ISSUE – NO. 410

15 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.

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  • Stop Press: Annabel Crabb Misunderstands The Victorian Liberal Party’s Legal Stoush

  • Can You Bear It? Abc Head Of Factual’s Bankcard Howler; George Negus’ One Day In Moscow; Let’s Hear It For Wendy Squires’ Mind; Matt Bevan’s Miss America/Fox News Obsession & Paul Bongiorno Feels Kim Jong-Un’s Pain

  • Five Paws Award: Step Forward Professor Carolyn Quadrio For Supporting Fr. Frank Brennan’s View On The Sacrament Of Confession And Pedophiles

  • Great Media U-Turns Of Our Time: John Barron Goes 180 Degrees On President Trump’s China Policy

  • Media Fool Of The Week: In Which Dom Knight Of The All-Male Chaser Boys (Average Age 43 ½) Bags President Trump For Not Having Sufficient Women In His Cabinet

  • Maurice Newman Segment: In Which Everyone Agreed With Everyone Else On The Drum That President Trump Is Wrong On Almost Everything

  • History Corner: ABC Tv’s Back In Time For Dinner? Serves Up A Left-Wing Sermon On The Vietnam War




Wasn’t it great to see Annabel Crabb on ABC News Breakfast this morning talking to co-presenter Virginia Trioli and Michael Rowland?  Ms Crabb had the Friday slot usually occupied by ABC TV Insiders presenter Barrie Cassidy who is in Russia on his way to France for a wedding.  Or perhaps in France for a wedding on his way to Russia.

As is the News Breakfast practice, each Friday the Insiders presenter is invited to present a Wooden Spoon to the political loser-of-the-week. Here’s what Annabel Crabb said this morning:

Michael Rowland: Who cops it [the Wooden Spoon] this week?

Annabel Crabb: Well look, I think this week I’m giving it to the Victorian Liberal Party because I just think it takes incredible skill to fall out with your own mates. They’ve been tied up in court with their major donor that they set up, the Cormack Foundation, who’ve decided not to give another penny to the Victorian Liberal Party until they make internal structural changes. Massive court case came out yesterday – the judgement came out yesterday and didn’t really sort anything out.

Virginia Trioli: Involving luminaries such as this – Michael Kroger and others. And you just – people who just don’t want to be in the headlines for those kinds of reasons.

Annabel Crabb: Exactly, yep.

Virginia Trioli: That’s a well-deserved Wooden Spoon.

What a load of absolute tosh.  In preparation for his book Menzies Child: The Liberal Party of Australia (first edition 1994), Gerard Henderson was briefed about the formation of the Cormack Foundation.  The Victorian branch of the Liberal Party of Australia sold commercial radio station 3XY in the late 1980s for $17.5 million. The proceeds were put in a trust – called the Cormack Foundation – to fund the Liberal Party in the years ahead.  There were three shareholders – two of whom formally declared that the shares were held on behalf of the Liberal Party.

The Liberal Party never sold the Cormack Foundation.  Yesterday in the Federal Court Justice Jonathan Beach found that 66 out of the original 99 shares belong to the Liberal Party.  The problem for Victorian Liberal Party president Michael Kroger and his supporters is that the Cormack Foundation issued additional shares which means that the original two-thirds ownership has been diluted to around 25 per cent.

There are legal technicalities involved – as can be discovered by reading Justice Beach’s decision in Alston v Cormack Foundation Pty Ltd.  However, Michael Kroger, Richard Alston and their supporters did the right thing by members of the Liberal Party of Victoria in seeking to control the assets of a trust fund which the Liberal Party established to fund the Liberal Party.

The current directors of the Liberal Party are entitled to fight for a situation whereby a fund established by the Liberal Party actually funds Liberal Party candidates and them alone.  However, the Cormack Foundation believes that its remit covers libertarian groups – not just the Liberal Party.

In any event, this led to a situation whereby at the 2016 Federal election the Cormack Foundation gave funds to David Leyonhjelm’s Liberal Democratic Party and to Independent Cathy McGowan in Indi.  In the marginal Victorian seats of Dunkley and La Trobe, the Liberal Democratic Party preferenced Bill Shorten’s Labor Party ahead of the Liberal Party.  While in Indi, Ms McGowan held off a challenge from Liberal Party candidate Sophie Mirabella.

It was never the intention of the Liberal Party when it set up the Cormack Foundation three decades ago that its funds should be used for parties or Independents contesting elections against endorsed Liberal Party candidates.

It seems that Annabel Crabb and Virginia Trioli have scant understanding of the history of the Victorian Liberal Party or the Cormack Foundation which it established and never sold.

As to the awarder of the Wooden Spoon – wouldn’t know.


Can You Bear It?


While on the topic of Annabel Crabb, MWD accepts that Ms Crabb wouldn’t know about how the Bankcard, Australia’s original credit card, came about.  But this should be known by the ABC’s Head of Factual

Episode 2 of Back in Time for Dinner?, hosted by Ms Crabb, is analysed in this week’s History Corner.

However, it is appropriate here to draw attention to the re-enactment in Episode 2 on the 1960s – when young Olivia heads off to the local milk bar to buy some 1960s style lollies. The year is 1966. Here’s the image:

See the till – with the Bankcard signage.  According to Back in Time for Dinner?, this purchase took place in 1966.  Funny that. Bankcard was launched in October 1974 by Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam.  Can You Bear It?


What a stunning performance by George Negus – who is described by the ABC as a “veteran journalist and former board member of the Football Federation of Australia” on ABC Radio National Breakfast on Tuesday.  The interview, which ran for an entire nine minutes, involved an exchange between presenter Hamish Macdonald and your man Negus about football (i.e. soccer) in general – very general, in fact – and Russia.  This is how the interview was described by the ABC.

The FIFA football World Cup is due to kick off in Russia on Friday morning Australian time. Australia’s first match is Saturday night when the Socceroos take on the formidable France in the Russian city of Kazan in the first round of Group C (at 8 pm AEST). It’s the first time an Eastern European country has hosted the World Cup and it comes amid ongoing diplomatic tensions between Russia and a number of Western countries.

George Negus had much to say about Russia and something to say about the World Cup.  Here’s how he wound up his long-winded account, shortly after arriving in Moscow:

George Negus: I’ve been a bit surprised by what I’ve seen and I’ve only been here for one day – but we’re gonna move about as the Socceroos move around. And I’m looking forward to seeing how much the country has changed because I thought a lot of it was faux development that happened to this country when it stopped being so-called communist. They’ve got rid of communism, but they’ve now got, they’ve now got the Mafia instead, you could say.

And a very dubious political situation to start with, whether it’s Putin or whether it’s the whole country, nobody seems to be particularly concerned about the fact that overseas he’s not held in all that high regard. It’s a strange situation. It seems to be booming and I’m not sure what the reason is, to be honest.

I haven’t been here long to make a comment about that except to say that if you can judge the development, the economic development, and progress of Russia in the post-communist period by the height of girls’ high heels and, and the shortness of their skirts, and where blokes are concerned, that they all walk around in baggy trousers with their back – with their caps on backwards. If that was a way of judging the economy, then it’s going very, very well. But I’m not sure that a lot of it is not just a look –

Hamish Macdonald: Alright

George Negus: – that the country has taken on upon itself.

Yeah – alright – thanks for stopping.   So George Negus commented on the economic development of Russia – based on “the height of girls’ high heels and the shortness of their skirts” and the very fact that blokes wear “their caps backwards”. How profound can you get? Especially after just one day in Moscow.  Can You Bear It?

[Er, no. Not really.  It seems that George is continuing a Negus tradition.  As I recall, he wrote a lightweight book titled The World from Italy after just one year in the country based on the “Italy Daily” lift-out in the International Herald Tribune – since he did not read Italian. This was reviewed by Gerard Henderson in The Sydney Institute Quarterly Issue 14, Vol 5, No 2, July 2001, see here MWD Editor.]


While on the topic of high heels, short skirts and all that, consider the plight of
columnist Wendy Squires. It is Hendo’s experience that when a male or female columnist needs some extra words to fill the required word length there is a temptation to write about the SELF.  Often with unnecessary detail.

Last Saturday, Ms Squires decided to write her column on the decision of Gretchen Carlson, who now runs the Miss America contest, to junk the swimwear segment and to focus on the contestants’ minds rather than their bodies.  This is how Wendy Squires’ “Talking Point” column commenced:

Not so long ago I went on a date with a man whose work I admired. Over dinner, we discussed local and international politics and were in perfect sync with our views. We talked religion and agreed it was not for us. He spoke of his strong belief in feminism and asked my views on how to implement policies in his business to ensure and protect women’s rights. We liked the same authors, directors and actors. Hell, he was even as obsessed with Nick Cave as I am. Talk about a meeting of the minds.

The next morning, my date sent me a text message. It was instantly deleted from my phone but I remember it verbatim. It’s hard not to. I can’t stop thinking about you, it read. You really have the most magnificent tits I’ve ever seen. Needless to say, I did not ride into the sunset with my mammary admirer, despite his oh-so-smooth parlance. But what this sorry episode did was enforce my belief women are judged on their sex appeal before their smarts.

Well now.  All MWD wishes to say here is that this blog is concerned with the MIND – not the body.  But did Age readers – if readers there were – really need details about what once appeared on the Squires phone one morning from a Nick Cave admirer?  Can You Bear It?


While on the topic of Miss America and its erstwhile swimwear feature, it’s good to know that some Aussie blokes are interested in the fate of this segment.

Step forward ABC Radio National Breakfast  news commentator Matt Bevan.  Your man Bevan is one of the many journalists on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s payroll who suffer from Trump-phobia.  Whatever is going on in the world, Mr Bevan invariably finds time to make a critical assessment of the Trump administration or of those individuals and organisations which he regards as Trump supporters.

For example, on Wednesday 6 June 2018 your man Bevan spent considerable time on the fate of Miss America – since he seemed to regard this non-story as being of lotsa interest to Australians.  Let’s go to the transcript as the ABC journalist demonstrates – once again – his obsession with the wicked Fox News (proprietor Rupert Murdoch) which he seems to regard as part of a Trump-Evil-Empire.

Matt Bevan:  So Hamish, I’ve been trawling Fox News this morning to try and see what the reaction is there.

Hamish Macdonald:  Like every other morning.

Matt Bevan:  Yes. But they are a little busy with something else, because President Trump is holding a very unusual event on the White House lawn.

Matt Bevan was trawling Fox News (yet again) because Ms Carlson used to be a Fox and Friends co-presenter until she left the company after being sexually harassed by the late Roger Ailes – she received a substantial pay-out. And Matt Bevan seriously thought that Fox News would discuss Ms Carlson’s position on the Miss America pageant. How obsessive can you get?  Can You Bear It?


While on the issue of leftist commentators on Radio National Breakfast, did anyone listen to Paul Bongiorno last Tuesday – when he gave his “I feel communist North Korea’s pain” mantra?

Earlier in the program, Hamish Macdonald interviewed former United States diplomat Christopher Hill who has spent over a decade working on resolving the conflict on the Korean Peninsula.  He had this to say:

Christopher Hill: Our troops in South Korea are not strike troops. They’re not troops there to invade North Korea. They’re configured for defensive purposes. No one knows that better than the North Koreans themselves.

Despite listening to Ambassador Hill’s comment that US troops in South Korea are there for defensive purposes, your man Bonge made the following comment:

Paul Bongiorno: It’s a wild ride, a white-knuckle ride with Donald Trump. Clearly our government will be hoping that from this summit today, from this amazing reality TV show, something real will emerge. Something to end the 70 year old, almost 70 year old hostile stalemate on the Korean Peninsula. A stalemate by the way, and certainly you would have seen this when you go up there, when you just see on the southern side of the border, the militarisation, the thousands of American troops, their visibility so high. You can understand why north of the border they’re absolutely paranoid.

Anyone who has been to the demilitarised zone on the South Korea/North Korea border will know that US troops are not all that visible – however, South Korean troops are clearly present.  There is also a heavy contingent of Northern Korean troops on the northern side of the border. Also, Mr Bongiorno ignored Ambassador Hill’s comment that the US forces near the DMZ are not strike troops. Even so, Bonge reckons that we should all understand why the Northern Korean communist regime is “absolutely paranoid”. Can You Bear It?



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

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

Following the recommendations of the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Assault, there has been much attention in Fairfax Media and on the ABC about the sacrament of confession – which is provided in the Catholic Church and some other Christian churches.  This despite the fact that few Catholics go to confession these days and there is no evidence that Catholic priests or laity confess the sin of pedophilia in confession.

Nevertheless, Fairfax Media’s Joanne McCarthy was banging on about the issue again in a column in Fairfax Media newspapers yesterday – where she called for the Catholic Church to change its teaching with respect to “the iconic issue of breaching the ‘sanctity’ of the confessional”.

It so happened that the issue was raised by The Drum presenter Julia Baird on the program on Wednesday (13 June). One of the panel members was Associate Professor Carolyn Quadrio – a member of the faculty of medicine at the University of New South Wales (UNSW). Professor Quadrio is also in private practice in child and family psychiatry, particularly in relation to sexual and inter-familial violence.  She is currently working in the field of preventing child sexual abuse.

Let’s go to the transcript where the presenter Julia Baird raises the issue of the response by the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments to the proposal that priests should be compelled to report confessions of child sexual assault to authorities:

Julia Baird: There’s some heat around the question of confession – possibly because that’s the least likely to change [following the Royal Commission’s Report]. But from your clinical perspective, how important is that?

Carolyn Quadrio: Clinically I must say I’ve got the same experience as Father Frank Brennan – who said, I think recently, that in his 30 years as a priest no one had ever confessed [pedophilia] to him. And I think the same – from the point of view of a psychiatrist. I think that people who are abusing children don’t generally go and tell the priest that they’re doing it.

Julia Baird: So that debate could be a distraction – is what you think?

Carolyn Quadrio: I think it is. I think that’s not really a big issue.

So, speaking as a psychiatrist, Professor Quadrio made the point that child sex abusers don’t tell priests or psychiatrists about their crimes.  But don’t expect the facts to change the mind of Ms McCarthy.

Professor Carolyn Quadrio: Five Paws



Jackie’s (male) co-owner just loves listening to the “Trump Tuesday” segment on ABC Radio Sydney, 774 during the Drive with Richard Glover program.

Each Tuesday Dr David Smith (for a doctor he is) rocks up from the taxpayer funded United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney – a hang-out for self-proclaimed “experts” on American politics, none of whom predicted that Donald J. Trump would defeat Hillary Clinton at the 2016 US presidential election. The head of the USSC, a certain Dr Simon Jackman (for a doctor he also is) admitted on Sky News on the night of the US presidential election that not one member of the USSC supported Donald Trump. Not one.  They were all barracking for the Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton.

So it comes as no surprise that your man Smith mocks President Trump each and every Tuesday in the segment titled “Trump Tuesday”. Here are some examples. On 29 May 2018, David Smith called President Trump a liar and added: “He’s outright lying; I mean he’s either lying or he’s doing his thing of complete indifference to the truth – which has another word and I won’t use it on air”.  Listeners – if listeners there were – had no idea what this word might be.

Then on Tuesday 5 June 2018, your man Smith did a complete rant about President Trump which included the comment that the president went out of his way to reward wealth, power and prestige in pardoning Dinesh D’Souza.  Mr D’Souza is an Indian-born commentator who arrived in the United States as a student with $500 in his pocket and became a US citizen in 1991. He does not present as having wealth, power or much prestige.  According to Smith, D’Souza is a “questionable” person – whatever that might mean.  D’Souza was convicted of making an illegal campaign donation in a 2012 US Senate campaign, hardly a major crime.

Alas, last Tuesday Dr Smith did not make it to “Trump Tuesday” and was replaced by ABC journalist John Barron, who presents Planet America on the second ABC TV channel – or is it the third, or fourth or fifth?  Your man Barron’s co-host on Planet America is Chas Licciardello, one of the original Chaser Boys (average age 431/2).  Messers Barron and Licciardello invariably use the program to mock the president.   Yawn.  By the way, John Barron also hangs out at the United States Studies Centre.

In a long 15 minute spiel last Tuesday, John Barron depicted the Trump administration as having achieved  little on the domestic front and been a disaster in the area of foreign policy. Yawn.

So wound up was John Barron, that he contradicted himself in less than minute. Let’s go to the transcript:

John Barron: Internationally, so far, he [Trump] has weakened NATO, weakened the G7, has empowered Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping of China and now Kim Jong-un of North Korea.

Richard Glover: And messed up the Iran deal.

John Barron: And messed up the Iran deal – along the way torn up the Paris Climate Treaty as well, walked away from the Trans Pacific Partnership, threatened to walk away from the North America Free Trade Agreement, slapped tariffs onto some of their closest trading partners, started a trade war with China. He’s done all of these things….

So there you have it. According to John Barron, President Trump has both “empowered” President Xi Jinping and “started a trade war with China”. So he’s pro-China and anti-China at the same time.

That’s the problem with the condition that presents as Trump-phobia. It encourages confused thought processes and leads to the occasional Great U-Turns of Our Time.



Dominic Knight is a long-time member of The Chaser Boys (average age 431/2) and the former host of Evenings on ABC Radio Sydney and across New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.  He currently appears on Triple M as the presenter of Radio Chaser.

Viewers of Sky News Extra last weekend would have seen a debate on President Donald J Trump presented by The Round Table called “Trump: Triumph or Tragedy?” which was organised by a body titled Western Heritage Australia.  Dom Knight was in the anti-Trump blue corner attacking President Trump while Tom Switzer was in the not anti-Trump red corner. The compere was the somewhat eccentric Robert Bain who played the role of a garrulous presenter in search of a hairdresser. The function was held at NSW Parliament House on 5 June 2018.

The highlight of the evening occurred when your man Knight listed Donald Trump’s attitude to women as one of what he termed “The Ten Tragedies of Trump”. Let’s go to the transcript:

Dominic Knight: Donald Trump has unleashed a war on women.  He’s done it ever since his – the guy owned… he used to own Miss Universe.  He used to own Miss USA. He has virtually no women in his cabinet.  It’s a tragedy the amount of misogyny that has followed Donald Trump’s election.  What we see in America is ruled overwhelmingly by white men. And no – the fact that he hired Ivanka does not sort out the balance there.

Turn it up.  For starters, the original Chaser Boys are all blokes – Charles Firth, Dominic Knight, Chas Licciardello, Julian Morrow and Craig Reucassel – all but one of whom went to expensive all male private schools.

The first three went to Sydney Grammar School while your boy/man Morrow went to St Aloysius’ College.  Only Craig Reucassel went to a public school – Bowral High School in the affluent Southern Highlands.

So Comrade Knight was one of the five “boys” in the all boy Chaser band. And he accuses Donald Trump of having virtually no women in his cabinet.  In fact, there are six women currently serving in the Cabinet or in Cabinet level positions in the Trump administration.   In short, there are six women in the Trump cabinet but not one sheila among the original Chaser Boys.

By the way, this is how Dom Knight commenced his speech to The Round Table – in passive/aggressive mode:

Dominic Knight: Let me begin by paying my respects to the traditional owners of this land – a particularly moot point in NSW Parliament House – elders past and present. And if you don’t like that you’re not going to like the next 20 minutes.

Wow, this is going to be interesting. Okay – I’m happy to be booed. But I’m going to say this at the start of the discussion – interjections will be responded to, so consider yourselves forewarned. There’ll be plenty of time for questions. I’m going to insist on some level of politeness as well. But if you heckle – just save it for a question. I love being heckled, I did talkback radio for six years, I enjoy it. Anyway, always always always will be Aboriginal land, screw you.

It’s lovely to be welcomed into Parliament House. Usually The Chaser, we are not welcome in Parliament House. So I’m touched to be invited, I really am.  I’m no expert on Donald Trump. But like so many of us, I wake up every single morning – I check my phone and I ask myself: “What has he done now? What is this?”

How about that? Here was one of “The Chaser Boys” telling his audience that he will “insist on some level of politeness”. Politeness?  This is the same Chaser team which specialised, with the support of the taxpayer funded public broadcaster, in trespassing on private property with a view to disrupting functions.  And, now in his forties, your man Knight demands politeness from a small number of people at NSW Parliament House.

In introducing The Chaser Boy, The Round Table presenter made the following comment:

Host: He [Dominic Knight] has only been arrested once, he informs me. I have no way of arguing with that.

Mr Knight made no attempt to correct the comment.  MWD has seen no evidence that Dominic Knight was ever arrested by police.   He was questioned by NSW Police in September 2007 following the arrest of Morrow and Reucassel for entering a restricted zone during the APEC Summit in Sydney. But this did not amount to an arrest.  Why would your man Knight try to impress the ladies and gentlemen of The Round Table in this way? – MWD hears avid readers cry.

Dominic Knight: Media Fool of the Week




Due to unprecedented demand, the re-booted Maurice Newman Segment gets another run this week. As MWD readers will know, this (hugely popular) segment is devoted to former ABC chairman Maurice Newman’s one-time suggestion that a certain “group think” might be prevalent at the ABC. And to former ABC managing director Mark Scott’s belief that there is no causal relationship between the political beliefs of ABC presenters, producers and editors and what they say (or the talent they commission) on ABC television, radio and online outlets.

In other words, Mr Newman believes that the taxpayer funded public broadcaster should be pluralist – while Nice Mr Scott reckons that it is just fine that the ABC is a Conservative Free Zone without a conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets.

Formerly this segment involved a play-off between one-time ABC TV Media Watch presenter Jonathan Holmes and Maurice Newman. However, shortly after handing over the Media Watch presenter’s chair to Paul Barry, your man Holmes conceded – at least with respect to ABC Radio – that the likes of Andrew Bolt and Gerard Henderson were correct in maintaining that the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s output was overwhelmingly leftist. See MWD Issue 329. So, Jonathan Holmes was retired from the Maurice Newman Segment and was replaced by Nice Mr Scott, who never spoke a critical word about his ABC when he was ABC managing director and (so-called) editor-in-chief. Now read on.

* * * * *

In its (2018) wisdom, ABC management has extended The Drum on ABC TV from 30 minutes to 45 minutes from Monday to Friday. Alas, on those frequent occasions when the panel is in unison – well, the extra time just extends the everyone-agrees-with-everyone experience.

And so it came to pass that last Monday when Ellen Fanning presided over a panel comprising the Sydney Morning Herald’s Peter Hartcher, Professor Ian Hickie of Sydney University’s School of Medicine and Sally Rugg from the left-wing group.

The discussion turned initially, of course, on Donald J. Trump. There was reference to President Trump’s performance at the G7 Summit in Canada followed by a preview of his meeting with Korean leader Kim Jong-un scheduled for the next day.

Peter Hartcher bagged Trump as did Ian Hickie as did Sally Rugg and their comments were endorsed by supportive laughter and the occasional endorsements from Ellen Fanning.

Ian agreed with Sally who agreed with Ian who agreed with Ellen who agreed with Sally who agreed with Peter who agreed with himself that the President was a dud who was not serious and was not able to introduce the correct form of change at the international level. No other view was heard.

In particular, Peter/Ian/Sally/Ellen were just so upset that President Trump had not been nice to Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau. Despite the fact that, as Ellen pointed out, your man Trudeau wears non-matching socks.

And now the results of this week’s Maurice Newman Segment.

Maurice Newman:                  3

Nice Mr Scott:               Zip



Isn’t it great to see Annabel Crabb, one of MWD’s faves, back on telly hosting Back in Time for Dinner? This is a Warner Bros International Television Production produced in association with the ABC.  The production team is Fiona Baker (executive producer), Kieran “Spud” Murphy (director), Julie Hanna (producer) and Steve Bibb (ABC, Head of Factual). The program focuses on the Ferrone family of five through the ages – from the 1950s until tomorrow.

As the ABC blurb puts it:

In each of the series’ seven episodes, this food-loving Australian family of five is throwing away their culinary comforts and kitchen appliances, smartphones and snapchat, and turning their back on its 21st Century lifestyle. The Ferrones are embarking on an extraordinary time-travelling adventure from 1950 to the future, to discover how the way we shopped, cooked, and ate has shaped our modern-day lives….

As Annabel Crabb guides the Ferrones, an everyday Australian family, through the different decades, Back in Time for Dinner offers a unique opportunity to tap into the social, economic, and political imperatives of our times. The family’s own home is meticulously transformed back in time from the 50s all the way to present day and finally into the future. Following carefully researched recipes they’ll source, cook, and eat the same meals as everyday Australian families in each era. The family will live through the highs, lows and challenges that shaped family life in the 20th Century. With the visually compelling transformation of the house, the soundtrack of the decades, and extraordinary ABC archival material, Back in Time for Dinner is rich with the pleasure of recollection and nostalgia as well as the jaw dropping disbelief at how quite alien the world was not so long ago!

As MWD has pointed out previously, some years ago even the ABC’s gardening expert, Peter Cundall, was a one-time member of the Communist Party of Australia.  He ran as a CPA candidate at the 1961 Federal election – at a time when Australian communists still owed their allegiance to the successors of Vladimir Lenin and Josef Stalin in Moscow.  Later on, your man Cundall became a green/left activist.

And now it seems that the ABC is still running a left-wing line outside of news and current affairs – this time in what is presented as a program on food.

Jackie’s (male) co-owner missed Episode 1 of Back in Time for Dinner which covered the 1950s. However, last weekend he caught up with Episode 2 on the 1960s.  This is how “Back in Time for Sermonising” reported on the Vietnam War – when the United States (supported by Australia and some other nations) provided military backing for the non-communist government in (then) South Vietnam against the communist regime in (then) North Vietnam.  Robert Menzies’ Coalition government committed Australian combat forces to Vietnam in 1965. Let’s go to the script where Julian Ferrone pretends to have just seen a report on the Vietnam War on the evening TV news – the year is 1968:

Julian (Son): Oh what’s on?

Peter (Dad): It’s a protest about the Vietnam War.

Julian (Son): Oh

On Television: …the past 12 months has seen the heat really turned on over the issue of…

Peter (Dad): See, kids just a bit older than you are being shipped off to war –

Julian (Son): Oh yeah

Peter (Dad): – with the conscription. You get a letter and off you go.

Julian (Son): Must have been terrifying

Peter (Dad): It’s just a lottery. If your name came up, away you went. You know, we wouldn’t know if you would never come back through our front door

Julian (Son) to camera: Because I’m close to conscription age, I would have known people at university who would have been conscripted. I think that would’ve been quite terrifying, really, because of the luck aspect. I wouldn’t want to be conscripted into the Vietnam War, either.

Annabel Crabb (voiceover): In total, around 50,000 Australians served in Vietnam between 1965 and 1972. For the first time in history, images of a foreign conflict [Explosion on TV] could be beamed directly into people’s homes on the television. And as they watched the horrifying realities of the Vietnam War on the evening news, Australians became less and less supportive of our nation’s involvement.

Sienna (Daughter): It looks really good

Carol (Mum): Thank you.

Sienna (Daughter): What is it?

Carol (Mum): Tuna and mashed potato casserole

Peter (Dad): Oh, wow.

Carol (Mum): Smells alright. There you go.

Peter (Dad): We were watching the news, there was lots of protests about Vietnam. The Vietnam War. The conscription

Carol (Mum): God I couldn’t deal with that.

Peter (Dad): It’d be scary

Carol (Mum): Very scary. And you know a lot of men – or really young boys – who came back from the war, couldn’t handle being back in society again –

Julian (Son): No

Carol (Mum): – and committed suicide.

Julian (Son): Yeah.

Carol (Mum): Which is terrible. I think that it’s bad that our sons had to go and fight a war that had nothing to do with us.

Julian (Son) to camera: To go die overseas for your country in what is essentially a futile war, really, that’s quite a terrifying concept. That notion of everyone you know having the chance to be shipped off to Vietnam to die. Um, so yeah, really quite scary.

And now for some facts – which apparently eluded Steve Bibb, the ABC Head of Factual.

▪ There was a ballot for national service which applied to Australian men born in 1945 and after. Individuals were balloted “in” – or “balloted “out”.  Those who were balloted “in” were required to serve in the Australian Army for two years – and some of them were sent to Vietnam.  The Australian Army did not want unwilling conscripts in a war zone – so only those national servicemen who were willing to serve in Vietnam were sent there. Also, those who were balloted “in” had to pass medical tests and there was a provision for conscientious objection. Young men could also avoid national service in the army by enrolling in the naval or airforce reserve prior to the ballot.  So Dad Ferrone’s comment that “you get a letter and off you go” is simplistic.

▪ Annabel Crabb’s comment that Australians became less supportive to the Vietnam commitment as the war progressed is true but doesn’t tell the full story – especially with respect to the 1960s.  The Coalition, led by Harold Holt, achieved a big victory in the December 1966 election and won again under John Gorton’s leadership in December 1969.  When Gough Whitlam led Labor to victory in December 1972 – all Australian combat forces by that time had left Vietnam.  Julian’s comment about how “terrifying” life was in Australia in the late 1960s is not supported by the evidence.  If Australians had been terrified they would have voted for the Australian Labor Party in 1966 and 1969 which opposed the Australian commitment in Vietnam.

▪ For Mum Ferrone to look back on Vietnam with reference to those who committed suicide in the decades after they returned to Australia is not fair to the memory of the Australian forces who fought bravely and well in Vietnam. The fact is that some service men and women return from all conflicts suffering from mental illness – what is now termed post traumatic shock is not unique to the Vietnam War experience.

▪ Mum Ferrone’s assertion that the Vietnam War “had nothing to do with us” is not the view that majority of Australians held in the 1960s – which is the focus of Episode 2.  In the 1960s, it was the view of the left-wing of the Labor Party and of the Communist Party – along with what was called the New Left and various leftist academics and students.

Julian Ferrone’s claim that Vietnam was “a futile war” was the standard position of the Australian left in the late 1960s.  Again, it was not a view shared by a majority of Australians.  Half a century after the event, some Australians who were alive in the late 1960s still support the Vietnam commitment – as do many Vietnamese who settled in Australia as refugees sometime after North Vietnamese forces (supplied by the Soviet Union) conquered Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) in April 1975.

Ms Crabb and Back in Time for Dinner would be well advised to stick to cooking.  The Ferrone family should be able to devour a tuna and mashed potato casserole without viewers being subjected to a left-wing sermon about the Vietnam War.

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Until next time.


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