GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG – ISSUE NO. 306
04 MARCH 2016
The inaugural issue of “Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch” was published in April 1988 – over a year before the first edition of the ABC TV Media Watch program went to air. Since November 1997 “Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch” has been published as part of The Sydney Institute Quarterly. In 2009 Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch Dog blog commenced publication.
- Stop Press: The ABC’s D.D. Howler; Hugh White bags White Paper; The Jesuits’ Eureka Street Team and The Cardinal
- Can You Bear It? Abbott-Haters on the Couch; Leigh Sales’ Timing Problem; Tim Minchin’s Small Vocabulary & Mungo MacCallum Alive and Defaming People
- Correspondence: In the Matter of George Pell: Peter FitzSimons & The Royal Commission’s Peter Reed go Under the Bed
* * * * *
- AUNTY’S DOUBLE DISSOLUTION DISILLUSION
The ABC’s lead online news item this morning was an article by Louise Yaxley titled “Turnbull faces trouble with double dissolution trigger”.
Ms Yaxley appears to be under the impression that since the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) bill is not on the list for the next sitting week, then “the Government looks to have run out of time to have it voted on a second time”. The argument is that since the ABCC bill cannot be rejected for a second time during the next sitting week, then it cannot be a trigger for a double dissolution any time soon.
Nonsense – since there is precedent to the contrary. Robert Menzies was elected in December 1949. He obtained a double dissolution election in April 1951 after the Coalition’s banking legislation – having been rejected once in the Senate – was sent to a Senate committee. Menzies argued to Governor-General Sir William McKell that this was a delaying tactic. McKell, a former NSW Labor premier, gave Menzies the requested double dissolution.
In other words, legislation does not have to be defeated on two occasions in the Senate – with a three month gap in between – to trigger a double dissolution. A rejection of legislation, plus an evident unwillingness to pass legislation, will suffice.
Clearly you can’t trust everything you read in the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s online newspaper.
- A WHITE-HOT ATTACK ON THE DEFENCE WHITE PAPER
What a stunning performance by Professor Hugh White who was interviewed on Lateline last night. The learned professor bagged the recently released Defence White Paper. This followed an opinion piece in The Age on Tuesday where Dr White (for a doctor he is) compared the current White Paper unfavourably with its predecessors in 2000 and 2009. Your man White did not mention that he was the principal author of the 2000 document. How about that?
Now let’s go to the transcript to discover The Thought of Hugh White – as told to Lateline viewers last night:
Hugh White, Strategic & Defence Studies Centre, ANU: Well we’re still building the same force structure that we started building in the 1970s to meet the circumstances that arose in our environment after the Vietnam War and that’s in an environment where we are seeing the fastest and most fundamental change in Australia’s strategic environment since the Second World War. So I think we are in grave danger of continuing to build a force structure that no longer meets our strategic requirements.
David Lipson: The author of the 2000 White Paper believes far too much is being spent on big floating ships.
Hugh White: Major surface ships look good on the fleet review, but in modern warfare where they’re very easy to find, very easy to sink, they’re very vulnerable, I don’t think they’re going to be an important strategic asset for Australia. I’d direct the money into a bigger submarine fleet.
It seems that Hugh White is a bit like Tim Flannery. In other words both men can make Bob Ellis (the False Prophet of Palm Beach) style false predictions without this adversely affecting their go-to status in the media.
Dr Flannery (for a doctor he also is) has not suffered any reputational damage for his false prophecy that such cities as Brisbane, Sydney and Perth would run out of water. And Dr White (for a doctor he is) is still quoted as an authority on China without anyone talking about his false predictions about a forthcoming war between China and the United States.
For avid MWD readers, here is a reminder. In March 2005, Dr White raised the possibility of “naval battle this year … between the US and Chinese navies”. In August 2012, he posited if “the US and Japan go to war with China” in 2013. Then in 2014 the learned professor declared that the situation in the Pacific was “a little like what happened in 1914”. The reference was to the First World War. Really.
- MOIRA RAYNER & FR. KELLY VS CARDINAL PELL
Eureka Street, a publication of the Society of Jesus – i.e. Jesuits – in Australia, has become MWD’s favourite journal of agnostic theological opinion. Rumour has it that, in its printed format as a monthly, Eureka Street lost a mere $1 million in a decade. That is, $100,000 a year for ten years. That’s all. So it went online – Monday to Friday.
Today’s issue of Eureka Street contains an article by lawyer Moira Rayner titled “Cardinal Pell, Safe Schools and the Personhood of Children”. It contains the familiar attack on Australia’s leading hate figure. Ms Rayner (born 1948) refers to Cardinal Pell (born 1941) as “poor old George”. Eureka Street should be able to do better that this.
Moira Rayner’s Eureka Street rant follows an interview with Jesuit priest Fr Michael Kelly SJ on Mornings with Wendy Harmer on ABC Radio 702 yesterday. Wendy (“I am an old fashioned socialist”) Harmer invited Fr Kelly on to the program in his capacity as a “more progressive thinker” than the conservative Cardinal Pell’s supporters – none of whom, according to MWD’s count, have been invited on to Mornings with Wendy Harmer. How about that?
It was not long before the Christian Kelly opened up on the Christian Pell with a somewhat un-Christian personal attack. [What do you think your man St Ignatius of Loyola would have thought of this? Ed.]
Fr Kelly called Cardinal Pell the “best developed narcissist I ever met in my life” and “a bully, just a bully”. He predicted that, having lived by the sword, George Pell will “die by the sword”.
Then Michael Kelly opened up on clerical child sexual abuse – implicating Cardinal Pell in the process. Let’s go to the transcript where it becomes evident that Fr Kelly is in a bit of a self-imposed dilemma:
Wendy Harmer: As a priest yourself how plausible is it that Cardinal Pell didn’t know of these goings on? I mean did you hear about it yourself?
Father Michael Kelly: Of course, look this is just – and, and the problem that Cardinal Pell has to face, he can feign a collapsed memory, he can say what he likes. But I mean, I share with him something that I’m sure he had at the time, which is just a complete dismay and confusion about sensible adults, about how sensible adults could do these things. I mean I just couldn’t conceive how people could do it. But all the same he was in a responsible position.
His saying that we’re not gossips. My God, where’s he been for the last 30 years. I mean this sort of stuff has been talked about among the clergy, throughout the country. I mean, I’m not a diocesan priest, and yet I have a lot of friends who are diocesan priests. It was clearly well known and much discussed in clerical circles. And if he didn’t hear it he must have had plugs in his ears.
Wendy Harmer: One of the things Michael, is that if you all heard it, and one of the things that is thrown at the Catholic clergy generally, the priesthood, is that you must have all colluded in this, then, in hiding this. Why didn’t this come forward earlier?
Father Michael Kelly: I think there were lots of people who went to the wall trying to, I mean, the Cardinal stated yesterday that he was deceived and misled by the Catholic Education Office. I have been a friend of the director of Catholic Education in Victoria for a very long time. I know what he did in the 1980s and 90s. These people were energetic in prosecuting these matters. The problem was the indecision and hopelessness of the bishops who led the church.
Now why, why were they in place? Well it goes to the rottenness of Catholicism over the last 30 years with the leadership we’ve had from Rome. The constant pattern of appointment of bishops was of nodders and forelock tuggers who did exactly as they were told. So they didn’t want to report any bad news from Rome. They didn’t want any news to go to Rome. So they just swept it under the carpet for the sake of the preservation of their own position. But that doesn’t mean, I mean, take the matter of one of the most notorious people in Melbourne, Ron Pickering, who’s now died. That was represented to Frank Little, the archbishop, by numerous people and he just did nothing about it.
So, according to Fr Kelly, clerical child sex abuse was “talked about among the clergy” for years. If this is the case, why is George Pell the one ordained Catholic signalled out for criticism?
Michael Kelly banged on about anonymous bishops and archbishops – who report direct to the Pope in Rome. But he did not mention the religious orders – who report direct to their provincials in Rome or elsewhere. One such order is the Jesuits.
MWD understands that child sexual abuse was rife in certain schools run by the Jesuit order in Australia. If as Fr Kelly told Ms Harmer child sexual abuse was “talked about among clergy” – then it must have been talked about among Jesuit priests. The record indicates that George Pell acted against clerical child sexual abuse before any of the provincials of the religious orders.
Did anyone read the truly stunning analysis by the Sydney Morning Herald’s political editor last Saturday? If you didn’t – well it was a real beauty.
Here’s how Peter Hartcher commenced his epistle to SMH readers on 27 February 2016:
Everyone laughed at Clive Palmer when he said it in question time in the House on Thursday, but was it buffoonery or brilliant insight? His question to the prime minister came out of the blue, in between queries on negative gearing and defence spending. “As Australia’s third-oldest prime minister, if you are still prime minister after the election, will you serve a full term in parliament or will you retire to your unit in New York and do a switcheroo with the member for Warringah [Tony Abbott], sustaining yourself with innovation and growth opportunities your investments have provided for the people of the Cayman Islands? It has never been a more exciting time to be a Cayman Islander! Are you a seat warmer?”
Needless to say, Clive Palmer’s question – without notice – contained a howler. Malcolm Turnbull is not Australia’s third oldest prime minister. Rather he is the third oldest person to be sworn in as prime minister – following Jack McEwen (aged 67) in 1967 and William McMahon (aged 63) in 1971. It’s not the same thing since a number of prime ministers served beyond Mr Turnbull’s age of 61.
The problem was that the SMH’s political editor embraced Clive Palmer’s conspiracy theory – to an extent, at least – when he wrote:
But then, even as you laugh it off, an uneasy thought arises. Perhaps there is something in Clive’s little comedy. Perhaps he knows something. Could Turnbull have a secret deal with Abbott? Abbott allows Turnbull to stage a challenge and be prime minister for a year, long enough to win the election and satisfy his ambition.
Then Turnbull hands the job back to Abbott. On the strict condition that he makes no major changes to any of Abbott’s favoured policies. How else to explain the change of prime minister without a change of policy? …Australia wanted Turnbull and his personal charm, but it’s been willing him to be something more. Is there anything more? Or is he just, as Clive Palmer suspects, just a seatwarmer?
INSIDE THE ABBOTT-HATERS: A COUCH PERSPECTIVE
What a gorgeous coming together of a trio of Abbott-haters on Insiders last Sunday. And didn’t Malcolm Farr have on a you-beaut light green shirt? When Hendo goes on Insiders in Melbourne, he drops around to the back of the Jesuit Theological College in Parkville and “borrows” a discarded black shirt from the waste-dump out the back. Prior to filming on Insiders in Sydney last Sunday, it seems that your man Farr purchased a light green fashion number at the Ultimo flea-market for the competitive price of $2.40 (non-pressed).
In any event, it was a real love-in when News Corp’s Mr Farr was joined by The Guardian’s Lenore Taylor and ABC Radio National’s Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly on the Insiders couch – which apparently had been borrowed from the St Vincent’s Hospital Triage department in Darlinghurst to accommodate the temporary shift of the program to Sunday due to Nice Mr Scott’s decision to build new ABC studios in Melbourne which are currently nearing completion.
It was Malcolm Farr who introduced the topic of Australia’s 28th prime minister Tony Abbott. Then everyone, apart from presenter Barrie Cassidy, joined in a you-beaut Tony Abbott Bash. A veritable chorus of the Abbott-Haters.
Let’s go to the transcript as Laura agrees with Fran who agrees with Malcolm who agrees with himself that Tony Abbott was – and remains – absolutely hopeless:
Malcolm Farr: … whether you’re Cory Bernardi or Tony Abbott there are a lot of people, contrary to what John Howard said, there are a lot of people very keen to express their views on the Liberal Party at the moment. And it’s simply not helping Malcolm Turnbull.
Fran Kelly: And it is still I think a part of those tensions. I mean, I don’t think this is a tax debate still we’re seeing here with these criticisms. This is still a leadership – the ructions of the leadership change in my view.
Malcolm Farr: So what’s he [Malcolm Turnbull] to do – counter attack on Tony Abbott and call him a dill and a failure?
Fran Kelly: What he does I think is what Arthur Sinodinos or someone did at the end of last week and remind them all that there could be an election sometime soon and “you’d all better pipe down or we’ll all lose” or –
Lenore Taylor: Well and also he [Malcolm Turnbull] doesn’t dance to their tune, because the reason he’s in the job is because the public didn’t want those [Abbott] policies. So he has, even internally there’s a large rump of dissent. There was at least at the outset public support for –
Malcolm Farr: 60 per cent approval. Now truly as I facetiously wrote with 60 per cent approval you could order an all nude sitting of parliament and you might just get it. But that’s now dropped to 48 per cent. That’s a huge dismantling of authority.
Lenore Taylor: And also, I mean, some of what Tony Abbott wrote on the weekend was, at least to my reading, positively delusional.
Fran Kelly: I was just going to say.
Lenore Taylor: I mean he wrote that he wore the 2014 budget as a badge of honour. And he was defending all of the elements in the 2014 budget. Even the ones he dropped when he was prime minister. And he was basically making the case that the only thing that went wrong with the Abbott government was that he was just too brave. That was it. He was just too brave.
Fran Kelly: Can I just say – he was too brave to put the GST on the table, he was too brave to put superannuation changes on the table. I mean, that was not bravery; that was poll driven nonsense. And to argue as he does that the 2014 budget was a badge of honour – that’s the single biggest lesson that I think we’ve seen Turnbull internalise, which is equity has to be, it has to be equitable, equitable has to be at the heart of whatever change they make. And therefore you’ve got to make sure that as you bring in a tax change here it doesn’t hurt down here.
Malcolm Farr: And kick the tripe out of the economy, which 2014 did.
Fran Kelly: And kick the tripe out of the economy.
What a load of absolute tosh. In Tony Abbott’s final 16 months of government – from May 2014 to September 2015 – the Australian economy was one of the strongest in the OECD. In fact, in the calendar year 2015 the Australian economy grew at 3 per cent – one of the highest rates of economic growth in the developed world. Malcolm Farr and Fran Kelly just made up the claim that the Abbott government kicked the tripe out of the economy sometime in 2014.
And how wonderful that Ms Taylor got in front of Ms Kelly, but only just, in declaring former prime minister Tony Abbott as “delusional”. This from Fran Kelly who maintains that the Abbott government kicked the tripe out of the economy. How delusional can you get? Can you bear it?
- THE MYSTERY OF LEIGH SALES’ “EARLIER” INTERVIEW
Interesting interview between 7.30 presenter Leigh Sales and John Allen, associate editor of the Boston Globe, on Monday night – about the handling of clerical child abuse in the Catholic archdioceses of Boston and Melbourne respectively.
Mr Allen focused on the film Spotlight – which documents how, in 2002, the Boston Globe revealed details of clerical child abuse in the Boston archdiocese in 2002 and how (the then) Archbishop George Pell set up the Melbourne Response 1996 to address child sexual abuse in the Melbourne archdiocese. Here’s how the segment was introduced:
Leigh Sales, Presenter: Boston has one of the largest Catholic populations in the United States and investigations by the Boston Globe newspaper into the extent of child sex abuse in that city helped blow open the secret around the world. In fact today a film about that reporting, Spotlight, won the Academy Award for Best Picture.
The Boston Globe’s associate editor, John Allen, has been reporting on Vatican affairs for more than two decades and is considered one of the foremost authorities on the Catholic Church. He joined me from Melbourne earlier to explain what Cardinal George Pell’s current job in the Vatican is and how the cardinal’s handling of the child sex abuse scandal as Australia’s most senior Catholic at the time compared to what was happening elsewhere in the world. John Allen, tell us about George Pell’s current role in the Vatican.
The implication in Ms Sales’ introduction is that she interviewed John Allen “earlier” on Monday 29 February. However, according to some of MWD’s avid Melbourne-based readers, they spoke to Mr Allen at 8.30 am on Friday morning as he got into a taxi for Melbourne Airport heading back to the United States. This suggests that Leigh Sales’ “earlier” interview with Mr Allen took place on Thursday 25 February – or earlier – quite a few days before the interview went to air. Can you bear it?
- DR MINCHIN’S LIMITED (F-CKING) VOCABULARY
While on the topic of George Pell, did anyone read the stunning tweet which Fr Bob Maguire , the ABC’s favourite leftist Catholic priest, sent out on 16 February in support of Tim (“George Pell is scum”) Minchin’s song Come Home. In case you missed it, here it is:
Needless to say, your militant atheist Minchin welcomed Fr Bob’s blessings. And here are the first two stanzas of Dr Minchin’s (for an honorary doctor he is) The Pope Song which was released in 2011 when Benedict XVI was the pontiff. It consists of only 11 different words out of a total of 47 words:
F-ck the motherf-cker, f-ck the motherf-cker
F-ck the motherf-cker, he’s a f-cking motherf-cker
F-ck the motherf-cker, f-ck the motherf-cker
F-ck the motherf-cker, he’s a total motherf-cker
F-ck the motherf-cker, f-ck the motherf-cker
F-ck the motherf-cker, f-cking f-ck the motherf-cker
F-ck the motherf-cker, f-ck the motherf-cking pope
It would seem that Fr Bob’s favourite militant atheist singer-songwriter has, er, a limited vocabulary. Yet Tim Minchin’s self-written Who’s Who in Australia entry proclaims that he is a Doctor of Literature (honorary, you see) at the University of Western Australia. Can you bear it?
- REPORT FROM MUNGO-LAND
It is now 18 months since Fairfax Media columnist and the one-time editor of the one-time Anne Summers Reports (last published in August) sent out this tweet at around lunch-time:
It’s just that this obituary was somewhat premature. Mungo Man is still alive and Dr Summers (but a medical doctor she is not) has never explained why she announced his death. However, Dr Summers did send out a tweet advising that she had been “misinformed” but did not say by whom.
It seems that Mungo Man, who currently resides with the leftist sandal-wearers up Byron Bay way, has a number of health problems. [This needs to be corrected. These days, no one has problems – they only have “issues” – MWD Ed]. No doubt due to John Howard. After all, in February 2005 Mungo Man’s partner, Jenny Garrett, when acknowledging that Mungo Man had an alcohol issue, declared in the Good Weekend magazine that it was all Mr Howard’s fault – since “John Howard drove him [Mungo Man] to drink”. Fair dinkum.
It seems that Mungo Man is still doing lunch, Byron Bay style. Take, for example, his article titled “Pell and damnation” which was published on 22 February 2016 in the online edition of property developer Morry Schwartz’s The Monthly.
In what was, presumably, an article written after-lunch, Mungo-Man referred to Gerard Henderson as “the Cardinal’s most devoted altar boy”. How funny is this – and how original? For the record, Hendo has never had a one-to-one conversation with George Pell.
Mungo Man went on to assert that “there was never a suggestion that the police should be brought in to examine what should have been a serious criminal charge” under the Melbourne Response which Archbishop (as he then was) Pell set up in 1996. In fact, as was documented in MWD Issue 274, Victoria Police co-operated in the establishment of the Melbourne Response. Mungo Man just made this up.
Then, in conclusion, Mungo Man used the on-line facilities of Morry Schwartz to describe George Pell as a “child molester” – without the slightest of evidence – and predicted that the Cardinal would “burn in hell”. A strange prophecy from an atheist, don’t you think?
In any event, it’s good to know that Mungo Man has yet to face Judgement Day and is using his remaining time on earth to produce – in Anne Summers’ terminology – “words and wit [that] will outlive him”. Can you bear it?
THE IMPACT OF GRAFTON EVEREST – MOVING FORWARDS (SIC)
As avid MWD readers will be aware, last December this august (sic) publication issued its very own 2015 Summer Reading List for Nancy’s (Male) Co-owner. It was inspired by the awesomely pretentious 2015 Summer Reading List for the Prime Minister prepared by the awesomely pretentious Dr John Daley (for a doctor he is) of the taxpayer subsidised Grattan Institute in Melbourne.
In what turned out to be a remarkably successful reading list, Hendo went for the (previously) little known How To Be Liked By Others (Liquori Publications, 1960) by Fr Harry H.W. Wade and Going Out Backwards: A Grafton Everest Adventure (Hybrid Publications, 2015) by author Ross Fitzgerald and comedian Ian McFadyen.
Gerard Henderson reviewed the sixth (and so far final) Grafton Everest novel in The Sydney Papers Online, February 2016 – see here. There he pointed out the habit of Dr Everest (for a comic doctor he is) to use the term “looking forwards” in preference to the grammatically correct “looking forward”.
Guess what? It seems that Everestspeak is taking over. On the ABC News 24 yesterday afternoon, presenter Kumi Taguchi referred to someone or other “looking forwards” [sic] to something or other. Professor Grafton Everest, take a bow with your plural.
There was an enormous response to the reminder in last Friday’s MWD that Professor Richard Downing, when chairman of the ABC in 1975, declared that “the community” should know that “in general, men will sleep with young boys”. Indeed, on 19 July 1975 Professor Downing wrote a letter to the Sydney Morning Herald in which he called on his fellow Australians to “understand” the urges of pederasts. This letter was signed “(Prof) R. Downing, Australian Broadcasting Commission”.
Interviewed on ABC 702’s Drive with Richard Glover on Tuesday, Gerard Henderson mentioned this fact in an attempt to explain the attitude to such crimes four decades ago. Mr Glover seemed reluctant to accept that Richard Downing had expressed such a position in his official position as chairman of the ABC. But he did. For those disinclined to believe Hendo, they are advised to check out this matter in Professor Ken Inglis’ semi-official history of the taxpayer funded public broadcaster This is the ABC (MUP, 1983). Ken Inglis is a friend of the ABC who in his 1983 book merely reported the facts of the controversy.
Some avid readers have requested an update of MWD’s hugely popular score-cards which illustrate, in easy reading form, how current ABC chairman James Spigelman AC QC and ABC managing director Mark Scott AO have responded in modern times to revelations about child sexual abuse in previous times. Here we go:
[table id=16 /]
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).
- GERARD HENDERSON & PETER FITZSIMONS
Cardinal George Pell’s evidence in Rome to the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse had not gone an hour when the Red Bandannaed One sent out the following tweet:
It turns out that everything Peter FitzSimons tweeted was wrong. Cardinal Pell’s so-called “goons” were not employed by anyone associated with the Catholic Church and there is no evidence that they punched anyone. As to the “turn the other cheek” line, well that’s another of Peter FitzSimons’ anti-Christian sneers. There was no “other cheek” to turn in this instance.
Hendo decided to tell your man Fitz, the Red Bandannaed One, that he did not know what he was talking about. Guess what? The normally super-loquacious Peter FitzSimons went under the bed and did not respond. You be the judge:
Gerard Henderson to Peter FitzSimons – 29 February 2016
I refer to your tweet – sent out at 8.55 am under the title “OzRepublic FitzSimon” which read as follows:
The reference was to the scuffle outside the room set aside in Rome to hear Cardinal George Pell’s evidence to the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse which took place on the evening of Sunday 28 February (Italian time).
This tweet – written in the name of the Australian Republican Movement – is grossly unprofessional. Katrina Lee, director of Catholic Communications at the Archdiocese of Sydney, has issued a statement that “the incident did not involve Cardinal Pell’s security as it has been reported”.
Obviously, you just went along with the social media gossip. Moreover, the term “goons” – which, as it turns out was directed at Italian police – is just offensive abuse. You should be able to do better than this.
As you know, I am a republican and also a member of the Australian Republican Movement. However, I have doubts whether you are the person to lead the campaign that Australia should have an Australian head of state.
Put simply, you are too divisive. To get a majority of Australians in a majority of states to vote “Yes” for a republic, you will need the support of believers – Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslims and the like – among others. Your continuing stance as a militant atheist who mocks believers – in your Sun-Herald column and elsewhere – does not put you in a strong position to unite as many Australians as possible.
But that is by the by – for the moment at least. Instead, I refer to your most recent “The Fitz Files” where you continue to campaign against Cardinal Pell – which is a manifestation of your anti-Catholic sectarianism.
I refer to your column last Sunday titled “How could Pell not have known?” I make the following comments:
▪ You wrote that: “Sadly he [Cardinal George Pell] will not be giving his evidence in Australia as – despite being capable of continuing his normal work running the Vatican finances – 24 hours in Qantas First Class is far beyond him.”
Like me, you have no medical qualifications. Even Fairfax Media – which, like you, is hostile to Cardinal Pell – quoted a cardiologist to the effect that a person of Pell’s age and with his heart condition would be advised not to take long-haul air travel. The cardiologist advised that a person with such a condition could suffer heart-failure and would be unlikely to obtain travel insurance for such a flight. But you, apparently, know better that the cardiologist. Fancy that.
You did not advise your readers that Pell has given evidence in person in Australia on two occasions – once at the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry in Melbourne and once at the Royal Commission in Sydney. He has also previously given evidence by video-link to the Royal Commission on one occasion before today’s hearings.
▪ You ask what you describe as “the Cardinal’s few remaining defenders”…to read…David Marr’s devastating piece in The Guardian this week”. David Marr – who, as you know, is the leader of the Pell-Haters – wrote an opinionated piece which is anything but “devastating” to Cardinal Pell’s cause.
For example, Marr accepts evidence given by the witness named “BWF” that he (BWF) knocked on the door at the Cathedral Presbytery on the corner of Stuart Street and Dawson Street and advised Fr (as he then was) Pell that he had been sexually abused by Brother Dowlan. By the way, in his Guardian article, Marr referred to “Stewart” street.
As Cardinal Pell’s counsel pointed out at the Royal Commission, Pell did not live at the Cathedral Presbytery at the time and had no reason to be there. Pell lived at St Alipius Presbytery – a couple of kilometres away in East Ballarat – and was working full-time at Aquinas College. In other words, he had no reason to be at the Cathedral Presbytery.
Marr also cites the evidence given at the Royal Commission by Tim Green that he told Pell at the Eureka Stockade of Dowlan’s offending. Marr neglected to advise his Guardian readers that Mr Green told the Royal Commission that when he spoke to Fr Pell at the Eureka Stockade Pool, he (Green) had his back to Pell and never addressed him face-to-face. Again this is not a “devastating” criticism of Pell.
These are matters which have already been examined by the Royal Commission. It is likely that Cardinal Pell will be asked to give his own account of these matters when he appears before the Royal Commission this week.
I believe Cardinal Pell is entitled to a fair hearing before the Royal Commission and I look forward to hearing his evidence.
I am interested in hearing what he has to say. Unlike you – since you, like David Marr – have already made up your mind even before Cardinal Pell’s Royal Commission testimony is heard.
In conclusion I should state that your response to child sexual abuse at Catholic institutions differs markedly from your response to child sexual abuse at your alma mater Knox Grammar which, as you know, is run by the Uniting Church.
This is what you wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald on 25 February 2015 when news came out in early 2015 about sexual assaults at Knox Grammar where a nest of pedophile teachers abused male students:
In your SMH piece you admitted that, when a student at Knox Grammar, you knew that a teacher Don Hancock had abused a male Year 8 boarder. This is what you wrote:
When we woke up Sunday morning, Don Hancock — who once told a gag that if you put his first name into the middle of his second name, you came up with an inappropriate act — was gone, his room emptied, and he was never referred to again. Tragically, that was in large measure the way it was done back then. The wider world has, for the most part, learned the tragic results of that method.
In this case, a call to the police might have seemed problematic — the lad had felt uncomfortable, before any interaction had taken place — but that housemaster went on to do enormous damage. In 2006, Don Hancock took his life in Indonesia after, the Herald reported, being “suspected to have been part of a paedophile ring linked to a language school established and supervised by the Australian Government”.
You went on to state that you did not have a clue about what went on at the all- male Knox Grammar School in the 1980s and 1990s after you had left school. But you had a kind word to say about the principal at the time — a certain Dr Ian Paterson — who on the available evidence failed to report male pedophile teachers to police over many years. :
… the Dr Paterson I knew, was a very strong disciplinarian, a fine educator, and he ran a very tight ship. If true, there is tragic irony in it. Dr Paterson was always insistent that the reputation of the school was paramount, and we were ambassadors at large for the school. And yet, if these allegations are proven, it seems likely that it was that same devotion to preserving reputation that saw pedophile teachers protected from the immediate prosecution they deserved.
So in 2015 you wrote that what happened on Dr Paterson’s watch at Knox Grammar was a “tragic irony”. This is not a concession which you have made with respect to anyone in the Catholic Church. Which suggests that you have one rule for Catholics and another rule for everyone else.
I note that the current version of your 25 February 2015 article on the Fairfax Media website is significantly different from what you wrote originally. I also note that Fairfax Media does not record that you changed your initial response to the Knox Grammar story.
* * * * * *
- GERARD HENDERSON & PETER REED (THE ROYAL COMMISSION’S CEO)
As avid readers will be aware, on the morning of 20 February 2016 Gerard Henderson received an email from Peter Reed in his (public service) capacity as chief executive officer of the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Mr Reed sent copies of his email to Jo Puccini (executive producer 7.30) and Leigh Sales (presenter 7.30) – with the clear implication that he wanted 7.30 to correct an (alleged) error in comments which Hendo made to 7.30 on Wednesday 18 February.
In fact, Gerard Henderson’s comments – as reported by 7.30 – were accurate. This is documented in the email which Hendo sent to Mr Reed before lunch on 20 February 2016 – concerning which Mr Reed has declined to defend his email. See MWD Issue 304.
This interference by a public servant in the public debate – in an attempt to get a media outlet to correct the comments of someone with no relation to the public service surprised Hendo. So he asked Mr Reed as to whether this was his first such intervention. Alas, Mr Reed seems to have gone into “no comment” mode – which is favoured by those who do not want to answer difficult questions.
In any event, as is his wont, Hendo wrote again to Mr Reed on Wednesday. Being a helpful kind of guy, Hendo drew the public servant’s attention to an error by the Royal Commission’s counsel assisting at the hearings on Monday (Sydney time). MWD will keep you advised of any response. Don’t hold your breath.
Gerard Henderson to Peter Reed – 2 March 2016
Dear Mr Reed
I refer to your email of 20 February 2016 and my (unacknowledged) replies of 20 February 2016 and 25 February 2016.
I note that – despite initiating this correspondence – you have not replied to either of my emails. I note, in particular, that you have declined to state whether you have written to any commentators – other than myself – alleging that statements which they made about the Royal Commission were inaccurate.
Due to your apparent “no comment” stance, I can only presume that I am the only commentator to have been publicly criticised by one of the Royal Commission’s public servants.
As I documented in my (unanswered) email to you, contrary to your assertion I did not make any inaccurate comments in the clip of my interview which was shown on 7.30 on Wednesday 18 February 2016.
By the way, since you appear to be interested in accuracy, you may be interested to know that Gail Furness S.C., counsel assisting the Royal Commission, made an error of fact when cross-examining Cardinal George Pell.
Ms Furness made much of the (alleged) fact that, when a curate at Swan Hill, Fr Pell was working in a parish which adjoined the parish of Mildura where the child sex offender Monsignor John Day was parish priest. As you will be aware, Swan Hill is about 220 kilometres from Mildura.
Cardinal Pell made the point that the parish of Robinvale was situated between Swan Hill and Mildura. So was the parish of Red Cliffs. In other words, there were two parishes between Swan Hill and Mildura.
So, contrary to the claim made by Ms Furness, Swan Hill was in no sense the adjoining parish of Mildura. Consequently, the counsel’s assisting imputation that Fr Pell should have known what Monsignor Day was up to before his crimes were reported to the media – on account of the adjoining nature of their respective parishes – makes no sense.
In view of your apparent concern about accuracy, I am interested to know what the Royal Commission might do to correct Ms Furness’ error of fact in this instance.
Over to you.
* * * * *
Until next time.
* * * *
“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