GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG

ISSUE NO. 360

12 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: Virginia Trioli on Why Comedians Should Take Over Aunty’s Political Commentary; Bonge’s Howard Howler on The Drum
  • Vale Mark Colvin
  • Fairfax Media Watch: On Mark Kenny & Elizabeth Farrelly
  • A Wendy Harmer Moment: In which Ms Harmer wonders Where Badgerys Creek is
  • Can You Bear It? Alex Malley (Again); Channel 9’s Double Standard on Privacy; Dave Hughes’ Channel 7 Problem; Nick Bisley’s Trumphobia & La Trobe Vice-Chancellor John Dewar’s Continuing Denial with Reference to both Robert Manne and Historical Student Violence at La Trobe
  • Anti-Catholic Sectarian of the Week: And the Winner is Grahame Morris
  • The Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation: The Continuing Saga
  • LA TRIOLI RECKONS THAT AUNTY NEEDS MORE COMEDIANS TO DO POLITICAL ANALYSIS

Did anyone see ABC TV’s News Breakfast this morning? In case the answer is in the negative, comedian Sami Shah did the “Newspapers” gig to much acclaim from Sandalista types – especially after he tried to make fun of The Australian’s coverage of Susan Carland’s claim that Islam is really a feminist friendly religion. Really.

In any event, after the Sandalista-inspired praise for your man Shah, the following conversation took place between the News Breakfast presenters:

Virginia Trioli: Don’t you find that the comedians are some of the best political analysts you’ll ever talk to?

 Michael Rowland: Because they mine the news. The really good ones are topical, like Sami, like Mark Humphries – good morning Mark – mine the day’s events for their gigs or for their TV shows. And they do it really well, like Sami does.

 Virginia Trioli: Because they’ve got that analytical mind for the absurd. That analytical mind, you know, for the inherent contradiction – just great. So, Sammy is going to be a regular on our program. So I’m glad you enjoyed.

In which case, the ABC should sack La Trioli and Mr Rowland and hand over political analysis to comedians like Sami Shah.

By the way, here’s the kind of the “best” political analysis which ABC viewers and listeners can expect to hear as Shah gets regular appearances on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.

Flash back to Sami Shah’s comment on News Breakfast about Donald J. Trump. It took place on News Breakfast on 4 November 2016 – just before the US Presidential election.

Sami Shah: I’m still not convinced he [Donald 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.

What a load of absolute tosh. Donald J. Trump wanted to be president – and he, not Vice-President Mike Pence, is running the White House.

Yet La Trioli reckons that the taxpayer funded public broadcaster should rely much more on comedians like Sami Shah for profound political analysis. Turn it up. 

  • PAUL BONGIORNO’S GST HOWLER

When John Howard was prime minister, the Prime Minister’s Office regarded Network 10’s Paul Bongiorno as the Canberra Press Gallery journalist in the commercial media most hostile to the Coalition. So it was not surprising that, when Bonge ceased full-time employment at Channel 10, he was given a gig as a commentator on ABC Radio National Breakfast and ABC TV’s The Drum – along with a boring column inThe [Boring] Saturday Paper.

Thanks to the overseas-based avid reader who drew MWD’s attention to Bonge’s comments on The Drum last evening. Let’s go to the transcript:

Julia Baird: Have there been many [budgets] that have not been political?

Paul Bongiorno: Very good point Julia. In fact they’re politicians and they do political things and it depends how you want to define “political”. A good political budget surely is one that takes into account what the polis, the people, want. And as one of Malcolm Turnbull’s senior advisers said to me in the lockup, he said: “We’ve been doing it one way for three years and it isn’t working out there. It was time for a change.” And I think he’s right. I think that— and even John Howard, by the way, both yesterday in Melbourne and today in Perth – conceded that, you know, politicians and treasurers do have to take account of the circumstances in which they’re shaping a budget.

And, but what he [Howard] doesn’t like—which is interesting and what he spelt out was—he thought that this budget maybe sold short some of the conservative ideals that he championed in the Liberal Party. And I guess by that… he didn’t like taxing the big banks. He’d prefer other ways. Well those other ways were what? A Goods and Services Tax which, you know, taxed everybody and not only the multi billionaire banks.

What a load of absolute tosh. It seems that your man Bongiorno is unaware of the fact that all the money derived from the Howard government’s GST went to the States – not to the Commonwealth.

The late Mark Colvin was an avid – but not always uncritical – MWD reader. He also corresponded with Gerard Henderson on occasions and Hendo featured occasionally in Mark Colvin’s tweets. Moreover, last year Mr Colvin was a winner of Nancy’s prestigious “Five Paws Award” – for acknowledging in his book Light and Shadows that, as a youth, he had been wrong in believing that the defection of Vladimir Petrov from the Soviet Embassy in Australia in 1954 was a political stitch-up of no value to Western intelligence. See MWD Issue 340.

Mark Colvin, like many a baby-boomer journalist, started off on the left and moderated his views over the years. His journalistic strengths turned on deep knowledge and wide reading. Mark Colvin’s stoicism in dealing with a serious illness for two decades while remaining at the top of his profession was quite remarkable.

Mark Colvin – Rest In Peace.

IN WHICH MARK KENNY WONDERS ABOUT THE WISDOM OF STRIKING & ELIZABETH FARRELLY REFLECTS ON MOVING HOUSE

 On Sky News’ “Heads Up” program last night, Fairfax Media’s Mark Kenny told presenter Chris Kenny that he was not sure about the point of the seven-day strike by Fairfax Media journalists which has just ended. Viewers would have got the impression that your man Kenny did not agree with the decision made by a majority of his fellow union members to down computers and not report the 2017 budget – and more besides.

Fascinating, eh? Like other journalists in the Canberra Press Gallery, Mark Kenny is forever telling politicians what they should or should not do and how they should stand up for the causes in which they believe. But when the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) – the trade union to which journalists belong – calls “All Out”, then Mr Kenny and his colleagues meekly go along with the decision.

In fact, Fairfax Media management did a reasonable job in getting out the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age without the striking journalists. The strike was essentially counter-productive because it did damage to the mastheads without restoring any of the jobs which have been lost. Journalists have legitimate complaints about Fairfax Media management. But striking is essentially counter-productive behaviour in view of the commercial problems facing newspapers at the moment.

Some columnists refused to file their copy – even though they were not covered by the strike. But the good news is that Elizabeth Farrelly crossed the virtual picket line with a stunning piece in last Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald.

Dr Farrelly (for a doctor she is) sustained some criticism from the Fairfax Journalist Soviet for writing her column. Unfair criticism, in MWD’s view. In fact, her contribution was so bad it was good – as the saying goes. It was all about houses and ghosts and junk like that. This is how the Farrelly piece commenced:

I have no experience of ghosts. Yet, as we know, everything is energy, and energy does shape-shift in strange and mysterious ways. This is especially true of the wildly under-garlanded emotional relationship that exists between human and home. Hut, house, village, planet; we act as if it’s all just commodity, but that could hardly be further from the truth. Moving house proves it. Don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying you shouldn’t sell your house. As you know, I’ve just sold mine, and am excited to see how the future falls. I’m saying, sell, move – but watch how it goes down.

Go on. Alas, she did. Dr Farrelly told readers about an “old lady” ghost with whom she was acquainted as a student. And she wrote of the experience of putting your stuff on an inner-city street in the hope that it will find a good home.

You put things out. A hairdryer, say. A pretty turquoise stool someone might like. A book of Bach some child played for an exam. Overnight, people go through the bins. They rip open bags and strew without shame. Entropy reigns. Exposed, rained on, despised, perfectly decent they will themselves into a chaos of unglued atoms.

So moving house starts to feel like a lesson in mortality. All it takes, the voice seems to whisper, is a snipping of the bonds. Sure, you’re a human being. Keep saying that. Organised and in your proper place, stitched into the picture, you have purpose, identity, future. Disorganised, though, out of place, unrecognised – backlaned – you are undifferentiated atoms. You’re dust.

And so it went on. And on. It’s possible that an editor might have spiked this column. But many of Fairfax Media’s editors were on strike last Saturday. So readers got to read Farrelly’s sludge, uncensored. Which, when you think about it, sort of made the strike worthwhile – despite your man Kenny’s reservations.

IN WHICH THE OUT-AND-PROUD SOCIALIST EXHIBITS IGNORANCE OF SYDNEY OUTSIDE THE CBD & THE NORTHERN BEACHES

It was the morning after the (Budget) the night before. And ABC Sydney Mornings presenter Wendy (“I’m just an old-fashioned socialist”) Harmer was about to discuss Tuesday’s Budget. In particular, the Coalition government’s decision to provide $5.3 billion for the construction of a second Sydney airport to be located at Badgerys Creek. A final decision about a rail link to Badgerys Creek Airport has yet to be made.

Ms Harmer was all prepared to criticise the Turnbull government about the lack of funding for a rail link from Badgerys Creek to Sydney’s Central Business District. This happened later. But, first, the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s in-house socialist seemed unaware of where Badgerys Creek is. Let’s go to the transcript:

Wendy Harmer: There’s money for Badgerys Creek Airport of course – $ 5.3 billion. But hellooo? Where’s the railway line? Where’s the railway? – that’s what business leaders are asking. That’s gotta be sixty kilometres from the CBD. How do you get there to build the thing in the first place? And then, when it is built, how do you get there to catch a plane?

Hellllooooo? The socialist Harmer lives on Sydney’s northern beaches – not far from the abode of Mike (“I’ll pour the gin”) Carlton, the Sage of Avalon Beach – and works at the ABC’s inner-city Ultimo studio. Ms Harmer seems unaware that the physical centre of Greater Sydney is not the CBD but Parramatta – where what socialists of old called the toiling masses reside.

Parramatta is 27 kilometres from the CBD and Badgerys Creek is 28 kilometres from Parramatta.

Socialist Wendy asked ABC listeners how would workers get to Badgerys Creek to build the airport. Answer – many workers live close to Badgerys Creek. And then Socialist Wendy asked how, when Badgerys Creek Airport is built, do you get there to catch a plane. She seems unaware that for someone who lives in Penrith, Badgerys Creek is a lot closer than Kingsford Smith Airport in Mascot. It seems that, to Ms Harmer, Sydney’s west commences at Ultimo and ends at Goulds Bookshop in nearby Newtown.

Verily, a Wendy Harmer Moment.

  • ALEX MALLEY MAINTAINS THAT WE HAVE TO TALK TO PEOPLE – EXCEPT ABOUT HIS OWN ORGANISATION, APPARENTLY

 He’s back. Wasn’t it wonderful to see Alex Malley doing the “Newspapers” gig on ABC TV News Breakfast on Wednesday? The author of the piss-poor The Naked CEO – whose image appears, Kim Jong-un like, flogging his book in every airport – was commenting on media reporting of the 2017 Federal budget.

As anyone who has ever walked down an airport terminal to board a plane and reads billboards knows, Australia’s most famous accountant was suspended from school around the time Noah was in Year 12. Yawn. It was at the prestigious Trinity Grammar in Sydney when Rod West was headmaster. At least the late Mr West had the sense not to mention the once-upon-a-time suspended boy, who became a stupendously boring accountant, in his recently published memoirs.

This is what Media Tart Malley had to say about the Turnbull government’s new banking tax – as told to La Trioli:

Alex Malley: The fact that there was no conversation with the banks is really telling. And, it’s become, and many might agree, it’s become an easy target to bash banks. But when you bash them at this level and you give them no consultation I think any sector would be saying “well are we next”?

 Virginia Trioli: You’re taking the banks’ side this morning?

 Alex Malley: No actually – that’s the interesting thing – that I don’t think it’s a bad thing to say to banks, you know, “you need to add a bit more value to the community”. But you’ve got to talk to people. This is what’s wrong with politics today. They seem to go into an office somewhere, make up a policy and come out with it.

It’s bad enough getting up at 6.45 every morning – valuable hangover time – to monitor the “Newspapers” gig. But then a viewer has to handle this absolute tosh without throwing the remains of his/her last Gin & Tonic at the screen.

You see, the chief executive of CPA Australia, has not been talking to Australian Financial Review “Rear Window” personality Joe Aston – or anyone else – about what he earns or about the details of how much of CPA Australia funds are spent flogging his book and funding his Channel 9 program In Conversation with Alex Malley and more besides.

Yet your man Malley tells La Trioli that the trouble with contemporary politicians is that they don’t talk to people. Can You Bear It?

  • SHOCK HORROR – CHANNEL 9 EXPRESSES CONCERN ABOUT THE PRIVACY (OF ITS OWN)

While on the topic of double standards, thanks to an avid reader who drew MWD’s attention to Channel 9 producer Mark Calvert’s criticism of Channel 7’s coverage of Today co-host Karl Stefanovic’s high profile marriage break-up. This was a Stephen Brook exclusive report in The Australian on 17 April 2017.

Mr Calvert is executive director of Channel 9’s Today program, which is co-presented by your man Stefanovic. This is what he had to say about Channel 7’s intrusions into the Today’s presenter’s private life:

Our commercial rivals at Seven are week after week peddling this rubbish for commercial gain. It is sickening. We have five people here including three children. I hope that they can come out the other side without adding to their pain and suffering through constant fabrication. It is hurtful and ethically, and potentially legally wrong.

All those people here who are making money out of this situation are subhuman. These so-called journalists and parasite paparazzi — if they ever have a dark night of the soul they should stop and ask themselves “Should I be making money out of this and be peddling these lies?”

Good question. Should television producers be making money out of gossip and peddling lies? Like, er, Channel 9’s very own 60 Minutes’ allegations against Cardinal George Pell, for example. Talk about a lack of self-awareness. Can You Bear It?

  • DAVE HUGHES’ CHANNEL 7 PROBLEM

While on the topic of Channel 7, isn’t it shocking that comedian Dave Hughes was dropped from a new Channel 7 show on account of the fact that he comprehensively bagged Seven West Media CEO Tim Worner while hosting the 2017 Logies. Or so we are told.

You see, Hughsey believes that he lost his promised spot on the forthcoming Behave Yourself! program after he made jokes about Mr Worner’s one-time relationship with a former female Seven-West Media employee. Channel 7 deny that this is the case. But – who cares? Except for your man Hughes who revealed on Q&A last Monday that he was dux of his Catholic school in Victoria sometime in the last century.

MWD is of the view that making fun of guests who are effectively captives, and who have no right-of-reply, comes quite low down the humour food chain. It is just a form of bullying.

In any event, MWD has its own theory about why Channel 7 might have given Hughsey a “Don’t Turn Up” note about Behave Yourself! It’s possible that Channel 7 is worried about your man Hughes’ competence.

Take the Logies, for example. Despite his role as Logies’ compere, Hughsey couldn’t stop the tired and emotional Molly Meldrum from giving a speech – which was all but incomprehensible except when he ranted about someone’s tits and dropped the “F” word. In the end, Mr Meldrum was assisted from the stage by two females as your man Hughes looked bewildered. If Hughsey can’t shut up and remove a drunk from a stage at midnight, should he really be complaining that Channel 7 executives do not have a sense of humour? Can You Bear It?

  • PROFESSOR NICK BISLEY’S TRUMPHOBIA

On the News Breakfast “Newspaper” gig yesterday, Nick Bisley – executive director of La Trobe Asia and Professor of International Relations at La Trobe University – had a lot to say about President Donald J. Trump’s decision to dismiss FBI director James Comey. The learned professor took his cue from John Kehoe’s article in yesterday’s Australian Financial Review titled “FBI chief’s removal erodes US credibility”. Let’s go to the transcript:

Nick Bisley: So, the story here is that Washington correspondent from the Fin is sort of looking at the reputational effects of all of this – so let’s step back from the whole, you know, who did what, when and where? And what does this say about America? And particularly how does it feed into this very negative perception about the US that exists around the world. Particularly, that Trump’s eroding democracy. That this is, you know, dictatorship in the making. And it’s one man rule whose bad temper – one day – will lead, you know, to the erosion of profound checks on his power of the next (sic).

Michael Rowland: That seems to be the tone of a lot of the coverage. Although Donald Trump and his defenders argue that James Comey wasn’t doing a good enough job. They point to that testimony to Congress which he’s had to walk back from as an excuse for Donald Trump getting rid of him.

Nick Bisley: Yeah I think that optics of it are really bad and sort of – the way in which they’ve handled – I think it gets to the problems in the White House and the sense of just managing – whether it’s legislation or managing the sort of, this kind of decision making. So, if Comey finds out on TV they don’t have a replacement lined up, they haven’t softened the Senate, all that sort of stuff. They haven’t done any groundwork for it.

Virginia Trioli: It looks like a complete – sort of – hatchet job and a bit of a mess. It’s been really amusing to me to watch tweets for example from the Richard Nixon Library saying, “Oi, stop calling this sacking Nixonian; I wasn’t quite that bad.” Now when you’re saying, you know, that you’ve reached a new level.

Nick Bisley: Yeah Nixon had the decency to wait till his second term before he started sacking people … [laughing]

What a laugh. Yeah, sure. It was early in the morning. However, Nick Bisley was not only inarticulate. He was also into hyperbole topped up with a dose of Trumphobia. According to the La Trobe professor, a “very negative perception about the US…exists around the world”. Does it? And, if so, why is it that so many non-Americans want to settle in the United States?

And how about Nick Bisley’s assertion that, under Donald J Trump, there is a “dictatorship in the making”? What’s his evidence for this? Alas, your man Bisley did not produce any evidence to support his theory that President Trump will silence the Congress, the courts, the police, the military and more besides. What a load of (taxpayer subsidised) tosh. Can You Bear It?

  • JOHN (“I KNOW NOTHING”) DEWAR’S LA TROBE UNIVERSITY FAKE NEWS – CONTINUED

While on the topic of La Trobe University, there has been enormous reader interest in the fact that Professor John Dewar, the university’s vice-chancellor, has gone under the bed and refuses to answer any questions concerning the book he commissioned and edited about the campus over which he currently presides.

From The Paddock To The Agora: Fifty Years of La Trobe University (La Trobe University Press in conjunction with Black Inc) contains an introduction by John Dewar along with chapters by Joy Murphy, Don Watson, Robert Manne, Dennis Altman, Marilyn Anderson, Clare Wright and Penny Davis.

La Trobe’s John Dewar & Black Inc’s Morry Schwartz: Under-the-Bed in Defence of Robert Manne

As documented in MWD, (See MWD Issues 346, 357, 358 & 359) Robert Manne’s chapter “An Academic Dozen: 1975-1988” focuses on the university’s Politics Department. It contains character assassination of deceased La Trobe academics Professor Hugo Wolfsohn and Professor Joan Rydon along with Robert Manne’s “recollection” of events that never happened. As avid readers are well aware, your man Manne has a very bad memory. Yet nearly all of his essay in From the Paddock to The Agora is based on his recall of events of between 30 and 50 years ago. Hence the howlers re Hugo Wolfsohn’s luncheon habits and La Trobe University’s (non-existent) teach-ins on the Vietnam War – and more besides.

In his introduction, Professor Dewar acknowledged that he had made a “reckless” decision in allowing the likes of Robert Manne to write what they wanted “without any fear that their views would be mediated or censored by the university”.

Having made a decision not to properly edit From The Paddock To The Agora, Professor Dewar refuses to accept responsibility for the howlers in Mr Manne’s chapter. Instead he has said that Black Inc was responsible for fact-checking the book. However, Professor (“I know nothing”) Dewar refuses to say whether he asked Black Inc if its staff had fact-checked Robert Manne’s essay. And Morry Schwartz, Black Inc’s publisher, has also gone under the bed. He refuses to state whether anyone at Black Inc fact-checked Robert Manne’s material.

The implication is clear. Robert Manne’s essay was not fact-checked by either Professor Dewar or by Morry Schwartz. This explains the howlers in the chapter. But also says a lot about the paucity of intellectual standards at La Trobe University and at Black Inc.

John Dewar & 7.30 Fudge the Student Violence at La Trobe in the 1960s & 1970s

While Professor Dewar does not have the time or the courage to answer questions about howlers in his book, he did have time to appear on ABC’s 7.30 on 24 February 2017.

The occasion was the return to the Bundoora campus, after 45 years, of one-time student radicals Barry York and Brian Pola to celebrate the campus’ 50th Anniversary. Along with fellow one-time student radical Fergus Robinson, Comrades York and Pola served time in Pentridge Prison in 1972. They soon responded to the name the La Trobe Three. The La Trobe Three were imprisoned after defying a decision of the Supreme Court of Victoria banning them from attending the campus. After three months, the issue was resolved when the La Trobe Three signed an agreement repudiating any form of violence on campus or any form of obstruction. After which La Trobe University asked the Supreme Court to release York, Pola and Robinson.

Needless to say, ABC TV journalist Josie Taylor gave Comrades York and Pola a soft interview – referring to their return to La Trobe as “honoured guests”.

Only two other views were heard – and both were broadly sympathetic to the student radicals of old. Here they are:

Professor Katie Holmes, Historian, La Trobe University: It was a time of great social and political change. And Barry and Brian are, you know, symbolic if you like of that radical and important history. I hope that the days of radicalism are not over. But I doubt that we’re going to see the kind of radicalism that we saw then.

Josie Taylor: After being ordered off campus by a previous vice-chancellor, it’s significant for Barry and Brian to be warmly welcomed.

Barry York: Hello, John.

John Dewar, Vice-Chancellor, La Trobe: Barry and Brian.

Josie Taylor: But the university has never formally apologised to the La Trobe Three.

John Dewar: They haven’t asked for an apology. But I must say I do think that setting in train events that led to their incarceration without trial or without charge for an indefinite period of time was an excessive reaction by the university.

Professor Holmes simply ignored the reality that many left-wing student radicals at La Trobe University in the late 1960s and early 1970s engaged in acts of violence including the occupation of buildings in an attempt to shut down the debate of others. The violence was directed at the La Trobe University administration, academic staff and students alike whom the left-wing radicals disagreed with.

Professor Dewar’s response on 7.30 was to blame a previous vice-chancellor (Dr David Myers) for “setting a train of events that led” to the detention of the La Trobe Three “without trial”. He seems ignorant of the fact that Comrades York, Pola and Robinson were jailed for contempt of court. In such situations, there is no trial. If the La Trobe Three had obeyed the decisions of the Supreme Court, there would have been no imprisonment. So, it was Comrades York, Pola and Robinson who “set the train” of events that led to their incarceration – not the Vice-Chancellor of the time, Dr David Myers.

It’s interesting that, on 7.30, neither Professor Holmes nor Professor Dewar offered any criticism of any kind concerning the rampant violence and office occupation initiated by student radicals on the La Trobe campus in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This is also downplayed in John Dewar’s collection From The Paddock To The Agora.

So, Professor (“I know nothing”) Dewar condemned the alleged excessive reaction of La Trobe University to the La Trobe Three. But La Trobe’s current Vice-Chancellor said nothing about the excessive actions of the La Trobe Three that led to the La Trobe administration’s decision to seek legal redress with respect to them in the first place. Can You Bear It?

[Er, no. I note that 7.30’s Josie Taylor obviously has not read Barry York’s book Student Revolt! La Trobe University 1967 to 1973 (Nicholas Press, 1989). Had Ms Taylor done so – she could have advised 7.30 viewers that Comrade York came to acknowledge that the aims and methods of the student radicals at the time were “naïve and misdirected”. Instead 7.30 presented Comrades York and Pola as returning heroes visiting an old battlefield. Come to think of it, perhaps the naïve John Dewar should read York’s tome as well. The taxpayer subsidised La Trobe University Library might possess a copy. Or not. – MWD Editor.]

 

Thanks to the avid reader who drew MWD’s attention to this comment made by Grahame Morris on David Speers’ Sky News Agenda program last Monday. The discussion turned on the Turnbull government’s decision to reduce funding for some non-government, primarily Catholic, schools:

Grahame Morris: If I were the Catholic Church, I’m not sure I would be saying anything about how schools should be run. They, in any other sector they would have lost their social licence. And here they are – instead of, you know it’s an awful thing to say – but there is, there’s an odour there.

It is true that there were serious cases of pedophilia in some Catholic institutions, including schools. However, the Catholic Church was the first institution in Australia to publicly tackle the matter – setting up the Melbourne Response in 1996 and Towards Healing in 1997. The former covered the Archdiocese of Melbourne; the latter covered all other archdioceses and dioceses in Australia.

In his ignorance – or perhaps prejudice – Grahame Morris seems unaware that the instances of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church covered by the Royal Commission are essentially historical crimes – primarily dating back to before 1990, and in particular during the 1960s and 1970s. Indeed, there has been little or no such crimes in the Catholic Church over the past two decades. Mr Morris would know this if he followed the documents filed with the Royal Commission.

This compares with such institutions as the Uniting Church. For example, evidence presented to the Royal Commission indicates that in the period after 1950 a child was safer in a Catholic institution than in one run by the Uniting Church from 1977 and its Presbyterian, Congregational and Methodist predecessors before 1977. This takes account of the fact that the Uniting Church is significantly smaller than the Catholic Church.

Evidence to the Royal Commission indicates that the Uniting Church’s Knox Grammar School in Sydney took little action with respect to a nest of pedophile teachers at the school until NSW Police acted on complaints by former Knox Grammar students in 2009. This is, over a decade after (then) Archbishop George Pell set up the Melbourne Response in cooperation with Victoria Police. There were also instances of child sexual assault at the Anglican Church’s Geelong Grammar School among other Anglican institutions. Not to mention secular and government institutions.

According to Grahame Morris, the Catholic Church should have lost its “social licence” on account of past child sexual abuse in schools. But not, apparently, the Anglican Church or the Uniting Church or any secular or government institutions. Grahame Morris seems ignorant of the fact that the “odour” in this instance was confronted earlier in the Catholic Church than elsewhere.

What’s more, Mr Morris seems unaware of the enormous cost to taxpayers if the Catholic Church either gave up – or lost its “social licence” and was forced to discontinue – its primary and secondary schools. The government system would have to increase immediately its capacity by around 20 per cent. In short, the Australian education system would collapse.

By the way, on Wednesday, Education Minister Simon Birmingham offered to guarantee the indexation rate for funding Catholic schools. Which indicates that – contrary to Grahame Morris’ opinion – the Catholic Church was correct in expressing its concern about Commonwealth funding for the Catholic school system.

There has been enormous reader interest in the proposed Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation (chairman John Howard, executive director Professor Simon Haines) which opened its doors in Sydney on May Day.

So much so that lotsa  avid MWD followers have been asking – has Professor Haines replied to Gerard Henderson’s email of 22 March 2017 suggesting that the Ramsay Centre would be pissing the late Paul Ramsay’s money up the wall if it allows one or more universities to appoint the staff to teach the proposed Bachelor of Western Civilisation degree?

And the answer is – no. Perhaps your man Haines has been busy moving into the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation’s office. Or perhaps he doesn’t have an answer. For example, the May 2017 issue of Quadrant reveals that the new Dean of Arts and Social Sciences at Sydney University is a specialist in queer theory while the university’s Professor of Modern History has agreed that Australia has been more into genocide than Germany in the 1930s and early 1940s. Yet if Professor Haines’ cunning plan comes to fruition, this lot will be appointing teachers of the Bachelor of Western Civilisation degree.

The Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation (which is estimated to have an annual revenue of $25 million) is but part of the larger Paul Ramsay Foundation which is estimated to have at least $4 billion in assets.

Simon Freeman is chairman of the Paul Ramsay Foundation – his fellow directors are Michael Siddle and Peter Evans. Mr Freeman, a marine biologist who became an accountant, was managing director of Mr Ramsay’s private family office before the billionaire’s death in May 2014.

This is how Anne Hyland concluded her piece titled “Philanthropy 50” in the May 2017 issue of The AFR Magazine :

Freeman expects his foundation to make individual grants this financial year in the order of $15 million to $20 million, which would extend over five to 10 years. “There’s a real risk for us that we give money to organisations who can’t handle it. When you’re making a $10 million-plus donation over a number of years, you are asking some organisations to increase their operations by as much as 50 per cent. The consequences of them entering into an arrangement with us can be quite profound for them.”

Freeman identifies the David and Lucile Packard Foundation as a benchmark for Ramsay. However, where the Packard Foundation has staff of 130, the Paul Ramsay Foundation has eight. The Gates Foundation has about 1400 employees. “We walked away from Packard and went, ‘Wow, that’s what we’re looking at here’,” Freeman says. “Will we ever get to that size? I don’t think so. We’ll look to developing capacity outside as well as inside the organisation. A lot of these big foundations have in-house investment management, researchers, IT, lawyers.”

Freeman notes that some of the foundations they visited in the US had a “political flavour”. That’s one thing Ramsay won’t be pursuing. “We’ve taken the position we’ll use our influence in a quiet, thoughtful and considered manner to achieve the objectives of the organisation around health, education and disadvantage. Where we need to have those relationships it’s on a completely bipartisan basis.”

How frightfully nice. But how frightfully naïve. The idea that Simon Freeman – a person without any evident political experience – intends to operate “in a completely bipartisan basis” is not a good sign.

The left dominates in the area of social sciences. The idea that the Paul Ramsay Foundation intends to make grants in such areas as health, education plus economic and social disadvantage sounds noble. But the likelihood is that most money will flow to social activists in health, education and the economic debate who claim to be bipartisan.

It appears that the Paul Ramsay Foundation will make donations to left-liberal and conservatives alike. This means that the beneficiaries of the late Mr Ramsay’s foundation will include individuals who profoundly disagreed with Paul Ramsay’s social conservatism and who would not have received such grants when Mr Ramsay was alive. Meanwhile, if the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation proceeds as currently planned by Professor Haines, it seems that students funded by the late Paul Ramsay will be taught by the campus left.

Until next time.