19 May 2017

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: Fiona Scott & the 2017 Sydney Writers Festival 
  • MWD Exclusive: New ABC Chairman continues public broadcaster’s fudge concerning the late Professor Richard Downing 
  • Sandalista Watch: In which Nancy takes on the sandal-wearing Leunig in the Battle of Cartoons 
  • Can You Bear It? Deb Wright on the Chaser Boys, Sami Shah on himself, Helen Dale’s coincidence & Louise Milligan’s Cardinal 
  • Nancy’s Modest Proposal: In which Nancy’s Modest Proposal that President Trump should drink alcohol is embraced by Fox News’ The Five 
  • Media Fool of the Week: Step forward The Age’s Ron Tandberg 
  • The US[ELESS] Studies Centre: An Update – In which Simon (“I was hopelessly wrong on the US election”) Jackman foreshadows a possible impeachment in the US 
  • Great Media U-Turns of Our Time: Greg Hywood on Fairfax Media & the ABC 
  • Brand New Endorsement: From La Trobe University’s Nick Bisley 
  • Correspondence: ABC Chairman Justin Milne helps out on why history doesn’t matter (to the public broadcaster) & the Red Bandannaed One declines to help out in spite of a $20 000 reward for information concerning a location in Rome.






What a stunning performance by former Liberal MP Fiona Scott on Sky News’ Paul Murray Live last night.  In a vigorous defence of the Turnbull government’s 2017 budget, Ms Scott declared that there was no alternative but to increase taxes, spending and borrowing since “we had a double disillusion[sic]” last July.  The message was simple – the Coalition has to deal with the Senate that came into existence after the July 2017 double dissolution.

The former member for Lindsay, who surprisingly lost her seat after a poor campaign, is correct. Sort of.  Yes, there was a double dissolution last year and the Coalition has no alternative but to deal with its political consequences.  Labor won 14 seats from the Coaliton and was returned with a majority of one in the House of Representatives. And the Coalition did poorly in the Senate, leaving itself short of a majority in the upper house.

Ms Scott has accurately – if, perhaps, unintentionally – depicted the disillusionment of many Coalition supporters today.


 News has just arrived in Nancy’s inbox that Louise Milligan is a late starter in the tax-payer subsidised Sydney Writers Festival, “Crimes of the Fathers” session next Thursday.

As the SWF blurb now states:

As country after country reels from revelations about the systemic sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church, three of Australia’s pre‑eminent voices discuss the crimes and causes of this institutional dysfunction. Tom Keneally (Crimes of the Father), James M. Miller (The Priests) and Louise Milligan (Cardinal) join David Marr (Quarterly Essay: The Prince) for a powerful conversation about sexual abuse, conscience and celibacy in the Catholic Church.

As MWD pointed out in Issue 357 , the 2017 SWF is another leftist stack with little or any debate – and where virtually all of the speakers virtually agree with themselves on contentious issues.

It’s much the same with SWF’s focus on child sexual abuse – but only with respect to the Catholic Church, of course.

Roll up next Thursday and hear Tom agree with Louise as Louise agrees with David as David agrees with Tom who agrees with James who agrees with Louise who agrees with David who agrees with himself.

It’s called tax-payer funded debate – Sydney Writers Festival style. Needless to say, the 2017 SWF is supported by the ABC and Fairfax Media. Say no more.


Imagine what ABC journalists would say if an Anglican or Catholic bishop had declared in 1975, speaking on behalf of his diocese, that Australians should “understand” the urges of clerical pederasts since “in general, men will sleep with young boys”.

You’re right.  The four decades old statement would be condemned today and the bishop’s successors would be required to denounce it every morning, every night and frequently during the day.

As avid readers are aware, in July 1975, ABC chairman Richard Downing (1915-1975) defended ABC program titled “Pederasty” by telling the Sydney Morning Herald, in his official capacity as ABC chairman, that Australians should “understand” the urges of pederasts since “in general, men will sleep with young boys”.

Former ABC chairman Jim Spigelman refused to distance the ABC from Professor Downing’s comments and declined to adopt a duty of care with respect to any surviving victims of the self-declared pederasts who appeared on the “Pederasty” program.  If alive, the victims would be around 50 years of age – that is, about the age of a number of complainants who have appeared before the Royal Commission and whose testament has been reported extensively by ABC journalists like Louise Milligan.

In an “MWD Exclusive”, MWD reveals today that new ABC chairman Justine Milne has also gone into denial about the statement of one of his predecessors.  As today’s “Correspondence” segment reveals, Mr Milne has written to Gerard Henderson advising that “there is nothing to be gained by revisiting this matter”.

How convenient.  According to the contemporary ABC chairman there is nothing to be gained in the ABC distancing itself from the sympathetic approach to pederasty adopted by one of his predecessors . Not even if the victims of the self-confessed pederasts, to whom Professor Downing referred in 1975, might be alive today.

How convenient, too, that no ABC journalist has reported Professor Downing’s historical comments on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.  Not even the fearless Louise Milligan – who, at other times, exhibits a detailed interest with alleged instances of historical child sexual abuse.

But would the likes of Ms Milligan turn a blind eye to a Downing-like statement made four decades ago by a Christian leader? Not on your nelly.

In his 1937 book The Road to Wigan Pier, George Orwell defended “the ordinary decent person” against “the intellectual, book-trained socialist”. He wrote that the latter: “… type is drawn, to begin with, entirely from the middle class, and from a rootless town-bred section of that middle class at that. …It includes…the foaming denouncers of the bourgeoisie, and the more-water-in your- beer reformers of whom [George Bernard] Shaw is the prototype, and the astute young social-literary climbers…and all that dreary tribe of high-minded women and sandal-wearers and bearded fruitjuice drinkers who come flocking towards the smell of ‘progress’ like bluebottles to a dead cat.”

 The sandal-wearing Michael Leunig is very much the embodiment of the left who control the pages of The Age. In years gone by, it was the fashion of the Communist Party of Australia, on instructions from Moscow, to depict conservative and social democratic supporters of the Australian-American Alliance as toadies to a “Great and Powerful Friend.”

This overlooked the fact that many of the left were taodies to the various communist dictators in Moscow, East Berlin, Beijing, Hanoi and more besides.

In The Age on 26 April 2017 (just after Anzac Day) Comrade Leunig presented the following cartoon – in the Marxist tradition of old. At MWD’s suggestion, Nancy has presented a rival cartoon for the consideration of avid readers. Here we go.











The taxpayer funded public broadcaster is currently running a series on waste by Craig Reucassel – a member of “The Chaser Boys” (along with Chas Licciardello, Julian Morrow, Andrew Hansen and Chris Taylor.)

Last Wednesday, on the ABC Sydney Mornings program Deb Knight stood in for Wendy (“I’m an old fashioned socialist”) Harmer who appears to be on a Well Earned Break. Or WEB in MWD terminology.

After plugging The War on Waste program, Ms Knight referred to the afore mentioned Craig Reucassel as one of The Chaser “crazy kids”. Crazy kids?  Mr Reucassel is not far off grandparent age. And yet ABC presenters still refer to The Chaser Boys (Average age 481/2) as “crazy kids”. Can You Bear It?


There was enormous interest in MWD’s scoop last week revealing ABC star Virginia Trioli’s comment that the ABC news and current affairs needs more comedians since “they’re some of the best political analysts you’ll ever talk to”.  This followed another appearance on ABC News Breakfast’s “Newspapers” segment by comedian Sami Shah.

MWD reminded readers that when Mr Shah appeared on News Breakfast on 4 November 2016 he provided the “best political analysis” on the eve of the US presidential election. Sure did. Here it is:

Sami Shah: I’m still not convinced he [Donald J. Trump] wants to be president … He’s frightened out of his mind – he doesn’t want this… It’s going to be a thing where he – whoever the vice-president becomes will be the president. And he’ll [i.e. Trump will] be there just doing what he does.

Following Hendo’s comment that it was absolute tosh to believe that alpha male Donald J. Trump wanted to be defeated by a woman named Hillary Clinton, your man Sami Shah said that his 4 November 2016 comment had really been, wait for it, a JOKE.   Just a joke.

Thanks to the avid reader who provided the following insight into your man Shah’s twitter stream:


In his Twitter response to Shibil Siddiqi, Sami Shah merely repeated his “joke” which, by the way, was taken from MWD’s transcript.  Always pleased to be of service, Mr Shah.

The problem is that Sami Shah’s comment that Trump really didn’t want to defeat Clinton was not presented as a joke at the time.  Well, not an intentional one.  For the fact is that News Breakfast co-presenter Virginia Trioli told Shah that she agreed with his analysis.  How about that?

Yet now Mr Shah reckons that his Trump-doesn’t-want-to-be-president analysis was not meant seriously.  If true, this suggests that Virginia Trioli reckons that comedians give the “best” political analysis because they’re not serious.  La Trioli – tell Hendo it isn’t so.   Can You Bear It?


In Issue 357, MWD reported that Helen Dale (nee Darville) – who became Helen Demidenko before she became Helen Dale – is planning a re-issue of her anti-semitic rant The Hand That Signed The Paper, which just happened to win the Miles Franklin Award for literature in 1994.

Some avid readers have asked for the transcript of the 7.30 Report when Gerard Henderson clashed with Helen Demidenko (on 23 June 1995) with the late Andrew Olle in the presenter’s chair all those years ago – it is here.

Around the time of the publication of The Hand That Signed The Paper, Demidenko/Darville/Dale got into trouble with the Courier Mail – for which she briefly wrote a column – concerning the issue of, er, plagiarism.   So lotsa thanks to the avid reader who supplied Hendo with this recent “what-a-coincidence” moment when a Helen Dale tweet from The Old Dart just happened to resemble a tweet from an Australian based tweeter.

First, there was this tweet:


Followed, soon after, by this Facebook post:


Coincidental, to be sure.  But brilliant, surely.  Worth another Miles Franklin Award. Can You Bear It?



Could Louise Milligan’s Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell (MUP, 2017) be the most flowery non-fiction book published in Australia this century?  Probably.  In any event, MUP’s video promoting Ms Milligan’s opus magnum – or is it magnum opus? – would certainly be shortlisted for the most hyperbolic visual plug for what is supposed to be a work of contemporary history – see here.

Last Tuesday, Louise Milligan was very busy being interviewed by her ABC workmates about her book.  There was the Fran Kelly RN Breakfast interview followed by discussions with James O’Loughlin on ABC Sydney followed by Jon Faine on ABC Melbourne.  Mr Faine said he had read most of the book.  Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly did not pretend to have read Cardinal – nor did Mr O’Loughlin.  Fair enough.  Without warning, MUP brought the release date forward from 1 July 2017 to early this week and few interviewers had time to read the tome before they spoke to the author.

On ABC TV News Breakfast, Virginia Trioli declared that the author’s “research is thorough”. But is it?  Here are MWD’s initial comments – more will probably follow later – about facts and flowing language and all that stuff.

  • Chapter 3. Louise Milligan quotes Michael Costigan on stating that Pell “enjoys the carrion thrust of religious debate”.  Thanks to James Franklin who reckons that this should have been transcribed as Pell “enjoys the parry and thrust of religious debate”.
  • Chapter 3. The author maintains that “the smoke practically bellowed out of Pell’s ears”. What?  Did the cardinal train in the circus?
  • Chapter 3. Ms Milligan reckons that B.A. Santamaria “split the Australian Labor Party to form the DLP” in 1955 – all on his very own, apparently.  What a load of absolute tosh.  Santamaria was never a member of any party. It is very difficult to split a political party of which you are not a member. Even Santamaria’s most outspoken opponents now concede that one-time Labor leader Dr Bert Evatt was primarily responsible for the Labor Split, since he initiated the hostilities.
  • Chapter 5. The reference is to Pell’s “publicly stated spin”. Get it?  George Pell’s critics do truth – and the cardinal does spin.  Also Pell’s critics talked while the cardinal “blustered”. Fancy that.
  • Chapter 7.  Here George Pell is referred to as a “social butterfly”. Not just a butterfly – a social one to boot. Really.  Meanwhile, later in this chapter, “the wagons begin to circle” around the cardinal. In this chapter Pell supporter Miranda Devine is described as “a conservative Catholic, one of Jane Fraser’s gregarious dining set”. Quite an achievement when you think about it.  Jane Fraser died in 2015 after suffering from dementia.
  •  Chapter 28.  Here we are told that not only “the worm is turning for Pell” but also “the tide of history is washing away from the Pell conception of the faith”.  Which suggests that the cardinal will be loosed of his worms as they are washed away in the tide of history. There’s more, much more like this. Can You Bear It?

 [I’m surprised that you did not give L.M. MWD’s prestigious Flann O’Brien gong for Literary Sludge award this week. – MWD Editor.] 



 This increasingly popular segment of MWD is inspired by the Irish satirist Jonathan Swift’s attempt to relieve the plight of the Irish under British control by certain suggestions which he proffered in his writings. As a consequence of which, your clergyman Swift never attained his due rank within the Church of Ireland (i.e. the Anglican Church in Ireland). But that’s another story.

As avid readers will recall, MWD has proposed that President Trump should embrace the Gin & Tonic culture in order to prevent him from tweeting before the cock crows – so to speak.

Here’s Nancy’s Modest Proposal of March 24 2017

President Trump should fall off the wagon. If he has three Gin & Tonics before dinner and a bottle of wine with his favourite McDonald’s serve for dinner, the president is likely to doze well beyond his three to four hour sleep a night. He might not wake up until, say, 6.30 am by which time every cock will have crowed. All he would need to do is reach for the Barocca and swallow the tablets with some coke. Then head for a bacon and eggs mosh-up at the White House kitchen. Then get to the Oval Office ready to tackle the world beyond 140 characters.

A Modest Proposal – here’s hoping it works.

On Fox News last Friday evening (New York Time), the following conversation took place.

Greg Gutfield: He’s [President Trump] not doing one thing a day, he’s usually doing four or five things a day. Comparative to like a Pilates instructor or a cyclist who’s – the class can’t keep up. He’s always working everybody to the bone, so people can’t keep up with them -including his own staff. His staff can’t keep up.

Jesse Watters: So, you’re saying the President has ADD and he’s calling meetings and he’s doing this and he’s doing that?

Greg Gutfield: I wouldn’t say ADD, I’d say – because he doesn’t sleep, he doesn’t drink, so he never has a hangover. Hangovers generally keep everybody in DC from doing anything before 11.

Bob Beckel: Listen, I was a drunk for 30 years and I never saw noon, that was exactly right.

It’s truly great to see that at least three of The Five are at one with Nancy – and believe that all of the President’s problems would be relieved if he gave alcohol a chance.



 In its on-going obsessive campaign against George Pell, The Age carried this cartoon on Tuesday.


The implication is that, because he took a two hour flight from Rome to London recently, Cardinal Pell is not really unwell and in feigning an illness. This is a serious allegation, unsupported by any evidence of any kind.

In fact, George Pell suffered a heart attack in the 1990s and another one in Rome in the current decade which led to him being fitted with a pacemaker.  Cardinal Pell is also known to suffer from high blood pressure.  As even The Age once reported, such existing conditions can lead to heart failure on long-haul flights (i.e. from Rome to Sydney/Melbourne) but not on short-haul flights (i.e. from Rome to London).

Clearly neither Tandberg nor The Age’s editor know what they are talking about.  And this from Fairfax Media which is forever lecturing others on the need to respect individuals with medical conditions.



 Despite the fact that everyone at the United States Studies Centre got the outcome of the US presidential election wrong – and despite the fact that, according to Professor Simon Jackman’s (the USSC’s chief executive officer) not one among his lot supports Donald J. Trump – it’s surprising that the ABC continues to go to the USSC for “expert” advice on American politics.

Last Wednesday, 7.30’s Julie Holman REACHED OUT (as the cliché goes) to your man Jackman who provided the following “expert” comment concerning a possible impeachment of President Trump.

Prof. Simon Jackman: The words “obstruction of justice” come to mind. Bribery is perhaps also been talked about which is one of the heads to start an impeachment process… Republican controlled House of Representatives has already asked for all documents the FBI may have relating to this, and I think this could well be the pathway to something more consequential for Donald Trump and his presidency.

So Professor Jackman seems to believe that a Trump impeachment is a possibility. We shall see.  If the head of the taxpayer subsidised US[ELESS] Studies Centre is true to form – President Trump will remain in the White House until at least January 2021.


  • Greg Hywood on why the ABC presents no problems for Fairfax Media – 25 April 2011; as told to ABC TV’s Media Watch program

Jonathan Holmes: One just last question. News Limited – some people in News Limited – have been very much questioning in the new era the role of public broadcasters, particularly their insistence on providing free news in any – whether it’s a mobile applications or online or whatever, as a direct competitor to commercial operations like yours. Does that concern you?

Greg Hywood: It’s life. I mean, I mean the ABC is here to stay. I think it does a, you know, a great job for the people of Australia.

Jonathan Holmes: But is it fair that it should be competing? –

Greg Hywood: Fair, fair, fair? I mean I sort of, you know, what’s fair? What’s fair? I think look I think that the ABC has to fulfil its charter, there’s new technologies available for it to do that. If it impacts upon the commercial, the commercial operators, well we’ve got to deal with it.

Jonathan Holmes: But you do see Fairfax Media being an information, a journalistic business thriving in ten years time?

Greg Hywood: Oh yeah. We’re in very good shape and we’re a bit out of fashion but we’ve got a great future I can tell you that.

Jonathan Holmes: Greg Hywood, thanks very much indeed.

Greg Hywood: Thanks Jonathan.

  • Greg Hywood on why the ABC presents lotsa problems for Fairfax Media – in May 2017; as told to the Select Committee on the Future of Public Interest Journalism as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Mr Hywood said he was not “anti-ABC” but was concerned about the public broadcaster “using taxpayer money to drive traffic” to its news websites by paying to boost its Google search results.

These tactics make it harder for online readers to find news articles from companies such as Fairfax that rely on advertising revenue to support journalism, he said. “Why the ABC is taking money out of the system I don’t understand,” he said.

Fairfax Media publishes digital and print editions of The Sydney Morning HeraldThe AgeThe Australian Financial Review and other publications.

Mr Hywood said the ABC was aggressively competing for online audience with companies such as Fairfax, which is creating additional commercial pressure for traditional newspaper companies.

So there you have it. Or not.


How wonderful to receive this endorsement from Nick Bisley – executive director of the La Trobe Asia and Professor of International Relations at La Trobe University in Victoria.


How about that? In last week’s MWD, Dr Bisley (for a doctor he is) was quoted as saying on the ABC News Breakfast “Newspapers” segment, that there is a “very negative perception about the US that exists around the world”. In view of the millions upon millions of people who would love to settle in the United States, your man Bisley’s comment is somewhat hyperbolic – don’t you think?

It seems that senior academics at taxpayer subsidised La Trobe University are somewhat sensitive to criticism.  Hence Professor Bisley equating criticism with trolling.

Meanwhile La Trobe University Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar refuses to answer questions about his edited collection From the Paddock to the Agora which is published by La Trobe University Press.  Robert Manne’s essay on the La Trobe Politics Department between 1975 and 1988 is littered with errors and contains character assassination about deceased La Trobe professors Hugo Wolfsohn and Joan Rydon. Professor Dewar has gone under-the-bed and refuses to say whether or not Professor Manne’s essay was fact-checked by anyone prior to publication.

It’s noticeable that Professor Bisley has not criticised his colleague Robert Manne’s very real trolling of the dead who, alas, cannot troll back. [Perhaps this piece should have appeared in your hugely popular segment Can You Beat It? segment. Just a thought. MWD Editor]

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 Gerard Henderson 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 avid 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).


 As avid readers are well aware, Gerard Henderson is in the habit of asking ABC chairmen whether or not they want to distance themselves from the statement by former ABC chairman Richard Downing in July 1975 that Australians should “understand” the urges of pederasts since “in general, men will sleep with young boys”.  The late Professor Downing (1915-1975) made these comments in his official capacity as ABC chairman.

Former ABC chairman James Spigelman AC AO, dismissed the matter with the supercilious comment that his was “not in Apostolic succession” to his predecessor as ABC chairman. Funny, eh?  For the record, Mr Spigelman also wrote that he had “nothing polite” to say about Hendo’s suggestion that he should distance the contemporary ABC from the views of one of his ABC predecessors. [Your man Spigelman is not Robinson Crusoe in this regard – there are lotsa people who have nothing polite to say about Nancy’s (male) co-owner. – MWD Editor].

In recent times, Gerard Henderson has directed the same query to newly appointed ABC chairman Justin Milne.  Michael Millett, the ABC’s Director of Communications, replied on Mr Milne’s behalf. Now read on.

 Gerard Henderson to Justin Milne – 10 May 2017

Dear Mr Milne

Congratulations for your appointment as chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

I write with reference to one of your predecessors, the late Richard Downing (1915-1975), who was ABC chairman from July 1973 up to his untimely death in November 1975.

In July 1975, Richard Downing – acting in his position as ABC chairman – took a public stand on the issue of pederasty.  In a letter to the Sydney Morning Herald – published on 19 July 1975 – he called on Australians to “understand” the urges of pederasts.  The letter was signed “Prof. R. Downing, Chairman, Australian Broadcasting Commission”. As you know, what was the Australian Broadcasting Commission was renamed the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in 1983.

On the same day, the Sydney Morning Herald quoted the (then) ABC chairman as saying: “In general, men will sleep with young boys…”.

Neither statement made by Professor Downing in 1975 has been overruled or rejected by any of his successors as ABC chairman.  It is reasonable to assume, then, that these statements remain ABC policy and will remain so until an ABC chairman or managing director says otherwise.

As you may be aware, evidence provided to the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse indicates that the crime of pedophilia was at its height in Australia in the 1960s and 1970s.

It was at this time that the ABC Radio program Lateline employed Richard Neville as a presenter. This in spite of the fact that Mr Neville was a self-confessed pedophile, having boasted about having sex with an underage 14-year-old London schoolgirl in his best-selling autobiography Play Power which was published in 1970.

On 13 July 1975, Lateline invited three pederasts into the ABC studio in Sydney – the program was titled “Pederasty”. The program was reported by David Dale in an article titled “Richard Neville shocks them again – on ABC’s ‘rough radio’.” (National Times, 21-26 July 1975).  It was also referred to in K.S. Inglis’ This is the ABC: The Australian Broadcasting Commission – 1932-1983 (Melbourne University Press, 1983). Professor Ken Inglis had unrestricted access to ABC records for his two volume history of the public broadcaster.

During the 13 July 1975 Lateline program, in response to presenter Richard Neville’s questions and comments, the three pederasts spoke of their sexual preferences.  Richard Neville told David Dale about what he termed the atmosphere of relaxation and lack of guilt on Lateline’s “Pederasty” program:

The pederasts on the program….were unrepentant. They were people just talking about what they enjoy doing.  There are people who want Australia to be a completely uniform society.  The Australian media usually present conventional people with conventional attitudes.  I want to explore the diversity of people in this country.

Two of the three pederasts who appeared on Lateline were personal friends of Richard Neville – one of them proposed the Lateline topic. A part of the discussion was edited out before Lateline went to air – it covered the anal rape of a boy.  David Dale also reported: “As the teenage boy on the program described in detail his first experience with a male, one of the pederasts began to moan.”  It was that sort of program.

Not surprisingly, Lateline’s “Pederasty” episode created controversy.  According to K.S. Inglis, (then) ABC managing director Talbot Duckmanton was concerned about the program. However, he was overruled by his chairman.  This is what Professor Downing wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday 19 July 1975 – in his capacity as ABC chairman:

…the phenomenon of pederasty seems appropriate for public discussion in a society which, if it is to be open, democratic and responsible, needs also to understand [emphasis added] the diverse natures of the people who compose that society.

Professor Downing, writing on behalf of the ABC, overlooked the fact that pedophilia – and pederasty – was a crime in 1975.  As it is today.  However, no one at the ABC reported the pederasts to NSW Police.

Despite the fact that the Lateline “Pederasty” program was referred to in Ken Inglis’ This is the ABC in 1983, the ABC has never contradicted Professor Downing’s statements made on its behalf in 1975.

What’s more, there is no evidence that the ABC ever adopted a duty of care with respect to the victims of the three pederasts. This despite the fact that, if alive, they would be about 50 years old today – around the same age as some of the victims who appeared before the Royal Commission.

My specific questions are:

▪ As the ABC’s contemporary chairman, will you disassociate the public broadcaster from comments made by Professor Downing – one of your predecessors – in 1975?  If not, why not?

▪ Does the ABC have any intention of ascertaining whether the victims of the three pederasts who appeared on the 1975 “Pederasty” program are alive today?  If so, does the public broadcaster regard itself as having a duty of care with respect to these victims?  If not, why not?

I ask the above questions against the background of the fact that the ABC in recent years has devoted considerable resources to covering historical allegations of child sexual abuse and reporting the convictions of pedophiles.  Some of these matters relate to the mid-1970s, the same time as “Pederasty” aired on ABC Radio within the subsequent approval of the ABC’s (then) chairman.

I would be grateful for a response before the close of business on Thursday 18 May 2017.

Yours sincerely

Gerard Henderson

cc: Michael Millett


Michael Millett (on behalf of Justin Milne) to Gerard Henderson – 17 May 2017

Dear Gerard

Thank you for your note of 10 May.  I’m responding to you on behalf of the Chairman.

The ABC feels there is nothing to be gained in revisiting this matter. The program and subsequent debate took place a long time ago and did not indicate nor set any kind of policy.

The ABC covers issues and stories.  It does not have a policy on the stories and issues it covers; rather it has policies on things like travel, social media and editorial standards. The ABC does not have, nor has it ever had, a policy on pederasty.

Kind regards

Mick Millett

Gerard Henderson to Michael Millett – 17 May 2017

Dear Michael

Thanks for the prompt reply to my letter to ABC chairman Justin Milne dated 10 May 2017.

I note Mr Milne’s essential response to my email is as follows:

The ABC feels there is nothing to be gained in revisiting this matter. The program and subsequent debate took place a long time ago and did not indicate nor set any kind of policy.

My responses are as follows:

  1. According to the current ABC chairman, the ABC feels that there is no point in revisiting a matter concerning pederasty that “took place a long time ago”. There is an unpleasant double standard here – since ABC journalists currently believe there is much to be gained in revisiting matters concerning pederasty which occurred in the Catholic Church, the Anglican Church and other institutions half a century and more ago.
  1. The “policy” to which I referred was not the 1975 decision by the ABC to employ a self-confessed pedophile to interview three pederasts live in the ABC’s studio on a program titled “Pederasty” without referring the matter to NSW Police.

Rather, the “policy” at issue is the July 1975 statement by former ABC chairman Richard Downing – speaking in his capacity as ABC chairman – calling on Australians to “understand” the urges of pederasts since “in general, men will sleep with young boys”.  Mr Milne’s response fails to even mention the late Richard Downing’s comments.

  1. If, as Mr Milne now claims, the ABC never had a policy on pederasty – what was Professor Downing doing in 1975 making sympathetic statements about pederasty on the ABC’s behalf?
  2. I note that Mr Milne has chosen not to disassociate the contemporary ABC from the statement on pederasty made on the ABC’s behalf by one of his predecessors. In view of this, it is reasonable to assume that Professor Downing’s position that Australians should “understand” the urges of pederasts and that “in general, men will sleep with young boys” remains a position which the current ABC chairman does not believe should be re-visited.

In conclusion, I note that the current ABC chairman is continuing a four decade long ABC decision not to adopt a duty of care with respect to the victims who were interviewed for and appeared on the ABC’s 1975 “Pederasty” program.  This is a standard which ABC journalists would not accept with respect to any other institution.

I trust that you will pass on my response to Justin Milne.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson


 Wasn’t it great to see “The Fitz Files” back in the Sun-Herald last Sunday after the Red Bandannaed One went out in support of his comrades by joining a virtual picket line at Fairfax Media’s Sydney office the previous weekend?

Once again, Fitz made a request for money in support of a good cause.  And, once again, Nancy’s (male) co-owner offered to provide lotsa moolah – if only the Red Bandannaed One will provide the address of a certain (alleged) residence in Rome.  Here we go again:

Gerard Henderson to Peter FitzSimons – 18 May 2017

Good morning Fitz

I refer to last Sunday’s “The Fitz Files” in the Sun Herald where you wrote:

The future of newspapers

You may or may not be aware of the fabulous newspapers, specifically for kids, called Crinkling News, recently featured on 7.30 with your humble correspondent being interviewed. They’re a great outfit, doing important work, but need $200K in the next six days to keep them going until such times as they are free-standing. So far 900 of us have donated $117K. Try if you’d like to contribute.

Maybe I can help this particular good cause.  I note that Crinkling News needs an extra $83,000 by next Saturday to keep going.

I will kick in $20,000 of my own money to support Crinkling News – with only one proviso.

If you provide the address of the “$30 million mansion in Rome” where you claim Cardinal George Pell resides – I will transfer $20,000 to Crinkling News by the close of business today.

That’s the deal.  One address in Rome – from you. And $20,000 for Crinkling News – from me.

I understand that this may be difficult since the Australian media reported this morning that Cardinal Pell lives in an apartment in Rome.  But since you are so sure of your “$30 million mansion in Rome” claim – and this remains on the Fairfax Media website as part of your Sun-Herald column – I can only assume that you know the (alleged) address of the Cardinal’s residence.

Over to you.

Gerard Henderson


Until next time.