GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG
ISSUE – NO. 397
9 March 2018
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.
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Stop Press: The ABC’s Conservative-Free International Women’s Day; Tonightly and the “F” Word; Ross Cameron & the Bismarck; Yet More Anti-Catholic Sectarianism at the ABC
John-Laws-Style Deliberate Mistake
The ABC – An Update: Q&A’s Suggested Questions + Q&A’s Fake Audience Numbers + Media Watch Avoids Again the ABC’s Failure to Report Its Own Historic Child Sex Abuse Case
Can You Bear It? – Guy Rundle, Shaun Micallef & The Good Weekend’s Nuclear Weapon Naïvety
Nancy’s Five Paws Award: Step Forward Paul Murray on Female Genital Mutilation
Outside Outsiders: Featuring Ross Cameron, Rowan Dean and Jaynie Seal (Hooray!), Marcus Aurelius, Karl Popper and the Queen Bee
The ABC & Pedophilia – A Timeline
Documentation: Tony Jones’ Suggestive Letter to the Q&A Audience
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THE ABC’S CONSERVATIVE FREE INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
Hendo retired for the evening last night just as the ABC’s contribution to International Women’s Day wrapped up. This is a strange contribution to the feminist cause by ABC managing director and (so-called) editor-in-chief Michelle Guthrie – that the ABC blokes get the day off (on full pay) while the sheilas take over for a day possibly on a lower pay than the bloke they replaced.
Jackie’s (male) co-owner supports all fashionable and worthy causes such as this – and reckons that Ms Guthrie’s initiative should run for a whole week. How else to get such male ABC leftists as Jon Faine and Philip Adams and so on off the air for seven days and seven nights? However, the female stack yesterday illustrated, once again, that the taxpayer funded broadcaster is a Conservative Free Zone. The ABC had wall-to-wall female presenters from one-minute past midnight yesterday morning to midnight last night There was many a female leftist including the likes of Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly and Wendy (“I’m just an old fashioned socialist”) Harmer. But not one female conservative. Not one. It’s a strange kind of “equality” when the only females deemed suitable to replace a bloke on International Women’s day are those who are not conservative.
A QUIET NIGHT FOR THE “F” WORD ON IWD’s TONIGHTLY
One of the features of Aunty’s International Women’s Day was that comedians Greta Lee Jackson and Bridie Connell stood in for Tom Ballard on Tonightly on ABC Comedy last night. Alas, there was no increase in the number of good jokes and the feigned applause and forced laughter engaged in by the small audience was standard. However, Ms Lee Jackson and Ms Connell presided over a dramatic reduction in the use of the “F” word last night – MWD counted only four such usages. A record surely, and an example of the success of Ms Guthrie’s initiative. By the way, Mr Ballard crashed the program in its final minutes and sang a song out of tune about something or other. Ah, blokes.
ROSS CAMERON ON THE BISMARCK’S (1935-41) STRANGE RESURRECTION IN THE PACIFIC (1941-42)
Hendo turned to Tonightly last night after watching the Thursday edition of Outsiders – starring Ross Cameron and Rowan Dean. This is not up to the standard of the Sunday edition (there are two) since the witty newsreader and all-round philosopher – Sky News newsreader Jaynie Seal – does not get a gig. Shame.
Even so, last night Outsiders broke one big story. Your man Cameron revealed that the USS Lexington “was sunk by the Bismarck” in the Battle of the Coral Sea in May 1942. Previously it had been thought that the Bismarck was the German battleship which had been sunk by the British Navy in the Atlantic in May 1941 – and that it was the Japanese Navy that engaged the Allies in the Battle of the Coral Sea a year later in the Pacific Ocean – during which the Lexington was scuttled after being hit by Japanese aircraft. It was written – but Ross Cameron has now said. What a scoop.
Sure, all commentators make mistakes (MWD included). It’s just that the Cameron blunder fits MWD’s narrative that the Outsiders co-presenter’s mind is too full of the teachings of Marcus Aurelius and this squeezes out real facts – covering such matters as USS Lexington and the Bismarck.
ANTI-CATHOLIC SECTARIANISM AT THE ABC – EPISODE 384
This morning the Commonwealth government announced the establishment of a Redress Scheme which will provide support to people who were sexually abused as children while in the care of an institution. The Commonwealth promised to provide redress to people who were abused in such places as the Australian Defence Force and cadet schools. The New South Wales and Victorian governments have announced that they will join the scheme and provide redress to people who were sexually abused as children in State schools and out of home care.
So how did ABC TV illustrate this story this morning? Well – as is its habit – by showing footage of the inside and outside of a Catholic Church. This continues the ABC line of reporting the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse as if historic child sexual abuse occurred only in Catholic institutions.
If the remaining State and Territories join up to the National Redress scheme, the Catholic Church has indicated that it will also participate in the scheme. However, today’s announcement was primarily about the responsibilities of the Commonwealth, NSW and Victoria governments. But ABC TV reported the news as if child sexual abuse only took place in Catholic institutions. Meanwhile the ABC still refuses to report, or even manage, its own case of historic child sexual abuse. As this issue of MWD attests.
JOHN LAWS STYLE DELIBERATE MISTAKE RE PAUL MURRAY & AUSTRALIA’S DEBT
In last week’s MWD, a transcript had the Sky News Paul Murray Live presenter as stating that Australia was half a million dollars in debt. Thanks to an avid reader who picked up the deliberate mistake – Paul Murray referred to Australia as being “half a trillion” dollars in debt. The error has been corrected.
THE ABC – AN UPDATE
Q&A – THE PROGRAM WHERE THE JOURNOS FRAME THE QUESTIONS
The ABC TV Q&A program likes to boast that it is a forum where viewers ask the questions – not ABC producers or ABC journalists or ABC presenters.
In his column in the Sydney Morning Herald on Monday, Tom Switzer referred to Q&A (along with The Drum) as a current affairs program which “expresses an attitude or tone” which is “more than likely [to be] a narrow, politically correct one”. Switzer referred to an email which he obtained by someone named “Darren” – which Q&A presenter Tony Jones sent out to the audience chosen for last month’s program – as an example of Q&A’s leftist political agenda.
First up, your man Jones – in his email sent out at 1 pm last Friday – wrote that the questions asked were up to audience members. However, he then suggested possible questions covering nine issues. This demonstrates how Q&A’s executive producer Peter McEvoy controls the program. He chooses the presenter and the panel, oversees audience selection and even suggests the questions that might be asked (by means of an email from the popular Tony Jones).
Q&A – where Comrade McEvoy asks the questions.
For a look at how the seemingly spontaneous questions are framed for Q&A – see the “Documentation” segment below which re-prints Tony Jones’ email which was sent to Q&A audience members a few hours before last Monday’s show.
“ANGRY AUNTY” MOCKS Q&A’s FAKE AUDIENCE POLITICAL ALLEGIANCE NUMBERS
While on the topic of Q&A, as avid readers will be aware, MWD has always regarded the program’s assessment of the political allegiances of its audience as one of the most outrageous examples of false advertising in the Australian media.
What Q&A executive producer Peter McEvoy and presenter Tony Jones do not tell viewers is that this allegiance is of a self-assessed kind. In other words, those who apply to belong to the Q&A audience declare their own (alleged) allegiance to a political party. In view of the fact that in both Sydney and Melbourne the ABC studios are located close to universities of the like, too many leftists want to turn up from Sandalista Central. So what is an inner-city leftist to do? Simple – take off your Che Guevara tee-shirt and leather sandals and put on shirt and sensible shoes and then claim you vote for the Liberals or the Nationals or the Australian Conservative party or whatever. And then you’re in like Flynn. Q&A will claim such a Green/Left supporter as a Coalition voter in order to pretend the Q&A audience is balanced, when this is not the case. As anyone who listens to the thunderous applause for Green Left causes and the loud ridicule directed at conservatives will attest.
Take last week’s Sydney audience, for example. According to Q&A the political breakdown of those attending was as follows – as was set out in this screen-shot from the program:
If you believe this, you will believe anything. For his part, Hendo prefers the following assessment which was put out on Twitter by “Angry Aunty” at 9.44 pm last Monday when Q&A was well under way:
|Angry Aunty (@AuntyNeville664)|
|5/3/18, 9:44 pm
In the #QandA audience tonight: COALITION 0%, ALP 35%, GREENS 35%, GREENS UNI STUDENTS PRETENDING TO BE COALITION 30%
ABC TV’s MEDIA WATCH SQUIBS IT (AGAIN) ON ABC’s UNWILLINGNESS TO REPORT ITS OWN HISTORIC CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE CASE
On last Monday’s ABC TV Media Watch program, presenter Paul Barry criticised ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie’s performance at the Senate Estimates on Tuesday 27 February 2018. Paul Barry focused on the ABC’s handling of the controversy concerning ABC chief economics correspondent Emma Alberici’s articles on company tax cuts.
However, Paul Barry did not even mention Ms Guthrie’s comments at the very same Senate Estimates Committee concerning the ABC’s very own case of historic child sexual abuse. MWD readers will be aware of the facts. On 15 June 2017 former ABC TV producer Jon Stephens pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 12 year old male while on official ABC duties near Gosford in 1981. Apart from one news radio segment on one day last September, the ABC has not reported the Stephens case.
Senator Eric Abetz has been pressing the Stephens case at Senate Estimates. In response to questions placed on notice on 13 January 2018, Communications Minister Senator Mitch Fifield responded in a formal answer on behalf of the ABC – which included the following points:
The victim first contacted the ABC in September 2016 via a pro-forma online portal which is used by the public to comment on or complain about ABC programs. At this time, the matter was being handled by NSW Police and was before the NSW District Court. The ABC commenced its investigation after the court case had concluded. The investigation is expected to conclude in June 2018. The matter has been attended to by the ABC’s in-house lawyers except that one independent barrister has been engaged.
In other words, the ABC became aware of this matter in September 2016 – but made no attempt to investigate it until June 2017 (i.e. 9 months later). The ABC plans to complete its investigation in June 2018 (i.e. nearly two years after the matter was drawn to its attention).
Michelle Guthrie’s responses to Senator Abetz in Senate Estimates on 27 February 2018 lead to the following conclusions:
▪ The victim in this case still has not been contacted by the ABC – despite the fact that the ABC first learnt of the matter in September 2016 and its formal investigation commenced in August 2017. The ABC’s investigation commenced at least six weeks after Jon Stephens pleaded guilty in the NSW District Court at Gosford. MWD first highlighted the Stephens matter in its Issue 367 dated 30 June 2017. The ABC acted after the substantial coverage of the Stephen’s case in MWD.
The ABC has not accepted any responsibility at this stage since the victim was apparently employed by a talent company and the ABC cannot find the “talent agreement” that existed in 1981.
▪ Michelle Guthrie, who is paid to be both the ABC’s managing director and editor-in-chief, said that she was not aware of the Jon Stephens case until his conviction – despite the fact that the victim had contacted the ABC in September 2016. This suggests that ABC management either did not follow the details of the complainant – or, if it did, the matter was not reported to the managing director Michelle Guthrie.
▪ The ABC is using taxpayers’ money, beyond its budget allocation, on this matter in that it has engaged the services of an “independent barrister”.
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The inability of Michelle Guthrie to explain the ABC’s decision not to contact Stephens’ victim – who last June was reported to be living in a van – amounted to a far worse performance than her handling of the Emma Alberici issue. Likewise the performance of the ABC’s editorial director Alan Sunderland who was not able to tell Senator Abetz why there are 17,500 stories on the ABC’s website concerning the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse but only one reference to the ABC’s institutional response to its own case of child sex assault.
Paul Barry and Tim Latham on Media Watch have failed to mention the ABC’s cover-up over the Jon Stephens matter – despite being aware of the facts of the case.
See “The ABC & Pedophilia: A Timeline” below.
CAN YOU BEAR IT?
MARXIST COMEDIAN GUY RUNDLE IDENTIFIES ANARCHIST REDOUBT ON MELBOURNE’S SYDNEY ROAD
As avid readers are aware, Guy Rundle is MWD’s fave Marxist comedian. MWD much admires the manner in which Comrade Rundle was able to graduate from editing the oh-so-boring Marxist journal of opinion Arena Magazine to writing comedy for doleful Max Gillies.
So Hendo always reads Comrade Rundle in his latest manifestation as Crikey’s correspondent-at-large. It’s an impressive title [Yes, I’m impressed – MWD Editor] even though the concept of “at large” to Comrade Rundle means covering Sandalista Land in Melbourne – which seems to stretch from Carlton to Fitzroy North and on to Brunswick destination Coburg. Which happens to include some of the battlefields of the forthcoming Batman Federal by-election on 17 March (or St Patrick’s Day).
In Crikey on 28 February 2018, Comrade Rundle reported Jane Garrett, the Labor member for the Victorian State seat of Brunswick, might run for Lord Mayor of Melbourne. In which case, there would be a by-election in Brunswick in which – according to your man Rundle – leftist activist Van Badham might run for Labor against the Greens. Or something like that. In any event, this is what Mr Rundle had to say in Crikey on 28 February under the heading “Is Van Badham running for office?”:
The push for Badham would be based on one thing: if Jane Garrett quits early, Labor will need a miracle to hold the seat. As with Ged Kearney in Batman — an SL [Socialist Left] figure taking a seat dished out to the Right, after the stonking defeat of a Right candidate in [the state seat of] Northcote — the uphill Van push would be on the grounds that only such a figure could win it. Badham would be the ideal candidate for a hail-mary pass. She’s forceful, a top-rate speaker, has a high-profile and culture-hero status from her Guardian column. Also, she’s a self-styled anarcho-syndicalist-libertarian-communist, and that would go down great on Sydney Road, the anarchists’ last redoubt.
So, Sydney Road – which runs from Carlton, through Brunswick and on to Coburg – is the “anarchists’ last redoubt”. And a dangerous last redoubt to be sure – since the last time MWD checked out Sydney Road it had tram lines down the middle. Can You Bear It?
SHAUN MICALLEF RUNS GOUGH WHITLAM LINE ON UNIVERSITY EDUCATION
While on the topic of comedians, did anyone see the Shaun Micallef brief profile in last Saturday’s Good Weekend magazine in which he was quizzed on Sex, Politics and Religion. Yawn. However, MWD was interested in Good Weekend’s question: “Any politicians you admire here or abroad?” To which your man Micallef replied:
I had a lot of time for Gough Whitlam. I don’t necessarily venerate him because he flew a particular flag, but I am grateful to him because, without the policy Labor had for tertiary education back in those days, I wouldn’t have had a university education. We couldn’t afford it. So, I managed to get through that window that was closed very slowly, then painted over, by successive Labor and Liberal governments.
What a load of absolute tosh. Your man Micallef repeats the old Labor myth that, when prime minister in the early 1970s, Gough Whitlam made it possible for young Australians of modest means to obtain a free university education.
This overlooks the fact that Robert Menzies’ Coalition government introduced the Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme in 1951 – which provided free university education plus a generous means-tested living allowance. A bright student like Shaun Micallef, who rose to the exalted rank of college captain at the Sacred Heart Senior College in Adelaide, would have won a Commonwealth Scholarship and had his tuition fees paid.
And if young Shaun’s parents could not afford to pay fees, then he surely would have qualified for a means tested living allowance. How does your man Micallef think young Australians of modest means – like Clive James – went to university in the 1950s and 1960s? Moreover, the idea that successive Labor and Liberal governments have prevented students with families of modest means from attending university in recent years is just bunk. A “joke”, perhaps. Can You Bear It?
THE GOOD WEEKEND’S UNFORTUNATE TIMING ON NUCLEAR WEAPONS
While on the topic of Good Weekend, what a stunning “Two of Us” segment last weekend starring Tilman Ruff and Dimity Hawkins – who helped co-found the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) which recently won the Nobel Peace Prize. The ICAN lot are naïve enough to believe that the unilateral nuclear disarmament of the United States, Britain and France would be embraced by the likes of Russia, China, North Korea and so on.
It so happened that on the same day that Good Weekend reported the ICAN campaign to abolish nuclear weapons, Vladimir Putin proudly announced that Russia had developed a new array of nuclear weapons. Perhaps Mr Putin is not aware of the Nobel Peace Prize winners in downtown Melbourne. Can You Bear It?
STEP FORWARD PAUL MURRAY
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 Aston is a past Five Paws Award recipient. He is joined today by Paul Murray.
Last night the Paul Murray Live presenter Paul Murray addressed the issue of Female Genital Mutilation – and made the (unfashionable) point that this issue had received scant coverage during International Women’s Day. Here’s what Paul Murray had to say:
Paul Murray: There is a story which is relevant on a day like today [International Women’s Day]. When people who have the spotlight, have the megaphone should be using it to try and pull some forgotten people right into the heart of our national conversation. There was a report released today by a group who is trying to fight genital mutilation in Australia. This group has been active for some time and it’s trying to make sure that the sins of other countries are not exported into this country. Well sadly, it is. Have a look at these numbers that were released today. Their report back in 2014 from No Female Genital Mutilation Australia shows that in 2014 there were 83,000 cases of women and girls that were victims of genital mutilation or considered at high risk of it happening in the first couple of years in their life And you can see the numbers now, you can see the numbers now. It’s now more than 200,000 people.
So I get it….There is a conversation to be had about during the ’80s when blokes who used to run TV stations were arseholes. I get it that we have to talk about gender pay gaps.
But when football stadiums of little girls are being cut up – that should be part of our conversation. It shouldn’t be the whole chat, it shouldn’t be the leading chat. But all those who decided to use their voice today to focus on issues that only affect the richest suburbs or the highest profile women – well, you failed today. Because there was a story right beneath your noses. In communities that supposedly you stand up for. But you were silent today. 200,000 little girls in Australia. You saw the numbers from just four years ago. Australia, we have a problem.
Paul Murray: Five Paws.
IN WHICH ROSS CAMERON LEADS OFF WITH THE BIG ISSUE OF THE DAY – NAMELY, BEES
As avid readers are aware, Jackie’s (male) co-owner just loves watching Sky News’ Outsiders each Sunday – on his IQ recording system around Gin & Tonic time on late Sunday afternoons. The introduction to the first program at 9 am on Sunday (there are two, along with another on Thursday night) is always a hoot. It works like this. Co-presenter Rowan (“I’m a Donald Trump fan boy”) Dean throws the ball to co-presenter Ross (“I’m a Marcus Aurelius fan boy”) Cameron who throws the switch to RANT.
Four weeks ago, Pastor Cameron’s inaugural sermon-of-the-day was on the Moon. The following week, it was the Sun. And then Snakes. Hendo was hoping for a rant on your man Hegel last Sunday – but it was on Bees. [Maybe next Sunday – the Birds and the Bees. Here’s hoping. MWD Editor.] Let’s go to the transcript where Mr Dean handed over to Mr Cameron last Sunday morning shortly after 9 am:
Rowan Dean: How have you been? Anything you want to get off your chest? …Anything you’d like to kind of, unburden yourself to the audience with?
Ross Cameron: …I’m going to give you a little rant. A little Sunday rant this morning. The meditations of Marcus Aurelius’ most dominant theme arguably is nature. And Marcus says that, you know, we must learn from nature about our own species. And today I want to give you a little nature rant on the Honey Bee.
The Honey Bee is one of what entomologists describe as the social insects. And they include the ants, the termites, some wasps and the bee. And their social in the sense that they live together in colonies or hives. And they live under a strict caste system. A stratification, a division of labour.
And among the Honey Bees there are at least nine separate and distinctive roles played by these insects. From, of course the most famous is the Queen Bee. But she has her attenders who to nothing but feed her, clean her, look after her. Then you have the comb building bees, you have the drones, which are the male bees which don’t even develop a sting. Every time you get stung by a bee it’s a female. But the males are described as fat, lazy and hungry, and all they do is mate, hope to mate with a Queen, that is their sole job in life. Then you have the undertaker bees who carry out the dead bodies. You have the guard bees who stand at the entrance to the hive and make sure none get in. And you have the worker bees, the sisters, the females who basically do everything….
Go on. Alas, your man Cameron did. And on. And on. And on. And on for over seven minutes. Zzzzzzzz zzzzzz.
There was reference to basic Bee’s “tiny little brain”, and to the Bee Bum Waggle Dance, and to the Sun (wow!), and to Karl von Frisch [Who’s he? – MWD Editor], and to Karl Popper and so on. And then – thank God – the Cameron Rant ended. Not with a bang but with a lesson:
Ross Cameron: So I just want to say, finally, in relation to the Bee. I want to say to every bureaucrat out there, there are systems of organisation which do not require an organising mind in Canberra or anywhere else. Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing at all. Let natural organic things take care of themselves. And, secondly, to all our Outsiders audience, whatever perspective you come from – cling to your scepticism because it’s an absolutely central foundational engine of the scientific method.
Brilliant, don’t you think? Except that doing nothing at all on, say, Sunday morning would mean not switching on Outsiders. While scepticism would involve not believing in the Cameron Rant each Sunday morning. Come to think of it, last week’s Cameron Rant had something going for it in this regard.
As to next Sunday, Hendo has been told by a little bird that Pastor Cameron could well deal with lessons to be learnt from the Tasmanian Tiger (of recent memory). Here’s hoping.
At least last Sunday Sky News newsreader Jaynie Seal’s role in the program was recognised by co-presenter Rowan Dean last week who declared that she had been appointed as “the designated chair sheila of the Outsiders Book Club”. One of the strengths of Outsiders is that it provides a rare opportunity on commercial television for talent to talk with authority about books they have not read. Except for Ms Seal, of course. She told viewers last Sunday: “I’m actually reading Karl Popper’s The Logic of Scientific Discovery. To which your man Dean responded: “Nice”. Ms Seal added that she was “looking forward to getting stuck into Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago.”
[I’m very impressed. However, I would like avid readers to be aware that I read Karl Popper’s book in the German original – Logik der Forschchung. As to Ms Seal’s recommendation about the The Gulag Archipelago – well, I read this in primary school or, maybe, in the womb. – MWD Editor.]
THE ABC & PEDOPHILIA – A TIMELINE
A POLICY OF DENYING FORMER CHAIRMAN RICHARD DOWNING’S STATEMENT ON PEDERASTY AND AVOIDING JON STEPHENS’ CONVICTION FOR PEDERASTY
1970: Richard Neville’s memoir Play Power is released. In his chapter titled “Group Grope”, Neville boasts about having a “hurricane f-ck” with a “moderately attractive, intelligent, cherubic fourteen-year-old girl from a nearby London comprehensive school”. At the time Neville (born in Sydney in 1941) was in his late twenties – i.e. he was about twice the age of his schoolgirl victim. Sex with an under-age girl or boy was a criminal offence in England at the time – and still is.
1975: Despite being a self-confessed pedophile, Richard Neville obtains a presenter’s job on the ABC radio program titled Lateline which runs on the public broadcaster’s second radio network (the equivalent of Radio National today). Lateline comes within the domain of the ABC left-wing producer Allan Ashbolt.
14 July 1975: Richard Neville presents a program titled “Pederasty” on Lateline. Three pederasts are interviewed in the ABC studio in Sydney by Neville, who adopts a non-judgmental attitude to their child sexual abuse. A couple of young male victims are also interviewed for the program. The program is reported in detail in The National Times in its issue dated 21 July 1975 (but which is distributed at an earlier date).
1975: When the “Pederasty” program becomes a matter of controversy, the tapes of the program are destroyed along with any transcripts. Neither Allan Ashbolt nor Richard Neville nor any member of the ABC management report the pederasts to NSW Police or adopt a duty-of-care to the pederasts’ victims who, if alive today, would be in their fifties – i.e. around the same age as some complainants/victims who gave evidence to the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in recent years.
19 July 1975: In the wake of the “Pederasty” controversy, the ABC chairman Professor Richard Downing writes a letter to the Sydney Morning Herald defending the “Pederasty” program and calling on Australians to “understand” the urges of pederasts. Professor Downing’s letter is signed in his capacity as ABC chairman.
19 July 1975: The Sydney Morning Herald quotes Professor Downing as saying that “in general, men will sleep with young boys”.
1981: ABC TV producer Jon Stephens sexually abuses a 12-year-old male ABC casual employee while on official ABC duties near Gosford. Mr Stephens is 36 years of age at the time of the offence.
1983: This is the ABC: The Australian Broadcasting Commission: 1932-1983 is published by Melbourne University Press. Its author, Ken Inglis, is given access to ABC records. In a segment titled “Permissiveness and Politics”, Ken Inglis documents the controversy concerning Richard Neville’s “Pederasty” program of eight years earlier but does not mention Neville’s name.
3 September 2015: Following the ABC’s widescale coverage of historical child sexual abuse in religious, secular and government organisations, Gerard Henderson writes to ABC chairman Jim Spigelman AO QC on 3 September 2015. His letter includes the following questions:
Professor Downing – one of your predecessors as ABC chairman – once called for an understanding of pederasty in his official capacity as ABC chairman. Are you prepared – on behalf of the ABC – to renounce the view expressed by Professor Downing in 1975? If not, why not?
On 4 September 2015, the ABC chairman replied as follows:
Dear Mr Henderson
I can think of nothing polite to say about your suggestion. I will content myself with the observation that mine is not an Apostolic Succession.
10 May 2017: Following the appointment of Justin Milne as ABC chairman, Gerard Henderson writes to him as follows:
In July 1975, Richard Downing – acting in his position as ABC chairman – took a public stand on the issue of pederasty. In a letter to the Sydney Morning Herald – published on 19 July 1975 – he called on Australians to “understand” the urges of pederasts. The letter was signed “Prof. R. Downing, Chairman, Australian Broadcasting Commission”. As you know, what was the Australian Broadcasting Commission was renamed the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in 1983. On the same day, the Sydney Morning Herald quoted the (then) ABC chairman as saying: “In general, men will sleep with young boys…”.
As the ABC’s contemporary chairman, will you disassociate the public broadcaster from comments made by Professor Downing – one of your predecessors – in 1975? If not, why not?
Does the ABC have any intention of ascertaining whether the victims of the three pederasts who appeared on the 1975 “Pederasty” program are alive today? If so, does the public broadcaster regard itself as having a duty of care with respect to these victims? If not, why not?
17 May 2017: Michael Millett, the ABC Director Government Relations, writes to Gerard Henderson on behalf of the ABC as follows:
The ABC feels there is nothing to be gained in revisiting this matter. The program and subsequent debate took place a long time ago and did not indicate nor set any kind of policy.
15 June 2017: Jon Stephens pleads guilty in Gosford District Local Court to a case of historic child sexual abuse against a 12 year old male ABC casual employee while on an ABC assignment near Gosford in 1981. He is sentenced to a minimum of 6 months in jail.
The ABC does not report Stephens’ conviction. Nor does the Fairfax Media. The Stephens’ case is reported by News Corp papers which reveal that the victim is currently living in a van.
Wednesday 13 September 2017: The Gosford Local District Court reduces Stephens’ term of imprisonment due to his medical condition. ABC News reports the court’s decision on its 1 pm ABC Radio News only – and then drops the story. According to Gaven Morris, Head ABC News, the Stephens case was not reported in later bulletins due to “significant bushfires in both the Hunter region and across NSW”. This ignores the fact that the Stephens case is a national story involving Australia’s public broadcaster which has given extensive coverage over many years to historic abuse cases particularly in the Catholic and Anglican churches throughout Australia.
15 September 2017: In an email to Gerard Henderson defending the ABC’s (meagre) coverage of Stephens case (see above), Gaven Morris declines to address the issue as to whether the ABC has adopted a duty of care to Stephens’ victim.
21 February 2018: Communications Minister Mitch Fifield advises Senator Eric Abetz that the ABC first became aware of Stephens’ victim in September 2016. He also advises that the ABC’s investigation into this issue (which commenced in August 2017) will conclude in June 2018.
27 February 2018: In her appearance before Senate Estimates, ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie says that she was not aware of the Stephens case until June 2016 – around nine months after Stephens’ victim raised the matter with the ABC. Ms Guthrie confirms that the ABC has not attempted to make contact with Stephens’ victim (who first approached the ABC in September 2016) but had expended taxpayer funds by engaging an “independent barrister” to advise on the case.
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“The ABC and Pedophilia Time Line” leads to the following conclusions:
▪ Both Jim Spigelman (the ABC’s past chairman) and Justin Milne (the ABC’s present chairman) do not accept any responsibility for the statements and inaction on pedophilia by Professor Richard Downing (a former ABC chairman). This despite the fact that some ABC presenters and journalists have demanded that the Anglican and Catholic church leaders take responsibility for any inaction on pedophilia by their predecessors. There is no evidence that any Church leader made sympathetic statements on pedophilia of the kind made by Professor Downing, on behalf of the ABC, in 1975. If this had been the case, it surely would have been reported on the ABC.
▪ The ABC has all but ignored the Jon Stephens case. This despite the fact that ABC presenters and journalists have reported the conviction for historic pedophile offences by employees in the commercial media and elsewhere.
▪ The ABC will not say whether it has a duty of care to Jon Stephens’ victim while it sets out to discover the relationship between the talent agency which apparently engaged Stephens’ victim for work on Stephens’ ABC TV program (the victim, who is reported to be living in a van, would be around 50 today). This despite the fact that many ABC presenters and journalists have advocated that victims of historic child sexual abuse in Christian institutions receive counselling and generous financial compensation immediately.
As promised above, this is a complete copy of the email which Q&A presenter Tony Jones sent at 4.27 pm on Friday 2 March 2018 to the audience selected for this week’s Q&A.
As it turned out, many of the the questions canvassed by your man Jones were covered last Monday. The notable exception was the proposed question on President Donald Trump’s announcement that the United States will impose tariffs on steel and aluminium imports. How interesting that the most relevant question for this week’s politics was not canvassed on Q&A last Monday.
We’re looking forward to seeing you on Monday 5th March at 8.30pm at the ABC Studios – 700 Harris Street, Ultimo – for another exciting Q&A hosted by Tony Jones.
Answering YOUR questions:
Author, Home Fire Kamila Shamsie
Minister for Law Enforcement and Cybersecurity Angus Taylor
Labor Deputy Leader Tanya Plibersek
Greens Leader Richard Di Natale
Political editor, The Daily Telegraph Sharri Markson
The questions are up to you, so what will you ask?
Slurs in Canberra – Jobs Minister Michaelia Cash sparked a furore by threatening to name young women in Bill Shorten’s office “about whom rumours abound.” The minister’s comments were slammed by Tanya Plibersek, but Malcolm Turnbull excused her by saying she had been bullied and provoked. Sharri Markson, the reporter who lifted the lid on the private life of Barnaby Joyce, says the slurs and innuendo now dominating Canberra will make it harder for women to make it in politics. Michaelia Cash is a former Minister for Women; next Thursday is International Women’s Day.
Slinging mud – The Cash comments came amidst a heated atmosphere in Parliament. Labor front-bencher Kim Carr compared Liberal Senator James Paterson to a member of Hitler Youth and the Government launched a remorseless attack on the character of Bill Shorten as part of its ‘Kill Bill’ strategy. It culminated in Peter Dutton referring to problems in the private lives of senior Labor MPs. Does Angus Taylor condone this kind of attack?
Terror in the family – What happens when your brother joins ISIS? Kamila Shamsie’s provocative new novel Home Fire explores the competing loyalties that devastate a British Pakistani family when their son joins ISIS and becomes an enemy of the state. In Australia we’ve seen examples of radicalised youth destroying their families. And in Iraq now, families with an ISIS relative are being interred in camps and denied basic rights. Should these people lose their citizenship because of a family member?
Campus cruelty – A report this week described the appalling treatment meted out to young university students in hazing and initiation rituals. Tanya Plibersek, Shadow Education Minister, has foreshadowed the use of fines and even criminal penalties against colleges and their students if behaviour does not change.
Batman showdown – Richard Di Natale is working night and day to help the Greens prevail in the forthcoming by-election for the inner Melbourne seat of Batman, held by Labor for decades, and Tanya Plibersek and her colleagues are doing their best to hold the fort. Questions have been asked about the behaviour of the Greens candidate but Labor is fighting a longer-term trend towards the Greens in inner-city seats.
Clash on coal – North Queensland’s proposed Adani coalmine is a long way away from the streets of Batman, but the mine is nevertheless a huge issue in the Melbourne suburbs. Bill Shorten was accused this week of having a bet each way on Adani after environmentalist Geoff Cousins said the Labor leader had promised to consider revoking the mine’s licence if he won government.
Tough talk on tax – The Government must be starting to wonder who its friends are. Ken Henry, NAB chairman and former Treasury head, has criticised the narrowness of the tax agenda and attacked the bipartisan failure to achieve substantial reform. Elizabeth Proust, chairwoman of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, says the Government has done nothing to engender trust in the community. While both back the proposed corporate tax cuts, they say much broader reform is required. Angus Taylorhas a background in economics, what is his response?
Controlling guns – As Law Enforcement Minister, Angus Taylor oversaw the gun amnesty which saw 57,000 weapons surrendered – including a rocket launcher. How does he respond to moves by the Tasmanian Liberal government to ease gun controls? In the US, President Trump has stunned critics and alarmed the gun lobby by supporting some firearms restrictions and defying the National Rifle Association.
Trump’s tariffs – The battle to get rid of tariffs was fought and won more than a quarter of a century ago in Australia, but the decision by Donald Trump to impose hefty tariffs on steel and aluminium imports has raised the spectre of international trade wars and a bruising stand-off with China, with us caught in the middle. Does Richard Di Natale think Australia went too far in its determination to decrease protection?
These are some of the topics but the questions are up to YOU.
PLEASE SEND IN YOUR QUESTIONS BY 1PM MONDAY BY REPLYING TO THIS EMAIL. PLEASE DO NOT SEND IN QUESTIONS VIA OUR WEBSITE – JUST REPLY TO THIS EMAIL.
QUESTIONS SHOULD BE SHORT, SHARP, TO THE POINT RATHER THAN LONG COMMENTARIES. PLEASE DO NOT SEND ATTACHMENTS.
WE ENCOURAGE ALL AUDIENCE MEMBERS TO SUBMIT QUESTIONS.
PLEASE EMAIL US AS SOON AS POSSIBLE IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO ATTEND ON MONDAY AND WE’LL TRY OUR BEST TO FIT YOU IN ON ANOTHER OCCASION
Your cooperation is appreciated.
We look forward to receiving your questions!
The Q&A Team
ABC TV Ultimo, NSW
(02) 8333 4065/4329
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Until next time.
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