GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG

ISSUE – NO. 389

1 DECEMBER 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: ABC Fact-Check Unit Not Checking Aunty’s “Facts”; Some Advice for Victorians – Don’t Listen to Tim Flannery; Derryn Hinch & Paul Murray Use the “D” word
  • Can You Bear It? Tara Brown Ignores Bono’s Tax “Issues”; Paul Kennedy on Meghan Markle – Or is it “Mee-gan”? Jacquelin Magnay Finds A George VIII; The Age’s Green Guide Supports the View that Michelle Guthrie is Old and British; John Edwards, Paul Keating & Michael Fullilove at the John Curtin’s War Launch
  • MWD Exclusive: R v Jon Stephens Mentioned in Queanbeyan District Court
  • An ABC Update: 7.30’s Denial Continues re ABC’s Own Child Sex Abuse Case; Louise Milligan Walkley Gong for a Book She Won’t Defend;  The Triple J Controversy
  • The  Flann O’Brien Gong for Literary or Verbal Sludge – Step Forward Simon Haines
  • Mark Kenny’s Anonymous Sources Rant
  • A Wendy Harmer Moment: In which Ms Harmer Exhibits Ignorance on the MCG
  • Fitz’s Fake News: The Red Bandannaed One’s Errors on Josh Frydenberg & Prince William
  • Correspondence: Rodney Cavalier Helps Out Again – On Australia and the Second World War  
* * * * *

 

  • MORE ABC HOWLERS NOT FACT CHECKED BY AUNTY’S FACT CHECK UNIT

Avid readers are aware that the RMIT ABC Fact Check Unit is partly funded by the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.

ABC managing director and (so-called) editor-in-chief Michelle Guthrie puts good money into RMIT ABC Fact Check. Its director is one-time ABC journalist Russell (“Beware of Conservatives”) Skelton.  However, according to ABC News’ About Fact Check document, it “does not check the work of journalists, from the ABC or elsewhere”.

How about that?  RMIT ABC Fact Check checks the facts of others – but not of their own journalists. Convenient, eh?

Your man Skelton could have been in his Melbourne bed this morning when ABC AM presenter Kim Landers interviewed Ryan Crocker a former US ambassador to Iraq and Afghanistan.  After the usual rant against President Trump, Ms Landers asked a question and obtained an erroneous answer. Let’s go to the transcript:

Kim Landers: ..Is the US no longer a reliable ally for Australia?

Ryan Crocker: Well I would hate to think that would ever be the case. Australia has been with us in every fight we’ve been in, starting with World War II. You are that one indispensable nation that we have always felt connected to in every sense.

The question was ridiculous.  And the answer was wrong.  Australia was an ally of the United States on the Western Front during the First World War in 1917 and 1918.

By the way, the ABC has still not corrected AM’s howler of 20 November 2017 – when both presenter Sabra Lane and reporter Stephen Smiley said that former Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe fought a guerrilla war against occupying British forces in the 1960s.  He didn’t.  The guerrilla war was fought against Ian Smith’s illegal regime which was not controlled by the British.  Surely, a case for the RMIT Fact Check Unit – if only it checked the “facts” of ABC journalists.

  • KEEP YOUR HEADS UP VICTORIANS

MWD sends its best wishes to the Victorian avid readers – who, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, are soon to be subjected to a 10 out of 10 flood.  Proving, once again, the false prophecy of Professor Tim Flannery that there would be no more substantial rain over the dams in cities like Melbourne.

The Melbourne-born Hendo would like to remind Melburnians that even if the ABM is correct today – there were substantial floods in Melbourne over the past century.  Most notably in 1934 (when over 30 people died) and 1972. Don’t let journalists tell you otherwise.

  • DERRYN HINCH & PAUL MURRAY THROW THE SWITCH TO “DICKHEAD”

What a stunning appearance by Senator Derryn (“My jokes are never more than 50 years old”) Hinch on Sky News’ Paul Murray Live last night.

Discussing Labor Senator Sam Dastyari’s latest indiscretion concerning his relationship with the Chinese communist dictatorship and its backers, Senator Hinch said that the NSW Labor senator was a “dickhead”. Yes, a dickhead.  The term was embraced and repeated by Paul Murray.

Now, MWD is not a member of the ever shrinking Dastyari Fan Club. However, it should be possible for Messrs Hinch and Murray to run a criticism of Senator Dastyari without resorting to mere abuse and name-calling.  Here the fault lies with your man Hinch – whom Murray used to call “Dad”. Fathers should teach their sons – real or imagined – courtesy and manners.

This comment brought to you by Jackie’s (male) co-owner Gerard Henderson AC (aka Always Courteous).

  • TARA BROWN IGNORES BONO’S TAX “ISSUES”

Did anyone see 60 Minutes coverage of Bono and U2 last Sunday? Titled “4 Them”, it was presented by Tara Brown and produced by Grace Tobin.

Talk about a soft piece. Tara Brown fawned over and flirted with the members of the Irish band. The event went hand-in-hand with Bono (nee David Howell Evans) as he walked on to the stage for a gig in Brazil.  The only news from the segment was the announcement that U2 might perform in Australia next year. Just might.

As for the rest, it was so predictable. Tara Brown said to Bono: “You’re God”. Your man Bono seemed to concur.  Then Bono made the obligatory attack on Donald J. Trump. Yawn.

Ms Brown told viewers about Bono’s good works in advocating debt relief for Third World Nations as part of the Make Poverty History campaign.  Such a policy, if embraced by Western nations, would be paid for by Western taxpayers.

However, the gushing Tara Brown did not tell 60 Minutes viewers that, some years ago, U2 moved its headquarters from Ireland to the Netherlands to take advantage of that nation’s policy that music royalties are taxed at a minimal rate.

Nor did Ms Brown advise viewers that the leaked Paradise Papers – following the hacking of the Appleby law firm – recently revealed that Bono has been a part-owner of a shopping complex in Utena in Lithuania for over a decade.  Yes, Lithuania.  It appears that the investment is aimed at minimising your man Bono’s tax obligations in Ireland.

Now, there’s no illegality in any of this.  Individuals, including rock stars, are entitled to minimise (but not avoid) their taxation obligations.

It’s just that Bono constantly bangs on about the need for Western taxpayers to wipe off the debts of Third World nations while doing his very best to ensure that his personal contribution to such a cause would be less than otherwise might be the case.  But the hand-holding Tara Brown did not let 60 Minutes viewers know about Bono’s little (taxation) secret. Can You Bear It?

  • PAUL KENNEDY – A PEDANTIC REPUBLICAN

Jackie’s (male) co-owner is a life-long republican.  Even so, he is wont to welcome a Royal engagement followed by a Royal wedding and even, on occasions, a Royal divorce (as in the Charles and Diana break-up). After all, it’s a good excuse for a Gin & Tonic.

Not so ABC TV journalist-activist Paul Kennedy, who reports sport on the ABC TV News Breakfast program. Why, last Tuesday – soon after Clarence House’s announcement that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had become engaged – your man Kennedy even refrained from doing the hypocrisies about this event.  Instead of saying “good luck” or some such, he went into angry mode and complained about the pronunciation of Ms Markle’s first name. Fair dinkum.

Let’s go to the transcript in which Mr Kennedy’s hostility to the Royal Family was so evident that he threw the switch to pedantry by asserting that the name “Meghan” is pronounced differently in Australia from in America or Britain.

Michael Rowland: The Foreign Minister Julie Bishop there, speaking about a number of domestic political issues but of course also congratulating Harry and Meghan for their engagement. I feel somewhat rude because we’ve been talking about this all morning – Del and Nate have been involved. But I haven’t asked Paul for his reaction to that news overnight about —

Virginia Trioli: Oh, this should be good.

Paul Kennedy: Why are we calling her Meghan? Instead of Mee-gan?

Michael Rowland: That’s a very good question, actually.

Virginia Trioli: Her name is – her name is pronounced Meghan [Meg-han].

Paul Kennedy: By who?

Virginia Trioli: By herself.

Paul Kennedy: Not Australians.

Virginia Trioli: By herself, it’s her name! And that name is often – usually pronounced Meghan in America.

Paul Kennedy: Do we call American men whose name is Craig, do we call them Creg?

Michael Rowland: Creg, no we don’t here. That’s a very good point.

Virginia Trioli: No, but we call Americans Chuck – Chuck.

Michael Rowland: Anyway, you’re avoiding the question Paul Kennedy, what do you think about –

Paul Kennedy: Do we say New York (nu-york) or do we say New York?

Michael Rowland: See what you started?

Virginia Trioli: No, do you know what we say? We say get on with the damn sport.

Paul Kennedy: Okay let’s go to the sport, straight to the tennis. Sorry Michael, we ran out of time for that one.

Sure did. So there you have it.  Talk about invincible ignorance.  For starters, Meghan is a Welsh name – not English or American. It is sometimes abbreviated to “Meg” – hence the pronunciation “Meg-han”, as Virginia Trioli understood. The pronunciation is inter-changeable.  There is not one pronunciation for “Meghan” in the Northern Hemisphere and another one in the Southern Hemisphere.  Mr Kennedy just made this up.  Moreover, the ABC journalist-activist sports reporter believes that he knows more about how to pronounce Meghan Markle’s first name than the woman herself.  What a counter-productive republican rant. Can You Bear It?

  • JACQUELIN MAGNAY AND (YES) GEORGE VIII

While on the topic of the intended marriage between Prince Harry and the divorced American Meghan Markle, this is what Jacquelin Magnay had to say in The Australian on Tuesday.

Australia was informed via diplomatic channels and, unlike in 1932 when George VIII sought to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson, the Australian government did not object.

Oh dear.  What a pity journalists today don’t know their (real) Kings and Queens as was once the case.  There never has been a George VIII or even a George VII. It was the Prince of Wales, who became Edward VIII, who wished to marry the divorced American Wallis Simpson.  And the abdication occurred in 1936, not 1932. Can You Bear It?

  • THE AGE GREEN GUIDE’S PAUL KALINA SUPPORTS THE VIEW THAT MICHELLE GUTHRIE IS “OLD” AND “BRITISH” – REALLY.

As avid readers are aware,  in Issue 387 MWD criticised the fact that – just as the result of the same sex marriage postal survey was about to be announced on Wednesday 15 November – the main ABC TV channel moved from news to (yet) another re-run of the BBC Antiques Roadshow program. Yawn.

The Age’s “Green Guide” editor Paul Kalina decided to highlight this matter by making the following the lead letter in the edition of 23 November 2017:

Senior moment?

We’re on ABC2, the clock is ticking towards 10am and, like the rest of the country, we’re waiting breathlessly for the result of the marriage equality vote.  Suddenly, the introduction is cut off and Antiques Roadshow, for god’s sake, starts. Which old British fuddy-duddy thought up that priority?

Anne Summerfield, Bendigo.

It seems that neither Mr Kalina nor Ms Summerfield is aware that the ABC’s editor-in-chief, who bears ultimate responsibility for the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s editorial decisions, is neither “old” nor “British” nor “fuddy duddy”. The person in question is Michelle Guthrie (born 1965) is not predominantly Anglo Celtic.  And The Age’s Green Guide editor does not know this.  Can You Bear It?

  • JOHN EDWARDS ON JOHN CURTIN – OR HOW YOU CAN’T JUDGE AN AUTHOR BY THE BOOK’S COVER

There was lotsa fun and games at the Lowy Institute in Sydney on Monday night.  Former Labor prime minister Paul Keating launched volume one of John Edwards’ John Curtin’s War (Viking/Penguin). Dr Edwards (for a doctor he is) is a former Keating staffer.  The book launch was presided over by Lowy Institute executive director Michael Fullilove.  Dr Fullilove (for a doctor he is) is also a former Keating staffer.

At the beginning of his 40 minute speech, Paul Keating commented that the Lowy Institute had been “kind of colonised” for Labor “by having you in charge, Michael”. Well done, Michael.

In his remarks John Edwards drew attention to the fact that his name is neither on the front cover nor the back cover of his book.  John Curtin is the only name on the front cover.  And Julia Gillard is the only name on the back cover.  Oh yes, John Edwards does get a mention on the book’s spine.  Well done, John.

It’s a rare occasion indeed when the author does not get his or her name on the cover of his or her book. Yet, in his speech at the launch, Ben Ball – the publishing director of Viking/Penguin – did not even apologise for John Edwards’ absence from the cover of his own book. Can You Bear It?

 

R v JON STEPHENS MENTIONED IN QUEANBEYAN DISTRICT COURT

As MWD readers are well aware, the ABC has failed to report its very own case of child sexual abuse – except for a brief mention during the 1 pm radio news on 13 September 2017. The matter was then dropped due, apparently, to bush fires in NSW. Really.

On 13 June 2017, former ABC producer Jon Stephens pleaded guilty in Gosford District Court to the sexual assault of a 14 year old boy while on an official ABC assignment near Gosford in 1981.  During a Senate Estimates hearing on 24 October 2017, ABC managing director and editor-in-chief Michelle Guthrie indicated that she had little knowledge of the matter – despite it having been drawn to her attention.

In particular, Ms Guthrie could not provide information as to whether the ABC has offered counselling assistance to Stephens’ victim or provided compensation.  The ABC took questions on notice at Senate Estimates about the case.  However, over a month later, it still has not provided the requested information.

Thanks to Bill Thompson, self-appointed “ABC Southbank Correspondent”, for advising that on Monday 27 November 2017 there was a mention of a case in the criminal jurisdiction at Queanbeyan Local Court titled R v Jon Stephens. MWD does not know whether this is the same Jon Stephens who pleaded guilty in Gosford District Court last June. MWD will keep you posted on this particular case – it is expected that there will be a further mention in early 2018.  Needless to say, despite being advised of the mention of R v Jon Stephens, the ABC did not report the matter.

  • ALL QUIET ON THE 7.30 FRONT RE THE ABC’s VERY OWN CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE CASE

While on the topic of Jon Stephens, MWD is reminded that last Monday – when reporting the allegations of sexual misconduct against former Channel 9 star Don Burke – 7.30 presenter Leigh Sales said that her program would be following up allegations of sexual misconduct or assault made against prominent Australian media personalities.

So far, however, Ms Sales failed to explain why 7.30 has not reported the Jon Stephens conviction.  This despite the fact that Ms Sales said on Monday that the ABC is “slowly and meticulously working through many accusations against well-known public figures”.

After all, Jon Stephens is a prominent media personality and worked as a producer in both ABC radio and television. In the latter role, he produced the controversial children’s TV program Wayzgoose in 1978.  Mr Stephens went on to script writing and worked on such films and TV productions as Mull, The Silver Brumby, Blue Heelers and Neighbours.

Meanwhile MWD noticed the following Twitter exchange yesterday:

  • LOUISE MILLIGAN WINS WALKLEY GONG FOR BOOK SHE WILL NOT DEFEND

As to Louise Milligan’s Walkley Award for her book Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell (MUP, 2017) – well, it’s not surprising that a group of journalists would give this book a prestigious gong.

Nor is it surprising that the ABC would run an extraordinarily prejudicial comment by Ms Milligan about Cardinal Pell at 6.30 am in its Radio National News yesterday – which infringed on a sub-judice ruling by the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria.

For the record – Louise Milligan still refuses to answer any of Gerard Henderson’s questions about Cardinal – see here  – which she concedes was written “from the point of view of the complainants”. Instead Ms Milligan fled to the protection of her publisher, the formidable Louise Adler, who wrote to Hendo effectively telling him to be silent.  Nor has Ms Milligan and MUP acknowledged the large number of factual errors in Cardinal.  Clearly the Walkley judges are happy to give a prestigious award to an author who cannot defend her book and will not correct its errors.

  • MICHELLE GUTHRIE UNDER THE BED ON TRIPLE J CONTROVERSY

Meanwhile no figure in ABC management will accept responsibility for the decision of Triple J to move its Hottest 100 event away from Australia Day.  ABC managing director and (so-called) editor-in-chief Michelle Guthrie has gone under the bed on this issue as have her senior managers.  Likewise, ABC chairman Justin Milne.

Despite criticism by Communications Minister Senator Mitch Fifield, the ABC has only issued a statement by a “spokesman”.  Thus demonstrating, once again, that no one really runs the taxpayer funded public broadcaster – which is, in effect, a workers’ collective. Perhaps “soviet” is a more appropriate term.

The Flann O'Brien Gong For Literary or Verbal Sludge

As avid MWD readers will be aware, this occasional segment is inspired by the Irish humourist Brian O’Nolan (1911-1966) – nom de plume Flann O’Brien – and, in particular, his critique of the sometimes incoherent poet Ezra Pound. Your man O’Brien also had the good sense not to take seriously Eamon De Valera (1882-1975), the Fianna Fail prime minister of Ireland.

The Flann O’Brien Gong for Literary or Verbal Sludge is devoted to outing bad writing or incomprehensible prose or incoherent verbal expression or the use of pretentious words.

  • SIMON HAINES FIRES HIS FIRST (INCOMPREHENSIBLE) SHOT IN THE RAMSAY CENTRE’S DEFENCE OF WESTERN CIVILISATION

As avid readers will be aware, Jackie’s (male) co-owner has doubts about the model adopted by the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation.  Hendo regards handing over good money to universities to run courses in Western Civilisation – or any other subject – as not only a waste but, more seriously, counter-productive.  The social science departments at Australian universities are replete with leftists, and, for the most part, are conservative-free-zones.  In short, they are not in the Western Civilisation cart.  Here’s hoping Hendo is wrong.

In any event, thanks to the avid reader who drew MWD’s attention to the article by Simon Haines, chief executive of the recently formed Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation, which was published in The Australian on 9 November 2017.

It’s all about – well, MWD is not really sure.  Titled “From Slaves To Senators, We’re All Human”, here’s how Dr Haines (for a doctor he is) fired his inaugural shot in the battle for the Defence of Western Civilisation.

What is your identity? So often now it is conceived in terms of race, gender, class and power, those Four Horsemen of the postmodern Apocalypse.

Degree courses on apparently traditional humanities subjects, secondary education conferences on English teaching, academic research agendas, the wider public discourse on so many political or social issues, so often seem to spin down by some weird gravitational attraction into the vortex of these same few concepts.

“Identity” comes from the Latin word idem, meaning “same”. “Who you are” means “who you’re the same as”. But if your­ ­imagination is rich enough you can be the same as anyone: not just the same old same olds, the usual suspects.

Publius Terentius Afer, now known as Terence, was one of the two great comic playwrights of Republican Rome, in the second century BC. His most celebrated legacy is the line homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto: “I am human, so nothing human is alien to me.”

Go on.   Alas he did. On and on.  Your man Haines told readers – if readers there were – that Terence was “very likely a Berber” and that “Othello was probably conceived by Shakespeare as a Barbary prince”. You don’t say.  There followed the view that Terence’s play The Self-Tormentor could have been influenced by “Menander’s Greek original”. Golly, gosh.

There followed references to the poets Langston Hughes and Mary Angelou plus Hannibal, Aeneas, Dido and – who cares?  Then Simon Haines said just what the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation was all about:

At the fledgling Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation, we think of our name as a rephrasing of Terence: civis sum, civilis nihil a me alienum puto. We are citizens, so nothing civilised is alien to us. “For” is not meant to be opposed to “against”, as if we were in a battle; it means “promoting a proper awareness and appreciation of”. But for many of our fellow citizens in the West — students, commentators, activists — everything civilised seems alien, barbarian, other.

So here is Dr Haines’ message to the world – on behalf of the Ramsay Centre in particular and Western Civilisation in general:

Civis sum, civilis nihil a me alienum puto

That’s pretty clear, then.  Let’s rally behind this motto in the defence of Western Civilisation. There followed (yet) more about Terence and Berber and Othello and Marcus Aurelius and Justinian before this thunderous conclusion:

Is it beyond us to imagine Western identity for our students as a breathtakingly rich, cosmopolitan multiverse of sameness-in-diversity, rather than a thin set of worn-out mugshots?

Well, Dr Haines, if you write such sludge, the answer is – Yes.  In Hendo’s (school boy Latin) view, your motto should be “Vir sapit qui pauca loquitur”. [Translated by Jackie this reads: “That man is wise who talks little.”]

 

Literary Criticism

By Flann O’Brien

of Ezra Pound

My grasp of what he wrote and meant

Was only five or six %

The rest was only words and sound —

My reference is to Ezra £

***

Inspired by your man O’Brien, this is Jackie’s literary effort for today:

Literary Criticism

By Jackie

of Simon Haines

My grasp of what he wrote and meant

Was only five or six per cent

His school boy Latin just so pains

The reference is to your man Haines.

 

 

Due to popular demand, this segment is devoted to the use of anonymous sources by journalists. It is named in honour of ABC star investigative reporter Louise Milligan whose “authoritative” anonymous sources in her hatchet job Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell (MUP, 2017) include not only “a friend who is a mother in the neighbourhood” but also, wait for it, “the father-in-law of an ABC journalist.”  How more authoritative a source can there be? It is unlikely that many journalists will reach Ms Milligan’s standard when it comes to quoting an anonymous source.  But many will give it a go.  Here’s a recent example.

MARK KENNY QUOTES “THE MODERATE BACKBENCHER” RANT RE TONY ABBOTT

Thanks to the avid reader who drew MWD’s attention to Mark Kenny’s “analysis” spot in the Sydney Morning Herald on 20 November 2017.  Titled “Does Abbott’s defeat by survey mark his decline?”, your man Kenny said that the result of the same sex marriage postal survey was “a blunt rejection of Tony Abbott and his religious confreres”.  Clearly the reference here is to Christians who supported the “No” case.  Fairfax Media’s national affairs editor does not criticise Muslims or Hindus or Sikhs or Buddhists who believe that marriage is a union between a man and a woman. Non-Christian believers are not to be sneered at in Fairfax Media, it would seem.

Mark Kenny’s sources for his analysis piece consisted of “one”, “the MP”, “the moderate backbencher” and “the MP”. It was not clear whether this amounted to four anonymous sources or just one – or something in between.

Mark Kenny allowed the anonymous Liberals (or Liberal) to bag Tony Abbott – as the following extract indicates:

“It was a wake-up call to the ideologues,” said one, arguing the party had been in thrall to moral “straighteners” despite a more liberal public mood. It was the end, in practical terms, for the disproportionate sway of the ‘A-team’,” said the MP, predicting it “could” see the member for Warringah’s grip loosened on his safe North Shore seat. The “A-team” is a reference to the right-wing trio of the former prime minister plus ex-Abbott ministers Eric Abetz and Kevin Andrews.

Pointing to the 75 per cent “yes” vote in Warringah, the moderate backbencher said Mr Abbott’s own electors had concluded his claims about galloping political correctness and religious oppression held no water. “Put yourself in the shoes of an elector in Warringah and ask, how is my federal representative carrying my views forward in Canberra?” the MP asked.

Needless to say, Mark Kenny does not believe that Labor Party frontbencher Tony Burke should be asked as to how he is carrying forward the views of his electorate of Watson in Parliament – in view of the fact that there was a 75 per cent “No” vote in his Western Sydney electorate.  It seems that Mr Kenny adopts one standard for Tony Abbott and another for Tony Burke.

As to the (i) “one”, (ii) “the MP”, (iii) “the moderate backbencher” and (iv) “the MP” – you would think that a person or persons with such strong views would have the courage to put a name to so strong a critique of Tony Abbott, now that he is a Liberal Party backbencher.  But who needs courage when Mark Kenny is all-too-willing to run anonymous attacks on the former prime minister?  No other view was canvassed in Mark Kenny’s hatchet job.

Comrade Mark (“I love interrupting Hendo on Insiders”) Kenny concluded by claiming it as a “fact” that religious freedom is already enshrined in the Constitution”.  This is absolute tosh.  Unless he means the United States Constitution.  Section 116 of the Australian Constitution contains a very limited protection of religion – only with respect to Commonwealth laws.

Thanks to the avid reader who drew MWD’s attention to Mark Kenny’s “analysis” spot in the Sydney Morning Herald on 20 November 2017.  Titled “Does Abbott’s defeat by survey mark his decline?”, your man Kenny said that the result of the same sex marriage postal survey was “a blunt rejection of Tony Abbott and his religious confreres”.  Clearly the reference here is to Christians who supported the “No” case.  Fairfax Media’s national affairs editor does not criticise Muslims or Hindus or Sikhs or Buddhists who believe that marriage is a union between a man and a woman. Non-Christian believers are not to be sneered at in Fairfax Media, it would seem.

Mark Kenny’s sources for his analysis piece consisted of “one”, “the MP”, “the moderate backbencher” and “the MP”. It was not clear whether this amounted to four anonymous sources or just one – or something in between.

Mark Kenny allowed the anonymous Liberals (or Liberal) to bag Tony Abbott – as the following extract indicates:

“It was a wake-up call to the ideologues,” said one, arguing the party had been in thrall to moral “straighteners” despite a more liberal public mood. It was the end, in practical terms, for the disproportionate sway of the ‘A-team’,” said the MP, predicting it “could” see the member for Warringah’s grip loosened on his safe North Shore seat. The “A-team” is a reference to the right-wing trio of the former prime minister plus ex-Abbott ministers Eric Abetz and Kevin Andrews.

Pointing to the 75 per cent “yes” vote in Warringah, the moderate backbencher said Mr Abbott’s own electors had concluded his claims about galloping political correctness and religious oppression held no water. “Put yourself in the shoes of an elector in Warringah and ask, how is my federal representative carrying my views forward in Canberra?” the MP asked.

Needless to say, Mark Kenny does not believe that Labor Party frontbencher Tony Burke should be asked as to how he is carrying forward the views of his electorate of Watson in Parliament – in view of the fact that there was a 75 per cent “No” vote in his Western Sydney electorate.  It seems that Mr Kenny adopts one standard for Tony Abbott and another for Tony Burke.

As to the (i) “one”, (ii) “the MP”, (iii) “the moderate backbencher” and (iv) “the MP” – you would think that a person or persons with such strong views would have the courage to put a name to so strong a critique of Tony Abbott, now that he is a Liberal Party backbencher.  But who needs courage when Mark Kenny is all-too-willing to run anonymous attacks on the former prime minister?  No other view was canvassed in Mark Kenny’s hatchet job.

Comrade Mark (“I love interrupting Hendo on Insiders”) Kenny concluded by claiming it as a “fact” that religious freedom is already enshrined in the Constitution”.  This is absolute tosh.  Unless he means the United States Constitution.  Section 116 of the Australian Constitution contains a very limited protection of religion – only with respect to Commonwealth laws.

Wendy Harmer Moment

WENDY HARMER’S INVINCIBLE IGNORANCE ON THE MCG

There was enormous reader interest in last week’s focus on the rudeness of journalists who use forced laughter as a tactic to signal their opposition.  In particular, ABC Sydney Radio Wendy Harmer’s decision last Friday to engage in mocking laughter right through Crikey’s Bernard Keane’s criticism of the NSW Coalition government’s decision to demolish and re-build both the Sydney Football Stadium and the Olympic Stadium. Listen here.

At the end of the Bernard Keane session, Wendy Harmer cited with approval a text from “Jack” which read as follows: “How old’s the MCG when it was last pulled down?”  Ms Harmer commented: “Ooo, that’s painful Jack. Ouch.”

Yes, ouch indeed. Wendy Harmer seemed totally unaware that the MCG’s Great Southern Stand was built in 1992 and the MCG’s Northern Stand was built in 2006.  Whereas the Sydney Football Stadium was built in 1988 and the Olympic Stadium in 2000.  Also the MCG is a fit for purpose stadium – this is not the case with the two Sydney stadiums.

Ms Harmer continued banging on about the issue – at one stage she said that the MCG was between 50 and 100 years old. On Wednesday she declared that the MCG is quite a deal older than the Sydney stadiums.  What a load of absolute tosh. Verily a Wendy Harmer Moment.

Fitz's Fake News

IN WHICH THE RED BANDANNAED ONE GETS IT WRONG ABOUT JOSH FRYDENBERG & PRINCE CHARLES

This is how The Red Bandannaed One’s “The Fitz Files” ended in the Sun-Herald last Sunday.

▪ First up, there was a prediction about Australian national politics:

You heard it here first
I know not, of course, if all the growing speculation about leadership coups on Malcolm Turnbull will firm into a solid challenge, but, if it does … look to Josh Frydenberg. He won’t lead it, but may well be drafted, as a relatively fresh face for the Libs – and, most crucially, one carrying no heavy baggage from previous coups. If it happens, you heard it here, first!

Er, not really. MWD is not sure who was the first to suggest that Josh Frydenberg might replace Malcolm Turnbull as prime minister. But it was not Fitz. Ross Fitzgerald made this very point in an appearance on Sky News’ The Perrett Report on 29 October 2017 – four weeks before the Red Bandannaed One’s prophecy last Sunday.

▪ Then, there was a prediction about the British Monarchy:

Something to sing about
Don’t ask me why I have been glancing at the cover of New Idea lately, I just have. But the news is extraordinary! Apparently, the Queen is going to abdicate immediately, and Prince William will be coroneted before Christmas. Staggering! Who knew? If true, it will at least be one in the eye for the Barmy Army, who, up in Brissie during the First Test, have been singing in unison, to the tune of Yellow Submarine : Your next queen is Camilla Parker Bowles, Camilla Parker Bowles, Camilla Parker Bowles, Your next queen is Camilla Parker Bowles …

And now for some facts. There is no evidence that Queen Elizabeth II is about to abdicate. And, if she did, there is no prospect whatsoever that Prince Charles would give up his right of inheritance to his son Prince William. It’s all a figment of The Red Bandannaed One’s fertile imagination – fired up by the wisdom of New Idea.

▪ And then “The Fitz Files” concluded with the following (borrowed) joke. Here it is:

Joke of the week
This bloke goes to the doctor.
“Doc, I’ve got a cricket ball stuck up my bottom.”
“How’s that?”
“Don’t you start!”

Funny, eh? The Red Bandannaed One needs a new sooth-sayer plus a new joke writer. Last Sunday’s column was strong on fake news but nothing else.

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).

RODNEY CAVALIER AND GERARD HENDERSON re ROBERT MENZIES & JOHN CURTIN AND AUSTRALIA’S ENTRY INTO WORLD WAR II

Labor Party historian and avid MWD reader Rodney Cavalier objected last week to Gerard Henderson’s comment in Issue 387 that, in September 1939, Robert Menzies’ government declared war on Nazi Germany. Mr Cavalier did not agree – making the point that George VI declared war on Germany – and Australia, as a Dominion of the British Empire, went along for the (military) ride, so to speak.  Hendo maintained that this was a pedantic point since the Menzies government committed military forces to the war against Adolf Hitler.  Whereas the Labor Party, led by John Curtin, opposed the deployment of the Second Australian Imperial Force to the Northern Hemisphere.  Now read on:

Rodney Cavalier to Gerard Henderson – 29 November 2017

Gerard,

You surprise me with your statement that it is somewhat pedantic to provide an accurate statement on how Australia entered the Second World War in September 1939. I suspect correspondence between us is doomed. We lack basic agreement on the plain meaning of words. We will soon bore readers as well as ourselves in citing text. Nonetheless, citing text is what your memo of 23 November compels.

I accept Paul Hasluck and his The Government and the People 1939-1941 as the authority. A long time since I read Hasluck; I am grateful to you for forcing me to consult him. I regard Hasluck as one of the three great writers to have served in our national parliament.

The words you quote are from p.152. Somehow you walk right past the first sentence of your selected quotation.

Once the news that Britain was at war had been accepted all other action was consequential.

That is, in plain English, Australia was at war consequential to the declaration by the United Kingdom.

At a high risk of being tedious, the sequence of events that brought Australia into a state of war were as follows:

▪ Armed forces of the Third Reich crossed the border into Poland and proceeded to wage war. Invasion of Poland compelled the United Kingdom to act in fulfilment of its guarantee to protect Poland.

▪ The Chamberlain Government advised George VI to declare war.

▪ The King accepted that advice.

▪ The Government tendered the necessary documents for the King to sign. Upon the King’s signature, the UK, its dominions and its empire were at war.

▪  Chamberlain announced the state of war. That announcement was heard live by those Australians who possessed a short-wave radio.

▪  The Australian Cabinet was well advanced in preparing the documents that proclaimed a state of war between Australia and Germany.

▪ The Admiralty sent a telegram to the Australian Navy in Melbourne to confirm what the broadcast had revealed.

The second sentence of your extraction from Hasluck deploys square brackets to serve your purpose. You presented the Hasluck text as follows.

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.

No, Menzies did not. The paragraph you extract ends in a colon, not a fullstop, followed by the text of Menzies’ actual words announcing that Australia is at war. They are among the most famous words spoken by a prime minister.

It is my melancholy duty to inform you officially that, in consequence of a persistence by Germany in her invasion of Poland, Great Britain has declared war upon her and that, as a result, Australia is also at war.

You regard those words as a declaration of war? They sound like anything but a declaration of war to me.

Menzies was careful always in his use of words, never more so than when dealing with the royal prerogative. Menzies did not ever suggest he declared war. Nor did Hasluck make any such statement.

Hasluck devotes an entire section of his chapter 4, “Australia enters the war”, to the declaration of war (pp.149-158). The section builds upon his earlier consideration of the official War Book, crafted in the late 1930s to prepare Australia’s governments and defence forces for the outbreak of war in Europe. The predicate of the War Book and all preparations was that Australia could not be neutral, it was bound to support Britain. That sense of honourable obligation reflected the views of Menzies, his cabinet and all the parties in the parliament.

Hasluck returns to the question of constitutional context in his second volume, The Government and the People 1942-1945. With some obvious fascination, he traces the feelings within the still new Curtin Government in December 1941 that Australia should make its own declaration. HV Evatt, ever restless, in the dire circumstance facing Australia after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, drafted advice that he insisted should go before George VI as the advice of his Australian ministers. The Curtin cabinet agreed and forwarded that advice.

The right of Australia to offer that advice was (i) accepted, (ii) the King accepted the advice offered and (iii) the King delegated to the Governor-General of Australia the authority to declare war on behalf of Australia. The central tenet of Evatt’s advice was that the King should exercise his prerogative in Australia through the Governor-General.

Volume I of Hasluck was published in 1952. Hasluck had prepared much of the text prior to his election to the House of Representatives in 1949. Although he continued his research and writing for Volume II, he did not enjoy the pastoral break required while ever he was a minister to bring his text to a conclusion. The second volume was completed in the hiatus between the announcement in 1969 that Hasluck would become Governor-General and being sworn in.

Volume II was published in 1970, all of it completed before Hasluck entered vice-regal office. We know that Hasluck took particular care over passages regarding the royal prerogative and the imperial relationship

Until I received your memo accusing me of pedantry, I have not read anyone suggesting Menzies declared war.

How Australia entered the Second World War was the sort of knowledge a child in the 1950s picked up. As a history student in high school in the 1960s you learned the detail; we were studying the imperial relationship in the last years of Menzies when that relationship was changing. We learned about the adoption of the Statute of Westminster by the Commonwealth Parliament in 1942 after which Australia as a sovereign nation would itself decide what wars it entered.

If Menzies and Hasluck were with us now, I do not doubt each would refute your suggestion.

My thanks for your best wishes. I ask that you accept my own best wishes and extend them to Anne.

Rodney

 

Gerard Henderson to Rodney Cavalier – 1 December 2017

Rodney

I’m glad that I re-sparked your interest in Paul Hasluck’s two volume official war history covering Australian politics between 1939 and 1945.  It’s in constant use in our abode.

In response to your missive, I make the following points:

٠ I stand by my comment that on 3 September 1939 Robert Menzies declared war on Nazi Germany. I made this point to refute the comment in Lisa Milner’s Freda Brown biography that Menzies was supportive of fascism in 1940. As you know, this is the standard left-wing line.

٠ Sure, the Menzies government’s decision was a consequence of Britain’s decision to declare war on Britain.  But, as Paul Hasluck has written, following Britain’s declaration of war the Menzies’ government “prepared a document declaring a state of war to exist” between Australia and Germany.  That sounds like a declaration of war to me.

٠ In your lengthy email, you neglected to mention that in 1939 the Labor Party – led by John  Curtin – opposed the Menzies government’s decision to commit the Second Australian Imperial Force to engage Germany on the field of battle.  In other words, Adolf Hitler could have won the war in late 1940 and early 1941 without the resistance of one Australian soldier – if John Curtin had had his way.

٠  According to your pedantic interpretation, Australia could have declared war against Germany even if it had a pacifist government. That’s nonsense.  So is your comment that in September 1939 Australia “was bound to support Britain”. This was so in a diplomatic sense – but not in a military sense. Mr Curtin made this very clear in September 1939 when he opposed Australian forces going overseas to oppose Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime.

* * * * *

In conclusion, my point was – and remains –  that Australia, under Robert Menzies’ government, went to war against Germany in September 1939 – whereas Labor, under John Curtin’s leadership – would not have done so if it held office at that time.

 

That’s all. Keep morale high.

 

Gerard

 

* * * * *

 

Until next time.

 

* * * * *