ISSUE – NO. 421

31 August 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: How the Au Pair “Scandal” Could be Counterproductive for Immigrants and Asylum Seekers Alike

  • Can You Bear It? Emma Alberici; Amanda Vanstone; Margo Kingston (per courtesy of Julia Baird &The Drum); Katrina Sedgwick (per courtesy of ABC TV News Breakfast) & Miranda Devine

  • New Feature: Laura Tingle joins Judith Brett’s “The End of the Liberal Party is Nigh” Club

  • The Saturday Paper Misses Scott Morrison’s Prime Ministership but Karen Middleton Finds Lotsa Corpses (in a Bottom Drawer)

  • Jackie Looks Back on False Prophecy: Elizabeth Farrelly’s Malcolm Turnbull Soothsaying Recalled

  • An ABC Update: 7.30 Overlooks Bruce Guthrie’s Position; 7.30 Overlooks Conservatives; Alan Brough’s Dinner Request

  • Report from the US[eless] Studies Centre: Simon Jackman’s Faulty Memory re the late John McCain

  • Great Media U-Turns of Our Time: Catherine McGregor on Why Malcolm Turnbull – No Wait, Tony Abbott – is the Hope of the Liberal Side

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Hendo woke this morning to the sound of ABC Radio News banging on about Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton and the foreign au pairs “scandal”.  This was also a lead story on ABC TV News.  And front page news in today’s Sydney Morning Herald – the story spilled to Page 4.  There was also an opinion piece by Waleed (“Terrorism is a perpetual irritant”) Aly titled “Biggest scandal in the au pair affair has been overlooked”.  Yawn.  You had to read to the end of his column to find your man Aly declaring that this is “not the scandal of the decade”.  Gee wiz – thanks for letting us know.

Meanwhile the Daily Telegraph’s lead story this morning was headed “Your Power Bills Will Drop: Energy Minister vows action”.

So there you have it.  The ABC and Fairfax Media think the big issue of the day turns on the fact that several years ago Peter Dutton overruled the Immigration Department to give a couple of au pairs a three month tourist visa.  They have long since returned to their homes.  Meanwhile, in parts of the nation last night some Australians went to bed at 5 pm because they could not afford the cost of heating their homes.

The Fairfax Media and Age journalists who believe that Peter Dutton acted improperly with respect to providing visas to au pair women he has never met seem unaware that the immigration minister of the day has the power to make decisions with respect to all visas.  This has been the practice of Coalition and Labor ministers before Peter Dutton.  In short, Mr Dutton has done nothing wrong.

These same journalists seem to believe that immigration ministers should slavishly follow the decisions of their departments.  This is nonsense.  Proper research by journalists would reveal that Peter Dutton and his predecessors have disregarded department advice and stopped the deportation of many individuals with modest means – as well as glamourous au pairs.

The anti-Dutton protest is counter-productive in that, if successful, it is likely to lead to more deportations from Australia – since ministerial interventions invariably decide in favour of those seeking to settle permanently in Australia. The likes of Waleed Aly should understand this.  The fact is that Minister Dutton and his Assistant Minister made decisions which prevented, for example, families being deported to such nations as India and Pakistan. Does Dr Aly really regard such decision-making as a scandal?


Just before going out this afternoon, MWD received some frightfully interesting emails.

First up, the Lowy Institute Informer arrived in Hendo’s inbox. This covered startling news under the heading “Australia’s New Prime Minister” – including that executive director “Michael Fullilove was quoted in the New York Times, interviewed on Radio National Drive and wrote a piece in The Sydney Morning Herald” about the leadership change. Well done.

It so happened that the learned doctor’s article was in today’s SMH under the title “The world is looking at Australia and laughing”. Dr Fullilove (for a doctor he is) told readers that “at the moment we look ridiculous” and that “foreigners look at us and laugh”. There was also a reference to Morrison Government ministers being “up to their elbows in alligators” – which seems like an unfortunate position to Jackie’s (male) co-owner.

For his part, Hendo is proud to announce that he has delivered his opinion on the Turnbull/Morrison–Dutton/Abbott tag match to anyone who will listen. He has been reported in the Holy Name Monthly, been interviewed for Vatican Radio and had a piece published in L’Osservatore Romano (in Spanish).

Through these overseas contacts, Hendo heard that you cannot walk through the streets of Moscow, Berlin or Madrid without hearing the locals laughing at Australia. All foreigners think Australia is ridiculous – except for those who want to live here. Or visit, or study in, or trade with Australia – or, indeed, take up au pair positions.


Soon after MWD was advised about the “Adventures of Michael Fullilove”, the latest issue of The New Daily arrived. It contained an article by a certain James Fernyhough which commenced as follows:

Ousted prime minister Malcolm Turnbull leaves politics on Friday, we can assume forever. On the weekend he will jet off with his wife Lucy for a long jaunt to New York. On the flight there and back, Mr and Mrs Turnbull will contribute something in the region of seven tonnes of carbon dioxide to the Earth’s atmosphere, doing their little bit to progress global warming.

Well, fancy that. The New Daily is a free online giveaway which is funded by the trade union controlled industry superannuation funds. Is your man Fernyhough is going to condemn every trip to New York or Geneva by every Australian trade union official and measure and publish their carbon emissions? We’ll keep you posted – but don’t hold your breath.


Can You Bear It


As Caroline Overington writes in today’s Australian, the 2018 Canberra Writers Festival was not a left-wing stack.  Unlike the 2018 Melbourne Writers Festival – re which see MWD Issue 419.

John Howard was one of the guests at the CWF – he was interviewed by Sky News’ David Speers.  When it came to the question/discussion period, it was journalists who took over the occasion.  First up was The Saturday Paper’s Karen Middleton. Followed by the ABC’s Emma Alberici (who presided over the demise of the once-important Lateline program).

This was La Alberici’s question:

Emma Alberici: Hello John Howard. My question is on a similar theme to Karen’s. I’m wondering if you could muse on whether you believe the Liberal Party has a problem with women? With the removal of, or with the departure of Julie Bishop from the cabinet that’ll mean – I think they had four and they’ll have three – which is already less than 20 per cent.

What a load to tosh.  As John Howard commented, it was wrong to simply assume that Julie Bishop would not be replaced in the Cabinet with a woman.  In fact, there were five women (not four) in Malcolm Turnbull’s cabinet.  Soon after Ms Alberici’s question was asked, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the new cabinet.  It included six women – one more than the number in the Turnbull cabinet.

So, to start with, Emma Alberici had her facts wrong.  Then it turned out that her prediction that there would be three women in the new cabinet was hopelessly wrong – there are six.  Ms Alberici is the ABC’s economics correspondent and currently presents PM.  Can You Bear It?


Fairfax Media and the ABC just love former Liberal Party senator Amanda Vanstone who declares that she is a small “l” Liberal and an opponent of the conservative part of the Liberal Party of Australia.  This means that Fairfax Media can give Ms Vanstone a column and the ABC can give her a non-prominent Radio National program sure in the knowledge that she will bag the tripe out of a Tony Abbott or Peter Dutton or any other Liberal Party conservative.

So it came as no surprise last Monday when Amanda Vanstone threw the switch to hyperbole and opened up on the majority of the Liberal Party room who successfully voted against Malcolm Turnbull. Here’s how her column in the Sydney Morning Herald commenced:

The events last week in Canberra exhibit the most disgraceful conduct I have seen in more than 40 years.  It’s no wonder Australians are so annoyed.  I’ve been out of Parliament for 11 years and people are stopping me in the street to say how angry they are.

However, it is doubtful that anyone was more angry than The Vanstone.  Her column was littered with such words and phrases as “foolish people”, “laughable”, “insurgents”, “wreckers”, “a cancer”, “inept and reckless and foolish”, “stupidity”, “vortex of nastiness”, “wreckers” (again) and “they supped at the table of self-advancement” and so on.

All this suggested that Vanstone supports the view of people in the street that it  is improper to remove an incumbent prime minister. Is this correct?  Er, not really. For Amanda Vanstone did not hit the complain button when Malcolm Turnbull removed Tony Abbott as prime minister by a vote in the Liberal Party room in September 2015.

On the contrary, in a Fairfax Media column published on 5 June 2015 she bagged Prime Minister Abbott and raised the possibility of Malcolm Turnbull rounding up support in the Liberal Party room in anticipation that a leadership spill might eventuate and Tony Abbott be replaced.

So, according to Vanstone, removing Malcolm Turnbull as prime minister was “most disgraceful conduct”. However, removing Tony Abbott as prime minister was quite okay. Can You Bear It?


While on the topic of hyperbole, did anyone see The Drum last Monday with Julia Baird in the presenter’s chair?  Dr Baird (for a doctor she is) is always moralising about the need for “respectful discussion”. So, how did the respectful discussion go last Monday in the wake of the Liberal Party leadership change?

Well, not too well.  The ABC TV program, in its wisdom, located long-time Brisbane-based leftist Margo Kingston and put her to air.  As avid readers are aware, Comrade Kingston is a vehement opponent of the likes of John Howard and Tony Abbott and Peter Dutton. And so it came to pass that Ms Kingston opened up on Mr Abbott – and Dr Baird made scant attempts to control her (Kingston’s) anger.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Margot Kingston: Abbott is on a mission to transform the Liberal Party. He wants to take it to the far right. He wants, effectively, a friendly merger with One Nation. And he wants that because he thinks that is a winner. He is going to keep sniping. Now I’d just like to remind the voters of Warringah that 75 per cent of voters in that seat voted for same sex marriage – Abbott campaigned uncontrollably and disgustingly against it and then he abstained in the vote [in the House of Representatives]. I would like to predict that there will be a sustained effort in Warringah to rid Australia of this monster. Remember there was –

Julia Baird: [interjecting] Alright, okay – Margot.

Margot Kingston: [interjecting] Remember [in 2016] there was an independent candidate – a young independent candidate from Channel 10 who. Look, okay, you think I’m extreme.

Julia Baird: I’m not saying you’re extreme –

Margot Kingston: I’ve got a lot of history with Abbott….

You can say that again. In any event, Dr Baird declared that Comrade Kingston was not extreme – just after she called Tony Abbott a “monster”.  Then in wrapping up the conversation, the presenter had this to say, when thanking her guests:

Julia Baird: ….and Margo Kingston who always has so much to say and we love her for it. Have an excellent evening and I’ll see you tomorrow night.

So, according to Julia Baird, it is not extreme to call Tony Abbott “a monster” on The Drum – and that the taxpayer funded public broadcaster just loves Comrade Kingston for what she has to say.  How’s that for a respectful discussion?  Can You Bear It?


While on the topic of elections, Hendo recalls that Margo Kingston is not the first leftist luvvie to call for Tony Abbott to be defeated in the seat of Warringah.  Hendo vaguely recalls that current ABC 702 presenter Wendy (“I’m just an old fashioned socialist”) Harmer was touting such a possibility quite a few years ago.

In any event, there is a by-election due soon in Wentworth, following Malcolm Turnbull’s resignation today as a sitting member.   So it came as no surprise when the question as to who might be the endorsed Liberal Party candidate for Wentworth was discussed on the ABC TV News Breakfast program on Wednesday during the “Newspapers” segment. The guest was Katrina Sedgwick – of the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne.

Let’s go to the transcript where Ms Sedgwick discusses who might be the endorsed Liberal Party candidate for Wentworth:

Virginia Trioli: Other stories, I think it was in Fairfax this morning that the Liberal Party were very keen to try and pre-select what they describe as a “strong female candidate”. So – bristling I guess under the continued criticism of the poor numbers of women that they have.

Katrina Sedgwick: Absolutely. And I mean the two they’re talking about – Kerryn Phelps, the former president of the AMA, who’d be a terrific candidate, and Christine Forster.

Hang on a minute. Hendo likes both Dr Phelps and Ms Forster.  But the former would not be a “terrific candidate” for the Liberal Party – if only because she is not a member of the party. If Kerryn Phelps runs for Wentworth it will be as an Independent.  Absolutely – as Ms Sedgwick might say.  So whoever is talking about Kerryn Phelps as a candidate for Wentworth, it’s not the Liberal Party.  Perhaps the News Breakfast team should spend more time in Sydney and interview some local moving images types. Can You Bear It?


While on the topic of Sydney, as avid readers know the Daily Telegraph’s  Miranda Devine is one of MWD’s faves.  So it was great to see Ms Devine fire-up on Sky News’ Kenny on Sunday last weekend when she accused the Menzies Research Centre’s Nick Cater of verballing her.  Your man Cater suggested that “Devine Miranda” (as she is known to have called herself) had opposed Malcolm Turnbull’s removal as prime minister in August 2018 but supported Tony Abbott’s removal as prime minister in September 2015. Not so declared a feisty Devine.

This exchange reminded Hendo of what Miranda Devine had written about the Liberal Party leadership over recent times. On 31 December 2017 the Daily Telegraph carried a piece by Miranda Devine titled “Turnbull lives, he’s not a dead parrot”. It commenced:

As the year ends, at least the Turnbull government can safely echo Mark Twain in saying the reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated. And, boy, have there been a lot.

Ms Devine proceeded to call out those who predicted that Malcolm Turnbull would not be prime minister by the end of 2017.  Her little list included Ross Fitzgerald, Ross Cameron, Andrew Bolt, David Flint, John Stone, Alan Jones, James Allan, Peta Credlin, Rex Jory, Graham Richardson, Gary Hardgrave, Paul Murray, Neil Mitchell, Bernard Keane and Kevin Rudd.

The column concluded as follows:

Well, it’s the end of the year, and Turnbull is still standing, with two by-election wins under his belt. Who knows, if unemployment stays low, the stock market keeps booming and the economy continues to recover in 2018, the Turnbull government might even have a chance of winning the next election against Bill Shorten’s Labor. Happy New Year to all, even the Chicken Littles!

It was once (allegedly) said of Leon Trotsky that he was so far ahead of his time that – decades after his death – many of his prophecies had yet to be fulfilled.

It turned out that the likes of Professor Ross (“Professor Grafton Everest is my mentor”) Fitzgerald did not have his prophecy fulfilled by the end of December 2017.  But it did come to pass by the end of August 2018.

Now, alas, it seems that Miranda Devine has channelled the prophets she once condemned by branding them as Delusional Conservatives – or Delcons.  For this is what she said about the Delcons on Kenny on Sunday last weekend:

Miranda Devine:  And you know what these crazies have done?  They have now got a more left-wing cabinet than was under Turnbull. And they have guaranteed that Bill Shorten is going to be prime minister – and probably for three terms.  I would say the only time the Liberals will be rescued will be by prime minister [Joshua] Frydenberg in ten years’ time.

So there you have it. Ms Devine reckons that Bill Shorten will probably be prime minister for close to a decade.  And this from someone who quotes Mark Twain’s warning about those who falsely report that the living are in RIP mode. Can You Bear It?



While on the topic of political prophecy, it is appropriate to record that following the change in the Liberal Party leadership last Friday, a familiar refrain was heard across the leftist land.  Namely, the prediction that the Liberal Party of Australia is as dead as a deceased parrot.

On 17 July 1993, Judith Brett (who was then co-editor of the leftist Arena Magazine) wrote an article in The Age titled “The Party on the road to nowhere”. Dr Brett (for a doctor she was – and still is) had this to say about the Liberal Party of Australia – which was formed in 1944 and, after three quarters of a century, is still going strong:

“The Liberal Party in the 1990s seems doomed” – Judith Brett, The Age, 17 July 1993

In less than three years after this (false) prophecy was made, John Howard led the Liberal Party (and the Nationals) to a decisive victory over Labor in the March 1996 election. Dr Brett is an academic.

Following the replacement of the ABC/Fairfax Media fave Malcolm Turnbull by Scott Morrison as prime minister, the usual suspects have come forward to prophesize the end of the Liberal Party as we know it.

This is what the luvvie Laura Tingle had to say on 7.30 on Thursday 23 August 2018 – on the night before what became Mr Turnbull’s demise:

Laura Tingle: No matter who prevails tomorrow, it’s hard to see how they can heal the deep divisions within the Liberal Party.  Or even if some of them want to.  With the destruction of Malcolm Turnbull’s prime ministership, we may be witnessing the end of the modern Liberal Party.

So there. According to La Tingle, “we may be witnessing the end of the modern Liberal Party”. But then again – according to Hendo – we may not. [I predict you will never get entry to Judith Brett’s “The-End-of-the-Liberal-Party-Is-Nigh” Club. – MWD Editor]



As avid readers are only too well aware, The Saturday Paper (publisher Morry Schwartz, editor-in-chief Erik Jensen) goes to press on Thursdays and arrives in the coffee shops of Sandalista Land in inner-city Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane on Saturday morning.  Look at it this way. A Fitzroy North leftist wakes up on Saturday morning, puts on his sandals and Che Guevara gear and heads off to the local coffee shop to read The Saturday Paper.  It’s called a lifestyle.

Last week MWD – which comes out at around Gin & Tonic time on Friday afternoons and which is put together by a few obsessives with the assistance of a canine – managed to cover the fact that Scott Morrison was about to be sworn in as prime minister later that day.  So how did The Saturday Paper go last Saturday morning?

Alas, not too well.  The paper led with a large photo of Mr Turnbull looking somewhat unhappy over a piece by Karen Middleton titled “We know where the bodies are buried”. [Couldn’t Erik and his team find a better cliché than this tired saying? – MWD Editor.]

The Saturday Paper made no mention of the fact that Malcolm Turnbull had lost a leadership spill motion around lunch-time on Friday.  Or that Scott Morrison had been elected Liberal Party leader and sworn in as prime minister later that day.  Those sandal wearers in inner-city coffee shops who relied on The Saturday Paper for news last weekend would not have had a clue about what was going on in Australian national politics. And your man Schwartz charges $4 a throw for his no-news newspaper.

As to Karen Middleton, she had to scrape the bottom of the barrel – so to speak.  Ms Middleton claimed that Malcolm Turnbull’s opponents “were threatening to release damaging information about how to destroy his career”. The story came out after Mr Turnbull’s career had been destroyed – without the release of the damaging material. In other words, the Middleton story was a beat-up.

In any event, what was Ms Middleton’s evidence for so serious an allegation?  Well – you be the judge. Her source consisted of “a senior MP”. Just one.  He or she was quoted as saying: “We are ready to open the bottom drawer; we know where the bodies are buried.” Er, that’s it.

So, The Saturday Paper’s  scoop seems to have been that “bodies are buried” in “the bottom drawer”. A strange place to bury corpses – but there you go.




Due to popular demand, this segment – documenting false prophecy and calling out failed prophets – returns this week.  It will appear regularly – since many a false prophet can be found in the land these days.

Thanks to the avid reader who reminded Jackie’s (male) co-owner of the excitement experienced by Sydney Morning Herald columnist Elizabeth Farrelly after Malcolm Turnbull replaced Tony Abbott as prime minister on 15 September 2015.  Dr Farrelly (for a doctor she is) wrote in the SMH on 25 November 2015 that the elevation of Mr Turnbull to the prime ministership had led to a situation whereby “the air itself has a new edge”. She continued – not with a whimper but with a real pro-Malcolm bang:

So here’s my prediction. Malcolm – who like Beyonce is known universally by his first name – will be the longest serving prime minister since Menzies. Possibly ever.

Now Robert Menzies served as prime minister for a  total of 18 years.  John Howard, Australia’s second longest serving prime minister, made it for close to 12 years.  And Malcolm Turnbull was prime minister for almost three years – not 12 years as the learned doctor predicted or 19 years as she thought was a real possibility.

Obviously, time for Elizabeth Farrelly to give her crystal ball a good rinse.




The unprofessionalism of 7.30 continues apace – as two examples illustrate.

On Thursday 23 August 2018 – the night before the Liberal Party leadership change – 7.30 ran a story about the (alleged) undue influence of what is termed by its critics “Sky News After Dark” on the Liberal Party.  You know, the Sky News plus News Corp plus Alan Jones plus Ray Hadley run the country conspiracy theory. You know the story.  This lot invariably get bracketed together despite the fact that Alan Jones and Ray Hadley broadcast for 2GB which is controlled by Fairfax Media.

The piece was put together by Laura Tingle (a strong supporter of Malcolm Turnbull and a strong opponent of Peter Dutton and Tony Abbott). This is what she had to say towards the end of her report on Thursday 23 August:

Laura Tingle: Even by the standards of the past decade, we’re watching momentous events today. This time around, the crisis is not just who will be Australia’s next prime minister, but about whether the government will survive.

Malcolm Turnbull says he will leave Parliament if he faces a leadership vote. A number of MPs say they will move to the cross bench if Peter Dutton succeeds. The battle is on for the heart a bitterly divided Liberal Party. And Mr Turnbull has also called out the fact that the power struggle has not just been with a minority inside his own party, but with powerful forces outside it.

Not only have parts of the News Corp stable, been running a campaign against Mr Turnbull. But MPs say they have been directly lobbied by at least two prominent conservative commentators, Peta Credlin and broadcaster, Alan Jones.

Here Ms Tingle failed to mention that Alan Jones broadcasts for 2GB – which is owned by Fairfax Media.  Sure he presents one program a week on Sky News – but that’s all.

The only person interviewed for Laura Tingle’s report was Bruce Guthrie.  Let’s go to the official ABC transcript to find out what he had to say in a pre-recorded interview which was shown in two parts:

Bruce Guthrie, Fmr Newspaper Editor: The News Corp products, have become very heavily involved, in this process, if I call it that. Both, through their TV stations, Sky News, particularly at night, after 6:00. I think they’ve crossed the [inaudible] in this leadership challenge. I think they’ve gone from, premium observers to general players.

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Bruce Guthrie : The Sydney market seems to be full of Abbott backers, Turnbull opponents, Ray Hadley, Alan Jones, Paul Murray. There just seems to be a litany of people, who for months, many months, have set out to disrupt Malcolm Turnbull.

Here’s a screen shot of Bruce Guthrie as he appeared on 7.30 – described as a former newspaper editor.  How misleading can you get?

Sure, Bruce Guthrie is a former newspaper editor who happened to leave News Corp before suing for unfair dismissal. That’s old news.

What La Tingle also did not point out is that your man Guthrie is a co-founder of the on-line newspaper The New Daily.  As evidence presented to the Royal Commission on banking heard, The New Daily was set up in 2013 in part by the trade union run Australian Super with a hand out of $2 million. Australian Super sold its one-third stake in The New Daily for zip in 2016 to Industry Super Holdings. The New Daily is a loss maker which survives on the back of money saved by Australian workers – many of whom do not belong to trade unions.

In other words, The New Daily is a trade union backed paper in the media business – and, as such, a competitor of Sky News (among other media companies).

So in her coverage of the “Sky News Conspiracy” Laura Tingle interviewed only Bruce Guthrie – a Rupert Murdoch opponent who writes for a wholly funded trade union online newspaper. No other view was heard.

How unprofessional can you get?


As pointed out in last week’s issue, on the eve of the leadership spill (Thursday 23 August) 7.30 interviewed two experts on the issue.  Former Liberal Party leader John Hewson and former Liberal minister Amanda Vanstone.  It just happens that both are critical of Liberal Party conservatives in general and Peter Dutton and Tony Abbott in particular.

Then, when the Liberal leadership changed, Leigh Sales interviewed two experts on the issue. Namely Laura Tingle and Niki Savva.  Both were supporters of Malcolm Turnbull and both are overly critical of Peter Dutton, Tony Abbott and the conservative section of the Liberal Party.

How unprofessional can you get?  – in that both programs lacked balance. And yet Leigh Sales continues to deny the fact that the ABC is a Conservative-Free-Zone.


This week’s radio ratings document that listeners to ABC programs on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s main channel continue to decline.  This following a decision by ABC management to provide some softer programming in the bid for younger audiences.  It appears that the ABC has lost some of its older audience without replacing them with younger types.

Not so long ago The World Today ran from midday to 1 pm.  It was an important program.  This year, the powers that be at the ABC dropped the final 30 minutes of The World Today and filled the space with a 30 minute segment presented by Myf Warhurst.  This is how the segment is described:

Kick off your afternoon on ABC Radio with Myf Warhurst and a great mix of music. Meet the people creating the art that helps us make sense of the world, celebrate the classics and discover new music that you need to know about right now.

In other words, a load of sludge in which Ms Warhurst attempts to provide lifestyle answers to questions that no one is asking.

It so happens that Alan Brough is currently standing in as the program’s presenter. This is how he introduced the unnamed program on Wednesday:

Alan Brough: I have a problem that I would like you to help me with. I cannot, for the life of me, work out what to cook for dinner tonight. Normally – I mean to me that is just a catastrophic problem as far as I’m concerned. Normally, when I can’t work out what to cook, I just whip up what I like to call my signature dish. Basically, it’s a Nigella Lawson recipe called “Rapid Ragu”. You put some garlic infused oil in a pan, fry some diced bacon, then throw in some lamb mince, when that’s cooked you put in some caramelised onion – just in a jar from the supermarket. A tin of lentils, a tin of tomatoes, and then you cook it for about 20 minutes. I then serve it over some lightly steamed broccoli. Or some heavily steamed broccoli – If I forget that the broccoli is steaming.

The problem is that I have already cooked my signature dish already this week. I wondered what is your signature dish? What do you cook when you can’t think of anything else to cook? It might be veal scaloppini, or Sri Lankan egg hoppers – if you’ve never tasted those give them a try, they’re great. Or the incredibly spicy and delicious Szechuan dish mapo doufu, or macaroni cheese. Or cheese on toast. Or just toast. Or just cheese. So, whatever your signature dish is, give me a call.

And now for a personal question.  Does anyone give a toss what Alan Brough had for dinner last Wednesday?  Or that, on occasions, there’s too much steam in his steamed broccoli?  And will a focus on how to handle Mr Brough’s “catastrophic problem” win new listeners to ABC? And is the Pope a Catholic? [Probably not. I believe that the last Catholic Pope was Pius XII. – MWD Editor.]


As avid readers are aware, not one self-proclaimed “expert” on America at the taxpayer funded United States Studies Centre at Sydney University predicted that Donald J. Trump would defeat Hillary Clinton in the November 2016 presidential election. Not one. And, according to the USSC’s chief executive officer Professor Simon Jackman (as told to Sky News 9 November 2016), not one member of the USSC supports President Trump. Not one.

So, on the USSC’s own admission, none of its 30 strong staff — including the likes of Professor Simon Jackman, Dr David Smith, Associate Professor Brendon O’Connor and ABC presenter John Barron — knew enough about contemporary American society to understand that Donald J. Trump could win in November 2016. And none of the USSC academics agree with the decision of those Americans who support President Trump.

The USSC was set up following a grant of $25 million from the Howard government in 2006. This was supposed to be one-off seed funding. However, as Aaron Patrick reported in the Australian Financial Review on 23 July 2018, the USSC has successfully put its hand up for another $12 million from the government.

What a waste of taxpayers’ money. And now for the very latest from the US[eless] Studies Centre.


At Hangover Time last Sunday morning, Jackie’s (male) co-owner chanced upon an appearance by the United States Studies Centre’s supremo Professor Simon Jackman on the ABC TV’s Weekend Breakfast program (which goes to air on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s second channel).

Dr Jackman (for a doctor he is) was discussing the death of US politician and war hero John McCain.  The learned professor waxed lyrical about just how wonderful Senator McCain was and how he had spoken at the USSC in Sydney in 2017.  The line was that John McCain was a great friend of Australia in general – and of the US Studies Centre in particular.

In his moving tribute, your man Jackman neglected to point out that when the Democrat Barack Obama defeated the Republican John McCain at the November 2008 presidential election – the US Studies Centre threw a party celebrating Obama’s victory. And McCain’s defeat. See MWD Issue 384.

The evidence suggests that Professor Jackman and his colleagues only embraced John McCain when he became a public critic of Donald J. Trump.  But Professor Jackman did not mention this fact on Sunday.



When I wrote, towards the end of last year, that I discerned the first green shoots of nascent recovery in the political fortunes of the Turnbull government, I was ridiculed on these pages by the sanctimonious, for whom wishful thinking is preferable to critical thinking. Even louder were the voices of the purse-lipped, parasol-wielding dowagers of the far right, whom Miranda Devine has accurately, if somewhat uncharitably, classified as the Del-Cons, or Delusional Conservatives.

Until the same-sex marriage debate, I was defined as an Abbott Restorationist rather than a Del-Con. Ties of personal loyalty and a pragmatic belief that Tony Abbott was the only substantial leader capable of forging an uneasy truce between angry conservatives in the Coalition base and its moderate wing motivated me in supporting his return to the leadership.

Likewise, I believed Abbott was closer than Malcolm Turnbull to the centre of gravity when it came to Coalition sentiment on energy policy. My assessment was vindicated when the issue re-emerged late last year and proved a flashpoint for Coalition unity. It is not necessary to like Turnbull to concede that he possesses extravagant intellectual talent, though unleavened by political acumen. But I thought his solo performance on the ABC’s Q&A late last year demonstrated why he will probably defeat Bill Shorten.

– Catherine McGregor “Bill Shorten has peaked – and Malcolm Turnbull has him in his sights”, Sydney Morning Herald, 8 February 2018


But the Trump phenomenon is driving the fringe of the Australian conservative movement. Hence the brooding over last year’s marriage equality defeat and the new front against gender fluidity and the increasingly strident coding of racially charged messages to blue-collar males. Trump did not invent this. It has been the campaign template for Republican and conservative candidates since Richard Nixon hired Roger Ailes.

There is no easy resolution to this deep schism. Turnbull has been exposed as morally vacuous and tactically inept. His supine surrender over energy policy is the fitting epitaph to a career dedicated to nurturing his career. Peter Dutton is assuredly not the answer, despite the excited clamour of the legion of conservative media shills.

Tony Abbott is the obvious choice to return to the leadership. In February 2017 I suggested to Abbott that Turnbull would implode on account of his total lack of political acumen. For his part I urged that he should emulate Paul Keating by forcing the party to come to him when it finally despaired of the Pretender.  Far from being the monster caricatured by his detractors, Abbott is a vulnerable, passionate human being….

– Catherine McGregor, Sydney Morning Herald, 21 August 2018

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Until next time.

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