18 August 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: On Terrorism in Barcelona; Derryn Hinch’s Prejudicial 7.30 Appearance 
  • Can You Bear It? Kristina Keneally on Tim Minchin & Jesus Christ; Professor Guy Goodwin-Gill’s Confusion on Refugees in Malcolm Fraser’s time; Dick Smith’s Pitchfork Gimmick & Richard Ackland misses the Xenophon Joke 
  • Media Fools of the Week: John Hewson & Van Badham 
  • John Laws Style Deliberate Mistake Identified re Senator Cory Bernardi & Mike (“I’ll pour the Gin”) Carlton plus some Poetry with Jackie Hendo Channelling Master Carlton of Barker College 
  • Maurice Newman Segment: Everyone at the ABC Agrees with Everyone Else on the 1917 General Strike & The Royal Commission’s Attitude to Confession 
  • Documentation re The Communist Party, B.A. Santamaria, ASIO, Mark Aarons & John Grenville 
  • Correspondence re The Show by Messrs Aarons and Grenville; Fairfax Media’s Sean Aylmer goes in to Bat for Peter FitzSimons’ “Fake News”; Gray Connolly Helps Out re The Drum & Sydney CBD’s Tent City




The tragedy in Barcelona this morning (Australian Eastern Time) is shocking – as was the tragedy in Charlottesville last weekend.

But it does raise an important question.  Will Q&A executive director Peter McEvoy invite a fly-in-fly-out intellectual on to Q&A this Monday to tell us – pace Waleed Aly – that a terrorist attack is but a “perpetual irritant”.  There is a precedent here.  On 22 May 2017, Lawrence Krauss told the Q&A audience that you were in greater danger of being killed by a falling “refrigerator” than being killed by a terrorist.  Not to be outdone, on 17 July 2017, Mehdi Hasan told Q&A that more people died from “falling out of bed” than were victims of terrorists.

MWD is not aware of how many victims there were to falling refrigerators and the like in Barcelona on Thursday (Spanish time).  However, such personal tragedies do not shut down parts of large cities – unlike when trucks are used as murder weapons.  That’s why terrorism is a threat to society – but not domestic accidents.  Yet Q&A presenter Tony Jones did not challenge the comment of Lawrence Krauss or Mehdi Hasan and the audience on both occasions seemed to go along with the don’t-worry-too-much-about-terrorism vibe.

While on the topic of Q&A, here’s what Glenn Dyer had to say in Crikey on Tuesday:

The ABC’s Q&A should have had a good night last night – Barnaby Joyce’s NZ adventure, same-sex marriage, both on the pubic[sic] agenda, and yet it could only manage 590,000 national viewers and just 401,000 in the metros – fading as we watch.

ABC TV’s Monday evening ratings have been of concern to ABC management for some time now. Q&A is presented as the principal forum for debate and discussion on the public broadcaster.  However, its 590,000 audience in prime time last Monday night was not much above the ABC TV Insiders’ program on the previous Sunday (530,000) which airs at the non-peak hour time of 9 am on a Sunday morning. Moreover, Q&A’s staff is substantially higher than that of InsidersInsiders regularly leads the ratings for Sunday mornings.  Last Monday, Q&A did not make it to the Top Ten.

The fact is that the Q&A format is tired and its audience of predominantly baying leftists just boring.  No wonder a number of conservatives now decline invitations to appear on the program.  Even Glenn Dyer believes that Q&A is fading as we watch.


Just when you thought that One Nation’s Pauline Hanson’s Senate stunt of yesterday was likely to get all the air time on the ABC TV 7.30 program last night, up rocked Senator Derryn Hinch to have his say. Yawn.  That’s the problem with media tarts – they want to have their say whether or not they have anything to say.

It was not long after pre-dinner drinks time, and Jackie’s (male) co-owner was nodding off, when the Victorian media tart told 7.30 viewers that if it was okay for Senator Hanson to wear a burqa in the upper house then he might dress up like a Catholic priest.  Really.  Yet another Hinch anti-Catholic sectarian rant was looming. This focused Hendo’s mind, as the transcript from ABC website reveals, even though your man Hinch was somewhat inarticulate:

Matt Wordsworth, Presenter: Senator Derryn Hinch, welcome to 7.30. Do today’s events means anything goes in the Senate, it’s a costume party?

Derryn Hinch, Senator: Well, it’s getting close to it, that was why after the initial shock of Senator Hanson turning up in a burka and the President making some comments, so President Parry said that he would be reassured by the clerk that while Senator Hanson under the burqa.

Then Question Time went on as normal and I sat there thinking that somebody on the Labor frontbench or the Greens would protest or do something about this because it is just, I thought it was obscene.

Anyway, eventually I got up on a point of order and said that I accept that the President’s reassurance that it was in fact Senator Hanson – she hadn’t spoken by that stage – but I said the fact that she is not a Muslim, and therefore it is not a religious outfit, it is costume, does that mean I can come in tomorrow in fancy dress? Because that’s the point I was making. It went even further.

By what she did today, if the next sitting of Parliament, to push one of my causes, against paedophile priests, I will come in with a collar turned back to front, wearing a cassock or dressed as a cardinal, it’s the same point.

It seems that the self-confessed “Human Headline” is channelling the “Human Mumble” again. It’s almost impossible to work out what the Senator for Victoria was on about last night – except for his final comment about Catholic clerical pedophiles.  But not non-Catholic clerical pedophiles.

The serious point here is that, in the current climate, Senator Hinch’s comment is highly prejudicial.  No cardinal has been convicted of pedophile offences in Australia.  The statement should not have gone to air in view of Victoria’s (apparently) strict sub-judice rules.


It was not long after California-based Australian expatriate Tim Minchin released his song – set to the music of Peter Allen’s “I still call Australia home” – accusing Australians of being homophobic and a little bit racist that Sky News presenter and former NSW Labor premier (and avid MWD reader) Kristina Keneally was inspired to put out the following tweet:

So, there you have it.  According to Ms Keneally, Jesus Christ (circa Zip-33) would have been “a fan” of Tim Minchin (1975- _).  The problem is that Christ claimed to be the Son of God – and your man Minchin is a proud atheist.  So, according to the (Twitter) Gospel of Keneally, the Son of God would have been a huge fan of the foul-mouthed atheist muse.  And Kristina Keneally has a Master’s degree in Religious Studies from the Catholic University of Dayton. Can You Bear It?



While on the topic of the Scribes and the Pharisees [By the way, who were they? – MWD Editor], consider the misleading analysis proffered by fly-in-fly-out intellectual (FIFOI) Guy Goodwin-Gill who was given the chance to opine on ABC Radio’s The World Today on 14 August.  Let’s go to the transcript:

 Eleanor Hall: You were the UN refugee advisor to Australia during that time of the previous boat people crisis with the Vietnamese [in the second half of the 1970s] and yet our approach now is so radically different. Was the Australian public just more welcoming then?

Guy Goodwin-Gill: Certainly that’s the way I remember it – but that’s possibly nostalgia on my part. Nonetheless, it’s obvious that Malcolm Fraser and others were more concerned with doing the right thing by refugees and in doing the right thing by their partners on the North-South-Axis than we see today. And there was, I think, and this was on both sides of the political spectrum, there was a desire in the 1970s and early 1980s to find a place for Australia – a meaningful place for Australia – on that axis. And to do what was needed to ensure good relations, working relations with other states.

In fact, your man Goodwin-Gill (the acting director of the Kaldor Centre for International Relations) has a recollection of an event that never happened.   There was no boat people crisis with respect to Australia after the communist victories in South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos in 1975.

During the entire period of Malcolm Fraser’s government – from November 1975 to March 1983 – only 2059 refugees arrived by boat on Australian shores.

Virtually all the Indo-Chinese refugees who settled in Australia during the period of Fraser government arrived in Australia with identity papers and valid visas on Qantas flights from holding camps in the region.  The Fraser government never had to deal with the problem of unauthorised boat arrivals of the kind experienced by the Howard, Rudd, Gillard and Abbott governments.

For the record, Malcolm Fraser was broadly supportive of Australia accepting large numbers of Indo-Chinese refugees.  Not so Labor hero Gough Whitlam who – when prime minister after the fall of Saigon in April 1975 – did everything he could to prevent anti-communist Indo-Chinese refugees coming to Australia.  In fact, in Cabinet, Whitlam called the Vietnamese refugees “f-cking Vietnamese Balts” (meaning f-cking anti-communists). And Guy Goodwin-Gill reckons that Australia was more accepting of genuine refugees four decades ago than today. Can You Bear It?



While on the broad topic of immigration, did anyone catch media tart Dick Smith launching his “Look-At-Me” $1 million advertising campaign to reduce Australia’s immigration intake in half – to be fronted, needless to say, by Mr Smith.

On this occasion, your man Smith’s gimmick is to carry a toy pitchfork. Apparently, it is to warn of the violent revolution to come if someone or other does not want what Dick wants done about immigration.  Why, the Prince of Terrey Hills even appeared with Alan Jones on Sky News last Tuesday brandishing his pitchfork.  Mr Smith has also promised to put $2 million into marginal seats supporting a party which favours cuts to immigration.  It’s only a few years since Pitchfork Smith said he would run against Tony Abbott in Warringah but failed to do so. Can You Bear It?



Richard Ackland’s “Gadfly” column in The [Boring] Saturday Paper is one of the few columns that are not oh-so-long and oh-so-boring. Your man Ackland is forever correcting the journalism and/or the opinions of others.  That’s why Hendo was interested to read this piece in Morry-Schwartz-House-Journal-For-the-Sandalista-Set last Monday. (Since there is no news in The Saturday Paper, Hendo reads it on Mondays).

Gadfly finished his report of the launch by Senator Nick Xenophon of John Lyons and Sylvie Le Clezio’s titled Balcony over Jerusalem as follows:

Xenophon added that to make matters more memorable he went to Israel and Palestine at his own expense, using a Greek passport.

Everything was correct about Richard Ackland’s report – except the “facts”.  It was John Lyons who said that Nick Xenophon went to Israel and Palestine using his Greek passport. It was a joke. Can You Bear It?


 As avid readers will recall, once upon a time Peter Van Onselen presented a program on Sky News termed The Contrarians.

The late Nancy’s (male) co-owner referred to The Contrarians as a “Men’s Shed” – since there were virtually no sheilas invited on the set by PVO.  In time, however, women did make the presenter’s cut – but, alas, soon after the program was dismantled.

Now it seems that Dr Van Onselen (for a doctor he is) has reverted to a previous time with his Sky News’ Sunday Agenda on Sunday morning at 8.30 am.  Last week’s panel consisted – as usual – of Dr John Hewson and Dr Craig Emerson being interviewed by Dr Peter Van Onselen and Dr Paul Kelly.  MWD reckons that the segment should be named “Doctor in the Sky News Studio”.

But MWD digresses.  Last Sunday Dr Hewson made the following comment to Dr Van Onselen, Dr Kelly and Dr Emerson concerning the proposed same sex marriage postal survey – or postal plebiscite:

John Hewson: Take the Howard strategy on the republic –  right?  Let’s write a question that nobody’s going to vote for – right? Let’s design a piece of legislation that’s going to be difficult to get through the parliament.

It’s not inconceivable that it can go that way, irrespective of a vote. Particularly, if the plebiscite turnout is relatively low – people don’t think it’s representative.  You know, you can see the hardening of the arteries. If it’s a very divisive process, I fear it will go on well into next year.

What a load of absolute – and almost incoherent – tosh.  Jackie’s (male) co-owner voted for the republic in 1999.  However, contrary to John Hewson’s claim, the then prime minister John Howard did not write a question that nobody was going to vote for.

In fact, 45 per cent of Australians – including Hendo – voted “Yes” to the following question:

A Proposed Law: to alter the Constitution to establish the Commonwealth of Australia as a republic with the Queen and Governor-General being replaced by a President appointed by a two-thirds majority of members of the Commonwealth parliament. Do you approve this proposed alteration?

Contrary to John Hewson’s claim, there was nothing wrong with the question put to electors in 1999.  One of the reasons for the victory of “No” is that the “Yes” supporters were divided.  Many republicans who supported a directly elected president joined with John Howard and voted “No”.  The learned doctor should know this.


Did anyone see Guardian Australia columnist Van Badham’s tweet on Sunday following the white supremacist terrorist attack in Charlottesville?

Well, Comrade Badham nailed Donald J. Trump’s (alleged) causal link to Adolf Hitler by showing three action shots of President Trump addressing crowds alongside three studio pics of Hitler hamming it up.  Here it is:


And Ms Badham’s message is?  Hard to say, really. But she seems to believe that the democratically elected Donald J Trump is just like Nazi Party dictator Adolf Hitler – and that the former is destined to become a genocidal mass murderer like the latter. This kind of ideological hyperbole does enormous disrespect to the real victims of real dictators.  It would seem that Van Badham knows all but nothing of what really happened in Germany between 1933 and 1945.

On the basis of Comrade Badham’s photography inspired logic, a case can be established that the Guardian Australia scribbler is “doomed” to repeat the life work of Nancy (2004-2017). See Hendo’s photography inspired logic below:








Vanessa “Van” Badham – Media Fool of the Week





Lotsa thanks to avid reader Peter Castieau – of Warwick, West Australia – who correctly picked a John-Laws-Style-deliberate-mistake in Issue 372.  Senator Cory Bernardi should have been described as a member of the Australian Conservatives – not as an Independent.


Lotsa thanks also to the avid reader who picked up the fact that Barker College in Sydney – the alma mater of Mike (“I’ll pour the Gin”) Carlton – is not  a GPS (i.e. Greater Public School) institution. But, rather, a CAS (i.e. Combined Association School). [Thank God you’ve corrected this one – MWD Editor]

This focus on the school days of Regimental Sergeant Major Mike (“All present and correct, Sir!”) Carlton – who also rose to the rank of prefect at the CAS’s Barker College which is run by the Anglican Church – has given MWD an excuse to re-run Master Carlton’s piss-poor poem titled “On Leaving School”. By popular demand, of course. The Bard Carlton’s offering was published in The College Barker on 31 December 1962.  But first a health warning.  This poem is heavy on the emotions and is best read sitting down with a Gin & Tonic nearby and easy access to a Wellness Centre for an emotional recovery session.  Here we go (again):


By M.J. Carlton (Class of 1962, Barker College)

Above our heads floats vast uncertainty;

At our heels lies a worn but ended path.

We pause, suspended above the valley of wonder.

A warmth of memories in our hearts.

For we are at the cliffs of Youth.

That lead us outwards to the sea of life.

Opportunity’s Excalibur rests within our range

We tell ourselves.

Yet is there not a chill of fear,

A fluttering in the breast that calls us back:

Our early years were joy and light and love;

Now we must leave and face our fear alone.

For we are in the hands of destiny,

With surety surrendered to her will.

Although horizons stretch before our eyes,

And doubts and fears may plague us till the end,

We face the world with comfort in our hearts,

For therein lies the golden glow of moments to remember.


Brilliant, eh?  Is it any wonder that Master Carlton went to work for the ABC and write for the Sydney Morning Herald – before becoming the Sage of Avalon Beach?

As a tribute to Master Carlton’s poetic doggerel, Jackie has proffered a final stanza of her own – as a tribute to the bard:



By Jackie Hendo (Dip. Wellness, Class of 2017, Gunnedah RSPCA Pound)


Although the horizons stretch before our eyes

And doubts and fears plague us to the end

We’ll face the future with lotsa Gin & Tonic

For therein lies the ammo to fire our anger













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 one-time 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.

In other words, Mr Newman believes that the taxpayer funded public broadcaster should be pluralist – while Nice Mr Scott reckons that it is just fine that the ABC is a Conservative Free Zone without a conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets.

Formerly this segment involved a play-off between former ABC TV Media Watch presenter Jonathan Holmes and Maurice Newman. However, shortly after handing over the Media Watch presenter’s chair to Paul Barry, your man Holmes conceded that – at least with respect to ABC Radio – the likes of Andrew Bolt and Gerard Henderson were correct in maintaining that the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s output was overwhelmingly leftist. See MWD Issue 329. So Jonathan Holmes was retired from the Maurice Newman Segment and was replaced by Nice Mr Scott who never spoke a critical word about his ABC in his final years as ABC managing director/editor-in-chief. Now read on.

  • Did anyone hear the special ABC Radio National Late Night Live program on 2 August 2017? LNL presenter Phillip Adams was in the chair as the whole program was devoted to the centenary of the Great Strike of 1917. This dispute, which took place when Australian soldiers were dying in large numbers on the Western Front, was focused on the railways in New South Wales.

The dispute did not turn on wages or conditions but, rather, on the introduction by management of time-cards in the NSW Railways. That’s all.  Here’s the guest list for the LNL leftist love-in:

Professor Lucy Taksa: Professor of Management, Faculty of Business and Economics, Centre for Workplace Futures, Macquarie University

Sally McManus: Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions

John Graham: Member of the Legislative Council of NSW for the ALP.

Dr Jim Stanford: Economist and Director of the Centre for Future Work, based at the Australia Institute.


And so it came to pass that Lucy agreed with Sally who agreed with John who agreed with Jim who agreed with Lucy who agreed with Sally who agreed with herself that The Great Strike of 1917 was a you-beaut idea. The ABC’s Man-in-Black suggested that his one-time Communist Party functionary mate Ian Turner was of the view that it was not worth striking over time cards. But this view was dismissed by Lucy and Sally and John and Jim so Phillip did not press the point. No other view was heard.


  • Last Tuesday, the ABC TV News Breakfast discussed just one of the 85 recommendations of the Criminal Justice Report by the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Namely, Recommendation 35 – which holds that the criminal offence of failure to report sexual assault should apply to “religious confession”.

In fact, very few Catholics go to confession these days and there has been very little clerical child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church for two decades.  Also Archbishop Denis Hart is on record as saying that not one penitent confessed the sin of pedophilia to him in over 50 years.  Fr Frank Brennan made an identical statement with respect to his some 30 years as a priest.  Archbishop Hart is a theological conservative while Fr Brennan is a theological liberal.  But both agree on the need to maintain the secrecy of the confessional.

Co-presenters Michael Rowland and Virginia Trioli made it clear that they were all fired up on the issue in agreement with the Royal Commission.  In just over an hour, the following guests discussed the issue – lawyer/academic Dr Judy Courtin, Deakin University academic Scott Burchill and Francis Sullivan of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council.  Mr Sullivan put in a submission that the Royal Commission should leave in place in the secrecy of the Catholic sacrament of confession.  However, he said that he would accept the Royal Commission’s recommendation on this matter.

And so it came to pass that Michael agreed with Judy who agreed with Virginia who agreed with Scott who agreed with Michael who agreed with Francis who agreed with Virginia who agreed with Judy who agreed with herself.  No other view was heard.


Maurice Newman: 5

Nice Mr Scott: Zip



Last Friday’s Australian carried an “exclusive” by Troy Bramston titled “Catholic Spies in the ASIO’s network”.  It commenced:

ASIO feared it had been infiltrated by B.A. Santamaria’s shadowy organisation “The Movement”, which was formed with the support of Catholic bishops to defeat communist influence in the Labor Party and the union movement a generation ago. A new book by Mark Aarons, The Show: Another Side of Santamaria’s Movement (Scribe), describes how The Movement’s “extraordinary success” was partly due to its tight connections with spy agencies and its capacity to gather intelligence.

The reference is to The Show: Another Side of Santamaria’s Movement (Scribe, 2017) which is written by Mark Aarons with John Grenville.  Mr Aarons was a one-time member of the Australian Communist Party (when employed by the ABC) and John Grenville was a one-time member of B.A. Santamaria’s National Civic Council (when employed by the Victorian Trades Hall Council).

Contrary to the view of Mark Aarons and John Grenville, Gerard Henderson believes that in the late 1940s there was only some limited association between some Catholic priests in Sydney and Perth and ASIO – before the Melbourne-based Santamaria attained full control of The Movement/The Show in the early 1950s. After that, there was virtually no contact between Santamaria’s Movement/National Civic Council and ASIO for around two decades.  This is consistent with the findings of the authors of the Official History of ASIO.  This will be covered when The Show is reviewed in The Sydney Institute Review Online shortly.

In the meantime, avid readers may be interested in a document sent to MWD this week concerning John Grenville – Mark Aarons’ comrade-in-arms in writing The Show.  Mr Grenville split with Santamaria circa 1975 – but not before, apparently, expressing interest in employment at ASIO. Fancy that.

Thanks to the avid reader who advised Hendo that there is one ASIO file on the National Civic Council available from the National Archives of Australia.  It reports that in the early 1970s your man Grenville took an “oil company scholarship to Canada” and when he returned to Australia sought “an appointment to ASIO”.

There is no reference to John Grenville and ASIO in The Show by Mark Aarons with John Grenville – which contains a criticism of the (alleged) links between the National Civic Council and ASIO. But you can read-all-about-it in MWD below:


25TH January, 1973

Andrew Mark RODGER






[REDACTED] reports that he was told by a senior officer of the N.S.W. Labour Council that Andrew Mark RODGER has been appointed Research Officer of the N.C.C. dominated Victorian Branch of the Federated Shop Assistants and Warehouse Employees Union (SAU). The Victorian Branch of the SAU “pushed” RODGER for the Federal Research Officer position in Sydney, but the right-wing ALP dominated N.S.W. and Federal Branch refused to accept him on the grounds of his N.C.C. connections.


  1. The N.S.W. Labour Council officer, a right-wing ALP member, operates as a sort of unofficial liaison between the N.S.W. right-wing of the ALP and the N.C.C. He also says that he was talking to Tony MACKEN recently who told him the N.C.C. had “two sleepers” in the A.B.C. (c/f previous minute of 10/1/73 concerning RODGER’s position in the A.B.C. MACKEN is reportedly a senior undeclared member of the N.C.C.).


  1. The Labour Council officer also says that John GRENVILLE has been appointed Industrial Officer at the Federal office of the N.C.C. dominated Federated Clerks Union. (GRENVILLE was formerly Assistant-Secretary of the Victorian Trades Hall Council and an undeclared N.C.C. activist. GRENVILLE has just returned from an oil company scholarship to Canada. In 1969 or 1970 GRENVILLE also sought an appointment to ASIO, on a strong recommendation by an officer of the Victorian Branch of the Department of Labour and National Service to the ASIO R/D Victoria).


  1. GRENVILLE’s premature return to Australia is reportedly related to the resignation of Joe RIORDAN as Federal Secretary of the F.C.U. RIORDAN, recently elected to Federal Parliament, was considered the only impediment to complete domination of the F.C.U. by the N.C.C.


  1. For information.







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).




In last week’s History Corner, Gerard Henderson challenged Mark Aarons’ story of how a secret document prepared by anti-communist Catholic activist B.A. Santamaria in 1945 found its way into the hands of the Communist Party of Australia that very same year.  At the time, Mark’s old man Laurie Aarons was a senior CPA operative.  Since Hendo is not due for another appearance on your man Adams’ little wireless program until 2040, he decided to write to Aarons The Younger about the LNL discussion of his book The Show: Another Side of Santamaria’s Movement which he wrote with a little help from the Santamaria-hater John Grenville. Alas, there was no reply. Now read on.

Gerard Henderson to Mark Aarons – 16 August 2017


Lotsa thanks for your kind comments on Late Night Live last Thursday (10 August 2017) concerning the “excellent research” in my book Santamaria: A Most Unusual Man (MUP, 2015).

I note, however, that you expressed concern to Phillip Adams that I had perpetuated “Santamaria’s Stalinist-style defamation” in accepting his claim that Archbishop Duhig left a document on a train in 1945 – which subsequently was cited by the Communist Party of Australia in its pamphlet Catholic Action At Work.

You went on to allege that, because I did not refer to your claim that B.A. Santamaria was not telling the truth in this instance in my biography – my mind has “wandered” and my “memory is not as sharp as it might have once been”.

This is a false statement.  However, since – unlike you – I am not in the habit of throwing around the term “Stalinist” with respect to people with whom I disagree, I do not accuse you of “Stalinist defamation”.  But, then, my parents were never members of the Communist Party of Australia during Joe Stalin’s time and I was not born with Stalin-on-my-mind.

The fact is that I have not forgotten your address to The Sydney Institute on 24 May 2011.  I just disagree with your claim that Santamaria defamed Duhig and that in fact Santamaria himself was responsible for the document getting into the possession of the Communist Party.  Indeed, the evidence suggests that your own memory is very unreliable in this instance – for the reasons set out below:

▪ You told Phillip Adams in your Late Night Live interview that I had forgotten what you said at The Sydney Institute about B. A. Santamaria and Archbishop Duhig. Yet in your book The Show, you acknowledge that during your 2011 address to The Sydney Institute I “rejected” your version of events.  Consequently, it is dishonest to claim that I forgot your position when, as you concede, I rejected it.

▪ Your own version of how Santamaria’s untitled 1945 report found its way to the CPA is inconsistent. This is not surprising since your account is based on the recollections of two one-time Communist Party members – Jack Blake and Jack Hughes – given almost half a century after the event.

You told Phillip Adams that Santamaria’s 1945 document was handed into the CPA’s Victorian branch by “an anonymous Catholic source”. You also wrote this at Page 26 of The Show.  But you told The Sydney Institute in May 2011 that “the possibility exists that a printer sympathetic to the CPA was the source”  – you cite this speech at Page 224 of The Show in the end notes but did not refer to this on LNL. So the source was a Catholic source. Or it was a pro-communist source.  Or something like that.

As mentioned, in The Show you claim that the CPA received the 1945 document from “an anonymous Catholic source”. The source for this comment is the late Jack Blake whom you interviewed in 1991 when he was aged about 82 years old.  But you concede that “another possibility is that it leaked from a print shop”. Also, in the question/discussion period that followed your address to The Sydney Institute in May 2011, you merely said that you have a “very deep scepticism” about the claim that Archbishop Duhig left the document on the train – even though slightly earlier you said it was “unbelievable” that he would have done so.

In other words, you do not have the faintest idea who the source was. But you told Phillip Adams that the source was “an anonymous Catholic” and did not acknowledge any doubt or other possibilities during this interview.  This is intellectually dishonest.

▪ The fact is that the leak of Santamaria’s 1945 document and its quotation in Catholic Action At Work had little lasting effect – except, as I documented in the early 1980s – it was referred to by Communist Party functionary Frank Hardy in his novel Power Without Glory.

The document was not used against Santamaria or The Movement/The Show at the time of the Labor Split in the mid-1950s – despite the fact that other leaked internal documents were used to attack The Movement.   Presumably because the CPA in particular, and the pro-communist left in general, was not sure of the source of the 1945 report.  As reported in the left magazine Tomorrow in June 1946, there was a view that the document “might possibly be fake”. This supports the likelihood that the source was not known to the CPA when it published Catholic Action at Work.


In conclusion, I believe that the most plausible explanation for how the document found its way to the Communist Party was that it was left on the train.  That’s what I wrote in Santamaria: A Most Unusual Man. After all, leaving material in trains and the like was – and remains – a very common human error.  That’s why there are such entities as lost property offices.

For the record, Santamaria never tried to “defame” James Duhig since he never identified the Archbishop with the loss of the 1945 document.  I did this – in my chapter in Jim Davidson’s edited collection The Sydney-Melbourne Book (Allen & Unwin, 1986).  At that stage, I had not spoken to Santamaria for a decade.

I would like to explain all this to Phillip Adams – who, in the LNL love-in last Thursday, accepted your (flawed) recall of events while supporting your view that my memory was failing.  However, the ABC’s Man-in-Black only invites me on to his little wireless program every 25 years – and I am not due again until 2040.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

cc: Phillip Adams AO 1992, AM 1987, Hon DUniv (Griffith), Hon. DLitt (ECU), Hon DUniv (SA), DLitt [sic] (Syd), Hon. DUniv (Macquarie), Doc. Arts (AFTRS) FRSA, Hon FAHA



As avid readers will be aware, Gerard Henderson offered the Australian Republican Movement a whopping $20,000 if the Red Bandannaed One would provide the address of the “$30 million mansion in Rome” where he claimed Cardinal George Pell lived in 2015.  And so it has come to pass that a senior Fairfax Media executive Sean Aylmer has said he is “comfortable” with Fitz not providing evidence for the existence of a (non-existence) mansion in Rome.  Really. As the following correspondence attests.

Gerard Henderson to Sean Aylmer – 4 July 2017

 Dear Sean

You may recall that we met at Fairfax Media some years ago – when I was a columnist for the Sydney Morning Herald … As you know, Fairfax Media prides itself in its independence and accuracy in reportage.  It has been my experience in recent years, however, that the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age are most reluctant to admit errors and make corrections.

Let me give one example. On 24 May 2015 in the Sun-Herald “The Fitz Files” column, Peter FitzSimons wrote that Cardinal George Pell lives in a “$30 million mansion” in Rome.  As I have pointed out repeatedly to Mr FitzSimons and his editors, this statement is totally false.

The $30 million property to which Peter FitzSimons refers is Domus. This is not anyone’s mansion.  It is a former religious institution which was converted some years ago into a four-star hotel. I happen to know since – like many Sydney Morning Herald readers – I have stayed there.

Peter FitzSimons’ allegation that Cardinal Pell lives in a $30 million mansion in Rome was intended to be – and remains – prejudicial. For example, it is cited (again) in an article in the radical left Redflag: A Voice of Resistance blog which contains a vehement an attack on George Pell.

If Peter FitzSimons did any research he would be aware that his statement about George Pell is totally false. As footage of the Cardinal Pell taken outside his residence in Rome last week demonstrates, George Pell lives in an apartment just outside the Vatican.  While it is a comfortable residence – it is nothing like a mansion.

In the current climate of media inspired hostility to Cardinal Pell, the false reference to “The Fitz Files” should be removed from the Fairfax Media website.  Moreover, an apology should be offered not so much for the original error but for failing to correct the howler.  It’s called professional behaviour.  But I guess that Peter FitzSimons is not up to the task. Is Fairfax Media?

Yours sincerely

Gerard Henderson

Sean Aylmer to Gerard Henderson – 6 July 2017


Sorry for the delaying in responding. Taking it up with Peter F and will let you know.


Gerard Henderson to Sean Aylmer – 6 July 2017


That’s fine. I know how busy you are.

I’ve attached a screenshot of Lisa Millar standing outside Cardinal Pell’s Rome apartment last week. As you will note, it does not look like a $30 million mansion.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

Gerard Henderson to Sean Aylmer – 7 July 2016


Further to my comment of yesterday – I should have added that I have met Cardinal Pell in his Rome apartment.

As previously advised, I have also stayed at the Domus four star hotel which was purchased by some parts of the Australian Catholic Church for $30 million some years ago.

George Pell’s private apartment and Domus are about 15 minutes away from each other by car. If Peter Fitz had done any research at all he would be aware of this.

Looking forward to hearing from you in due course.

Best wishes


Sean Aylmer to Gerard Henderson – 7 July 2017


I am about to jump on an overseas flight and will be back in ten days. Will get back to you after that.


Gerard Henderson to Sean Aylmer – 7 July 2017


That’s fine. But it’s all a waste of time since George Pell has never lived in a “$30 million mansion” in Rome. Peter FitzSimons just made this up and his editors have refused to correct the howler for a couple of years.

Have a good trip.


Gerard Henderson to Sean Aylmer – 15 August 2017


On 6 July 2017 you wrote that you would take up with Peter FitzSimons his claim (in the Sun-Herald of 24 May 2015) that Cardinal George Pell lived in a “$30 million mansion in Rome” and that you would let me know the outcome.  That was over a month ago.

As I recall from a past conversation, you are committed to Fairfax Media being regarded as an accurate journal of record and being “independent”.

It seems to me that Peter FitzSimons should come up with the address of the (alleged) mansion or make a correction on the Fairfax Media website.

As previously advised, the author of “The Fitz Files” has confused a four star hotel (not a mansion) with a private apartment.  Anyone can make a mistake.  But Mr FitzSimons’ continuing refusal to correct his howler is unprofessional and, in the current climate, prejudicial.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

Sean Aylmer to Gerard Henderson – 15 August 2017


I am comfortable with what Peter has written.



Gerard Henderson to Sean Aylmer – 16 August 2017


I refer to your reply of 15 August 2017 in which – in your capacity as Fairfax Media’s editorial director – you have embraced what some like to term “fake news”.

You write that you are “comfortable” with Peter FitzSimons’ claim, in the Sun-Herald on 24 May 2015, that Cardinal George Pell “lives in a $30 million mansion in Rome”.

In short, you have embraced Peter’s dishonesty.

The “mansion” to which Peter referred was a former seminary which was turned into a four-star hotel in which visitors can and do stay. It is not – and never was – a “mansion”.

But the fact is that Cardinal Pell never lived in the Domus Australia four-star hotel.  Rather, when on the Vatican’s staff circa 2015, he lived in an apartment just outside Vatican City.  It is not – and never was – a “mansion”.

Peter FitzSimons’ prejudicial claim that in 2015 Cardinal Pell lived in a $30 million mansion in Rome, while on the Vatican staff, was wilfully false and made without fact-checking. It speaks volumes for Fairfax Media’s current standards that you are “comfortable” with such unprofessional and dishonest reporting – in one of Fairfax Media’s leading newspapers.

By the way, I offered to donate $20,000 to the Australian Republic Movement if Peter would provide an address for Cardinal Pell’s (alleged) “$30 million mansion in Rome”. Needless to say, he did not provide an address for the (non-existent) property and no claim was received.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson




Lt. Cmdr. Gray Connolly has written to MWD concerning the coverage of his comments on politicians, Reserve Bank staff and the recent Tent City occupation in Martin Place in the Sydney CBD.  Here we go:

 Gray Connolly to Gerard Henderson – 12 August 2017


The Drum

I have been invited on The Drum on three occasions. I have always found Julia Baird and the ABC staff to be models of courtesy and helpfulness. I am lost as to what you mean by “token conservative”, but if implies the ABC, of all institutions, could pressure me, of all people, into not speaking my mind, then I cannot help you.

I also doubt you watched The Drum episode of 10 August 2017 that you purport to critique. If you did, you would have accurately represented my argument, which is that parliamentarians, especially in 2017, given the sheer number of ex-staffers and ex-union officials among them, have no special qualities to determine divisive social issues. I proposed having more divisive social issues resolved with citizens’ inputs, beyond elections, as these would allow all sides to have their say, and hear the other side. Or, to borrow from both Churchills, “trust the people.”

If you wish to make the case that New South Wales, and its political and lobbying classes, do not have an historic problem with corruption, you are free to make that case, albeit history is against you. I cannot believe anyone who has lived in Sydney (or New South Wales) would dispute that we have an historic problem with public corruption.

In relation to the quality of MPs and Senators, while there are some very hard working and dedicated parliamentarians, there are also many whose behaviour is, at best, moronic, and who hold office as a result of factional deals, special interests or union patronage. Our parliamentarians, all too often, resemble Edward Obeid and not Edmund Burke.

The particular circumstance that I noted, and which you did not mention, was the abysmal October 2010 parliamentary debate on the Afghan war. You would agree, surely, that when Australians are in harm’s way, that our parliamentarians are obligated to inform themselves to debate their mission, its prospects of success, the best means to achieve success, our obligations to our allies, and the care of our dead, the wounded and their families? Sadly, in 2010, none of this happened. The fact that Australia’s parliamentarians rarely debated the now almost 16 years’ long Afghan war, before or since 2010, is but one indicia of a cohort of morons.

Martin Place Homeless Protest

As someone who walks through Martin Place daily (or several times daily), I have become very familiar with those who are living in the protest encampment outside the RBA building. The Martin Place encampment was/is, from my observations, clean, well-maintained, civil, and intended to raise legitimate public issues of housing for people who have fallen on (very) hard times. This encampment is hardly intended as some sort of permanent residence and you would have to be aware of this, whatever pose you strike at present. The residents are peaceful, friendly, do not ask for money (cf Martin Place’s chronic problem with ‘charity muggers’) and, for some of them, they have a community there that may offset their usual loneliness. The Society of St Vincent de Paul’s night patrol service has, for many years, looked after the city’s homeless in the vicinity of the RBA building. I am not a social worker or a psychologist but simply take the view that their grievances, in a cold winter, should be listened to rather than dismissed. I cannot see, right now, any pressing public order need for the homeless to be arbitrarily expelled from the locale or for the Police sent in to ‘resolve’ the situation. We should be guided by Police advice, which would, I expect, be based on common sense rather than a desire to play Macquarie Street’s Radetzky. And I say this as a great admirer of Radetzky.

On a more personal level, as we are both products of the Jesuits — you of Xavier, me of Riverview — we are both, I suspect, disappointed by the Jesuits’ post-1960s turn into the modern Church’s trendy vicars and casuists. Nonetheless, the sound Jesuits taught us about a “faith that does justice” and, more broadly, that the Church’s historic social teaching has been that all of us owe duties of solidarity: we are our sisters’ and brothers’ keeper. In more simple terms, we are all to help where we can and, relevantly, we do not bully the weak or ‘punch down’.

In this case, you may wish to reflect on the question of whether the reforms that you and others championed in the 1980s and 1990s made our economy, yes, more efficient, but also, more selfish and, in many ways, nasty and prone to strife? Many Australians now have less predictability in their work, less security in their lives and retirement, and grave doubts as to whether future generations will have the same quality of life as past generations. I am unconvinced that the economic and social liberalism prevailing since the 1960s has served the public good, however much it may have benefited the few or created a more indulgent life for some. Those who evaded their duty to serve in the Vietnam era seemed to have successively evaded duties to help build the nation and our society – obligations that earlier generations, especially the War generations, accepted and shouldered, as trustees of Australia’s future.

You may dismiss my views as paternalistic Toryism but, from what I can see, the last 30 years stratified our society by geography and wealth and increased disparities between generations, especially for those under 40, who are mired in debt and have no reasonable prospect of getting ahead. These problems, in turn, create grave challenges for holding together a society that is now having its traditional foundations, not merely those of marriage and family, eroded or destroyed. One does not need to be a sociologist or a pollster to sense that something, not just in Australia but in western societies, generally, has gone wrong. And that the post-Christian and post-everything societies we increasingly inhabit are brutish, cruel and vapid, with fallen humanity’s worst tendencies made worse by technology.

In concluding here, I am sorry that you feel the way you do. I have always felt, when others criticise you for being pedantic and curmudgeonly, that these are, in fact, among your many admirable qualities. You perform a very useful role in identifying the media’s many weaknesses and hypocrisies, its vast historical ignorance, as well as its obvious Leftish biases. You do less well, it seems, at reflection on your own work, and, identifying where you may have gone wrong, which are qualities that St Ignatius, himself, encouraged of his companions and followers. More of this self-examination and reflection would, in my view, make you even better at performing your valuable work and, would, in turn, serve also to help make Hendoism great again.


Gerard Henderson to Gray Connolly – 18 August 2017

 Dear Gray

I refer to your interesting and challenging note of 12 August 2017. My responses are as follows.


  1. My comments about The Drum were not directed to you. Rather they turned on the fact that The Drum appears to have black-balled some conservatives.  Hence their non-appearance on The Drum in recent times.  You are currently one of “the (conservative) chosen”. Long may this remain the case.
  1. I did watch your appearance on The Drum on 10 August 2017. As you will be aware, Media Watch Dog is – at times – a light-hearted blog. In last week’s MWD, I focused on your hyperbole – in which you stated that the NSW Parliament is “full of unqualified hacks and unqualified people of dubious morals” many of whom are “one step away from…going to prison”.  You also declared that “our politicians are, by and large, morons”.

As I recall, during your appearance on The Drum on 29 June 2017 you said that all the members of Malcolm Turnbull’s government – apart from the Prime Minister himself – “are a bunch of incompetent hacks that Turnbull ironically would never employ in his own life”.

Somewhat over-the-top, don’t you think?

  1. As to MWD’s coverage of the Sydney CBD Tent City occupation, my point was that some who proclaimed the rights of the occupiers would not like such a camp outside their own office or home. That’s all.

And I do not believe that Reserve Bank of Australia staff “do very little of daily value” or that “no other collective apart from jihadists….have done more to stock NSW prisons with new inmates than the NSW Parliament”.  Somewhat exaggerated – or so it seems to me.

  1. Now I’m off to find my old copy of Saint Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises in an attempt to accept your challenge to “make Hendoism great again” by making myself a better person.

Keep Morale High – and God Bless.

Gerard Henderson

* * * * *

Until next time.