ISSUE – NO. 408

1 June 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.

* * * *

  • Stop Press: Labor Indecision on ABC Funding

  • Editorial: Justin Milne’s Defence of the ABC Ignores Key Criticisms

  • Can You Bear It? Scott Burchill; Jacqueline Maley & Paul Bongiorno

  • MWD Update: Saul Eslake Apologises for Gestapo Hyperbole (But Not for KGB Hyperbole)

  • New Feature – Report from Sandalista Land: The Monthly’s Erik Jensen & Helen Garner Drink Cocktails in Fitzroy

  • An ABC Update Exclusive: Jon Faine Acknowledges ABC’s Historic Child Sexual Abuse; Also, Sabra Lane’s Howler on the Catholic Church

  • New Feature – Jackie (Dip Wellness) on Environmental Balance in Sydney – Earth Hour versus Vivid

  • Outside Outsiders: In which Ross Cameron Declares that there is no Political Orthodoxy in Communist China

  • History Corner: The Museum of Australian Democracy’s Error Corrected re Robert Menzies & Enid Lyons

  • Correspondence: Jacqueline Maley & The Red Bandannaed One’s ARM Help Out


Wasn’t it great to see the leftist [Surely, you should say “progressive” – MWD Editor] think tank The Australia Institute channelling the ABC about the ABC in Canberra this week?  As in holding a Politics in the Pub “debate” at the Australian National University on “The Future of the ABC” – where everyone agreed with everyone else in a left-of-centre kind of way.

The speakers were broadcaster and writer Genevieve Jacobs, journalist and author Quentin Dempster, the Shadow Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland and Greens Spokesperson for Communications Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.  The function was chaired by Australia Institute supremo Ben Oquist.  As befits a discussion about the ABC at The Australia Institute – the event turned out to be a Conservative Free Zone.

MWD understands that former ABC journalists Genevieve Jacobs and Quentin Dempster were critical of the Turnbull government’s freezing of ABC funding increases over the next three years – and that Michelle Rowland and Sarah Hanson-Young agreed, as did Ben Oquist.  It was one of those occasions, familiar to ABC followers, where Quentin agreed with Genevieve who agreed with Michelle who agreed with Sarah who agreed with Ben who agreed with Quentin who agreed with himself.  Or something like that.

The only surprise during the evening – as reported by Michael Koziol in today’s Sydney Morning Herald  –  was that Michelle Rowland refused to say whether a Labor government would undo the Turnbull government’s budget funding with respect to the ABC if it wins the next election. Ms Rowland merely replied that the Opposition was “looking very closely” at the issue.  That’s all.

The fact is that many Labor Party operatives well understand that ABC journalists invariably attack both the Coalition and Labor – from the left.  In other words, the Green/Left ethos which prevails at the ABC is hostile to both the Coalition and Labor in government.  MWD awaits with interest Labor’s policy re ABC funding – and what will happen next time the Labor Party wins government.



Yesterday Fairfax Media newspapers ran an article by ABC chairman Justin Milne. In the Sydney Morning Herald it was headed: “Don’t be fooled by the battle being waged against the ABC.”

It was a version of the familiar puff-piece produced by the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s PR unit.  Early on, Mr Milne declared:

The ABC is an organisation known intimately to every Australian and about which every one of us has an opinion. The letters pages of newspapers contain a steady stream of bouquets and brickbats for the public broadcaster. Yet according to pollsters, with around 80 per cent support, the ABC is the most trusted media organisation in the country by a very wide margin. It is one of the few organisations to maintain trust when confidence in institutions everywhere has declined.

Yawn. If the ABC is the most trusted media organisation  in the country – how come its ratings are only a fraction of the “80 per cent” figure?  For example, why do Channel 9 News and Channel 7 News consistently rate higher than ABC News?

The ABC chairman put his name to a 700 word piece which did not contain the name of one person.  Not one.  Mr Milne did not address the fact that his friend,  Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, has been a recent critic of aspects of ABC news and current affairs reporting, along with the public broadcaster’s unwillingness to correct errors.  And the ABC chairman avoided the fact that the ABC is a Conservative Free Zone without one conservative presenter, producer or editor of any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets.

Justin Milne tried the tactic – which was once familiar in the public service – that any funding cuts to the ABC could only be made in popular areas.  So he warned about the “likely” demise of “popular programming like Four Corners, Australian Story, Gruen or Sea Change”. As distinct from, say, shutting down one or more of the ABC five television stations in the capital cities.  Moreover, Mr Milne overlooked his own failure, as ABC chairman, to achieve what he regards as adequate government funding.  Instead he cited a list of the ABC’s (anonymous) public enemies in the final paragraph of his Fairfax Media piece – which excluded the Turnbull government which currently determines the public broadcaster’s budget:

Australians should not be fooled by the current battle being waged against public broadcasting. Fringe political interests, populists and commercial media all have a shared interest in weakening the ABC and confining it to market failure activities. Each would benefit in their own way from a poorer, less capable, less nosey and less relevant ABC. The question is whether the people of Australia would be better served. The overwhelming majority of Australians, like me, would think not.

So there you have it. According to the ABC’s chairman, there are no valid criticisms of the public broadcaster and how it spends over $1 billion of taxpayers’ money each year. All its critics belong to “fringe” political groups or are “populists” or “commercial” rivals.  It’s called denial.

As to the suggestion that the ABC should not be confined to “market failure activities” (meaning that the ABC should not cover only areas like the arts which are mainly ignored by commercial media) – well, precisely who argues this today?  Mr Milne named no names. This is a straw man argument.

In fact, as MWD recalls, the last person to have run the line that the ABC should be a “market failure broadcaster” is former ABC managing director and (so called) editor-in-chief Mark Scott.  Nice Mr Scott did so in an interview with Dan Sabbagh, which was published in The Guardian on 16 May 2011.  Confused? MWD is. Mr Milne needs a new researcher and a new script writer.

Can You Bear It?


Wasn’t it great to see Scott Burchill, who holds the exalted position of senior lecturer in international relations at Deakin University in suburban Melbourne, back doing the “Newspapers” gig on ABC TV News Breakfast program on Tuesday?

As avid readers are aware, Dr Burchill (for a doctor he is) tends to plan his News Breakfast appearances on a day when he is off to the tip.  And dresses accordingly.  Thanks to avid reader, and News Breakfast co-presenter, Michael Rowland for providing this pic of your man Burchill in his off-to-the-tip gear last Tuesday – it came with a “Hi” from the man himself. [You picked it. I can’t imagine an academic fronting up in such gear merely to teach a class at Deakin University’s Burwood campus. – MWD Editor.]

The Moment when Scott Burchill says a “Hi” to Gerard Henderson
Photo by Michael Rowland

In any event, on Tuesday News Breakfast’s Virginia Trioli understood the occasion and introduced her “Newspapers” segment commentator as follows:

Virginia Trioli: Let’s take a look at what’s making news in print and online this morning. And we’re joined by “The Man from the Tip” himself – Dr Scott Burchill, senior lecturer in international relations at Deakin University.  It’s an inside joke – don’t worry about it.

The Man from the Tip discussed superannuation followed by President Trump and Korea (with Donald J. Trump as the loser – yawn), followed by the latest Italian political crisis followed by, of course, Tony Abbott.

Virginia Trioli: Just quickly and finally – let’s just have a look at your last topic which pulls the Russian issue back to Australia.

Scott Burchill: Yes. Well [indistinct] that Mr Abbott decided he was going to shirtfront Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit, he now wants to have the Russian envoy expelled because of the revelations from the Dutch, Australian and other enquiries into the downing of the MH-17. I’m not sure whether this will come to anything, to be honest. I think Mr Abbott’s now one of these guys in the wings who’s just trying to stay in the headlines and appear to be more pure than the government. But there’s nothing to be gained and I don’t think the Russians are going to move anyway.

Michael Rowland: No. But I think he is reflecting simmering public anger.

Scott Burchill: Sure.

Michael Rowland: Over what Russia did, according to the investigation –

Scott Burchill: Sure, but I mean the Americans shot down an Iranian air liner, killing 269 people in 1988 and never apologised. In fact, they gave the captain of the USS Vincennes a medal for doing it. So, these things are not always – guilt and responsibility are not always on one side.

Virginia Trioli: Are you defending the Russians this morning?

Scott Burchill: I have to sometimes.

Michael Rowland: Da.

Scott Burchill: Da.

Michael Rowland: Da.

Scott Burchill: Da. I have to. It’s in my interests. You just don’t realise this.

Virginia Trioli: No, No I realise it.

Scott Burchill: It’s behind the scenes.

Virginia Trioli: Sure. I’m just wishing Gerard good morning as he listens to that.

Yeah. And Good Morning to you too La Trioli. As for Scott Burchill – well, what a load of absolute tosh. It seems that Dr Burchill has joined Outsiders co-presenter Ross Cameron as one of Vladimir Putin’s besties Down Under.

Scott Burchill ignored all the evidence of the Joint Investigation Team (comprising Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine) which concluded that Malaysian Airlines MH17 had been shot down over eastern Ukraine by a surface-to-air missile owned by the Russian Army.

Instead Deakin University’s senior lecturer threw the switch to moral equivalence and said that the United States had shot down Iran Air Flight 655 over the Persian Gulf in July 1988. Well, that happened – when USS Vincennes (incorrectly) believed that it was about to be attacked by an Iranian Air Force jet.

In 1996, the US expressed “deep regret” for the incident. Yet Scott Burchill told ABC viewers that the US never apologised for the incident and gave the USS Vincennes captain “a medal” for shooting down the Iranian airliner. This statement is false.  The captain was awarded the Legion of Honour but the citation contained no reference to Flight 655. Also, the United States paid $US 61 million in compensation to the families of the victims and paid for a replacement of the plane – facts not mentioned by Scott Burchill. Can You Bear It?


On 20 May, the Sun-Herald ran a piece by Jacqueline Maley titled “The Liberal Party’s women problem” – which commenced as follows:

Ask any Liberal about female representation within the party, and he or she will proudly point to Enid Lyons. Lyons was the first female member of federal Parliament, and she was a Liberal – first elected in 1943, then re-elected twice with increased majorities. In 1949, Robert Menzies appointed Lyons the vice-president of the executive council, making her the first female member of cabinet.

This comment is incorrect – but understandably so. Enid Lyons was first elected to the House of Representatives as an United Australia Party (UAP) candidate at the Federal election on 21 August 1943. The Liberal Party of Australia, which succeeded the UAP, was not formed until late 1944/early 1945. Enid Lyons moved to the Liberal Party when it was created.

It was the intention of MWD to make this point – and leave it as that.  However, later in her piece, Jacqueline Maley made the following assertion:

Both Turnbull and Treasurer Scott Morrison made a point of publicly praising [Ann] Sudmalis as an excellent MP, reflecting the political reality that its lack of female representation appears to be costing the party votes.

Only 35 per cent of women voted Liberal at the last election, and that number has declined over several elections. When Julia Gillard became prime minister, Labor received a 7 per cent bump in its female vote. As one senior Victorian Liberal says: “You can’t win and hold government if a significant part of the population doesn’t see themselves represented”.

Now clearly, this is a howler.  Men and women are roughly in equal numbers in Australia.  Moreover, Malcolm Turnbull led the Coalition to a narrow victory in the July 2016 election. So if the Coalition received only 35 per cent of the female vote, then it must have received around 65 per cent of the male vote – an incredibly high number.

Now, MWD has a policy of not focusing on obvious errors/typos, misspellings and the like – since everyone makes them.  So Hendo emailed Ms Maley to ask whether the 35 per cent figure was a typographical error – and perhaps she meant, say “45 per cent”. He also suggested that she might have focused on the Liberal Party segment of the total Coalition vote.  This would have been an error rather than a typo – since Liberal Party women living in seats held by the Nationals cannot vote for the Liberals.  But at least it would have explained the 35 per cent figure.

Guess what?  Hendo’s courteous questions were met with resentment, even hostility – and he did not receive an answer to this query.  For more read MWD’s (hugely popular) Correspondence segment.  Alas, Jacqueline Maley has joined the list of journalists who spend their careers asking questions of others but refuse to answer questions directed to themselves.  Can You Bear It?


Did anyone hear Paul Bongiorno’s comment piece on the ABC Radio National Breakfast last Tuesday?  Bonge is one of two leftist weekly commentators on the program – along with Buzzfeed’s Alice Workman. The other commentators are journalists Michelle Grattan, Peter Van Onselen and Phil Coorey – none of whom would regard themselves as conservative. Nothing here to dent the reality of the taxpayer funded public broadcaster as a Conservative Free Zone.

Towards the end of your man Bongiorno’s interview with presenter Hamish Macdonald, discussion turned to China.  And Bonge hit the switch to hyperbole.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Hamish Macdonald: There’s also this report suggesting that Bob Carr was effectively drafting questions for various Labor figures to ask in Parliamentary Committee hearings. Do we know whether that’s true? I mean, he denies it emphatically and this all centres around an individual called John Garnaut – a former China correspondent who did some work on this report for the Prime Minister’s Office.

Paul Bongiorno: Well, let me say – Bob Carr emphatically denies he drafted anything. But let’s step back one here and say what is sinister about Bob Carr doing that, if – denies he did – but what’s sinister about it? Now we do know Carr heads up a think-tank at a respectable university that studies Australia-China relations. We do know that –

Hamish Macdonald: Which has got some backing from a key Chinese business figure who has alleged links with the Communist Party.

Paul Bongiorno: Well, listen – if you’re gonna have any links – if you’re gonna be a Chinese business leader and you’re gonna do big business in China, you’re gonna have links with the Communist Party. The whole place is the Communist Party of China. You can’t even be a news reader in China without being a member of the party.

Now these are the sorts of realities we’ve gotta come to terms with. I do have a lot of sympathy for Bob Carr’s complaint that what we’ve got here is a new anti-China zealotry that does border on a new age McCarthyism. You can’t have a sensible discussion about China without becoming automatically a sinister secret agent and I think as we heard Hugh White on this program last week, and he’s written a very thoughtful Quarterly Essay on it, we do have to come to terms with the fact that our economy is enmeshed with China.

Without China, Australia would be economically dead and that’s not an overstatement. We do need to come to terms with the rising influence and economic power of China in our region and we do need to juggle our relationship, our historic relationship, with of course the United States. And making it all harder for us is Donald Trump in Washington and Xi Jinping in Beijing.

What a load of absolute tosh.  Joseph McCarthy (1908-1957) was a Republican senator in the United States who made undocumented allegations that some leading Americans were card-carrying members of the Communist Party.  The term McCarthyism was used to describe individuals who made false allegations alleging treason and the like.

Paul Bongiorno seems to believe that anyone who criticises China’s policy and action in the South China sea is a zealot and “a new McCarthyism” is rife in the land.  But there is no evidence to support this view.  Likewise, Bonge’s assertion that “you can’t have a sensible discussion about China without becoming a sinister secret agent”. For example, who does Mr Bongiorno claim has been classified as a “sinister secret agent”?  Just because he or she discusses China?  Just the names will do.

As to Bonge’s claims that “without China, Australia would be economically dead” – well, that’s more hyperbole.  China does not buy Australia’s goods and services because the leadership in Beijing likes Australians.   It does so because it is in China’s interest to buy from Australia – which sells good products at market prices supported by an impartial legal system.  Bonge’s so-called analysis risks bringing in a brand new “cultural cringe”. Once it was to Britain.  Now, if Bonge has his way, it will be to China. Can You Bear It?



Last week independent economist Saul Eslake won MWD’s “Media Fool of the Week” gong for telling The Saturday Paper that Malcolm Turnbull was going to give Australian Federal Police “the kind of stop-and-demand-ID powers that the secret police in the KGB in the Soviet Union used to have, or the Gestapo”. Your man Eslake added: “It makes me want to puke.”

Richard Ferguson reported in The Australian on Tuesday that Mr Eslake has apologised for his comment in a letter to the Anti-Defamation Commission.  He accepts that his “reference to the Gestapo in this context was inappropriate”. Quite so.  But so was his reference to the KGB in the same context.



The cover story in the June 2018 edition of Morry Schwartz’s The Monthly is a wonder to behold.  Erik Jensen, the editor-in-chief of Morry Schwartz’ The [Boring] Saturday Paper, travelled all the way from Schwartz Publications’ base in Carlton to Gertrude Street, Fitzroy to interview Helen Garner in “Everleigh” where the two met for drinks.

How appropriate.  After all The Everleigh Melbourne declares that it is an “intimate cocktail bar for class or custom cocktails with old-world décor like chesterfields and deer heads”. A kind of mix between the Paris Commune and the Savage Club.

The writer Helen Garner is a card-carrying member of Melbourne’s inner-city luvvie Sandalista Set. As Jackie’s (male) co-owner recalls, she once wrote an entire column for The Age (where else?) about purchasing a pair of leather sandals.  Really.  So it is appropriate that she and Erik Jensen met up at The Everleigh and, presumably, partook in the Bartender’s Choice.  Here it is:

Whilst our small menu is ever changing and always displays a great selection of cocktails, we aim to tailor your drink to your individual tastes and desires. When encouraging our guests to order according to Bartender’s Choice, we discuss what fresh fruits, flavours, spirits and style of drink you feel like before selecting a suitable much loved or forgotten classic. The Everleigh boasts one of the largest classic cocktail book selections in the world displayed within our in-house library, allowing us to offer a fantastically broad selection of drinks in various styles.

In this (media) day and age, the only journalist with an expense account which could cover cocktails at The Everleigh would be someone who works for the multi-millionaire and former property developer Morry Schwartz.  Like Mr Jensen.  Now let’s go to the interview.

First up, Ms Garner told Mr Jensen that she was most reluctant to do (more) interviews and to have her photo taken.  Young Erik’s piece in The Monthly,   titled “Hotel Golf”, runs for a whole eleven pages.  And there are four full page photographic portraits of the writer, including the cover shot, involving one change of gear.  So it seems that Ms Garner is not such a recluse after all.

What do we learn about Helen Garner and Erik Jensen from their literary tango in Gertrude Street?  Well, MWD focuses on the following highlights:

  • On Ms Garner’s Anger

Here’s a mention in Erik Jensen’s The Monthly piece on Ms Garner’s problem with anger:

The first anger is domestic. She calls it “the insane rage of the person who does all the housework”. Helen says this anger was forbidden. She says, “in those days, in our circles, judgemental was a dirty word”. She says the trouble with anger is that it has to go somewhere. If it doesn’t, it will devastate everything around it.

“I’ve had moments of intense, wild, violent rage and I’ve destroyed things,” she says. “I’ve never attacked a person. I’ve thrown crockery but missed. I’ve had moments of rage where I was walking around my house with a carving knife in my hand, looking for things to destroy and destroying them, alone, having discovered an incriminating letter. I once cut up a hat from Emporio Armani with a pair of big, sharp scissors. Gee, I enjoyed that. And I threw a Le Creuset saucepan of red soup at the kitchen wall.”

How about that?   Hendo is in the fortunate position of always having given the Garner tomes good reviews.  After reading The Monthly today, he recommends this approach to others.  By the way, Hendo is very impressed that Ms Garner only exhibits anger at – or with – the most expensive gear.  An Emporio Armani hat here – a Le Creuset saucepan there. [I’m very impressed – MWD Editor]

  • On Erik Jensen’s Capacity for Literary Sludge

Your (young) man Jensen once intended to write a book on Helen Garner titled – yes, you’ve guessed it – “Hotel Golf”. Here’s how his unpublished manuscript commenced – as told by Mr Jensen himself:

The first passage goes like this:

It begins as a game to organise drinks. She writes in the subject line, “Our delta alpha tango echo”. She answers questions, “Yankee echo sierra”. She swears: “Sierra hotel india tango”. For a kiss she writes “xray”.

The next section reads:

She says, “It’s in the delta india alpha Romeo yankee”. She laughs, “Hotel alpha hotel alpha hotel alpha”. She wins the game with an unfurling acronym: “Bravo Romeo alpha victor Oscar”. She signs this correspondence with her initials:  “Hotel Golf”

In his piece in The Monthly, Erik Jensen concedes that he now realises “how terrible” the above is. Apparently, it took him some years to come to this conclusion. [Could your man Mr Jensen lack a sense of self-awareness? – MWD Editor]

  • On Ms Garner’s Reading Habits

This is what Erik Jensen had to say about Ms Garner’s goodness:

Helen is good. She always pays her fare on trams. When she uses the self-service counter in supermarkets, it never occurs to her she could run through the eschalots as cheap brown onions.  The suggestion fascinates her. She is silly. She is the only person I know who uses the “blowing reeds” emoji in her text message. Sometimes, when she is talking about herself, she uses the “angel” emoji.

She puts her own books in street libraries, then goes back to check on them.  “I just stick one in,” she says. “And I always look the next day to see if it’s still there and it never is.  Otherwise I wouldn’t go back.” She is constantly reading but the books never stay in her head.  She is the member of two reading groups,  one for classics and one for drinking.  She is enthusiastic about Pierre Bayard’s How To Talk About Books You Haven’t Read. She has finished it twice. “It’s very good.”

How about that? As avid MWD readers are aware, Pierre Baynard’s How To Talk About Books You Haven’t Read is one of Hendo’s favourite tomes. See MWD Issue 399. [That’s all very well.  But have you read it? – MWD Editor.]

There is more like this.  Much more.  MWD recommends the June 2018 issue of The Monthly for an insight into how the pretentious literary luvvies live in Sandalista Central.



Lotsa thanks to the avid reader who drew MWD’s attention to the following exchange between “Kevin from Hillside” and ABC Radio 774 presenter Jon Faine on Mornings with Jon Faine last Wednesday.  According to MWD’s research, Mr Faine is the first ABC journalist to acknowledge the fact that the public broadcaster has a problem with historic child sexual abuse – which it refuses to report in its own news bulletins.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Kevin (from Hillside): But isn’t it also true that the ABC had some pedophilia issues and never reported them?

Jon Faine: Indeed, a long time ago there were some people who worked here who engaged in inappropriate conduct and behaviour for which – well, the assurance given is that it could not happen again. And it was all, what, thirty or so years ago?

Kevin: Yeah it was in the 40s [sic] when one of your senior people said it was okay for men to sleep with boys.

Jon Faine: Yeah a long time ago, yeah. People who are not even alive anymore, in fact Kevin.

In fact, the ABC’s pedophile problem seems to have been prevalent in the late 1970s and early 1980s.  And it was in 1975 – not the 1940s – that ABC chairman Professor Richard Downing declared that “in general, men will sleep with young boys”. Professor Downing made this statement in his official capacity as chairman of the ABC – it has never been contradicted by ABC management.  Also, in 1975 the ABC allowed three self-confessed pederasts to be interviewed in the ABC’s Sydney studio without reporting the matter to NSW Police.

ABC journalists have never accepted the line that it “it-was-all-a-long-time-ago” when reporting historical child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, the Anglican Church or other religious institutions. However, at least Jon Faine has acknowledged a problem with “inappropriate conduct and behaviour” at the ABC which took place “a long time ago”.  And that’s a start.


While on the topic of the ABC and pedophilia, here’s how AM presenter Sabra Lane introduced a report yesterday on the National Redress for victims of child sexual abuse in government, religious and secular institutions:

Sabra Lane: The Federal government expects to announce as early as today that more institutions will be joining the National Redress scheme to compensate survivors of child sexual abuse. The Catholic Church signed up yesterday and that was a significant commitment as more than 60 per cent of sex abuse survivors who gave evidence to the Royal Commission reported the abuse happened in Catholic run institutions. But there are still concerns the scheme is flawed and could re-traumatise survivors. George Roberts reports.

This is totally false.  According to the report of the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Assault, more than 60 per cent of individuals who reported child sexual assault in religious institutions were in a Catholic institution.  In other words, Ms Lane’s 60 per cent figure ignores the fact that sexual abuse also took place in government and secular institutions – that is, outside religious institutions.

Most of the crimes studied by the Royal Commission occurred in the late 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s.  Around this time, about 80 per cent of children in religious institutions would have been in Catholic institutions – since the Catholic Church ran many more schools, orphanages and hospitals than any other religious organisation at the time.  In other words, offending on a per capita basis seems to have been lower in Catholic institutions than in other religious institutions.

All this is explained in MWD Issues 348 and 380 and in Gerard Henderson’s column in The Weekend Australian on 4 February 2017.

There is no excuse for the ignorance of AM and its presenter Sabra Lane in this instance.  Especially since AM is regarded by many as ABC’s most important news and current affairs program.  But don’t expect a correction – the public broadcaster rarely acknowledges errors.



MWD’s Avid Reader’s Question:  “I feel that a certain balance is lacking in my life.  What should I do?” – Unbalanced, Gunnedah.

Jackie (Dip. Wellness): I would recommend a re-location to Sydney, where you will find balance across a range of areas.  Take light, for example.  I support the Summer Earth Hour each year – where Sydneysiders are encouraged to turn off their lights at a certain time in the evening to save the planet. And I support the Winter Vivid Festival each year – where Sydneysiders are encouraged to visit certain sites in the evening to admire extra lights which literally flood the city.

It’s all a matter of balance.  Lights off – to save the planet.  And lights turned up – to raise morale.  It works for me.


It’s good news that The Rant is back on Sky News’ Outsiders, at least.  At the start of the 9 am program last Sunday, co-presenter Ross Cameron commenced this morning with a rant about China.  It commenced like this:

Ross Cameron: I want to talk today about China [pronounced Chine-arrr], which is one of the areas where people disagree with me. And our attitude to China [pronounced Chine-arrr] reminds me a little bit of in primary school when a new kid arrives in the class and the head of the gang, of the incumbent, says: “We don’t like him” – and puts out the word that in relation to the new kid, he has got to have his head held under the water. And he should be challenged about the contents of his lunch box. And he should be teased about having girl’s germs. And he should be generally made to feel unwelcome. And this is this ancient sort of tribal, insider/outsider group.

But I have not been persuaded that China [pronounced Chine-arrr] – that the rise of China – should be resisted, supressed and that China should be insulted and embarrassed at every opportunity. And I’m just one citizen, but I see, I note, that the gang, that the good old boys of the intelligence establishment of the government of the deep state have decided that China [pronounced Chine-arrr] is this threat which much be constantly rubbed, rubbing of the bruise.

And I just think it’s so important that we should be allowed to ask questions. That we should be allowed to disagree. We should be allowed to be sceptical. Indeed, some would say that Socrates, some would argue that he was the greatest human of all. There would naturally be dispute about that – as there should be. But Socrates permanently asked questions and Plato talks about the frustration people had that Socrates was never answering questions but always asking them. And so, I am asking a question. The big questions….

And so it went on. And on.  And on – with Ross Cameron praising the Communist Party of China and alleging that Western intelligence agencies are intent on holding “China’s head under water”. Really. How about that?  Then, just when you thought that your man Cameron’s infatuation with Marcus Aurelius was all but consummated, he tells Outsiders viewers that his heart belongs to Socrates.  Talk about two-timing.

Later on, after an advertisement break, Mr Cameron went on to run the argument that if China wants to control the South China Sea – then, let China have it.  It is a matter of record that Outsiders’ co-host Rowan Dean did not concur.  Your man Cameron went on to assert – without evidence of course – that “we never hear the Chinese voice in the Australian media” – only “the CIA voice”.

Since the likes of Bob Carr and Hugh White are frequently heard voicing their views on China in the Australian media – it can only be concluded that Ross Cameron reckons that Messrs Carr and White – who are generally regarded as sympathetic to Beijing – express “the CIA voice”.  How delusional can you get?

In recent years China’s attempt to dominate the South China Sea has upset the governments of not only the United States and Australia – but also the governments of Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia and India.  But according to Ross Cameron, China is being bullied.  Moreover, the idea that China’s opponents are based in the “deep state” that is US intelligence is quite bizarre.  Also – as mentioned above – Ross Cameron’s idea that supporters of China in the West are being silenced is just delusional.  If this is the case, why are the likes of Hugh White, Bob Carr and Ross Cameron heard so frequently in the land?

Ross Cameron concluded his China rant with the following comment:

I must admit I visit Shanghai or Beijing to get away from political correctness. To go back to the spirit of The Enlightenment.

Turn it up.  The idea that there is no Chinese version of political correctness is bizarre.  Try going to a bar in Shanghai or Beijing and saying (i) Mao Zedong was a mass murderer, (ii) China is an authoritarian state without freedom of expression and/or (iii) Taiwan is not part of China – and see what happens. It seems that the Outsiders co-presenter is unaware that political correctness not only prevails in China – but that China has a state ideology which all Chinese citizens are expected to follow.



As avid readers will recall (See MWD Issue 243), in September 2014 Gerard Henderson corrected the dates on a display at the Museum of Australian Democracy concerning the Labor Split of the mid-1950s.

Thanks to Anne Henderson, Jackie’s (female) co-owner, for finding this error in the Museum’s document titled “On This Day: the death of Joe Lyons” which reads in part:

On this day in 1939, Prime Minister Joseph Aloysius Lyons died in Sydney. He was 59 years old, and left a large family including his wife Dame Enid and eleven children…. Lyons’ death was the first of a sitting Prime Minister. The country was in mourning for one of its most popular and respected leaders.

The deputy leadership of the UAP was vacant, because Robert Menzies had resigned just weeks before and no successor had been chosen. The Governor-General, Lord Gowrie, therefore appointed the leader of the Country Party, Earle Page, as Prime Minister until the UAP could choose a new leader.

After a short period with Page as PM, the UAP elected a new leader and Menzies was chosen. It wasn’t a landslide. While accounts differ as to how many votes each candidate got, Menzies is generally regarded as having had quite a narrow win against, among others, Billy Hughes and Richard Casey. Page did not like Menzies at all, and in Parliament he made a vicious speech accusing Menzies of cowardice for not having fought in World War I. Dame Enid never forgave Page or spoke to him again.

And now for some facts.

  • When Joseph Lyons died in office on 7 April 1939, William Morris Hughes was the most senior figure in the United Australia Party – Robert Menzies having resigned from the Lyons government and stepped down as UAP deputy leader on 20 March 1939.

Neither Hughes nor Menzies had an automatic right of succession when Lyons died.  The choice of prime minister was one for the membership of the parliamentary United Australia Party to decide.  The Governor-General appointed Sir Earle Page – the leader of the Country Party and effective deputy prime minister – as prime minister pending the UAP’s decision as to who its next leader should be.  The UAP met on 18 April 1939 and Menzies defeated Hughes in the final ballot.  Menzies was sworn in as prime minister on 26 April 1939.

  • Enid Lyons and Earle Page enjoyed a friendly relationship before and after Joseph Lyons’ death. It was Pattie Menzies, not Enid Lyons, who never forgave Sir Earle Page for his attack on her husband Robert Menzies in the House of Representatives in 1939.

The Museum of Australian Democracy says the following about the author of its note on the death of Joe Lyons.

Campbell [Rhodes] has been the Curatorial Officer at the Museum since 2012 and has worked in the sector for almost a decade. He is passionate about telling stories through objects and activities, and equally passionate about the hopelessly large pile of books he hasn’t got around to reading yet.

MWD suggests that your man Rhodes reads Anne Henderson’s Joseph Lyons: The People’s Prime Minister (UNSW Press, 2011) as soon as possible.

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).


As readers of MWD’s (hugely popular) Can You Bear It? segment this week will be aware, Fairfax Media’s Jacqueline Maley went into “No Comment” mode and declined to answer Jackie’s (male) co-owner’s questions about the Liberal Party and women. Hendo is a courteous kind of guy – having been well brought up – and answers questions about his own writings.  But not, alas, Ms Maley – despite the fact that she also exhibits signs of being well brought up.  Now read on.

Gerard Henderson to Jacqueline Maley – 23 May 2018


Interesting piece last Sunday re the Liberal Party and women.

I just wanted to check one point. Was the reference to 35 per cent of women voting Liberal in the 2016 a misprint? – since it would imply that the Coalition got the support of around 66 per cent of men.

Or does the figure exclude women who voted for the Nationals in seats where there was no Liberal Party candidate?

I know you are busy. But I would be grateful for a brief response.

Best wishes


Gerard Henderson


Jacqueline Maley to Gerard Henderson – 23 May 2018

Hi Gerard… Can I ask what your purpose is in inquiring? J


Gerard Henderson to Jacqueline Maley – 23 May 2018


It’s just a genuine request.  If it’s accurate it is very surprising because it means that Malcolm Turnbull received less support from women than did Tony Abbott or John Howard.  I never focus on anyone’s typos of mistakes in my blog – hence my need to clarify.

Hope all is well with you….

Best wishes



Jacqueline Maley to Gerard Henderson – 23 May 2018

I don’t doubt it’s a genuine request, I’m just wondering what the purpose of it is. J


Gerard Henderson to Jacqueline Maley – 23 May 2018


I may write about your column in my Media Watch Dog on Friday.  It’s just that I don’t want to criticise the 35 per cent figure if it’s a typo and you meant 45 per cent.  As explained, it’s not my habit to pick on people’s typos.

I am surprised that journalists who expect others to answer their questions are often reluctant to respond to simple requests for information.

I was going to check the figure with Antony Green – but thought it easiest to approach you first.

In any event, it’s not a big deal. If you don’t want to respond it’s okay by me.

Best wishes



Jacqueline Maley to Gerard Henderson – 23 May 2018

Happy to respond but I can’t right now as I need to check my notes. I don’t expect anyone to answer my questions, but when I ask them I make it clear what I’m asking for. I wasn’t aware you were still writing, or who for. Thanks for clarifying. J


Gerard Henderson to Jacqueline Maley – 23 May 2018


That’s fine. No hurry.

By the way, since you expressed interest – I have been writing for The Weekend Australian each week since December 2013.  I also continue to appear on Insiders. And then there is my blog which goes up on The Sydney Institute’s website on Fridays and also appears in The Australian Online.

Best wishes




Gerard Henderson is an unfinancial member of the Australian Republic Movement – having ceased to support the ARM financially when Peter FitzSimons became its chairman.  Since Fitz is invariably bagging political and social conservatives, it’s impossible to imagine that he could unite Australians on the republic or any other issue.  Even so, the ARM keeps sending Hendo “will-you-come-back”? missives.  Being a well brought up kind of guy, he always replies – courteously, of course.  Now read on:

Sandy Bair to Gerard Henderson – 26 May 2018

G’day Gerard,

You may be surprised to hear it, but Prince Charles’ visit and the royal wedding are two of the best things that could have happened for the republic campaign.

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve had a surge in support – everyday Australians questioning how a monarchy, let alone a British monarchy could possibly be relevant to Australians today. It’s prompted a new generation of Australians to challenge the very notion that one of the most important representative roles in Australia could be given away so freely as part of an inheritance to a family who has no meaningful connection to Australia at all.

Polls conducted in the last week show a 4% increase in support compared with January this year – with opposition flat-lining at historical lows.

Over the last few years, the number of supporters who have stood up to take action has grown from a few thousand, to tens of thousands. Through the contributions of Australians from all walks of life we’ve put a republic back on the agenda.

This outpouring of support builds on the strong results of 2017 which saw the Opposition commit to a national vote; the Prime Minister float the idea of a postal plebiscite; a 60-strong bipartisan Parliamentary Friendship Group express their commitment to an Australian republic and the largest single gathering of Australian republicans in our nation’s history.

But it’s not enough. We won’t be satisfied until the referendum is won and Australians get a choice about who represents our nation as head of state.

This campaign is about people: the Australian people. It relies on Australians to use the power given to them by the Australian Constitution to demand the representation we deserve. And that’s why supporters like you are so important.

I wanted to reach out to you Gerard, as a former member of the ARMto make a special ask that you renew your membership and commitment to a republic today. The more members we have involved, the stronger our Movement will be.

We know that budgets can be tight. That’s why the ARM is offering membership at just $2 a month (or $24 annually if you prefer to contribute in one transaction).

Gerard, will you renew today and make a tangible commitment to Australia becoming a republic?

I hope to see you soon,

Sandy Biar
National Campaign Director

Gerard Henderson to Sandy Bair – 26 May 2018

G’day Sandy

I refer to your email which I received at Hangover Time last Saturday morning.

You may be surprised to hear it. However, Prince Charles’ visit and the Royal wedding are unlikely to help the republican cause – while the Australian Republic Movement remains under it present management, with Fairfax Media columnist Peter FitzSimons as its chair.

I note your comment that “everyday Australians” are questioning “how a monarchy, let alone a British monarchy could possibly be relevant to Australians today”. Good point.

But I’m here to tell you that “everyday Australians” also wonder about the relevance of a republic advocacy group which is led by a millionaire, middle-aged man, who lives in fashionable Neutral Bay – and who ridicules believers (except, of course, Muslims). The reference is to ARM’s chairman – Peter FitzSimons, aka The Red Bandannaed One.

The idea that The Red Bandannaed One is likely to rally Australians in the suburbs and the regions to support the ARM’s cause is just delusional.

So lotsa thanks for REACHING OUT to me, as a former member of the Australia Republic Movement, to re-join the ARM.  But no thanks.  I would rather spend $24 annual fee on a couple of Gin & Tonics.

Keep morale high.

Gerard Henderson

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Until next time.


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