11 DECEMBER 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.


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Thanks to an avid reader who drew attention to the wonderful appearance by Jonathan (“Proudly the ABC’s Sneerer-in-Chief”) Green on The Drum last night. This is what the presenter of ABC Radio National’s Sunday Extra had to say about the breaking news that NSW Police had arrested and charged a 15 year old male with terrorism related offences. Let’s go to the transcript:

Jonathan Green: When we’re looking at the sort of people that can influence 15 year old kids. You know, the sort of rot that they fill the minds of 15 year olds with. It’s not because these people are particularly devoted to a particular set of religious beliefs. It’s because they’re idiot adolescents who are, you know, having been preached at by people with fundamentally evil intent. I mean, this is the thing here. This is not an evil religion –  this is people doing evil in the name of a misinterpreted belief and that doesn’t tar an entire body of religious thought. And we’ve got to sort of get that into our heads and realise that these are idiots doing bad and evil things. And the other, I mean the reassuring thing about, I reckon, is the work of our agencies, you know, who appear to be well on top of these things.

Something may have been planned but a thing did not happen – and that’s reassuring. And the other weirdly reassuring thing is, as much as we’re disturbed by young people getting caught up in this, the age of the perpetrators or the potential perpetrators is, in a funny way, sort of reassuring. It points to the weakness of the thing that’s being sold. It can only appeal to the sort of “ooh-hoo” excitement oriented mind of a 15 year old boy.  You know, it’s not a thing that could convince the mature intellect. And that in a strange way is reassuring.

Isn’t it reassuring that Mr Green used the word “reassuring” on no fewer than five occasions in a mere 250 words? – which is a rate of once every fifty words. Fancy that. Mr Green seemed unaware that out of the four males charged by NSW Police yesterday – only one was under 18 years of age.  He also seemed unaware that Islamists target the young since they are easier to radicalise. Maybe Jonathan Green forgot that a 15 year old Islamist, Farhad Khalil Mohammad Jabar, murdered NSW Police public servant Curtis Cheng a few months ago at point blank range outside Cheng’s place of work. There was nothing “reassuring” about this brutal murder.

So Jonathan Green’s assertion that it is somehow “reassuring” that a 15 year old has been charged with a terrorist offence indicates that members of the intelligentsia will do whatever it takes to downplay the risk to democratic societies posed by radical Islamists. 


 What a stunning performance by Melbourne University Public Policy  Fellow – and media tart – Nicholas Reece on Paul Murray Live last night.  Referring to the former prime minister’s article on Wednesday, your man Reece said this:

He [Tony Abbott] tries…to take the actions of some venal Islamic extremists and then extrapolate that to blame the entire Muslim community and basically the 1.9 billion Muslims in the world. And that’s a divisive, wrong and dangerous argument that plays into the venal arguments that these extremist youths use to try to recruit like people like that 15 year old boy into their creed.

I mean, you just can’t go and blame 1.9 billion Muslims around the world for the venal acts of these evil bastards.  It’s like, you know, blaming all Muslims for the acts of those extremists is like blaming all musicians for the music of Nickelback.  You just can’t do it.  It doesn’t make sense.

Your man Reece is right, you know. It just doesn’t make sense.  And it didn’t make any more sense when he tried the very same Nickelback “joke” on ABC News Breakfast on Wednesday. [Are public policy fellows at the University of Melbourne restricted to just one attempt at humour a week? – Ed].

The fact is that Nicholas Reece verballed Tony Abbott.  In his News Corp article last Wednesday, the former prime minister said that “although most Muslims reject terrorism, some are too ready to justify ‘death of the infidel’”.  Mr Abbott also spoke favourably about the recent comments of President el-Sisi of Egypt and Prime Minister Najib of Malaysia.  Both are Muslims.  It is intellectually dishonest for Mr Reece to continue to assert that Tony Abbott has blamed “all Muslims” for the attacks by radical Islamists.

Either Nicholas Reece did not read Tony Abbott’s article. Or he just made up the allegation that the former prime minister blamed 1.9 billion Muslims for the attacks of radical Islamists.  Whatever the case, the University of Melbourne seems prepared to tolerate such low intellectual standards from its policy fellows. How about that?



Can you bear it graphic


According to Mark Day’s report in The Australian last Monday, the Sydney Morning Herald experienced a decline in print sales of 54 per cent between June 2002 and September 2015.  The relevant figures for The Age is 51 per cent.  For The Australian, the figure is 22 per cent – a relatively good outcome in the light of the plight of print newspapers in the digital world throughout the Western world.  This is significant because advertising is far more profitable in print, as compared with online newspapers.

As MWD has commented previously, over the last couple of decades Fairfax Media journalists have been allowed by weak editors to attack the readership and advertising base of the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.   Namely, political conservatives and social democrats living in the suburbs and regional areas who used to buy printed Fairfax Media newspapers along with the products of those who advertised in them.

The evidence suggests that former Fairfax readers who (i) believe in God, (ii) send their children to non-government schools and (iii) who vote for Coalition or right-wing Labor leaders resent being mocked and ridiculed by inner-city Green Left inclined journalists.  Who could blame them?

Consider the case of Fairfax Media’s light-weight sneerer Peter Munro who wrote a piece in the Sydney Morning Herald last Saturday titled “Abandon ship! Conservative Cause is sunk”. [As I recall, Mr Munro has previously provided MWD with an “endorsement”. – Ed]  Here is how Mr Munro’s rant commenced:

What becomes of the broken-hearted ex-PM? Cast adrift in a sea of self-pity, with naught but an onion and an old pair of Speedos as a sail.

The former prime ministerial powder monkey has been too busy not wrecking, undermining or sniping at every opportunity to see the tide has carried him away. Ah, for the age when Tony Abbott manned the poop deck, spying death cults on the horizon and vowing to release the Kraken on mutineers. Now he’s reduced to railing against white-anting, while his stopped boat sinks beneath the waves. Perhaps the navy will toss him one of their orange lifeboats for asylum seekers.

Who’s left to lead the Liberal’s conservative wing? The ship of fools has somehow settled on Petty Officer Peter Dutton, who’s reportedly being considered as a future deputy leader – assuming every other possible candidate goes swimming in the Bermuda Triangle, in a storm, while wearing cement shoes. How low have they sunk to see Dutton as their champion? The former Queensland cop and tuber impersonator is better known as a stand-up comedian, yucking about low-lying Pacific islands being swamped by rising seas.

In between gigs, he’s been hosting lunch for his incapable seamen, featuring some Chinese grub and a chocolate cake baked by Abbott’s “landlady” P-E-T-A Credlin. Over deep-fried dim sims, the hard-right has been building Dutton’s internal support network. Dumped former defence minister Kevin Andrews also pushed publicly for the Immigration Minister to be restored to the national security committee of cabinet….

All this is abuse. Mere abuse.  Peter Munro went on and on with reference to conservative “nutters” and “jackboots” and so on. Pretty funny, eh?  Mr Munro even found time to have a go at conservatives in the Melbourne suburb of Balwyn and on Sydney’s “northern beaches”. [Isn’t this the abode of Mike (“I’ll pour the gin”) Carlton? – Ed].

And the powers-that-be at Fairfax Media wonder why so many traditional readers on Sydney’s North Shore, in the eastern suburbs and in regional NSW have stopped buying the Sydney Morning Herald and why so many businesses have stopped advertising.  Can you bear it?


While on the topic of Fairfax Media, what a strange piece by Age columnist and associate professor of political science Sally Young in The Age on 2 December.  You see, Dr Young (for a doctor she is) was complaining that, unlike in Britain and the United States, the media in Australia does not report “about sex marital infidelity with respect to politicians”.  There are a few exceptions, as Sally Young acknowledged.  But her point is broadly correct.

The problem is that, as Sally Young conceded, “allegations of affairs are just that, allegations”.  Sure are.  Yet Ms Young ran the David Day line that the one-time Labor prime minister John Curtin had affairs with women.  However, as with so many theories of Dr Day (for a doctor he is), there is no evidence that Mr Curtin ever had affairs.  None whatsoever. [Ah, David Day. You must return to his look-mum-no-facts “history” in next week’s MWD – Ed].

There is another point.  Sally Young reckons it would be a you-beaut idea for the media to report the sexual infidelities of politicians”. But, why stop there?  Why not the sexual infidelities of journalists? – some of whom have affairs with, wait for it, politicians in  Canberra and elsewhere.  And what about academics – including the dons and donettes at, say, the University of Melbourne?  Why not report their assignations, of the horizontal kind, as well?

It seems that Sally Young wants the media to cover the sexual-lives of only politicians.  Ms Young is a journalist and Melbourne University academic. Can you bear it?


While on the topic of sex and journalism, did anyone see the Tracy Bowden’s report on 7.30  last Friday?  In case you missed it, here is how the story was introduced by 7.30 presenter Sabra Lane:

Sabra Lane : Social media has opened up whole new frontiers of communication, but it has a dark side. A world of haters and abusers often targeting women with threats and insults. Writer and commentator Clementine Ford has been bombarded with abuse online after she called out one of the haters. His company subsequently sacked him. Today a Twitter campaign was launched to support all women exposed to attacks on social media and it went off. Tracy Bowden has the story, and a warning, her report contains language some viewers might find offensive. Let me start with Clem Ford who has had a little bit to say in the past about trolling.

An important point, to be sure.  Online abuse needs to be confronted and trolls are low life.  It’s just that Ms Lane neglected to tell 7.30 viewers that, in her time, Clem Ford has got up to a bit of online abuse herself – even with respect to women.

As Miranda Devine wrote in the Sunday Telegraph at the weekend under the headings “Feminists Can Dish it Out”:

Clementine Ford, a Fairfax commentator better known as a foul-mouthed online troll, spends her day abusing people on Twitter. She’s always blasting some man or other as a “d—head”, “f—bag” or similar charming epithet.  Once she wrote “All men must die”.   She doesn’t lay off women either. She’s called me a “f—g c—t”. She’s called my colleague Rita Panahi a “c—t who wishes she’s a man”. But now she is taking on the role of a “victim” of online abuse about getting a man sacked from his job for calling her a slut on Facebook. No hypocrisy there.

On Friday she was portrayed on the ABC’s 7.30 as a victim of social media “haters and abusers often on targeting women”. Fellow feminists have launched a Twitter campaign of support. #endviolenceagainstwomen aims to “hold” (male) offenders accountable. Sigh.  Sometimes it’s embarrassing to be a woman.

It seems that Ms Ford has deleted most of her own online abuse from the web.  However, MWD was able to find two episodes of Clementine Ford’s own trolling in The Australian on 21 August, 2015.

Clemetine Ford DevineFord on Panahi


And yet 7.30 sees Clementine Ford only as a victim – and not at all as a perpetrator – of online abuse against women. Can you bear it?


 Writing in Crikey on 24 November 2015 Margot Saville – who describes herself as a “Crikey journalist based in Sydney” and regards the Catholic Church as an enemy – commenced her rant as follows:

It’s hard to write a really memorable anti-Catholic book, as the genre is already so crowded. From Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall to Christopher Hitchens’ book about Mother Teresa —  a “thieving, fanatical Albanian dwarf” — to Graham Greene, it’s a category seething with heresy, apostasy and murderous intent. In that spirit, I picked up Ian Plimer’s book Heaven and Hell: The Pope Condemns the Poor to Eternal Poverty with some interest. Plimer, of course, is one of Australia’s greatest contributions to science, a class-A climate change denier. But in this case, could the enemy of my enemy be my friend? In condemning the Catholic Church, could Plimer be revealing hitherto-undetected common sense?

Sadly, it wasn’t to be. Plimer, a professor of geology, has written a whole book criticising the Catholic Church’s only progressive encyclical. In Laudato Si, released in April this year, Pope Francis acknowledged the existence of man-made climate change and called for action to stop it; overnight, he acquired a whole new set of enemies.

Ms Saville went on to describe Heaven and Hell as “anti-Catholic document”.  What a load of tosh. Laudato Si is a papal encyclical – or letter – on climate change.  The Catholic Church claims spiritual authority with respect to matters of faith and morals.  But not to matters of climate. Margot Saville would be aware of this if she had studied Laudato Si. For example, at paragraph 188 of Laudato Si, Pope Francis wrote:

There are certain environmental issues where it is not easy to achieve a broad consensus.  Here I would state once more that the Church does not presume to settle scientific questions or to replace politics.

So there you have it.  Francis acknowledges in Laudato Si that the Catholic Church “does not presume to settle scientific questions”. However, Margot Saville reckons that it is “anti-Catholic” for Ian Plimer to disagree with the Pope’s opinions on science and politics.

But there’s more.  In her Crikey inspired ignorance, Margo Saville reckons there is only one “progressive” encyclical. It seems that Crikey’s library does not stock Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum (1891, “The Condition of Labour”) or Pius XI’s Quadragesimo Anno (1931, ‘Reconstruction of the Social Order’).

Also Ms Saville appears unaware of Pius XI’s encyclicals condemning both Communism and Nazism.   (1937, Divini Redemptoris and Mit Brennender Sorge (1937, “On the Condition of the Church in Germany”).

Support for the working class and a condemnation of both Communism and Nazism should be “progressive” enough – even for Crikey’s Sydney-based journalist. Can you bear it?


what a tweet


As avid MWD readers are aware, ABC managing director and (so-called) editor-in-chief Nice Mr Scott these days seems to have little to do.  How else to explain his tendency to tweet – every morning, every night and frequently during the day – usually not about very much at all?

This is the tweet which Nice Mr Scott sent out on 9 December:

mark scott k keneally tweet 9 Dec


To which the alienated Catholic and former NSW Labor premier responded:

k keneally tweet reply 9 Dec


Kristina Keneally’s article in The Guardian – titled “Tony Abbott, you do not know you belong to a church that has not reformed, don’t you? – was a predictable rant against the Catholic Church in general and Cardinal George Pell in particular.

Sky News presenter – and occasional MWD correspondent – Kristina Keneally seems to think it is compulsory for those baptised into the Catholic Church at birth to remain there.  Nancy’s (male) co-owner, on the other hand, believes that if baptised Catholics no longer believe in the Church’s works and pomps – then they should quit.

Ms Keneally, obviously, does not believe this.  Rather she wants to reform Catholicism. Hence her Guardian rant – which read as anti-Catholic sectarianism written by a (disillusioned) Catholic. In any event, the ABC managing director endorsed the Keneally rant – which included the following paragraph:

If you, Tony Abbott, want to go out preaching about the need for reformation, about the need to embrace modernity, about the dangers of retaining outdated theology, structures and rules, then I recommend you pay special attention to the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse.

It is true that, up until the mid-1990s – when the Melbourne Response and Towards Healing, were established – the Catholic Church was grossly negligent in its handling of child sexual abuse.  But so were some other religious and secular organisations up to and beyond the mid-1990s. Including the Anglican Church (to which Nice Mr Scott belongs) and the Uniting Church.  Nice Mr Scott is deputy chairman of the Knox Grammar School Council in Sydney, a school controlled by the Uniting Church.

As avid MWD readers will be aware, Mark Scott joined the Knox Grammar School Council in late-2007 and became deputy chairman of the school’s board in mid-2013.  Evidence presented to the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse indicates that there was a nest of pedophile male teachers at Knox Grammar until at least 2009 when NSW Police began investigations.

As ABC managing director and editor-in-chief since 2007, Mark Scott was well placed to be aware of the disturbing level of child sexual abuse within Australian society. Yet, Mark Scott, has declined to answer MWD’s questions as to whether, on his appointment to the Knox Grammar School Council in 2007, he advised fellow board members to audit any past or current instances of child sexual abuse at the Uniting Church school (See MWD Issues 259, 261, 263, 264).

And yet Mark Scott is happy to endorse Kristina Keneally’s criticisms about the Catholic Church’s handling of this matter.  [Perhaps you should give the Nice Mr Scott scoreboard another run. Just a thought – Ed]

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While on the issue of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse – consider Derryn Hinch’s ongoing (and frequently ill-informed) campaign against Cardinal George Pell.

As avid MWD readers are aware, Derryn Hinch occasionally bags Gerard Henderson on his truly boring Sky News Hinch Live program – and always denies Hendo a right of reply.  That’s life – as the self-proclaimed Human Headline is wont to say.

Following Gerard Henderson’s column in The Weekend Australian last Saturday, Derry Hinch put out the following tweet:

derryn hinch ranting vs reporting dec 4

In fact, contrary to Mr Hinch’s prophecy, there was nothing new in the 60 Minutes program last Sunday titled The Bell Tolls.  Rather it essentially repeated decade old claims which have already been addressed.  Which is why Tara Brown’s overblown story was not picked up in other sections of the media.  Even the program’s alleged new evidence was taken from publicly available documents provided to the Royal Commission or the 2013 Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry.

60 Minutes declined to tell viewers that Pell’s staunch critic Peter Saunders formed his highly negative evaluation of the Cardinal’s personality without ever having spoken to him.  Nor did Tara Brown mention that Mr Saunders is but one member of the 17 person Pontifical Protection for the Protection of Minors which has no commission by the Vatican to investigate matters of child sexual abuse.

By the way, viewers of last Sunday’s 60 Minutes would have had no idea that there is clear evidence that Archbishop Frank Little (Melbourne) and Bishop Ronald Mulkearns (Ballarat) knew of clerical child sexual abuse in their areas of responsibility in the year leading up to the mid-1990s but did nothing about it. Clearly Tara Brown and her colleagues are more intent on doing a hatchet job on George Pell than advising viewers of what really happened within the Catholic Church when Frank Little and Ronald Mulkearns were in a position to act but declined to stop offending priests within their areas of responsibilities.

60 Minutes – which has run a campaign against George Pell for many years – seems to believe that the Cardinal should not be allowed to have legal representation concerning evidence given by some critics concerning what they allege to have told him 40, 30 and 20 years ago.  Contrary to Tara Brown’s comment, neither the Catholic Church nor the Australian Truth, Justice and Healing Council opposes Cardinal Pell engaging legal counsel to defend himself against such serious allegations of failing to address criminality with respect to children.

Derryn Hinch and 60 Minutes have waged a long-standing campaign against George Pell which is a combination of gotcha and advocacy journalism.  Like anyone else who appears before a royal commission, the Cardinal is entitled to a fair hearing both within the Royal Commission and in the media.





There has been a huge feedback on MWD’s revelation last Friday that the campaign by Fitzroy based inner-city philosopher Rai Gaita to stop the construction of a chicken factory on the Moolort Plains near Baringhup in Central Victoria is proceeding apace.  Just as well. What does it profit a rural town if it gains employment opportunities but runs the risk of losing the very essence of the chicken-free Moolort Plains of yesterday? Especially since it was the intellectual vibe from these very plains which so influenced the rhythm of the sentences of Dr Gaita (for a doctor he is).

Nancy’s (male) co-owner is still waiting feedback from last Saturday’s CONVERSATION at Castlemaine’s Theatre Royal where Rai Gaita conversed with writer Robyn Davidson about “beauty, adventure, fear, joy, courage and death” – and, of course, why the residents of Castlemaine and nearby areas really should be denied employment in a chicken factory on the Moolort Plains in order to honour the cadences in Philosopher Gaita’s mostly incomprehensible sentences.

However, MWD understands that about 100 sandal-wearers fronted up to hear Dr Gaita converse with Ms Davidson.  At $18 per head, the take for the night would be less than $2000 (not taking account of expenses).  Which won’t make much of a war-chest in the defence of the cadences of Philosopher Gaita’s sentences – since the “Keep Baringhup Clean! Stop the Horror Chook Factory” campaign aims to raise $50,000 to support the cause.


MWD supports Grandview Poultry’s attempt to expand its chicken broiler farm on the Moolort Plains. But MWD also feels for the good people of Castlemaine who have to endure a conga line of sandal-wearers arriving from Melbourne to perform at Castlemaine’s Theatre Royal – the likes of Dr Gaita himself plus Professor Robert Manne plus Arnold Zable plus Helen Garner. All talking about their (intellectual) selves and their very own cadences in defence of their intellectual bestie Rai Gaita and his very own cadences.

So Nancy’s (male co-owner) is proposing one final cash offer to Robert Manne – which he, in turn, can hand over to Rai Gaita.  This will mean that the learned doctor will no longer need to conduct fund raisers in the Theatre Royal of Castlemaine.

As avid readers will be aware, Gerard Henderson has offered Robert Manne $8000 for an asylum seeker charity of his choice if he can produce a document he claims to have. Graham Jeffs, an avid reader from Perth Neurosurgery, has offered to match Hendo’s offer dollar for dollar – “in the interests of motivating Mr Manne” (See MWD Issue 272). Dr Jeffs is happy if Professor Manne uses his $8000 for a “restful holiday” or another good cause. So your man Manne could take a holiday at Castlemaine and hand over any surplus to Rai Gaita’s ongoing “No Poultry Matter” campaign. This should add over $7000 to the cause of preserving the Moolort Plains which so influence the cadences found in Dr Gaita’s frequently incoherent books.  Then Professor Manne can hand over Hendo’s $8000 to an asylum seeker charity.

This should be easy money for a person whose website attests that he was twice voted Australia’s leading public intellectual – or some such.  An intellectual, public or private, should be able to locate a document which the said intellectual claims to possess.

And now for some background.  In June 2011, Robert Manne alleged that in 1993 Gerard Henderson had sent a “dossier” to Paul Austin – in his capacity as The Age’s opinion page editor – demanding that Manne be sacked as an Age columnist.  In fact, Austin was not working at The Age in 1993.   So Manne moved the year forward to 1995.  No luck here either, since Paul Austin did not become The Age’s opinion page editor until 1998.

Robert Manne also alleged that Hendo sent a copy of his “dossier” to Morag Fraser (who is a friend of Robert Manne).  But Manne did not say why Hendo would send a “dossier” critical of Manne to Manne’s “bestie” Ms Fraser.  Robert Manne also said that Paul Austin gave him a copy of the “dossier”. All of this (allegedly) occurred in 1993 or perhaps 1995 or perhaps 1998 or perhaps 1999 – or whatever.

So, according to Robert Manne, there are three copies of the dossier in existence. Paul Austin has the alleged original. Morag Fraser has an alleged copy and Robert Manne himself has another alleged copy.  It’s just that no one has produced a copy of this document and Hendo’s (detailed) filing system demonstrates that no such dossier was ever written.

If Robert Manne persistently fails to produce the alleged “dossier” – it can only be assumed that he has a clear “recollection” of an event which never happened.  Or, alternatively, Professor Manne just made up his “dossier” claim.  It’s called self-delusion, or worse.

For the record, Gerard Henderson never wanted Robert Manne dropped as a columnist in 1993, 1995, 1998, 1999 or any other time.  Hendo has a “worse is better” philosophy and wants leftists like Robert Manne to write columns because they provide good copy for Media Watch Dog, its predecessor and like publications.  If it were not for leftists like Manne – then Hendo would have little to write about.

There is an interesting phenomenon here.  If Professor Robert Manne, one of Australia’s leading intellectuals, can have a clear “memory” of an event which never happened – so can many, many others.  Clearly, delusion is a widespread condition.

Especially down Bundoora and Cottles Bridge way – alternatively Professor Manne’s La Trobe University workplace and his personal abode.

Finally, let’s hear it for the Rai Gaita’s “cadences” which the No Poultry Campaign – led by members of the Melbourne intelligentsia who are into mutual self-regard at Castlemaine’s Theatre Royal – want to preserve.  This is taken from your man Gaita’s incomprehensible philosophical rant titled After Romulus (Text Publishing, 2011):

“You ask who he was? Let me answer in the time-honoured fashion and tell you a story.”  In those words Isak Dinesen, the nom de plume of Karen Blixen, author of Out of Africa, expressed a conception of narrative identity.  She assumed, of course, that the question was not incorrigibly naive in its assumption that something would count as an answer when, in principle, nothing could.  That would hardly be worth saying were it not for the fact that many people wonder whether there is such thing as who someone really is.  If such scepticism were justified, then writing and reading biography would make no sense, or if it did, be so ironic as to be barely recognisable.  But because many people do process such scepticism, I’ll respond to it by reflecting on what I was doing when I tried to write RomulusMy Father truthfully.  Reflection on truth is essentially philosophical and is hard, but I’m afraid that there is nothing to be done about that.  Philosophy always needs to be read slowly and more than once.

Nancy’s male co-owner has decided to take Gaita’s advice and read After Romulus more and more often and more and more slowly until he understands what phrases like “many people wonder whether there is such thing as who someone really is” means.  Stay tuned for a report back by 2026.

new segment





Last Friday, Michael Mason (ABC Director Radio) put out a media release titled “2016 ABC Radio line-up changes” in which he declared just how “excited” [Yawn. Ed] he was with ABC’s new “on-air appointments” for next year.

As avid readers will be aware, recently Mr Mason objected to MWD’s description of the ABC as a Conservative Free Zone – since it has not one presenter, producer or editor for any of its television, radio or online outlets (See MWD Issue 297).  However, the Director ABC Radio has declined to accept MWD’s invitation to name one conservative in any prominent position within the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.

Needless to say, Michael Mason’s “exciting” new appointments include a trio of leftists.  Namely academic Larissa Behrendt (destined for RN), musician Clare Bowditch (destined for 774 ABC Melbourne) and Wendy Harmer (destined for 702 ABC Sydney).

Yes, Wendy Harmer.  Well at least the 702 “Mornings” program is consistent.  As in “The leftist broadcaster is dead; Long live the leftist broadcaster”. And so it has come to pass that the leftist Linda Mottram who succeeded the leftist Deborah Cameron will be replaced by the leftist Wendy Harmer. How very Aunty.

MWD had a hunch that Ms Harmer was destined to be the presenter of Mornings with Wendy Harmer sometime in the future when she made the following pitch on Q&A on 2 November 2015.  Let’s go to the transcript – where Wendy Harmer is invited by presenter Tony Jones to opine on Education Minister Simon Birmingham’s comments about taxation reform:

Simon Birmingham: ….We are honestly recognising that if you want to have a high performing tax system that allows us to be able to fund expensive areas like disability insurance and education and health, but also be economically competitive, you’ve got to have the right tax mix and we’re not globally competitive in that mix at the moment.

Tony Jones: All right. Wendy Harmer, looking wryly at you.

Wendy Harmer: Well, I see a lot of older Australians here tonight in the audience and they must be looking at us right now and thinking, “What the hell happened?” How come this country, the richest country, one of the richest countries on Earth with this amazing population, cannot afford to pay for education, for health, for penalty rates, for all the necessities of life? Where the hell did we go wrong? Now, it’s – to me it’s about that we’ve sold off the farm, we’ve privatised everything. We’ve let the free marketeers in, we’ve jacked up the prices and now you’re going to tell us how much tax we’re going to pay and you are going to come back with a begging bowl over and over again.

Simon Birmingham: We only ever paid – Wendy, I don’t know if you missed it, but governments have only ever paid for health and education and pensions and everything through tax. That’s the way governments raise their revenue.

Wendy Harmer: Yeah, but – yes, but it was always that we could afford it. The difference is now we can’t afford anything anymore. We can’t afford a road without a toll, we can’t afford to build anything without private enterprise. There is nothing left that we can use to raise capital. I sound like an old fashioned socialist, don’t I? And I think most of the older people here can remember that time and, as I say, wonder where we went wrong.

Tony Jones: Okay.

Yeah, okay.  So on 2 November 2015 Wendy Harmer declared herself an out-and-proud “old fashioned socialist”. And, a month later, Michael Mason declared just how “excited” he was that yet another leftist has been appointed to present a program on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster which remains a Conservative Free Zone.



Legacy Issues


 On Friday 20 November ABC News Online carried this report about historical cases of pedophilia in the New South Wales Hunter Valley.  The journalist was Giselle Wakatama:

Newcastle Anglican Bishop Greg Thompson has expressed shock that allegations of abuse gripping his diocese have alleged links to high profile sectors within the Hunter community. Yesterday the ABC revealed allegations gripping the diocese have potential links to politicians, doctors, members of the legal fraternity, schools, children’s homes and community and business leaders.

Several pedophile rings allegedly operated across the region. The web of abuse has shocked Bishop Greg Thompson, who is himself an abuse survivor. “And I suppose people just didn’t want to know because there was a shame in even mentioning these matters,” he said. “That people who are held in high esteem could be brought down by the story of abuse.”

Bishop Thompson said he is dismayed the “power pedophile” networks may have operated in the Hunter, with abusers acting as protectors, burying allegations. He said there was a culture of cover-up and fear. “I think it is shocking that people knew of other people offending and not doing anything about it. It tells you something about the generations of our time which didn’t believe children or didn’t believe that a good person could possibly do these things.”

Incidents of abuse within Newcastle’s Anglican Diocese are on the radar of a police strike force and a royal commission, with both conducting separate probes. However both police and the Royal Commission have chosen not to comment.

It is uncertain as to the time the alleged pedophilia ring operated in the Newcastle area.  But it appears that the allegations go back about four decades. An important story to be sure.  But not one concerning which the ABC should moralise, however.

For, as documented in MWD, in the mid-1970s it was official ABC policy to support pedophiles – this policy was announced by the ABC’s chairman Professor Richard Downing (1915-75). It is a matter of record that the current ABC chairman has declined to renounce the views of one of his predecessors on this matter.

On 14 July 1975 the leftist Richard Neville – who, in his book Play Power (Jonathan Cape, 1970), boasted of having sex with an underage girl when he was aged in his late twenties – presented a program on pederasty, i.e. homosexual relations between a male adult and a boy.  Three adult men were invited into the Lateline studios – in 1975 Lateline went to air on ABC Radio – and all agreed with one another that it was a great idea for men to have sex with boys. No other view was heard and Richard Neville did not query the morality or sexual practices of his Lateline guests.

In 1975, the Lateline program ignited considerable criticism from, among others, the Reverend Fred Nile (of the Festival of Life), Bishop Thomas Muldoon (Catholic Communications Centre of Sydney) and the Rev Lance Shilton (the Anglican Dean of Sydney).  Needless to say, all three were ridiculed for their moral conservatism by the then friends of the ABC.

For example, in his 1979 book Outside Interference: The Politics of Australian Broadcasting, the one-time ABC board member Richard Harding wrote that the 1975 Lateline pederasty program “was too much for the respectabilities of some worthy citizens”. Get it?  According to Richard Harding, it was appropriate to mock men and women who in 1975 did not think it was a good idea to have three pedophiles proclaiming their crimes on ABC Radio as “worthy citizens”.

But it was not only Christian clerics who objected to the Lateline program. On Saturday 19 July 1975, the Sydney Morning Herald published an editorial titled “ABC licence”. It commenced as follows:

If a commercial radio station had broadcast the farrago of filth which comprised the ABC’s Lateline program on pederasty earlier this week, it could have expected to hear very quickly from the Broadcasting Control Board and would indeed have endangered its licence.  But the board’s writ does not run in the ABC.  The commission’s management will decide what action, if any, will be taken, although there is the possibility of subsequent intervention by the commission itself.  If the comments made about the program by the commission’s chairman on Tuesday and those he makes in a letter on this page are any guide there will be no such intervention.  Professor Downing and his fellow commissioners will be most unwise if they think the community will accept inaction.

As the SMH editorial indicated – and as MWD readers are aware – on 19 July 1975 the SMH also published a letter titled “ABC head defends the Lateline show”. The letter was signed Professor Richard Downing in his official capacity as “Chairman, Aust. Broadcasting Commission”.

Professor Downing made clear that his only objection to the Lateline program on pederasty turned on its “repetition of four letter words”. He advocated “the wider use of conventional euphemisms”. In other words, Professor Downing considered the use of the word “f-ck” on the ABC as inappropriate but viewed unchallenged advocacy of pederasty by pedophiles as quite okay.

Indeed, in his letter to the SMH, Richard Downing declared that “the phenomenon of pederasty seems appropriate for public discussions in a society which, if it is to be open, democratic and responsible, needs also to understand the diverse natures of people who compose that society”.  So, according to Professor Downing, pederasts merely engaged in “diverse” behaviour.

Elsewhere in the SMH on 19 July 1975, Professor Downing was quoted as having said: “In general, men will sleep young with boys and that’s the sort of thing the community ought to know about”.

In 1975, when the ABC chairman (in his role as ABC chairman) was calling for an understanding of pederasty – pedophilia was a crime. It still is.

The controversy over the 1975 Lateline program was referred to by K.S. Inglis in his book This is the ABC: The Australian Broadcasting Commission 1982-1983 (MUP, 1983). It has been documented at some length in Media Watch Dog (see MWD Issues 220, 233, 261, 262, 263, 266, 274, 285).

However, as MWD readers are aware, on two occasions ABC chairman James Spigelman AC QC has refused to distance the ABC today from his predecessor’s call in 1975 that we should understand the urges of pedophiles. This despite the fact that Mr Spigelman should have a first-hand recall of the Lateline controversy.  In 1975 Jim Spigelman was senior adviser and principal private secretary to prime minister Gough Whitlam (whose government appointed Professor Downing) and, later, Secretary of the Department of the Media.  The ABC then, as now, was funded by taxpayers and fell within the responsibility of the Minister for the Media (now the Minister for Communications).

Today Jim Spigelman presides over the public broadcaster which – quite correctly – condemns the actions of pedophiles in the Hunter Valley and elsewhere.  However, the ABC chairman refuses to dissociate the ABC from the very public call by one of his predecessors for an understanding of pedophilia since – as Professor Downing declared in July 1979 – “in general, men will sleep with boys”.

ABC presenters and producers would not find it acceptable if, say, the Catholic Bishop of Ballarat today refused to dissociate the Diocese of Ballarat from support of, or indifference towards, pedophilia by the Bishop of Ballarat four decades ago. Yet the ABC chairman sees no need to dissociate the ABC from the stance taken by its chairman in 1975. There is an unpleasant double standard here.

Until Jim Spigelman dissociates the ABC from its chairman’s 1975 statement (made at a time when, as we now know, pedophilia was rife in sections of the Australian community), the taxpayer funded public broadcaster is in no position to lecture other institutions about their past inaction on child sexual abuse.

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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 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 – not even Ms Murphy herself (See MWD Issue 297).


It seems that whenever a Catholic of a certain age dies, The Age finds an obituarist who manages to have a go at B.A. Santamaria (1915-1998). This occurred in Paul Ormonde obituary of Colin Thornton-Smith (see MWD Issues 255 and 259). And now in the obituary of Fr. Frank Martin which was written by Michael Bowden and Frank Bowden – and published in The Age on 2 December 2015.

Like all souls after The Fall, B.A. Santamaria should be subjected to criticism – and there is criticism in Gerard Henderson’s Santamaria: A Most Unusual Man (MUP, 2015).  But the dead are entitled to be defended against those who make up stories about them – which they cannot correct.  You be the judge.


Gerard Henderson to Lawrence Money – 10 December 2015 (2.51 pm)


I read with interest the obituary of Fr Frank Martin by Michael and Frank Bowden published in The Age on 2 December 2015, in which the following comment was made:

He [Frank Martin] was ordained in 1956, began parish work in North Brunswick but was soon recruited as a school inspector. In 1970 he was appointed the director of Catholic Education. His predecessor had controversially written that Catholic schools had no future as separate entities even though they made up 80 per cent of the non-government sector.

It was clear to the Whitlam government in 1972 that the Catholic system needed to survive. Frank was appointed to the Schools’ Commission which ultimately recommended block-funding and a needs-based allocation for Catholic schools. His alliance with Left-leaning Sydney bishop James Carroll – and collaboration on the commission with people like Joan Kirner, later to be premier of Victoria, and Jean Blackburn, a feminist and openly socialist educator – was an incitement to the church’s conservative elements, many of whom tagged Frank as the “Communist priest”. (On Sunday mornings our household watched Point of View on Channel 9, a propaganda platform for B.A. Santamaria, where Frank became another “red under the bed”). We cheered for Frank in the same way that we barracked for Richmond on Saturdays.

As editor of one of the most important Obituaries pages in the Australian media, I assume that you do at least some fact-checking.

As an Age reader – and historian – I am interested in the evidence that B.A. Santamaria (allegedly) said or implied on his Channel 9 “Point of View” program that Fr Martin was a “Communist priest” and/or a “red under the bed”.

I am aware that the late Bob Santamaria disagreed with the late Frank Martin over Catholic education.  But I am not aware that Mr Santamaria ever suggested that Fr. Martin – or, indeed, Bishop James Carroll – was a “Communist priest” or a “red under the bed”.  B.A. Santamaria did not speak this way in public about Catholic bishops, priests, brothers or nuns.

The slightly edited transcripts of “Point of View” were published in News Weekly.  The full transcripts are available in the Santamaria Papers which are located in the State Library of Victoria.

I would like to know the source for the assertion by Michael Bowden and Frank Bowden.  If evidence to support their assertion cannot be located, I can only assume that they just made up “Communist priest” and “red under the bed” claim.

Over to you – and them.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson


Lawrence Money to Gerard Henderson – 10 December 2015 (3.31 pm)

Hello Gerard

I’ll run your comments past the authors and see what happens!




Gerard Henderson to Lawrence Money – 10 December 2015 (3.56 pm)



But the Bowdens need documentary evidence – not a “memory” of an event that never happened. Looking forward to hearing from you in due course.

Keep Morale High.



Lawrence Money to Gerard Henderson – 10 December 2015 (4.38 pm)

I have communicated your challenge to the authors who are girding their loins as we speak. I await the return serve.


Lawrence M


Gerard Henderson to Lawrence Money – 11 December 2015 (8.39 pm)


The return of serve should not be too hard. If someone has an article published in December it should not be a problem in sourcing quotes. Unless, of course, there are no sources.

Gerard H


Lawrence Money to Gerard Henderson – 11 December 2015 (12.13 am)

As Dirty Harry said after belting the hell out of a thug over a fishmonger’s bench: “I’ll come back when ya less bereaved”


Gerard Henderson to Lawrence Money – 11 December 2015 (3.17 am)

I am not at all bereaved – I did not talk to Santamaria after 1975. It’s just that I do not believe that The Age’s Obituary Page should be used to verbal the dead.

Over and out – for now.




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[Editor’s Note:  By 3.30pm, when MWD went online, Lawrence Money had not come up with any evidence to support the claim in the obituary. We’ll keep you posted.]

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Until next time.

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