GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG

ISSUE NO. 375

25 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: Gillian Triggs links Canon Law with Sharia Law (Really) 
  • Can You Bear It? Mark Scott; Lawrie Zion; Gary Sturgess; Lisa Wilkinson’s Arm; Peter FitzSimons’ Plebiscite Confusion & Comrade Aarons’ One Time Visiting Card 
  • Five Paws Award: Step Forward Elham Malea & Andrew West (On the Burqa) + Greg Craven (on the Royal Commission) 
  • ABC Updates: A Report on Trump-Phobia Starring John Barron & Matt Bevan; Paul Bongiorno’s Mathias Cormann Rant & Michael Rowland’s Soviet Union Confusion
  • Media Fool of the Week: Sunil Badami’s Howlers on The Drum

 

 

GILLIAN TRIGGS RUNS SHARIA LAW EQUALS CANON LAW MORAL EQUIVALENCE LINE

What a stunning performance by Professor Gillian Triggs – the hero of many an ABC and Fairfax Media journalist – at the University of Sydney last night.  After interviewing Labor Senator (and media tart) Sam Dastyari among the Sandalista Set at her old workplace, Professor Triggs was reported by the Daily Mail this morning to have made the following comments:

There are various ways in which religious law affects the private lives of people. The views of the Vatican affect the lives of Catholics in this country.

The Daily Mail report continued:

Professor Triggs’ likening of Sharia law, which secular Muslims reject, to Catholic canon law comes a month after controversial Muslim psychologist Hanan Dover made exactly the same argument. “Australia’s liberal democracy prides itself being accommodating to different codes of law for different groups: halacha law for Jews, canon law for Catholics, tribal law for the Aboriginal communities, Islamic law for Muslims,” Ms Dover said on Facebook in July. “These are where the double standards we have to face from politicians/media commentators and bigots.”…

Professor Triggs also said Sharia divorce courts should be allowed in Australia, under a system where a Muslim man can leave his wife by saying ‘I divorce you’ three times. “If it’s a matter of private law within the Muslim community and they want to manage their affairs in that way, and they believe in those rules, that’s reasonably acceptable,” she said.

Later, she told Daily Mail Australia that One Nation leader Pauline Hanson’s policy of banning the burqa could be unconstitutional and would be likely to fail in the High Court. “It could be. It’s going to be a matter for the High Court. Wearing an external representation of your religious faith is something that we respect in Australia,” she said.

What a load of absolute tosh.  Dr Triggs (for a doctor she is) fails to understand that the Catholic Church’s canon law has no legal standing in Australia.  Canon law applies to the Church – not to the state. Sharia law, on the other hand, envisages an alternative system of government where theology determines the rules of civic behaviour.

Take marriage, for example. The marriage of Catholics in Australia is in accordance with the Marriage Act. Catholics do not – and cannot – marry under canon law. Any Catholics who divorce in Australia do so under the civil law – not with respect to a religious law.

It is simply intellectually dishonest to equate a marriage conducted at a Catholic Church with the implementation of sharia law with respect to marriage in Australia – whereby a husband could dissolve a marriage by saying “I divorce you” three times.

Also Dr Triggs’ claim that the views of the Vatican affect the lives of Catholics in this country overlooks the fact that no one has to belong to the Catholic Church – and no one has to follow the teachings of the Vatican.

As to Dr Triggs’ view that wearing a burqa is an expression of religious faith – this has been challenged by Dr Elham Manea, the author of Women and Sharia Law.  Dr Manea was interviewed by Andrew West on ABC Radio National’s The Religion and Ethics Report on Wednesday. See today’s Five Paws Award segment.

MWD reckons that if Professor Triggs believes that wearing a burqa is only an expression of Islamic faith, perhaps – as a gesture of religious solidarity – she could rug-up in one for a Q&A panel on sharia law.  Tony Jones could present a Q&A discussion with Gillian Triggs (wearing a burqa as a gesture of support) and Senator Pauline Hanson (wearing a burqa as a stunt).  Just a thought.

That’s Tony Jones in the middle – as to the panellists – who knows?

 

  • HOT CHILLI BUT SOFT QUESTIONS AS TIM DODD TAKES MARK SCOTT TO LUNCH

Did anyone read the oh-so-soft “Lunch with the AFR” interview in last Saturday’s Australian Financial Review?

Tim Dodd had lunch with former ABC managing director (and so-called editor-in-chief) Mark Scott at Sydney’s Long Chim restaurant. Nice Mr Scott has been head of the NSW Education Department for just on a year.

This is how your man Dodd described how he and his guest ended up at Long Chim. [Question. Does anyone really care? MWD Editor.]

We are sitting at a table in Long Chim, a Thai restaurant in Sydney featuring street food served in an environment not at all like a Bangkok street. It’s downstairs off Pitt Street near Martin Place. But once inside, I discover it’s actually on the same level as the back lane. So I’m looking out at the street and the Angel Place recital hall.

Long Chim was Scott’s pick. Had he been here before? No. But he’d asked some people in the office where it would be good to go for this lunch with The Australian Financial Review and this was what they came up with. It sounds like Scott. If you don’t know the answer, don’t waste time pondering it. Ask opinions, get the data, make the decision and move on. I get the sense that he’s not really here for the food. He’s thinking of bigger things. And he wants information fast.

How decisive and fast-moving can a taxpayer funded public servant be?  Nice Mr Scott asked an underling where to go for lunch and when told to try the Long Chim – he did so. Wow.

Somewhere between the miang coconut prawns and steamed red curry of barramundi, Nice Mr Scott explained his background in education.   He was for two years an English/history teacher at St Andrews’ School and then became a political staffer. Over to Tim Dodd:

He took a research job with his local MP on Sydney’s north shore, Terry Metherell. A year later, in 1988, Metherell became education minister in the Greiner government and Scott was one of his advisers as Metherell went like a bull at a gate at education reform, sparking massive confrontations with the teachers’ union.

Metherell only lasted two years and then Scott became chief of staff to his successor, Virginia Chadwick. “Metherell stirred it all up and Chadwick calmed it all down. I learnt a lot from both of them,” he says.

His verdict now on Metherell’s ambitious change plan? “He couldn’t bring people with him.”

Interesting reflection, to be sure.  However, there is no evidence that Mark Scott ever proffered such criticism to Terry Metherell when he was on his staff.  Dr Metherell (for a doctor he is) was a poorly performing Minister for Education in Nick Greiner’s Coalition government and had a lot to do with the Coalition’s eventual electoral demise.  Needless to say, Mr Dodd did not ask any difficult questions about Mark Scott’s time on Dr Metherell’s staff.

Likewise with the former Knox Grammar student who became a member of the Knox Grammar school board between 2007 and 2016.  After discussing Nice Mr Scott’s post-Metherell time at the Sydney Morning Herald and the then ABC, the AFR luncheon host had this to say:

It’s not that Scott had no contact with education in the intervening years. He was deputy chairman of the council at his old school, Knox Grammar (a position he resigned after being named as the incoming head of NSW’s public schools)….

Needless to say, Tim Dodd failed to tell AFR readers that Mr Scott has refused to state whether – on appointment to the Knox Grammar School board – he asked for an audit as to past or existing cases of child sexual abuse.  It was not until around 2009 that the full extent of the nest of pedophile teachers at Knox Grammar was revealed when a group of former students went to NSW Police.  As the ABC managing director during this period, Mr Scott would have been aware that other institutions around this time were conducting audits into past or on-going instances of pedophilia. But he has declined to say whether he took such action when he was in a position to do so.

As it turned out, Mr Scott had little to say to Tim Dodd about the future of public education in NSW under his watch – apart from declaring that “the answer” to education lies in “school leadership”.  Many thanks for that.

This is how the piss-poor “Lunch with the AFR” concluded:

It’s near 2 o’clock and we are wrapping up. It’s time to ask about the meal. His verdict: “I think the food is great. It’s a great little discovery just a few blocks from the office. Very authentic.” He has one parting observation. “The thing you’ve to be careful of, if you don’t get the chilli level right you could be living with the consequences all afternoon.”

Isn’t Nice Mr Scott just so wise and so helpful. Can You Bear It?

  • LAWRIE ZION’S QUIETUDE ON RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

What a stunning appearance by Lawrie Zion, the pompously titled Professor of Journalism and Director, Transforming Human Societies Research Focus Area, at La Trobe University, on ABC TV’s News Breakfast on Monday.

This is how Dr Zion (for a doctor he is) summarised Monday’s media coverage of the same sex marriage debate during the “Newspapers” segment:

Lawrie Zion: Interesting too – in this latest poll [Newspoll] – that they’ve polled the public on same sex marriage and the margin of “for” and “against” is 63 to 30 with a few undecideds and “don’t knows”. And even amongst Coalition voters, it’s 55 to 39.

Michael Rowland: Which is the interesting figure.

Lawrie Zion: It’s an interesting figure. In terms of who’s going to be surveyed – not voting – it looks like the older you are the more likely you’re going to be surveyed. But support for same-sex marriage looks very strong in the age group of 50-64. But, you were going to ask me something?

Virginia Trioli: Well, I was going to ask you about this terrific headline, “Abbott won’t trick me into other debates, AG.”

Lawrie Zion: I’ll read a bit from this – this is also in The Australian – because I think that one thing I can’t see how the Coalition can avoid is looking really disunited on this particular issue. And even though there’s sort of a directive to Cabinet ministers – that they’re not supposed to speak out too much or actively campaign, I think the term is. George Brandis, who has clearly made it very clear he supports same-sex marriage, spoke out against Tony Abbott yesterday, saying he would not be tricked by Tony Abbott into fighting the debate on broader issues such as freedom of religion. And he’s not going to turn a debate about one issue, whether same sex couples should be able to marry, into a broader debate about religion.

This is all very well in as far as it went.  It’s just that it didn’t go very far.  It’s true that in the Newspoll, support for same-sex marriage is 63 per cent “Yes”, 30 per cent “No” with 7 per cent undecided.  That figure was on Page 4 of The Australian on Tuesday. But it wasn’t the big story on the issue.  That was reported on Page 1 under the heading “Labor faithful want religious protection”.

This story, by David Crowe, revealed that 62 per cent answered “Yes” to the following question: “Do you think parliament should provide guarantees in law for freedom of conscience, belief and religion if it legislates for same-sex marriage?  The “No” vote was a mere 18 per cent with 20 per cent uncommitted.  The political breakdown of those who answers “Yes” was:

Coalition: 59 per cent

Labor: 68 per cent

Green: 58 per cent

One Nation: 64 per cent

David Crowe wrote:

Australians want federal parliament to guarantee religious freedom as part of the debate over same-sex marriage, with concerns strongest among Labor voters, ­according to a special Newspoll. Amid a widening dispute over claims Christians and other ­believers could be “harassed” into complying with a new view of marriage, voters are supporting the call for safeguards by a clear majority.

Hang on a minute.  Professor Zion sympathetically reported Attorney-General George Brandis’ statement that the debate on same sex marriage should not involve a discussion about religious freedoms – and criticised Tony Abbott’s stance.  But, according to Newspoll, close to two thirds of Australians support Tony Abbott’s position that freedom of religion should be guaranteed if the “Yes” vote succeeds.  It seems that your man Zion believes that such news should not be divulged to News Breakfast viewers early in the morning.  Can You Bear It?

  • GARY STURGESS’ HOMECOMING METAMORPHOSIS ABOUT CAPTAIN COOK & GOVERNOR PHILLIP AND ALL THAT STUFF

What a wonderful surprise to see Gary Sturgess photographed on the front page of The Australian on Wednesday to illustrate the story titled “Please endeavour not to rewrite history, James Cook’s critics told” – which contained the following paragraphs:

Gary Sturgess, chairman of Public Service Delivery at the Australia and New Zealand School of Management and an expert on Governor Arthur Phillip, who led the First Fleet in 1788, said while [Stan] Grant made some sensible points, he did not believe plaques should be ­removed. “I’m not in favour of tearing down statues, but we need to ­recontextualise statues or other public art,” he said. “We’ve had a very British interpretation up until now. For a lot of my life, we were assuming it was discovered by Cook. If that is offensive, I get that. Should we rework the plaque? I suspect we should leave the older one and put another alongside.”

Mr Sturgess, director-general of the cabinet office in the Greiner government, said 2020 would be the 250th anniversary of Cook’s 1770 landing. “It’s a conversation we need to be having. We need to be talking about how we interpret these spaces where significant moments occurred,” he said.

Mr Sturgess, who has been campaigning to commemorate the spot believed to be where Phillip landed, said the debate about statues mirrored that over changing the date of Australia Day — it defeated the purpose. “Why move it? If you want to make a point, why move it to some anodyne day that means nothing,” he said. “The whole point is that something important happened on 26 January, 1788, from Aboriginal as well as Australian point of view.”

Well, thanks for the contribution. And aren’t we Aussies just so fortunate to have Gary Sturgess back in Australia to tell us about 1770, 1778 and all that.

You see, it was not that long ago – 2006, in fact – that Mr Sturgess told the Australian Financial Review’s Geoff Kitney that he was leaving the Land Down Under since no Australian company could afford his considerable talents (AFR, 20 February 2006). Lest we forget Gary Sturgess’ view of just a decade ago, here it is:

There is no doubt that one of the reasons people like myself go overseas is that you get to the top of the ladder in whatever your discipline is in Australia and there are a limited number of positions you can go to. There is no company in Australia which could afford to have someone of my background working at the level that I am working. The larger size and much more vigorous market in the private provision of public services here is of a different dimension.

In some way, it is another life for me. The work is a continuation of what I was doing in Australia but I am obviously working on different problems or similar problems but in different ways.  But the breadth of the whole experience of working and living here, the cultural life, is on a different scale. There is a depth and a subtlety to the experience of living here [Britain] which you simply cannot get in Australia.

That was 2006.  Within four years, Mr Sturgess was back in Sydney Town with a taxpayer funded job somewhere or other.  This despite the fact that in 2006 Gary Sturgess predicted that returning to Australia would be a difficult task:

Re-entry to Australia is a tricky issue.  Australian friends who have been here and gone back have cautioned me that they found it a real problem.

The good news is that your man Sturgess’ re-entry to Australia was softer than he anticipated.  So much so that the person no one in Australia could afford to employ is now back in Australia (at the taxpayer’s expense) giving us all lectures on Captain Cook, Arthur Phillip and all that stuff – in between appearances on behalf of Griffith University. Can You Bear It?

  • THE RED BANDANNAED ONE’S MEDICAL FLIP FLOP

 What a difference a month makes.

As MWD avid readers are well aware, in his Sun-Herald column on Sunday 16 July, Peter FitzSimons praised the Italian medical system in the following words:

Italian hospitality

It was, if I might say, tabloid heaven. So often, you see reports of the partners of actors, sporting heroes and TV people and the like “racing to their hospital bed” when things go awry. In this case I was “racing with her to her hospital bed”, after my missus, Lisa Wilkinson had a very bad fall on the marble floor of our Italian hotel in Amalfi just as she was just about to have her morning shower. She has written something already of her experience but allow me to affirm, how extraordinary the Italian medical system was in the face of a couple of blow-ins from nowhere, one of whom had snapped her wrist in two places. Though the infrastructure of both the little hospital and big hospital was so worn and torn it was damn-near war-torn, the professionals were first-class, fast and overwhelmingly caring towards people they’d never seen before, nor would ever see again. Love you, Italy. At the end of it all, most stunningly, no bill!

By the way, the claim that the procedure was free was subsequently corrected. It turned out that the Italian and Australian taxpayers split the bill under some arrangement between the two nations.

That was then. However, in the Melbourne Herald Sun on 21 August Lisa Wilkinson – the Red Bandannaed One’s other half – had this to say:

Lisa Wilkinson has spoken about the long recovery ahead after she broke her arm while on holiday in Italy last month.  The Today show host told “Confidential” her recovery was hampered by the fact the cast the Italian doctors put on the arm was too tight, strangling her arm “like a boa constrictor”.  “The break was one thing, but the damage now from the cast, plus the 24-hour flight to Australia, has become a problem, she said. “Unfortunately, the cast on my arm strangled it. It’s going to be a long process.”

So there you have it.  On 17 July, Mr Red Bandannaed One was raving about the “first class” treatment in the Italian medical system.   However, on 21 July Mrs Red Bandannaed One was whinging about how the Italian doctors had “strangled” her arm “like a boa constrictor”.  Can You Bear It?

  • PETER FITZSIMONS’ PLEBISCITE/REFERENDUM CONFUSION

While on the topic of The Red Bandannaed One, it seems that your man Fitz is in a state of confusion about plebiscites. Writing in “The Fitz Files” in the Sun-Herald on 13 August 2017, the Australian Republic Movement chairman ran his usual line that the proposed plebiscite on same sex marriage (which will take the form of a postal survey) is a “non-binding glorified opinion poll costing $122 million”.

But the previous week (5 August 2017) “The Fitz Files” had this to say about Opposition leader Bill Shorten’s recent speech at the ARM Dinner in Melbourne on 29 July 2017:

I asked him in February in Darwin if he would address, in late July, the gala dinner of the Australian Republic Movement – which I chair – I had no idea just what he would deliver. He arrived early, left late, and I swear, shook hands or had his photo taken with damn nigh all of the throng of 900 of our ARM members there. He laughed, he discussed, he debated passionately he posed for photos. All up, though, he looked less like a politician working a room than a proud Australian having the time of his life. And of course, in his singularly eloquent and passionate speech, he committed a future Shorten government to having a referendum on the republic in its first term.

Er, no he did not.  In his singularly eloquent and passionate speech, the Opposition leader committed a future Shorten government to a plebiscite – simply on whether or not Australia should become a republic – in its first term.  Yes, what Peter FitzSimons regards as a non-binding glorified opinion poll.  Bill Shorten put it this way:

Tonight I give you this commitment. A Shorten Labor Government will take the first real step to an Australian Republic in our first term. A Member of our Ministry will have direct responsibility for advancing this debate. And – by the end of our first term – we will put a simple, straight forward question to the people of Australia. Do you support an Australian Republic with an Australian Head of State? And if the yes vote prevails – and I’m confident it will – then we can move on in a second term to discussing how that head of state is chosen.

I’m open to how we do that, I’m open to the new head of state keeping the title of Governor-General.  But what we cannot afford is to be caught in a referendum like the one we had before, where Australians were given one vote to settle two questions.

When a lot of people voted ‘No’, because of the model, not because of the Republic. Therefore, the first, clear question we ask the people should be whether we want an Australian head of state. And the debate should be about why.

In other words, during his first term of office a Shorten government would conduct a plebiscite concerning whether or not Australia should become a republic.  If the answer to such a plebiscite is “Yes” – then, in its second term, a Shorten government would put a specific proposal to change the Constitution by a referendum to bring about a particular form of republic.

Clearly, the ARM chairman did not fully understand Bill Shorten’s speech to the ARM dinner and did not realise that the Opposition Leader’s policy on the republic is to first have a non-binding glorified opinion poll (which would require a national majority to succeed) followed by a constitutional referendum (which would require a national majority plus a majority in a majority of states).

When it comes to matters constitutional, The Red Bandannaed One does not know what he is talking about.  Can You Bear It?

 

  • WHEN COMRADE MARK AARONS FLASHED HIS COMMUNIST PARTY MEMBERSHIP CARD ONE COLD MELBOURNE MORNING

 Gerard Henderson gets invited on to Phillip Adams’ little wireless program Late Night Live every quarter of a century or so. Jackie’s (male) co-owner recalls an interview with the ABC’s Man-in-Black around 1990. And another one in 2015.  Which means the next invitation should come in 2040.  Hendo can barely wait.

However, from time to time, Hendo listens to LNL.  Until recently, when walking the late Nancy (2004-2017). And now when walking the even later Jackie (2016 -__). This is his favourite LNL interview of late – when Phillip (“I was a teenage communist”) 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 interviewed Mark (“My old man was a one-time Stalinist”) Aarons.  Let’s go to the transcript as your man Aarons tells fellow-leftist Adams how he came to meet a certain John Grenville – who helped out on Comrade Aarons’ most recent tome titled The Show – in Melbourne in 1977:

Phillip Adams: Tell me about your co-author John Grenville. How did this unlikely double act happen?

 Mark Aarons: Well it was a fascinating event in my life when, as a young, would-be investigative reporter — almost exactly forty years ago — on a very bitterly cold Melbourne morning I knocked on his door in Brighton. Because I had been investigating allegations of the intelligence connections of what was then known as the National Civic Council, the NCC – known by its membership, affectionately, as “The Show.” And I’d been informed by one of my sources that John Grenville had some documents that might be very useful to my investigation. He asked me into his house. He asked me if I would show him my Communist Party membership card because he’d never seen one. I dutifully complied.

It speaks volumes for the left’s march through such institutions as the ABC that, in 1977, Mark Aarons went on assignment for the taxpayer funded public broadcaster carrying his  Communist Party of Australia membership card as identification – along with a tape recorder.

It was a case of “I’m Comrade Mark; I’m from the ABC; And here’s my Communist Party membership card to prove it”.  Can You Bear It?

[Er, no. Not really.  I note that in 1977 – during Comrade Aarons’ days in the Communist Party and the ABC – B.A. Santamaria successfully sued the public broadcaster concerning an interview by Philip Agee with Mark Aarons which was broadcast on the ABC Broadband program. The matter is covered in K.S. Inglis’ This is the ABC: the Australian Broadcasting Commission 1932-1983.  But not Mark Aarons’ Communist Party membership.  By the way, Santamaria’s successful legal action against Mark Aarons is not mentioned in his book The Show: Another Side of Santamaria’s Movement (Scribe, 2017), Fancy that. MWD Editor]

 

  • STEP FORWARD ELHAM MALEA ON THE BURQA – WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM ANDREW WEST

Last Wednesday, Andrew West – presenter of ABC Radio National’s The Religious and Ethics Report – interviewed Elham Malea. Dr Malea is a former Swiss government commissioner and author of Women and Sharia Law. She expressed a view rarely heard on the ABC.

Elham Malea said that the burqa is not Islamic and is a symbol of a totalitarian ideology which suppresses women. She pointed out that the garment is part of a culture that treats women as objects, denies basic rights and tells them to be slaves to their husbands.  Dr Malea told listeners that the burqa comes from tribal societies in the heart of Saudi Arabia and did not spread until Saudi Arabia embraced a fundamentalist Wahhabi ideology.

Oh yes – Elham Malea dismissed claims, made as recently as yesterday by Gillian Triggs, that the wearing of the burqa is an expression of Islamic faith.  She describes such views a naïve.

Andrew West & Elham Malea: Five Paws each.

 

  • STEP FORWARD PROFESSOR GREG CRAVEN ON THE ROYAL COMMISSION’S CATHOLIC CHURCH OBSESSION

Last Saturday’s Weekend Australian carried an article by Professor Greg Craven titled “We Will Not Fail” concerning the plight of the Catholic Church in contemporary Australia.

Professor Craven, a distinguished lawyer in his own right, rebuked the likes of David Marr and Peter FitzSimons as “anti-Catholic enthusiasts”. He continued:

Despite assurances, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse overwhelmingly has conducted itself, and has been viewed, as an inquiry into Catholic child abuse.

Adoring media outlets have egged it on, with royal commissioner Peter McClellan and counsel assisting Gail Furness seen more as folk her­oes than public servants whose performance is to be scrutinised. Any attempt to express or explain a church position is stigmatised as an assault on victims, an abuse of process and a moral contempt of the commission. In this climate, the only case is for the prosecution. The subject matter of discussion is so awful and the media treatment so partisan and sensational that counterargument is complicity. Dis­aster for the “traditional” church, with its bishops and celibate clergy, is eagerly anticipated by a surpris­ingly wide range of enthusiasts…

The church will come through the present horror but must do two things. There is a tremendous tension between these fundamental imperatives. The first is to acknowledge and atone for the atrocious crimes committed under its roof. The church must apologise, compensate and prevent on a comprehensive basis. Without that, it can never shed this shame.

But a real challenge is being heard above the swirl of negative spin and comment. Apologies are still demanded when they repeatedly have been made. Appear­ances by church leaders before the royal commission are insisted on when they already have occurred. Dreadful and genuine statistics of abuse are cited, but without the footnote that they are decades old, reduced to a — still repulsive — trickle by reforms embedded for 20 years.

The average citizen would be astonished the Catholic Church was the first religion to commit to the proposed national redress scheme. Others are yet to sign on. The government of South Australia remains distinctly frosty….

The grim truth is that by any reasonable standard of legal assessment, this has been one of the most indifferently conducted royal commissions in recent history. Adored by media groupies, its public flavour has been as a virtual trial of the Catholic Church.

The most obvious outcome here is that the obsession of the royal commission with “the Catholics” has all but crowded out the scrutiny of other institutions, with predictable results. I personally have run parliamentary, governmental and other public inquiries almost beyond memory. The rule is, if an inquiry gives the impression it is about one subject, the public will take it at its word.

Greg Craven: 5 Paws.

  • THIS WEEK’S ABC TRUMP-PHOBIA: STARRING JOHN BARRON & MATT BEVAN

It seems that Trump-phobia has become increasingly virulent at the ABC.   This week John Barron – a co-presenter of The Lonely Planet and visiting fellow at the US[eless] Studies Centre (where everyone got the result of the 2016 US presidential election wrong) – described President Donald J. Trump as an “old white guy in a suit”. Funny, eh?

It’s just that Mr Barron has not been heard to describe Bernie Sanders as “an old white guy in a suit”.  But, then, Mr Sanders is a left-wing Democrat and President Trump led the Republican Party to victory last November against the beloved Hillary Clinton.

Meanwhile, on ABC Radio National Breakfast, Matt Bevan preaches an anti-Trump line virtually every day.  He’s that predictable – and that boring.  It’s just that RN Breakfast presenter Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly just loves your man Bevan’s Trump-phobia.

This is the program note concerning Matt Bevan’s “World Wrap” on RN Breakfast yesterday:

Yesterday’s rally by Donald Trump in Phoenix was a flashback to the early days of his Presidential campaign — it was a 75 minute improvised rant in which he attacked the media, relitigated his response to the deadly Charlottesville rally, made incorrect statements about history and energy technology and indicated he would pardon Sheriff Joe Arpaio….

How condescending can you get?  The RN Breakfast team do not appear to believe that listeners can make up their own minds about President Trump.  No – they have to be told that the President’s address in Phoenix was a “75-minute impoverished rant”.

Let’s go to the transcript as your man Bevan commences his editorial yesterday:

Fran Kelly: Matt Bevan joins us now with what’s making headlines around the world. Hi Matt.

Matt Bevan: G’day Fran, lots happening in the United States. As you mentioned earlier, Hillary Clinton has released a section of her upcoming book, which is quite an astonishing description of the second debate. You played a little grab of that earlier but I think you’ll agree.

Fran Kelly: “Back up creep” is the quote I think isn’t it?

Matt Bevan: Yeah indeed. But I think you’ll agree Fran that yesterday’s campaign rally by Donald Trump in Arizona was quite something to behold. It was an angry, 75 minute rant taking a machine gun approach to all the topics he’s most upset by….

Hold it there. This is clearly one of those ABC specials when the ABC presenter interviews an ABC journalist and they agree with each other.  Mr Bevan expected that Ms Kelly would agree with him about the second Clinton/Trump debate. And she did.  Then Mr Bevan anticipated that Ms Kelly would agree with him about the President’s speech in Phoenix.  And she did. Yawn. Yawn. Yawn.

Believe it or not, Matt Bevan maintained that the only world news worth reporting yesterday turned on President Trump. Bevan went on and on bagging Donald J. Trump until asking – with a degree of desperation:

So, are we in for three and a half more years of this? Well if you’re keeping a close eye on the Russia investigation, you’ll know that recent witnesses called to testify may indicate it’s moving along rather quickly. But the results of any investigation are irrelevant as long as Donald Trump has the support of his own party, the Republican Party. As for that, a story in the New York Times yesterday may shed some light on the state of Donald Trump’s relationship with his allies. Let’s go back to the 10 August this year, this is what we were talking about here on RN Breakfast that day:

It would help if we knew a little bit more about the rules which will govern this ballot because the ballot is being conducted by the Bureau of Statistics not by the electoral commission.

Alison Carabine there. So that’s what we were up to on that day. On that same day, according to the Times, Donald Trump and the Republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell were having an angry, sweary screaming match on the phone….

It’s hardly surprising that Fran Kelly was presenting a program on 10 August which covered the same sex marriage debate in Australia. That would be the case almost every day RN Breakfast goes to air.

Having commenced his wrap by quoting uncritically from the Washington Post, Bevan continued to quote uncritically from the New York Times.  And so, the oh-so-predictable wrap ended with Matt Bevan suggesting that impeachment might be on the way and Fran Kelly agreed that “indeed” this may be the case:

Matt Bevan: So the question is here Fran, will Mitch McConnell allow the President to attack him and his Senate team?  Attack his Senate team who are up for re-election soon. Particularly in a Senate where he only has a two seat majority. McConnell is likely at some point in the future to be the man who needs to decide if Donald Trump stays in his job as any impeachment notion is not going to get through unless Mitch McConnell agrees with it.

Fran Kelly: Indeed Matt. Thank you very much.

Sometimes you wonder if Matt Bevan would have anything to say about THE WORLD if he could not run with an anti-Trump material from the Trump-hating Washington Post and New York Times.

  • PAUL BONGIORNO’S ANTI-MATHIAS CORMANN RANT

During John Howard’s time as prime minister, the Prime Minister’s office regarded Paul Bongiorno as the most left-wing member of the Canberra Press Gallery’s commercial media.

So it’s not surprising that, in his latter years Bonge got a gig on the ABC – namely a weekly encounter with RN Breakfast presenter Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly. And, of course, Bonge rants on Twitter. Like this one yesterday.

The reference was to Finance Minister Mathias Cormann’s address to The Sydney Institute last Wednesday.  In fact, Senator Cormann did not make the case that the closing of tax loopholes comprises in its totality Bill Shorten’s attack on the rich.  And how can Bonge present on ABC Radio National as a professional commentator if he describes a speech by Senator Cormann in circa 144 characters as tosh?  BBC commentators are expected to refrain from the public expression of political views.  Not so at the ABC.

  • MICHAEL ROWLAND AND THE CONFUSION OF EAST BERLIN WITH THE SOVIET UNION

While on the topic of ABC reporting of Senator Cormann’s speech, here’s what ABC TV News Breakfast co-presenter Michael Rowland had to say yesterday:

Michael Rowland: Now the finance minister Mathias Cormann has stepped up the government’s attack on the Labor Party, likening its economic policies to those of the Soviet Union.

Virginia Trioli: This is in a speech he gave overnight and Senator Cormann accused Bill Shorten of relying on the politics of envy to win support but he says those policies will damage the economy.

Bill Shorten believes that by denigrating successful people as the undeserving rich he will generate enough popular support to win the next election. His rhetoric is the divisive language of haves and have nots. It is socialist revisionism at its worst.

Michael Rowland: A very strongly worded speech there by the Finance Minister last night.

Yes, it was.  But Senator Cormann did not refer to the Soviet Union.  What became the Soviet Union was established in 1917 consequent upon the Bolshevik Revolution.  The communist state was constructed in the 1920s and 1930s in the Soviet Union.

What Mathias Cormann referred to in his Sydney Institute speech was not the Soviet Union, but East Berlin.  He addressed the different living standards in West Berlin and East Berlin, making the point that Berliners were free to move between zones from the time of the establishment of the East German communist regime in 1949 until the Berlin Wall was constructed in 1961.

 SUNIL BADAMI BANGS AN ANTI-CATHOLIC AND HOWLER-RIDDEN DRUM

The first topic listed for discussion on The Drum last Monday was described as “Catholic Church leaders saying employees who marry same-sex partners could be fired”.

The panel comprised Katie Acheson (CEO, Youth Action), writer and broadcaster Sunil Badami and David Gazard (director ECG Advisory Solutions) along with one-time Catholic priest and current academic Terry Laidler.  Acheson, Badami and Laidler all criticised the statement of Denis Hart – the Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne – which led to the discussion while Gazard was non-committal.

When presenter Ellen Fanning opened the discussion, Badami fired up – as the transcript demonstrates.

Ellen Fanning: Sunil, they’re [the Catholic Church] taking a stand. But why, in your opinion?  I mean, no same sex couple will ever be married in a Catholic church and the Church need never employ an openly gay person at a school.  So why would they be taking the stand?

Sunil Badami: Well I think it reflects the Church’s growing anxiety about its increasing irrelevance to modern society. I mean, the latest Census showed that more and more Australians are choosing to elect to say that they are of no religion. And especially after the shocking revelations from the recent Royal Commission in which it was found that there were over 4444 cases of child abuse reported to the Catholic Church involving over 7 per cent of all priests between 1980 [sic] and 2015.

Ellen Fanning: So what’s the connection between that and trying to exercise some authority around this question?

Sunil Badami: Well I think it’s very difficult to kind of take a stance of moral superiority over two consenting adults. And you should remember that the 1961 Commonwealth Marriage Act was about two consenting adults until in 2004 John Howard decided to arbitrarily change it to a man and a woman, without I might add, any kind of plebiscite or postal vote. But it is really hard for the Catholic Church to take any kind of morally superior stance on this issue given the revelations that many senior clergy, including Archbishop Denis Hart, often ignored or covered up allegations of very serious child abuse.

Sunil Badami’s anti-Catholic rant was littered with errors, which remained uncorrected by Ellen Fanning and Terry Laidler who had sufficient knowledge to challenge the claims. Here they are:

▪ The Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse did not find that between, 1980 and 2015, some 7 per cent of Catholic priests were alleged to have sexually abused children.  Badami just made this up.

In fact, the period covered was 1950 (not 1980) to 2015.  Moreover the reference was to allegations made between 1950 and 2015 – not to alleged offences committed between 1950 and 2015. This is what Counsel Assisting Gail Furness SC told the Royal Commission on 16 February 2017:

Between January 1950 and February 2015, 4,445 people alleged incidents of child sexual abuse in 4,765 claims. The vast majority of claims alleged abuse that started in the period 1950 to 1989 inclusive. The largest proportion of first alleged incidents of child sexual abuse, 29 per cent, occurred in the 1970s.

In other words, the vast majority of alleged assaults by Catholic clerics occurred in the period between 1950 (not 1980) and 1989 – with nearly a third occurring in the 1970s. That is about four decades ago.  Consequently, these are essentially historical crimes – yet Badami asserted on The Drum that it has been alleged that 7 per cent of priests were active pedophiles in the period between 1980 and 2015.

All members of The Drum’s panel, including presenter Ellen Fanning, seemed unaware that – according to the Royal Commission’s own statistics – offending within the Uniting Church was proportionally higher than in the Catholic Church and continued at high levels for longer.

While spending 15 days on its Catholic “wrap”, the Royal Commission spent a mere half a day on its Uniting Church “wrap” – hearing only three witnesses in the process. Here’s a quote from Counsel Assisting Angus Stewart SC’s introduction concerning the Uniting Church “wrap”:

In the 40 years since the Church’s inauguration, there have been 2,504 incidents or allegations of child sexual abuse that have been reported as having occurred at an institution or place of worship of the Uniting Church.

That’s 2,504 incidents or allegations in the period between 1977, when the Uniting Church was formed, and 2017. This compares with 4,765 claims with respect to the Catholic Church between 1950 and 2015. And the Catholic Church is about five times larger than the Uniting Church. What’s more, the Royal Commission did not include allegations in the period 1950 to 1977 with respect to the Presbyterian, Congregational and Methodist communities which folded into the Uniting Church in 1977. This would take the number of allegations beyond 2,504, especially since it seems that child sexual abuse was at its worst in the 1960s and 1970s.

Evidence presented to the Royal Commission also suggests that no real action was taken with respect to a nest of pedophile teachers at the Uniting Church’s Knox Grammar School in Sydney until a group of former students went to NSW Police in 2009 – over a decade after the establishment of the Melbourne Response by (then) Archbishop George Pell in 1996.

▪ When John Howard’s government defined marriage in the 2004 amendments to the Marriage Act, it adopted the accepted definition of marriage at the time – i.e. a union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others.  There was no arbitrary change to the concept of marriage in 2004 and the Coalition’s legislation was supported by the Labor Opposition at the time.

▪ Badami did not present any evidence that Archbishop Denis Hart “often ignored or covered up allegations of very serious child abuse”.

It seems that panellists are allowed to rock-up at The Drum and proffer howlers or make unfounded allegations – without fear of correction.

Sunil Badami – Media Fool of the Week.

 


 

Until next time.