GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG – ISSUE NO. 352
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.
- Vale Bill Leak
- Stop Press: 7:30 & Bill Henson
- Media Scoop: Gerard Henderson in brief conversation with James Spigelman
- Can You Bear It? Peter Fitzsimons on Wind Turbines; International Women’s Day at The Age; Marxist Comedian Guy Rundle’s contempt for the working class: Sky News’ Outsiders Confusion
- Maurice Newman Segment: In which American leftists take a free kick at Ivanka Trump on Late Night Live
- New Feature: Some Mistake, Surely: Hendo’s Howler Watch picks up Hanson’s Howler on Insiders
- The Flann O’Brien Gong for Literary Sludge, and the Winner is Elizabeth Farrelly on the Warhol/Trump link
- Nancy’s Courtesy Classes: Why Derryn Hinch needs to enrol
- Nancy’s Old Bones: The late Bob Ellis’ The True Believers re-examined
VALE BILL LEAK (1956-2017)
Bill Leak was a brilliant cartoonist and one of Australia’s finest portrait artists. His cartoons spoke for themselves virtually every day in The Australian over the last two decades. Bill Leak’s portraits – at least one of which should have won the Archibald Prize – are not so readily accessible but can be found in galleries and reproduced in books.
Bill Leak addressed The Sydney Institute in 1999. He was then, as he was yesterday, both courageously witty but also seriously committed to the causes in which he believed. Bill Leak’s fine cartoon depicting an Indigenous policeman returning an Indigenous child to his irresponsible Indigenous father told an essential truth about contemporary Australian society. It is spoken about regularly, primarily because Bill Leak’s irreverent brilliance raised the ire of the sanctimonious but ineffective bureaucrats who staff the Human Rights Commission.
It is sad to see Bill Leak depart but it is unlikely that his death would have sparked such widespread attention if he had not been pursued in life by taxpayer-funded individuals who were determined to diminish free expression in our society.
7.30 GOES SOFT ON ARTIST BILL HENSON
Did anyone watch Virginia Trioli’s (soft) interview with Bill Henson on 7.30 last night?
It makes you wonder. Here is Bill Henson whose art includes photography of pre-pubescent girls. We’re all supposed to admire the artist’s art. But would 7.30’s producer regard it as “art” if a Catholic or Anglican priest’s artistic output included taking photography of pre-pubescent boys? – even if the priests were amateur photographers. Not on your nelly.
On 7.30 Bill Henson put the case for Bill Henson while Virginia Trioli attempted to be fair to the photographer and his critics. But only one person was interviewed for the 7.30 program. Namely Alice Heyward, one of Henson’s girl models who is now a dancer based in Germany. Ms Heyward is a big fan of Bill Henson. No Henson critic was interviewed by 7.30. The only criticism vented was archival footage of then prime minister Kevin Rudd sounding off against the artist – which was balanced by archival footage of then Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull supporting Henson.
HENDO “IN CONVERSATION” (SORT OF) WITH ABC CHAIRMAN JAMES SPIGELMAN – ON MAURICE NEWMAN, MISTAKEN PHONE NUMBERS & WIND FARMS
As avid readers are aware, James Spigelman took over from Maurice Newman as chairman of the taxpayer funded public broadcaster in 2012. Yesterday Nancy’s (male) co-owner decided to ring Mr Newman about a particular matter. Hendo commenced the conversation by mentioning that the much acclaimed “Maurice Newman Segment” would return to Media Watch Dog this week. The (not entirely successful) phone call went something like this:
(Presumably) Maurice Newman: Hello.
Gerard Henderson: It’s Gerard Henderson. Just before we get to what I wanted to talk to you about, I should mention that the Maurice Newman Segment will return to Media Watch Dog on Friday. It’s been missing due to competing material as media types compete with one another to appear each Friday in MWD.
(Presumably) Maurice Newman: Just before you go any further – I should stop you. It’s James Spigelman here. All I can say is that your phone contact records must be seriously out of date.
Gerard Henderson: Apologies Jim. Yes, the details must not have been updated since Maurice sat in your chair. By the way, I also have you down as chairman of Melon Pastoral Pty Ltd. Can this be you? Have you taken up gentleman farming down Goulburn way before you step down as ABC chairman?
James Spigelman: No I have not. Also, I like wind farms.
It was here that your man Spigelman concluded the conversation and Hendo went off to correct his records in a highly-embarrassed state, of course. It was just more stress in his highly stressful day.
By the way, for those who do not know, Maurice Newman is a vocal opponent of wind farms. Mr Spigelman’s evident support for these taxpayer subsidised concrete based structures is one of a number of factors which distinguish him from his predecessor.
CAN YOU BEAR IT?
- PETER FITZSIMONS’ LOVE AFFAIR WITH BIRD-MURDERING WIND TURBINES
While on the topic of wind farms, its apposite to remember that Australia’s current and potential energy supply problems commenced with the decision of various governments to subsidise solar and wind energy. The taxpayer subsidies to these alternative industries under the RET (Renewable Energy Target) put pressure on coal fired terminals and made their replacement uneconomical. So, for the first time in Australian history, energy rich Australia faces the danger of a shortage of energy since intermittent energy (solar, wind) cannot deliver base-line power on a regular basis. To wit, South Australia.
The eco-catastrophists’ love-affair with wind power was demonstrated in a recent Fairfax Media column by leftist luvvie Peter FitzSimons in the Sun-Herald. This is what the Red-Bandannaed One wrote on 27 February 2017:
On that general subject, of renewables, back in the day the only place I remember seeing wind turbines was a very few out Grenfell way, and then those ones that you see off Lake George, on the approach to Canberra. Well, no more. Flying back from Darwin last Sunday arvo, my Qantas flight had to circle regional NSW on the approaches to Kingsford Smith Airport, and there they were, somewhere west of Goulburn: dozens upon dozens of turbines, atop a series of ridges stretching out to the west, lazily and gloriously spinning in the afternoon sun. Let a thousand flowers bloom. I have seen the future, and this is it.
Oh, the wonder. There’s Fitz burning up non-renewable energy in a business class seat on a Qantas flight, looking down on somewhere west of Goulburn (where Maurice Newman’s farm is located) watching dozens upon dozens of turbines lazily and gloriously spinning in the afternoon sun. Let a thousand flowers bloom – as Mao Zedong was wont to say before murdering millions upon millions of Chinese peasants and intellectuals alike.
MWD asked Nancy for a second opinion. Here it is:
Nancy: When burning up scarce fossil fuels in a Qantas economy seat on the way back from Darwin, I occasionally looked out of the window west of Goulburn. The inhumanity. The inhumanity. For I saw dozens of wind-turbines atop a series of ridges – lazily and gloriously slaughtering all the bird life that happens to run into their murderous propellers. Then, I looked out of the Qantas window west of Goulburn and it’s not windy at all. This is good for bird life but produces no energy whatsoever. I have seen the (South Australian) future – and it doesn’t work.
Thank you Nancy. Is there anything more unctuous than the wealthy, Mosman residing Fitz – living in a wealthy Sydney suburb bereft of wind turbines and their noise – barracking for renewable energy sure in the knowledge that energy prices, which impact primarily on both business and the poor, will increase. Can You Bear It?
- NO FEMALE NIRVANA AT FAIRFAX MEDIA’S THE AGE
While on the topic of Fairfax Media high-flyers, thanks to the avid reader who sent the pics of The Age’s female staff plus, apparently, a couple of gender imposters – who posed for a 1980s style Female Liberation Moment outside The-Guardian- on-the-Yarra’s Melbourne headquarters. Cute, eh?
What a pity that none of The Age’s cohort of feminist journalists saw fit to report the comment of Keysar Trad only a few days earlier that domestic violence against women can be justified as a last resort.
Later on the chaps at The Age organised a sausage sizzle for their female comrades. MWD hears that no one, but no one, spoke about the fact that – on Fairfax Media CEO Greg Heywood’s watch – there are very few females in The Age’s management structure and the newspaper has never had a female editor-in-chief.
Any rate ma’am. Forget about gender equality for the moment. Would you like this snag on International Women’s Day? Can You Bear It?
- MARXIST COMEDIAN GUY RUNDLE SHOWS CONTEMPT FOR THE AUSSIE WORKING CLASS
While on the topic of the Melbourne left, did anyone really read Guy Rundle’s piece titled “What happened when Guy Rundle scored an interview with Pauline Hanson” in Crikey yesterday?
Probably not. After all it ran for some 3100 words. Here’s Hendo’s summary for busy Crikey readers [Does such an entity really exist? – MWD Editor]
▪ Describing the reaction of Pauline Hanson and her staff to a demonstrator named Kate who held up a “You Are The Worst!” placard, MWD’s favourite Marxist comedian wrote:
People around Hanson were slow to react — too-slow reaction is what Hanson’s people do best — but Hanson kept her cool. “Ohhhh, look if you disagreed with me, why didn’t you come over and talk about it.”
“Because there’s nothing we could talk about we could possibly agree on,” said Kate, folding up the sign. “There’s nothing to talk about.”
Hanson scoped the situation as [James] Ashby, about as useful as a creme brulee dildo, began to bluster. She turned on that heel again, down the street towards the ABC shopfront.
The reference to a crème brulee dildo is a joke pinched from The Thick of It where reference is made to a “marzipan dildo”.
- Then Comrade Rundle made a reference to the protestor Kate and her boyfriend – comparing them favourably to Pauline Hanson’s supporters:
That they weren’t Hansonistas should have been obvious: clear skin, absence of sagging tatts of Celtic crosses and Eminem, no mouth-damp half-lit Horizon 50 hanging from the lower lip.
So there you have it. Reading right through Comrade Rundle’s turgid prose reveals that the Marxist comedian not only pinches the jokes of others but that the Brighton Grammar alumnus has contempt – utter contempt – for the working class. Can You Bear It?
- THE OUTSIDERS’ SERIOUS BINGLE
MWD is a fan of the Outsiders on Sky News at 10 am on Sundays – starring Mark (“The Lair of Liverpool”) Latham, Ross Cameron and Rowan Dean.
Last Sunday the Troglodyte Trio introduced a new segment to the program – outing weak members of the Liberal Party who do not have the intellectual courage to stand up to the Sandalista Left in our midst. Let’s go to the transcript and hear from the editor of The Spectator Australia:
Rowan Dean: You mentioned earlier Mark, the weak Liberals and our special Darcy Award. Now, this is a new award we’re introducing. There was a British economic historian and socialist called R.H. Tawney and he once disparaged weak Labour governments in the UK as the equivalent of the nice bachelors in the Jane Austen novels. Of whom there was nothing more substantial to say than his countenance was pleasing and his manners gentleman-like. So, Mark and Ross and I thought we should be awarding a Mr Darcy Award. A nice bachelor of Jane-Austen-style-chinless-wonder to those weak Liberal MPs who are not standing up – as Mark said – for the cultural wars and are letting the side down.
Brilliant idea? Er, not quite. As viewers soon advised the Troglodyte Trio, Mr Darcy was a bit of a dasher. In today’s terminology, he was “cool” or “hot” but never warm. Your man Darcy, as depicted by Jane Austen, was by no means a weak person without substance.
The good news is that the award continues – with the name changed to the Bingley Award. The reference is to the nice but oh-so-weak Mr Bingley in Pride and Prejudice. [A bit like Nice Mr Scott perhaps? – MWD Editor]
In his biography Santamaria: A Most Unusual Man (MUP, 2015), Gerard Henderson wrote that the late B.A. Santamaria often spoke at length about books he had not read. It seems that not one of Messers Latham, Cameron and Dean have read Miss Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Mr Latham seems to read track guides and Mr Cameron, Greek and Roman mythology. Which leaves the trio reliant on Mr Dean who can’t tell his Darce from his Bingle. Can you bear it?
MAURICE NEWMAN SEGMENT
IN WHICH ONLY ONE VIEW ABOUT IVANKA TRUMP IS HEARD ON ABC’s LATE NIGHT LIVE
Due to unprecedented demand, the re-booted Maurice Newman Segment gets another run this week. As MWD readers will know, this (hugely popular) segment is devoted to former ABC chairman Maurice Newman’s suggestion that a certain “group think” might be prevalent at the ABC. And to former ABC managing director Mark Scott’s belief that there is no causal relationship between the political beliefs of ABC presenters, producers and editors and what they say or the talent they commission on ABC television, radio and online outlets.
Formerly this segment involved a play-off between one-time ABC TV Media Watch presenter Jonathan Holmes and Maurice Newman. However, shortly after handing over the Media Watch presenter’s chair, your man Holmes conceded that – at least with respect to ABC Radio – the likes of Andrew Bolt and Gerard Henderson were correct in that the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s radio output was overwhelmingly leftist. See MWD Issue 329. So your man Holmes stepped down from the segment and was replaced by Nice Mr Scott who never spoke a critical word about his ABC when he was ABC managing director/editor-in-chief. Now read on.
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Wasn’t it uplifting that ABC stood down all its bloke presenters last Wednesday – International Women’s Day – and replaced them with sheilas? And so it came to pass that Radio National Late Night Live presenter Phillip (“I was a teenage communist”) Adams handed over the microphone to Ellen Fanning. It was a busy IWD for Ms Fanning since she also replaced John (“Yes, I am a member of United States Studies Centre – where every bloke and every sheila said that Hillary Clinton would become US president last November”) Barron as presenter of The Drum and interviewed an all-female panel.
In any event, on 8 March 2016, Ms Fanning – with a little help from producer Amruta Slee – interviewed Sarah Grey and Peter Stevenson about Ivanka Trump. Ms Grey is editor and co-writer for The Establishment and Mr Stevenson is editor of the Washington Post’s “The Fix” blog.
Ellen Fanning introduced Sarah Grey as someone who had been critical of Hillary Clinton. Well, yes – but from a left liberal perspective. And Peter Stevenson – well, he writes for the left-liberal Washington Post. Say no more – as the saying goes.
Sarah Grey bagged Ivanka Trump on International Women’s Day. Then Peter Stevenson agreed with Sarah Grey – and Ms Grey agreed with Mr Stevenson who agreed with Ms Grey who agreed with Mr Stevenson. Ellen Fanning did little to interrupt the anti-Ivanka Trump chorus.
The LNL’s blurb for the segment reads as follows:
Who is the real Ivanka Trump? Is Ivanka Trump the very model of a modern woman – powerful, successful and independent – or is she a polished enabler of misogyny and privilege?
So, who is the real Ivanka Trump? You’ve guessed it. According to Late Night Live, Ms Trump is a polished enabler of her father’s misogyny and privilege. No other view was heard. And this on International Women’s Day. This was yet another example of the “debate” you hear on the ABC where everyone agrees with everyone else and no “dissenting” views are heard.
And now for the result of this week’s Maurice Newman Segment:
Maurice Newman: 3
Nice Mr Scott: Zip
SOME MISTAKE, SURELY – HENDO’S HOWLER WATCH
PAULINE HANSON’S OPTIONAL PREFERENCES CONFUSION
Due to enormous public demand, Nancy’s (male) co-owner has agreed to preside over a new segment that will analyse howlers made in the midst of debate and not picked up by others. This is the very least that Gerard Henderson can do in this (new) media world of truth, post-truth, fact, non-facts (aka whoppers), alternative facts and so on.
Let’s go to the transcript of Insiders’ presenter Barrie Cassidy’s interview with One Nation leader Senator Pauline Hanson last Sunday:
Barrie Cassidy: You have changed your mind on preferences haven’t you? You are now prepared to do deals with the Liberal Party?
Pauline Hanson: No, they’ve changed their mind and they want to do preference deals with One Nation.
Barrie Cassidy: You have signed up to that?
Pauline Hanson: Yes, I agree with it. I have no problem with saying that because it is our best chance of getting One Nation candidates elected to the floor of Parliament. Of course, who is not going to do it? If you look at what happened in the past, the Howard Government changes the preferences from optional preferential voting in the 1988 election. That was the first time they colluded together. They agreed to get rid of One Nation and put us last on the how-to-vote tickets.
Barrie Cassidy: But you might be paying a price internally. You have lost a candidate, Ray Gould, over this. He said it is an allegiance with the devil – he called it. You said time and time again you would do no deals.
This is hopelessly wrong – irrespective of whether Senator Hanson meant to say 1998 instead of “1988”. John Howard became prime minister in March 1996 and remained in this position until November 2007. No change was made to the voting system to the House of Representatives or to the Senate during the entire period of the Howard government. The only Coalition leader in recent times to change the voting system for the Senate was Malcolm Turnbull in the lead-up to the 2016 double dissolution election.
It is true that in 1996, and subsequent years, the Coalition placed One Nation after the Labor Party on the Liberal Party and Nationals’ how-to-vote cards. But this had nothing to do with optional preferences. There was no optional preference system operating when the Howard government came to office in 1996 or at any time during the period of the Howard government.
All that can be said of Senator Hanson’s claim is the response – SOME MISTAKE, SURELY.
THE FLANN O’BRIEN GONG FOR LITERARY SLUDGE
AND THE WINNER IS ELIZABETH FARRELLY ON ANDY WARHOL & DONALD J. TRUMP
As avid MWD readers will be aware, this segment is inspired by the Irish humourist Brian O’Nolan (1911-1966) – nom de plume Flann O’Brien – and, in particular, his critique of the sometimes incoherent poet Ezra Pound. Your man O’Brien also had the good sense not to take Eamon De Valera (1882-1975), the Fianna Fail prime minister of Ireland, seriously.
The Flann O’Brien Gong for Literary or Verbal Sludge is devoted to outing bad writing or incomprehensible prose or incoherent verbal expression or the use of pretentious words.
According to a report in the leftist Crikey newsletter early last year, the Thursday edition of the Sydney Morning Herald was the day on which fewest number of copies of the newspaper were sold. The solution? Well, move the SMH’s “star” Thursday columnist Elizabeth Farrelly to the weekend edition and see what happens.
Dr Farrelly (for a doctor she is) commenced in the SMH’s Saturday edition on 4 June 2016. Nancy’s (male) co-owner does not usually read Elizabeth Farrelly’s sludge – unless he has a Saturday morning post Gin & Tonic induced hangover and needs a form of shock treatment. Such was the (sad) situation on the Saturday morning after the last Friday night before when Dr Farrelly’s column – titled “Blame Warhol for the rise of Trump” – commenced as follows:
Every now and then I have a sudden, starry desire to write: “Life is, at its core, a search for truth. For authenticity.” Of course we can argue about defining truth or identifying it, about whether truth and authenticity are synonyms, and about whether it’s a search or a crazed, losing struggle. But still, true love, true self, true seeing; the search is the thing, right? And art lights the way, or so it seems to me. I held to this belief through the hypocrisies of modernism, the irritations of French theory and the banalities of pomo – only to land here, whatever we call this post-truth present. Truth? Pah. Blame Trump, of course, but behind that, blame Warhol.
Nice “logic”, if you can get it. Somehow or other, Elizabeth Farrelly claims that the West Connex project (by the way, this is a toll-road in Western Sydney) came out of “futurism”. And then she asserts that Donald J. Trump “acts out Warhol”. Next, Dr Farrelly had this to say:
Warhol is vastly seductive. His graphic capacity is arresting, his energy immense, his writing compulsive. I read From A to B and Back Again on the Tube from Camden Town. It seemed perfect. Someone would be surreptitiously feeling you up while pretending to read The Independent folded into an eight-centimetre square and Warhol would be saying “in the late ’50s I started an affair with my television … But I didn’t get married until 1964 when I got my first tape recorder. My wife. My tape recorder and I have been married for 10 years now.”
OMG. So Elizabeth Farrelly’s thesis that the late Andy Warhol is somehow responsible for the very present Donald Trump can be explained with reference to (i) the West Connex motor way in Sydney and (ii) being felt up by (presumably) men who pretended to read The Independent while on the London Tube from Camden Town to somewhere or other at some time or other.
There followed name-dropping about a chap called Duchamp (the reference is to Henri-Robert-Marcel Duchamp), along with James Joyce and Hannah Hoch and Grayson Perry and alchemism and to teaching journalism in “umbilical conjunction with public relations”. Until the following truly incomprehensible conclusion:
Truth may not be evident, simple, verifiable, or even knowable but it does exist. The true causality of climate change exists, and will play out, regardless of belief. So see Adman: Warhol, by all means. Enjoy. But remember, that fey, bottle-blond commerciality is no harmless conceit. It signifies, big time. We’re living it.
Yeah, right – whatever this means. MWD closes this Flann O’Brien segment with a personal reflection following a quote from your man O’Brien:
By Flann O’Brien
of Ezra Pound
My grasp of what he wrote and meant
Was only five or six %
The rest was only words and sound —
My reference is to Ezra £
Inspired by your man O’Brien, this is Nancy’s literary effort for today:
of Doc Farrelly
My grasp of what she wrote and meant
Was only five or six per cent
Andy, Donald and all that crock
From The (Confused) Thought of the Doc
IN THE MATTER OF SENATOR DERRYN HINCH’S SNOBBISH RUDENESS
Derryn Hinch’s recent elevation to the Senate was good news for viewers of Sky News. It meant that the Hinch Live program became “Hinch – Dead, Cremated and Buried”, and not before time.
As avid MWD readers will recall, your man Hinch used to bang on and on about how (allegedly) Tony Abbott held dual citizenship and, consequently, was not entitled to sit in the House of Representatives. Needless to say, The Human Mumble had not a shred of evidence to support his conspiracy theory as told to Hinch Live viewers. Your man Hinch was Australia’s very own “birther” running the same line against (then) prime minister Abbott as Donald J. Trump ran against (then) US president Barack Obama.
Now Senator Hinch writes a truly boring “Senate Diary” each week in the leftist newsletter Crikey. Here’s how the Human Mumble’s “Diary” ended yesterday:
I’m beginning to think I must be a magnet for, shall we say, unusual Comcar drivers. In my first week in Canberra last year there was the one who mentioned seeing Paul Keating walking alone in Parliament House. Followed by: “The people you meet when you haven’t got a gun!” After one late-night estimates hearing last week, I headed out of the Senate portal to be asked the common question “front or back” when the white shuttle car with the red-and-white plates pulled up.
Laden down with a bulging briefcase and a couple of bulky red files, and wanting to make some phone calls on the way back to the hotel, I indicated the back.
It prompted this exchange: “You always sit in the back?” “No, sometimes I sit in the front, but I’ve got some work to do.” Stony silence. Then: “I thought only royalty sat in the back.”
Maybe it was because I’d just spent 15 hours straight in the word factory. Maybe it was because I’ve always thought it a wank when pollies, wearing $1000-$2000 suits, thought it made them “men of the people” by sitting in the front seat. Maybe because when I hire a taxi or a limo, at my expense, I sit in the back. Maybe I was just tired, but I said: “Only royalty? Well, Nikita Khrushchev always sat in the back in those crappy black cars in communist Moscow.”
Yawn, Yawn. Yawn. Does anyone really care about whether Senator Hinch places his posterior in the front or back of a Comcar? And is anyone really interested whether or not the Human Mumble humiliated his Comcar driver by telling him that Nikita Khrushchev used to sit in the back of his black car in Moscow half a century ago? Nikita who?
In any event, the Senator from Victoria should know that it’s rude to try and score points off Comcar, hirecar or taxi drivers. Just rude. Your man Hinch should fight in his own division.
Derryn Hinch – it’s off to Nancy’s Courtesy Classes for you.
FEATURING THE LATE BOB ELLIS AND THE EVEN LATER CYRIL WYNDHAM ON THE LABOR SPLIT
Due to popular demand [Is there such a notion as unpopular demand? MWD Editor] the hugely popular “Nancy’s Old Bones” returns to MWD this week. The segment is devoted to digging up old matters which may have been forgotten.
MWD has yet to get over the untimely death of Bob Ellis (1942-2016). The False Prophet of Palm Beach used to provide MWD with lotsa copy. The passing of your man Ellis and the (apparently temporary) decision of Mike Carlton (aka the Sage of Palm Beach) to go off the turps has made the last year more difficult than would otherwise have been the case.
Bob Ellis was enormously proud of his piss-poor ABC TV series The True Believers which he co-wrote with Stephen Ramsay. It aired in June 1988. The Ellis take on the Labor Party Split of the mid-1950s was over-loaded with sentiment and howlers. Put simply, Ellis went into bat for the late Bert Evatt, who led the Labor Party for most of the 1950s after succeeding Ben Chifley. Gerard Henderson critiqued the True Believers in an article in the Media Watch publication in August 1988 (see here) – focusing on the Prophet Ellis’ white-wash of Evatt’s errors which sparked the Split in Victoria in 1955 and which soon spread to other states, most notably Queensland.
When digging through his archives last week, Gerard Henderson came across a quaint advertisement in the even quainter Daily Commercial News in 1988 which read as follows:
Would any person who had personal contact with or knowledge of the characters and incidents depicted in the ABC television series “The True Believers” please write giving details to:
Cyril S. Wyndham
C/ GPO Box xxxx
No incident should be considered too trivial or unimportant. Anything which will help correct the many misconceptions, distortions and gross errors of fact in this Hollywood version of a crucial time in Australian history will be welcomed in helping to set the record straight before fiction is accepted as fact.
Cyril W. Wyndham (1930-2012) became secretary of the Australian Labor Party in 1961 and two years later was appointed the party’s first salaried national secretary. He stepped down from this position in 1969 after his plan to reform Labor ran into considerable opposition.
Former Labor minister Gary Gray had this to say about Cyril Wyndham in the Federation Chamber on 21 April 2012:
Regrettably, only some of these measures [in the Wyndham Plan] were implemented – again, a familiar story. Wyndham’s proposals to increase party democracy were not heeded. The ALP would be a stronger party today if the Wyndham Plan had been more fully implemented at the time. Cyril ended his stint as federal secretary in 1969 after six gruelling, tumultuous years of Labor opposition dominated by the Vietnam War. ALP leadership tensions, the faceless men, the state aid for schools debate and numerous other controversies. In the end he felt, understandably, ground down by it all and he decided to withdraw from active involvement in politics. But he had been a bridge from the Labor of [Bert] Evatt and [Arthur] Calwell to the hope of Labor under [Gough] Whitlam. In many ways, the Wyndham Plan and Gough Whitlam’s program sat comfortably together.
Cyril Wyndham knew a lot about the Labor Party. And he knew that Bob Ellis’ The True Believers was replete with exaggerations and howlers. Yet it was proudly embraced by ABC three decades ago. And sent much of what would be called today “fake history” into Australia’s colleges and universities.
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