9 December 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.

  • Stop Press: Derryn Hinch’s Howler Re The Nuns; It’s Party Time At Aunty
  • Editorial: ABC TV Goes to Bed Early This Silly Season
  • Nancy’s Courtesy Classes – In Which Nancy Plans to Advise The Drum’s Julia Baird et al Not to Interrupt Each Other
  • Can You Bear It? Sneering Mike Seccombe’s Sources; Emotive Joseph Siracusa’s Abuse; Katharine Murphy’s Leftist Cranky-Pants
  • Nancy’s Five Paws Award: David Marr re Lionel Murphy; Mark Day re the ABC
  • An Update On the Taxpayer Subsidised Grattan Institute: How the PM Rejected All of John Daley’s Gratuitous Christmas Reading Advice
  • Legacy Issues: David Day Still Unable to Stump Up Evidence to Dispute Anne Henderson’s Demolition of his Churchill & Menzies Thesis
  • A Wendy Harmer Moment: In Which Ms Harmer Uses ABC Bully-Pulpit To Rail Against Premier Mike Baird
  • A Red Bandannaed One Update: In Which Fitz Wins ARM Election But Fails to Claim $20,000 Prize for Producing One (Alleged) Address in Rome



What a stunning performance by Derryn (The Human Mumble) Hinch on Sky News’ Paul Murray Live last night. Young Mr Murray used to call Hinch “Dad”. But now he calls him “Senator”. How respectful can you get? Respectful enough, it seems, not to correct Senator Hinch when he demonstrates abysmal ignorance – as occurred last night when the Victorian senator offered this pearl of wisdom when invited by the PML presenter to speak about the burqa:

Derryn Hinch: You can’t wear a burqa for a driver’s licence. You should not be allowed to wear a burqa into a bank. You can’t wear a motor cycle helmet into a bank. Those things should be banned. But if you start to ban the burqa in the street – you’re going to come and start arresting nuns for wearing habits. You, you, you know, you – there’s a line there. So, in official situations you should [ban the burqa]. But, I think, in the street, if that’s what you want to wear – you can.

How ignorant can you get? Since your man Hinch is an avid (albeit not uncritical) MWD reader – Nancy’s (male) co-owner will do an instruction in pictures.


Attention Senator Hinch. A woman wearing a burqa has her face fully covered. A nun in a traditional habit does not have her face covered. Indeed, the head-wear of a nun in a habit is not dissimilar to a Muslim woman wearing a hijab. There is no suggestion in France, Germany or Australia that the hijab should be banned. Put simply, your man Hinch does not know what he is talking about. And no one on the panel corrected him.

It’s a bit like Senator Hinch’s participation in the debate of recent memory on what should be the back-packer’s tax. Initially he supported the Turnbull government’s proposal to strike the rate at 19 per cent. Then he supported Labor’s call for a 10.5 per cent rate. Finally, he voted with the Coalition and the Greens for a 15 per cent rate.

Then, as The Australian reported on Monday, John Clements (a Hinch adviser) resigned last week. Senator Hinch criticised Mr Clements for bringing about a situation whereby the Victorian senator’s relations with the Turnbull government – during the negotiations over the Australian Building Construction Commission – had become a “bit murky” and “not good”.

This overlooks the fact that only one person is responsible for how Senator Hinch votes on legislation. Namely, the Human Mumble himself. Next up Senator Hinch will be blaming the cleaner for office mistakes.


News has just emerged that there will be no Afternoon Show on ABC 702 today in Sydney this afternoon. Why? Well, believe it or not, presenter James Valentine and his team are heading off to the 702 Christmas Party. It’s not at all clear why the blokes and sheilas at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster need to cancel a program in order to go out to a Christmas Lunch. Since the Afternoon Show runs from 1 pm until 3 pm – why not a Christmas Afternoon Tea? Or perhaps a Christmas Dinner? Or a Christmas Breakfast tomorrow morning – even if it is a Saturday.



Nancy’s co-owners, and other mere mortals, have holidays. However, journalists have what they like to call a Well-Earned-Break. Or a W.E.B. This year the taxpayer funded public broadcaster runs the risk of giving the W.E.B. a bad name in so far as television is concerned.

Look at it this way. The end of 2016 has been replete with news. In Australia, the Commonwealth Parliament rose on 2 December, after a very busy week which covered the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), the back-packer’s tax and more besides. Currently the Turnbull government’s energy policy is big news. In the United States, the forthcoming Trump administration is really big news. In Europe, the ongoing effect of the success of the Brexit referendum in Britain and failure of the Italian referendum remain newsy events. And then there is China, Taiwan, Japan, Russia, Iran, Iraq, Syria and so on.

So, what has been the response of ABC TV? Well, many of the ABC programs have – shall we say? – gone to bed. As former journalist Tony Thomas points out in Quadrant Online see here.

Media Watch, Four Corners and Q&A went under the covers on 21 November – and will not awake until early February 2017. Insiders, which essentially covers national politics, lasted to Sunday 4 December. Fair enough. But Lateline – which focuses on international politics – pulled up stumps on 2 December. And Foreign Correspondent tucked into bed on 20 November. Which leaves ABC 1’s News Breakfast and 7.30 carrying the can.

Meanwhile, over on Sky News, such programs as The Bolt Report, Credlin & Keneally and Paul Murray Live and Chris Kenny’s Viewpoint will air until at least 16 December 2016 and will re-open sometime in January.

Yet Q&A went to bed on 21 November 2016 and will not wake up until 6 February. A Well-Earned-Break of some 11 weeks. Or about a fifth of a year.

It’s not clear when The Drum will close for the year – but it could be tonight. Which, no doubt, will lead to yet more pointless quiz shows like the aptly named Pointless – along with the fifty-seventh repeat of Aunty’s favourite, Stephen Fry, presenting QI. Yawn squared.

Meanwhile, what a night on ABCTV 1 last night. Stephen Fry’s QI was on at 6 pm and again at 6.30 pm. Would I Lie To You? was on at 7.30 pm and again at 11.05 pm (this a repeat). And wasn’t that a memorable episode of Doctor Foster? [I can’t remember – MWD Editor]. All brought to you by the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.

Then tonight on ABC1 there is – guess what? – a repeat of a QI program at 6 pm followed by another repeat of a QI program a 6.30 pm. After 90 minutes of news and current affairs – there is a repeat at 8.30 pm (Vera) followed by another repeat at 10 pm (Adam Hills: The Last Leg). It’s enough to drive a dog owner to a (very early) Gin and Tonic. Come to think of it, that’s a good idea.

manners maketh the canine nancy's courtesy class


It wasn’t all that hot in Sydney on Wednesday evening. But the temperature was high in The Drum studio at Ultimo and beyond when Julia Baird (presenter) discussed energy policy with Fairfax Media’s Peter Martin (who happened to be in Canberra), former Liberal Party senator Sue Boyce, and Helen Conway. Only Ms Conway – who has a dog who knows Nancy – was courteous and dignified. For the rest it was, at times, a verbal punch up.

Listen here as Julia Baird and Sue Boyce talk over each other as Sue Boyce and Peter Martin talk over each other. It was impossible to hear what anyone was on about.

Nancy’s consulting kennel is free next Friday. Let’s hope that Ms Baird, Ms Boyce and Mr Martin rock up and learn that it is not polite to bang the drum on The Drum and talk each other down. For her part, Nancy is a good listener – perhaps because she’s deaf – and will commence the Courtesy Class by instructing the discourteous to listen to each other.



Sneering Mike Seccombe was back on the front page of The [Boring] Saturday Paper last weekend with a truly boring article titled “Senior staff say ABC head ‘out of her depth’”. Nancy’s (male) co-owner was not aware of this BIG STORY immediately – since he reads The Saturday Paper – which goes to press on Thursday afternoon – only on Monday afternoon. After all, it’s not a newspaper in the accepted sense of the term – since it contains no “news”.

Your man Seccombe revealed that ABC Radio National presenter Robyn Williams had spoken out about the ABC’s decision to drop the Catalyst television program. Boring. This “breaking news” was first reported by Fairfax Media and The Guardian on Wednesday 30 November 2016 – presumably helped by a leak from fellow luvvies at the ABC.

Apart from reporting the (old) news about Robyn Williams, your man Seccombe also reported that sacked Catalyst reporter Mark Horstman had criticised the decision to junk the program on social media. And that one-time ABC staffer Quentin Dempster and one-time ABC board member Fiona Stanley had also spoken out against the decision. No surprise there.

So who did Mike Seccombe talk to at the ABC to get the inside details for his Page One story? Here are his sources:

▪ “one veteran of many decades”

▪ “another veteran”

▪ “one senior broadcaster”

▪ “another [senior broadcaster]”

▪ “people” and, wait for it,

▪ “one very senior person”

Wow. That’s the best Secco could do. Can you bear it?

[Er, no. I note, however, that ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie declined an invitation to be interviewed by The [Boring] Saturday Paper. Good move. Ms Guthrie only would have attracted attention to what was always going to be a hatchet job by Sneering Mike Seccombe. – MWD Editor.]


Interviewed by Janine Perrett on Sky News Australia last Friday evening on the political situation in the United States, the Chicago born Professor Joseph Siracusa quickly threw the switch to what he is best at. Namely, abuse.

Initially the learned professor declared that, with Donald Trump as President-elect, the “three-ring circus has come to Washington”. Pretty funny, eh? Towards the end of the interview, the following exchange took place:

Janine Perrett: What do you think a Trump Presidency is going to look like? It is a big question at this point in time. Are you more optimistic or more pessimistic?

Joseph Siracusa: To tell you the truth, I’d rather have the Kardashians in the White House, they’d be more fun than this. I think he’s very dangerous in the sense because he has no political experience.

It seems that professors at RMIT University choose to proffer abuse – not analysis – in public. When he appeared on Q&A on Monday 14 November, Dr Siracusa (for a doctor he is) described Donald Trump as an “appalling human being” and added that Trump was “as dumb as Ronald Reagan and meaner than Richard Nixon”. The learned professor added that Trump’s “base” believed that “professional wrestling was real and the moon landing was fake”. Abuse. Mere abuse. Moreover, the RMIT professor overlooked the fact that some of the most intelligent Americans voted for Trump.

What is Joseph Siracusa’s evidence for all this abuse? He doesn’t have any. And what is Joseph Siracusa’s political experience? Well, in Australia in the mid-1980s, he was the so-called “national security adviser” to the Queensland National Party premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen. It was at the time that Bjelke-Petersen thought that he could become prime minister – hence the ridiculous “Joh for PM” campaign which Siracusa was part of.

Come to think of it, any one of the Kardashians would be a better prime minister than Professor Siracusa’s one-time bestie Sir Joh. Yet the RMIT professor’s only political experience turns on his involvement in the “Joh for PM” farce and he criticises Donald Trump for not having political experience. Can you bear it?


Nancy’s (male) co-owner is something of an admirer of Katharine Murphy – The Guardian’s political editor – in a non-ideological kind of way. In short, this avid (but not uncritical) MWD reader is one of Hendo’s favourite luvvies. Why Hendo even thought about donating to The Guardian’s begging bowl – in which it urges readers to provide funds so that it can continue to dump free news in the media marketplace – just to help keep Ms Murphy in work. Or something like that.

However, a donation from Nancy’s (male) co-owner is less likely now following Ms Murphy’s decision to reveal, wait for it, her “cranky pants” on ABC Radio 702 yesterday morning. Let’s go to the transcript where, after doing a Paul Bongiorno style Green-Left rant against the Turnbull government’s energy policy, Ms Murphy declared:

Katharine Murphy: I’m sorry, have I got my cranky pants on this morning?

Wendy Harmer: No, no, no, no.

Katharine Murphy: I have a bit.

Wendy Harmer: You have a bit.

After Wendy Harmer read out a text that was critical of her earlier aggressive/ condescending interview with NSW premier Mike Baird, the two journalists went into self-justification mode.

Wendy Harmer: The point is Katharine, we’re not here to be cheer-leaders for government.

Katharine Murphy: No, no, sadly –

Wendy Harmer: That’s not our job.

Katharine Murphy: Sadly, it’s not our job. No, it’s not. And, look, I would happily be a cheer-leader for a government that was actually governing in the public interest. I would happily be a cheer-leader for that government. I would go out and myself create the pom-poms and I would do the cartwheels down the road. I really, truly would do that if there was a government that I could see in my immediate vicinity that was actually attentive to governing in the public interest. Rather than having an endless internal seminar about ideology, among a bunch of people who seem increasingly disconnected from the public. Again, not to put too fine a point on it.

Wendy Harmer: Okay, well, I’ll buy the pom-poms for you, if that ever happens.

Katharine Murphy: I’m not bad with a pom-pom, just quietly.

Wendy Harmer: Okay.

Katharine Murphy: I’m not bad with one.

Wendy Harmer: Ah, okay. The cartwheels, I want to see that too. Alright, well thank you very much Katharine.

Katharine Murphy: Thank you, love. Sorry listeners. I have had the cranky pants on. Have a lovely day.

So there you have it. The luvvie Katharine Murphy happens to believe that she alone can determine what is – and what is not – in “the public interest”. And The Guardian’s political editor believes that the Turnbull government is into “ideology” and consequently “increasingly disconnected from the public”.

How elitist can you get? No one at The Guardian holds elected office. Yet Katharine Murphy reckons that elected politicians are increasingly disconnected from the public. Unlike the luvvies at The Guardian, apparently. Moreover, The Guardian’s political editor reckons that her views are in “the public interest” – while the views of those with whom she disagrees are not in “the public interest”. How self-serving can you get? Can you bear it?

five paws graphic


Nancy’s Five Paws Award rises in esteem year-by-year. It now rates just below the Nobel Prize and the Oscars (or Academy Awards) in status. And well in front of the Papal Knighthood and the Order of the Garter.

This week’s gongs go to David Marr and Mark Day.


Writing in his Saturday Paper’s “Gadfly” column last weekend, Richard Ackland reported on the launch of Stephen Walmsley’s The Trials of Justice Murphy. This book covers the controversy which emerged when Lionel Murphy – as a sitting judge of the High Court in the 1980s – was charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Lionel Murphy (1922-1986) was a Labor senator who became attorney-general in Gough Whitlam’s Labor government in the early 1970s. Murphy was appointed to the High Court by Whitlam in 1975. While a High Court judge, Lionel Murphy was charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice by seeking to influence then Judge Paul Flannery and (then) chief magistrate Clarrie Briese to intervene with respect to criminal charges laid against his “mate” Morgan Ryan in New South Wales.

As Richard Ackland described it: “The High Court judge went through two senate inquiries, a trial, a conviction, an appeal, a trip to the High Court, another trial, an acquittal and a parliamentary commission of inquiry, which ceased business after Murphy became terminally ill.”

Gerard Henderson has long held the view that Lionel Murphy was a crook who was a left-wing hero because he was left-wing. He always believed the prosecutor’s case against Murphy. So he was interested in Ackland’s account of what happened when David Marr launched The Trials of Justice Murphy in Sydney recently:

Journalist and biographer David Marr sent the book down the slipway of sales success with a speech that left everyone slack-jawed. According to Marr, Murphy’s problem was that he took Sydney’s ways to Canberra: “Sydney is a place where one judge asks another judge to meet at City Tatts to deliver a message that the [Labor] premier [Neville Wran] wants a favour for his mate who is facing trial. That is still the city we live in.”

Hushed silence, which only got darker as Marr wrapped up saying: “Stephen [Walmsley], congratulations. In the 30 years since these unhappy trials, we’ve made up our minds about Lionel. He was a crook. And the truth your book points to in the most subtle way is that juries acquit, but history doesn’t.”

David Marr: Five Paws.


Former editor and now Australian columnist Mark Day has never accepted MWD’s take on the ABC. In the past, Mr Day has said that political balance at the public broadcaster does not really matter all that much and that there is no evidence that the ABC has a leftist agenda.

However, it seems that your man Day has experienced something of a metamorphosis. Writing in The Australian last Monday, Mark Day had this to say:

I don’t normally pay much heed to the incessant grizzling and grumbling about the ABC and its programming. Everyone’s entitled to their opinions and with 24 million of us accessing five TV networks and umpteen radio outlets, there’s plenty of scope for some folk to find something to complain about. You’ll never please all the ­people all the time, so incessant grizzling will forever be the default position. But from time to time events conspire to put the spotlight on Aunty so that we ask whether it’s on the right track, meeting the demands of its charter and meeting the needs of its viewers, who also happen to be its owners.

Mark Day added:

The main nightly bulletin should be determinedly free of opinion and bias. It’s not. There should be no place for questions dripping with opinion.

Mark Day concluded his piece as follows:

I fully appreciate the need for any media organisation to be noticed, for that is how audiences are attracted. Nobody is interested in the boring middle; you get attention by testing boundaries, pursuing programming that is “out there”, controversial and on the edge.

Within the ABC, pursuit of the edge seems to lead us directly into the world of minorities… I uphold the rights of minorities. I get it that they have had a case about their past invisibility, but it remains a fact of life that the minorities are not the majority and many people who count themselves in the majority feel they are being forced, or unwillingly led, into minority worlds.

In this era of content abundance, it’s one thing for SBS to take on the Viceland alternative view of the world, but quite another for the ABC to try to ­emulate it. Its first job is to service the mainstream and I don’t believe the mainstream is fixated on minority issues.

In short, Mark Day was describing what occurs at a public broadcaster when it is a Conservative Free Zone without one conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets.

Mark Day: Five Paws.



There was enormous interest in last week’s segment titled “John Daley’s (Boring) Christmas Stocking for the PM”. This covered the appearance on ABC 1’s News Breakfast program by the chief executive of the taxpayer subsidised Grattan Institute on Thursday 1 December. Dr Daley (for a doctor he is) was flogging his taxpayer subsidised e-pamphlet titled Summer Reading List for the Prime Minister.

As avid readers are aware, each Christmas your man Daley puts out a pretentious document telling the prime minister of the day what he or she should be reading for the Holiday Season. He then sends a Christmas stocking loaded with the “Grattan Institute Approved” books to the Prime Minister’s Office. This year’s offering included a tome titled Time for a new consensus: Fostering Australia’s comparative advantages by Jonathan West and Tom Bentley. Yawn. [I think this is a tough assessment. The West/Bentley offering would make ideal post-Christmas Lunch slumber material – after a Gin and Tonic or two. Just a thought. MWD Editor.]

Step forward to last Tuesday. As is his custom at the end of the year, Troy Bramston devoted his Australian column to the holiday reading lists for Federal MPs. This is what he had to say about the Prime Minister:

Malcolm Turnbull has an ambitious list. The President of Peru suggested he read Steven Smith’s Modernity and Its Discontents. Next is Governing for Prosperity by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Hilton Root. Given Brexit, ­Donald Trump and the Italian referendum, these books could not be timelier. Also on the PM’s list is Mats Alvesson and Andre Spicer’s The Stupidity Paradox; Sheila Fitzpatrick’s On Stalin’s Team; A.S. Patric’s Black Rock White City; Tim Winton’s Island Home; Lisa Gorton’s The Life of Houses; Jane Harper’s The Dry; and Christopher Andrew’s history of MI5, The Defence of the Realm.

It’s great to see avid (but not uncritical) MWD reader Lisa Gorton on the PM’s Christmas reading list – her novel was equal winner of the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards for Fiction in 2016. Also it is interesting to note that Malcolm Turnbull will be reading the works of Sheila Fitzpatrick and Tim Winton – both of whom were rewarded in the 2016 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards for Non-Fiction – as a co-winner and a shortlist-recipient, respectively. The judging panel of which was the awesome (literary) foursome of Gerard Henderson (chair), Peter Coleman, Ross Fitzgerald and Ida Lichter.

Also notable is that the Prime Minister will not be reading one book from the Christmas Stocking of books (gratuitously) supplied by your man Daley at the taxpayer subsidised Grattan Institute over Christmas. Not one. Not even Time for a new consensus etc etc.

And what about former prime minister Tony Abbott? – MWD hears you cry. Here’s what Troy Bramston had to say:

Tony Abbott will be reading Winston Churchill’s A History of the English-Speaking Peoples and Anne Henderson’s Menzies at War. Churchill and Menzies were both forced out from the prime ministership but clawed their way back to the top job. Make of that what you will.

It’s great to see that Tony Abbott will be reading Nancy’s (female) co-owner’s most recent tome over Christmas. Particularly since this gives MWD a chance to throw the switch to the hugely popular “Legacy Issues” segment.



As avid MWD readers are aware, the historian David Day made his academic reputation on the basis of his 1986 book Menzies & Churchill at War. The thesis of this work was that, in 1941, Robert Menzies wanted to take-over from Winston Churchill as Britain’s war-time prime minister. Dr Day (for a doctor he is) also claimed that there was significant support within British ruling circles for such an eventuality to take place. In the first volume of his two part biography Robert Menzies: A Life Volume 1 1894-1943 (MUP, 1993), Dr Allan Martin (1926-2002) dismissed David Day’s assertion:

Given both his [Menzies’] success there [in London], and the hostility towards Churchill of a coterie in London, the daring historiographical hypothesis has been advanced that Menzies was tempted, and in fact planned, to overthrow Churchill and step into his shoes as Prime Minister of Britain. It has also been suggested that he was motivated by the wish to escape a parlous political position at home and even to seek a negotiated peace with the Axis powers. Direct evidence to support any of these claims has not yet been found…

Professor Martin went on to describe David Day’s tactic of presenting an argument “without precise evidence” as raising “scary possibilities, to say the least”.

However, David Day persisted with his claim which was embraced by 360 Degree Films director John Moore in his 2008 ABC documentary also titled Menzies & Churchill at War – in which David Day appeared and all contrary views to his were censored by John Moore. Your man Moore interviewed Gerard Henderson for the program but ran none of the interview since it contradicted the David Day line.

In her book Menzies at War (UNSW Press, 2014), Anne Henderson demolished David Day’s assertion – which amounts to a claim that the British were so desperate in 1941 that they were prepared to be led by a colonial chap named Menzies and that Menzies was so naïve that he believed that an Aussie would be invited by the British establishment to replace Churchill at 10 Downing Street.

On 4 August 2014, Gerard Henderson wrote to David Day inviting him to provide the name of one Churchill biographer – or one historian of British history in the 20th Century – who supports the claim that Robert Menzies not only wanted to take over from Winston Churchill in 1941 but that many leading figures in Britain wanted him to do so. Dr Day replied that he was “flat out like a lizard drinking” and too busy to produce the requested evidence – but said the information was in his book. He did not identify on which pages of Menzies & Churchill At War the (alleged) information could be found.

Writing in March 2015 issue of Quadrant, Anne Henderson analysed every source in David Day’s book and documented that none of the sources cited in Day’s Menzies & Churchill at War supported Dr Day’s claims about Robert Menzies and Winston Churchill in 1941. Not one.

And now it’s time to update the David Day vs Anne Henderson Scoreboard – for the last time this year. There will be more updates in 2017 – unless your man Day ceases to channel a lizard drinking and attempts to support his assertion with evidence.




NSW Premier Mike Baird agreed to a 30 minute interview with ABC Radio 702’s Mornings with Wendy Harmer presenter on Thursday. It’s a long time since an ABC interviewer has treated a senior politician with such gratuitous comments and such hectoring. Let’s go to the transcript where Wendy (“I’m an old-fashioned socialist”) Harmer lectures Mr Baird about the decision to sell the NSW Lands Title Registry:

Wendy Harmer: Let’s go to this uproar about the selloff of the Lands Title Registry. You are being hammered by everyone who knows anything about this, you have, as I mentioned earlier, 65 000 lawyers telling you that it is a bad decision to sell off the Lands Title Registry. In fact, the UK, they did a U-Turn and knocked it off. And the opposition is strident here….

Wendy Harmer: Are you listening on this one Mike Baird? I mean really the level of alarm I’m seeing on this – I haven’t seen anything like it, I have to tell you.

Mike Baird: Well I think there was a lot of alarm around the [electricity] poles and wires. And you need to get to the substance of the matter and as the Treasurer has said on your program, we have put safeguards around the concerns –

Wendy Harmer: (interrupting) Why would you sell off a monopoly that’s making a profit for NSW? It’s not like you’re giving consumers more choice here. I just don’t understand the point of it.

Mike Baird: There is information that is available and you can look through digital, so they’ll innovate and that can be used to provide additional services to the public –

Wendy Harmer: (interrupting) Well I know that this is what the Treasurer said, because of the requirements for IT and also the private business offers economy-of-scale. I’ve put that to various people and they say those two reasons do not stack up.

Mike Baird: Well look Wendy, there’s no doubt it’s been done around a lot, it’s been done in Canada, there’s no concerns there. I mean it’s, provided you’ve got the regulatory function which we do, we will retain the data and information which we do. There is a ministers function that can be done and provide benefits through economies of scale in addition for potentially other services that can be provided the consumer. Now the protections in terms of prices, well you’ve heard the Treasurer say –

Wendy Harmer: Now well.

Mike Baird: There can’t be, the CPIs is where the price is locked in on.

Wendy Harmer: The, everyone is telling me that from now on, if this happens if this sale goes through that we will be heading down a –

Mike Baird: It’s a lease.

Wendy Harmer: A lease, a thirty-five-year lease, that if this goes through we will be looking down the barrel of a US style system where everyone who buys a house is going to have to take out Land Title Insurance and that is going to cost about a thousand dollars on a million-dollar house. So everyone is going to be up for at least a grand. Are you telling me that this selling off this system won’t lead to everyone having to take out land title insurance, can you guarantee that?

Mike Baird: That’s what I mean, the Torrens insurance fund remains in place. So that’s not going anywhere, that remains in place which does exactly that purpose you’re talking so that’s one of the things people put around but the facts are the Torrens Insurance Fund remains in place.

Wendy Harmer: But the outfit is making money, it’s a world class service, why would you sell it?

Mike Baird: Well again Wendy you have an ideological view on this –

Wendy Harmer: Maybe I could say that you have an ideological view on this –

And so it went on and on. And on. Until Ms Harmer provided a final gratuitous lecture on this issue – before providing another gratuitous lecture on the Sydney light-rail project.

Wendy Harmer: But if I’ve got, if I had a couple of, well I had at least 65 000 lawyers and professionals telling me that I was doing the wrong thing, I might listen.

Mike Baird: Well I think with the concerns they’ve raised, we feel have been addressed Wendy.

Wendy Harmer: Alright, let’s just move on to the CBD light rail project. Well that is a beauty, that’s much needed. It’s a twelve kilometre route, nineteen stops from Circular Quay along George Street, to Central, through Surry Hills, Moore Park, Kensington, Kingsford, Randwick, then back again. However, let’s talk about that sort of wound inflicted on Sydney I guess when you allowed those historic fig trees to be cut down. Do you regret that?

Mike Baird: Well can we wind that back a bit Wendy. I didn’t allow anything to happen, yes unfortunately we did lose some fig trees as part of –

Wendy Harmer: Well who lost them? You lost them, didn’t you? You’re the Premier.

Mike Baird: Wendy, do you know that the transport minister, together with myself, at times sat down and looked at each and every individual tree and did everything we possibly could together with transport to try and save as many as we could.

Wendy Harmer: Well there are people of course and the Opposition says, Premier, that there were alternative routes that meant that you couldn’t save those trees.

Mike Baird: Well I can tell you that they were exhausted. And it’s not, look Wendy, I don’t sit here, and I’ve seen the monikers and I know what people say about me, the last thing I want to do is needlessly take down trees. Particularly those beautiful trees. They’re beautiful.

Wendy Harmer: Well why didn’t you – for goodness sake – well why didn’t you, people are still grieving over those trees.

Mike Baird: Well because Wendy – the light rail is – as you just said, an essential project. Now in terms of delivery of it, we did everything we possibly could to minimise the impact on the trees and indeed there were hundreds that were saved in terms of all on the route. And there will be even more trees that will be there, along the route, and we have tried to replant as many as we could. We did what we could, but ultimately that’s not an easy decision. And when you are building infrastructure on a neutral basis, there are things you have to do that aren’t easy but in terms of the long-term benefit of the city that is what has to be the driver in that. Now I absolutely wish that we didn’t have to lose one of those and I assure you that the Transport Minister did everything he possibly could to minimise the loss of those trees which he did.

Wendy Harmer: I want to move on –

Yes, indeed. If Wendy (“I’m an old fashioned socialist”) Harmer wants to make decisions about the privatisation of the Land Title Registry or the route of the Sydney light rail – she should go into politics. However, she seems to prefer to rant at elected politicians from her unelected position on the taxpayer funded broadcaster. And as to the 702 listeners who are “grieving” over the destruction of some trees to accomplish a proposal which Ms Harmer supports – well there are some more appropriate causes over which to grieve.

Verily, a Wendy Harmer Moment.


Nancy’s (male) co-owner is a financial member of the Australian Republican Movement (ARM). Even so, he did not vote this year in the election for the ARM National Committee. Hendo received an email from the ARM’s Tim Mayfield last Wednesday advising that Peter FitzSimons had topped the poll for election of National Committee Members. Well done The Red Bandannaed One and all that.

However, it’s not easy to see how The Red Bandannaed One can unite a majority of Australians to support the cause that Australia’s head of state should be an Australian. The fact is that Fitz is too divisive a character. If you have any doubt, check this piece in “The Fitz Files” in the Sun Herald last weekend.

Pastafarian’s small victory

In Victoria, a fellow by the name of Marcus Bowring has succeeded in having his driver’s licence issued with a photo of himself wearing a colander on his head – on the grounds that he is a Pastafarian, a believer in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, that Pastafarians believe created everything we see. (Their point is that there as much evidence for that as any other nonsense.)

It is a small victory for the notion that there should be one law for all, with no exceptions, because of your belief in one Magic Sky Daddy or another. In this field, I repeat, there remains work to be done at airports. At least once a week I go through airport security and am frequently asked to remove my bandanna, “unless you are wearing it for religious reasons?” If there really are good reasons to remove headwear for a security check, why make an exception because the person in question happens to believe nonsense? One law for all!

So there you have it. In his abysmal ignorance, the Red Bandannaed One overlooks the fact that Shakespeare, Catherine of Sienna and Galileo were all Christians – and all managed to find better publication opportunities that Fairfax Media’s Sunday tabloid in Sydney. Yet Fitz seems to think that Shakespeare’s view of God (i.e. the entity that Fitz refers to as the “Magic Sky Daddy”) is no different to Marcus Bowring’s belief in the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Really.

Since Fitz’s divisiveness is not likely to attract majority support for his republican cause, perhaps the powers-that-be at the ARM should encourage their chairman to make maximum use of the $20,000 which is on offer to the ARM from Hendo if Fitz can produce just one address. Just one.

As avid MWD readers are only too well aware, Peter FitzSimons and the Sun-Herald, have refused to withdraw The Fitz Files claim of 24 May 2015 that Cardinal George Pell lives in a “$30 million mansion in Rome”.

Gerard Henderson has long promised to give $20,000 to the ARM if your man Fitz can provide the address of the (alleged) mansion. Sure it’s a challenge – since The Australian’s Angela Shanahan recently reported on a visit to Cardinal Pell’s apartment in Rome. However, Fitz has not corrected his claim so he – and Fairfax Media – must believe that the “$30 million mansion in Rome” exists. So send the address and the ARM scores a cool $20,000. Just in time to buy candles to place on the Red Bandannaed One’s head this Christmas.


* * * *

Until next time.


Endorsements of MWD

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,

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