7 October 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. Between November 1997 and October 2015 “Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch” was published as part of The Sydney Institute Quarterly. In March 2009 Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch Dog blog commenced publication.




Fancy that. It’s good news for Mike Carlton. And good news for Peter (‘If I had some evidence I would claim Hendo’s $20K offer to the ARM for locating that $30 million George Pell mansion in Rome’) FitzSimons. But it’s bad news indeed for those who hold shares in the liquor industry.

  • Stop Press: Time To Discover The Real John Curtin
  • Can You Bear It? Bonge On (Alleged) Fascism Down Under; Leftist Academics Scott Burchill & Nicholas Reece Show Economic Ignorance in Bashing the Banks; Peta Credlin’s Full Moon plus a Serious Postscript on Australian Girls and Forced Marriages
  • Leading Question Of The Week: Step Forward Alison Carabine
  • History Corner: The Left Wing Myths of Mike Carlton, Michael Pascoe & Paul Bongiorno re Robert Menzies & Appeasement Demolished
  • Manners Maketh The Canine: Nancy on How to Handle Excessive Post- Nominals
  • Correspondence: Film Director Simon Nasht Helps Out on Howard On Menzies re The Labor Split & The Petrov Affair, etc



In this morning’s Australian, Troy Bramston reports that former Labor prime minister Julia Gillard has called for school children to learn more about former Labor prime minister John Curtin’s life and times. Especially his role as a wartime leader during World War II – as well as “Curtin as a man”.

That’s fine. But it all depends on whether the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, is told about John Curtin (1885-1945).

As MWD’s “History Corner” documents today, John Curtin was an enthusiastic supporter of appeasing Adolf Hitler in the lead-up to the Second World War. As much as, if not more than, conservative leaders Joseph Lyons and Robert Menzies.

Also, unlike Menzies, Curtin opposed the deployment of Australian forces against the Axis powers in Europe and North Africa in the years before the Pacific War commenced. In 1939-40, Mr Curtin saw no reason why Australia should take on Nazi Germany in the field of battle.

John Curtin’s appeasement and effective isolationism prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour are rarely, if ever, mentioned by left-of-centre academics, teachers and journalists. Here’s hoping the Julia Gillard initiative leads to a full understanding of John Curtin.


ABC Radio National Breakfast has two regular commentators on Australian national politics. Namely, Michelle Grattan who tries to be objective and the Green/Left ranter Paul Bongiorno. No conservative voice is heard on this segment – reflecting the reality of the taxpayer funded public broadcaster as a Conservative Free Zone.

Here’s the Twitter exchange which took place between the leftists Mike Carlton and Paul Bongiorno last Wednesday concerning Attorney-General George Brandis.

So there you have it. Your man Bonge, in post-dinner mode, believes that George Brandis is into either “incipient” fascism or “real” fascism. Which suggests that Bonge does not know much about Benito Mussolini and all that. Alternatively, modern language is so debased that – in The Thought of Bonge – the word “fascist” means someone you do not like much. Can you bear it?

[Er, no. But I reckon that Bonge’s latest Green/Left rant should see him get more air time on the ABC – MWD Editor]


After one of Scott Burchill’s recent appearances on ABC News Breakfast, co-presenter Virginia Trioli wondered why the Deakin University senior lecturer dressed like he was going “to the tip”. It seems that La Trioli is an avid MWD reader – since MWD has raised this delicate issue on a number of occasions in recent years. La Trioli is apparently on what journalists like to call a Well Earned Break – or W.E.B.

In any event, Dr Burchill (for a doctor he is) appeared on the News Breakfast “Newspapers” segment last Tuesday – presumably on his way to the tip, again. However, the real intellectual garbage occurred when the taxpayer-subsidised academic (who was once a taxpayer funded public servant) began to sound off about the banks and all that. Let’s go to the transcript:

Scott Burchill: The Sydney Morning Herald’s quoting an opinion poll saying that two thirds of voters want a royal commission rather than a parliamentary enquiry into banking. And I guess that reflects the general anti-banking sentiment within the community. Which reflects the fact that as the banking profits increase, customer service seems to decrease. So at least perceptions of customer service decreases. And I think Turnbull’s decision to have a banking enquiry was to try and suggest that: “We’re not ignoring the banks; but they do make generous contributions to election funding, and we’re not going to turn on them entirely.” Because royal commissions can have a momentum and direction of their own independently of what the politicians want…

The problem for the banks is that when they announce record profits they’re still never satisfied because there’s never an excuse for returning to customer services or opening up new branches. It’s always a, you know: “We’re never quite satisfied and even though we’ve made these record profits; we’ve still got to make cuts to, you know, staffing and reduce services and drive people onto the internet rather than to actually go into a physical bank.” So they’re victims of their own behaviour, in a sense. But they’re untouchable because they, you know, can’t be upset too much. No government wants to take them on full head. Except if you’re in Opposition and Mr Shorten – if he’d got into government, I’m sure would have soft pedalled on the royal commission anyway.

Ali Moore: Remembering everyone’s got a stake in them through their super fund.

Scott Burchill: Absolutely. Yeah.

Michael Rowland: This is true.

Yes, that is true. At least News Breakfast co-presenters last Tuesday understood that banks have personal and institutional shareholders who/which depend on bank profits for revenue streams. Dr Burchill seems to believe that bank profits don’t matter. There speaks the voice of the leftist taxpayer subsidised intellectual. Can you bear it?


It was much the same when media tart and Melbourne University academic Nicholas Reece appeared on Paul Murray Live last Tuesday night. Let’s go to the transcript as your man Reece got into full bank-bashing mode:

Nicholas Reece: We shouldn’t forget that in Australia we have the most profitable banks in the world. And they are profitable because of the regulatory arrangements and other breaks that are given to them by the Australian government. You know, who can, you know, remember what kicked all this off? It was back earlier this year when the Reserve Bank cut interest rates or the cash rate by a quarter of a percent. The big banks didn’t pass it on. And the Commonwealth Bank who are before the Parliament today, a couple of days later announced a 9.4 billion dollar profit. So the CEO’s salaries of these banks, the shareholder profits are being put ahead of you and me and the cost we’re paying for our loans, and those obscene profits that they’re making are a dead weight on our economy.

What a load of tosh. In his ignorance, your man Reece believes that Australian banks are only profitable because of the (alleged) breaks given to them by government. He also seems to believe that the only Australians with a stake in interest rates are borrowers. The Melbourne University academic seems unaware that bank depositors have a vested interest in higher interest rates. Mr Reece appears to have no understanding that bank profits fund dividends and support superannuation funds.

According to your man Reece, “shareholder profits are being put ahead of you and me”. Nicholas Reece does not seem aware that “you and me” belong to superannuation funds. How’s that for ignorance? And your man Reece is paid by the taxpayer subsidised Melbourne University to teach students. Can you bear it?


While on the topic of Paul Murray Live did anyone see Peta Credlin’s appearance on the show on 27 September? Towards the end of the program, the Newman College graduate engaged in a True Confession concerning the Victorian Labor government’s decision to bring a special legislation to ban the practice of mooning. That is, er, revealing one’s bare backside in public.

Let’s go to the transcript as Ms Credlin looked back in happiness on her days as, yes, a mooner:

Peta Credlin: I have to admit, I wasn’t a frequent mooner. But there were occasional moonings when I was at university.

Paul Murray: Breaking news!

Peta Credlin: I know, I know, I know. Thank God I don’t do it anymore. But – Because the moon’s a lot bigger than it used to be.

Paul Murray [Interjecting]: (laughing) you sound like an alcoholic who every day is fighting not to.

Peta Credlin: Well, you know, it’s a middle-aged spread that happens to everyone.

Paul Murray: Oh stop it.

Peta Credlin: But the more important thing was, banning rude, obscene jokes and songs and ditties and ballads. Because that was my mainstay at [Melbourne] University. I can’t believe I would be locked up now.

And MWD can’t really believe that the usually discreet Peta Credlin opened up about her life as a mooner and the singer of obscene ditties on Paul Murray Live in her tertiary student days. Can you bear it?

Postscript On Australian Girls & Forced Marriages

[On a more serious note, the Credlin/Murray session finished as follows:

Peta Credlin: But you know what. While are we talking about this – when you and I had a long conversation last week and I wrote a column about child brides. No one in the media is running after that issue. No one in Victoria…is really pushing that on the statute books. Yet we can find time to put through the parliament a law to ban mooning, for God’s sake.

Quite right. The ABC and Fairfax Media have all but ignored the stories covered in News Corp publications about Australian girls, as young as nine, being forced into marriages with Muslim men under Sharia Law in such nations as Afghanistan and Pakistan. It’s a matter on which the leftist feminists in our midst have been disturbingly quiet – MWD Editor]


On Wednesday, Alison Carabine stepped in for Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly as presenter of Radio National Breakfast.

It would not be long before Ms Carabine was channelling Ms Kelly by both asking questions and providing answers.

On Tuesday, Fran Kelly had interviewed Warren Mundine, the chair of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council, concerning his article in the previous day’s Australian about violence experienced by indigenous women and children. On RN, Mr Mundine criticised indigenous leaders, among others, for failing to act to resolve the crisis of domestic violence in Aboriginal communities.

On Wednesday, Labor front bencher Linda Burney was given a right-of-reply. She was broadly critical of Warren Mundine but praised him on occasions. Then in stepped Alison Carabine in support of Linda Burney and in opposition to Warren Mundine. Let’s go to the transcript:

Alison Carabine: Yeah, so that’s a pretty good account of what is being done in this country by Indigenous MPs in this particular space. What do you think Warren Mundine’s ulterior motive might be here – if indeed he has one?

How’s that for a leading question? Alison Carabine suggested that Warren Mundine had an “ulterior motive” for his comments – and then asked what it might be. How unprofessional can an interviewer get?


Following the screening of Episode 1 of Howard on Menzies: The Making of Modern Australia on ABC on Sunday 18 September, many a leftie threw the switch to Twitter. Episode 1 deals with Robert Menzies’ life from the time of his birth until the Royal Tour of Australia in early 1954. This included the 1930s and Menzies’ first prime ministership between April 1939 (following the death in office of Joseph Lyons) and August 1941 (when Menzies stepped down as prime minister).

The left in Australia has a reflex action to Robert Menzies’ career between October 1934 (when Menzies was appointed attorney-general in the Lyons government) and August 1941. The reference to the name “Menzies” is invariably followed by reflex citations of such terms as “appeasement” and “pig iron Bob”.

Here’s what the Leftist Tweeters had to say soon after Episode 1 of Howard On Menzies went to air:


And now for some facts.

Robert Menzies On Appeasement – Plus John Curtin & Billy Hughes

▪ It is true that Robert Menzies supported the appeasement of Adolf Hitler up until around Nazi Germany’s invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939. So did Joseph Lyons and most of the leading members of the United Australia Party (the predecessor of the Liberal Party) and the Country Party (the predecessor of The Nationals).

What the likes of Messrs Carlton, Pascoe and Bongiorno never say is that the Labor Party figures at the time – John Curtin, Ben Chifley, Bert Evatt and Eddie Ward – also supported appeasing Hitler. As Anne Henderson documents in her book Menzies At War (NewSouth 2015), John Curtin had this to say in the House of Representatives on 9 May 1939:

[Germans] learn that democratic systems do not necessarily mean work and food and decent living standards, and, therefore, they are warranted, not in contrasting the speeches of leaders of other countries…but in measuring up how far the form of political system that they have accepted yields to them a more satisfactory, internal social standing than does the democratic system…

The efforts of the British Government in its negotiations for peace were to some extent made difficult by the partisan activities of those who are more concerned, as it were, with fighting with Hitler than with establishing peace. There is unquestionably in the world a class that has a vested interest in war and war-making, and the propagandist activities which are employed in the interests of this exploiting and ruthless class, which is international in character, have made difficulties for all governments, including, I believe, the governments of dictators.

Following Mr Curtin in the House of Representatives debate, Maurice Blackburn, the left-wing Labor member for the Melbourne seat of Bourke, had this to say:

The only sure way to peace is for the people of the British races to negotiate with the German people to-day, and to show a willingness to meet them on such terms that everybody will be able to live in security …The alignment of democracies against totalitarian states does not worry the hungry man. He can be just as hungry, unhappy, and miserable in London or Paris as in Berlin or Rome, or, for that matter, in Melbourne or Sydney; the system of government he lives under is not, to him, the all-important consideration. No great difference exists between democracies and totalitarian states… There is no great difference between Mr Chamberlain and Herr Hitler.

The only significant Australian politician in the 1930s who opposed appeasement was former prime minister Billy Hughes. Hughes was regarded by the Labor Party as a “rat” since he split with the ALP over conscription during World War One. Billy Hughes’ opposition to appeasement is not praised by Comrades Carlton, Pascoe and Bongiorno. It does not fit their left-wing narrative.

So it is intellectually dishonest for the likes of Carlton to highlight Menzies’ support for appeasement – since this was the prevailing view at the time in Britain, Canada, Australia, France and the United States on both sides of mainstream politics.

▪ Robert Menzies as “Pig Iron Bob”

It is true that in the late 1930s Menzies was Attorney-General and Minister for Industry when Australia sold pig iron ore to Japan. However, at the time, Japan was not an enemy of Australia and Japan was not the subject of trade sanctions.

The controversy began in late 1938 when waterside workers at Port Kembla refused to load pig iron on the ship Dalfram, which was bound for Japan. The decision to export pig iron to Japan was a decision of the Lyons government, of which Menzies was a senior minister. The Lyons Government set out to break the strike.

In late December 1938, Robert Menzies pointed out that none of the 50 or so members of the League of Nations had refused to trade with Japan. He added that if Australia refused to export pig iron to Japan, why not wheat and wool? – since the Japanese military required not only ammunition but also food and clothing.

As Allan Martin wrote in Robert Menzies: A Life Volume 1 1894-1943, this was similar to the argument Labor had run when it opposed the use of sanctions against Italy’s policy in Abyssinia some years earlier. Martin agreed with Menzies’ view at the time that, if John Curtin had been prime minister in late 1938/early 1939, Australia would have exported pig iron to Japan under a Labor government. Curtin did not criticise the decision to export pig iron to Japan – he remained quiet on the issue.

By mid-January 1939, some 7000 workers were out of work in the Wollongong-Port Kembla area. Menzies entered into negotiations with the unions. On 21 January 1939, the unionists returned to work on the terms Menzies offered and the Dalfram sailed for Japan.

“Pig Iron Bob” became a term of abuse much loved by the left. However, in fact, Menzies’ policy towards Japan in 1938-1939 was consistent with that of most, if not all, democratic governments at the time.

▪ Robert Menzies Commits the Second AIF to Europe – In the Face of Labor’s Opposition

When, following Germany’s invasion of Poland, Britain declared war on Germany – Menzies, almost immediately, announced that Australia was also at war with Germany. Soon after, the Menzies government dispatched the Second AIF to the Northern Hemisphere. John Curtin, however, opposed the deployment of Australian forces to fight Nazi Germany and its allies in Europe or North Africa. In short, in September 1939 Labor was not prepared to do anything to defeat Nazism.

▪ The Pro-Communist Left’s Support for the Nazi-Soviet Pact

All the members of the Communist Party of Australia and its fellow travelers backed the pact between Germany and the Soviet Union – otherwise known as the Hitler-Stalin Pact or the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact or the Nazi-Soviet Pact – which was signed on 23 August 1939.

This was an agreement between the two totalitarian dictatorships to divide Eastern Europe between them. The various communist parties followed the instructions from Moscow and supported the Nazi-Soviet Pact.

So, when Robert Menzies declared that Australia was at war with Germany, Communist Party officials like Laurie Aarons and Bill Brown (Lee Rhiannon’s father) attempted to subvert the war effort. This led to the banning of the Communist Party of Australia. After Hitler broke the Nazi Soviet Pact and Germany invaded the Soviet Union, the ban on the Communist Party was lifted by the new Labor government – in view of the fact that the Soviet Union was now an ally of the West.

While Carlton and comrades invariably condemn Menzies’ appeasement before the outbreak of hostilities in September 1939 they rarely, if ever, criticise communists and communist fellow-travelers who effectively supported Nazi Germany during the first two years of the Second World War.

Robert Menzies & The Great War

It is true, as Michael Pascoe records, that Robert Menzies declined to enlist during World War I. There was a family meeting which decided that two of the three young Menzies men would join the First AIF. It was agreed that Robert should remain at home. Pascoe describes this as a “bad look” but it did not stop Robert Menzies becoming the longest serving prime minister in Australian history.


On Saturday, MWD received the following note from an avid reader in Chile. Yes, far away Chile. It concerned last week’s “Nancy’s Fact Check” titled “On Phillip Adams – Hons or no Hons?”.

According to his very own entry in Who’s Who in Australia, the ABC’s Man-in-Black has a “DLitt (Syd)”. But, according to the University of Sydney’s Archives, he was granted “the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters” in May 2005. Which would make your man Adams a “DLitt Hons (Syd)”.

It so happens that MWD’s person in Chile is not concerned about this matter – but raised the following point:

Note from…Chile re Mr Adams. If he described himself as AO AM, this is incorrect. The higher order AO cancels out the AM and the AM should not have been mentioned by Adams in his Who’s Who entry.

The question is whether these matters should be raised with one of Australia’s richest socialists. Or whether it’s better to let sleeping dogs lie – so to speak. Over to Nancy.

Nancy’s Opinion: I do not have any gongs of any kind. Alas. However, my (male) co-owner possesses an AC. He gave it to himself and it stands for “Always Courteous”.

I believe that it is courteous not to discuss honours in public. I do not believe it matters much whether it is Phillip Adams AO, AM, Hon DUniv (Griffith), Hon DLitt (ECU), Hon DUniv (SA), DLitt (Syd), Hon. DUniv (Macquarie), FRSA, Hon FAHA. Or whether it is Phillip Adams AO, Hon DUniv (Griffith), Hon DLitt (ECU), Hon DUniv (SA), Hon DLitt (Syd), Hon. DUniv (Macquarie), FRSA, Hon FAHA. I mean, does it make much of a difference? The answer is – I do not believe so. Moreover, it’s courteous to ignore honours inflation.

The way Literature is taught in the oh-so-fashionable Sydney University these days, the Hon DLitt could be of greater merit than the DLitt. Moreover, there is something about an AO, AM that indicates progress. If Mr Adams is further gonged, he could present himself as “AC AO AM” – which is a bit like the sounds of a Latin declension (as in AMO, AMAS, AMAT).

So here’s hoping that the man Sydney University once classified as “arguably Australia’s number one public intellectual” gets his ultimate gong. And that the rest of us stay courteous by not talking about the AM or missing Hon. That’s my (courteous) advice.

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).


In last week’s MWD, Gerard Henderson criticised some errors in the early part of Episode 2 of the documentary Howard On Menzies: The Making of Modern Australia – which was written and directed by Simon Nasht.

This clearly upset your man Nasht who fired off an occasionally impolite 3200 word missive to Gerard Henderson. Hendo, being a courteous kind of guy, decided to send a courteous (of sorts) reply. Alas, last night, before Hendo had completed his response, a somewhat angry Simon Nasht sent another email complaining that he had not “heard a peep” from Hendo, demanding an apology for (alleged) errors and all that stuff. Mr Nasht also declared that the critique in MWD of the Howard on Menzies script was a “despicable slur” which attacked “all those who contributed to editing and reviewing the script”. Mr Nasht did not name names in this regard.

Oh yes, Simon Nasht also said that, Gerard Henderson when writing his “MWD Exclusive” last week had suffered a “moment of madness”. As is his wont, Hendo sent Simon Nasht a courteous reply advising him to be patient and indicating that all would be revealed in due course.

It’s worth noting that, in his email, Simon Nasht makes no reference to the authoritative historians of the Labor Split, the Petrov Affair and the Catholic Church in Australian politics during the early 1950s. Namely, Robert Murray, Robert Manne, Ian Hancock, Patrick Morgan, Bruce Duncan, Ross Fitzgerald and more besides.

For the record, Ian Hancock, Patrick Morgan and Ross Fitzgerald have all told Gerard Henderson that they believe that there are serious errors in the early part of Episode 2 of Howard On Menzies. Now read on.

Simon Nasht to Gerard Henderson – 4 October 2016


A few comments. Where did the love go?

[Simon Nasht’s comments are set out below. He took quotes from last Friday’s Media Watch Dog segment titled “MWD Exclusive: Historical Howlers in Episode 2 of Howard On Menzies: The Making of Modern Australia – Written by Simon Nasht.” Gerard Henderson’s original comments are marked in italics by Simon Nasht.]


Media Watch Dog: Like most of his colleagues in the film world, Mr Nasht is a leftie.

Goodness Gerard, it seems anyone who is not a financial contributor to the Sydney Institute is apparently to forever be characterised as a communist. This is too silly for words, and so typical of the dull binary political mindset of people of a certain generation. Guess what? Many thoughtful people don’t identify with ideologues of either the right or the left, and judge issues (and history) without closed-minded prejudice. I reject your ridiculous label, and challenge you to substantiate it.

As I recall, in one of my films about the building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, you were full of praise that the film contained contributions from both yourself and Paul Keating debating the divisive character of NSW Premier Jack Lang. And it appeared on the ABC no less. But clearly my true colours have suddenly emerged in the latter part of this 2-hour series.

Much of the rest of your critique deals with matters of interpretation and the use of phraseology, not inaccuracy, by which I suppose you mean “howlers.” You are not beyond a few howlers yourself.

Mrs Petrov’s Defection

You claim there is no evidence that Menzies “ordered that Evdokia Petrov should be freed from her Soviet escorts in Darwin.” No evidence? Really?

There is no question that Menzies was personally involved in supervising the dramatic events in Darwin that saw Mrs Petrov freed from her two Soviet minders aboard a plane heading to Moscow, and no doubt, eventually the Gulag. How do we know? Because Menzies told us so himself. Sir Robert wrote in The Measure of the Years:

ASIO, at this time, in consultation with me at my house at Canberra, got into touch with the captain of the aircraft and asked him to have her talked to in order to find out whether she was going to Moscow against her own will. …. When the plane arrived at Darwin, Mr Leydin, the Acting Administrator, under instructions from Canberra, interviewed her. The guards were informed that it was unlawful to carry arms in an aircraft. Upon being asked if they were armed, they assaulted their questioners. They were then disarmed, a loaded pistol being taken from each of them. [Emphasis added]

Canberra being informed of these matters, a telephone call was arranged and, just before the plane was due to resume its flight, Petrov spoke to her from Sydney. … He urged her to remain. [Emphasis added]

After this conversation she said to Leydin, ‘I will stay.’ So the plane resumed its flight without her, and the guard went with it. Mrs Petrov then returned to Sydney where she joined her husband and made a formal written application for political asylum, which was granted. [Emphasis added]

Furthermore, a reliable eyewitness to the events in Darwin confirms that Mrs Petrov was approached on orders from Menzies to offer her asylum. Do you seriously argue that Menzies would not be aware of a government official taking the dramatic step of offering asylum before a formal request had come from Mrs Petrov herself?

Respected Darwin journalist Douglas Lockwood got the scoop of his career and was eyewitness to the dramatic events. Here’s some of his wonderful account that went around the world:

In Darwin, my telephone rang. Did I know Mrs Petrov was flying towards Darwin? Yes. It rang again. Did I know that the Prime Minister had instructed the Acting Administrator, Reginald Sylvester Leydin, to offer her political asylum when she arrived? No! Is that right? Are you sure?

I drove around town. Lights were burning in unexpected places: in the Administration offices, the police superintendent’s office, the security service offices. ….The aerodrome was bristling with armed policemen, from the Superintendent down. During the flight from Sydney Mrs Petrov had gone aft to the ladies’ room and was followed by air hostess Joyce Bull. A few minutes later, Joyce passed on to Captain John Davys a warning from the sick and frustrated woman—her guards were armed. That message was flashed ahead to Darwin, where policemen cleaned and buckled on their pistols. As the Constellation taxied to a halt, they grouped around Reg Leydin, the Crown Law Officer, Keith Edmunds, and their own superintendent, Bill Littlejohn, at the foot of the gangway. The four Russians—Mrs Petrov, Karpinsky, Zharkov, and Kislitsin—were the last to get off… Leydin approached Mrs Petrov to offer her asylum .”

(Australian Newspaper History Group Newsletter, No 82, May 2015)

We also know from Leydin’s own official account of the events of that night ( that he was acting on instructions “received from the Prime Minister” that on arrival of the Qantas (sic) Constellation from Sydney, “ an opportunity was to be created for Mrs Petrov…to be asked whether she desired to remain in Australia.” In the dry account of the official record the following transpired: “During discussion with Mrs Petrov at Darwin Airport, two Russian couriers who accompanied here, tried to intervene and were disarmed by Darwin Police.”

Later the Administrator accompanied by Mr Leydin visited the police station and “personally congratulated all members of the Police Force on duty when Mrs Petrov was given asylum.”

Numerous press reports of the time repeat the claim that Leydin was acting under instructions from Menzies and did indeed offer Mrs Petrov asylum. Indeed the headline in Life magazine (May 3, 1954) reads “A Premier’s Message”

As the plane taxied to a stop, it was met by Leydin and other Government officials accompanied by a Police Superintendent and a dozen armed policeman. Quite a welcoming party. All there on instructions from the Prime Minister as relayed by ASIO head Charles Spry.

I will leave it to our respective audiences to judge whether our script is accurate when it says:

On Menzies’ orders, when the plane lands to refuel in Darwin, Mrs Petrov is freed from her escorts and goes into exile with her husband.

Media Watch Dog claims the following:

Vladimir Petrov did disclose that some members of Opposition leader Bert Evatt’s office were providing material to the Soviet Embassy in Canberra. The defection of Vladimir and his wife Evdokia from the Soviet Embassy in 1954 provided significant intelligence on Soviet spies in the West, including Australia.

There is no factual error in the script that in any way contradicts what you have claimed. What did we get wrong?

Media Watch Dog: The Coalition was not behind in the polls before Petrov defected.

Sorry. You are factually incorrect. According to the Morgan Gallup poll of the time, re Voting intention, in May 1954 (which is after the poll was called) the ALP had 51% and the Coalition 48%. The comparable figures for June 1953 were: ALP 49%; Coalition 40% (see McAllister et al, Australian Political Facts, 2nd ed, 1997, p 274).

Media Watch Dog: The Petrov defection had little effect on – and was rarely mentioned during – the May 1954 election campaign. The Coalition won narrowly on the back of the hugely successful Royal Tour and on account of the fact that Evatt made unfunded promises which divided the Labor Opposition. Put simply, Menzies was regarded as a better economic manager than Evatt.

Your opinion Gerard, to which you are entitled. Not obviously supported by any evidence (for instance the above Poll which suggests otherwise). The Petrov defections were huge stories, and played out over the weeks as background and often foreground to the election. The Opposition at the time certainly thought it affected the result. Of course we do spend a good deal of time discussing the successful Royal Tour in episode one of the series. It was hugely popular, but the polling and the subsequent very narrow outcome of the election would suggest that quite to the contrary, Menzies was not traveling well politically.

Media Watch Dog: There is scant comparison between the Petrov defection on the eve of the 1954 election and the asylum seeker issue involving the Tampa on the eve of the 2001 election. Tampa was an issue in the 2001 election. Petrov became an issue after the 1954 election.

To which Mr Howard was given the opportunity to offer his own assessment. I leave it to your readers to judge whose opinion on this matter they consider more authoritative.

Media Watch Dog: In the aftermath of the 1954 election, Bert Evatt publicly attacked the Victorian branch of the ALP. Some Labor MPs, at Federal and State level, were expelled from the Labor Party and formed the Anti-Communist Labor Party. The Anti-Communist Labor Party contested the 1954 and 1955 elections – it changed its name to the Democratic Labor Party before the 1958 election. Most, but not all, DLP members were Catholic. Such leading figures as Bob Joshua and Senator Jack Little were not Catholics.

Oh dear. Talk about howlers. You say the anti-Communist ALP contested both the 1954 and the 1955 elections. A check of voting records for the 1954 House election does not show any candidates with an ALP anti-Communist brand. The change comes with the 1955 House/half Senate election and the May, 1955 Victorian election. You say “some” Labor MPs were expelled. Seven Federal MPs and 18 Victorian MPs were suspended from the party, including 4 ministers in John Cain’s government. Four unions were disaffiliated from the ALP. That’s quite a “some”. The split was catastrophic for the ALP.

Media Watch Dog: It is absolute tosh to claim that at the time of the Labor Split in the mid-1950s “these mostly Catholic members were challenged by Evatt to choose between their politics and the Pope”. In the mid-1950s, the Catholic Church in Australia was divided on politics. The Sydney and Adelaide bishops backed the Labor Party. And the Victorian bishops backed the Anti-Communist Labor Party and, subsequently, the DLP. In the event Pope Pius XII sided with Cardinal Norman Gilroy in Sydney over Archbishop Daniel Mannix in Melbourne.

Far be it for me to question your deep personal understanding of the rivalries within the Church and the Party and the Unions of the day. While the Catholic Church may have been divided between opportunistic and uncompromisingly faithful factions, Evatt was entirely single minded in his pursuit and provocation of the Groupers. Arguments between the Bishops were of no interest to Doc. So your point is irrelevant.

Gilroy may have ultimately received (in 1957) the pragmatic nod from Rome, but by then the split had well and truly devastated the party. The NSW ALP had not been infected with the same sectarian rancor as Victoria, and later Queensland, so I’m not sure what relevance your opinion has to the discussion.

I fear you are being a little too consumed by the internecine disputes within various Catholic archdiocese far from Rome where Pope Pius XII was fiercely anti-communist, and the faithful knew it. In 1949 the Vatican issued a Degree against Communism which declared that Catholics who professed material support for Communism be excommunicated as apostates. The average reader of the Catholic Weekly would have no doubt that communism and Catholicism were incompatible, no matter how much some in the ALP wished it were not so.

Those Catholics that remained with the Party presumably supported Evatt, but they did little to protect the party of its political liability in the face of Menzies’ relentless anti-Communist attacks.

Media Watch Dog: After the Labor Split, three of the four ALP parliamentary leaders were Catholic. Namely, deputy leader Arthur Calwell, Senate leader Pat Kennelly and deputy Senate leader Nick McKenna. In short, Howard on Menzies is hopelessly wrong about Australian history between Vladimir Petrov’s defection in 1954 and the end of the Labor Split in 1957.

Oops. More factual errors. In the Senate, Nick McKenna had been leader since 1951- before the split. And for the record, Senator John Armstrong was deputy leader at the time of the split and its immediate aftermath, not Senator Kenelly [sic]. Evatt, their leader, of course was High Anglican. It was not until Whitlam’s ascent in 1967 that the leadership of the ALP had no Catholics at the top – strangely enough coinciding with the Party’s rise in electoral fortune. I’m not sure what you mean by ‘the end of the Labor Split in 1957.” I think its generally well accepted that the reverberations of the split kept Labor from federal success until 1972.

The DLP that emerged from the split was for all intents and purposes a Catholic party, and it was strongest among those Catholics who most strongly adhered to their faith. It is just peculiar to argue otherwise. (see Don Aitken, Patrick O’Farrell, Robert Alford and John Warhurst on this – don’t take my word for it)

Your argument is unfortunately riddled with factual errors, and I fail to see how it demonstrates in any sense how the series got it “hopelessly wrong”. Indeed it’s difficult to discern just what you think it is wrong about.

▪ The Suez Crisis

Media Watch Dog: This is what Simon Nasht has to say about Robert Menzies’ role in supporting Britain and France, rather than the United States, at the time of the Suez Crisis.

Narrator: In truth, Suez will blight the Anglo-American alliance for a generation…After his humiliation in the Middle East, Menzies can now offer the public a welcome distraction. But it was not Menzies’ distraction. What’s more, the Suez Crisis was not a big issue in Australia in 1956.

Sure, Suez did strain relations between Britain and the US for a period. However, Australia retained first-class relations with both traditional allies.

It’s a left-wing myth of long-standing that Robert Menzies faced “humiliation” over the Suez Crisis. As to the suggestion that, on his return to Australia after visiting Europe around the time of the Suez Crisis, Menzies offered “the public a welcome distraction”. Namely, the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games which commenced in November 1956. Well, that’s tosh too.

In fact, the bid by Melbourne to host the 1956 Olympics commenced in 1946 – i.e. during the time of Ben Chifley’s Labor government. The bid was sponsored by the City of Melbourne – not by the Victorian and Commonwealth governments. The 1956 Olympics may have been a welcome distraction but it was not initiated by Menzies [This final clause was deleted in error in last Friday’s MWDMWD Editor.]

Umm, I’m not quite sure just what we are being accused of here. It seems by your reading of history, we at least got the facts right but apparently not the interpretation – but I’m just guessing.?

It’s your (right-wing?) opinion that Menzies was not humiliated by being misled by Britain in the Suez Crisis. I disagree, and it’s got nothing to do with supposedly being left-wing. Menzies simply did not appreciate how appalled the US was at the ill-fated British-French-Israeli action, to the point of threatening Britain with economic sanctions. And he almost certainly did not appreciate that the old Imperial powers had already made plans to invade Egypt even as he was sent on his fool’s errand to Cairo to negotiate a settlement. And if he did know about the invasion plans, Menzies was even more unwise to participate in the deceit.

Just who and when the Melbourne Olympics were planned is surely irrelevant. It’s not as if we are suggesting Menzies conjured them up out of nothing to distract from the Suez debacle. He was of course President of the Games Organising Committee, and they certainly were a welcome relief. After mid-September,1956 upon his return to Australia, Menzies had little say about the details of Suez for obvious reasons, though he continued valiantly if pointlessly to defend the doomed Eden. Menzies backed the wrong side for the wrong reasons, and contributed in his small way to the serious rupture in US/Anglo relations. We might compare his judgment with that of Canadian PM Lester Pearson, who as a diplomat won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in cleaning up the Suez mess. Canada too kept good relations with both the UK and the US while not supporting the invasion.

As we make the point, the entire affair was largely overtaken by events in Hungary in any case. So once again, I’m not sure what you are actually criticising here?

▪ 1961-1963 Elections & State Aid

Media Watch Dog: This is what Simon Nasht wrote about the 1961 and 1963 elections:

[Actually Gerard, the quote you refer to is not what I wrote about the 1961 and 1963 elections (that’s comes later). It’s what I wrote about the issue of state aid].

Narrator: For a century government aid to religious schools was political poison for all parties. Schools were battlegrounds for the deepest division in Australian society, the rivalry between Catholics and Protestants. …It’s the Presbyterian Menzies that finally breaks the deadlock and masterfully turns support for Catholics to his advantage. And it begins with a humble toilet block.

Media Watch Dog: It is true that in the lead-up to the 1963 election the Menzies government decided to provide Commonwealth funding to establish science blocks in non-government schools. …..Robert Menzies’ 1963 decision had little to do with the Goulburn School Strike of mid-1962 – which involved a dispute between the Catholic Diocese of Goulburn and the State Labor Government of New South Wales. The “strike” created considerable attention but achieved little and soon ended. The political motivation for the Menzies government’s state aid decision in 1963 was to ensure the continued receipt of Democratic Party first preferences – particularly in Victoria and Queensland where the DLP was strong….In 1967, also to ensure the continuity of DLP preferences, Victorian Liberal Party Premier Henry Bolte provided payments to all Victorian school children – whether in government or non-government schools. This was the first major breakthrough in what was called state aid for non-government schools at the level of State government. It did not take place in NSW.

Phew—what a mouthful. We could obviously make a 10 part series on the history of state aid, and I’m sure you would be wonderfully well-qualified researcher. I just doubt that many would be very interested.

Remember this was film about Robert Menzies, or rather John Howard’s assessment of Menzies. I can best sum up your response as the “Victorian view”, and as much as I would love to give Henry Bolte his moment of glory, it’s just a little bit off-topic. Of course Menzies saw the political advantage in what we would today call wedging Labor on the state aid issue – the program indeed says this. But as we see from the archive clips you avoid mentioning, it was clearly also a matter of equity as he saw it. And he was the first Prime Minister to make this case strongly. The relevance of the Goulburn dispute was that it came soon after his shock at the 1961 election, and it became the genesis of changed attitudes as it was so self-evidently provoked by an injustice, and gave Menzies the room to maneuver. As Paul Kelly says in the film, state aid was the new issue Menzies used to stage his brilliant last-quarter comeback.

▪ Conclusion

In any case, whatever you concerns about this and the other topics you mention, I fail to see how any of your claims establish that somehow I was seeing all this through some kind of pinko-tinged glasses.

Media Watch Dog: It’s unfortunate that the overall historical strength of Howard on Menzies should be marred by an incorrect and essentially left-wing interpretation of the final decade of the Menzies government.

I’m glad you liked the first episode of Howard on Menzies, Gerard, but so sorry you didn’t much like the second. I’m sure it’s entirely coincidental that you didn’t appear in part two?

Obviously while I was able to disguise my lefty leanings for the first decade or so of Menzies’ political career, the true ideological leanings emerged sometime around 1954. Thank goodness I had returned to my senses by the time the film gets to Vietnam, a topic about which you know much, but have nothing to criticise me with. I am thankful for small mercies.


Simon N

Gerard Henderson to Simon Nasht – 7 October 2016


I just loved your sneering email of last Wednesday, which was headed: “Where did the love go?” The answer is that I don’t do “love” but I do history.

I note that, like so many journalists/writers/directors etc, you are oh-so-sensitive to criticism. I criticise others and get my fair share of criticism. I take criticism – and, on occasions, even invite my critics to address The Sydney Institute. And I don’t accuse them of madness.

You, on the other hand, get offended, engage in hyperbole and commence querying motives. For example, at the commencement of your email you state:

It seems anyone who is not a financial contributor to the Sydney Institute is apparently to forever be characterised as a communist.

This is just rank hyperbole. You should be able to do better than this. I have never called you a communist or a pinko. You just made this up.

Then, towards the end of your email, you wrote:

I’m glad you liked the first episode of Howard on Menzies, Gerard, but so sorry you didn’t much like the second. I’m sure it’s entirely coincidental that you didn’t appear in part two?

Once again, you should be able to do better than this. It’s usually those with weak arguments who go to the (alleged) motives of their critics.

For the record, I was happy to appear in Episode 1 of Howard On Menzies. I was asked by John Howard to be interviewed for the documentary and would have been happy to appear in either or both episodes.

As it turned out, I am pleased not to have appeared in Episode 2 because – inadvertently – I would have been associated with the narrator’s left-wing version of Australian history concerning the period before, during and immediately after the Labor Split of 1955.

The suggestion that I did not like Episode 2 because I was not in it is pretty pathetic. Even for an oh-so-sensitive writer and director. In fact, I quite liked most of Episode 2 – including the coverage of Australia’s commitment in Vietnam.

My position is simple. For years I have attempted to overturn the left-wing interpretation of Australian History concerning the Labor Split. Only to find that, having obtained some hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayers’ money, you have re-run the left-wing line in parts of Howard On Menzies. With the apparent endorsement of the Menzies Research Centre, no less.

In relation to the rest of your email, I make the following comments.

  1. I received a late invitation to appear on the Sydney Harbour Bridge documentary. As I understand it, it was decided that someone was needed to balance Paul Keating’s adulation of one-time NSW Labor premier Jack Lang. Being a courteous kind of guy, I accepted your invitation and did not query its evident lateness. That’s all. This is nothing to do with Howard On Menzies.
  1. This is your script with reference to the Petrov Affair:

Narrator: The upheaval begins when a Soviet spy, Vladimir Petrov, defects. An election is only weeks away. …Soon after Petrov’s defection, the world watches transfixed as his wife is bundled aboard a plane bound for Moscow….On Menzies’ orders, when the plane lands to refuel in Darwin, Mrs Petrov is freed from her escorts and goes into exile with her husband. Petrov makes explosive claims, never proven, that senior figures in the Labor Party are involved in espionage. For Menzies, behind in the polls and facing a possible defeat, Petrov is a godsend.

Labor claims Menzies has orchestrated the defection to save himself…It’s not the last time that an unexpected crisis will influence the outcome of an Australian election. For Menzies it was Petrov, for Howard, it was Tampa. …Whatever the truth behind the Petrov shock, for Labor the damage is done. Menzies comes from behind to win a narrow victory… The defeat is traumatic for Labor. It exposes deep divisions within the party over communism.

As indicated above, this is the standard left-wing line of the Petrov defection and Menzies victory in the 1954 election.

The statement that “on Menzies’ orders…Mrs Petrov is freed from her escorts and goes into exile with her husband [emphasis added]” implies that Robert Menzies had something to do with Mrs Petrov’s decision to defect. He didn’t. Evdokia Petrov made her own decision to go into exile – she delayed the decision because she was traumatised by the likely fate of her family in the Soviet Union.

I note when you quoted from MWD in your email you deleted your claim that Menzies’ orders resulted in a situation where Mrs Petrov “goes into exile with her husband”. Pretty convenient, eh?

  1. Your assertion that Vladimir Petrov’s “explosive claims that senior figures in the Labor Party were involved in espionage” were “never proven” is bunk.

As you should be aware, Vladimir Petrov’s claims about Soviet spies in Australia were proven. This became manifestly so after the release of the Venona intercepts in the mid-1990s. Your allegation that Petrov’s claims were never proven is contradicted by such works as Robert Manne’s The Petrov Affair and Charles Horner’s The Spy Catchers: The Official History of ASIO – 1949-1963. The Soviet spy Frances Bernie once worked in Bert Evatt’s office. Moreover, Evatt’s staff member Fergan O’Sullivan was sacked when – after Petrov’s defection – it was revealed that he was too close to the Soviet Embassy in Canberra.

The fact is that the only reference in the Howard On Menzies narration to the material provided to ASIO after Petrov’s defection is that his “explosive claims” were never proven. This is absolute tosh.

In answer to your query: “What did we get wrong? Well, your narration failed to reveal that Vladimir and Evdokia Petrov were the two most important Soviet defectors in the early part of the Cold War and they brought with them intelligence that proved most valuable to Australia, Britain, the United States and more besides. That’s what.

  1. The Labor Party was not in a winning position to prevail in the May 1954 election before the Petrov defection. Due to the concentration of the Labor vote, Evatt needed about 52 per cent of the two party preferred vote to prevail. Labor received an estimated 51 per cent. It rarely polled 52 per cent or above in the immediate lead-up to the election.

In his authoritative book The Split: Australian Labor in the Fifties, Robert Murray had this to say:

The Gallup Polls taken at this time reinforce the impression that the community was in a fine state of balance politically, but that Labor was not making or holding the advances it required to break through the post-1949 electoral mould. The Gallup Poll estimated the Labor vote at 51 per cent in December 1953, 52 per cent in February 1954, 52 per cent in March (from a poll taken at the height of the Royal visit), 50 per cent at the beginning of May, after the Petrov defection, and 51 per cent on 27 May, two days before the poll…. The implication of these figures is that neither the Petrov defection nor Evatt’s promises greatly affected the outcome of the vote, which most commentators and pollsters had for months expected to be determined by close contests in a few evenly balanced divisions.

This is how Robert Manne assessed the opinion polls in the lead-up to the May 1954 election in his book The Petrov Affair:

The following statistical table – which combines electoral results and Gallup Polls – may help begin to chart the ebb and flow of opinion between the Representatives election of April 28 1951 and that of May 29 1954.

Liberal- Country PartyALPOthers
April 1951 – Election, H of R50491
August 1951 – Gallup49501
October 1951 – Gallup45541
February 1952 – Gallup47521
May 1952 – Gallup43561
October 1952 – Gallup40591
February 1953 – Gallup39601
May 1953 – Election, Senate44542
June 1953 – Gallup45541
September 1953 – Gallup45541
December 1953 – Gallup48511
February 1954 – Gallup47521
March (late) 1954 – Gallup49492
May (early) 1954 – Gallup50491
May 21 1954 – Gallup48511
May 29 1954 – Election H of R47512

From this table the following (necessarily tentative) conclusions can be drawn. During the second half of 1951, following the so-called “horror” budget, Coalition support declined sharply, although it had improved slightly by early 1952. In late 1952 and in particular in early 1953, in an extremely serious economic climate (with unemployment, inflation, taxation increases and import restrictions only the largest problems) Coalition support declined to probably the lowest level – 39% experienced by the non-Labor parties since the Great Depression. By the May 1953 Senate elections Coalition support was beginning to pick up, although not yet sufficiently to save the Coalition from landslide defeat at a general election. This remained the position in the spring of 1953. By December 1953, for the first time in more than two years – as the austere Menzies-Fadden economic policies began to bear fruit – the Coalition appeared to have some real chance of success at the next general election….

In February 1954 the Gallup Poll recorded a slight swing back to the Labor Party…However, in late March 1954, at the climax of the triumphal Royal Tour, Coalition prospects looked extremely good – with the conservatives and Labor both polling at 49%, enough to secure a comfortable Government victory. After the defections of Petrov and Petrova the Gallup Poll of May 1 showed a marginal (1%) increase in support for the Coalition, although no percentage decline at all in Labor support….It appears that during the official election campaign of May some support did move back to Labor, although, as it happened, not quite sufficient for it to secure victory….

In the rise of the Coalition from the dismal 39% of February 1953 to the 48% of December 1953, a level of support which more or less held until the election of May 1954, clearly the dominant underlying factor was the perceived success of Government economic policy…The movement of opinion to the Coalition in March and April 1954 appears, at least on a survey of the Polls, to have begun not with the Petrov defections but with the Royal Tour. The standard case, that these defections were solely responsible for turning a certain Labor victory into a narrow defeat, is at best a vast and misleading over-simplification.

In other words, the evidence suggests that the Petrov defection had scant impact on the result of the 1954 election. The Petrov Affair became a big issue after the 1954 election and clearly had an impact on the 1955 election. But that’s another matter – for which Bert Evatt himself was primarily responsible.

  1. As the work of Robert Murray and Robert Manne attests, the prime issue in the 1954 election was Bert Evatt’s inability to bring down a costed economic policy acceptable to Labor MPs – let alone the electorate at large.
  1. I am entitled to reject your comparison between the Petrov Affair in 1954 and the Tampa issue in 2001 – and you are entitled to reject my criticism. In my view, such comparisons are intellectually lightweight. You hold a different viewpoint. How about that?
  1. The reference to the Anti-Communist Labor Party contesting the 1954 election was a typo. As the paragraph in MWD made clear, the Anti-Communist Labor Party was formed after 1954 – so it could not have contested the 1954 election. For my part, I did not make pedantic points about minor errors in Howard On Menzies. For example, Howard On Menzies showed someone handing out DLP how-to-vote cards at the 1955 election. As you know, it was the Anti-Communist Labor Party which contested the 1955 election. It changed its name to the Democratic Labor Party shortly after. In other words, there were no DLP how-to-vote cards in federal elections until the 1958 election.
  1. I did write that “some” Labor MPs were expelled from the ALP at the time of the Labor Split. After all, seven Federal MPs out of a total of 52 amounts to “some”. Don’t you think? In any event, I don’t really need a lecture from you about the importance of the Labor Split.
  1. Your comments about the divisions within the Catholic Church before, during and after the Labor Split are simply ignorant. It is a myth to present Labor MPs at the time as following the Church and the Pope.

You say the Catholic Church in Australia “may have been divided” at the time. No – it was divided. You say that Cardinal Norman Gilroy “may” have received “the pragmatic nod from Rome” in 1957. No – Pope Pius XII did rule in favour of Cardinal Gilroy and against Archbishop Mannix in 1957. There is no “may” here.

Of course, the Pope in Rome was anti-communist in 1955. However, this does not mean that the Catholic Church in Australia was united on the Labor Split.

  1. My statement about such Catholics as Arthur Calwell, Nick McKenna and Patrick Kennelly holding leadership positions in the Labor Party “after” the Labor Split is correct. In 1957, for example, Calwell was Labor deputy leader while McKenna and Kennelly were Opposition Senate leader and Senate deputy leader respectively. By the way, John Armstrong was also a Catholic. As to your comment that Bert Evatt was a “High Anglican” – well, who cares? I never said he was a Catholic.
  1. As you may – or may not – know, the split in the Victorian Labor Party took place in 1955 but the split in the Queensland Labor Party did not take place until 1957. That’s why I wrote about “the end of the Labor Split in 1957”. What’s wrong with that?
  1. Sure, there were many Catholics in the DLP. But it is sectarian nonsense to describe the DLP as a “Catholic party”. Its first president Bob Joshua was an Anglican (I’m not sure whether of the “High” kind or not). Senator Jack Little was not a Catholic. In addition, Victorian party official Fred Riley was an atheist. I can’t speak about the Catholic Church today. But the Catholic Church had a “no atheists here” policy in the mid-1950s.

* * * *

The Suez Crisis

  1. All I wrote about your script on the 1956 Suez crisis, as it related to Australia, was that this is the left-wing interpretation of the issue. And it is. It’s just unusual to see this view promoted by the Menzies Research Centre. That’s all.

As to your suggestion that Menzies used the Melbourne Olympic Games as some kind of diversion to his alleged “humiliation” over Suez. Well, it’s appropriate to point out that the move to get the Olympic Games to Melbourne commenced in 1946 – a decade before the Suez Crisis. If the Olympic Games was a “distraction”, it was not of Menzies’ making.

1961-1963 Elections & State Aid

  1. The fact is that the so-called Goulburn Catholic School Strike against the NSW Labor government in 1962 had virtually nothing to do with the Menzies government’s promise to provide Commonwealth funding for science blocks in the 1963 election. I have documented all of this in my book Santamaria: A Most Unusual Man (MUP, 2015). The matter is also covered by B.A. Santamaria in Santamaria: A Memoir (OUP, 1997).

In view of the inaccurate link between the Goulburn Catholic School strike and the 1963 state aid breakthrough in Howard On Menzies – I will cover this topic in a future “History Corner” segment in my Media Watch Dog blog. Since you appear to be an avid MWD reader, I’m sure you will notice my analysis.


I did not criticise Episode 1 of Howard On Menzies because it was accurate. And I did not criticise the last two thirds of Episode 2 of Howard On Menzies because it was accurate. In fact, in general I have praised the documentary. My criticisms involve only the early part of Episode 2 because it contains left-wing mythology.

Before John Faulkner finalised his SBS documentary on Gough Whitlam – he showed it to me (and, presumably, others) for fact-checking. Likewise, John Howard asked me to check the coverage of the Labor Split in his The Menzies Era before publication. I agreed in both instances. I also agreed to fact-check a couple of chapters in Nick Cater’s The Lucky Culture. As you know, Nick is director of the Menzies Research Centre. If you had asked me to fact-check your Howard On Menzies script, I would have done so. It would have been the courteous thing to do. But you did not ask

For my part, I am not going to stand by and let left-wing myths about Australian history go unchallenged. Hence my article in last week’s Media Watch Dog.

All I can say is – Best wishes and Lotsa love.


* * * * *
Until next time.

One of my bête noires is Gerard Henderson. And I try not to let him provoke me. I turn the other cheek – both facial and posterial. But this week he said something which just made me furious.

Phillip Adams on Late Night Live, 20 September 2016

If Gerard Henderson is on #insiders tomorrow I’m going to start drinking at 9.01 am

– @annalise108 via Twitter, 30 Jul 2016, 6:30 PM

“[Gerard Henderson is a] whining rodent”

– Bruce Haigh, former diplomat and regular ABC panelist

“[Gerard Henderson is a] cretinous turd”

– Rohan Connolly via Twitter – 12 July 2016

“It’s always nice to be mentioned in your pedantic, predictable and self-absorbed Friday web rant”

– Stephen Mayne, via email, Bastille Day, 2016

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, 5:22 PM

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

Until next time.