According to Bongiorno’ s simplistic analysis, the Dismissal occurred because John Kerr wanted to imitate NSW Governor Philip Game who dismissed Jack Lang’s Labor government in 1932.

    Bonge also failed to understand that there cannot be a constitutional deadlock in Britain of the kind that occurred in Australia in 1975 because the House of Lords cannot block supply.  How ignorant can you get?

    Moreover, Bonge seems unaware that what took place in 1975 could be repeated in the future irrespective of whether Australia is a republic or not.  The Dismissal resulted from the fact that in 1975 there was a stand-off between the Senate and the House of Representatives.  If the republic referendum had passed in 1999, such a situation could still have arisen in the 21 Century.

    Paul Bongiorno and Linda Mottram were also both hopelessly out of their depth in failing to realise that Buckingham Palace had nothing to do with the events of 11 November 1975 – as is documented in The Dismissal: In the Queen’s Name which is authored by Paul Kelly and Troy Bramston.

    Verily, a Linda Mottram Moment.




    While on the topic of Tony Abbott, it’s time to revive MWD’s hugely popular “Ask Nancy – On the Couch” segment which is devoted to Nancy answering the big problems of the day.

    At the moment, many an Abbott-Hater is having problems adapting to the fact that Tony Abbott is no longer prime minister.  Most Abbott supporters seem to have got over the fact that Mr Abbott has left The Lodge, so to speak.  Despite a number of predictions, there has been no break away from the Liberal Party and no attempt to establish a conservative party led by the likes of Senator Cory Bernardi.

    On the contrary, it seems to be the Abbott-Haters who are doing it tough during the time of the Malcolm Turnbull Ascendancy.  Just how tough is evident below.


    Here’s what leftist columnist Ian Warden wrote in his “Gang-gang” segment in the Canberra Times last Saturday:

    Last Thursday’s irresponsible, statesman-disrespecting column deplored the fact that no fun-loving manufacturer had ever created Tony Abbott lavatory paper. We noted that there had been John Howard toilet tissue (this columnist has and treasures a roll of the latter) but that some of us would have loved a cupboard full of Abbott tissue so as to be able to use the product on every day of Abbott’s excremental reign.

    But we were wrong. There is Tony Abbott lavatory paper out there! One reader rejoices: “I received a roll from my daughter (my favourite 2014 Christmas present by far) and it has enjoyed pride of place in our guest ‘powder room’ ever since.”

    Another reader saw our lament and trills: “I was lucky enough to secure two rolls of Tony Abbott loo paper in August last year on eBay with ‘wipe the grin off his face’ emblazoned on each sheet (see photo). They were $6 a pop as I recall, and money well spent. When I ordered them on eBay there was a large backlog (so to speak) of orders and a one month wait for delivery. The vendor had no way of meeting demand and I daresay made himself a fortune. Bet he was unhappy after the September 2015 coup. Don’t think there is much of a market for Malcolm Turnbull loo paper (yet, at least).”

    Perhaps that vendor, initially unhappy at the September coup that replaced Abbott with Turnbull, is taking heart from the way in which the deposed Abbott is showing every sign of continuing to be a public figure. His Margaret Thatcher address in London last week was a display of that same personality that created the reported demand for the tissues during his prime ministership.

    Pretty funny, eh?  And the Canberra Times presents Ian Warden’s Saturday rant as “The Talk of Canberra”.  If this is so, then Canberrians cannot have much to talk about. Most of us get over lavatory humour at about age 7.  Mr Warden was born in 1945 or thereabouts.

    Canberra Times Nancy04112015



    Then Paul Bongiorno wrote this in The [Boring] Saturday Paper last weekend:

    For a great many Australians, Tony Abbott didn’t have to go halfway around the world to persuade them his party got it right dumping him. But he did. In a fulsome and spectacular fashion.

    There he was at the Margaret Thatcher Lecture in London likening Europe’s massive challenge in dealing with millions of displaced people to Australia’s boat people issue. Like a recurring nightmare it was back, ringing a discordant note in decent ears. The over-inflated play on xenophobia. The denigration of Islam. Ridicule of diplomacy and the United Nations. The prescription of more military force and boots on the ground. Never mind that the whole Middle East disaster was originally triggered by such myopic thinking. He evoked Thatcher’s success in the Falklands as a template for dealing with Iraq and Syria. The naive simplicity of it all.

    What shocked many was “Captain Catholic” ditching the precept the founder of his church put out there as essential for salvation: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” He said, “right now this wholesome instinct is leading much of Europe into catastrophic error”. In Germany’s Angela Merkel and other continental leaders he diagnosed compassion as “misguided altruism”. Of course it appealed to other politicians who have sought and failed to achieve success by playing to similar fears and prejudices in their electorates. Britain’s Nigel Farage comes to mind. The ABC thoughtfully sought out the founder of the far right United Kingdom Independence Party for comment. “Heroic,” was his response, “and absolutely right.” A man is known by the company he keeps. Fortunately for Britain, voters preferred the more sensible David Cameron’s Conservatives to Farage’s outfit, which failed miserably at the general election.

    Guess what?  Bonge did not like Tony Abbott’s 2015 Margaret Thatcher Lecture.  It is of no moment that Mr Abbott did not denigrate Islam or ridicule the United Nations – since facts do not play a central role in Bonge’s columns.  In his anti-Abbott rage, Bonge seemed unaware that the Sunni-Shia religious civil war within Islam has a bit to do with the current mass killings in Iraq and Syria.  Then there was Bonge’s shame that the man he has depicted “Captain Catholic” isn’t Catholic enough.  Then, finally, there was Bonge’s assertion that the nascent United Kingdom Independence Party “failed” at the 2015 British general election. In fact, it came behind the Conservatives and Labour but ahead of the Liberal Democrats and scored 13 per cent of the vote.


    Then there was the column by Phillip Adams AO (1992), AM (1987), Hon. D. Univ (Griffith), Hon. DLitt (ECU), Hon. D Univ (SA), DLitt (Syd), Hon. D Univ (Macquarie), FRSA, Hon. FAHA in The Weekend Australian Magazine last Saturday.  This is how the ABC Man-in-Black got around to mentioning Tony Abbott after commencing his column with references to the Tea Party and the so-called Islamic State:

    Meanwhile, and unexpectedly, the apocalypse occurred elsewhere. Here. In Australia. When Tony Abbott was overthrown by the Antichrist. Forgive my mixed theological metaphors but Tony, both Moses and Messiah, led the Libs out of the wilderness towards the Promised Land of political power and, holding aloft tablets containing Ten Promises, turfed Turnbull, Rudd, Gillard and Rudd out of the Temple. Yes, he would break most of the Ten Promises, but when you’re wrestling with the Devil you can’t let him have the best tunes.

    Then, just when Tony was at the peak of his powers, co-ruling with Peta Credlin, Australia’s second female prime minister, the evil Malcolm betrayed them. And they were cast into the wilderness with their disciples. Not just the loyalists who’d sat beside them in parliament, but the worshippers without. Back into the desert of despair and despondency.

    Yawn. Yes – but your man Adams went on and on and on. And on.  There were references to “the new Pope”, the Vatican and George Pell (well, of course). Yawn.  Phillip (“I carry the burden of many honorifics”) Adams then described those whom he identified as Abbott supporters as “poor” – as in “poor Alan Jones”. The last reference was to “poor, poor Maurice Newman”.  In fact, the last time Hendo saw Maurice Newman he was certainly not flagellating – as Adams claimed.  And as to being “poor, poor” – well Maurice Newman could have even more money than Australia’s richest socialist, your man Adams.


     In view of the enormous positive response to Nancy’s past psychological contributions to MWD, Hendo threw the above three cases to Nancy and sought a psychiatric assessment. In no time, Nancy sent out the following clinical assessment as translated by her (male) co-owner. Here it is:

    I share the pain of Ian and Bonge and Phillip AO etc. I understand their sense of loss and their consequent grieving. After all, not that much happening in Australia and columnists have to write about something.  For about two years an Ian, or a Bonge or a Phillip could wake up one column-morning and think: “Nothing much to write about today.  I guess I will have to sneer at Captain Catholic”. Or thoughts to this effect.

    Now Abbott has gone and it’s an empty world for Abbott-Haters.  Especially if your main humour is of the lavatory genre (pace Mr Warden), or you perceive your morality as greater than others (pace Mr Bongiorno) or you don’t have much else to write about (pace Mr Adams).

    I would recommend that all three men enrol in an Abbott-Haters Anonymous course which is being sponsored by my (male) co-owner – a certain Gerard Henderson AC (aka Always Courteous). I understand that members of the Abbott-Haters Anonymous face the Abbott-free world with certain steps.

    I would advise that members of Abbott-Haters Anonymous:

    ▪ Admit that they are powerless when thinking, talking or writing about Tony Abbott or the Abbott Clerical Fascist Dictatorship and that an obsession with matters Abbott has made their lives unmanageable.

    ▪ Come to believe that only a power greater than themselves can restore their judgment and diminish their obsession.

    ▪ Make a list of all persons they have bored when ranting against Tony Abbott and the Abbott Clerical Fascist Dictatorship every morning, every night and frequently during the day. It could be a long list.

    ▪ Make direct amends by talking/writing in future about anyone/anything except the former prime minister.  Like the Relief of Mafeking, the Counter-Reformation, Marilyn Monroe et al.

    ▪ Having experienced a spiritual awakening as the result of their steps, try to carry this message to Abbott-Haters Anonymous everywhere (especially at the ABC and Fairfax Media).


    C/- Nancy Kennel

    A Place Somewhere in Sydney

    Nancy on the couch





    Concern among Liberal MPs that Tony Abbott might call an early federal election was one of the factors that helped make Malcolm Turnbull Prime Minister. There were suspicions that the beleaguered Abbott was considering a double dissolution as a way of heading off a leadership challenge. Given the Coalition’s disastrous opinion poll ratings, it would have been folly. The possibility hastened the challenge and boosted Turnbull’s support.

    Six weeks later, though, there is serious talk of the new Prime Minister going to the polls early. And this time it is Labor MPs who dread the prospect. Turnbull’s popularity has sent the Coalition’s electoral support soaring. Labor, for a while at least, is down and out. Few at senior levels in the opposition doubt that Turnbull would win an early election, and win it well.

    Turnbull’s plan, when he moved into the prime minister’s office, was to let Parliament run its full term and hold an election in the second half of next year. That is still the position expressed publicly by ministers…. But behind the scenes they must be — and certainly should be — giving thought to a pre-Budget election.

    – Laurie Oakes “Tough times point to poll”, Herald Sun, 31 October 2015


    Malcolm Turnbull has given himself 12 months to reframe his government, setting course for a policy-heavy budget in May – and possibly outlining a GST increase – and an election to be held not before September of 2016.

    The moves will set the stage for an extended lead-up to the election which can already be seen as a battle of ideas over taxation, with Labor strongly opposed to a GST increase and the government arguing it can be made fair and could facilitate a lower company tax regime or other incentive-destroying costs for business.

    Reviving memories of Julia Gillard’s unorthodox declaration of an election date some eight months in advance in early 2013, Mr Turnbull has all but named the date for the next general election as “September-October” 2016 – quashing feverish speculation of a February-March double-dissolution poll.

    – Mark Kenny “PM eyes poll next spring”, Sydney Morning Herald, 3 November 2015.

    So there you have it. Or perhaps not.

    History Corner


    Four decades after the event, controversy still rages over the decision of Governor-General Sir John Kerr to dismiss Prime Minister Gough Whitlam on 11 November 1975.

    One of the matters in contention turns on whether, at around 10 am on the morning of 11 November 1975, Sir John Kerr indicated his intention to dismiss Whitlam to Opposition leader Malcolm Fraser during a phone call. Initially Mr Fraser said that he had not been forewarned by the Governor-General but changed his mind in 1987 and stated the opposite.

    It so happened that Sir John Kerr had a contemporaneous 12 page note – dated 16 November 1975 – which indicated that his phone call with the Opposition leader on the morning of 11 November 1975 related to whether the Coalition was still  intent on blocking supply. Kerr maintained that he put his conditions for forming a caretaker government to Fraser during their meeting at Government House at around 1 pm that day.

    In the early 2000s Malcolm Fraser said that he had a hand-written note of the phone conversation but it was not released until the publication of Malcolm Fraser: A Political Memoir (MUP, 2010) – which was co-written by Malcolm Fraser and Margaret Simons.  The note has been published since in The Sydney Institute Quarterly Online (28 January 2014)) and can also be found in Appendix B of Paul Kelly and Troy Bramston’s The Dismissal: In the Queen’s Name (Viking, 2015).

    On 11 November 1987, Sir John Kerr provided Gerard Henderson with a statement on this issue.  It is published here – for the first time.

    Malcolm Fraser’s 1975 note is re-published here. The question is whether the note was made around 10 am when Kerr spoke to Fraser by phone – or around 1 pm when Fraser met with Kerr at Government House and formally agreed to the terms that were to apply to the caretaker government.

    As has been pointed out in MWD previously, the handwriting style which records the words “1) Double Dissolution Bills 2) Caretaker 3) No policy change 4) No Royal Comm[ission], 5) +Supply, 5)[sic] Dissolution Today” is dramatically different to the handwriting style which records the time and date of the conversation.

    MWD believes that the date and time along with Malcolm Fraser’s signature was added sometime after 11 November 1975.  If so, the time “9.55” in the morning amounts to Mr Fraser’s recall of the event days, weeks, months or years after 11 November 1975. You be the judge.

    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