27 May 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: Clive Palmer’s “Last Drinks” with Lateline; ABC Bags Barnaby Joyce as Marriage Breaker; Waleed Aly’s Hyperbole
  • Can You Bear It?: News Breakfast sides with the Smuggling Pirate (aka Johnny Depp); The Sydney Morning Herald’s Pyrrhic Defamation Victory; Four Corners Fudges George Williams’ Political Past
  • The Fitz Files’ Uncorrected Lies: An Update (Including a $10,000 Reward for Real Estate Information)
  • Sandalista Update: A Report from the 2016 Australian Industry Book Awards

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It was a “Bye, Bye, Clive” moment on Lateline last night as Tony Jones interviewed Palmer United Party supremo Clive Palmer for the very last time. Lord hear our prayer.

In the lead-up to the 2013 election Clive Palmer became a national political figure primarily due to a number of essentially soft interviews by Tony Jones on Lateline. Remember, they all went something like this:

Tony Jones: Clive Palmer, you’re certainly making an impact running for the Palmer United Party.

Clive Palmer: Yes. And haven’t you made an impact Tony. You are the greatest and most intelligent journalist in Australian history.

Tony Jones: You shouldn’t say that. But we’ll have you on next week.

It all worked. Three Palmer United Party members made it to the Senate – Jacqui Lambie, Glenn Lazarus and Dio Wang and your man Palmer narrowly won a seat in the House of Representatives. That was then. Within less than three years it had fallen apart.

And it was one-for-the-road last night when Mr Jones once again interviewed Mr Palmer. The Lateline presenter, once again, let Palmer say pretty much what he wanted to say and many a wild accusation was made. Palmer was not even challenged when he referred to a decision having being made “in the lady’s toilet in Canberra”. [Is there only one? – MWD Ed]

MWD’s favourite exchange was the following – where Clive Palmer asserted that, after a disagreement at a Liberal National Party conference in 2012, this is what occurred:

Clive Palmer: I’d already arranged to have drinks with Tony Abbott on the Thursday night while I was in Melbourne and I turned up to drinks to find Mr Abbott pretty upset about these resolutions. He – I sat down at the table and he said, “What’s …” – you know, that he’s not gonna let these effing resolutions go to the committee critical of his two vice-presidents. Now, I asked him what resolutions he was talking about because I hadn’t seen them and he was quite demonstrably angry with me for bringing these issues up. So I decided it was important to leave, so I packed up my stuff and said to Tony Abbott that I had to leave to talk to some more important people than him. And as I tried to leave the room, he blocked my entry, telling me …

Tony Jones : Blocked your exit, you mean.

Clive Palmer: Blocked my exit, sorry. Gesturing with his hands in what I would say was an aggressive manner, asking me to sit down and sort this out. And then I decided I should leave, so I went to the – went to leave and he stood and blocked my way. I then reminded him that he was quite a capable boxing champion as a bantamweight when he was at university, but that I was a heavyweight and he should step aside and he did.

Tony Jones: Did anyone apart from the two of you witness these events?

Clive Palmer: Yes, Peta Credlin was sitting there, gasping in the corner and making gurgling sounds as we continued to argue with each other.

What a load of absolute tosh. Tony Abbott was a heavyweight boxer at Oxford University – not a bantamweight. He had four bouts – all of which he won by knock-out. The idea that Clive Palmer could have knocked Tony Abbott out – well, this is something that he would only allege on Lateline.

And as to Peta Credlin gasping in the corner and making gurgling sounds. Turn it up. Only Tony Jones would accept such a claim at face value. [On reflection, perhaps this prized item should have been placed in your “Can You Bear It?” segment – MWD Ed].


If a progressive leftist sandal wearer like former Greens leader Bob Brown, had taken action against Johnny Depp and his wife Amber Heard – this surely would have been welcomed by the self-identifying progressives at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.

Your man Dr Brown (for a medical doctor he is) would have been praised for protecting Australia’s agricultural industries and for his concern about the prevention of disease of Australian animals – especially domestic/working dogs and cattle. There may even have been some praise for Dr Brown’s concern for Aussie humans.

However, Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce’s altercation with the Hollywood actor following the entry of Depp’s dogs into Australia in defence of Australia’s strict quarantine laws, has caused some derision in sections of the media. See, for example, this week’s hugely popular segment “Can You Bear It?” segment concerning last Wednesday’s ABC TV News Breakfast program.

The love of the ABC for Mr and Mrs Depp – and their dislike for the conservative Barnaby Joyce – was never more evident than when it posted a tweet at 5.47 pm last evening – following the (sad) news that Johnny Depp and Amber Heard had gone to Splitsville. Here it is:

abc news barnaby joyce depp tweet

The ABC’s tweet drew attention to an article by Kellie Scott on ABC Online titled, believe it or not, “Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s divorce: Is Barnaby Joyce to blame?” This is how Ms Scott’s fantasising commenced:

Barnaby Joyce “attacking Pistol and Boo” is to blame for the rumoured divorce of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, according to celebrity agent Max Markson.

Court records published by TMZ show that Heard submitted the petition to a court in Los Angeles on Monday. The couple have been married for 15 months.

The news comes less than a week after the death of Depp’s mother and after a year of “Depp’s dogs” drama after the couple illegally brought their dogs Pistol and Boo into Australia.

Australian celebrity manager Mr Markson told the ABC the Deputy PM’s approach to the Yorkshire terriers sparked a series of events that would have caused enormous stress for the couple.

“If he didn’t attack their dogs … they would still be happily married,” Mr Markson said.

So the ABC, in its need for click-bait, has come to this. Quoting an Australian-based celebrity agent giving reasons for a divorce application by an American citizen.

So there you have it. ABC personnel – who have no knowledge whatsoever about the Depp/Heard relationship – reckon that their marriage break-up was all Barnaby Joyce’s fault. Really and truly.

[I note that, overnight, the ABC both removed this tweet and the Kellie Scott article from its website. A foolish move followed by a censorious one – MWD Ed]


What a stunning piece by Waleed Aly in Fairfax Media today. The Monash University academic’s column commenced as follows:

When was the last time anyone voted for anyone? Barack Obama in 2008. Maybe Kevin 07? Other than that, examples are thin on the ground. Australians didn’t vote for anyone at all in 2010, voted against Labor (and certainly not for Abbott) in 2013, and have now very quickly fallen out of love with Malcolm Turnbull almost as thoroughly as we dropped Rudd. This year Americans will either vote against Donald Trump and put Hillary Clinton in the White House, or they’ll vote against politics altogether and put Trump there. An average of national polls this week put Trump slightly ahead. Yes.

So, according to Mr Aly, no one – but no one – has voted for anyone anywhere since at least 2008. This is one hell of a generalisation – even for a Lecturer in Politics at Monash University.

According to the 2016 Gold Logie winner, no one voted for Justin Trudeau in 2016, for David Cameron in 2015, for John Key in 2014 or for Tony Abbott in 2013. Not one.

Aly even suggests that no one voted for Barack Obama in 2012. And he reckons that an American who votes for Donald Trump in November 2016 will “vote against politics”.

This nonsense paid for – and brought to you by – Fairfax Media. Fair dinkum.

Can you bear it graphic


MWD understands that death caused by contacting rabies is one of the most gruesome an individual can suffer. Consequently, rabies is no laughing matter. Except when an American actor smuggles two dogs to Australia in his private jet from the United States where rabies is extant.

At the time of Barnaby Joyce’s verbal altercation with Johnny Depp, who brought two dogs to Australia without going through the normal quarantine procedures, Mr Joyce was Minister for Agriculture. As such, he was responsible for preserving Australia’s strict quarantine regime that is of immense importance to the economic well-being of the Australian rural sector along with the health of Australians and their animals.

Let’s go to the transcript of the “Newspapers” segment of Wednesday’s ABC TV News Breakfast. The visiting commentator was Andrea Carson, a lecturer in “Media and Politics” at the University of Melbourne – who, for some reason or other, decided to devote her final comment not to a newspaper report but rather to actor Johnny Depp’s appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel Live! on the American ABC network:

Michael Rowland: And now let’s finish off with the latest bout in the Barnaby Joyce/ Johnny Depp brawl, Andrea –

Virginia Trioli: I thought it was over! Is it not over?

Michael Rowland: No, it keeps on giving.

Andrea Carson: Oh, I like this one.

Michael Rowland: Johnny Depp was on Jimmy Kimmel in the US, let’s have a look:

Johnny Depp: The choice they made to, you know, to utilise the tax payer dollars to globally chase down a couple of tea-cup yorkies

Jimmy Kimmel: Yeah, right

Johnny Depp: And given them [the dogs] 50 hours to live, I realised the badness of my ways

Jimmy Kimmel: Yeah, right, sure. I would hope so

Johnny Depp: So, I was kinda repenting

Jimmy Kimmel: Isn’t it heartening in way to know though we’re not the only dumb country though. I mean, to find out that it’s not just us doing stupid stuff. Australia can make – well it seems like one guy in Australia made a big deal out of this.

Johnny Depp: Yeah

Jimmy Kimmel: Barnaby Joyce is the guy’s name.

Johnny Depp: Barnaby Jones.

Jimmy Kimmel: Yeah.

Johnny Depp: He looks somehow inbred with a tomato.

Jimmy Kimmel: Sounds delicious.

Johnny Depp: I’m just saying, I mean it’s not a criticism.

Jimmy Kimmel: No, no, not at all, not at all, quite the contrary

Johnny Depp: No, I was a little worried

Jimmy Kimmel: He may have been crossbred?

Johnny Depp: No, no just – he might explode

Virginia Trioli: And I’m sure he wouldn’t take it as a criticism, being inbred with a tomato?

Michael Rowland: Oh he’d love it.

Andrea Carson: “Inbred with a tomato”, that’s not great, is it?

Virginia Trioli: No and he’s not going to let this one go is he? So wherever he goes of course he’s asked about it, you would expect that. But he’s got a line ready to go. Just to, you know, stick it to the Aussies.

Andrea Carson: And “Barnaby Jones”, not Joyce

Virginia Trioli: That’s the cleverest part of the whole thing, get the name wrong. That’s the smartest thing. Andrea, really nice to see you –


To describe Barnaby Joyce as looking as if he were “inbred with a tomato” is just abuse. Mere abuse. Moreover, deliberately getting a person’s name wrong is not clever – just rude.

Yet News Breakfast – presumably at the wish of Dr Carson (for a doctor she is) – saw fit to give publicity to the exchange between Johnny Depp and Jimmy Kimmel – both of whom happen to believe that Australia’s quarantine laws are stupid.

It seems that not one of Dr Carson or Mr Depp or Mr Kimmel have seen anyone die of rabies. Can you bear it?


Did anyone watch last Monday’s ABC1 Four Corners program titled “Money and Influence”? It was reported by Quentin McDermott with the assistance of Peter Cronau and Shaun Hoyt.

One of Four Corners’ top talent was George Williams, who was described as a “constitutional lawyer”. He made his first appearance at the top of the program when Mr McDermott was criticising the Liberal Party’s Arthur Sinodinos concerning political donations. And your man Williams had the last word, which he delivered – sermon-like – about the “health of our democracy” which (allegedly) is being made “sick” due to the current “system of political finance” concerning political donations.

All up, George Williams made it into Four Corners on five occasions. Sure George Williams is a constitutional lawyer. It’s just that Four Corners forgot to mention that he contested (unsuccessfully) Labor Party pre-selection for the ACT seat of Fraser in 2010. MWD understands that Professor Williams also expressed interest in obtaining Labor Party pre-selection for the seat of Blaxland in 2007. Both are safe Labor seats.

Yet, according to Four Corners, your man Williams is just a constitutional lawyer. This from a program which is invariably calling for full disclosure and the like. Can you bear it?


Sydney Morning Herald editor-in-chief Darren (“Okay, the Federal Court found that I acted with malice towards Joe Hockey”) Goodsir had his picture published in the SMH last Saturday. Along with SMH journalists Sean Nicholls, Kate McClymont and former SMH journalist Linton Besser. The photographer was Louise Kennerley:

Goodsir Nichols McClymont Besser

The smiling quartet was photographed outside the NSW Supreme Court last Friday after lawyer and businessman Nicholas Di Girolamo dropped his defamation against Fairfax Media – concerning articles published between December 2012 and August 2013 written by the Nicholls/McClymont/Besser trio.

Fairfax Media’s barrister Tom Blackburn SC read this statement to the court:

[Fairfax Media] acknowledges in the articles the subject of this litigation it did not say and it did not intend to say that Mr Nicholas Di Girolamo was corrupt or had engaged in any corrupt activity in respect of Australian Water Holdings.

The SMH editor-in-chief was reported as saying to his own reporter: “I am very happy with the outcome of the proceedings and the fact that these important pieces of journalism remain on the public record.” The SMH also reported that “the terms of the settlement are confidential”.

However, “The Diary” column in The Australian on Monday commented “it is understood Fairfax has paid Di Girolamo a hefty six-figure sum.

How about that? Darren Goodsir oversees the publication of articles which apparently led to Fairfax Media having to pay a hefty sum to the aggrieved applicant. And your man Goodsir reckons that this is an occasion for a let’s-have-a-group-hug celebratory pic on Page 12 of the Sydney Morning Herald. Can you bear it?

[Interesting. I note that Mr Goodsir has still not corrected Fairfax Media’s claim that Mr FitzSimons has a background as a “builder’s labourer”. See Media Watch Dog Issue 312. It’s hard to imagine how your man Fitz got much manual labour done at his private school Knox Grammar or his Sydney University residential college Wesley College or during his time playing the upper class sport of Rugby Union in Australia, France and Italy. Perhaps Mr Goodsir will inform us all in due course. – MWD Ed]


While on the topic of Darren Goodsir, consider his continuing failure to correct a howler of Fairfax Media’s favourite son Peter FitzSimons.

As avid readers are aware, Fairfax Media’s senior editor Darren Goodsir has declared that he is “concerned about any factual errors” in Fairfax Media’s Sydney Morning Herald or Sun-Herald (See MWD Issue 312).

However, both Mr Goodsir and SMH managing editor Stuart Washington have declined to either support with evidence, or withdraw, Peter FitzSimons’ assertion that Cardinal George Pell “lives in a $30 million mansion in Rome”. (See “The Fitz Files”, Sun-Herald, 24 May 2015).

Messrs FitzSimons, Goodsir and Washington have declined to provide the location of this (alleged) mansion so that readers can check out the claim.

The truth is that no such mansion exists – or ever existed. However, in an attempt to liven up the debate, Gerard Henderson will donate $10,000 to Fitzy’s much loved Australian Republican Movement (of which Hendo is a rank-and-file member) if your man Fitz can come up with evidence to support his undocumented assertion – which has remained uncorrected on Fairfax Media’s website for over a year. Fitz – go to it.



In his 1937 book The Road to Wigan Pier, George Orwell defended “the ordinary decent person” against “the intellectual, book-trained socialist”. He wrote that the latter:

“… type is drawn, to begin with, entirely from the middle class, and from a rootless town-bred section of that middle class at that. …It includes…the foaming denouncers of the bourgeoisie, and the more-water-in-your-beer reformers of whom [George Bernard] Shaw is the prototype, and the astute young social-literary climbers…and all that dreary tribe of high-minded women and sandal-wearers and bearded fruit-juice drinkers who come flocking towards the smell of ‘progress’ like bluebottles to a dead cat.”

As MWD reported last week, Tasmanian based writer Richard Flanagan got an SO (as in Standing Ovation) at the Australian Book Industry Awards in Sydney last Thursday evening. What else but an SO when addressing a room full of conservative-hating Sandalistas – having urged a load of leftists to say “F-ck them” with respect to Malcolm Turnbull’s government.

Nancy’s (male) co-owner, under sufferance, attended this event in 2014. The room was full of grant-seekers who were, or wanted to be, writers. They all felt that they were entitled to lotsa taxpayers’ money so that they could fund a suitable garret to write their stories (which few, if anyone, would read). Needless to say, the Australian Book Industry Awards is a freebie event – where all the food and drink that guests imbibe is provided by someone else. An ideal social event for perennial grant applicants and/or grant recipients.

Last Saturday, the Sydney Morning Herald’s literary editor Susan Wyndham provided an account of the proceedings the night before the night before – or something like that. It was one of those occasions – so beloved of the ABC and Fairfax Media – where everyone agreed with everyone else and a fine (leftist) ideological time was had by all.

Writers Jeanette Winterson and Jonathan Franzen and Tim Winton and Jackie French all condemned the Turnbull government. As did Richard Flanagan and Peter Frankopan and publisher Louise Adler. Dr Frankopan (for a doctor he is) declared it unbelievable that neither Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull nor any of his ministers had fronted up to hear the likes of Winterson, Franzen, Winton, French, Magda Szubanski and himself (of course) attack them. Fancy that. Peter Frankopan is an Oxford University academic. Enough said.

Among the “highlights” of the night – as reported by Ms Wyndham, were:

٠ Mr Flanagan’s “F-ck them” declaration towards the Turnbull government. Wow – how daring and so on.

٠ Ms Szubanski’s declaration that she might never write another book because possible changes to book importation and copyright laws would make it impossible for her to make a living. Magda Szubanski urged her fellow writers to “Go on a strike”. An evocation which, if implemented, is sure to bring about the mutual destruction of both Australian culture and the Australian economy, don’t you think?

٠ Jeanette Winterson bagged the Productivity Commission’s recommendation – designed, believe it or not, to reduce the cost of books to consumers – as follows: “If you attack the life of the mind, you are saying human beings don’t matter”. Translated this means, if you reduce the cost of books to consumers, er, you don’t like people. How about that?

The Australian Book Industry Awards knees-up coincided with the left-wing stack that was the taxpayer subsidised 2016 Sydney Writers Festival. Many of the SWF performers rolled up for a free meal plus plenty of grog.

It seems that the line-up at both events believe that books cannot be written unless authors get taxpayer subsidised handouts. That’s life in Sandalista land.



What a stunning performance by Melbourne University media tart – and Sky News regular commentator – Nicholas Reece on the Viewpoint program last Sunday.

Presenter Chris Kenny ran footage of that morning’s Insiders program. Gerard Henderson, who was “on the couch” last Sunday, got the impression that presenter Barrie Cassidy had said that the election results could turn on Western Australia (two hours behind the Eastern States) to determine whether the Coalition government goes into minority government or whether it is defeated.

It may be that Barrie Cassidy was only talking about a scenario in which the election result was neck-and-neck after the counting in Eastern Australia and Central Australia. In any event, Hendo made the comment: “There’s another possibility. The government might win, you know.”

Asked to comment on the exchange, your man Reece described Gerard Henderson as “being his usual insolent self” on the Insiders couch. Mr Reece went on to predict that “Gerard will have written thousands of words about it only confirming the ABC’s bias or some such nonsense”.

How about that? According to Nicholas Reece, it is “insolent” to suggest that the Coalition might win the 2 July election. Moreover, since Insiders has always had political balance on its couch, Hendo was never likely to allege that Insiders was the example of ABC bias. So the Reece prediction was wrong.

For the record, Nancy’s (male) co-owner has not been called “insolent” since misbehaving verbally in third grade. When at primary school Hendo suggested then that there was a possibility that going to Mass on the First Friday of each month for nine successive months may not necessarily facilitate eternal salvation, he was castigated for insolence. Since then Hendo has always been a very courteous kind of guy.

Nicholas Reece is an academic who lectures students on something or other at the taxpayer subsidised University of Melbourne – in between appearances on whatever media outlet is open for business.

Nicholas Reece wins MWD’s prestigious Media Fool of the Week gong.



Two of the best-known Australians are near contemporaries who came from the Ballarat area of central Victoria. Namely George Pell and Paul Bongiorno. Both started their professional life as Catholic priests.

Cardinal Pell, a former Catholic archbishop of both Melbourne and Sydney, is currently Prefect of the Holy See’s Secretariat for the Economy. Paul Bongiorno is Channel’s 10’s contributing editor, comments regularly on the ABC Radio National’s Breakfast program and writes a column for Morry Schwartz’s The Saturday Paper. Pell was born in 1941 and Bongiorno in 1944. Both men graduated from St Patrick’s College Ballarat before joining the priesthood. The former is the third most important figure in the Vatican; the latter is one of Australia’s highest profile journalists.

It so happens that the ABC, Channel 10 and The Saturday Paper – along with Fairfax Media – have been among the loudest critics concerning George Pell’s handling of historical clerical child sexual abuse cases. This covers the time when he was a priest in the Ballarat diocese in the 1970s and early 1980s, an auxiliary bishop in Melbourne in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Archbishop of Melbourne between 1996 and 2001 and Archbishop of Sydney between 2001 and 2014. However, neither Channel Ten nor The Saturday Paper appears to have asked Paul Bongiorno about his knowledge of clerical sex abuse when he was a priest of the Ballarat diocese in the early 1970s. The ABC has done so – but only fleetingly and with the approval of Mr Bongiorno.

Two of Australia’s most notorious pedophiles were Catholic priests in the Ballarat diocese at the time George Pell and Paul Bongiorno were relatively junior priests – namely the late Monsignor John Day (1904-1978) and Gerald Ridsdale (1934 – ). Day was forced to step down as an active priest in 1972. Ridsdale was first arrested in 1993 and ceased active ministry from that time. He was first jailed in 1994 and remains in prison at Ararat.

On the ABC Radio National Breakfast on 21 May 2015, Paul Bongiorno answered a “question-on-notice” from presenter Fran Kelly. At the time the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was underway and Ridsdale’s offending – prior to his convictions some two decades ago – was a matter of notoriety. This is what Mr Bongiorno told Ms Kelly:

…I mean, I know Gerald Ridsdale. I lived in a presbytery with him in Warrnambool. I’ve had the victims approach me to appear for them in court cases. Let me tell you this Fran. I had no idea what he was up to. And when people look at me quizzically, I say: “Well look, let me tell you this. There are married men and women now who sleep with their husbands and wives who don’t know that their husband or wife is having an affair.”

Let me tell you that Ridsdale never came into the presbytery in Warrnambool and said: “Guess how many boys I’ve raped today?” They hide it. It was certainly hidden from me. And when it came out, after I’d left the priesthood, I was shocked and I was ashamed.

Paul Bongiorno’s statement that he had shared a presbytery accommodation with Ridsdale in Warrnambool came as a surprise. At the time George Pell was being criticised for having shared presbytery accommodation with Ridsdale at Ballarat East – also without noticing Ridsdale’s crimes.

MWD accepts that Paul Bongiorno did not know of Ridsdale’s offending when they shared accommodation at Warrnambool. Likewise, MWD has accepted that George Pell did not know of Ridsdale’s offending when they shared accommodation at Ballarat East. It’s just that sections of the media have applied one standard of judgment to Pell and another to Bongiorno.

“BPL” & Gerard Ridsdale

It’s a matter of record that the media has not reported some statements made to the Royal Commission with respect to Paul Bongiorno while, at the same time, covering George Pell’s appearances in extraordinary detail. On 29 October 2015 an anonymous victim of Ridsdale – given the title “BPL” by the Royal Commission – made a statement to the Royal Commission. It reads in part:

        1. I first came into contact with RIDSDALE on three or four occasions in 1970 and 1971 in or around Warrnambool.
        1. I was sexually abused by RIDSDALE on three or four occasions in 1970 and 1971 in or around Warrnambool.
        1. Around the time of the abuse I went on a boys’ camp just outside of Warrnambool, to a little place I think was called Crossley. I went with some other boys from my class. It was organised though the school, I think as a sort of sex-education camp. They showed us a film about the birds and the bees.
        1. Father BONGIORNO, who was a priest in the parish at the time, came on the camp. There were also a couple of Christian Brothers at the camp, but I can’t remember which ones.
        1. When we were at the camp, I talked to Father BONGIORNO. It was only a brief conversation. I told him how RIDSDALE had approached me one afternoon in the bathroom of the presbytery after I had served at a wedding service. RIDSDALE had asked me how much I ejaculated and had said that he would get a teaspoon to measure it and check if it was “normal”.
        1. I also told Father BONGIORNO that I believed that similar things had happened with my younger brother Michael, who was also an altar server. Father BONGIORNO said, “Look, it’s a real problem. Me and Father BORPHY have talked to Monsignor FISCALINI about it and he is sorting it out with the Bishop”. Father BONGIORNO said he couldn’t do anything further and told me to talk to Monsignor FISCALINI about it.
        1. Father BONGIORNO was the first person I told about the abuse. He left the priesthood shortly after that camp….

Paul Bongiorno & Gerald Ridsdale

On 24 November 2015, Paul Bongiorno made a statement to the Royal Commission. Early in the statement he stated that he was ordained on 15 August 1970 and spent the rest of the year on the staff of the Ballarat Cathedral parish. In 1971 he was assigned as an assistant priest of St Joseph’s Parish at Warrnambool where Monsignor Leo Fiscalini was parish priest as well as holding the influential position of vicar general of the diocese.

Paul Bongiorno stated that he lived in the Warrnambool Presbytery with four other priests – one of whom was Ridsdale. In 1972 Bongiorno was appointed chaplain of St Anne’s primary school in nearby Purnim. At the end of 1972 he was sent to the Ballarat Cathedral parish. At the end of 1973, he advised Bishop Ronald Mulkearns of his intention to leave the priesthood and was formally laicised by the Vatican in June 1974. Paul Bongiorno’s statement reads in parts:

Gerald Ridsdale

        1. I have a vivid recollection of how shocked I was when I learned that Father Ridsdale had appeared in court and what he had been charged with. I had had no idea.
        1. In or around May 1993, after Father RIDSDALE had appeared in Court, I received a phone call. The caller identified himself but I cannot remember his name. He said he was from Warrnambool and asked if I remembered him. I said I did, but vaguely.
        1. The caller told me he was one of Gerry RIDSDALE’s victims and said he was thinking of taking the Church and RIDSDALE to court, and asked if I would be a witness for him. I said, “Well, I would have nothing to tell the court. I know nothing. I witnessed nothing and I couldn’t help you. If I did I’d be more than happy to but I have nothing that I can do to help you”. He thanked me and said he hoped I was well, and hung up.
        1. The call lasted about three minutes. I didn’t take any notes of the call. I may have told my wife about it, but I’m not sure.

Statement of BPL

        1. I have been shown a statement made by BPL identified by the number [STAT.0738.001.0001]. The BPL name is vaguely familiar to me. There were BPLs in Warrnambool, however I cannot put a face to that name.
        1. At paragraphs 11-15 of that statement, Mr BPL sets out a conversation that he alleges he had with me in 1970 or 1971. The conversation did not happen with me. I would remember it. I would have been deeply shocked by the alleged substance of that conversation…
        1. At no time during my two years at Warrnambool did Monsignor FISCALINI discuss any allegations of RIDSDALE’s sexual abuse with me, and I never raised any issues of this nature with him. The first time I became aware of any allegations of this nature against Father RIDSDALE was in 1993, when his charges and sentencing were reported in the media, and I received the phone call I have described above.

Knowledge of child sexual abuse in the Diocese of Ballarat

        1. At no time during my three and a half years serving as a priest in the Ballarat Diocese did anyone make any report or complaint to me about the sexual abuse of minors by any priest or brother, and I was not in any other way made aware of these matters. I had no knowledge that these things were happening in the diocese at this time in my life.
        1. I cannot remember Father RIDSDALE or Father [redacted] bringing friends or children into the presbytery in Warrnambool.
        1. Father [redacted] was in charge of the altar boys in Warrnambool in 1972, but I saw nothing in the year I lived with him to alert me that he was doing anything other than his job. No-one ever reported any misbehavior by Father [redacted] to me while I was in Warrnambool, or subsequently.
        1. I knew of Monsignor John DAY before I went to Mildura on a couple of occasions in my role as director of Catholic communications in Ballarat. I didn’t hear of any allegations of child sexual abuse involving Monsignor DAY until after I left the priesthood, when it was reported in the media.

A Matter of Double Standards

MWD accepts that Paul Bongiorno’s statement to the Royal Commission is completely truthful. What interests MWD is the double standard involved in the treatment in the media and elsewhere concerning George Pell.

BPL swore a statement that he told (the then Fr) Bongiorno in 1970 or 1971 that Ridsdale was sexually abusing him. This is nearly half a century ago. It’s possible that BPL’s memory is faulty. It’s possible that BPL has mistaken Bongiorno for another priest based in Warrnambool at the time. As Royal Commission head Justice Peter McClellan acknowledged in a paper which he wrote a decade ago, memory is a very fallible thing.

It’s just that allegations from half a century ago that (the then Fr) Pell was told of Ridsdale’s offending gets traction at the Royal Commission in the media – while the allegation that (the then Fr) Bongiorno was told of Ridsdale’s offending is not reported. Neither BPL nor Mr Bongiorno appeared as a witness before the Royal Commission.

It’s much the same with the late Monsignor John Day. Gail Furness SC, the Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission, put it to Cardinal Pell in March 2016 that he should have been aware of Day’s offending because he (Pell) was also a priest of the Ballarat diocese. But no one has put it to Bongiorno that he should have been aware of Day’s offending because he (Bongiorno) was also a priest at the Ballarat diocese.

Channel Ten’s The Project (See MWD 304) and The Saturday Paper (See MWD Issue 296) have been strident critics of George Pell concerning his past role in the Ballarat diocese. But neither Channel Ten nor The Saturday Paper have told their viewers/readers of Bongiorno’s past role in the Ballarat diocese.

This lends weight to the theory that so many journalists are hostile to Cardinal Pell because he is a social conservative who holds to the teaching of the Catholic Church on such matters as abortion, euthanasia and same-sex marriage.

On the other hand, many journalists are soft on Paul Bongiorno because he is on the left of politics and supports same-sex marriage and other such “progressive” causes.

[MWD Editor’s Note. For the full statement of BPL see here; for the full statement of Paul Bongiorno see here.]

History Corner


In her Australian Financial Review “Canberra Observed” last Friday, Laura Tingle reflected that Australia has travelled back to the 1970s:

…you could have been forgiven earlier this week for thinking we had time travelled back to the 1970s. Not a sign of concern about the budget in sight. Labor was spending money in Adelaide “to replace car manufacturing jobs”. The prime minister was in Perth proselytising on the benefits of Australian made steel.

But we didn’t have the boats “issue” in the 1970s, even if we did have the boats – from Vietnam at that time. The Coalition has kept the boats issue alive at this campaign from the start, as a sort of relentless theme running in the background like irritating lift music: highlighting Labor “divisions” on the issue; warning that the previously mentioned spectre of a “Labor-Greens” government would see the flood gates opened once again to “the boats”.

This is mythology. The figures are available in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library Research paper titled Boat Arrivals in Australia since 1976.

During the 1970s, a total of 2029 asylum seekers arrived by boat. For the period 1976 to 1979, this averaged out to just over 500 a year – or just over 40 a month.

Laura Tingle overlooks the fact that the vast majority of Indo-Chinese refugees who came to Australia during the time of Malcolm Fraser’s government came from offshore detention centres, with valid visas on Qantas flights. There were very few boats from Vietnam at the time.


Until next time – keep morale high.

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My oh my. Poor, blithering Gerard “Gollum” Henderson will be incandescent with rage after that Media Watch. The silly prick.

Mike Carlton via Twitter, 15 Feb 2016, 9:44 PM

Gerard: You are hopeless…

– David Marr, 12 February 2016

ABC is a weakened and flawed institution for sure but it is a vital balance to ranting prejudices of Gerard Henderson’s boss@rupertmurdoch

Quentin Dempster via Twitter, 10 Jan 2016,

Poor mad Gerard is obsessed. I expect he had an unhappy childhood, always the last to be chosen…

Mike Carlton via Twitter, 25 Oct 2015, 3:27 AM

Sometimes I think of Gerard Henderson like a Japanese holdout, lost in the jungles of Borneo, still fighting the war 20 years after it ended

– Erik Jensen,via Twitter, 16 Oct 2015, 4:50 PM

Gérard Henderson brain missing. Small reward

– Phillip Adams, via Twitter, 10 Oct 2015, 11:16 AM

I’ve been shot at by the Viet Cong. I once met Gerard Henderson. I can take any shit thrown at me…

Mike Carlton via Twitter, 9:22 PM – 9 Sep 2015

Gerard. You are an idiot #insiders

Bevan Shields via Twitter, 9:46 AM, 23 August 2015

“[Gerard Henderson is a] professional filing cabinet”

– Leftist scribbler Jeff Sparrow, Crikey, 13 August 2015

Leaving the house to avoid listening to GHenderson on @774melbourne

– Jonathan Green via Twitter, 31 July 2015

“gerard henderson trending on twitter, omg [looks out window, where the sun is eclipsed and the sky blood-red] oh yeah that makes sense”

– Adam Brereton via Twitter, 31 July 2015

Gerard Henderson on @891adelaide right now & I find myself shouting at my radio. What a morning”

– Louise Pascale via Twitter, 31 July 2015

“oh hell why is Gerard Henderson trending? Has boredom become the new black.”

– MNihilon via Twitter, 31 July 2015

Told I made the late Gerard Henderson’s little blog today. Read it. What a rancorous, nauseating, humourless little turd he is.

– Mike Carlton via Twitter during Gin & Tonic Time on 12 June 2015.

“On Sunday before Insiders…I was giving you a rich and full account of what a weird shit I think you are…”

– David Marr to Gerard Henderson, 1 June 2015

To #swf2015 this morning. Sunlit harbour, fabulous crowds radiating civility. And no Gerard Henderson ! It doesn’t get any better.

– Mike Carlton, via Twitter, 1:48 PM – 21 May 2015

Gerard Henderson’s friday self-harm update is here

– Adam Brereton, via Twitter, May 15, 2015

[Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch Dog is] batshit mad.

– Guy Rundle in Crikey, 14 May 2015:

I’m in the sort of mood that if I saw Gerard Henderson in the street I’d hit him with his own umbrella

– Ben Pobjie, via Twitter, 8 May 2015

It’s a glorious day when Gerard Henderson has a go at you

– Adam Gartrell, via Twitter, 8 May 2015

Meeting of Gerard Henderson Appreciation Society tonight Sydney Opera House phone booth

– Phillip Adams, via Twitter, 28 April 2015, 1.36 pm (after lunch).

“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