ISSUE – NO. 435

7 December 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: Australian politics 2018 – not like 1929 or 1941; How The Drum failed to cover Fr Philip Wilson’s Acquittal

  • Can You Bear It? John Hewson; Catherine McGregor, Jane Caro, Hamish Macdonald & Jonathan Green

  • ABC Update: Julia Baird’s (confused) lament & ABC Life (or is it?)

  • Media Fool of the Week: John Daley’s what-to-read list which the Prime Minister never follows

  • MWD EXCLUSIVE: Drum guest defeats Tony Jones’ eco-catastrophe record

  • Jackie’s Old Bones: When Bonge was Mark Latham’s bestie

  • Documentation: “Nick” charged with making false allegations and fraud re sex abuse claims against high profile British individuals

  • Correspondence: Julian Burnside AO QC helps out

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The excitement in sections of the Canberra Press Gallery was evident this morning when yesterday’s happenings in Parliament House were discussed on RN Breakfast’s “Friday Politics Forum”.  Fran Kelly was in the chair and her guests were The Guardian Australia’s political editor Katharine Murphy and Channel 9’s political editor Chris Uhlmann. Let’s go to the transcript where the Prime Minister’s role in avoiding a vote (which had the support of Labor, the Greens and most Independents) in the House of Representatives on children in Nauru was discussed.

Fran Kelly:  …Chris, when it came down to it, did the government play the only hand it had? How costly would the passage of that bill have been to Scott Morrison?

Chris Uhlmann: It would be historic – because you can go back to either 1941 or 1929, whenever you want to take your mark from. It doesn’t happen very often at all that a government loses a vote on a substantive bill. And it’s always in the past been seen as a want of confidence in the government, you know – since 1929 [when] Stanley Melbourne Bruce called an election the following day. So, what was exposed yesterday was that the government – does not – and this is what the Labor Party wanted to show – does not control either house of Parliament. The most important one of course being the House of Representatives, where government is formed.

In fact, there is no valid comparison between Australian national politics today and the situation that prevailed in 1929 and/or 1941.

An election was held on 17 November 1928 and the Coalition government, under the leadership of Stanley Melbourne Bruce (Nationalist) and Earle Page (Country Party), was returned. On 10 September 1929 the Bruce/Page government was defeated on its Maritime Industries Bill. Four Nationalists and two Independents crossed the floor to vote with the Labor Party.  The vote was 35 to 34 against the government but the speaker Littleton Groom refused to enter the House of Representatives to produce a tie and enable to government to prevail on a casting vote.

In this situation, it was clear that the Bruce/Page government had lost its majority since five Nationalists – Billy Hughes, Edward Mann, Walter Marks, George Maxwell and Littleton Groom – (along with two Independents) had split with the government.  Prime Minister Scott Morrison does not face a similar scenario today – since no Coalition members are likely to defect and most of the Independents are not inclined to support a no-confidence vote in the government.

In October 1941, the Country Party-United Australia Party Coalition government, led by Arthur Fadden, lost a no-confidence motion concerning the government’s budgetary measures.  Two Independents Arthur Coles and Alexander Wilson, who had supported the government since the September 1940 election, announced that they had lost confidence in the Coalition government and indicated that they would in future support the Labor Party.  Prime Minister Scott Morrison does not face a similar scenario today – since no Independents have said that they will support Labor.

In September 1929 Prime Minister Bruce sought, and received from the Governor-General, an early election – which Labor under Jim Scullin’s leadership won.  In October 1941 Prime Minister Fadden advised the Governor-General to commission Labor’s John Curtin to form a government – which he did. The next election was held in August 1943 when Labor was returned to office.

The Morrison government – unlike the Bruce/Page government in 1929 – is not facing the prospect of its members crossing the floor and supporting Labor.  Also the Morrison government – unlike the Fadden government in 1941 – has not lost the confidence of the Independents to the extent that they would support a no-confidence motion.  In any event, an election is likely to be held by the end of May 2019 and Parliament is already in its summer recess.

In view of this, any comparison between Australian national politics in 2018 and the situation that prevailed in 1929 and/or 1941 is an example of Canberra Press Gallery over-the-topism.


Fr Philip Wilson, the former Catholic Archbishop of Adelaide, was found guilty by Magistrate Robert Stone in Newcastle Local Court on 3 July 2018 of failing to report a child sex abuse allegation.  The prosecution maintained that Fr Wilson had been told that a Catholic priest was a child sex abuser in the mid-1970s and that he had failed to report this matter to NSW Police between April 2004 and January 2006 – as required by Section 316A of the NSW Crimes Act.

That night Julia Baird presented The Drum on ABC TV with a panel that comprised Dee Madigan, Stephen O’Doherty, Megan Motto and Karen Middleton.   It was a total pile-on against Fr Wilson. So much so that even Dr Baird declared “there seems to be a consensus on the panel here” – having previously bagged the Catholic Church herself for what she described as “obstructive clericalism”.

The pile-on occurred despite the fact that neither the panellists nor the presenter had read Magistrate Stone’s judgment. Indeed, the judgment is still not readily available –as Fr Frank Brennan documents in his article titled “Philip Wilson’s dead letter day” in today’s edition of Eureka Street.

Yesterday in the Newcastle District Court, Judge Roy Ellis overturned Magistrate Stone’s decision. He found that Fr Wilson should not have been convicted beyond reasonable doubt.  Judge Ellis, while believing that the complainant in this case was an honest witness, said that he was not satisfied with the accuracy of some of the complainant’s recollections.  He found that Fr Wilson was an honest and forthright witness. Judge Ellis also held that it was possible for entirely honest individuals like the complainant to have false memories.

So what did The Drum do last night with respect to Judge Ellis’ decision?  Nothing. Absolutely nothing.  The case was covered by ABC TV News but ignored by The Drum and 7.30.

When Fr Wilson was convicted by Magistrate Stone, the ABC reported that this was a finding of international significance and discussed the case at length.  However, when Fr Wilson was acquitted by Judge Ellis, the matter was not covered by The Drum or 7.30.

The decision in R v Phillip Edward Wilson has been released with certain names redacted.


 Can You Bear It


John Hewson is the type of Liberal Party member (or ex-member) that Fairfax Media and the ABC just love.  You know, someone who is a former Liberal Party leader or frontbencher who bags the Liberal Party.

John (“call me doctor”) Hewson was at it again in his column in The Age yesterday titled “An aimless, self-obsessed rabble: Liberal brand is damaged goods.” It was the normal Hewson rant against the Liberal Party – which, as usual, was not fact-checked by Fairfax Media.  Which explains the following Hewson howlers in his piece are set out below:

The reality is that the Liberal brand is damaged. The party is now characterised by disunity and disloyalty, by tribalism, not by principle or by policy but by personal interests – not even party interests and certainly not the national interest.

The government presents as a directionless rabble, a perception compounded daily by knee-jerk reactions. Traditional Liberal voters are the forgotten people. While the objective has been to give the rank and file a greater voice in preselections, Scott Morrison suddenly confirmed the preselection of all sitting members this week, just to save one of the least loyal, Craig Kelly, who had clearly lost the support of his constituency. What about Jane Prentice, Ann Sudmalis, Jim Molan and others who had been discarded? Wasn’t there also a clear message to Tony Abbott, who won his preselection by a few votes when there was no other candidate; a significant number just didn’t vote?

Your man Hewson was unaware that Jane Prentice lost her pre-selection when Malcolm Turnbull was prime minister. Ditto Ann Sudmalis who decided not to contest a pre-selection for her seat of Gilmore.  Scott Morrison could not have taken action with respect to either Liberal parliamentarian.

Also, in his ignorance, John Hewson wrote that Tony Abbott won his Warringah pre-selection “by a few votes”. In fact, the former prime minister received about 70 per cent of the vote – which is a long-way north of, say, 51 per cent. It seems the learned doctor just made this up.  Can You Bear It?


As avid readers are aware, ABC TV’s The Drum’s co-presenter Julia Baird insists at the start of the program that it is all about respectful conversation – especially concerning follow-up comments about the program on Twitter and Facebook. This is how Dr Baird reminded her viewers of the importance of courtesy on Wednesday:

Julia Baird: Now if you’re on Twitter and would like to join in our respectful conversation – just use the hashtag #thedrum. And also of course on Facebook.

Well, that’s pretty clear then. The Drum is more respectful than thou.  When it comes to conversation it sets a high courtesy standard for commentary on Twitter and Facebook.

But what about its own panelists? – MWD hears you cry. Well, that’s different it seems.  For example, this is what commentator Catherine McGregor had to say about Commonwealth funding for the Australian War Memorial and other such museums – with particular reference to Dr Brendan Nelson, the Australian War Memorial’s director:

Catherine McGregor: It just strikes me as bollocks frankly, the whole thing.  And the people who are the loudest voices in it have never left Australia with their hats turned up at the side – as far as I’m aware.  The loudest boosters of this stuff are Brendan Nelson – you know, bouncing around like a sort of an electrocuted imp asking for money for commemoration of wars he never found the time to go to.

So Dr Baird told viewers – if viewers there were – at the start of The Drum on Wednesday that the program was all about respectful conversation.  So did she make any objection when panelist Catherine McGregor described Dr Brendan Nelson as “bouncing around like a sort of an electrocuted imp”?  Not on your nelly. Can You Bear It?


While on the topic of bad behaviour, consider the case of ABC fave Jane Caro.  In recent times, Ms Caro has received lotsa publicity for saying she may run against Tony Abbott in Warringah at the 2019 election – but then again, she may not. This has led to big stories in The [Boring] Saturday Paper (Ms Caro may run) and on ABC TV’s One Plus One (Ms Caro may not run). Yawn.

Today’s Australian carries a story by Elias Visontay that Jane Caro told a meeting in Warringah last night that she is a dual Australian/British citizen so they should not get “too excited” about the prospect of her running against Tony Abbott. MWD is not surprised.

Last Monday, Jane Caro rushed to Twitter the minute she heard that Patricia Karvelas had been asked to leave the House of Representatives for wearing an almost sleeveless blouse.  This is what the Liberal Party and Tony Abbott hater had to say:

What a load of absolute tosh. Clearly Comrade Caro has no idea about how Parliament House works.  Patricia Karvelas’s dress code was objected to by one of Parliament House’s attendants. That’s all.  The decision had nothing whatsoever to do with the Liberal National Party in general or with Liberal Party speaker Tony Smith in particular.  When Mr Smith heard about what had happened he apologised to Ms Karvelas on behalf of the House of Representatives.

Tony Smith did not throw Patricia Karvelas out of the media section of the House of Representatives.  Jane Caro just made this up.  And she alleges that Tony Smith is “bone mumbling stupid”. Can You Bear It?


While on the topic of women in politics, did anyone see last Monday’s Q&A with Hamish Macdonald sitting in for Tony Jones in the presenter’s chair?  It was a rare Q&A occasion in that right-of-centre panelists outnumbered left-of-centre panelists.  The panel comprised former Coalition cabinet minister Amanda Vanstone, leftist British singer-songwriter Billy Bragg, Morrison government assistant minister Linda Reynolds, Tasmanian Labor senator Lisa Singh and so-called people’s panelist Martin Matthews (who said he was inclined to vote Liberal).

Q&A is a scripted program with most of the audience’s questions approved in advance by the program’s executive director.  So it was no surprise that last Monday the program soon turned to a discussion about women in the Liberal Party – and their under-representation in the House of Representatives in particular – along with the (undocumented) allegation that Liberal Party female parliamentarians have been bullied by their male colleagues.

Hamish Macdonald set the tone for the discussion when he directed this leading question to Senator Reynolds: “Do you accept, though, that your party has a problem with women?”  Soon after your man Macdonald raised the issue of (alleged) bullying in the Liberal Party – but did not want to go to the issue of bullying in the Labor Party or the Greens.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Amanda Vanstone: You know, I’d like to know – Everyone says: “Oh, poor Julia Banks was bullied.” You know what? Unless I’ve been in some coma, I haven’t read what bullying she was subjected to, by whom and when. I’m a bit annoyed at the people who say: “I’ve been bullied.” Have you really? Well, let’s deal with it. But just: “I’ve been bullied and I want attention for it, and I’m leaving because they bully me”.  If I was there, I wouldn’t be putting up with it.

Hamish Macdonald: The new Prime Minister had said there would be an investigation. That it would be followed up. Do you think they did?

Amanda Vanstone: I don’t know. I’m not in Canberra. But what’s the name of that Labor woman who said she was bullied? Just help me – Husar?

Hamish Macdonald: I don’t think she says she was bullied. I think the allegation was that she was a bully.

Amanda Vanstone: No, she made allegations that she had people in her electorate that were pushing her around and trying to get rid of her. They had an investigation and said it was independent. Well, they appointed the lawyer that did it….

Ms Vanstone was correct.  Emma Husar, the Labor MP for Lindsay, did say she was bullied.  In any event, the most revealing part of Q&A’s discussion on women in politics turned on what was not said.

You see, the able and articulate Senator Lisa Singh has been relegated to the all but unwinnable fourth position on the Labor Party’s Senate ticket in Tasmania for next year’s election.  She has been placed behind two sitting senators – Senator Carol Brown and Senator Catryna Bilyk along with Australian Manufacturing and Workers Union (AMWU) Tasmanian state secretary John Short.

In other words, the sitting senator Lisa Singh has been placed behind a trade union bloke.  So, what did Hamish Macdonald say about the fact that an able female senator has been treated badly by the Labor Party in Tasmania – without receiving useful help from her colleagues in Canberra?  Well, nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  Can You Bear It?

[Er, no.  Not really. I thought that I heard Ms Vanstone and/or Senator Reynolds trying to raise the issue of Senator Singh’s pre-selection on Q&A, but neither got on the screen.  Perhaps Hamish Macdonald was intent on getting Labor off the hook in this instance – MWD Editor]


It was Hangover Time last Sunday when Jackie’s (male) co-owner saw this tweet from MWD fave Jonathan (“Proudly the ABC’s Sneerer-in-Chief”) Green

Jonathan Green (@GreenJ)
2/12/18, 9:07 am

Funny how it’s no longer quite so frightening to live in Melbourne. What a difference a week makes.

It seems that the bicycle riding/sandal-wearing resident of the Melbourne inner-city suburb of Fitzroy awoke last Sunday and reflected on what a peaceful land it was. [I’m surprised that Comrade Green does not live up the road in Fitzroy North – MWD Editor] A week had passed since the Victorian Labor government had been returned to office despite the law-and-order campaign run by the Liberal Party and the Nationals.

So, shortly after breakfast on Sunday 2 December, your man Green ridiculed the suggestion that residents of Melbourne have a reason to be frightened of violence inflicted by African Australian gangs.

It seems that at 9.07 am last Sunday news had yet to reach Fitzroy that, shortly before midnight on Saturday, three young men were bashed and robbed by a gang of African Australian youths at St Kilda Beach.  It is estimated that the gang consisted of around a hundred young men.  Some of whom also attacked the police.

On Sunday afternoon, in its online edition, the Herald Sun reported that an African Australian gang was involved in the violence.  Yet on Monday morning Jonathan Green’s comrades at ABC Radio news merely referred to “gangs”. Can You Bear It?



As MWD readers are aware, ABC TV’s The Drum often fronts up with a conservative free panel – confirming the ABC as a Conservative Free Zone without a conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets.

Thanks to the avid reader who drew MWD’s attention to this comment made by The Drum co-presenter Julia Baird on Thursday 29 November 2018 concerning what she said was the unwillingness of Liberal Party types to appear on her program:

Julia Baird: We at The Drum have had immense problems getting senior Liberals to come on the show to prosecute their case and their policies.  The Victorian election was a case in point.  Now, I’ve written about this before, it is a real problem.  To the extent that, for the two nights we were down in Victoria, we had to speak to dozens and dozens of people. Some had contracts at Sky. Some were not interested, some were too busy. So where were they to prosecute the case the night before an election? Are you [talking to other journalists] having that problem as well? Because it’s really having an impact, I believe, in debate and an image of accessibility and advocacy.

In fact, The Drum did two programs in the lead-up to the Victorian election on 24 November. On Thursday 22 November 2018, Karina Okotel (the Liberal Party’s federal vice-president) appeared on the program.  On the next day Tim Wilson (the Liberal Party MP for Goldstein) was a panelist.  So, what was the problem?

It’s certainly possible that some conservatives will not come on The Drum because they do not want to be on traditionally unbalanced programs where one right-of-centre type is expected to confront three or more left-of-centre types.  However, MWD believes that there are many more articulate conservatives in Australia than The Drum’s producers ever dreamed of in their insular world in the ABC’s Conservative Free Zone.


Meanwhile, what’s going on at ABC Life? – the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s expensive initiative aimed at attracting the young.  Well, Aunty’s very latest insights include “The ‘un-Christmas’ approach can bring meaning back into our holidays”, “Hate swimsuit shopping?. Here are 7 ways to make it less stressful” and “From Otway to Dutch cream: Your guide to the world’s most versatile veggie” and “7 tips for fermentation at home”. Your taxes at work.




Addressing The Sydney Institute some years ago, David Pryce-Jones said that members of the intelligentsia were wont to use the word “should” – as they went about telling everyone what they should do.  This is how the partly taxpayer funded Grattan Institute announced its list of what the prime minister SHOULD read over the Christmas/New Year period:

Summer Reading List for the Prime Minister 2018

by John Daley
Six books the PM should read over the holidays (and you might like them too)

It’s been an extraordinary year in politics – and no doubt many politicians are well and truly ready for a summer holiday. To help our leaders make the most of their time off, Grattan Institute has curated a list of this year’s must-reads – a curiosity-piquing platter of novels, think-pieces, memoirs and manifestos. These books have three things in common: they’re thoroughly readable, they have something worth saying, and they’ll stick with you. We think they deserve a place on the bookshelf in Kirribilli House, as well in as your own office or beach-bag.

And now for a reality check.  There is no evidence that any prime minister has ever read any of the books recommended by the Grattan Institute since its formation in 2008.  Yet its chief executive officer John Daley continues to publish each year his little list of what the PM should read over the Festive Season.  Here’s this year’s recommendations – in no particular order:

Factfulness: Ten reasons we’re wrong about the world – and why things are better than you think – Hans Rosling

The People vs Democracy: Why our freedom is in danger & how to save it – Yascha Mounk

Rusted Off: Why Country Australia is fed up – Gabrielle Chan

No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison – Behrouz Boochani

Women & Power: A Manifesto – Mary Beard

Flames – Robbie Arnott

For the record, Jackie’s (male) co-owner cannot see any reason why Scott Morrison would benefit from reading any of these books – except for Gabrielle Chan’s Rusted Off about life in rural Australia.

As usual, you man Daley got a gig on the ABC TV News Breakfast program to discuss his list.  On this occasion, co-presenter Michael Rowland suggested that the Grattan Institute’s Summer Reading List usually contained rather dull books which, if read, would not increase the morale of a busy prime minister.  Or words to that effect.

Mr Rowland’s point was proven when, at the end of the interview, Dr Daley (for a doctor he is) discussed Robbie Arnott’s Flames.  For starters, here’s how the publisher Text Publishing describes this novel:

A young man named Levi McAllister decides to build a coffin for his twenty-three-year-old sister, Charlotte—who promptly runs for her life. A water rat swims upriver in quest of the cloud god. A fisherman named Karl hunts for tuna in partnership with a seal. And a father takes form from fire. The answers to these riddles are to be found in this tale of grief and love and the bonds of family, tracing a journey across the southern island that takes us full circle. Flames sings out with joy and sadness. Utterly original in conception, spellbinding in its descriptions of nature and its celebration of the power of language, it announces the arrival of a thrilling new voice in contemporary fiction.

So there you have it.  A fascinating tale, to be sure.  And so it came to pass that John Daley went on and on and on about Flames until, thank God, co-presenter Virginia Trioli told him to zip it (to use Kevin Rudd’s phrase).  Let’s go to the transcript:

John Daley: This is a book that’s there because it has been a tough year and you want something that’s really just good fun. So, this starts with a family –

Michael Rowland: [Interjecting] Finally.

Virginia Trioli: Michael, he’s listened to you.

John Daley:  – where all of the women in the family, who get cremated immediately, come back as ghosts to deal with the unfinished business. The first one we get introduced to

Michael Rowland: [Interjecting] I thought it was supposed to be fun.

John Daley: – shows up with a whole bunch of ferns, sort of waters herself for three days then goes to her ex-husband, sort of turns into fire on his lawn and leaves this enormous black patch that never recovers.


Virginia Trioli: That’s the fun story?

John Daley: The son doesn’t take this, doesn’t like this very much so –  he’s convinced that he’s going to make sure that his sister doesn’t get cremated. So he starts organising her coffin. She doesn’t take this very well so she runs away. He’s, of course, working with this mad coffin builder who’s got a dispute with the –

Virginia Trioli: [Interjecting] Stop already. Stop already.

John Daley: It’s mad, it’s completely mad and it’s really fun.

Virginia Trioli: I’ll take your word for it. Fascinating list there – going up to the Prime Minister soon. Let us know if you receive at least a little acknowledgment note.

John Daley: We’ll let you know.

Yeah. What fun.  The Grattan Institute’s CEO reckons that the Prime Minister should have some fun this Festive Season by reading about a mad coffin builder, his threatened sister, a water rat, a fisherman, tuna and fire.  In Hendo’s view, the PM would have more fun reading Xavier Herbert’s Poor Fellow My Country – which Barry Humphries re-named “Poor Fellow My Reader”. Or perhaps Mr Daley’s fun 1999 tome Interlocutory Orders Pending High Court Litigation – which caused readers to fall asleep, even when reading the volume while standing.

John Daley – Media Fool of the Week.




It was back on 7 April 2009, less than a week after April Fools’ Day, that Tony Jones – as presenter of the (late) ABC TV Lateline program – set the public broadcaster’s record for alarmism over sea level rises. He had a little help from the (then) Environment Minister Peter Garrett.  Let’s go to the transcript of that historic moment:

Tony Jones: Here is something that is new: the report of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research, its 23 nations contribute to this, on the impact of climate change in Antarctic. It will be released today. It says that in west Antarctica the attribution of ice lost to human driven warming is now strong – and it warns that a number of climate influences could amplify this ice loss and accelerate future sea level rises. The most scary thing it says is the upper level of those rises in global sea level could be as much as six metres – six metres – by the end of the century.

Peter Garrett: Look, I haven’t seen that report yet, Tony, but I don’t think there’s any doubt those kinds of projections and scenarios are consistent with what the inter-governmental panel on climate change [IPCC] brought forward over the last couple of years. And as more scientists do more work on potential climate change impacts, we’re likely to be presented with these kinds of scenarios. Now, I have to say, I haven’t seen this specific report yet, but the fact is that we’re now entering a period where we are in a position to observe, particularly in the Antarctic, the consequences of global warming and climate change.

So, in April 2009, your man Jones set the (ABC) bar at a 6 metre rise in sea levels by 2100.  Mr Jones’ record pitch lasted almost a decade until last Friday (30 November) – when barrister Kellie Edwards put in this stunning performance when a panellist on ABC TV’s The Drum.  Julia Baird was in the presenter’s chair as discussion turned on the so-called students’ strike for action on climate change which had taken place at lunch-time that very day:

Kellie Edwards: …I’ve got a 10 year old. She’s going to be left with these problems. She’s going to live to a hundred. By that stage we’re looking at 5 degree change, sea level rises perhaps between – no one really knows – 50 metres? That’s going to put huge pressure on the geopolitical situation. And people say perhaps children don’t really understand this – my child’s lying awake in bed at night worried about this stuff.

Well done Ms Edwards of Denman Chambers in Sydney.  On reflection, Tony Jones was something of a wimp in going for a mere 6 metre rise in sea levels by 2100.  Kellie Edwards had the courage to go for an even 50 metre rise – which would bring about a situation whereby residents of Broken Hill will have ocean views in a mere eight decades. Needless to say, Dr Baird (for a doctor she is) did not question the Edwards claim.

In view of her scary scenario, there is no point in Ms Edwards’ 10 year old daughter lying awake at night worrying about rising sea levels. It would make more sense to get the 10 year old out of bed and down to Bondi Beach for a late-night swimming lesson or two.


On 25 November 2018 The Sunday Times in London reported that the Met Office in Britain has just released its UK Climate Projections report. The Met Office’s modelling projects that if the Earth warms by about 4 degrees Celsius by 2100, then sea levels will rise by about 3 to 4 feet – i.e. about one metre.

So, the Met Office projects that a 4 degrees Celsius increase in temperature by 2100 will lead to a one metre rise in sea levels.  But Ms Edwards told The Drum, without being challenged, that a 5 degrees Celsius increase in temperature by 2100 will lead to a 50 metre rise in sea levels. Yes, a whopping 50 metres.

The question is – for how long will Kellie Edwards’ eco-catastrophist record remain unchallenged?  Anyone for 100 metres by 2100?




As avid readers well know, Paul Bongiorno is one of five political commentators who appear once a week on ABC Radio National Breakfast.  The others are Michelle Grattan, Peter van Onselen, Phil Coorey and Alice Workman.  The presenter is Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly.  There is not one conservative among this lot – confirming the ABC’s reality as a Conservative Free Zone.

By far the most left-wing among the quintet of RN Breakfast commentators is Paul Bongiorno.  During the time of the Howard government, the Prime Minister’s Office regarded Bonge as the most left-wing member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery who worked in the commercial media.

On Monday, Bongiorno – as usual – used his five minutes with Comrade Kelly to bag the Coalition.  On this occasion, his target was Liberal MP Craig Kelly who, at the time, was fighting to win pre-selection to recontest his seat of Hughes.  Your man Bongiorno opposed the right-of-centre Kelly in the Hughes contest and supported his left-of-centre opponent.  In the process of bagging Craig Kelly, Bonge had this to say:

Paul Bongiorno:  In fact, several Liberal MPs told me during the year that they believed that Craig Kelly was getting his speaking notes from the Minerals Council.

How shocking is that?  Craig Kelly allegedly gets information from the Minerals Council of Australia before speaking on matters pertaining to energy.  According to Bonge and “several” anonymous Liberal MPs, that is.

The implication was that there is something improper about a Liberal Party politician talking to an industry group. It should be noted that Bonge is not on record as opposing a Labor Party politician talking to a trade union.  But – there you go.

This reminded MWD of what (one time) Labor leader Mark Latham had to say about Bonge in his The Latham Diaries (MUP, 2005). Here is an extract from Mr Latham’s diary of Thursday 9 December 2004:

Hosted Christmas drinks for the press gallery in our new press office. Gritted my teeth and tried to be pleasant. Naturally, all the grubs bagging me were there to drink my grog and see if I’m still alive. I have hardly any allies left. One of them, Paul Bongiorno told me that during the election campaign Howard rang the head of Channel Ten to complain about his reporting. That’s what I should have done: rung my mate Kerry Packer to fix up Jabba [Laurie Oakes]. Situation hopeless.

As Stephen Mayne documented in Crikey on 28 September 2005, Mark Latham was interviewed on ABC Radio in Victoria on 27 September 2005 – and had this to say:

Mark Latham: Bongiorno used to ring our media office every second day with snippets and tips about the Liberals….

Mark Latham went on to say that journalists who are partisan in their job, as opposed to independent commentators, should be accountable for their partisan activities. In this regard, he criticised both Paul Bongiorno and one other.

As far as MWD is aware, Paul Bongiorno has never denied Mark Latham’s claims that he tipped-off the Labor leader’s office with information. Mr Bongiorno gave a no comment response when asked by Stephen Mayne about Mr Latham’s diary entry of 9 December 2004.



As readers are aware, MWD has been covering the case of a certain Nick who alleged that he was a victim of a VIP child abuse ring based in Westminster in London. As The Guardian reported on 4 December 2018:

[Nick’s] His claims centred on a number of establishment figures, including the former Conservative prime minister Ted Heath; Leon Brittan, a Tory former home secretary who died in 2015 before learning that he had been cleared of all wrongdoing; a former head of the armed forces, Lord Bramall; and the former Conservative MP Harvey Proctor.

The Metropolitan police launched Operation Midland after it received allegations of a VIP paedophile ring operating in Westminster. However, the £2.5m investigation closed after finding no evidence of any wrongdoing.

In short, it appears that Nick is a fantasist – having clear “recollections” of events that never happened.

This week, following the lifting of a suppression order, Nick was identified. However, MWD will continue to call him Nick. The Guardian reported:

The charges [Nick] faces include allegations that he made a false allegation of witnessing Proctor kill a child, and that he had falsely alleged “that he had been sexually and physically abused by a paedophile ring, with senior ranking officers within the military, military intelligence, a TV presenter and other unidentified men”. He is also accused of falsifying an email account and providing false information purportedly sent from “Fred”, an individual whom he had named as present when he was abused by a paedophile ring.

The fraud charge accuses him of making a fraudulent representation to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority on or around 26 September 2013, “namely that he was subjected to abuse by a paedophile ring, knowing this to be untrue and intending thereby to make a gain for himself”.

MWD will keep readers advised of developments – and next week will cover some other cases in Britain where undocumented allegations of child sexual abuse have been made against high profile individuals.


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).


Last Saturday, just after lunch, Julian (“I just love flashing my post-nominals”) Burnside AO QC sent out the follow tweet:

Julian Burnside (@JulianBurnside)
1/12/18, 2:42 pm

Leave aside that he can’t spell, Trump thinks Argentina is in Africa!
President of the USA, and a Grade A moron

Donald J. Trump‏ @realDonaldTrFan

FollowFollow @realDonaldTrFan

Arrived in Argentena! First time that any US president has visited! They love me hear! I’ve never been to Africa, so its very exciting! BIG CROWDS! Haven’t seen them yet since I’m still in the bathroom. Bush & Obama had SMALL crowds when they visited! Done with bathroom. gotta go

2:47 PM – 30 Nov 2018


Soon after, JB AO QC tweeted the following correction:

Julian Burnside (@JulianBurnside)
1/12/18, 3:19 pm

Sorry, I have been told that’s a fake Twitter account.
But I still think ⁦‪@realDonaldTrump⁩ is a Grade A moron
Prove me wrong.…


Reading this at Gin & Tonic time last Saturday, Hendo came to wonder how a clever bloke like Burnside could be so naïve as to fall for this piece of fake news – overlooking the difference between the Donald J Trump verified and fake accounts as set out below:

So on Monday, Hendo wrote to JB AO QC in search of an answer. Now read on:

Gerard Henderson to Julian Burnside – 3 December 2018


I hope that life finds you well in your Hawthorn pile.

I understand that men of a certain age – like us – can confuse a verified account with a fake account in this era of Twitter.  The reference is to your failure to pick that the tweet you attributed to Donald J. Trump about Argentena[sic] being in Africa (which you sent, after lunch, on Saturday) was FAKE NEWS.  And to the resultant correction which you tweeted some time later on Saturday afternoon.

However, I am surprised by the extent of your naivety in this regard.  Did you seriously believe that President Trump – who has had commercial interests in the continent of America – really thinks that Argentina is an African nation?  And did you really believe that a man like Trump would declare that he was tweeting while “in the bathroom”?

A “Yes” or “No” answer will do with respect to each question.  Over to you.

By the way, I note that in your post-howler tweet you continued to maintain that President Trump is “a Grade A moron” – and you used the “prove me wrong” refrain.  This, as I recall, is a version of the late Bob Ellis’ “prove that I lie” usage.  It’s great to know that you seem intent on filling the gap left by the False Prophet of Palm Beach as a supplier of hyperbole.  Keep it up – my Media Watch Dog blog needs all the material it can get.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson AC (Always Courteous)

Julian Burnside to Gerard Henderson – 3 December 2018

Dear Gerard Henderson

My answers to your questions:

  • Yes
  • No idea, and no interest

And an observation: You claim to be “Always Courteous”.  I have some difficulty with that proposition, given your tendency to:

  • Refer to my house as a “Hawthorn pile” (something you have done several times, including in your column
  • Write articles on trivial matters like this (in the manner of Andrew Bolt)

And, just for interest, what is YOUR assessment of his intellect?  Your ultimate employer (Rupert Murdoch) rates it very low, according to Woodward’s book Fear.

Very best wishes for Christmas and the New Year


Gerard Henderson to Julian Burnside – 7 December 2018

Dear Julian Burnside AO QC

Thanks for your reply.

I note that you (once) seriously believed that Donald J. Trump cannot spell Argentina and thinks that it is an African nation.  And that you have no idea as to whether President Trump would refer to himself tweeting “in the bathroom”.  It’s no surprise, then, that you fell for the Donald J Trump fake account and believed it – even though it was Fake News.

In response to your question, I regard Donald J. Trump as not intellectually deep but very clever and quite cunning.  In my view, it’s impossible to become leader of a democratic nation without ability.  That’s why, unlike you, I did not fall for the fake tweet that conned you – one of Australia’s most prominent barristers, no less.  From decades of political experience, I have learnt that only fools underestimate their political opponents.

I note that you contest my self-awarded AC (aka Always Courteous) gong on the basis that I have described your Hawthorn house as “a pile”.  I only happen to know this because, over the years, you have provided lotsa possibilities for photographers and film crew in your pile-like abode.  Still if this “pile” reference offends you, I will not repeat it.  I did not realise just how sensitive you are.

You also contest my claim to courtesy on the basis that I “write articles on trivial matters like this”. In fact, I have not written about this matter. In any event, what’s more trivial than the pontificating about President Trump’s non-existent tweets?

By the way, Rupert Murdoch is not my “ultimate employer” – whatever that might mean.  However, I am very pleased to write a weekly column for one of his newspapers. For the record, I wrote a weekly column for Fairfax Media for over two decades – but Fairfax Media at the time was not my “ultimate employer” either.

All the best for Christmas and 2019 – and Keep Morale High.


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Until next time.

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