ISSUE – NO. 424

21 September 2018

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The inaugural issue of “Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch” was published in April 1988 – over a year before the first edition of the ABC TV Media Watch program went to air. Between November 1997 and October 2015 “Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch” was published as part of The Sydney Institute Quarterly. In March 2009 Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch Dog blog commenced publication.

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  • STOP PRESS: The Drum Piles on against the Morrison government’s education changes; Ross Cameron’s denial continues

  • MWD Exclusive: Re The Age’s report that Hendo is Sir Robert Menzies’ son-in-law

  • Can You Bear It: Maureen Dowd & Christine Wallace

  • New Feature: Hyperbolic Hits of the Week: Starring Peter Hartcher & Jacqueline Maley

  • A Louise Milligan Anonymous Sources Moment featuring Bevan Shields & David Crowe on Tony Abbott

  • Five Paws Award: Professor David Vines steps up re the Lyons government’s economic success in the 1930s

  • New Feature: Jackie’s Ignoramus Cove: Jon Faine Moves in with his howler on Papal indulgences with reference to Bill Hayden

  • An ABC Update: ABC throws the switch to moral equivalence in comparing Australia and Saudi Arabia

  • History Corner: Professor Sally Young’s false claim on Keith Murdoch’s political influence

  • Correspondence: The Age’s Michael Koziol helps out (sort of) – as does Julian Burnside AO QC re the Australian Secular Lobby




Jackie’s (male) co-owner arrived home at Gin & Tonic time yesterday evening – just in time to catch ABC TV’s The Drum’s coverage of the Morrison government’s decision with respect to the funding of Catholic and independent non-government schools following the recommendations of the National School Resourcing Board Review.

As avid readers are aware, Julia Baird (a co-presenter of The Drum) has claimed that The Drum tries oh-so-hard to get conservatives to come on to the program but with little success. [Perhaps Dr Baird (for a doctor she is) and her producers should try a little harder. Just a thought. – MWD Editor.]

Here’s the team that The Drum assembled last night. Julia Baird was in the presenter’s chair and her panel comprised Brooke Boney (ABC Triple J), Simon Holmes a Court (senior adviser, Climate & Energy College, Melbourne University) and political reporter Samantha Maiden.  The Grattan Institute’s education program director Peter Goss joined the discussion on the Coalition government’s decision to provide an extra $4.5 billion in school funding for the non-government schools sector.

It turned out to be the familiar Drum scenario where everyone agreed with everyone else that the decision announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Education Minister Dan Tehan was a bad one.  And so it came to pass that Brooke agreed with Peter who agreed with Simon who agreed with Julia who agreed with Samantha who agreed with Peter who agreed with Julia who agreed with Peter who agreed with himself. Or something like that. No other view was heard.

Midway through what passed for debate on The Drum last night, Warren Mundine put out these tweets:

Nyunggai Warren Mundine AOVerified account @nyunggai

#TheDrum @ABCthedrum no one person from the catholic school side. An echo chamber of anti-catholic anti-independent schools.

5:22 PM – 20 Sep 2018

Nyunggai Warren Mundine AO‏Verified account @nyunggai

Nyunggai Warren Mundine AO Retweeted ABC The Drum

No one from the catholic school system. Can’t watch this bias. Turned off.

5:30 PM – 20 Sep 2018

Good move.  But Hendo refreshed his Gin & Tonic in case there were some “highlights”. He wasn’t disappointed. Most notably these exchanges involving Comrade Boney.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Julia Baird: It’s being touted, Brooke, as a pragmatic solution – is that how you see it?

Brooke Boney: I don’t think so. It’s just so hard to believe that. Um, we were just talking before about the difference between some of the schools that other people on the panel went to and the school that I went to – which was Muswellbrook South Public School. And I saw on Facebook today – we didn’t even have access to water. And it’s just like “how is this happening?”

What The Drum viewers were not told was that there was a water-outage in parts of Muswellbrook yesterday – that’s how it happened.   In short, Muswellbrook South Public School gets water when everyone else (including Catholic schools) gets water.

And then there was this exchange where Comrade Boney referred to Dallas McInerney, the chief executive officer of Catholic Schools NSW:

Julia Baird: Brooke what of the responses of people like Adrian Piccoli – so [sic] Liberal minister, former Liberal minister for education in New South Wales?.  His response was “This is pathetic, there is nothing fair about it, there is nothing Christian about it, it is throwing money at the powerful and well connected”. Is there a sense that that might come back at them electorally or have dissent from their own ranks?

Brooke Boney: Well you would think so. And even the way that they’re talking about government schools – it’s like it’s the worst thing in the world to be sent there. The way that we heard Scott Morrison. My favourite quote from today was from um, was from Dallas McInerney, McIrnen? McInerney?

Julia Baird: McInerney.

Brooke Boney: Yeah. Dallas McInerney [who said]: “Faced with fee hikes most parents would have to withdraw their children and enrol them in the free government school, it’s now been averted.” Like it’s the worst thing in the world to send your child to one of our government schools. If that’s such a concern then, you know, improve the school.

Comrade Boney verballed the Catholic Schools NSW’s chief executive officer. This is what Mr McInerney was reported by the ABC as saying:

Catholic Schools NSW (CSNSW) said the changes meant families would continue to have the choice of an affordable non-government school for their children. “Faced with such a massive fee hike from kindergarten to Year 6, most parents would have withdrawn their children and enrolled them in the free government school nearby. This has now been averted,” CSNSW chief executive officer Dallas McInerney said in a statement.

It seems that Triple J’s Brooke Boney is unaware that parents of children at non-government schools, high and low fee alike, contribute to the cost of their children’s education.  Whereas parents of children at government schools, whether rich or not, make no contribution to the cost of educating their children – all of which is covered by taxpayers. Mr McInerney’s point was that if parents took their children out of low fee Catholic schools and put them into the free government school system this would be a cost to the taxpayer.

It seems that apparently Comrade Boney is not aware of this.  And no one corrected her as she was beating the anti-Coalition drum – as Julia and Peter and Samantha and Simon with the support of Brooke piled into the Morrison government’s education initiative. And Julia Baird wonders why the likes of Warren Mundine turn off The Drum.


What a stunning performance by Outsiders co-presenter Ross Cameron on Sky News last night.

First up, Ross (“I’m a Marcus Aurelius fan boy”) Cameron declared: “On a factual matter, I don’t accept as factual that Assad has used chemical weapons” in Syria.  It would seem to your man Cameron that the victims gassed themselves.

Then, Marcus Aurelius’ man Down Under declared that there is no evidence that one-time Soviet military intelligence (GRU) operatives attacked Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal with the nerve agent Novichok in Salisbury last May.

According to Mr Cameron, we are supposed to believe that Alexander Petrov and Russian Borishov travelled from Russia on a two day trip to check out Salisbury Cathedral before returning to their Russian motherland.  Apparently the Outsiders’ co-presenter still believes that the Salisbury attack was the work of Britain’s MI6.

In a re-working of the old “I warn the Kaiser” refrain, last night Ross Cameron went into “I say to Theresa May” mode. It is not clear if the British prime minister – whom Ross Cameron referred to as “baby” – was watching.  At least Rowan Dean, Outsiders’ other co-presenter, did not join the Cameron denial.  We’ll keep you posted on this one.



Read this week’s Correspondence section to learn how Gerard Henderson reacted when he learnt that The Age was running the story that Hendo was Sir Robert Menzies’ son-in-law and that he had married Heather Henderson (nee Menzies).

Also in this week’s Correspondence section – Julian (“I just love flashing my post-nominals”) Burnside AO QC defends the blokey nature of the newly formed Australian Secular Lobby but fails to acknowledge his (so far) false claim that Australia has a “secular majority”. Also starring Jane Caro and Phillip (“I was a teenage Stalinist”) Adams AO, AM, Hon DUniv (Griffith), Hon DLitt (ECU), Hon DUniv (SA), DLitt [sic] (Syd), Hon. DUniv (Macquarie), FRSA, Hon FAHA.


Can You Bear It


As avid readers will recall, last week MWD focused on Maureen Dowd’s piece in the New York Times of 1 September – following her visit to Australia.  It was a typically over-written and evidence-scant Dowd column – with reference to “illicit favours” and “comely young women” and so on.

Last Tuesday Ms Dowd was at it again.  The Sydney Morning Herald published an article originally titled “`We both get it’: Scott Morrison’s bromance with Donald Trump may go one better than a dog”.  She ran the old joke that if you want a friend in politics – get a dog. Yawn.

Dowd referred to Peter Dutton as “slimy” and made reference to “soignée Julie Bishop”. How clever is that?  Then she focused on the fact that Prime Minister Scott Morrison is a Pentecostal Christian and commented:

I wonder if, like Karen Pence, the devout Morrison was bothered by Trump’s flouting of the Commandments. (Thou Shalt not Covet All the Playmates and Porn Stars at a Lake Tahoe Golf Tournament).  [How frightfully courageous to mock the Bible.  I wonder whether Ms Dowd would also have the courage to mock the Koran. – MWD Editor]

Turn it up.  It seems that Ms Dowd thinks that Scott Morrison regards Donald Trump as a latter-day St Francis of Assisi.  He doesn’t.  Then she made this President Trump/Prime Minister Morrison comparison:

The 50-year-old father of two is the son of a police officer, not a scion of wealth. But the two share similarities: Both expediently lurched to the right on social issues. Both throw red meat to the base. Both craft their political identities with dog whistles around the issue of protecting their countries from hordes of migrants.

What a load of absolute tosh.  During the time that Scott Morrison served as a minister in the governments led by Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull, immigration levels in Australia were at historically high levels.

Maureen Down effectively told New York Times readers that the new Australian prime minister is a racist and opposed to immigration. And the Sydney Morning Herald chose to reprint Ms Dowd’s NYT rant without qualification. Can You Bear It?


While on the topic of the Morrison government, did anyone hear the discussion on ABC Radio National on Wednesday about the Liberal Party and women and all that?  Here’s how the ABC described the segment under the title: “What must the Liberals do to fix their gender problem?”:

Despite the Prime Minister’s efforts to put a lid on it, the bullying and sexism row continues to wrack the Liberal Party. This week, another Liberal woman, NSW MP Ann Sudmalis, announced she would not contest the next election, blaming bullies in the party’s state division for her decision. But Liberal women say the problem of bullying and intimidation goes beyond the party organisation.

Based on current polling, the Liberals are facing the possibility of having just five or six women in the lower house after the next election, as Labor moves towards achieving its quota of 50 per cent female MPs on its benches by 2025 . So, what must the Liberals do to fix their gender problem?

Fran Kelly was in the presenter’s chair.  Her guests were Sue Boyce (former Queensland Liberal Party senator and past president of the Queensland branch of the Queensland Women’s Council), Trish Worth (former Liberal Party MP and former Federal vice-president of the Liberal Party) and MWD fave Christine Wallace (author and research fellow at the Australian National University and former Canberra Press Gallery journalist).

And so it came to pass that this was another of those oh-so-familiar discussions on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster where everyone essentially agreed with everyone else on nearly everything. [Perhaps you should have run this in your hugely popular “Maurice Newman Segment”. Just a thought. – MWD Editor.]

At the end of the discussion Christine Wallace – who wrote an insightful biography of John Hewson – made the following comment:

Christine Wallace:   It’s got to be remembered that this is against the backdrop of it being the Liberal Party.  These are conservative men, they don’t want to share power.  Philosophically – and this is increasingly so as the party is infiltrated more and more by Evangelical Christians – they like women in their place. They don’t like them in the House of Representatives or in the Senate.

What a load of absolute tosh.  Take New South Wales, for example, where the small “l” Liberal moderates dominate pre-selections and the conservatives have little influence under the current pre-selection procedures.

There have been four pre-selections for safe Liberal Party seats in NSW since Malcolm Turnbull became prime minister in September 2015.  Namely North Sydney, Berowra, Mackellar and Wentworth.  They were won, respectively, by Trent Zimmerman, Julian Leeser, Jason Falinski and Dave Sharma. Not one woman won any of these pre-selections.  However, one female sitting member lost pre-selection.  Namely, Bronwyn Bishop in Mackellar – and she happens to fit within the conservative wing of the NSW Liberal Party.

MWD is not saying that the successful men at recent pre-selections for winnable Liberal Party seats are not worthy parliamentarians.  All MWD is saying is that Ms Wallace just made up her claim that the under-representation of Liberal women in the Federal parliament is overwhelmingly due to Evangelical Christians who do not want women in the House of Representatives or in the Senate. Needless to say, neither Fran Kelly nor Sue Boyce nor Trish Worth disagreed with Chris Wallace’s view that the under-representation of women in the Liberal Party is all the fault of Evangelical Christians.

At the end of the panel discussion in which everyone agreed with everyone else, the RN Breakfast presenter made the following comment:

Fran Kelly:  We did ask several Liberal men to take part in this panel but they all declined.

Fancy that – no Liberal Party men wanted to go on a panel chaired by Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly. Ms Kelly did not say whether she had asked anyone on the program who might have presented a different view to the Boyce/Worth/Wallace trio.

Some names comes to mind – Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, former Liberal Party Senator Helen Kroger and Anne Henderson (who has written a book on women in Australian politics along with a biography of Enid Lyons, the first woman to serve in the Federal cabinet). This suggests that the RN Breakfast team just loves panels where everyone agrees with everyone else and certain views are effectively censored.  Can You Bear It?



It has always been Hendo’s conviction that hyperbole is the enemy of considered writing – in journalism and elsewhere.  If a journalist cannot make a point without wilful exaggeration – then the point is not worth making in the first place.  It is a bit like the use of the exclamation mark.  If a writer cannot attract attention by the use of normal prose – then little will be achieved by whacking an exclamation mark – or two, or more – at the end of the sentence!!!!


The evidence suggests that the blokes and sheilas at Fairfax Media are having trouble getting heard in the discussion of Australian politics in the wake of the latest leadership change.  And so it has come to pass that Fairfax Media’s best and brightest have hit the Hyperbole Handle. You be the judge.

Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald last Saturday, Peter Hartcher (the SMH’s political editor) had this to say:

…compared to the government led by Morrison, Shorten’s Labor party is positively futuristic. The government reeks of the 1950s, a boofheaded men’s club led by a bloke who carried a lump of coal around into Parliament.

So there you have it.  Prime Minister Scott Morrison leads a boofhead men’s club. How clever is that?  What’s more, the PM brought a lump of coal into the House of Representatives.  Your man Hartcher described this gesture as “antediluvian – not a comment which the SMH political editor would use with respect to German leader Angela Merkel who heads a government committed to presiding over the building of high efficiency and low emission (HELE) coal fired power stations.


Then on Sunday, Jacqueline Maley had this to say about Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the Sun-Herald :

His government is a shopfront without a product – and by his own admission, Miss Piggy and Fozzie Bear are manning the till. If the Coalition was running a 7-Eleven you would cross the road to avoid it. You wouldn’t trust it to serve you a pre-made slushie.

Ms Maley penned this piece of hyperbole on Sunday.  By Tuesday some Australians had “crossed the road” to engage the Coalition about its policies on aged care and the new funding package for non-government schools.

It is to be expected that the young comrades at campus newspapers like Farrago and Honi Soit – or, indeed, those toiling to produce Green Left Weekly – would be happy referring to the Prime Minister as a boofhead who could not run a 7-Eleven store.  But senior writers at Fairfax Media should be able to do better than this.


MWD has long focused on journalists’ use of anonymous sources to bolster their case while in the process of delivering a hatchet job.  This segment is named after ABC star journalist Louise Milligan whose anonymous sources of recent memory have included “the father in law of an ABC journalist”. Really.


Did anyone read the stunning piece by Bevan Shields (with David Crowe) in Fairfax Media’s Sun-Herald on 16 September titled “Abbott survives shock pre-selection challenge?”.  This also ran in The Sunday Age and the Sunday Canberra Times.  The reference was to a meeting held last Friday evening of the Liberal Party’s Warringah conference.  This is how your man Shields’ report commenced:

Tony Abbott has narrowly avoided being kicked out of the blue ribbon seat he has held for 25 years following a backlash fuelled by his role in the demise of Malcolm Turnbull and conservative views on climate change and same-sex marriage.

In an unprecedented challenge that has thrown the spotlight on the former prime minister’s political future, Mr Abbott may have secured just 55 per cent of votes cast during a fiery preselection meeting in his safe Sydney electorate of Warringah.

Fairfax Media has been told Mr Abbott – who ran unopposed – was backed by 46 members, while 38 others rejected his renomination to contest next year’s federal election.

The size of the protest vote has shocked the Liberal Party, and some moderate members now believe Mr Abbott’s grip on the northern beaches seat is not guaranteed and may attempt to oust him during the next term of Parliament with a strong female candidate.

When the 46-38 number was put to Mr Abbott on Saturday night, the former prime minister said: “Not correct. I won roughly 70 per cent of the vote.”

Compelling (Fairfax Media) journalism, don’t you think?  The third paragraph reported anonymous sources that Mr Abbott’s pre-selection had been endorsed by just 55 per cent of the votes cast.  But in the fifth paragraph Mr Abbott was reported as saying that his vote was “roughly 70 per cent”.

So Mr Abbott put his name to the 70 per cent figure but the anonymous-sourced 55 per cent figure was preferred.  So, what about the 55 per cent figure?  Well, your man Shields’ sources consisted of (i) “one local member”, (ii) “moderate Liberal Party supporters”, (iii) “they”, (iv) “another member”, (v) “three sources” and (vi) “another source” – who, presumably, was not some “another source” as the other “another source”.

In an analysis piece in the Sun-Herald beside the Bevan Shields report, David Crowe had this to say (in a somewhat confused commentary):

The latest dispute over Tony Abbott reveals the distrust at the heart of the Liberal Party in the wake of last month’s leadership spill in Canberra. The former prime minister had to stare down a protest vote from local branch members to hold on to his endorsement as the Liberal candidate for Warringah.

The ballot to endorse Abbott is the subject of dispute. Some sources say he won by 46 to 38 votes, with nine people casting informal ballot papers. Others reject this but will not reveal what they believe the numbers to be. Abbott tells Fairfax Media he won roughly 70 per cent of the vote.

However close it was, it was too close for comfort. This puts paid to the delusion that Abbott speaks for “the base” of the Liberal Party. He speaks for part of his party but he infuriates other Liberals just as he divides opinion in the wider community.

In fact, it is the practice of the NSW Liberal Party not to release the results of votes like the one held at last Friday’s Warringah conference.   However, in view of the controversy – and at Tony Abbott’s request – the NSW Liberal Party released the following statement on Monday:

Whilst it has been the Party’s practice to declare the number of votes for or against a particular candidate, a recent review of the Party’s Constitution has determined that the Returning Officer is obliged to declare the result of the ballot, not the number of votes cast for or against.

Nevertheless, given inaccurate information being reported regarding the recent Warringah endorsement meeting, and at the request of the candidate, we advise that Tony Abbott was endorsed with 68 votes for, 30 votes against and two informal votes.

So there you have it.  The Shields/Crowe report was wrong.  The vote concerning Tony Abbott was 68 For, 30 Against, 2 Informal. It was not 46/38/9 as Shields/Crowe suggested. And Mr Abbott’s vote was about 70 per cent – not the 55 per cent as initially claimed by Fairfax Media.

In view of the fact that there are a number of moderates (or left) branches in the Warringah Liberal Party conference – the vote for Tony Abbott at close to 70 per cent was a good outcome for Australia’s 28th prime minister – especially in the wake of the Liberal Party leadership change.  And it’s just wish fulfillment for David Crowe to declare that Tony Abbott’s vote “puts paid to the delusion that Abbott speaks for the base of the party”.  In fact, all that was delusional about the Liberal Party Warringah conference meeting last Friday turned on how it was reported in the Sun-Herald and other Fairfax Media outlets.



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

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


On 25 June 2018, David Vines – Emeritus Professor of Economics and Emeritus Fellow of Balliol College at the University of Oxford – addressed The Sydney Institute on the topic of “Transforming Australia in an Outward-Looking Economy: Why the 1940s Matter”.  He spoke in particular about Australia’s first economists including Lyndhurst Giblin, Douglas Copland and James Brigden. All three men worked as economists in Tasmania in the 1920s where Joseph Lyons was premier and treasurer between October 1923 and June 1928.

Lyons entered the House of Representatives in 1929 and was a minister in James Scullin’s Labor government from October 1929 to March 1931.  On 6 January 1932 he became prime minister and treasurer of the United Australia Party government – having left the Labor Party in 1931 over his disagreement with the Scullin government’s economic policy. Lyons died in office in April 1939 – having been prime minister for most of the 1930s as Australia recovered from the Great Depression.

Towards the middle of his address to The Sydney Institute, Professor Vines made the following comment:

The Australian economy began its recovery from the Depression more rapidly than elsewhere, partly due to the advice which these economists [Giblin, Copland, Brigden] gave – advice which influenced the policies adopted by Prime Minister Joseph Lyons.

That’s correct.  Australia, along with Britain, recovered more quickly from the Great Depression than did the United States during the administration of the left’s fave President F. D. Roosevelt.  In fact, the US had a second depression in 1938 – unlike Australia or Britain.

In Australia over the decades it was fashionable to depict Lyons as a Labor “rat” who was an ineffective prime minister. Not so – as Professor Vines has pointed out.

David Vines – Five Paws.

[Perhaps you should have drawn attention to the biography of Joseph Lyons by Jackie’s (female) co-owner.  As I recall – in Joseph Lyons: The People’s Prime Minister (Newsouth, 2011) – Anne Henderson referred in detail to the relationship between Joe Lyons and Messers Giblin, Copland and Brigden.  MWD Editor.]


There was enormous interest in last week’s MWD which revealed that the ABC had cleared Paul Bongiorno. It found that Bonge was welcome to continue as a paid commentator on the taxpayer funded RN Breakfast despite calling Warren Mundine an “Uncle Tom” in a tweet – a clearly racist term.  But it’s all okay – according to ABC management.  You see, Bonge didn’t intend to be a racist – he was just ignorant.  Not a problem since, apparently, being an ignoramus is no bar to appearing on the ABC – provided you are a leftist ignoramus.

Empowered by this finding, MWD has set up with the help of Jackie (Dip. Wellness) – an Ignoramus Cove which will feature comments by journalists who exhibit their ignorance.


Wednesday’s media covered the story that former governor-general and foreign affairs minister Bill Hayden has converted to Catholicism.  As far as MWD can discover, this story first broke in the Brisbane Catholic Leader newspaper dated Sunday 16 September 2018.  The paper goes on sale at St Francis Church in Melbourne on the morning of the previous Friday – in this case Friday 14 September.

Enter Michael of Taylor’s Lake in Victoria – who picked up his copy of the newspaper on Friday morning in Melbourne.  Your man Michael is an avid reader of both MWD and the Catholic Leader. On Friday 14 September he called in to Mornings with Jon Faine on ABC Radio 774 in Melbourne to announce the news of Mr Hayden’s conversion.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Jon Faine: Michael in Taylors Lakes, good morning to you Michael.

Michael: Yeah g’day John. I just thought everyone should know there’s still hope for you yet.

Jon Faine: For me?

Michael: Yeah, well Bill Hayden, an atheist, a strong atheist, an avowed atheist – at age 85 has become a Catholic.

Jon Faine: Has he?

Michael: Yep.

Jon Faine: How remarkable.

Michael: Unbelievable. Well I shouldn’t say unbelievable should I?

Jon Faine: No, no, he believes. How do you become a Catholic at any stage in life, what do you have to do?

Michael: Well I think you just have to understand where you’re at, and he’s avowed that God is actually alive and kicking – unlike atheists who have no real belief in the power of the other. And I think it comes out even in the words of an article in the same newspaper [the Catholic Leader] that announced it, how beautiful it is to be out in the world and see the birds flying and the waves crashing and thinking no one, just no one could have made a world like this.

Jon Faine: Can you explain – I was astonished when I once discovered that there were things called papal indulgences, Michael.

Michael: Yes.

Jon Faine: Can you explain how they work?

Michael: It’s a bit like anything else, when you actually are welcomed to a higher authority because of the good deeds that you’ve done. It’s no different –

Jon Faine: No, no this is not like that. This is – you pay money and you get a certificate which says that –

Michael: No you don’t pay money at all. That is rubbish.

Jon Faine: If you invoke the name of Jesus on your death bed then suddenly you can get to Heaven after all. No matter how bad you’ve been –

Michael: But so can you –

Jon Faine: – I thought that was fantastic.

Michael: No, it’s about forgiveness. And you’re being a little bit sarcastic here, because you don’t pay for papal indulgences at all.

Jon Faine: Oh no. I was told by someone that you do, you buy them.

Michael: No you don’t – and you can’t buy them.

Jon Faine: And then you can be as bad as you like but as long as you say something just as you’re dying you’re okay.

Michael: No that is not true either. You have to be genuine in your concern and that is what confession is about. It’s not about just going there and saying “I’m sorry for what I’ve done and the good that I have failed to do”. It’s about truly meaning that you’re sorry for what you’ve done and the good that you’ve failed to do.

Jon Faine: Alright, look good news about Bill Hayden and thank you for sharing it with us.

Talk about ignorance, combined with (sneering) anti-Catholic sectarianism. Of a kind found regularly at the ABC and Fairfax Media.

Your man Faine declared that he was astonished when he once discovered that there “were things called Papal indulgences”. Well there were – i.e. payments made to the Catholic Church in exchange for the Church interceding with God to reduce the time of a soul in Purgatory before ascending to Heaven. And they were abolished by the Catholic Church in the wake of the Reformation.  That is, around 500 years ago. [Obviously it takes a while for news to travel from Rome to the ABC Southbank studio in Melbourne – MWD Editor.]

When Michael from Taylor’s Crossing attempted to correct Mr Faine – the ABC presenter said that he was wrong and added “you pay money and get a certificate”. Then Faine added that “if you invoke the name of Jesus on your death bed then you can get to Heaven after all”.  More ignorance.

The problem with Jon Faine is that he is so arrogant that he does not know what he does not know.  A serious condition, to be sure.

Jon Faine – Welcome to Jackie’s Ignoramus Cove.




If ABC managing director and (so-called) editor-in-chief Michelle Guthrie really acted as editor-in-chief taxpayers might receive some explanation as to what was the point of this tweet posted by ABC Politics this week – it was subsequently removed.

MWD has documented how the ABC is a Conservative Free Zone without a conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets.  But even MWD did not anticipate that someone at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster would post a tweet suggesting that women are more influential in Saudi Arabia than in the Coalition parties in Australia.  Which suggests that staff at the ABC Politics, ABC Australia’s official Twitter account, are ignorant not only about Saudi Arabia but also Australia.



Lotsa thanks to the avid reader who drew Jackie’s (male) co-owner’s attention to the discussion between ABC RN Late Night Live presenter Phillip Adams and Sally Young (Professor of Political Science at Melbourne University). The interview took place on Tuesday 28 August 2018 – shortly after Scott Morrison replaced Malcolm Turnbull as prime minister.  This is how LNL advertised the segment:

Broken politics: an Australian history

Australian politics has a long tradition of highly emotional leadership challenges. In August 2018 the political commentary on the end of Malcolm Turnbull has focussed on the toxic political atmosphere and accusations of interference from media proprietors. Similar commentary also applied in August 1941 when the founder of the Liberal Party, Robert Menzies was dumped as Prime Minister.

And so it came to pass that the ABC’s Man-in-Black referred to the forthcoming book by Sally Young titled Press Power. It is certainly forthcoming.  The first volume of Press Power – covering the media between 1788 and 1941 – will not be published until next year.  [I can barely wait – MWD Editor.]  Taxpayers will be interested to know that Professor Young’s two volume tome is supported by the Australian Research Council of which she was a “Future Fellow” between 2014 and 2017. [Why would a Future Fellow write a book on the past? Just a thought. – MWD Editor.]

In any event, Dr Young (for a doctor she is) spoke about the period leading up to August 1941 when Robert Menzies stepped down as prime minister, having lost support in the United Australia Party caucus.  Discussion turned on the role of such media proprietors as Keith Murdoch (Herald and Weekly Times in Melbourne) and Warwick Fairfax (Sydney Morning Herald) and Frank Packer (Daily Telegraph) in the demise of Mr Menzies.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Sally Young: He’d [Murdoch] played a big role in getting Joe Lyons into office in 1931 … Keith Murdoch never really warmed to Menzies except that he was a brilliant intellect and had a great deal of potential early on, but he never really pushed him very strongly. And I think that was because Menzies was quite independent and not as controllable as, say, Lyons had had been for Murdoch.

Menzies had this very forthright way of speaking. He was very independent in his actions – so Murdoch didn’t particularly like that. But they had a big falling out because Menzies encouraged Keith Murdoch to become Director-General of Information during the war and this was the position that Murdoch took on and thought would be a very powerful and prestigious position.

But he immediately blundered and made a big mistake and the other media proprietors turned on him because he tried to push them – restrictions, censorship restrictions. So it became a really big mess and something that Murdoch was quite humiliated [about] and he blamed Menzies for that as well. So after that he was particularly, not feeling very favourable towards Menzies and helped – along with Fairfax and the Packer press in Sydney –  to sort of push Menzies out.

What a load of absolute tosh.  Here’s why:

  • Keith Murdoch did have warm relations with Robert Menzies – on occasions, at least. In 1931 Murdoch co-operated with Menzies in the Group of Six – which facilitated Joseph Lyons’ move from Labor to head the United Australia Party. Lyons won the December 1931 election as UAP leader and became prime minister on 6 January 1932. In 1938 and early 1939 Murdoch wanted Menzies to replace Lyons and there were warm relations between the two men.  As it happened, Lyons died in office in April 1939.   The fall-out between Murdoch and Menzies took place a couple of years later.
  • There is no evidence that Keith Murdoch controlled Joe Lyons any time during his prime ministership. When prime minister, Lyons spent little time with Murdoch or other members of the Group of Six. Moreover, as mentioned above, by the end of the 1930s Murdoch had grown disillusioned with Lyons – but he did not have the power to displace him. In short, contrary to Dr Young’s assertion, Murdoch never controlled Lyons.

The fact is that many academics exaggerate the power of media proprietors. Murdoch did not destroy Lyons’ political career nor did Murdoch destroy Menzies’ career. Lyons died in office a popular prime minister. And Menzies failed as prime minister in 1941 because he lost the support of his colleagues.

At the end of the interview, Phillip Adams declared that he couldn’t wait for Volume 2 of Press Power.  For its part, MWD can’t wait for Volume 1.


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 Jackie’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).


The Age keeps boasting that it is Independent – in this case independent of the truth. Now read on.

Gerard Henderson to Michael Koziol – 19 September 2018


That was an interesting piece by you about the Morrison government and private school funding in Fairfax Media yesterday.  But, alas, not as interesting as the comment from Overechelon which ran in the online comments under your article.

In fact, Overechelon had a real SCOOP in his piece by revealing that I am Sir Robert Menzies’ son-in-law.  This was news to my family – and especially to Anne, who wondered if I had an earlier marriage of which she was not aware.  Here’s what Overechelon had to say:

Mostly accurate, except that Menzies, as well, sought to stop the failure of Catholic Schools of the time to teach what are now known as STEM subjects, paying for science laboratories to be built in those schools.

At the same time, 1963, The European Union did the very same thing in the Republic of Ireland, refusing that nation funding unless the church lost its monopoly on the national school system, and funding the teaching of science, neglected during the previous forty years of Ireland’s independence.

Menzies’ national forbears, as many in Australia appear to no longer understand, had a noted commitment to public education, so his motives may not just have been about votes.

The consequences for Australia are outlined in “Menzies Child”, a book written about the Liberal party by his son in law, Gerard Henderson, in which a generation of now more educated, and more highly paid Catholics in Australia joined the middle classes and the Liberal party.

For whose inclusion John Howard built his party into a “broader church”, to accommodate the change in demographics wrought by a “broader” education?

I don’t know who – if anyone – monitors online comments at Fairfax Media.  In case anyone at Fairfax Media is interested in facts, I offer the following comments:

▪ As you may, or may not, know – in 1963 the Robert Menzies-led Coalition government announced that the Commonwealth would fund science blocks in all schools. Not just Catholic schools.  It seems that Overechelon has a tinge of anti-Catholic sectarianism which is so prevalent in Fairfax Media – which could explain why this rant was published without having been fact-checked.

Robert Menzies’ decision was intended to end what was called the state aid debate by providing funding for non-government schools in the only way the Commonwealth could do so – since the States had virtual sole control over school education at the time.

▪ Robert Menzies has one daughter (Heather) and one son-in-law (Peter).  Peter Henderson was educated at Geelong Grammar and was a Protestant. I was educated in the Catholic school system.  Moreover, Peter Henderson (who died a couple of years ago) married Heather Menzies in 1955 – when I was in primary school. By the way, Peter Henderson had a real AC. My “AC” stands for “Always Courteous”.

Still – as one of the Fairfax Media readers who brought this matter to my attention wrote last night: “Heather Henderson/Anne Henderson – what does a word matter in these post-modern times.”  To which I add – especially at Fairfax Media.

Keep morale high.

Gerard Henderson AC (aka Always Courteous)

cc:  Alex Lavelle, Editor, The Age

     Lisa Davies, Editor, SMH


Michael Koziol to Gerard Henderson – 20 September 2018

Hi Gerard,

Sorry yes, I did receive this, I just had a busy day yesterday. I don’t regularly read the comments so I hadn’t seen that one.

I’ll make sure someone higher up gets back to you.



Michael Koziol
Education, media/communications and legal affairs reporter, Fairfax Media


Gerard Henderson to Michael Koziol – 20 September 2018


I understand that you are busy and that you are going to make sure that someone “higher up” gets back to me.  I did send a copy to the Editors of The Age and SMH. Can anyone go any higher than this?

In any event, it was an interesting story that you wrote on the education issue.

Best wishes



Michael Koziol to Gerard Henderson – 20 September 2018

Thanks Gerard. Comment moderator is looking at it now, and someone will write to you shortly.

All the best,



Gerard Henderson to Michael Koziol – 20 September 2018

Lotsa thanks.


Alas, so far The Age has not responded.


Gerard Henderson to Julian Burnside – 19 September 2018


I note that you are one of the six ambassadors of the National Secular Lobby. I also note in passing that five out of the six ambassadors are blokes – with only one sheila (Jane Caro). So it’s off to gender-consciousness training for you – along with Messrs Phillip Adams, Chris Schacht, Paul Willis and David Zyngier.

But I digress. The opening sentence of the National Secular Lobby’s media release – titled “PM Blatantly Misleads Australians on Religious Freedom” – is as follows:

The National Secular Lobby is voicing the deep concerns of the secular majority and urging Australians to call out the Prime Minister on his misleading and outrageous comments on religious freedom.

The National Secular Lobby’s comment is misleading – fake news, in fact. There is no “secular majority” in Australia.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, data form the 2016 Census reveals that 52 per cent of Australians are Christian with other religious believers amounting to 8 per cent – i.e. 60 per cent in all are believers.  Some 30 per cent of Australians described themselves as having “no religion” – this includes secular and other spiritual beliefs.  Note that this was an optional question which not all Australians answered.

Unlike you, I was not educated at Melbourne Grammar School. However, I would be surprised if the MGS maths staff taught that 30 per cent of anything amounted to a majority.

My question is – will you and the team at the Australian Secular Lobby correct this howler?

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson AC (aka “Always Courteous”)


Julian Burnside to Gerard Henderson – 20 September 2018

Dear GH

Yes, I got it.

I will reply later but on your first point: so far as I am aware, the ambassadors do not get a say in the sex-mix of the group.

Very best wishes


Julian Burnside AO, QC


Gerard Henderson to Julian Burnside – 20 September 2018

Dear JB

Lotsa thanks.


[MWD Editor’s Note: Avid readers will be the first to know if JB AO QC proves that 30 per cent amounts to a majority of anything.]


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Until next time.