ISSUE – NO. 388

24 NOVEMBER 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: Yes, Kevin Rudd Writes for The Australian
  • Can You Bear It? Mark Kenny Forgets About the Muslim Vote; Sabra Lane’s Zimbabwe Ignorance; Melissa Davey’s New Zealand Howler & Simon Haines’ Zhou Enlai’s Misinterpretation
  • MWD Exclusive: ABC Activist Paul Kennedy to Present ABC Documentary on the Royal Commission; News Breakfast’s Clerical Confusion
  • Fitz’s Fake News – Yet more Propaganda on the Red Bandanna
  • New Feature: Ingrate Nook in which Bret Stephens Forgets his times as a Rupert Murdoch Employee
  • Nancy’s Courtesy Classes: A Warning About the Discourtesy in Using Mock Laughter as a Weapon in Debate
  • New Feature: What Jackie Dug Up re The Emma Alberici/Mark Scott Interview
  • Abbott-Phobia Clinic: The Age’s Kerri Sackville Presents
  • Off the Back of a Truck: Sky News to be Rebranded as “Credlin News”
  • Correspondence: Rodney Cavalier Helps Out re George VI, Adolf Hitler, Neville Chamberlain, John Curtin & Robert Menzies


* * * *


Readers of The Australian today will note that its Commentary Page carries an article by former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd titled “What We Got Right: My Top Ten Of ALP Triumphs”. On the tenth anniversary of Labor’s victory over the Coalition, Mr Rudd sought to acknowledge his achievements in office, including the defeat of his predecessor John Howard.

That’s Friday.  Last weekend The [Boring] Saturday Paper carried an article on its front page by Karen Middleton titled “Exclusive: Rudd calls for News Corp inquiry”. Ms Middleton reported Mr Rudd as describing Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp as a “cancer” on democracy and advocating a Royal Commission into its relationship with the Coalition.

How frightfully interesting.  Despite regarding News Corp as a cancer, Australia’s 26th prime minister chose The Australian as the place to proclaim the values of his Labor government. [Perhaps this should have been placed in your hugely popular “Can You Bear It?” segment. Just a thought – MWD Editor.]




When young, Jackie’s (male) co-owner was wont to hear Christian sermons-from-the-clerical-pulpit each Sunday. Now of a certain age, Gerard Henderson reads anti-Christian sermons-from-the-secular-pulpit in Fairfax Media each Saturday.  Like last Saturday’s column by Mark Kenny in The Age – which was headed by “Men of God have no hold over soul”.

This is how Mark (“I love interrupting Hendo on Insiders”) Kenny’s column commenced last Saturday in the wake of the substantial victory (61.6 per cent to 38.4 per cent) for the “Yes” vote in the same sex marriage postal survey:

Who knew that not discriminating against people would be so good for the soul? Church hierarchies take note. As self-appointed conduits to the metaphysical, you’ve always talked about souls and the intrinsic worth of doing what is right, fair, and loving. It is a way of getting closer to God.

This week gentlemen, the lay-folk, ordinary men and women, many of them non-believers, beat you to it. How sad that when the test came, many of you couldn’t do it yourselves.

The nation feels demonstrably better about itself and it isn’t fully done yet. Even before the Parliament drags its sorry bedraggled behind up to the mark, a moral and morale dividend from dispensing with baseless negative division, is manifest. For the section of the community immediately affected, victory is long-overdue. Hard-won and painful. But victory nonetheless.

How disingenuous can a Fairfax Media columnist get?  It is true that most – but not all – Christian leaders advocated a “No” vote.  But Mark Kenny distorted the postal survey result by failing to point out that the “No” vote was strongest in parts of Western Sydney where there are high concentrations of Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs and Hindu believers – in addition to Christian Orthodox religions unrelated to the Catholic or Anglican churches.

You see, it’s easy to attack a Christian bishop in Fairfax Media – but not a Muslim imam.  For example, your man Kenny is willing to sneer at Christian leaders as “self-appointed conduits to the metaphysical”. But would he make a similar sneer about an Islamic leader’s relationship with God?  Not on your nelly.

Moreover, Mark Kenny wrote, correctly, that “the nation feels demonstrably better about itself” after this “hard won…victory”. But he failed to inform Fairfax Media readers that the “Yes” victory was achieved in spite of his advice.  The fact is that Mark Kenny opposed both Tony Abbott’s proposed plebiscite on same sex marriage and Malcolm Turnbull’s postal survey on this issue.  If the Coalition government had accepted Mark Kenny’s advice in the first place, the nation would not have felt demonstrably better about itself last Saturday.  Talk about a lack of self-awareness. Can You Bear It?


Jackie’s (male) co-owner was walking around the block at hangover time last Monday morning while listening to the ABC AM program. This is how AM presenter Sabra Lane introduced a piece on the political crisis in Zimbabwe as the Zimbabwe military moved against the dictator President Mugabe (1924 – ___). Let’s go to the tape:

Sabra Lane: At 93, Robert Mugabe is the world’s oldest leader and the only African head of state to have held power since his country’s independence. Once revered for his guerrilla victories against the occupying British, on the streets of Harare earlier today, Zimbabweans flocked to rallies calling for his removal. Stephen Smiley prepared this report.

Sure it was early in the morning. Even so, it was news to Jackie’s (male) co-owner that Mugabe had won guerrilla victories over the “occupying British” in the 1960s and 1970s. But Hendo thought it was a presenter’s error and decided to await Stephen Smiley’s report. This is what your man Smiley had to say:

Stephen Smiley: Born in 1924 in what was known as Rhodesia, Robert Mugabe became a school teacher and led the guerrilla uprising against the British in the 1970s.

What a load of absolute tosh. Zimbabwe has a complicated history.  But it was not occupied by the British. Indeed, in December 1963 South Rhodesia was a self-governing colony within the British Commonwealth.

On November 1965, the predominantly white government – led by Ian Smith – issued a Unilateral Declaration of Independence from Britain. Smith opposed Britain’s attempts to encourage majority rule in Rhodesia. Then, on 2 March 1970, Smith declared Rhodesia a republic against the wishes of the British government. The Smith regime was subjected to guerrilla attacks by the Patriotic Front (which included Robert Mugabe) which was intent on establishing majority rule. In December 1979, the Lancaster House Agreement was signed which led to free elections.  Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) Party won the February 1980 election and the republic of Zimbabwe was proclaimed.  Mugabe became Zimbabwe’s inaugural prime minister.

In other words, contrary to the claims of Ms Lane and Mr Smiley, the British did not occupy Rhodesia. Zimbabwe and Mugabe’s guerrillas did not fight against the British.  The Patriotic Front, which included Mugabe, fought against Ian Smith’s illegal regime which broke away completely from the British in 1965.

The AM report on Mugabe was hopelessly wrong.  Yet the ABC has a fact-checking unit at RMIT University to correct the howlers of others. Can You Bear It?


While on howlers on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster, this is what the Guardian Australia’s Melbourne bureau chief Melissa Davey had to say on the ABC TV News Breakfast program on Tuesday.  She was appearing on the “Newspapers” segment with co-presenters Virginia Trioli and Michael Rowland:

Melissa Davey: We know [New Zealand’s prime minister] Jacinda Ardern has made that offer to take 150 men [from Manus Island]. She’s copped a little bit of flack about that in the New Zealand media — they’re saying that she’s perhaps overstepping her mark and that Australia’s border security policy benefits New Zealand as well. She was saying on New Zealand radio that talks have begun about what a screening process would look like if they [New Zealand] were to take those 150 men. It would seem to indicate that discussions have moved forward a little bit, but still very, very far from any kind of deal being reached. The argument that it would somehow make Australia seem more enticing to asylum seekers and it would encourage people to come by boat again if the deal is done seems a bit — it’s interesting to me because a deal has already been done with the US. So how is that any different if New Zealand were to take 150 men as well? I don’t know.

That’s correct.  Melissa Davey does not know. Individuals who become New Zealand citizens have a right to enter and settle in Australia.  American citizens have no such right.  Consequently, people smugglers could use New Zealand as a means of getting unauthorised boat arrivals to Australia.  But no such means applies with respect to the United States.  Yet the Guardian Australia does not know this. Can You Bear It?


Thanks to the avid reader who drew the attention of Jackie’s (male) co-owner to the ABC Radio National Saturday Extra program last weekend.   Presenter Geraldine Doogue conducted a somewhat long, but informative, interview with Simon Haines – CEO of the newly formed Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation (RCFWC) which is based in Sydney.

As MWD readers will be aware, Gerard Henderson has been critical of the RCFWC model – since the proposed courses in Western Civilisation will be taught by Australian university social science departments – which are replete with leftist academics.  Even so, MWD wishes the project well – since Western Civilisation needs all the help it can get.

Ms Doogue put Gerard Henderson’s critique of the RCFWC model to Dr Haines (for a doctor he is).  In response, your man Haines was somewhat condescending – stating that “I know that Mr Henderson has said this, but I think he can – he needn’t be too anxious”. So everything’s okay, then.  How about that?

Towards the end of the interview, Simon Haines spoke up for Western Civilisation. Quelle surprise!  Let’s go to the transcript:

Simon Haines: I think we’ve become presentist [sic] in the way we think about the West. And we’ve forgotten about that two and a half thousand years of extraordinary tradition of thinking about all sorts of things that underpin our values and our institutions – and focussed completely on the last 1500 years.

Geraldine Doogue: Spoken like a true English—

Simon Haines: Well, I, well—

Geraldine Doogue: — Literature specialist

Simon Haines: Well, I mean, I suppose – yes.  There’s that lovely saying, was it Zhou Enlai? Who, talking of romanticism, when he was asked what he thought the consequences of the French Revolution were he went: “Too soon to say.”

Geraldine Doogue: “Too early to say.”

Simon Haines: And the [Western Civilisation] degree, you know. It’ll begin with Greek civilisation, with Socrates, Pericles and Homer.

How clever of Zhou Enlai (1898-1976) – who, when the (alleged) comment was made, was second in command to Chinese dictator Mao Zedong. Except that Zhou almost certainly did not make the remark in the way it has been interpreted.

If Simon Haines read more contemporary history and less English Literature, he would know that Zhou’s comment took place during President Richard Nixon’s visit to China in 1972.  It seems that Zhou was involved in a discussion about recent uprisings in Hungary (1956) and Czechoslovakia (1968) along with the violent demonstrations in France in 1968.

Asked about his attitude to the French revolution, Zhou was reported to have said: “Too early to say”.  It appears that Zhou was referring to the events in France in 1968 – not the French Revolution of 1789.

However, the misinterpretation went into mythology because it suited the times – in which it was intellectually fashionable to regard the Chinese communist leaders as sage and far-sighted.  And now this pro-communist Maoist fudge is being endorsed by the very English Lit. expert entrusted to save Western Civilisation from itself. Can You Bear It?



The ABC is a Conservative Free Zone without one presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or on-line outlets. Not one. What’s more, many of the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s staff regard themselves as activists or players in the public debate.  Like Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly.

ABC management has no hesitation in engaging its activist/player journalists as reporters concerning matters in which they have a personal interest.

For example, Louise Milligan – author of Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell (MUP, 2017) – told ABC TV News Breakfast on 17 May 2017 that her book was written “from the point of view of the complainants”. In other words, Ms Milligan has acknowledged that Cardinal is not an objective work and that she supported the complaints against those concerning whom they made allegations.  Even so, the ABC had Ms Milligan reporting and commenting on Cardinal Pell’s appearance at the Melbourne Magistrates Court on 26 July 2017.

Then there is ABC journalist Paul Kennedy, who does the sport reports on ABC TV News Breakfast.  Mr Kennedy is another ABC activist/player in the public debate.  His book Hell on the Way to Heaven (Bantam, 2010) is written with Chrissie Foster. Two of Ms Foster’s daughters were sexually abused by a Catholic priest in Melbourne.

Chrissie Foster and her late husband Anthony Foster campaigned against the Catholic Church in the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Justice Peter McClellan, the Royal Commission’s chair, requested that he be the last speaker at Anthony Foster’s memorial service in Melbourne.

The Royal Commission is due to report its findings to the Governor-General on 15 December 2017.  ABC TV has commissioned what ABC journalist Virginia Trioli has called a “major documentary” on the Royal Commission “and its findings”.

Guess who ABC managing director and editor-in-chief has chosen as the reporter for its Royal Commission program? Why, activist/player Paul Kennedy – of course.

Now Paul Kennedy, as the co-author of Heaven on the Way to Hell, should be interviewed about his opinion on the Royal Commission – along with others.  However, once again, the ABC has blurred the line between reporting and activism by choosing a player in matters pertaining to the Royal Commission to report for the ABC on the Royal Commission’s findings.



As Four Corners presenter Sarah Ferguson announced last Monday, “we’re taking a break but work is well under way on some cracking investigations that we’ll be bringing you in the New Year”. So, there you have it.  Mere mortals get “holidays”.  But journalists have “breaks” – invariably of the “well-earned” variety.

Four Corners’ last program for 2017, titled “The Murphy Scandal”, was reported by Debbie Whitmont.  The controversy which arose concerning Lionel Murphy’s final years as a justice of the High Court was presented in a balanced way.  Both critics and supporters of the one-time attorney-general in Gough Whitlam’s Labor government in the early 1970s were heard.  It was not the kind of hatchet job which the program occasionally delivers on conservatives like George Pell.

Among the late Lionel Murphy’s supporters interviewed on the program was Professor Jenny Hocking – the taxpayer funded biographer-at-large to such Labor Saints as Gough Whitlam and Lionel Murphy.

When it comes to the Dismissal of the Whitlam Labor government by Governor-General Sir John Kerr on 11 November 1975, Professor Hocking has taken action for the release of all available documents held in Kerr’s private papers or by Buckingham Palace or whatever.  But Dr Hocking (for a doctor she is) told Four Corners that the papers relating to the parliamentary inquiry into Murphy (which ceased when he died in 1986) “should have been left under lock and key”. An unpleasant double standard, to be sure.

Jenny Hocking made four appearances on “The Murphy Scandal” – all barracking for Murphy and all denying that he ever attempted to pervert the course of justice by asking favours for his mates while sitting on Australia’s highest court.

But Jenny Hocking had lots more to say the morning after the Four Corners night before.  MWD became aware of her performance on the ABC Radio Overnight’s program with presenter Trevor Chappell very early on the morning of Tuesday 21 November – thanks to an avid (insomniac) MWD reader.

Believe it or not, Jenny Hocking got a soft interview which ran between around 4.20 am and 5 o’clock in the morning. Yep, around 40 minutes.  According to Jenny Hocking:

٠ The police who made illegal phone recordings about Murphy were corrupt – despite the fact that they were called “The Incorruptibles”.

٠ Murphy’s reference asking for favours for his “little mate” was never recorded.  This overlooks the fact that former NSW chief stipendiary magistrate Clarrie Briese gave evidence that Murphy used the term – “what about my little mate?” – to him.

٠ Murphy did an extraordinary amount for Australia but was opposed by conservatives because he did not go to a private school and supported no-fault divorce and so on.  This overlooks the fact that those who gave evidence against Murphy at his trials were not conservatives.

▪ Jenny Hocking even referred to Murphy’s “so-called raid on ASIO” in 1973. It wasn’t so-called.  It happened – and led to Murphy effectively undertaking an illegal detention of ASIO staff for several hours.

And the “Holy Lionel/We Praise thy Name” (secular) hymn went on. And on.  And on. When it came time for phone calls from ABC listeners, there was even more praise for Murphy.  No other view was heard on the taxpayer funded Conservative Free Zone.


On Thursday, the ABC News Breakfast program illustrated Julia Baird’s story about Anglican female victims of domestic violence (which aired on 7.30 last Wednesday) with footage of a church.

What’s wrong with this, MWD hears you cry? Well, the church in question was St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne – perhaps the best known Catholic church in Australia. That’s all.  Which supports MWD’s view that the ABC should give priority to checking its own “facts” before attempting to fact-check the material of others.

Fitz's Fake News


There has been enormous reader feedback to MWD’s handling of the big philosophical question of our time.  Namely, how often does the “look-at-me” Fairfax Media columnist Peter FitzSimons wash the red bandanna which he wears on his head? – including at meetings of the Australian Republican Movement (see Issue 387).  And the answer is – not very often at all.  Which raises health and safety issues for those who attend The Red Bandannaed One’s many public talks about the piss-poor history books which he seems to produce every month or so and the republic and so on.

How does Jackie’s (male) co-owner know this?  Well The Daily Mail Australia, in a rare original news breaking story, reported yesterday that Lisa Wilkinson (Mrs Red Bandannaed One) had revealed all on an Instagram post. This is the story, so far.

FitzSimons/Wilkinson children purchased the original red bandanna for their old man as “a very sweet thank you present from our kids after a fabulous family holiday we had in Cuba”.  She added:

It was all they could afford and it meant the world to Pete that they went to the effort. And the kids are so chuffed that after all these years he’s still wearing it… We have about 30 of them floating around the house now…and occasionally one of them makes it into a washload of whites.

So now you know.  The Red Bandannaed One has 30 red rags which he wears on his head – including the original.  The 30 red rags are washed only occasionally.  Moreover, despite the fact that Mr and Mrs Fitz are wealthy journalists, on a trip to Cuba all their children could afford to buy the old man was a red bandanna to the value of, say, one US dollar.  Really.

By the way, Lisa Wilkinson also said that the red bandanna helps protect the Fitz head from skin cancer.  Which fails to explain why your man FitzSimons wears his red rag headwear indoors – including during TV interviews.

More Fitz Fake News.



Due to a request from some avid readers, MWD has decided to establish the segment to deal with media types who have been ungrateful for past favours in their professional careers.

The New York Times columnist Bret Stephens is the first to feature in this segment.  Your man Stephens was invited to Australia – the birth place of Rupert Murdoch – to deliver the inaugural Lowy Institute Media Award lecture/dinner in Sydney on 23 September 2017. Early in his speech, Mr Stephens had this to say:

This is a puzzle. At least as far as the United States is concerned, Americans have rarely disagreed more in recent decades. We disagree about racial issues, bathroom policies, health care laws, and, of course, the 45th president. We express our disagreements in radio and cable TV rants in ways that are increasingly virulent; street and campus protests that are increasingly violent; and personal conversations that are increasingly embittering. This is yet another age in which we judge one another morally depending on where we stand politically.

Nor is this just an impression of the moment. Extensive survey data show that Republicans are much more right-leaning than they were twenty years ago, Democrats much more left-leaning, and both sides much more likely to see the other as a mortal threat to the nation’s welfare. The polarization is geographic, as more people live in states and communities where their neighbours are much likelier to share their politics. The polarization is personal: Fully 50 per cent of Republicans would not want their child to marry a Democrat, and nearly a third of Democrats return the sentiment. Interparty marriage has taken the place of inter-racial marriage as a family taboo.

Finally the polarization is electronic and digital, as Americans increasingly inhabit the filter bubbles of news and social media that correspond to their ideological affinities. We no longer just have our own opinions. We also have our separate “facts,” often the result of what different media outlets consider newsworthy. In the last election, fully 40 per cent of Trump voters named Fox News as their chief source of news.

Thanks a bunch for that one, Australia.

As the Australian Financial Review journalist Aaron Patrick commented in his report of the dinner: “Bret Stephens sarcastically thanked Australia for creating Fox News, which was founded by media tycoon Rupert Murdoch and is a big backer of Mr Trump”.

As the cliché goes, sarcasm is a low form of humour. Bret Stephens neglected to tell his Australian audience that he made his public mark in American journalism due to regular appearances on Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News.  What’s more, your man Stephens obtained his current position on the New York Times after being recruited from a senior position at the Wall Street Journal (proprietor Rupert Murdoch).

Bret Stephens: Media Ingrate



As avid readers are aware, the late Nancy (2004-2017) did not die. She merely “passed” on to the Other Side.  Hence MWD has been able to keep in touch with her – with the help of the American psychic John Edward.

MWD sought Nancy’s advice concerning the habit of journalists who engage in mock laughter as a gesture of disapproval.

This happened on Insiders last Sunday when Laura Tingle (Australian Financial Review) led the laughter at Miranda Devine’s piece in that morning’s Sunday Telegraph. Let’s go to the transcript:

Barrie Cassidy: Now Laura, Scott Morrison has stepped up as a champion for the “No” voters [in the same sex postal survey].

Laura Tingle: He has Barrie. Miranda Devine reports today that Treasurer Scott Morrison has intervened to protect religious freedoms in the wake of the same sex marriage vote, “dramatically resuscitating”  (laughter) – sorry —dramatically resuscitating his leadership credentials among conservative colleagues. Sorry. I shouldn’t laugh, should I?

It was too late.  Laura Tingle was joined by fellow panelists Mark Kenny (Fairfax Media), Katharine Murphy (Guardian Australia) in the faux hilarity.

Then on ABC Radio Sydney (702) this morning, Crikey’s Bernard Keane criticised the decision of the NSW Coalition government to demolish and rebuild the Allianz Stadium and ANZ Stadium.  There is a lot of be said for the decision – but, clearly, Mr Keane does not agree.  Hence his sarcastic report – which was accompanied, in the background, by the continuing mock laughter of presenter Wendy Harmer.

Nancy’s Opinion.  Laughter should be sparked by humour – not used as a weapon to diminish others.  In other words, journalists should laugh with – not at – others. That’s my (courteous) advice – from the Other Side.


What's Jackie Dug Up?

Mark Scott is Secretary of the Department of Education in New South Wales. His previous employment was at the ABC and Fairfax Media.  According to his entry in Who’s Who in Australia, Mark Scott has contributed little to the public debate in Australia.  His single published work is A Media Odyssey (2016). He was also co-editor of the editions of the Sydney Morning Herald Guide to Schools published in 1995, 1996 and 1997.

By the way, the full title of Mr Scott’s only authored book is A Media Odyssey: Speeches of an ABC Managing Director 2006-2016. As ABC managing director and (so-called) editor-in-chief, Mark Scott had access to speech writers.

Pretty slight, don’t you think?  In any event, Mark Scott was invited on to the ABC Lateline program to discuss his views on school education with presenter Emma Alberici.  As MWD pointed out in Issue 386, the Alberici/Scott interview was long on process – but short on insight.  But it did contain lotsa platitudes – including Mark Scott’s insightful: “There is more to life than money, Emma.”

The truth is that some MWD readers are platitude tragics – they asked for more clichés from Nice Mr Scott inspired by a query from La Alberici. Fortunately, while on a walk near the ABC Sydney studio in inner-city Ultimo, Jackie Hendo sniffed out what appears to have been a transcript of that part of the Alberici/Scott interview which did not make it to air. She carried it home in her mouth – much to the interest of her (male) co-owner. Here it is:

La Alberici:  I was surprised with your comment earlier that “a child who starts kindergarten early next year, will leave school in 2030”. How did you work that out?

Nice Mr Scott: Well, I’ve still got my abacus from my days at Knox Grammar School. But I’m working on my STEM.  After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

La Alberici:  And what’s the implication of all this for children?

Nice Mr Scott:  Let’s not re-invent the wheel. As I said earlier, “New South Wales sets the curriculum for New South Wales schools”. Think about it. Sure, I’m not the Minister for Education in NSW and not expected to comment publicly on education policy matters.  But I got this Lateline interview because I know my way around the ABC. All’s fair in love and war.

La Alberici: When you do speak to your Minister, what do you say?

Nice Mr Scott: Well, Emma, I try to be incisive – based on the wisdom of process I’ve picked up from my Master of Public Administration (Harvard) and my DBus (honoris causa) UNSW. I tend to say: “Let’s not reinvent the wheel.  Just tell students: You can be anything that you want to be; however, if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen”. Deep thoughts like these.  At Knox Grammar, I learnt that Plato used to speak like this. Or perhaps it was Pluto. Great minds think alike.

La Alberici:  If I can repeat an earlier question, how long will it be before robots replace teachers in the classroom?

Nice Mr Scott:  As I said earlier, “children are complex”. And, as I learnt when Fairfax Media sent me to Harvard, so are robots.  We should go with the flow and just be nice to robots. After all, love is love.  But name me a robot who has an MBA from Harvard or a BA (honoris causa) from my alma mater – the University of New South Wales.  Without such a qualification, robots are unlikely to be teachers anytime soon. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

La Alberici: Finally, when will you be doing something about the school curriculum?

Nice Mr Scott:  Well, Emma – as I frequently say – Woodrow Wilson, who was the American president a century ago, once famously declared: “It’s easier to move a cemetery than to change a school curriculum”.  I always quote President Wilson on this – even though I don’t know where he said it or when.  The road to the cemetery is paved with good intentions.  And Woodrow Wilson should have said this, even if he didn’t. After all, great minds think alike.  Such is life.  I’m not aware of a cemetery being moved in NSW since they dug up graves to build the Town Hall in Sydney. So don’t hold your breath – but we’re working on it.

La Aberici:  Brilliant.  Alas, we’ll have to end it there.

Nice Mr Scott:  Alas, all good things must come to an end.


This (hugely popular) segment is devoted to helping out public figures – including journalists – who have contracted a serious dose of Abbott-phobia. Sufferers of this condition present as normal individuals who become temporarily unhinged when confronting the real or spoken or written word about Tony Abbott. Some attempt to blame their own particular Valley of Tears on Australia’s 28th prime minister – while others lose their sense of judgment with respect to Tony Abbott or his family. It’s a complicated condition.  That’s why Nurse Jackie’s here to help, all the way from Gunnedah.

* * * *

Early this week, there were media reports that Frances Abbott (age 26), the daughter of Margie and Tony Abbott, had become engaged to one-time Olympic rower Sam Loch (age 34) – after a two week romance.

Soon it was over to the analysts.  First into the sludge was Daily Mail Australia journalist Daniel Peter who examined photos of Mr Abbott and his daughter walking in suburban Sydney on Wednesday morning.  This is how the Daily Mail’s  report commenced:

Frances Abbott was spotted looking very serious as she met with her father Tony for the first time since her shock engagement to Olympic rower Sam Loch after just two weeks of meeting him.  The personal trainer was not wearing a ring as she strolled through the streets of Forestville, in Sydney’s northern suburbs, dressed in active wear on Wednesday morning after flying interstate from Melbourne the night before. Conversation appeared strained between the two as they discussed upcoming wedding plans.

Image From The Daily Mail

What a load of absolute tosh.  How would the Daily Mail know that a conversation which could not be heard “appeared strained”?  Your man Peter just made this up.

Then, yesterday, The Age ran a column on the Abbott/Loch engagement on its – wait for it – Opinion Page.  This is how Age columnist Kerri Sackville commenced her piece under the (gratuitous) heading “Beware that first flush of love”.

I was delighted to read on Sunday of the engagement of Frances Abbott, daughter of former PM Tony. After a whirlwind romance of two weeks, she has decided to marry Sam Loch, an Olympic rower. It’s a lovely story, and it takes me back to the first two weeks of my own great love story. I met a wonderful man, and I knew within a couple of days that he was the man with whom I was going to spend the rest of my life. It felt fated. It felt magical. I felt blessed. He was the missing puzzle piece that made me whole. Sadly, I was wrong, and we broke up. But then I met the next man….

Go on. Alas she did. Does anyone really care about Ms Sackville’s “very own love story”?  Version One or Version Two?  Or that, as a teenager, young Ms Sackville “had a passionate 24 hour romance with Clive the toga waiter from a Roman-themed restaurant”?  Yawn.

Kerri Sackville went on to lecture Age readers about the difference between “infatuation or limerence” and something or other – before concluding her piece with some (unsolicited) advice for Frances and Sam:

Sure, there are people who meet, decide to get married after a couple of weeks, and stay together happily forever. But that’s luck, rather than good judgement. And for every one of those couples, there are others who realise after two months or two years that they have made a horrible mistake. I know a couple of them. I have been one myself.

* * * * *

Nurse Jackie’s Analysis

The Age’s Kerri Sackville presented as a narcissist who felt the need to talk about herself as a means of sending a message to Ms Abbott and Mr Lock.  It was not evident that she would choose to proffer such an opinion were the woman in question anyone other than Tony Abbott’s daughter.  I would recommend that, before writing her next column, The Age’s Opinion Page editor pours Ms Sackville half a dozen Gin & Tonics. This should diminish her need to lecture others about their life choices.  If not, add more Gin.




The word from Angelos Frangopoulos’s bunker at Macquarie Park in Sydney is that Sky News is about to undertake a metamorphosis – including a name change. Effective the First Friday of December – or Devonport Show Day.

Here’s the draft run-list for Credlin News on 1 December 2017 – which just happened to fall off the back of a truck near Jackie’s kennel this week:

5 am            Wake Up with Peta Credlin

News from home and abroad by Ms Credlin with weather updates by Ms Credlin (usually of the stormy kind).


8 am            Credlin’s AM Agenda – panel includes Nick Cater and Sam Crosby.


10 am           Credlin’s Alt-Outsiders – with guest appearances by Ross (“I would go gay for Marcus Arelius”) Cameron, Rowan Dean and Mark Latham.


12 noon        Lunch with Peta Credlin – featuring Samantha Maiden and Patricia Karvelas.


2 pm            Credlin’s PM Agenda – panel includes Michael Kroger and Stephen Conroy.


4 pm            Credlin Spears Speers – Ms Credlin interviews David Speers


5 pm            The Contrarians – in which Peta Credlin contraries everyone – including Peter van Onselen and Dee (“I must remember to put my skirt on”) Madigan in inter-active forum.


6 pm            Credlin:The Real Thing – in which Ms Credlin reveals the inside story about Ms Credlin.


7 pm            The Credlin Report – panel includes Andrew Bolt, Sharri Markson, Richo and Hendo.


8 pm            Credlin & Co – panel guests include Alan Jones, Peter Beattie and Campbell Newman.


9 pm            Peta Credlin Live – panel guests include Paul (“My God, I rant a lot”) Murray, Derryn (“My jokes are never more than 50 years old”) Hinch, Rita Panahi, Janine Perrett and Fiona Scott.


10 pm          Peta Credlin Overtime – panels guests include Bronwyn Bishop, Nicholas (“Love my sandals”) Reece, Troy Bramston and Damien Barnett.


11 pm          Credlin’s “Heads Up” – panel guests include Chris Kenny. Contains preview of Peta Credlin’s Sunday newspaper column.


12 pm-5am   Sky News UK Live


5 am            Wake Up with Peta Credlin


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).


There was enormous interest in MWD’s coverage last week of Lisa Milner’s Swimming Against the Tide: A Biography of Freda Brown. Now, as avid readers know, Freda Brown is the mother of Greens senator Lee Rhiannon (nee Brown). Freda, along with her husband Bill Brown, was a life-long Stalinist who supported Stalin’s purges and forced famine in the Ukraine, the Nazi-Soviet Pact, the Soviet Union’s invasions of Hungary and Czechoslovakia and more besides.

Last week, MWD documented the fudges and howlers in the first chapter of Lisa Milner’s book. This led to a note from former NSW Labor Party parliamentary and published author Rodney Cavalier.  Here we go:

Rodney Cavalier to Gerard Henderson (via Anne Henderson) – 17 November 2017


In this issue [Issue 387] Gerard writes as follows:  “On 3 September 1939 Prime Minister Menzies declared war on Germany.”

Of all people, Gerard knows that is not so. George VI declared war. Neville Chamberlain announced it. Mr Menzies, as then he was, noted as a result “Australia was also at war”.

Gerard needs a Gerard.


Gerard Henderson to Rodney Cavalier – 23 November 2017


Anne passed on your note concerning my comment in last week’s MWD that “on 3 September 1939 Prime Minister Menzies declared war on Germany”.

As you will recall, this comment was made in response to Lisa Milner’s claim in her biography of life-long Stalinist Freda Brown that, in mid-1940, Robert Menzies was “supportive of fascism”. I was making the point that Menzies was hardly a fascist in 1940 if he was leading a country at war against Nazi Germany.

It is true that on 3 September 1939 Prime Minister Menzies said that Britain had declared war on Germany and “that, as a result, Australia is also at war”.  But I believe that your point is somewhat pedantic.  For example, George VI declared war on Germany on the advice of the British government. He did not – and could not – act alone.

This is how Paul Hasluck described the occasion in Australia in his official war history The Government And The People: 1939-1941:

Once the news that Britain was at war had been accepted as authentic all other action was consequential.  The Executive Council approved of the prepared proclamation declaring a state of war to exist and at 9.15 pm from the room of the Postmaster-General at the Commonwealth Offices, Melbourne, Mr Menzies announced [the declaration of war] over every national and commercial broadcasting station in Australia.

So, as Paul Hasluck put it, following Britain’s declaration of war against Germany the Australian government “prepared a document declaring a state of war to exist” between Australia and Germany. That sounds like a declaration of war to me.

In September 1939, not everyone agreed that Australia should be at war.  The Communist Party of Australia and some other members of the extreme left backed the Hitler-Stalin Pact of August 1939 and supported Germany and the Soviet Union, not Australia. The Communist Party and its fellow travellers attempted to disrupt the war effort.

And then there was the Labor Party. Labor leader John Curtin agreed with the declaration of war on Germany.  However, as you know, the Labor Party initially was opposed to the deployment of Australian forces outside of Australia in the war against Germany.

In September 1939, C.G. Fallon, the ALP’s federal president, said that “every man who leaves Australia to fight in Europe increases our national debt [and] reduces our capacity to defend Australia against possible foreign aggression”. However, as Paul Hasluck related, Labor changed its policy opposing the deployment of the Second Australian Imperial Force since “it was against the weight of Australian sentiment”.

As you are aware, the first Australian forces arrived in the Middle East in early 1940 and the 7th Division of the Second AIF was there by mid-1940. It is not at all clear that Australia would have responded in this way if Labor was in office in September 1939.

Consequently, I believe it is accurate to say that Australia, under Robert Menzies’ leadership, declared war on Nazi Germany on 3 September 1939.

Best wishes to you and Bowral.




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Until next time.


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