GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG – ISSUE NO. 310
8 APRIL 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.
- Can You Bear It? : Most Media miss Mark Latham story; Adam Gartrell Keeps flying Fairfax Media’s Abbott-Hating Flag; Jonathan Holmes’ Sees the (ABC) Light – Only to be rebuked by Comrade Jon Faine
- Great Media U-Turns of Our Time: Peter Van Onselen on “Private” Conversations; Peter Hartcher on Malcolm Turnbull
- Paul Murray Live “Fires Up” with Lotsa Interjections but Not Much Sense – Featuring Dee Madigan and some others
- FAIRFAX MEDIA ABBOTT-HATING SET: AN UPDATE
- JONATHAN HOLMES’ “ROAD TO DAMASCUS” MOMENT
- PETER VAN ONSELEN ARGUES FOR THE SANCTITY OF PRIVATE CONVERSATION – EXCEPT WHEN THEY ARE WITH HIM
- SYDNEY MORNING HERALD POLITICAL EDITOR YES/NO RESPONSE TO PRIME MINISTER MALCOLM TURNBULL
THE 2016 SYDNEY WRITERS’ FESTIVAL: YET ANOTHER (TAXPAYER SUBSIDISED) LEFT-WING STACK
The Sydney Morning Herald has just released the program for the 2016 Sydney Writers’ Festival (to be held not long after May Day).
As in previous years, the SWF is a taxpayer funded event when a soviet of leftists get together and predominantly invite their left-wing friends – from Australia and overseas – to have a series of conversations (to use the fashionable cliché) where everyone essentially agrees with everyone else in an essentially leftist kind of way.
The “Core Funders” of the 2016 SWF are Arts NSW (i.e. the NSW State government), Creative City Sydney (i.e. the City of Sydney) and the Australia Council for the Arts (i.e. the Commonwealth government). The SWF in 2016 did not receive any significant funding outside the public sector. It’s a taxpayer and ratepayer funded gig. Fairfax Media’s Sydney Morning Herald is a major partner of the Sydney Writers’ Festival.
Increasingly the SWF channels the ABC – Australia’s best known Conservative Free Zone which does not have one conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets.
Believe it or not, some 500 self-proclaimed writers will be appearing at the 2016 SWF. It’s hard to find even one among the Australian SWF participants who could be classified as a conservative or right-of-centre. Or who would be willing to accept such a description.
Okay, there is Rowan Dean (one session only), Geoffrey Lehmann (one session only), and Greg Sheridan (two sessions). That’s about it. Plus the Abbott-hating “leftie conservative” Niki Savva.
Then there is a conga line of leftists and left-of-centre types who like to call themselves “progressives”. The list includes:
Phillip Adams, Emma Alberici, Larissa Behrendt, John Birmingham, Frank Bongiorno, Anna Broinowski, Bryan Brown, Julian Burnside QC (of course), Jennifer Bryne, Jane Caro, Michael Cathcart, Anna Clark, Quentin Dempster, Andrew Denton, Martin Flanagan, Tim Flannery (three sessions), Andrew Fowler, Anna Funder, Lisa Gorton, Marieke Hardy, Michael Heyward, Jenny Hocking, Linda Jaivin, Amanda Keller, Benjamin Law, David Leser, Hugh Mackay, Robert Manne (of course), Paddy Manning, David Marr (quite so – four sessions), Kate McClymont (well, yes), George Megalogenis (six sessions), Drusilla Modieska, Frank Moorhouse, Julian Morrow, Kerry O’Brien, Lesley Russell, Leigh Sales, Julianne Schultz, Eric Sidoti, Tim Soutphommasane, Adam Spencer, Tracey Spicer, Jason Steger, Magda Szubanski, Laura Tingle, Gillian Triggs, Yanis Varoufakis, Don Watson, Marian Wilkinson, Fiona Wright, Susan Wyndham and more besides.
Five current or former politicians will participate in the 2016 SWF. Namely, Chris Bowen (Labor), Bob Brown (Greens), Peter Garrett (Labor) and Andrew Leigh (Labor). There is also the former Liberal Party leader John Hewson – but these days he is regarded a critic of the contemporary Liberal Party. No present or former politician who is broadly supportive of the Coalition has a gig at the 2016 SWF. Enough said.
The “Seeking Asylum” session has four panellists – David Marr, Robert Manne, Madeline Gleeson and Eva Orner – all of whom are likely to essentially agree with each other.
“The Shadows of 1975” session has four panellists – Paul Kelly, Troy Bramston, Jenny Hocking and David Marr. All the members of this quartet disagree with the decision of the Governor-General John Kerr to dismiss Gough Whitlam’s Labor Government on 11 November 1975 to a greater or lesser extent. No one even broadly sympathetic to the late Sir John Kerr has been invited to present an alternative view.
Sure, there are a number of international participants who have made important contributions to the public debate. However, the Australian segment of the 2016 Sydney Writers Festival – which is by far the biggest part – is just another taxpayer subsidised left-wing stack. Clearly Jemma Birrell, the SWF’s artistic director, is yet to understand that discussions where everyone agrees with everyone else are boring. Just boring.
Is MWD the only media watcher, outside of News Corp publications, which picked up the BIG STORY in Kate Legge’s profile “Latham Unplugged: OK, Who Can I Upset Now?” which was published in last Saturday’s The Australian Magazine? It seems so.
Ms Legge revealed that former Labor Party leader Mark Latham has offered to run as the ALP candidate for the Liberal Party held seat of Hume in the forthcoming election:
He [Mark Latham] even offered to stand in the federal seat of Hume, held safely by Liberal Angus Taylor. “I said if no one else would run I’d carry the flag … I don’t think the party hierarchy was too chuffed with the idea.” “I thought Mark Latham would play really well,” Quinnell says of an electorate that extends from battler suburbs on Sydney’s western fringe to wealthier pastoral land around Goulburn and Yass. But state officials at the party’s Sussex Street headquarters “ran scared”.
Quinnell thinks the Rosie Batty affair hurt Latham. “They didn’t want to be seen associating with those comments on domestic violence.” Plus there was the potential distraction. “Some people also told me Bill Shorten would rather be talking about GST than why is Mark Latham running.” Quinnell says the Mark Latham he talks to isn’t the character he reads about on Twitter or in the media. “The Rosie Batty issue really has killed him a bit. I wish he’d framed it a little better.”
MWD agrees with Damien Quinnell, an official of the ALP’s Camden branch, that the Lair of Liverpool would have been a great candidate for Labor to run in Hume. It would have provided great copy for MWD. But the story was missed by Fairfax Media and the ABC. Can you bear it?
In Fairfax Media’s Sunday newspapers last weekend, it’s national political correspondent Adam Gartrell had a huge beat-up. In the Sun-Herald his piece was titled “Poll shows it’s time for Tony to ride a new wave”.
Mr Gartrell’s naïve piece was accompanied by a photograph of the former Prime Minister surfing at Easter. The caption read:
Year 12 Queensland student Ivy Thomas was out surfing this Easter long weekend when former PM Tony Abbott dropped in on her wave.
What a load of absolute tosh. News Corp’s Amy Price reported in the Daily Telegraph on 29 March 2016 (5 days earlier) that Ivy Thomas was not at all fussed at having the former Prime Minister on her wave. She said:
In the photo I look like I was not happy about it at all – but I was stoked. I had plenty of waves so I was happy to share a couple. He was loving it. It was epic and he’s not bad. He can surf. Only in Australia will that ever happen – that you get to surf with an ex-prime minister.
By the way, Mr Gartrell’s story was also complete bunk. He naïvely accepted the accuracy of a poll commissioned by the left-wing Australia Institute which reported the answers to a poll which contained a number of leading questions. For example:
To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements? “Tony Abbott is only staying in politics because he wants to be Prime Minister again”… “The longer Tony Abbott stays in Parliament the more damage he is doing to the Prime Minister”.
It’s not surprising that the Australia Institute would commission a poll which asked leading questions which are unfavourable to Tony Abbott. But it is surprising that Adam Gartrell regards reporting such intellectual junk as a “exclusive” story. Can you bear it?
Tony Abbott as depicted in The Sun-Herald on 3 April
When Jonathan Holmes presented the ABC 1 Media Watch program between 2008 and 2013 he never once accepted the proposition that the taxpayer funded public broadcaster lacked diversity and was, in fact, a Conservative-Free Zone with respect to its major television, radio and online outlets.
However, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age on Wednesday your man Holmes conceded that such ABC critics as Andrew Bolt and Gerard Henderson were correct in drawing attention to the lack of political diversity on ABC National and ABC Metropolitan Radio.
It is not clear why it took Mr Holmes so long to come to such an obvious conclusion concerning ABC Radio. Who knows? In a few years’ time, he may come to a similar conclusion with respect to the ABC’s television and online outlets.
In the meantime, reports from ABC leftie Jon Faine’s bunker at ABC 774 in Melbourne indicates that even this slight criticism has upset many of Aunty’s sandal-wearing luvvies.
According to Crikey, Comrade Faine maintained that Jonathan Holmes was wrong and there is no lack of political diversity within the public broadcaster. However, Jon Faine has yet to name one conservative who presents one program on any prominent ABC outlet. Can you bear it?
On 11 March 2016, writing in The Australian, Peter Van Onselen declared that Liberal Party Senator Concetta Ferravanti Wells should be dismissed from the Coalition ministry for revealing the details of a private conversation that she had with Tony Abbott. Here’s what PVO had to say:
Newly promoted minister Concetta Fierravanti-Wells should resign from the front bench following the public airing of the information she passed on to journalist Niki Savva — sharing with her that she had gone to see Tony Abbott to tell him that the perception among his colleagues was that he was having an affair with his chief of staff, Peta Credlin.
If the senator won’t resign, Malcolm Turnbull should sack her. How can any of her colleagues be sure she won’t pass on sensitive conversations they have on literally any topic after what she did to Abbott?… The real villain here is Fierravanti-Wells. No matter how frustrated she may have been with Abbott’s decision to dismiss what she told him, and irrespective of what it said about his poor listening skills, something so sensitive simply needed to stay private, between them, as Abbott surely expected that it would.
Then, writing in The Weekend Australian on 26 March 2016, PVO revealed details of his own private conversations which he had with Tony Abbott. Here’s what PVO had to say:
Abbott was part of a group of conservatives who undermined Turnbull without mercy on his plans to support Rudd’s Emissions Trading Scheme back in 2009. I know because I was one of the journalists on the receiving end of unattributed quotes, ideas for critical columns and strategies for generating news stories on the issue.
So there you have it. According to PVO it’s not okay to reveal personal conversations. Except when PVO does so himself, apparently.
– Peter Hartcher on why PM Turnbull is a Political Genius
Malcolm Turnbull has transformed his prime ministership at one stroke. The picture emerging from his first six months was that he was wasting his time. We now see that he has been biding his time.
Tony Abbott had told his colleagues last year that one of the problems with Turnbull was that he was “allergic to making decisions”. Yet when the moment was ripe, Turnbull had no hesitation in deciding to strike against Abbott. Again, on Monday we saw that he is entirely capable of choosing his moment to make very bold decisions, but they are not necessarily conventional ones….
From hopeless ditherer to decisive leader in a moment, Turnbull has now staked his government on a challenge and put all the other political parties on the defensive… Turnbull and the Coalition already have a strong lead in the polls in the public’s perception of economic management. His protracted Senate showdown gives him an ideal mechanism to keep the national debate on the government’s favoured ground.
Turnbull has yet to prosecute his case with the voters, but he has now taken control of the agenda, wrongfooted the other parties and asserted himself as a decisive leader. Enjoying the reaction to his bombshell announcement on Monday, Turnbull observed to colleagues that the Canberra press gallery had been wrong-footed into thinking him a hopeless ditherer: “Just because the press gallery doesn’t know what I’m doing doesn’t mean that I don’t know what I’m doing.”
– Sydney Morning Herald, 22 March 2016
– Hartcher on Why PM Turnbull is a Political Problem
Bruce Hawker has never worked for Malcolm Turnbull. He’s spent more than 30 years as an adviser and campaigner for the other side, a moustachioed Manchu of the Labor Party.But when he looks at the way Turnbull is conducting his prime ministership, he feels a strong sense of deja vu.
Rudd’s prime ministership is history and Turnbull is still free to write his own future, though he becomes a little less free with each blunder. “He still has some months to present himself as a leader with a positive vision for the country, not someone flipping and flopping all over the place as he was this week,” says Hawker. “Remember, as soon as Kevin started flipping and flopping over climate change it was pretty much all over for him. Malcolm could go the same way – he’s promised so much, and delivered so little.”
This is Bruce Hawker’s cautionary tale for Turnbull’s prime ministership. He speaks from bitter experience.
– Sydney Morning Herald, 2 April 2016
So there you have it. According to Peter Hartcher, Malcolm Turnbull is a political genius – except when he acts like Kevin Rudd who was a political failure.
MWD will deeply miss Bob Ellis (1942-2016). He was a stand-alone prophet in a nation more interested in profits. MWD just loved your man Ellis’ Table Talk blog – with its hyperbole, false prophecy, plenty of abuse, much ignorance along with occasional wit and fine writing. It provided much material for MWD. The departure of Mr Ellis requires that Mike (“I’ll pour the gin”) Carlton step up and provide more material for MWD. Otherwise the Northern Beaches of Sydney will be under-represented in this blog.
Obituary writers and others commenting on The False Prophet of Palm Beach’s departure from this Vale of Tears have been kind to Bob Ellis and focused on what he did for his country’s literary output. But Australians did a lot for your man Ellis. In his final decades, when the False Prophet of Palm Beach had insulted so many that jobs and commissions were drying up, the taxpayer helped out. Bob Ellis got the role of a Court Jester – and occasional speech writer – in the offices of Labor leaders Kim Beazley, Bob Carr (NSW), Nathan Rees (NSW) and Mike Rann (South Australia). Nice taxpayer funded largesse, if you can get it. And Ellis got it – particularly when Mr Carr was Labor Premier of NSW and your man Ellis used the NSW Premier’s suite as a kind of pop-up office. And so the taxpayer subsidised his whiskey-charged literary output. And so it goes – as Ellis said and wrote again and again and again.
So, in his final years, per courtesy of the public purse, Bob Ellis would opine on this and that in speeches – many of which were unremarkable and unused since Ellis had scant political skills or understanding about how government worked.
A born-again atheist, Bob Ellis was contemptuous of Christians. He also disliked Liberals and Nationals and virtually everyone else who did not agree with his advocacy of “True Labor”, whatever that was. Mr Ellis called himself a “True Believer” – a borrowed term of scant meaning.
Much praised by the left intelligentsia, Bob Ellis was perhaps Australia’s leading misogynist. As Guy Rundle (MWD’s favourite Marxist comedian) conceded in Crikey last Monday, Ellis’ “treatment of some people, especially some women, was appalling, appalling beyond the joking of it”.
Many journalists look back fondly on Bob Ellis’ campaign as an independent left candidate against Liberal Party candidate Bronwyn Bishop in the Mackellar by-election of March 2004. What is frequently overlooked is that much of Ellis’ vehemence towards Bishop was motivated not by her perceived political conservatism but by the fact that she is a woman.
On such matters Ellis was of bi-partisan bent. On 29 September 2010, the ABC published a rant by Ellis in The Drum Online titled “Hating Hillary Clinton”. This is how his attack on Senator Clinton, who was running against Barack Obama in the Democratic Party primaries, commenced:
Last Monday Hillary Clinton said she’d “obliterate” Iran if Iran attacked Israel and on Tuesday picked up some Jewish, redneck, gun-loving, wog-hating, duck-shooting, Catholic and early-dementia votes in nursing homes and by 10 per cent won handily the “rust-belt”, “lunch-bucket” and Amish-cluttered state of Pennsylvania in which she was leading by 30 per cent a month before.
“The road to the White House,” she then exulted to her weeping followers, “runs through Pennsylvania!” – later amending this to “the road to Pennsylvania Avenue runs through Pennsylvania!”
I’m getting to hate this woman. Her towering frigidity, blazing hubris, bellowing mendacity, varying accent from region to region, her high school-standard acting and ceaseless haughty impersonation of Debbie Reynolds in The Unsinkable Molly Brown have got me properly simmering, and her confident thick-witted fist-in-the-face oratory, in a voice a Spectator columnist once well described as “a half-shout”, puts me in mind on some nights of the full moon like the one outside my window of the baleful, cruel contralto of my old lost love Bronwyn Bishop. She [Clinton] is a stranger to consistency, sincerity and (at a guess) oral sex….
Bob Ellis got away with a life-time of misogyny because he was a man of the left and because he was generally thought to be funny. This was evident in Sydney Morning Herald journalist Damien Murphy’s obituary last Tuesday which covered, in part, the defamation case which Ellis lost to Peter Costello, Tanya Costello (nee Coleman), Tony Abbott and Margie Abbott (nee Aitken) concerning their personal lives when young. This is what Murphy wrote about Ellis’ reaction to the court’s decision which found he had committed defamation with respect to the respective parties:
In 1997, Neville Wran launched Ellis’s memoir Goodbye Jerusalem but it was pulped within days due to an unfounded anecdote about the pre-marital sex life of Tanya Costello, treasurer Peter Costello’s wife. His publishers paid $277,500 damages to the Costellos and the then new Liberal minister, Tony Abbott, and his wife Margie.
The court case was an amusing spectator sport for all with the exception of Mrs Costello. The day the Federal Court rejected his publisher’s appeal, Ellis sat unrepentant in the Federal Parliament’s Aussies Café: “Mate, you’ve got to wonder what sort of man would make his wife or former girlfriend discuss her sex life in front of a judge. In any event, the judge decided Tanya Costello’s hymen was worth the price of two new Porsches.”
Damien Murphy should not have written these paragraphs – and the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age should not have published them. If someone like Cory Bernardi had made such a comment, Fairfax Media and the ABC would have screamed “misogyny”. But Ellis got away with it because his often vile abuse was usually directed at conservatives and was regarded as funny by his leftist mates.
Bob Ellis is best known for the saying “And so it goes”. In fact, this was derived from the American writer Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007). Sure Bob Ellis was clever – but not as clever as he liked to make out which partly explains why he led an undisciplined life in search of the charity of others. And so it goes. And so it goes. And so he went.
Due to popular request, MWD reprints the segment “Bob Ellis gives NancyThe Drum” in which Nancy channelled Bob Ellis and his Table Talk style it was published on April Fool’s Day 2011 (Issue 88). And here it goes.
As avid MWD readers are aware, Sky News’s gutless wonders – to wit Paul Murray and Derryn Hinch – still lack the courage to invite Gerard Henderson on to Paul Murray Live/Hinch Live and provide the opportunity of a right of reply to their constant (and ill-informed) criticisms of Hendo’s comments on Cardinal George Pell. (See MWD passim ad nauseam). This despite Mr Murray’s constant evocation that he “would like to know” what his viewers think and to “fire up” and email or tweet him and Mr Hinch’s pretence that he is a fair and balanced kind of guy interested in evidence.
In spite of this (gutless) snub, Hendo still watches Paul Murray Live and Hinch Live when he has time. The good news is that Derryn (The Human Mumble) Hinch seems to have somewhat improved his diction in recent weeks – following criticism in MWD. . However, Paul Murray still allows his guests to speak over each other in yelling matches which are barely audible.
Have a listen here to this exchange on PML last night when Labor MP Hugh McDermott shouted at The Spectator editor Rowan Dean who returned fire as Kristy McSweeney tried to get into the discussion and Mr Murray looked at the camera as everyone else spoke over everyone else. What a farce.
Apparently McDermott was attacking, and Dean and McSweeney were defending, Barnaby Joyce’s use of travel entitlements to visit his New England electorate. But you wouldn’t really know as the three panellists yelled each other down.
However, last night’s shouting-match on Paul Murray Live was some decibels lower than what occurred on 23 March 2016 when Dee Madigan did a leftist rant and yelled down Rita Panahi while Derryn Hinch mumbled some inarticulate comments. Have a listen here.
At issue was Ms Madigan’s claim that, in the United States “white extremists have killed twice as many people as Muslim terrorists since 9/11” – i.e. 11 September 2001. Without a skerrick of evidence Dee Madigan stated that all “white extremists” are “Christians”. Then Dee Madigan really lost it when Rita Panahi made the valid point that it is wrong to equate Islamists with Catholics, Buddhists or Hindus. Let’s go to the transcript:
Dee Madigan: Check it out. Check the figures. You can have your opinion but that’s the facts.
Rita Panahi: They’re not facts Dee they are your interpretations of facts.
Dee Madigan: No, no, no. Read the Time Magazine.
Rita Panahi: They’re fantasy. Well give me, oh ok read Time Magazine. Give me some examples, give me some examples of one non-Muslim terrorist.
Dee Madigan: Twice as many people.
Rita Panahi: Give me one example.
Dee Madigan: There’s twice as many look it up. Fine. Look it up. I don’t mind, it’s a fact.
Rita Panahi: You keep saying twice as many.
Dee Madigan: Twice
Rita Panahi: But it doesn’t actually give me a single example of non-Islamic terrorism since 9/11.
Dee Madigan: Twice as many people have been killed in American by white extremists.
Rita Panahi: Give me one example.
Alas, no examples were forthcoming as Dee Madigan ranted and ranted. Here MWD makes some (it is hoped) useful points. Certainly, Time has reported a study which claims that white extremists have killed more Americans than jihadists in the US since 9/11. But this is not the case if you begin the count at the beginning of the century on 1 January 2001. Convenient, eh? Also, the Time report did not claim that any of the white extremist were Christian, Buddhist or Hindus. Ms Madigan just made this up.
It seems that Paul Murray likes debates where journalists yell over the top of each other – or where one panellist, say, Dee Madigan, yells at everyone else.
MWDp reckons that it’s lousy television. Ever willing to help, MWD is offering three complimentary sessions in Nancy’s Courtesy Classes for Mr McDermott, Mr Dean and Ms McSweeney and ten classes for the somewhat ruder Dee Madigan. We’ll report back on whether this offer is taken up.
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).
STEPHEN MAYNE AND GERARD HENDERSON ABOUT CORRUPTION AND ALL THAT
Gerard Henderson appeared on the ABC1 Insiders couch last Sunday – along with the Australian Financial Review’s Phil Coorey and the Guardian Australia’s Lenore Taylor. Barrie Cassidy, as usual, was in the presenter’s chair.
Asked about whether the Turnbull government should agree with some Independent and minor party senators and establish a national anti-corruption body, like the Independent Commission Against Corruption in NSW, Gerard Henderson responded that ICAC had been a disaster in NSW. This upset Crikey founder and City of Melbourne councillor Stephen Mayne. As the following correspondence demonstrates:
Stephen Mayne to Gerard Henderson – 3 April 2016
I was disappointed to see your criticism of ICAC on Insiders today and the ongoing lack of support from a disturbing number of News Corp associated influencers for the idea of a Federal anti-corruption watch dog.
As a watchdog yourself, I just don’t understand the objection which you and many other people in close proximity to political power in Australia have to the idea of independent integrity authorities.
Integrity bodies are good for democracy, supplement the great work of journalists and hold elected politicians to account. What’s not to like? Eddie Obeid would probably still be running amok in NSW were it not for the good work of ICAC.
On Tuesday night, City of Melbourne councillors will be voting on whether to put this motion up to the next MAV state council meeting:[Mr Mayne’s letter here contained (i) details of the City of Melbourne’s proposed motion to be moved at the state council meeting of the Municipal Association of Victoria on 13 May 2016 and (ii) a rationale for the motion]
I simply ask that you desist from casting aspersions on anti-corruption authorities and instead lend your considerable influence to the cause of establishing an independent Federal integrity commission.
If you’d like more information on the case in favour of such a move, can I suggest you read this recent Quentin Dempster feature in The Saturday Paper [on 19 February 2016].
Quentin, as you would remember, played an important role in exposing entrenched corruption during the long rule of Sir Joh in Queensland.
Cr Stephen Mayne
Chair Finance and Governance committee
City of Melbourne
Gerard Henderson to Stephen Mayne – 8 April 2016
Lotsa thanks for your remarkably pompous email which I received shortly after my appearance on Insiders last Sunday. It’s great to learn from your missive that you are an avid (albeit not uncritical) Media Watch Dog reader.
I am also appreciative that you chose to write to me. I have been very busy of late and your epistle will fill the hugely popular “Correspondence” segment in this week’s Media Watch Dog. Otherwise, I would have had to initiate correspondence with someone or other – which would take time.
In response to your email, I make the following comments.
- I have been critical of the New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) since its formation in 1989. At that time, I was a columnist for News Corp’s The Australian. Between 1990 and 2013, I wrote for Fairfax Media’s Sydney Morning Herald – and criticised ICAC on occasions. Since 2014, I have written for The Weekend Australian. My position on ICAC is identical today to what it was a quarter of a century ago.
Consequently, your imputation that my current position on ICAC is a reflection of a News Corp mindset is hopelessly wrong – as you would be aware if you had done any research. You should be able to do better than this.
- My Media Watch Dog blog is a critique of aspects of the media. In MWD, I state my opinions. However, on occasions, I publish correspondence from my critics. Like you. Unlike ICAC, I have no powers to call witnesses or to impose silence on my critics or to defame individuals who have no adequate right of reply. That is the preserve of ICAC in NSW. Nor do I dress up as a boxer and pose for Fairfax Media photographers in a boxing ring. That is the preserve of ICAC’s counsel-assisting.
- I can see why some commentators – especially those who are the recipients of leaks from ICAC and other bodies – see a benefit in the creation of a national anti-corruption body. However, I am concerned about the authoritarian and anti-democratic stance of such an institution and its potential negative impact in a nation which has too much bureaucracy already.
The fact is that people who are branded as “corrupt” by ICAC have no adequate means of character restitution when the allegations come to naught. The recent case of Murray Kear (formerly the NSW State Emergency Services Commissioner) refers.
Then there is ICAC’s disturbingly unprofessional behaviour towards Margaret Cunneen SC. As you should be aware, in this instance ICAC has been criticised by former ICAC Commissioner David Levine, among others. And you should be aware that the High Court of Australia found for Ms Cunneen in Independent Commission Against Corruption v Margaret Cunneen on 15 April 2016.
- The Labor identity Eddie Obied would have been called to account by the relevant authorities. It is a matter of regret that ICAC’s only two big so-called “successes” turn on its role in the political death of the corruption-free Nick Greiner and, later, the corruption-free Barry O’Farrell. Mr Greiner and Mr O’Farrell were not in any sense corrupt yet both fell victim to the zealots at ICAC and had to step down as premier of NSW. In the event, the NSW Supreme Court found against ICAC with respect to Nick Greiner – but, by then, Mr Greiner had to been forced to resign as premier. Eddie Obeid was dropped from the NSW Cabinet by (then) NSW premier Bob Carr. Mr Obeid’s political career was not ended by ICAC. That’s a myth put around by members of the ICAC Fan Club – like Sydney Morning Herald journalist Kate McClymont. I made this point to Ms McClymont when we debated ICAC on Lateline in April 2014.
- I have no intention of abiding by your (pompous) request that I “desist from casting aspersions on anti-corruption authorities”. I believe that ICAC has been a disaster for NSW – and I will continue to say so. I will not abide by your call that I censor myself in this instance.
I do not write to the likes of you (pompously) demanding that you should desist from this or that. The only (pompous and gratuitous) advice that I offer you is to spend more time reducing the self-induced traffic congestion on Collins Street and Flinders Street in the Melbourne CBD – and less time writing to others in your official position as “Chair Finance and Governance committee, City of Melbourne”.
- I did read Quentin Dempster’s (boring) article in The [Boring] Saturday Paper. As I recall, Mr Dempster’s one brush-with-fame occurred close to three decades ago. He needs another topic. As I recall, three decades ago Quentin Dempster was much praised for revealing that Queensland premier Sir Joh Bjelke Petersen did not understand how the Westminster system operates. Few mentioned at the time, however, that Mr Dempster’s understanding of the meaning of the Westminster system was also deeply flawed.
By the way, I’m surprised that you appear to have adopted Quentin Dempster’s conspiracy theory that anyone who criticises ICAC in a News Corp publication is acting on the orders of Rupert Murdoch. I doubt that ICAC is a matter of much importance to Mr Murdoch in the United States.
* * * *
In conclusion, I note that you published your initial letter to me in Crikey (4 April 2016) before giving me time to reply to your missive. Somewhat discourteous, don’t you think?
Gerard Henderson AC (aka Always Courteous)
Chair, Nancy Admiration Society committee
City of Sin
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