1 September 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: Anne Summers’ Poor Taste; It’s Now The ABC’s 2011 News; Derryn Hinch’s Full Disclosure 
  • Can You Bear It? Mad as Hell Only Mad at Christians; Lisa Wilkinson Bags Italian Health System; Kathy Griffin’s Threat Censored by Fairfax Media; Paul Watson & Fran Kelly miss North Korea’s Missile Launch; Richard Hinds Ignores the Brutality of Ultimate Fighting 
  • Five Paws Award: Step Forward David Speers for Full Confession on Canberra Press Gallery Insularity 
  • Documentation: Peter FitzSimons’ Latest Confused Anti-Catholic Rant on the Confessional 
  • History Corner: The Dura Follows the ABC in Sanitising the Late Richard Neville’s Past in London & Sydney – With a Special Richard Downing/ABC Scoreboard Update 
  • Correspondence: Dee Madigan Helps Out on The Australian Republic Movement; Andrew West Clarifies a Royal Commission Misconception & the ARM’s Michael Cooney Helps Out With A Little Bit of Pedantry and Some Denial



 Anne Summers put out the following tweet today. This seems a desperate way to score a political point against the Liberal Party. In fact, Anna McPhee was successful in the Liberal Party – as her former position as chief of staff to former NSW Liberal Party Premier Barry O’Farrell attests. She was destined for a very successful career in the party when, tragically, her terminal illness intervened.

Rest in peace Anna McPhee – who deserved respect in life and deserves respect in death.



Fairfax Media reported on 5 August 2017 that ABC management is concerned about the falling ratings for the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s leading news and current affairs programs.  Namely the 7 pm News and, in particular, the 7.30 program.

Could it be the fault of the lead-in? Take last night, for example. The lead-in to the 7 pm News was a repeat of an episode of Clarke & Dawe which first went to air on 22 September 2011. Yep, a whole six years ago.

The late Mr Clarke and Mr Dawe were banging on about asylum seekers during the time of Kevin Rudd’s Labor government – when Chris Bowen was immigration minister and Scott Morrison was the shadow minister. The clever line of the sketch was that no government could turn back boats since no one had “a boat stopper”.  It’s just that Tony Abbott’s government did this successfully in 2013 and Malcolm Turnbull’s government continues to do so today. As the cliché goes, re-running old shows as the lead-in to the evening news is just so 2011.

However, the umpteenth re-run of Clarke and Dawe was a reminder that the comedians attacked both Labor and the Coalition from the left.  But rarely if ever laughed at the Greens and their inner-city Sandalista supporters.

This despite the fact that many regard the Greens as suitable material for comedy.  Including comrade Lee Rhiannon (nee Brown who became O’Gorman and Gorman before becoming a Fleetwood Mac derivative) is worth a laugh. After all, what other contemporary politician studied at the International Lenin School in Moscow in 1977 – gaining, MWD hears, a Diploma in Applied Revolution.   The distinguished alma mater of the International Lenin School include East German dictator Erich Honecker and Polish dictator Wladyslaw Gomulka.


Yesterday Jackie’s (male) co-owner was devastated to hear that Derryn (“the Human Headline”) Hinch could have a Section 44 problem due to the fact that he holds a United States Security Card.  The issue turns on whether this entails that he is entitled to the privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power which then would disqualify him from sitting in the Australian parliament. Senator Hinch was reported by ABC News to have declared that news about his card was leaked by a “close friend” who “doesn’t like me”.

How about that?  Even Derryn Hinch’s close friends don’t like him.  In any event, it all seems like a media beat-up by one of Australia’s leading media tarts.  Your man Hinch went on Sky News’ Paul Murray Live last night and told stand-in presenter Janine Perrett that he probably does not have a Section 44 problem after all.  Yawn.

The Human Mumble – who holds the record for being the only senator to be requested to curtail his first speech (which was going on and on and on) – used his time last night to assert that former Liberal Party NSW premier Barry O’Farrell has unfinished business with the NSW Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC).  What evidence did Senator Hinch provide?  None at all.  It seems he just made this up.

This is the very same Derryn Hinch who was one of Down Under’s very own “birthers” when he claimed for years that Tony Abbott was probably a dual Australian/British citizen and, consequently, not entitled to be a member of the House of Representatives.  This is but another occasion on which Hinch’s hunch was wrong.



How wonderful to see Hendo’s favourite professor/media tart Allan Fels making a cameo appearance on Shaun Micallef Mad as Hell on Wednesday – in the “Roz’s Brush with Fame” gig. Dr Fels (for a doctor he is) acted the role of a painter – of houses, not canvasses – but had trouble convincing Roz that his final cut was just a first coat.  LOL, indeed.

From this segment on, Mad as Hell resembled the hell-fire sermons that Young Shaun would have experienced as a Catholic lad in the 1970s down Adelaide way.  You see, when Mad As Hell is not funny, it’s preaching.  A bit like the Catholic Church, in Counter Reformation mode – except that your man Micallef supports the “Yes” case in the coming postal survey and most Counter Reformation types (if any are extant) are probably “No” voters.

Wednesday’s targets were the Australian Christian Lobby (yawn), a Christian baker who doesn’t do same sex marriage cakes (yawn), the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (alleged) incompetence (yawn), the ACL as a ballot paper thief (yawn) and the ACL as a destroyer of post boxes (yawn squared).  There were no jokes directed at the “Yes” case.

Set out below is how Mad as Hell depicted a contemporary female member of the ACL – as the Puritan Elizabeth Proctor. It’s just that contemporary Christians don’t’ cover their heads.  But quite a few contemporary Muslim women do.  Now, here’s a challenge.  Will Mad as Hell mock the “No” case by ridiculing a Muslim woman character? If not, is it only Christian “No” advocates who are to be subjected to the wit of Mad as Hell and not Muslim “No” advocates?  Can You Bear It?


While on the issue of covered human parts, MWD has nothing but sympathy for Lisa Wilkinson of the broken arm.

As avid readers are aware, when Ms Wilkinson broke her arm badly in Italy, hubby Peter FitzSimons wrote in the Sun Herald about the “first class service” provided by the Italian hospital system – especially since it was free.  Not long after, Lisa Wilkinson complained that the Italian doctors had placed the cast too tight on her arm – in a boa constrictor style.

Then, more recently, the Daily Telegraph “Sydney Confidential” column reported Ms Wilkinson as saying:

The Italian doctors didn’t charge me a cent. But God I wish they had because that would mean that money would be going into the Italian hospital system. I walked into the hospital and it was like walking into a building in Beirut.

They need training desperately because they put a cast on that has basically strangled my arm so most of my issues now are shocking nerve damage. The [Australian] doctor said it will be 12 months before I can get back to what I could do before the injury.

Fair enough.  But Peter FitzSimons has yet to correct his praise for the Italian doctors who attended to Lisa Wilkinson and the (alleged) free health system in Italy where they work.  Can You Bear It?

[Er, No.  It’s a pity that Peter and Lisa did not read the book Villa FortunaAn Italian Interlude which was written in 1990 by avid MWD reader Geoffrey Luck.  He referred to the condition that Ms Wilkinson has as Sudeck’s Syndrome which is often caused by too tight plastering of broken bones. According to Mr Luck, this condition is common in parts of Italy. – MWD Editor.]



 Stand by for the arrival Down Under of American stand-up comedian Kathy Griffin whose brush with fame came after she held a fake severed head of Donald Trump in her hand. Funny, eh?

When Seven Sunrise’s Sam Armytage put it to Ms Griffin that the stunt was not very funny, the Hollywood star replied “You’re full of crap.”  As The Australian reported the story on Tuesday:

“You’re full of crap,” she told Armytage who asked if the photo crossed the line. “Stop this. You know this. Stop acting like my little picture is more important than talking about the actual atrocities that the President of the United States is committing. No, I don’t apologise for that photo anymore and I think the outrage is complete BS because we have real things to deal with. But I’m in trouble according to you, Sam, way to take my back girl.”

After Armytage insisted she was just doing her job as a journalist, Griffin told her: “I’m going to meet you in an alley. No I got it. I got your number. You’re like a white Trump voter in America. I got your thing.”

Rob Moran reported the story for Fairfax Media online on the same day. He covered all of Kathy Griffin’s comments except the threat to meet Sam Armytage “in an alley” and presumably do her harm. That’s censorship – Fairfax Media style. Can You Bear It?


Did anyone hear the interview by Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly and Paul Watson, the captain and founder of Sea Shepherd, on Tuesday?  In case you missed it, here’s a synopsis from ABC Radio National Breakfast’s program notes:

There’s been a new development in the long running battle against whaling in the waters of Antarctica, with the conservation group Sea Shepherd announcing it will abandon its annual face-off with the Japanese. After 12 years pursuing and interrupting the whale cull, Sea Shepherd says it’s no longer a match against Japan’s military and economic might. But Sea Shepherd founder Captain Paul Watson says the battle to save the whales is far from over.

The interview started softly and ended the same way.  Towards the end of the interview, Captain Watson had this to say:

Fran Kelly: In a way, are you a victim of some of your success? As so you say, I think the estimate you say is that the Sea Shepherd campaign has meant that you’ve saved around 6000 whales because Japan, as you told us earlier, has really decreased their annual catch, their scientific research as they say. But they do intend to kill about 4000 whales over the next 12 years in the name of scientific research. Do you feel the momentum, the public momentum and support for Sea Shepherd is still there or are you seeing that wane as people sense that: “oh perhaps, you’ve done the job”?

Paul Watson: Well we don’t really know but we do know that we have made a significant difference. Not only have we reduced the quotas but also we’ve exposed their illegal activities to the world.  We’ve extremely embarrassed them. And we’ve cost them an estimated 200 million dollars. So uh you know we certainly have had an impact. But you know when it comes to Japan they’re incredibly stubborn. As one uh politician in Japan said, “Japan only has two enemies: China and Sea Shepherd”. So you know, we’re quite flattered that they put us in the same category but they act like we’re a country they’re at war with.

So, on Tuesday morning, at around 7.45 am Australian Eastern Time, Paul Watson endorsed the view that Japan had only two enemies – China and Sea Shepherd.  Only a couple of hours earlier, North Korea had fired a missile over Japanese territory.  Sounds like an act of an enemy, don’t you think?  But Fran Kelly said nothing to correct the beloved Sea Shepherd captain’s howler.  Can You Bear It?


 Jackie’s (male) co-owner just loves ABC Sydney Radio’s “Mornings” program – since it provides much material. MWD went into deep mourning when previous “Mornings” host Deborah Cameron’s contract was not renewed and was saddened when Linda Mottram ceased broadcasting in this slot. But MWD just loves Wendy Harmer on “Mornings” – hence the hugely popular “Verily, a Wendy Harmer Moment” of recent memory.

Unfortunately, Ms Harmer has been away from the microphone of late on what media types like to call a Well-Earned-Break. In short, a W.E.B. On Monday, Mark Fennell filled in for her – during which the following comments were made about the Floyd Mayweather v Conor McGregor traditional boxing match at Las Vegas at the weekend:

Mark Fennell: A lot of people are sort of balking at this idea that boxing has, has changed lives. That it has made people better, are you surprised by that reaction?

 Richard Hinds: Yeah, I am. Again, I don’t think people are close enough to it basically, what they see is in the ring. It’s interesting, I was interested in your caller talking about the UFC [Ultimate Fighting Championship] and the reputation it has. And I had a similar opinion going back a few years because they [the media] show just the highlights of it which are – or the lowlights if you like. Which is, just, generally they tend to be the end of the fight when someone is kicking someone in the head or, it can be quite bloody at the end.

But I went to that Ronda Rousey fight in Melbourne. I was invited along. And I went along prepared to be appalled. The one thing that did impress me was how quickly they do stop those fights. So, look, there is an element where they are pretty nasty and it goes on but they stop those fights much quicker than a lot of professional boxing fights stop. And the real damage is done to fighters by repeated concussions, it’s fights going on too long. So, that’s one thing I will say in defence of UFC. Again, as with boxing, I don’t, you know, I totally understand people’s opinion about it, it’s a matter of taste and judgement but if you go the actual fights themselves they actually seem to be much less violent than they’re portrayed in the media.

 What a load of absolute tosh.  Mayweather prevailed over McGregor at the weekend when the traditional boxing match bout was stopped by the referee. Mayweather was declared the victor on a technical knock-out (TKO) while McGregor was still standing.

At the UFC fight in Melbourne, Ronda Rousey was knocked unconscious by a kick to the head – and nearly died from the blow. She collapsed – whereupon her opponent Holly Holm delivered several blows to the head of the unconscious Rousey as she lay on the canvas.  A fighter who did this in a traditional boxing match would have been disqualified.

And your man Hinds reckons that UFC fights are stopped more quickly than traditional boxing fights. Richard Hinds is a ABC sportswriter. Can You Bear It?



Media Watch Dog’s Five Paws Award was inaugurated in Issue Number 26 (4 September 2009) during the time of Nancy (2004-2017). The first winner was ABC TV presenter Emma Alberici.  Ms Alberici scored for remembering the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 23 August 1939 whereby Hitler and Stalin divided Eastern Europe between Germany and the Soviet Union.  And for stating that the Nazi-Soviet Pact had effectively started the Second World War, since it was immediately followed by Germany’s invasion of Poland (at a time when the Soviet Union had become an ally of Germany).

Over the years, the late Nancy’s Five Paws Award has become one of the world’s most prestigious gongs – rating just below the Nobel Prize and the Academy Awards.  Joe Aston, of the Australian Financial Review’s “Rear Window” column, has declared that he would much prefer to win a Five Paws Award than a Walkley.  Mr Ashton is a past Five Paws Award recipient. He is joined today by David Speers.

Sky News presenter David Speers commenced a weekly column in the Daily Telegraph last Saturday – taking over the spot vacated by Laurie Oakes who has gone on a very well-earned and very, very long break.

This is how your man Speers commenced his inaugural Daily Telegraph column on 26 August – focusing on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s recent visit to southern New South Wales:

There were no cameras, journos or tweets. Just 50 locals around the bar at Albury’s Star Hotel. And the Prime Minister. Malcolm Turnbull spent an hour at the pub on Thursday, chatting over lunch and a few beers, away from the media. Mr Harbourside Mansion, the man who too often seems out of touch with real Australians, is making an effort.

The polls may be awful and the High Court may be deciding the fate of his “stable, working majority”, but this week the Prime Minister was doing exactly what he should. At the Star Hotel, no one raised same-sex marriage, dual citizenship, banning the burqa or historical statues.

The locals in Albury were far more interested in power prices. Terrorism concerns were also raised and even inland rail, but cost of living was the dominant theme. An hour chatting with locals in a country pub is the best focus group research any Prime Minister can get. It almost always confirms the mismatch between the priorities of the media and ordinary Australians.

So there you have it.  David Speers, who happens to be a former president of the National Press Club in Canberra, acknowledges that there is a mismatch between what Canberra-based journalists think really matters and the priorities of locals at the Star Hotel in Albury and other places outside the Canberra Parliament House complex.

David Speers: Five Paws.



In “The Fitz Files” in last Sunday’s Sun-Herald, Peter FitzSimons did his usual rant about the contemporary Catholic Church.  Here’s what The Red Bandannaed One had to say:

So, I’ve got this right, yes? On the one hand, we have the Catholic Church maintaining it will make no change in its protocol about the sanctity of the confessional. And it maintains that, despite the fact that – as just revealed by the Criminal Justice report by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse – it has presided over cases like the one in Rockhampton where Father Michael McArdle was forgiven no fewer than 1500 times by 30 of his fellow priests for raping children in his care.

“I was devastated after the assaults, every one of them,” Father McArdle affirmed in a 2004 affidavit, quoted in The Australian on Tuesday. “So distressed would I become that I would attend confessions weekly. [After every confession], it was like a magic wand had been waved over me.” Now, as not a single one of those priests called the police – sanctity of the confessional and all that – McArdle continued his atrocities for decades, devastating the lives of ever more children.

And, on the other hand, we have the Catholic Church waving a flag upon what it sees as the moral high ground, warning the rest of us of what will happen to society if we vote for marriage equality. And its warnings include the dangers to children of gay couples. I ask this seriously. How long can we, as a society, BEAR this?

No Fitz, you got that wrong.  In his piece, everything was correct – except for the facts.

▪ The case of former priest Michael McArdle was not considered by the Royal Commission – despite the fact that it devoted 15 days to what it called the “Catholic Wrap”, considering the sacrament of confession and more besides.  Nor was McArdle mentioned in the Royal Commission’s Criminal Justice Report. Fitz just made this up.

▪ It’s true that McArdle wrote an affidavit in 2004 claiming that he confessed his sins on no fewer than 1500 times to 30 fellow priests and got exactly the same response every time. But McArdle’s crimes were committed between the period 1965 to 1987. That is, McArdle stopped offending 30 years ago.  So what he alleged about confession covers the Catholic Church of a different era – a decade before the Catholic Hierarchy directly confronted the issue of clerical child sexual assault in the mid-1990s.

▪ McArdle’s affidavit was prepared in the context of his (unsuccessful) appeal to the Queensland Court of Appeal against the length of his sentence.  It is not apparent why the words of a convicted pedophile should be accepted at face value by Peter FitzSimons or anyone else.

▪ Convicted pedophile Gerald Ridsdale gave evidence to the Royal Commission that he did not go to confession over three decades while he was offending against children.

▪ Archbishop Denis Hart, a Catholic conservative who opposes same sex marriage, has said that no one confessed pedophilia to him in 50 years as a priest. Fr Frank Brennan, a Catholic liberal who supports same sex marriage, has said that no one confessed the sin of pedophilia to him in over 30 years as a priest.

Peter FitzSimons’ belief that pedophile priests once did – and still do – confess their sins to fellow priests is not supported by any evidence.  Moreover, the Royal Commission’s findings on this issue are based on the flimsiest of evidence – as Professor Greg Craven pointed out in his article in The Weekend Australian on 19 August 2007.



When visiting his old home town recently, Hendo chanced upon a copy of The Dura at the Hill of Content bookshop on Melbourne’s Bourke Street.  The Dura, which describes itself as an independent periodical, is a strange publication for modern times.  It is tabloid or compact size and carries full page photography.  Indeed, the current issue contains a photograph over two pages of Labor Party politician Edward Theodore disembarking a train somewhere in NSW sometime in the 1930s.  The only other person in the pic is the train’s guard.

But MWD digresses.  The cover story and The Dura’s Issue 10 (February-May 2017) is on the late Richard Neville (1941-2016). It contains a sympathetic account of Neville’s life by Louise Ferrier plus an extract from Tony Palmer’s The Trials of Oz plus Peter Shenstone’s personal memoirs of his Blackheath neighbour in the final years of Neville’s life in the Blue Mountains.

Certainly Richard Neville was a highly talented Australian.  It’s just that in life – as well as in death – Neville is judged by a dramatically different standard to that by which we judge many others.  In short, he was – and remains – a hero of the libertarian left.

As MWD readers are aware, the Richard Neville Fan Club will not even address two matters.  The late Mr Neville was a self-confessed pedophile. Also, he once invited three self-declared pederasts into an ABC Radio studio in Sydney without reporting their offences to NSW Police.  Neither matter would be denied if the perpetrator had been a Christian cleric.  Here’s a reminder of both instances.

▪ In his book Play Power (Random House, 1970), Richard Neville admitted to doing circa 1970 what put Rolf Harris in prison in the United Kingdom in 2014 – for some three years.  Yet, when Neville died last year, no one at the ABC or Fairfax Media mentioned that he was a self-confessed pedophile.

In Play Power, Richard Neville spoke about a sexual encounter with an under-age 14 year old schoolgirl in London. He boasted of having a “hurricane f..k” with a “moderately attractive, intelligent, cherubic, fourteen-year-old girl from a nearby London comprehensive school”. At the time of this sexual encounter, Neville was in his late 20s; that is, about twice the age of the girl.

▪ Likewise, neither the ABC nor Fairfax Media will report the fact that on 14 July 1975 Richard Neville presented a special edition of the ABC Radio Lateline program titled “Pederasty”.  Neville invited three self-declared pederasts into the ABC studio in Sydney where they described their sexual relations with young boys. Two of the pederasts’ victims were also interviewed.

Neither Neville nor anyone in ABC management reported the pederasts’ admissions of criminal behaviour to NSW Police at the time or since. The tapes of the program were destroyed almost immediately after it went to air. What’s more, neither Neville nor ABC management ever adopted a duty of care to the pederasts’ victims – who, if alive today, would be aged in their early fifties.

Indeed, at the time the ABC’s chairman Richard Downing – acting in his capacity as chairman – wrote to the Sydney Morning Herald (19 July 1975) calling on Australians to “understand” the urges of pederasts.  Professor Downing also told the Sydney Morning Herald that “in general, men will sleep with young boys”.

The ABC, which has devoted considerable resources to reporting child sexual abuse in Catholic and Anglican churches, simply do not want to report Neville’s one-time pedophilia. Or to its role in the “Pederasty” program.  Or the fact that the ABC chairman Richard Downing at the time approved the decision to air the “Pederasty” program and later told Australians “in general, men will sleep with young boys” without pointing out that this was – and remains – a criminal offence. The Dura has now channelled the ABC/Fairfax Media in white-washing parts of Richard Neville’s life.

Which provides a you-beaut excuse to again run MWD’s Scoreboard on this issue.





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).


 Despite declining to renew his membership of the ARM last year – as avid readers will be aware – Gerard Henderson received a missive from Dee Madigan (executive director, Campaign Edge) urging that he should  re-join the movement.  Being a courteous kind of guy, Hendo replied.  Now read on.

 Dee Madigan to Gerard Henderson – 30 August 2017

Dear Gerard

Last year I quit the Australia Republic Movement.

Why? I couldn’t tell you exactly but probably because I didn’t have my credit card handy to renew and probably also because there are so many other causes out there that felt more urgent.

But here’s the thing. It isn’t an either/or.

And becoming a Republic really does matter.

Particularly now when we have a case of politicians (rightly) losing their jobs because they have dual citizenship and yet our politicians also have to swear allegiance to an English woman who lives on the other side of the world.

And particularly now when the debate over what it means to be an Australian seems to taking a nasty turn, turning into ‘us’ and ‘them.’

Australia is made up of people from all over the world, not just from England.

And I want every Australian to feel they belong here. Because they do.

We need to unite as a country and the very best way to do that is as a Republic.

It’s why I have re-joined and why I’m asking you to join as well. You can sign up here.

Dee Madigan
Executive Creative Director
Campaign Edge

Gerard Henderson to Dee Madigan – 30 August 2017


Lotsa thanks for your missive.

Like you, I quit the Australian Republic Movement last year.

Why?  I can tell you exactly.  I don’t run the Royal Family style excuse that “I didn’t have my credit card handy to review and probably also because there are so many other causes out there that felt more urgent”.  Not at all.

But here’s the thing.  Australia has no hope of becoming a republic while the ARM is led by the highly partisan Peter FitzSimons.  You would have to be deluded to believe that a majority of Australians in a majority of states will follow the crusade of a tall, wealthy middle-aged man with a red bandanna on his head who proclaims leftist causes.

What’s more, The Red Bandannaed One is among the most divisive activists in Australian society with his constant attacks on social conservatives – even though quite a few of them happen to believe that Australia should have an Australian head of state.  Yours truly is one of this lot – all of which are regularly sneered at by the Red Bandannaed One.  It’s not smart pretending to unite a nation while at the same time ridiculing many of your fellow citizens.

While your man Fitz heads the ARM, I will not be re-joining. There are more worthy projects for my financial support.  Like building public latrines in the Shoalhaven Shire.

Keep morale high.

Gerard Henderson

Dee Madigan to Gerard Henderson – 30 August 2017

Oh Gerard. I’m a little disappointed. Deciding to support or not support

a cause simply because you don’t like the leader seems a little lightweight.

No doubt you’ll be withdrawing your support from the Liberal party because of Malcolm. At least you and I can agree on that. He is rather terrible.


Dee Madigan

Executive Creative Director

Campaign Edge


Gerard Henderson to Dee Madigan – 31 August 2017


All I can say is that refusing to financially support a cause because its leader is counter-productive makes more sense than the “dog-ate-my-credit-card” excuse that you ran in your email yesterday.

As you well know, the only way for Australia to become a republic is to get at least a third of conservatives to support the cause. The Red Bandannaed One constantly ridicules social and political conservatives.  Come to think of it, Michael Cooney is somewhat of a sneerer as well.

You may enjoy embracing lost causes, I have better things to do.  I’ll re-join the ARM when it has a less politically divisive leadership.

By the way, I am not a member of – and do not financially support – the Liberal Party.  I have a professional relationship with Malcolm Turnbull – as I do with Bill Shorten. Both the Prime Minister and the Opposition leader are smart enough to know that the republican cause cannot be advanced by ridiculing conservatives – unlike Fitz.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson AC (Always Courteous)




On Tuesday, Gerard Henderson wrote to Andrew West, presenter of ABC Radio National’s Religion and Ethics Report, drawing attention to an error he made the previous week concerning the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Gerard Henderson pointed out that the R&E Report had repeated an error frequently heard on the taxpayer funded broadcaster. Namely, that the Royal Commission’s findings with respect to the Catholic Church cover the period 1980 to 2015.  The correct figure is 1950 to 2015.  This error conflates the period of these crimes and implies that the majority of offences were relatively recent when, in fact, they are essentially historical crimes which peaked in the 1970s – that is, four decades ago.

Andrew West acknowledged the error and made the following correction on Wednesday 30 August 2017:

Andrew West: A quick clarification by the way of some data we’ve been quoting in our programs this year – including last week in our interview with Greg Craven of the Australian Catholic University. We said that, between 1980 and 2015, there were 4444 claims of child sexual abuse reported against the Catholic Church. This is what the Commission stated in February this year. But the Commission has also said that the alleged offences were reported between 1980 and 2015 occurred since 1950. There’s often a lengthy gap between an offence occurring and it being reported, which might explain that discrepancy.

This corrected one error.  But Mr West did not explain why ABC programs, including the R&E Report , had not focused on the relatively high level of clerical child abuse within the Uniting Church and the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Now read on:

Gerard Henderson to Andrew West – 29 August 2017


As you may or may not know, you were a co-winner last Friday of Media Watch Dog’s highly prestigious “Five Paws Award”.  You scored for your interview with Elham Manea on the Religion and Ethics Report last Wednesday.

In order of importance, this Nancy’s Five Paws Award rates just below the Nobel Prize and the Academy Awards.  It so happens that your co-winner was Professor Greg Craven for his article on the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and the Catholic Church which was published in the Weekend Australian on 19-20 August 2017.

While walking my dog Jackie last Sunday, I heard the rest of your program of 23 August 2017. Previously I had only listened to the Dr Manea interview. I now realise that last Wednesday you also interviewed Professor Craven on his Weekend Australian piece.

After discussion turned on Greg Craven’s point that the Royal Commission had lost its focus and appeared to have become an inquiry into the Catholic Church – and not into all religious, secular and state institutions – you made the following point:

Andrew West: But Greg, what is there – in a sense – to scrutinise? Because I don’t think anyone’s doubting the welter of figures. And again I emphasise this is a royal commission – not just into the Catholic or even only the churches. But just that data on the Catholic Church alone was pretty overwhelming – 4444 people who’d made or lodged sexual abuse claims against the church between 1980 and 2015. I mean, what’s there to scrutinise or question about that?

This is a serious error – you appear to have repeated the (uncorrected) howler made by Sunil Badami the previous Monday on The Drum.  You stated that 4444 people had made claims of alleged sexual assault by a Catholic cleric between 1980 and 2015.  That is, 4444 claims were made in 35 years.  The clear implication here is that clerical child sexual assault in the Catholic Church is a contemporary crime.

The facts were laid out by Counsel Assisting Gail Furness SC when she addressed 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.

Note the starting date for the allegations was 1950 (not 1980) – that is, over 65 years ago. Also, the vast majority of claims were made with respect to the period 1950 to 1989 – with the largest of first incidents occurring with respect to the 1970s – i.e. close to half a century ago. In short, your comment to Professor Craven was inaccurate – and misleading.

It is a matter of record that ABC journalists – who have devoted a large amount of time to essentially historical cases of pedophilia in the Catholic church – have all but ignored the situation in the Uniting Church (which is the Royal Commission’s Case Study 56) and the Jehovah Witnesses (which is the Royal Commission’s Case Study 54).

Addressing the Royal Commission on the afternoon of Friday 10 March 2017, Counsel Assisting Angus Stewart SC had this to say about the Uniting Church – in the presence of Justice Peter McClellan presiding:

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 4,445 claims with respect to the Catholic Church between 1950 and 2015.  The Catholic Church is five times larger than the Uniting Church.

Moreover, the Royal Commission’s figures on the Uniting Church did not include any allegations during the 27-year period between 1950 and 1977 with respect to the Presbyterian, Congregational and Methodist communities which – as you know – 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 probably 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.  The Royal Commission covers Knox Grammar School in Case Study No 23.

It is a matter of fact that in the various “wraps”, the Royal Commission devoted 15 days to the Catholic Church but only half a day to the Uniting Church. The Uniting Church “wrap” took place on Friday afternoon – so it was not surprising that it received so little attention in the media.  Only three witnesses were heard with respect to the Uniting Church.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses “wrap” took place on the morning of 10 March 2017 and heard only two witnesses. Counsel Assisting Angus Stewart QC indicated that in the Jehovah’s Witnesses there were “1,600 alleged perpetrators of child sexual abuse dating back to 1950”. On a per capita basis, this rate of offending is higher than that of the Uniting Church and the Catholic Church combined. For example, the Catholic Church is 50 times larger than the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

I doubt that you would have made the comment which you did to Professor Craven if you had been aware of the (all but unreported) situation in the Uniting Church and its predecessors from 1950 to 2015. Likewise the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Perhaps the Religion and Ethics Report program may see fit to examine why the level of offending in the Uniting Church was so high on a proportional basis – even when compared to the Catholic Church – especially since the Uniting Church has married clergy, female ministers, no compulsory celibacy and no sacrament of confession.  A similar question could be asked concerning the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

As Professor Craven told the Religion and Ethics Report, the Royal Commission has very much focused on the teachings and practices of the Catholic Church when attempting to explain child sexual assault by Catholic clerics.  But it has completely overlooked the fact that, on a per capita basis, such crimes were higher in the Uniting Church and the Jehovah’s Witnesses which have quite different teachings and practices. This could be worth coverage on the Religion and Ethics Report.

By the way, I referred to the relevant statistics concerning the Catholic Church and Uniting Church in my Weekend Australian column on 29-30 April 2017.  My column was not criticised by either the Uniting Church or the Royal Commission.   It was cited with approval by Greg Craven in his Weekend Australian article of 19-20 August 2017.

In conclusion, I hope that you will correct last week’s comment concerning 1980 – which should have been 1950.  As mentioned above, a similar error was stated – but not corrected – on The Drum last week. It is grossly unfair to tarnish the contemporary Catholic priesthood with historical crimes most of which were committed some 30 years before you suggested.

On a positive note, I listen to the Religion and Ethics Report whenever possible and invariably find it informative and considered.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

Andrew West to Gerard Henderson – 29 August 2017

Ah, Gerard.

I will look at this in detail when I get a chance later this evening.

I will correct the reference.

Thanks for the kind comments and, yes, I saw your accolade!

Always appreciated.




Andrew West


The Religion & Ethics Report

ABC Radio National


Gerard Henderson to Andrew West – 29 August 2017


Thanks for your prompt – and courteous – response.  It’s a rare event when an ABC presenter, journalist, producer, editor or manager admits to a mistake and makes a correction.

I do believe that the Royal Commission’s own statistics concerning the Uniting Church and the Jehovah’s Witnesses deserve analysis – since they challenge the Royal Commission’s narrative with respect to mandatory celibacy and the seal of the confessional with respect to the Catholic Church.

Keep morale high.


Andrew West to Gerard Henderson – 29 August 2017

Thanks, Gerard.

We did do a couple of stories recently on the protestant churches and their problems.

[The references were to interviews on the R&E Report with Professor Patrick Parkinson on 15 February 2017 and 22 March 2017.]

I will double check the issues you raise. I don’t doubt that you’ve looked closely at it.

I wonder if the confusion might be that 4500-odd complaints were lodged in the 1980-2015 period BUT the complaints cover offences that occurred between 1960 [sic] and 2010.

The delay in reporting offences might account for the time difference but we’ll double check.




Gerard Henderson to Andrew West – 1 September 2017


Welcome to Spring. And thanks for your note of 29 August and the correction you read to air on the Religion and Ethics Report last Wednesday.

Yes, the Royal Commission’s statistics concerning clerical child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church date back to 1950 – i.e.  some 30 years ago before you and many other ABC presenters have acknowledged. This is a serious error which – despite its large media department – the Royal Commission has not seen fit to correct.

I note that the R&E Report did refer briefly to the Uniting Church, the Anglicans and the Jehovah’s Witnesses on 22 March 2017. But no mention was made of the fact that, in the period between 1950 and 2015 a child was safer in a Catholic institution than one run by what became the Uniting Church in 1977 or the Jehovah’s Witnesses – when the relative sizes of the various religious institutions are taken into effect.

I understand that this reality does not fit the Royal Commission’s narrative concerning mandatory celibacy, female clergy, the confessional seal and the like.  Yet ABC presenters and journalists are paid to report facts – not uncritically run lines put out by royal commissions, police forces etc.

Here’s hoping that the R&E Report will look at this matter before the Royal Commission finally reports.  It might also be worth examining why the Royal Commission devoted such little time to government institutions and the media (including the ABC).

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson


  • MICHAEL COONEY AND GERARD HENDERSON re THE ARM AND SHOALHAVEN CITY COUNCIL [This Correspondence followed Hendo’s response to Dee Madigan (see above)]

Michael Cooney to Gerard Henderson – 30 August 2017

Dear Gerard

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. My own approach is that the cause is one larger than personalities, and that Peter [FitzSimons] and I can agree to disagree on many things. I accept this isn’t everyone’s way of life.

Do let me know if you’d like me to remove you from our mailing list. You may wish instead to subscribe to – although if you’re talking to them, you should know that Shoalhaven has been a city council, not a shire, since 1979.

People are sometimes quite pedantic about such matters.

Yours faithfully

Michael Cooney

National Director

Australian Republic Movement


Gerard Henderson to Michael Cooney – 1 September 2017

Dear Michael

How strange.  I received an email from Dee Madigan to which I responded – with courtesy, of course.  But, lo and behold, you replied to me – apparently on Ms Madigan’s behalf. How condescending is that?

Re the Australian Republic Movement – sure, the cause is usually larger than the personalities involved and disagreements can occur between individuals seeking the same end.

My position is that I do not want to spend money supporting a hopeless cause.  The only way to achieve an Australian head of state is to get as many social and political conservatives on side as possible.  Peter FitzSimons’ constant ridiculing of believers of all faiths is totally counter-productive as is his sneering at individuals who disagree with him on energy policy.  Why should social and political conservatives line up to support The Red Bandannaed One when he treats them with such contempt?

Thanks for the update on the fate of the Shoalhaven Shire.  This may, or may not, explain the shortage of public latrines in the area after it became a council.

You can leave me on the ARM list, if you like.  It’s always a thrill to receive epistles from the gorgeous Dee Madigan.

Keep Morale High.

Gerard Henderson

PS: As you may, or may not know, I have offered to donate $20,000 to the ARM if The Red Bandannaed One will provide the address of the “$30 million mansion in Rome” where he alleged Cardinal George Pell (a fellow republican) lived.

Your man Fitz just made this up – hence his refusal to come forward with an address and claim the prize for the republican cause.  But, then, a bloke with a red rag on his head is likely to make a few mistakes every now and then.


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Until next time.


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