ISSUE – NO. 451

17 May 2019

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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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  • EDITORIAL – VALE BOB HAWKE (1929-2019)







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Wasn’t it great to see, once again, former Liberal leader John (“call me doctor”) Hewson on ABC TV this morning?  This time the occasion was an invitation to discuss Bob Hawke’s death and legacy.  ABC TV News Breakfast’s Virginia Trioli asked the questions.  Needless to say, it was not long before Tony Abbott got a mention.  After all, it was the taxpayer funded public broadcaster. Let’s go to the transcript:

Virginia Trioli: You mention there that key financial reform that he [Hawke] and his team managed over those years. Is that the explanation for what seems to have been this morning a rather surprising statement and tribute from former prime minister Tony Abbott saying that Bob Hawke had a Labor heart but a Liberal head?

John Hewson: Only Abbott could say that.

Virginia Trioli: What does it mean?

John Hewson: I don’t know, do you?

Virginia Trioli: Nope

John Hewson: I’m having trouble. A man under pressure, I suspect.

Virginia Trioli: So, a brain explosion you’re saying?

John Hewson: What he’s trying to say is – I mean there’s an element in the Liberal Party where, you know, you have to be a hater, you have to dislike the other side, you have to never find any good in them. And that was never the way I looked at it. I really admired Bob Hawke….

It is MWD’s position that the recently departed deserve better than hagiography.  John Hewson knows a bit about hatred. But it is ridiculous to depict Tony Abbott’s comments about Bob Hawke as the words of a “hater”.  At a personal level, the men had a warm relationship – they were both blokes at heart.

It is not detracting from the Hawke legacy to acknowledge that he came to office in March 1983 with no firm economic agenda other than the need for consensus.  During the campaign, the then Opposition leader advised voters to “throw away your calculators”. In office, Bob Hawke had to deal with an economic downturn. Not surprisingly, he looked to the Department of Treasury for advice.  The policy input of business and union leaders was also sought.

The likes of Bob Hawke, Paul Keating and Bill Hayden were determined that the Hawke government would not repeat the errors of the Whitlam government.  That’s why they adopted an economic reform agenda which no other Labor government had ever previously embraced.

It may have been unwise for Tony Abbott to say what he said at this time.  But it is not the sign of a man under pressure who has experienced a brain-explosion.  And it’s certainly not an example of hate speech.  Australia’s 28th prime minister was simply pointing out that the economic policies of the Hawke government were dramatically different from those adopted during the previous Labor governments led by Ben Chifley and Gough Whitlam.


Griffith University’s Professor Anne Tiernan was interviewed today on ABC Radio’s The World Today. This is what she had to say about claims that the 2019 election campaign had been dirty:

Rachel Mealey: How do you classify this election campaign overall? It’s been described as a dirty campaign. But really there haven’t been any major gaffes or major turning points we can point to as being a decisive moment, or are there?

Anne Tiernan…I think there was a moment in the campaign with the Daily Telegraph’s attack on Bill Shorten’s mother. I think that was a really symbolic moment where people just paused and went “is it okay?” and then we had the sort of hashtag MyMum moment…

What a load of absolute tosh.  It may have been a bad idea for the Daily Telegraph to cover the fact that Bill Shorten had not mentioned on Q&A (6 May)  that his mother, Dr Ann Shorten, had obtained a law degree towards the end of her career.  But this was criticism of the Opposition leader – not an attack on his mother.

In his Q&A appearance on 6 May, Bill Shorten described his mother as a teacher.  She commenced as a school teacher and became an academic. In the process she obtained five degrees (including a Ph.D plus a late LLB) and a diploma.  For The Telegraph’s Anna Caldwell to point out that Dr Shorten also obtained a law degree is not an attack on her memory.

In any event, on a political level, there is no evidence that Labor’s primary vote has increased since the Daily Telegraph controversy erupted.

VALE BOB HAWKE (1929-2019)

I got to know Bob Hawke in 1994 when – at the invitation of ABC TV producer Ian Carroll – I presented an ABC TV Four Corners program to coincide with the publication The Hawke Memoirs in 1994. Michael O’Donnell was my very able producer.

I knew Bob Hawke a little bit before then and we saw one another on occasions at The Sydney Institute after that. However, my main personal knowledge of the late Mr Hawke comes from the interviews which I did with him, the late Hazel Hawke and his biographer (and later wife) Blanche d’Alpuget.

Australia’s twenty third prime minister led a long, successful and occasionally controversial life – initially as a trade union leader, then as a politician and later as a consultant.  It was the task of Labor leader Bill Hayden to restore the Labor Party after the economic incompetence and disorder of Gough Whitlam’s government between December 1972 and November 1975.  It is a matter of record that the trade union movement’s constant demand for across the board pay increases had a deleterious impact on the Whitlam government’s economic performance.  Bob Hawke was ACTU president throughout the period of the Whitlam government.

Replacing Mr Hayden on the eve of the March 1983 election which saw the defeat of the Coalition led by Malcolm Fraser, Bob Hawke led an able Labor government until he was overthrown by Paul Keating in a party room ballot in December 1991.  In my view, Australia’s greatest prime ministers in the modern era are, in chronological order, Robert Menzies, Bob Hawke and John Howard.  Bob Hawke, in co-operation with his treasurer Paul Keating, embraced the economic reforms initiated by treasurer John Howard in the final years of Malcolm Fraser’s government along with many of the recommendations on finance in the Campbell Report (which the Fraser government had commissioned) and presided over widespread economic reform.  The economic agenda of the Hawke and Keating governments enjoyed the support of the Coalition in opposition – John Howard in particular. It is a matter of record that John Howard and his treasurer Peter Costello did not receive similar support from Labor when it was in opposition between 1996 and 2007. Bob Hawke also presided over a sensible foreign policy.

Like all of us, the non-believer Bob Hawke was affected by The Fall.  He had his faults and he made mistakes. However, his contribution to the achievement of contemporary Australia, at home and abroad, is more than significant.  Moreover, Bob Hawke demonstrated personal courage in quitting alcohol from the time he entered politics until his retirement. He was a moderate drinker after that.

It’s sad that Bob Hawke is no longer with us.  But he led a long life which included a brilliant career – it is worthy of celebration by his political friends and foes alike.

Bob Hawke – Requiescat in Pace

Gerard Henderson

Can You Bear It


What a stunning performance by Lenore Taylor – editor of the leftist Guardian Australia – on ABC TV Insiders on Sunday.  Comrade Taylor’s early comments sneered at the Liberal Party’s campaign launch scheduled for later that very morning.  And this was her final comment:

Lenore Taylor:   One of the many former Liberal leaders who won’t be at Scott Morrison’s “not really a launch” launch today is John Hewson.  He actually endorsed the Greens’ candidate in South Australia, Sarah Hanson Young, over the weekend.

Gee wiz.  What a revelation!  Lenore Taylor advised viewers that John Hewson (who led the Liberal Party of Australia in Opposition between 1990 and 1994) would not be attending the official launch of the Liberal Party’s 2019 campaign. It seems to have passed her mind that Dr Hewson (for a doctor he is) has been campaigning against the Liberal Party for eons – including during last year’s Wentworth by-election, when he supported the Independent Kerryn Phelps against the endorsed Liberal candidate Dave Sharma.

And Comrade Taylor reckons that it’s “news” that John Hewson would not be attending the Liberal Party launch.  Can You Bear It?

[Er, no, not really.  It would be a bit like Andrew Bolt  declaring that former Labor leader Mark Latham would not be attending an ALP policy launch. – MWD Editor.]


Jackie’s (male) co-owner got a mention recently in Nine newspapers “CBD” column written by Samantha Hutchinson and Kylar Loussikian.  Or, rather, he thinks he did.  After all, there was a reference to a “Gerard” along with an incoherent comment about papal succession or some such. [Gee, CBD must be hard up for real business stories – MWD Editor.]

In any event, it’s good to hear that the “CBD” supremos continue to dwell in trivia.  How else to explain this piece last Friday?:

…in Kooyong, former Liberal and Clean Energy Finance Corporation head Oliver Yates is a long shot to take out the four-cornered race for the blue-ribbon seat, but it seems he knows how to hit the Liberals where it hurts. He’s tapping the environmentally conscious kids who grew up in Liberal voting families to volunteer on his campaign. Yates’ spokesman Adrian Dodd confirmed the team had recruited the son of former Kennett and Napthine government advisor Steve Murphy, Will Murphy, as a volunteer….

What a hold-the-front-page moment. “CBD” revealed that Ian Yates (who is unlikely to finish first or second in tomorrow’s election in the seat of Kooyong) has recruited the son of a former Liberal Party staffer to work on his campaign. Really. Gosh.  Is there no other political news in Melbourne suitable to fill up some paras in “CBD” each day?  Next “CBD” may well reveal that the daughter of Julian (“I just love flashing my post-nominals”) Burnside AO QC’s dog-walker worked on the Greens candidate’s campaign.  Can You Bear It?


It is good to know that the team at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s Media Watch (presenter Paul Barry, executive producer Tim Latham) has the 2019 election campaign well and truly covered. Especially when it comes to word usage.

On Monday, your man Barry pointed out an overuse of the word “battleground”.  As in – “Queensland…will be a huge battleground.”  He named and shamed the likes of Michael Rowland, Mylee Hogan, Michael Rowland (again), Lucy Barbour, Sean Berry and Michael Usher as offenders.  The Media Watch presenter also objected to the term “dropping like flies” with respect to candidates who were disendorsed by their parties.  Here the culprits were Virginia Trioli, Kerrie Yaxley and Chris Kenny. [Perhaps they should write “I must not do metaphors” 200 times – MWD Editor.]

On Monday 29 April, Paul Barry had objected to the use of the term “under fire” as in “Bill Shorten has come under fire”. This time he outed Edwina Bartholomew, Mark Ferguson, Hugh Riminton, Peter van Onselen, Brett McLeod, Davina Smith, Marlina Whop, Natalie Barr, Davina Smith (again), Brett McLeod (again), Tim Lester and Ryan Phelan. Phew.

Well now, does anyone really care?  MWD thinks not.  Which raises the question – what is the Media Watch team doing counting the number of times journalists use certain terms.  Isn’t there a more productive way to employ Media Watch’s staff- which comprises a presenter, six full time staff and two part-time staff?  Can You Bear It?

[Perhaps Media Watch’s toiling masses would be better used counting the number of times your man Barry uses the word “so”.  Just a thought. MWD Editor.]

Media Fool Of The Week


Would anyone much have heard of Alex Turnbull – if he were not the son of Australia’s 29th prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and the high profile Lucy Turnbull?  Not on your nelly.  If Mr Turnbull had not become prime minister – then Young Alex would just be a rich dude playing in the financial markets in Singapore where he currently resides. Junior Turnbull has never stood for public office, never written anything of substance on politics, never made a significant speech. He creates attention because he is Daddy’s boy.

In the current robocalls which he is doing for GetUp! advocating for the defeat tomorrow of such Liberals as Greg Hunt, the introduction is as follows: “Hi, this is Alex Turnbull here, Malcolm Turnbull’s son.” Enough said.  If Junior Turnbull had a standing of his own there would be no need to refer to his old man.  Can you imagine Peter van Onselen introducing himself as the son of his father?

Sure it’s bitterly disappointing for a family when a father or mother suffers the humiliation of being removed as prime minister by colleagues.  However, Tony Abbott’s three adult daughters acted professionally when their father was overthrown by Malcolm Turnbull in a Liberal Party room vote in September 2015.  Likewise, Britain’s Margaret Thatcher’s two children when she was removed as prime minister by her Conservative colleagues in November 1990.

But not Junior Turnbull.  He fails to understand that his old man lost his job because he lost the support of the majority of his Liberal Party colleagues in the House of Representatives and the Senate.  That’s all.  Instead, Young Alex blamed his father’s defeat on Rupert Murdoch and News Corp.  The fact is that politicians are desperate to win elections.  If a majority of Liberals believed that Mr Turnbull could lead them to victory in the 2019 election, he would still be leader today. They didn’t. He isn’t.  It’s as simple as that. There’s no point blaming Rupert Murdoch.

What’s remarkable in Young Turnbull’s attempt to avenge his father’s removal and ensure the defeat of the Coalition lead by Scott Morrison today is just how juvenile and asinine his Twitter feed from Singapore has been. It resembles Year 12 schoolboy locker-room talk.

Last December, Alex Turnbull put out a tweet referring to the sex life of a man and woman – both of whom he deemed to be critical of his father.  He subsequently deleted the tweet and offered the following piss-poor apology to the woman:

Apologies to  – – – . Your personal life, much like your opinions on family values and judgements on the lives of others have no place in public discourse.

— Alex Turnbull (@alexbhturnbull) December 3, 2018

The journalist Latika Bourke, who is not a Liberal Party barracker, put out the following tweet:

Latika M Bourke

Replying to @alexbhturnbull @jkalbrechtsen

Why on earth do you think any woman’s sex life is something you can comment on? If Abbott or any of the right-wing Libs made such a comment about a female journalist would you consider that decent, respectable and a sign of your progressive credentials?

8:25 PM – Dec 3, 2018

Then on 27 February 2019, Junior Turnbull put out a tweet about the Liberal Party which his father led for three years. It suggested that people joined the Liberal Party for reasons which included engaging in rorting, vilifying and committing the crime of pedophilia.  This tweet was not removed.

Then last weekend Alex Turnbull put out a tweet about a member of the Murdoch family whom he did not like.  He later deleted the tweet and said that the personal vilification in the tweet had been “hypothetical”.  Subsequently Junior Turnbull gave this comment to Nine Newspapers’ Patrick Begley:

It was poorly drafted. I apologise to anyone offended by it.

Turn it up. Junior Turnbull had problems drafting a tweet of only 77 characters.  Imagine the difficulties he would have been in if, say, his tweet had run for 280 characters?  And how pathetic is the “I apologise to anyone offended” line – it’s a non-apologetic apology.

Alex Turnbull: Media Fool of the Week.



Prime Minister Scott Morrison declined an invitation to appear solo on ABC TV Q&A program last Monday.  It would be expected, in such a situation, that ABC management would query why a prime minister did not accept an invitation to appear on one of the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s leading current affairs programs. However, Q&A presenter Tony Jones threw the switch to denial and told The Australian’s “Media” section last Monday that Mr Morrison would live to regret his decision – or something like that.  Since the ABC consists of a number of staff collectives (or soviets) it is unlikely that anyone at the ABC will openly query why a prime minister would knock back such an invitation in the final week of an election campaign.

The fact is that quite a few conservatives and right-of-centre types refuse to go on Mr Jones’ program.  They feel that the Q&A panel is usually stacked at least 2 to 3 against them, that the presenter Tony Jones opposes them and that the audience – which is often a baying mob – is overwhelmingly of a leftist bent (despite Q&A’s denial of this fact) and sneers at them.  There are better ways to spend Monday nights.

All this was in action on Monday.  The panel of four – chosen by Q&A executive producer Peter McEvoy – was 3 to 1 against the Coalition.   It comprised the Liberal Party’s Simon Birmingham, Labor’s Tanya Plibersek, the Greens’ Richard Di Natale and the Independent candidate for Indi Helen Haines. Ms Haines is a strong opponent of the Morrison government’s position on climate change and is no conservative.

So Senator Birmingham went in to bat against the Labor, Greens and Independent representatives.  But – there’s more.  Tony Jones weighed into the Liberal Party representative on several occasions. For example, twice your man Jones accused Senator Birmingham of sounding like he is “in opposition”.   He also accused him of “putting words into someone’s mouth”.

Mr Jones ran the Labor/Greens line that, after the election, there could be “a Clive Palmer government”.  In fact, it’s most unlikely that even one United Australia Party candidate will win a set in the House of Representatives. So a “Clive Palmer government” is just a figment of Tony Jones’ imagination.

However, the Q&A presenter’s most egregious intervention occurred when he verballed Prime Minister Scott Morrison by selectively quoting from his policy launch speech last Sunday.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Tony Jones: The next question comes from Vaughan Sketcher.

Vaughan Sketcher: Hi, panel. My question tonight is for Simon Birmingham. As the current Minister for Tourism and Investment, are you confident that your government’s $444 million investment in the Great Barrier Reef Foundation is the best-value way to protect our most important tourist attraction?

Tony Jones: Simon Birmingham?

Simon Birmingham: Thanks so much for the question, Vaughan. Yes, but it’s not the only way we’re protecting it, so –

Tony Jones: [interrupting] Do you need to protect it, Simon? Because Scott Morrison said in his campaign launch, “We’ve saved the Great Barrier Reef already.” [emphasis added]

Simon Birmingham: From, from –

Tony Jones: [interrupting] “Well done, Greg Hunt.”

Simon Birmingham:  From listing. Do you want to read the full quote, Tony, or just an extract of it?

Tony Jones:  Well, he did say he was taking it off the endangered list, but it wasn’t on one.

Simon Birmingham: It [the Great Barrier Reef] was indeed under consideration for listing.

Tanya Plibersek: [Laughs]

Simon Birmingham: And we went through the process to ensure that did not occur. The substance of the question –

Tony Jones: [interrupting] His line was, “We’ve saved the Great Barrier Reef. “Well done, Greg Hunt.”

Simon Birmingham: But – And do you want to read the next sentence? I see you have got “dot, dot, dot” after that, Tony, on the piece of paper.

Tony Jones: Yes, he said –

Simon Birmingham: [interrupting] What’s the “dot, dot, dot”?

Tony Jones: He was talking about taking it off the endangered list, but there wasn’t one.

Simon Birmingham: Oh, no, I think you’re being selective in your quotes there, mate, but-

Tony Jones: [interrupting] OK, so you haven’t saved the Great Barrier Reef? The Prime Minister didn’t get that quite right?

Simon Birmingham: I think you’re being selective in your quote there, in terms of what he was referring to. We know there’s ongoing work required in relation to the Great Barrier Reef, and that’s why we’ve got a couple of billion dollars in partnership with the Queensland government that works in a range of things….

Simon Birmingham was quick to pick up your man Jones’ verballing.  This is what Scott Morrison said at the Coalition Campaign Launch on 12 May 2019:

We have saved the Great Barrier Reef – well done to Greg Hunt particularly on his work when he was Environment Minister – taking it off the endangered list. [emphasis added].

Note- the Prime Minister’s sentence quoted by Tony Jones did not contain the word “already”- he just made this up.

It’s very clear that the Prime Minister said that the Coalition had saved the Great Barrier Reef from being placed on the UNESCO World Heritage “in-danger” listing. Tony Jones initially censored the Prime Minister’s full statement and later mocked him. And Messrs Jones and McEvoy wonder why the likes of Scott Morrison will not appear on Q&A.


Believe it or not, nearly a half of Tuesday’s Canberra Times front page was taken up with a story headed “Climate of concern”. Accompanied by a large photo of 23 year old Jack Murphy, it read as follows:

Climate of concern

By numbers the inner-city electorate of Canberra should be a safe Labor seat, but without an incumbent the Greens and Liberals are circling.   Voters are overwhelmingly saying climate change is what they are most worried about in this election.  Jack Murphy is 23 and studying a double degree at the Australian National University, while holding down two jobs to get by.  He says he is voting Greens this election because he wants serious action on climate change.

Full election coverage – Pages 6, 7, 8
ANU student Jack Murphy at one of his two jobs. Book Lore secondhand bookstore in Lyneham.  Picture: Jamila Toderas

At the bottom of Page One there was an advertisement for Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party. In other words, an unpaid “advertisement” for the Greens was matched by a paid advertisement for the UAP.

Turn to Page 6 and there is a story by Sally Whyte titled “Climate for change in Canberra?”  Ms Whyte interviewed just two voters in the electorate of Canberra – Jack Murphy and Helen Fisher.  Just two.  Mr Murphy votes for the Greens and does not believe that the party will win the seat – which he maintains will remain in Labor’s hands. Ms Fisher has yet to decide between Labor and the Greens.  The Canberra Times’ intrepid reporter could not find one Liberal voter to interview.  Not one.

What a beat-up.  Zed Seselja has a good chance of being returned as Liberal Party senator for the Australian Capital Territory.  But the Liberal Party has not won a House of Representatives seat in the ACT for almost a quarter of a century – and that occurred in a by-election. On the new boundaries for Canberra Labor has a margin of 12.9 per cent.

In short, the “Climate of concern” story was absolute tosh.

Jack Murphy as he appeared in the Canberra Times front page on Tuesday – as the Greens candidate for Canberra with a chance of winning.  Turn to Page 6 where Young Mr Murphy says his candidature is “symbolic”. The Greens vote in his area in 2016 was a mere 13 per cent.



As avid readers will be aware, ABC TV The Drum’s co-presenters Julia Baird and Ellen Fanning gave an interview to Nine newspapers’ Michael Gallo on 27 January in which they announced their intention to preside over a kinder/gentler Drum.

Dr Baird (for a doctor she is) said that guests who bludgeon their ideological foes into submission will not be invited back. And Ms Fanning declared that the best shows occurred when someone says to another guest: “Say that again, that’s interesting.”

How frightfully nice – in a wellness consciousness kind of way. So how’s the kinder/gentler Drum going?  Not so well – if Monday’s program is any indication.  The panel included Parnell McGuinness, MWD fave Dee Madigan (who has provided much copy over the years, in a leftist kind of way) and Shane (“Coal is just like candlesticks”) Wright.

Earlier Ms McGuinness had put out a tweet which read as follows: “The share of renewable energy in German electricity generation has gone from 3.6% in 1990 to 30% last year – that’s 30 years to get just over 25% renewable. For an annual cost to consumers of [Euro] €20 billion.  ALP goal is 35% in 10 years.”

That’s a simple – and quick – message. Alas Parnell McGuinness struggled to get her view across due to the constant interruptions of Dee Madigan.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Dee Madigan: I think though we are getting more consensus [on climate change] because for so many years it was such a toxic debate. Because the conservative side, or the vested interests, had said that action on climate change is going to drive up your power prices – that was their thing. And I think Shane [Wright] hit the nail on the head – so many Australians now with their solar panels on their roof are seeing the reality that’s quite different, that when you put renewable sources on your roof your power prices aren’t going up, they are actually starting to come down. They get the logic of that and I think it’s taken the heat out of the climate change debate.

Parnell McGuinness: That is on a tiny, tiny individual scale. I mean the truth of the matter –

Dee Madigan: [talking over] No there’s millions of them though.

Parnell McGuinness: No no no.  In Germany they have been working for the last 30 years on getting renewables to replace major sources of energy and they have made such slow progress. They and we are looking at creating the same impact in Australia over the next 10 years – so 35 per cent reduction over the next 10 years.  Now in Germany it’s taken 30 years, it hasn’t worked but they still are –

Dee Madigan: [talking over] But technology was different then, the technology is completely different.

Parnell McGuinness:  – The technology has improved but –

Dee Madigan: [talking over] Massively.

Parnell McGuinness: – We’re talking about Germany, we are talking about, you know if this technology was suddenly working perfectly then they would have simply replaced the nuclear power plants they took offline with this new technology –

Dee Madigan: [talking over] The other day South Australia went 6 hours off the grid!

Parnell McGuinness: – Instead, instead they are building nuclear power plants overseas so that they can import the power back into Germany so that they can stop burning so much brown coal.

So there you have it.  Feisty Comrade Madigan interrupted Parnell McGuinness on four occasions in quick time.  And presenter Ellen Fanning – who has claimed that the kinder/gentler Drum is all about “genuine dialogue and actively considering other points of view” – said nothing.


By the way, did anyone see ABC fave David Marr on the program last Friday?  His performance is best understood on iView.  But here’s the transcript as your man Marr throws the switch to emote and does a rant about Scott Morrison, koalas and all that:

David Marr: But do we have to, because this is actually knowledge available to government – and governments should be giving the lead here on what needs to be done. And the fate of the koalas, this hasn’t come out of the blue today. They’ve been talking about declining koala numbers and the difficulties for koala numbers for 20 years. This is just – What? Does? It?  Take? For Serious Action? And for the Prime Minister yesterday to think in the back of his mind that they’ve done something lately on this issue and it turned out to be a small bill to end the practice of testing cosmetics on live animals. That’s all! And yet what [indiscernible] what does it take to get a Prime Minister to say “we’re going to take effective action”? What does it take?

This Marr outburst seemed to run counter to Ellen Fanning’s promise that the kinder/gentler Drum would eschew the throwing of rhetorical bombs. For the facts are that koala habitats are endangered in Australia for many reasons other than increased temperatures – and have been for many years.  Moreover, since Australia produces about 1.3 per cent of emissions, no government can take “serious action” to protect the koala population which can overcome the problem without the likes of China and India also acting.

Still it was great to see your man Marr in emote-mode. And to watch him drink water rapidly and laugh loudly after the conclusion of his sermon. But he failed Ms Fanning’s test by not saying something like: “Gee, what Scott Morrison said was interesting – perhaps we should talk about this.”



Jackie’s (male) co-owner’s week commenced on Monday when the ABC Radio News carried a story that Australia’s “most right-leaning or conservative” electorate votes – wait for it – for the Liberal National Party (Maranoa – central and south western Queensland including the towns of Charleville and St George.). Fancy that.  Also the “most left-leaning” electorate votes Labor (Cooper, formerly Batman – north eastern Melbourne including the suburbs of Northcote and Clifton Hill).  Well really. By the way, Labor’s Ged Kearney won the by-election for Batman in 2018, narrowly defeating the Greens. It’s very much a Labor/Greens seat.

Now ABC management says that the taxpayer funded public broadcaster needs more moolah from the taxpayer.  And yet its money is funding research which demonstrates that strongly right-of-centre electorates tend to vote for the Coalition while strongly left-of-centre electorates tend to vote for Labor or the Greens. Quelle surprise!

Also Vote Compass’ s hold-the-front-page research reveals that “the ten most left-leaning electorates are all in the inner suburbs of our capital cities, with the addition of…Newcastle”. While “the top ten most right-learning electorates are all rural, with the exception of the seat of Moncrieff, which is centred on Surfers Paradise”.  Who would have thought?

From time to time the ABC boasts that Vote Compass monitors the views of Australians. It doesn’t.  Sure Vote Compass is a tool for an individual to find out how he/she stands in relation to the policies of the political parties. But that’s all.

When it comes to issues, Vote Compass reflects the views of those who follow the ABC. [Thanks to the Melbourne based avid reader who drew this matter to MWD’s attention. – MWD Editor.]

On 24 April 2019, ABC News Online ran this piece by Catherine Hanrahan under the heading “Political parties and their voters don’t always see eye to eye on immigration,Vote Compass finds.” Here’s how the article commenced:

The voters of Australia don’t always agree with the immigration policies of the party they support, the ABC’s Vote Compass survey shows.

Overall, voters are approximately evenly split on the question of how many immigrants Australia should accept — about one-third say more, one-third say fewer and another third say the intake is about right where it is now.

 And while the political parties are locked into their positions on whether asylum seeker boats should be turned back, voters remain divided on the issue.

What a load of absolute tosh.  Vote Compass records the views of voters who follow the ABC – on television, on radio and online.  It does not measure the opinions of “the voters of Australia”.

Rather than spending scant resources on finding out how ABC followers respond on-line to Vote Compass’s questions – it would be cheaper and easier to take a more direct approach.

When tracking left-of-centre versus right-of-centre supporters, the easiest approach would be to find out the electorates which purchase the greatest number of (i) sandals and bikes and (ii) R.M. Williams boots and 4 wheel drives.  The top ten electorates catering for bike-riding Sandalistas would vote left-of-centre, while the top ten electorates catering for 4-wheel driving R.M. Williams wearers would vote right-of-centre. Then put out a list – and save the taxpayer lotsa money.

[Interesting theory.  I note that Clifton Hill is a comfortable bike-ride to the ABC’s studio in Southbank. The route passes through Fitzroy North and Carlton, past Adam (“The end of the world is nigh in a secular sense”) Bandt’s Melbourne Office and over the Yarra. So short, a rider can do it in sandals. – MWD Editor.]



In the introduction to the new edition of her book Robert Menzies Forgotten People (2007), Judith Brett had this to say about the formation of the Liberal Party of Australia in late 1944/early 1945:

We heard time and again in the media that “Menzies had founded the Liberal Party”.  Gerard Henderson even called his book on the Liberal Party Menzies’ Child.  To be sure, Menzies had a big hand in it, but as historian Ian Hancock has argued, it defies commonsense to think that one man could found a party.  Menzies may have been the new party’s most prominent spokesman, but its successful formation out of a score or so of other organisations depended on a huge amount of organisational work by many people.  Commonsense, however, is no match for people’s need for heroes, and the identities of these organisations and people have all but disappeared from Liberal Party memory.  Only Menzies remains.  The myth of the party’s origins had thus become the myth of leadership.

So, that’s pretty clear then.  According to Judith Brett circa 2007, it defies common sense to maintain that Robert Menzies founded the Liberal Party.


Now here is what Dr Brett (for a doctor she is) wrote in Nine’s newspapers last Saturday when reviewing Troy Bramston’s Robert Menzies: The Art of Politics (Scribe, 2019):

Australia’s major non-labour party has been here before, but worse. In the early 1940s the United Australia Party splintered under the pressure of war, rapidly shifting ideas about government’s role in the economy and the resignation of Robert Menzies from his first stint as prime minister. The aged and querulous Billy Hughes led it into the 1943 federal election and it was smashed, winning only 12 seats. In a confidential memo written after the defeat, Menzies wrote that, ‘‘The wreck produced by the election gives us a great opportunity if we are ready to seize it.’’

Seize it he did, rallying the various non-labour organisations to form the Liberal Party of Australia, working to develop a coherent and unifying philosophy for the new party, leading it to victory at the 1949 election and becoming Australia’s longest-serving prime minister….

So that’s pretty clear then. According to Judith Brett circa 2019, Robert Menzies did “form” the Liberal Party.  Which is a bit like saying that Mr Menzies (as he then was) founded the Liberal Party, don’t you think?

[Quite so.  As I recall, Gerard Henderson wrote to Judith Brett on 7 April 2008 and concluded his email as follows: “Finally, I ask you the same question which I asked Ian Hancock in 1995.  Do you believe that the Liberal Party of Australia would have been founded circa 1944 without Robert Menzies?  Professor Hancock has conceded that the correct answer to this question is in the negative. What do you think?”  Judith Brett did not answer the question – and merely responded that Hendo’s “views” had been “noted”.  But now, all has changed – apparently. – MWD Editor]

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Until next time.

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