13 NOVEMBER 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 introduction by 7.30 presenter Leigh Sales last night when introducing Sabra Lane’s story about the report that Murray Hansen, deputy Liberal Party leader Julie Bishop’s chief-of-staff, attended a meeting at Peter Hendy’s home on the evening before Tony Abbott was rolled as prime minister.  Mr Hendy, the Liberal MP for Eden Monaro, was one of the key players in installing Malcolm Turnbull as prime minister on 14 September 2015.

    This is what Leigh Sales had to say:

    The deputy leader Julie Bishop confirmed today that her chief of staff was present at a crucial plot meeting held the night before Mr Abbott was removed as leader.  The meeting was attended by Malcolm Turnbull and key figures who organised the numbers to roll Tony Abbott.

    Wrong.  Malcolm Turnbull was not at the meeting at Peter Hendy’s house on Sunday 13 September 2015. 7.30 is the ABC’s leading current affairs program but last night it made a significant mistake about the most important event in Australian national politics this year.

    It speaks volumes for the ability of Kate Torney (former Director of ABC News) that, when she resigned, ABC managing director and (so-called) editor-in-chief Mark Scott saw fit to replace her with two ABC blokes. Namely Gaven Morris as Director of ABC News and Craig McMurtrie as Deputy Director of ABC News.  This despite the fact that there is no evidence that news coverage has doubled since Ms Torney resigned from the ABC to take up a top job at the State Library of Victoria. (Go Kate).

    Perhaps it would have been a better idea if Nice Mr Scott had directed the funding devoted to the new Deputy Director of ABC News position to employing a fact-checker who can check ABC “facts” before they go to air on ABC news and current affairs programs.

    [What a pity that, unlike the BBC, Australia’s taxpayer funded public broadcaster cannot see the humour that emanates from the substantial bureaucracy at the ABC’s Sydney headquarters in the sandal-wearing inner-city suburb of Ultimo.  The BBC’s comedy titled W1A, currently showing on Foxtel’s BBC First channel, is a marvellous spoof on the bureaucracy-ridden British taxpayer funded public broadcaster – Ed]


    Did anyone see Sky News’ Paul Murray live on Paul Murray Live last night? Probably not because Janine Perrett was in the presenter’s chair.  Guests included Melbourne University’s Nicholas (‘I can read my Labor Party endorsed talking points’) Reece and the Centre for Independent Studies’ Simon Cowan.  The latter, seemingly forgetting that labour market figures are a lagging economic indicator, advanced the view that the drop in unemployment announced yesterday was causally related to Malcolm Turnbull’s prime ministership.  It was that kind of night.

    The highlight of the evening occurred when Ms Perrett showed footage of the Prime Minister boarding the RAAF jet enroute to Jakarta.  She enthused just how democratic this was and asserted that Malcolm Turnbull was the first Australian prime minister to carry his own bags on to an RAAF Special Purpose flight. Let go to the transcript:

    Janine Perrett: Okay, we’re going to go to world tours at the moment, some who are going out, some who are coming in. Let’s start with the Turnbulls. There was a particular photo today that got a bit of interest again on social media. This is our Prime Minister and our First Lady getting off the plane on their first trip or getting on to the plane…Aides have said it’s the first time they’ve ever seen a PM and his wife carrying their own bags.

     Kerry Chikarovski: I’ve got to say –

     Janine Perrett: Have you ever seen that?

     Kerry Chikarovski: I’ve got to say… that was the first time I’ve ever seen that.

    Janine Perrett: I know they’re new to the role. But isn’t that encouraging?

    Er, not really.  It seems that Ms Perrett – in her “We all love Malcolm” enthusiasm – forgot that at least one former prime minister of recent memory carried his own bags. See below:



    How wonderful to see K. Rudd back on the telly last night – as the recipient of a soft interview by Lateline presenter Tony Jones.

    Kevin Rudd was baptised a Catholic but as a young adult swapped guernseys and signed up with the Anglican Church team.  Tony Jones went to Newington College which is in the Uniting Church tradition.  The young Master Jones was something of a fan of the Anglican oddity Francis James – but that’s another story. [Perhaps you should tell it at the soonest – Ed]

    How appropriate, then, that Mr Jones should ask Mr Rudd about what he thinks of Cardinal George Pell – who, currently, holds the third most senior position in the Vatican.

    Despite the fact that K. Rudd has abandoned the Faith of his mother, he believes that Cardinal Pell should follow the teachings of Pope Francis on, wait for it, climate change.  Presumably, K. Rudd would not consider it important that George Pell should abide by the teachings of the Catholic Church on, say, abortion or same-sex marriage or euthanasia. But climate change is different, apparently.  Despite the fact that the teaching authority of the Pope covers faith and morals – not economics, foreign policy or the environment.

    Tony Jones also said nothing when K. Rudd referred to “a bunch of nut-jobs on the Lunar Right” in the Liberal Party – despite the fact that Nice Mr Scott is sensitive about ABC programs casting aspersions on those suffering a mental illness.

    By the way, the term “Lunar Right” was originally coined by Gerard Henderson some two decades ago to depict individuals on the extreme right of politics who objected to Asian immigration and were alienated from mainstream politics.  The term was never intended to apply to elected members of the Liberal Party or the Nationals.

    Tony Jones also said nothing challenging when K. Rudd (incorrectly) said that the Royal Commissioner Dyson Heydon had attended “Liberal Party fundraisers”- as in many fundraisers. In fact, Mr Hadon withdrew from one Liberal Party function (which was going to raise scant funds) and has not accepted any other invitations.

    Tony Jones concluded by declaring “we’ll see you when you are back here next time”.  With soft interviews like this, K. Rudd will be pleased to be back with him.


    Can you bear it graphic


    Here is the series of tweets that Mike Carlton (whose father was a Catholic priest before he left the priesthood and taught at Barker College, a Sydney Anglican school) sent out on the morning of 12 November 2015.  It was just after 7.30 am. Which, as avid MWD readers understand, is hangover-time up Avalon Beach way.

    mike carlton nov 10 tweetmike carlton nov 10 tweet 2mike carlton nov 10 tweet 3mike carlton nov 10 tweet 4

    If this ever happened, it was not very funny.  Calling some of the good citizens of Adelaide c-nts is not humour.  Just cheap abuse.  Moreover, it is known that the late Gough Whitlam had a high regard for some Christians.  Including his sister Freda Whitlam, who was a moderator of the Uniting Church of Australia in New South Wales.

    Needless to say, the sneering secularist leftist hangout that is Twitter thought that Mike Carlton’s story was thigh-slappingly funny and Plato-like profound.  A certain Perente declared that he had just fallen off his chair laughing.  While a certain Graeme Paterson boasted that he had “just wet” himself.  Here’s hoping that Perente did not fall into Mr Paterson’s puddle.

    Can you imagine that Mike Carlton would put out a series of tweets supporting the view that “ALL” Muslims are c-nts?  Not on your Nelly.  Your man Carlton obviously does not want his throat cut. Can you bear it?

    [Er, no. Could this be the very same Mike (“I’ll pour the gin”) Carlton who has enrolled his youngest son at the Anglican Church’s Barker College? – where the young fellow will learn about Christianity from Christians? Pray tell me that this is not so. Ed]


    Last Wednesday, was the 40th anniversary of Governor-General Sir John Kerr’s Dismissal of Gough Whitlam’s Labor government on 11 November 2015.  (See this week’s “Conspiracy Update” segment with respect to the Dismissal conspiracy theories concerning the CIA and Buckingham Palace).

    On Wednesday, the Australian Financial Review ran a Page One “Exclusive” titled “The memo Fraser destroyed that could have avoided The Dismissal” by Andrew Clark. Mr Clark’s exclusive turns on the fact that 76 year old Timothy Pascoe, a one-time Liberal Party federal director, gave (then) Opposition leader Malcolm Fraser a memorandum advising him not to block supply way back in October 1975.

    According to Andrew Clark’s report, Mr Fraser burnt copies of the Pascoe memorandum soon after receiving it.  Page One declares that the burning took place at the Fraser “family residence”.  However, the article spilled to Page 48 where it is claimed that copies of the memorandum were burnt in Fraser’s “rooms in Canberra’s exclusive Commonwealth Club”.

    This is the Clark/Pascoe burning story on Page 1:

    Dr Pascoe learnt of the memo’s fate from the prime minister’s wife Tamie at a bizarre meeting after he went to their Canberra residence and smelt smoke. “It’s your fault. He’s burning your memorandum,” he remembers Mrs Fraser telling him.

    And this is how the burning is described where the article spilled to Page 49:

    Dr Pascoe was preparing to go home when he was asked to go via the Canberra lodgings of Malcolm and Tamie Fraser at the Commonwealth Club in Yarralumla. “There was something that needed to be taken over to him. They’d gone back to get changed to go out to dinner that night. I came up the stairs, turned left, turned right and their room was there and I knocked on the door. Tamie opened the door and smoke came out and I said ‘what’s going on?’ and she smiled she said ‘it’s your fault. He’s burning your memorandum’.”

    So there you have it – or not.  Same Timothy Pascoe/Tamie Fraser discussion but different location. How about that?

    In October/November 1975 Malcolm Fraser was not dependent on the support of Liberal Party functionaries like Dr Pascoe (for a doctor he is). Rather Fraser’s concern was to lock up the support of Coalition members and senators for the blocking of supply.

    Andrew Clark commenced his piece as follows:

    Liberal leader Malcolm Fraser burnt copies of a memo from a powerful Liberal party figure advising against blocking supply in the Senate, which if published could have changed the course of Australian history.

    What a beat-up.  The release of Pascoe’s memorandum in late 1975 might have proved an embarrassment to Fraser.  But no more than that.  Fraser was not going to back down because a Liberal Party functionary did not approve of his actions.

    Yet Andrew Clark reckons that, if released, Dr Pascoe’s memo could have changed history.  Well, it just may have. More likely, it would not.  But it never happened.   Can you bear it?

    [I note that Andrew Clark’s piece was signed off that “he is co-author, along with Clem Lloyd, of Kerr’s King Hit!” Set out below is Kerr’s King Hit!’s really big Scoop:

    There are other puzzling aspects of Kerr’s behaviour, however, which tend to reinforce the conspiracy theory. Barwick was not the only distinguished jurist Kerr sought out for advice which would fortify his inclination to dismiss the Whitlam Government. He approached the Chief Justice of NSW, Mr Justice Street, who had succeeded Kerr at the head of the NSW bench. If Kerr was looking for support or a favourable legal opinion from Street, he was badly disappointed. Street rejected the proposal to use the reserve powers out of hand. He advised Kerr in the strongest terms that such a course of action was not on.

    Needless to say, the Clem Lloyd/Andrew Clark scoop was all nonsense.  Sir John Kerr in 1975 did not seek out the advice of Sir Laurence Street. Moreover, Chief Justice Street did not volunteer advice to Sir John Kerr about the reserve powers.  It can only be assumed that your man Clark and his colleague just made this up – Ed].

    kerr scann 13112015


    five paws graphic



    Nancy’s prestigious Five Paws Award ranks only behind the Nobel Prize and the Academy Awards in importance.  This week’s gong goes to Trebase for this tweet on Peter FitzSimons, the man with the red bandanna, who believes that by wearing red head-gear and finger pointing he can increase support for the Australian Republican Movement:

    trebase tweet nov 10

    Trebase: Five Paws

    [Awarded by Nancy, who happens to be a non-bandannaed republican]



    Academic Fool of the week



    Meet Frank Bongiorno born Nihill, Victoria 1969 (as his CV on The Conversation website attests). He is your typical left-wing historian who has spent all his professional life on the taxpayer subsidised teat while teaching at universities or receiving grants from the Australia Research Council. Nice funding if you can get it.

    Dr Bongiorno (for a doctor he is) is currently associate professor at the Australian National University’s College of Arts and Social Sciences.  He describes himself as “an Australian labour, political and cultural historian”.  But one, alas, without any practical experience of life outside the groves of academe.

    You see, your man Bongiorno – at age 46 – has never worked as a political operative or a political staffer (in government or opposition) or in the Commonwealth or State public service or in mainstream journalism. He has spent his career at universities from Canberra to Armidale to Brisbane to London and on to Austin and back to Canberra.  A modern day (academic) version of the traveller who appeared in the Peter Stuyvesant cigarette advertisements all those years ago – i.e. before they were banned.

    Like many leftist academics in Australian university social science departments, Dr Bongiorno has no hands-on experience about how the world works. But he has lotsa time to write books.  Including the Sex Lives of Australians: A History, along with A Little History of the Australian Labor Party (with “look-mum-no-facts” Nick Dyrenfurth) and, now, The Eighties: The Decade That Transformed Australia (Black Inc, 2015).

    On Thursday, presumably to spark interest in this truly boring book, Swinburne University’s “Inside Story” ran a piece from The Eighties.  It was titled “The Anti-Industrial Relations Club” and consisted of criticism of Gerard Henderson, John Stone, the late Ray Evans, the late Barrie Purvis, Peter Costello and Charles Copeman.  It appears that Dr Bongiorno did not attempt to interview any of this group – he just presumed to know, from inside the Australian National University, why they took the position they did in the 1980s.

    “The Anti-Industrial Relations Club” essay is taken from Chapter 6 of The Eighties which is titled “Taking Credit”. Essentially the author bags contemporary critics of Australia’s highly centralised industrial relations system which prevailed throughout the 1980s and on to the recession of the early 1990s.

    The title is a play on Gerard Henderson’s essay “The Industrial Relations Club” which was published in Quadrant in September 1983. Bongiorno also focused on former Treasury Secretary John Stone’s 1984 Edward Shann Memorial Lecture titled “1929 and All That”.

    When Gerard Henderson wrote his “The Industrial Relations Club” piece, he was working in the Commonwealth Department of Employment and Industrial Relations.  In other words, he had first-hand knowledge of how industrial awards were made and enforced.  When John Stone delivered his Edward Shann Memorial Lecture, he had just stepped down as the principal economic adviser to the Commonwealth Government and had first-hand knowledge of the relationship between wages policy and economic outcomes. In other words, both Gerard Henderson and John Stone understood how the Australian industrial relations and/or the Australian economy worked.  Frank Bongiorno has never had any first-hand experience in industrial relations or any other area of government broadly defined.

    In The Eighties, Frank Bongiorno essentially takes the side of the militant trade union officials in a number of industrial disputes which took place in the mid-1980s.  The Dollar Sweets Case in Victoria in 1985, the South East Queensland Electricity Board dispute in Queensland in 1985 and the Robe River dispute in Western Australia in 1986/87.  All disputes turned on the capacity of management to manage.

    As would be expected from a labour historian with an Arts (Honours) degree, Bongiorno takes up the cause of the Australian labour movement in his Inside Story piece. It’s an essentially one-sided “history” of the kind taught by many left-wing academics in left-wing dominated social science faculties in Australian universities.

    In his essay, Bongiorno defends Australia’s centralised industrial relations system that prevailed in the 1980s and criticises those who called for greater flexibility in workplaces.  The critics included those mentioned above, plus John Howard who was deputy leader of the Liberal Party or leader of the Liberal Party between 1983 and 1989. He also runs a conspiratorial line about the H.R. Nicholls Society –  set up by Messrs Evans, Costello and Purvis – which was merely the name given to an organisation which had neither an office nor paid staff but merely held occasional conferences and published the proceedings of its meetings.

    It’s a pity that labour historian Bongiorno never worked for the Labor Party governments led by Bob Hawke and Paul Keating.  It’s true that the Hawke government supported Australia’s centralised industrial relations system – even though it did break new ground by acknowledging that there should be a relationship between productivity and wage increases. Moreover, the Keating government did introduce substantial industrial relations reform.

    In early 1992, Paul Keating introduced greater flexibility into Australia’s labour markets.  Keating’s legislation in the early 1990s reflected the case for industrial relations reforms which had been advocated by John Howard and others in the mid-1980s. In his academic isolation, Dr Bongiorno appears completely unaware of this.

    Bongiorno runs the leftist 1980s line that the H.R. Nicholls Society – which was in fact just a talk-fest for advocates of industrial relations reform – was an evil entity. He appears to hold the view that it is quite okay for taxpayer subsidised labour historians to meet at tax payer subsidised universities to discuss industrial relations.  But that it is a conspiracy if a mixed group of Australians pay their own way to attend industrial relations meetings held at a hired hall booked by the H.R. Nicholls Society.

    This is how Dr Bongiorno’s “The Anti-Industrial Relations Club” essay in Inside Story concludes:

    [The] Robe River [dispute] also brought the H.R. Nicholls Society to national attention as a mysterious and possibly dangerous cabal, contributing to New Right stridency – and a backlash against it that would soon have disastrous political consequences for opponents of the Hawke government. The [Hawke government’s] Prices and Incomes Accord was based on a fusion of politics and industrial relations that eventually helped keep the Labor Party in office for longer than any previous national Labor government. But the political right’s attempt at creating its own fusion would help keep the Coalition out of power for another decade.

    What verbal sludge.  What “fusion” is your man Bongiorno talking about?  It is also absolute tosh. The case studies in “The Anti-Industrial Relations Club” relate to 1985 and 1986 and the H.R. Nicholls Society held its first meeting in 1985. As the author of The Eighties should know, the most authoritative opinion poll at the time was the Morgan Gallup Poll published in The Bulletin.  The last poll for 1986 – published in The Bulletin on 16 December 1986 – was as follows:


    Liberal-National Party        48 per cent

    Labor Party                       42 per cent

    Democrats                        8 per cent

    Others                              2 per cent

    In other words, at the end of 1986 the Coalition (led by John Howard) was leading Labor (led by Bob Hawke) and would have won an election at the time if the polling was accurate. Contrary to Frank Bongiorno thesis, there was no backlash against the call for industrial relations reform advanced by John Howard in the late 1983, 1984, 1985 and 1986.

    However, in January 1987 the “Joh Bjelke Petersen for Prime Minister” campaign commenced.  It adversely affected both the Liberal Party and the Nationals and John Howard was defeated at the July 1987 election by Bob Hawke.  John Howard did not lead the Coalition at an election again until 1996 when he defeated Paul Keating.






    Due to enormous demand from avid readers, MWD’s hugely popular “Ask Nancy – On the Couch” segment, which is devoted to Nancy answering the big problems of the day, appears again this week.

    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.

    This is how Damien Murphy commenced his column in The Sydney Morning Herald last Saturday under the title “I dub thee Sir Begone”:

    And so farewell then to the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of St Anthony of Abbott. First awarded in the year of Our Lord 2014, knight-errant Tony Abbott reintroduced Knights and Dame to the Australian Honours System after a Labor government banished them to the Dark Ages in 1986.

    Pretty funny, eh?, in an anti-Catholic sectarian kind of way.  Hendo does not support knights and dames in the Order of Australia.  It should be noted, however, that New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has re-introduced knights and dames without Damien Murphy-like sneering.

    For the record, your man Murphy’s account is incorrect. The last Australian to be knighted before the advent of the Abbott government was Sir David Martin (1933-1990). David Martin was knighted in December 1989 at the request of Nick Greiner’s Coalition government in New South Wales.

    Damien Murphy got into such Abbott-hating mode that he even ran the Derryn Hinch line querying whether Tony Abbott ever renounced his British citizenship. Yawn.

    And Now For Nancy’s View – As Communicated To Nancy’s Male Co-Owner

    Once again, Nancy recommends that Damien Murphy take a lead from Alcoholics Anonymous – and that he and his Abbott-hating colleagues at Fairfax Media and the ABC, should:

    • 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

    Somewhere in Sydney

    Nancy on the couch




     Just when you thought that conspiracy theories concerning the Dismissal of the Whitlam Labor government on 11 November 1975 by the Governor-General Sir John Kerr might have gone away – THEY’RE BACK.

    Guy Rundle, Crikey’s editor-at-large and MWD’s favourite Marxist comedian, had this to say in Eric Beecher’s leftist newsletter on Wednesday under the title “The coup d’etat that unmade Australia”:

    [Gough] Whitlam missed the degree to which [Sir John] Kerr, a working-class boy risen to great heights, had, by the ’70s, lost all connection or empathy with the Labor tradition. What they don’t note of course is that long before that, Kerr’s “anti-Stalinism” had led him down a path familiar in the last century, into the shadowy world of official anti-communism. It is here that [Paul] Kelly and [Troy] Bramston simultaneously decry any notion that Kerr might have been influenced by global Cold War considerations or contact, in his actions, while noting earlier that he was a member of “the Australian Association of Cultural Freedom, a group of anti-communist intellectuals associated with the publication Quadrant”.

    Anti-communist intellectuals, you don’t say. Come off it, gentlemen. The AACF was the Australian branch of the Congress for Cultural Freedom, the global front established by the CIA to funnel money to publications and activities, all of them designed to look hands-off, and to monitor and steer intellectual activity in the West. That is a matter of public record, and no one believes that James McAuley and other AACF luminaries in the ’50s didn’t know where the money was coming from. Kerr was present at the creation of shadowy intelligence in Australia, as a member of Alf Conlon’s intelligence directorate in World War II, and through being caught up in the brutal late ’40s Sydney Communist/anti-communist labour conflicts from which US involvement in Australian labour affairs was born.

    Kelly and Bramston don’t want to acknowledge this because they are desperate to obscure any notion of US involvement in the Dismissal — and their way of doing that is to discount any soft or informal forms of influence; look for a 10/11/75 telex to Yarralumla saying “The balloon goes up tomorrow, white squirrel”, find none, and thus decry any influence. In that they follow Whitlam to a degree, who could not see that Kerr was not merely no longer a Labor man, but now saw himself as part of a global power structure guarding against an insurgent global populace — people who wanted to do things like own their own resources. That was not a failure of Whitlam’s personal assessment, but of his political worldview.

    Like [Salvador] Allende, who also appointed his (actual) executioner, Whitlam’s political error was in not being left enough in assessing how power was flowing. Kelly and Bramston do themselves and their readers a disservice with that omission. The full story is far more interesting. As we shall see. Lest we forget, as they would wish us to, how our past, and present, were made.


    So Comrade Rundle, the former co-editor of the Marxist journal of opinion Arena, has taken up the conspiracy theory launched by John Pilger in his piss-poor book The Secret Country some three decades ago.

    And what is the evidence to support the Pilger/Rundle conspiracy theory that Sir John Kerr – when dismissing Gough Whitlam on 11 November 1975 – acted at the direction of the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency? None whatsoever. This despite the fact that the Pilger CIA conspiracy theory has been rejected by the following authors:

    Paul Kelly and Troy Bramston in The Dismissal: In the Queen’s Name (MUP, 2015).

    James Curran in Unholy Fury: Nixon and Whitlam at War (MUP, 2015) and John Blaxland The Protest Years: The official History of ASIO 1963-1975 (Allen & Unwin, 2015).  See also the article titled “No connection between the dismissal and Pine Gap” in The Australian, 9 November 2005 by historian Peter Edwards.

    What’s more, Gough Whitlam never supported the CIA conspiracy theory. On 24 March 1984, journalist Peter Hastings asked Gough Whitlam whether he thought that “the CIA had got to the Governor-General at the time”. Whitlam replied: “No I don’t; I never have.” (Sydney Morning Herald, 24 March 1984).

    Moreover, Jenny Hocking did not even raise the issue of the CIA’s alleged involvement in the events of 11 November 1975 in her book The Dismissal Dossier: Everything you were ever meant to know about November 1975 (MUP, 2015). So, clearly, this learned doctor does not share the Rundle CIA conspiracy line.

    However, in her latest book, Dr Hocking (for a doctor she is) has produced a brand new conspiracy to explain the Dismissal. Namely, blame (in part at least) Buckingham Palace and the Queen.  The Dismissal Dossier contains a chapter titled “What Did The Palace Know?”  The Hocking answer is – lotsa:

    There can be no doubt that, contrary to [Sir John] Kerr’s claim and the popular view, Prince Charles, Sir Martin Charteris and the Queen were aware that the Governor-General was considering dismissing Gough Whitlam and that none of them had raised any concern – either about such a move or that Kerr was communicating directly with them on this. Most significantly, at no stage did the Palace inform the Prime Minister that the Governor-General was communicating with them in this way without Whitlam’s knowledge or approval, and that he was considering such extreme unilateral action against him. Their failure to inform Whitlam, as Kerr himself should have done, could only have given Kerr tacit comfort and confidence that the dismissal of the Prime Minister would not meet any royal resistance.

    What a load of absolute tosh.  As Sir John Kerr made clear, he was intent on not involving the Palace in the events leading up to 11 November 1975.  Moreover, Jenny Hocking has not produced any compelling evidence that the Palace was involved in Kerr’s decision.  Certainly Kerr sent reports to the Palace regularly about what was going on in Australia but there is no evidence that he acted in accordance with the Palace’s advice or consent.

    This is what Paul Kelly and Troy Bramston have to say about the Hocking conspiracy theory in their book:

    In his 1980 handwritten journal, Kerr ruminated at length on the prospect that Whitlam would recall him.  He wrote that in September 1975, when in Papua New Guinea for the independence celebrations, he told Charles, the Prince of Wales, the reserve powers might “need to be exercised”, which could heighten “the risk of recall”.  According to Kerr, the Prince said, “But surely, Sir John, the Queen would not have to accept advice that you should be recalled at the very time should this happen when you were considering having to dismiss the government”.

    Kerr’s journal says that after returning to London, Prince Charles spoke to the Queen’s private secretary, Sir Martin Charteris, who then wrote to Kerr on 7 October. Kerr says Charteris advised “that if the kind of contingency in mind were to develop, although the Queen would try to delay things, in the end she would have to take the Prime Minister’s advice”.  Kerr makes the point he already knew this.

    The suggestion that Kerr told Charles, a month before supply was blocked, that he might have to dismiss Whitlam is astonishing.  Its credibility is in question. The full account is not mentioned in Kerr’s memoirs or in any of Kerr’s contemporary notes written during the crisis sighted by the authors.  It also contradicts Kerr’s golden rule in the crisis – that he did not signal his hand to the Palace.  The letters between Kerr and the Palace have not been released.

    Whitlam’s biographer, Jenny Hocking, used this journal entry to argue that before supply was blocked “the Governor-General had already conferred with the Palace on the possibility of the future dismissal of the prime minister, securing in advance the response of the Palace to it”.  Hocking built this into a theory about “several critical conversations and understandings reached” between the Palace and Kerr over Whitlam’s dismissal by Kerr”.  The evidence does not support this.  It was denied by Kerr, by the Palace officials, and by every principal involved in the crisis.  There has never been any hard documentary evidence to sustain this claim in the past forty years.  What Kerr’s journal reveals, above all, is his obsession about dismissal by Whitlam.


    In other words, Sir John Kerr was concerned that Gough Whitlam might approach the Queen advising that she should dismiss the governor-general.  There is no evidence that Kerr advised the Palace of his intention to sack the prime minister.

    Gerard Henderson has a copy of a note written by one-time governor-general Sir Paul Hasluck following his discussion with Sir Martin Charteris (the Queen’s private secretary) on 30 March 1977.  Sir Paul was not a supporter of the way John Kerr handled the blocking of supply in November 1975 and believed that the governor-general should have consulted with his prime minister Gough Whitlam. Nevertheless, Sir Paul was of the view that he had no doubt “that the Governor-General had the power to act as he did and the success of his action was the final proof of the fact”.

    Sir Paul Hasluck’s report of his discussion with Sir Martin Charteris indicates that the Palace did not believe that Sir John Kerr had properly handled the deadlock between the Senate and the House of Representatives. As Hasluck described the exchange:

    ….I then developed further the theme that the wisdom of a constitutional monarchy is to avoid confrontation.  If at the time of the “loans crisis” Kerr had been diligent and attentive to the duties of his office, if he had been available at all times instead of travelling abroad, and if he had called Whitlam to see him more frequently and, in doing this, had established in Whitlam’s mind some greater respect for the office of Governor-General and some greater confidence in his (Kerr’s) own trustworthiness and wisdom, there would never have been a crisis.

    Charteris agreed with the view of the role of Governor-General…. He then said that the first he (Charteris) heard of the crisis was in fact a telephone call from Whitlam.  He had been away from the Palace and on his return was told that there was a telephone caller from Australia. When he took the telephone, a voice said, “Mr Whitlam is calling” and while he was still wondering why it was announced to him as “Mr Whitlam” and not as “the Prime Minister of Australia”, Mr Whitlam came on the line and said, “This is the member for Werriwa speaking”.  He then told him that he had been dismissed by the Governor-General. Charteris was able to reply in complete honesty that this was the first time he had heard of it….

    It appeared to me from our conversation that The Queen had not been involved in any way in Kerr’s action in dismissing Whitlam. Charteris concurred.

    This is a contemporaneous account of how the Palace viewed Sir John Kerr and the Dismissal – and it indicates that the Dismissal came as a surprise to the Queen and that she had no role whatsoever in it.

    Jenny Hocking’s view that the Queen and her advisers were consulted about – and approved of – the Dismissal is conspiratorial bunk.

    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