GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG

ISSUE – NO. 459

12 July 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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  • STOP PRESS: 7:30 ignores crucial Honeysuckle Creek involvement in Moon landing; Mark Humphries’ recycled anti-Scott Morrison “joke”

  • Can You Bear It? Mikey Robins (per courtesy of the ABC’s “Tosh Plus Tosh”); Malcolm Farr & Dennis Atkins; Samantha Hutchinson & La Trioli; Mary Gearin plus CPAC downplays Menzies & Kerr in favour of Reagan and Thatcher

  • Vale Anton Hermann (1966-2019)

  • MWD Exclusive: Phillip Adams reveals new version of his political past on his “little wireless program”

  • Your Taxes at Work: The US[eless] Studies Centre’s David Smith’s Trump phobia revisited

  • History Corner: How Anton Hermann’s biography of Alan Missen demolished one of the myths of the Whitlam government’s dismissal

  • Correspondence: L.B. Loveday helps out re Derryn Hinch & Norman Swan helps out re Late Night Live

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  • 7.30’s HOWLER OF OMISSION re AUSTRALIA’S ROLE IN THE 1969 MOON LANDING – HONEYSUCKLE CREEK IGNORED

This is how 7.30 presenter Leigh Sales introduced the program coverage last night of the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing:

Leigh Sales, Presenter:  Next week marks 50 years since man first walked on the moon. It remains the most famous moment in the history of space exploration and as well as a landmark for NASA. It is also a gigantic event in the lives of a generation of Australian scientists and engineers. Andy Park spoke to the men who were at the dish in Parkes on that historic day about the role they played in sharing the Apollo 11 moon landing with the world.

This is true in so far as it goes.  But it doesn’t go very far.  7.30 along with some other media outlets has failed to acknowledge the crucial role in the Moon landing by Tom Reid, who was in charge of the Apollo tracking centre at Honeysuckle Creek in the Australian Capital Territory, along with this team.

Due to the success of the film The Dish, media coverage of Australia’s role in the Moon landing has focused on the role played by the Parkes tracking station in New South Wales.  However, the first steps in Neil Armstrong’s moonwalk were beamed to the world from Honeysuckle Creek – not Parkes.  This is documented in Andrew Tink’s book The Story of Tom Reid, a Little Dish and Neil Armstrong’s First Step (New South, 2018). A precis of Andrew Tink’s book can be found in The Sydney Papers Online, Issue 45, November 2018.

The Parkes tracking station played an important role in the Apollo program as did other stations in the ACT, NSW and Western Australia.  However, the vision of Neil Armstrong’s walk came from Honeysuckle Creek. It’s worth remembering this on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landing at 12.56 pm on Friday 24 July 1969 (Australian Eastern Time). If the ABC had a professional corrections policy – this howler would be corrected on air next week.

  • MARK HUMPHRIES’ LAZY JOKE [SIC] RECYCLED YET AGAIN

There’s no doubt that Mark Humphries – whom 7.30 presenter Leigh Sales always advises viewers is a “satirist” – is popular among the program’s viewers.  After all, he appeals to 7.30’s core audience – Green/Left inclined baby-boomers.  That’s why, since obtaining the role of 7.30’s house satirist last year, your man Humphries has never satirised the Greens.  He has satirised the Labor Party on occasion – needless to say from a leftist perspective.  But his usual target is Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Coalition.

This was again the case last night in the segment titled “Satirist Mark Humphries looks behind one of Scott Morrison’s social videos”. Jackie’s (male) co-owner sub-contracted an assessment of this taxpayer funded performance to MWD’s travelling reviewer.  The response was received at Hangover Time this morning. Here it is:

Mark Humphries returns to 7:30 this week with another sketch starring Mr Humphries as “Tony Chauvel, Video Producer, Office of the Prime Minister”. This is the third appearance of this character, following his debut on 1 November 2018 and his reappearance on 15 November 2018 [See MWD 432].

Apparently 7:30’s resident fortnightly satirist feels enough time has passed that the Sandalista Set tuning into the ABC won’t notice he’s repeating the same joke (again).

Perhaps Mr Humphries is engaged in avant-garde performance art, offering up the same lazy joke again and again on the public broadcaster as a comment on standards on 7:30.  Or maybe he just knows nobody at 7:30 cares much if his sketches are funny so long as they are sufficiently left-wing. Either way Mr Humphries can’t begrudge MWD recycling the following image which first ran in Issue 436.


  • MIKEY ROBINS BLAMES THE RIGHT – NOT HIS LEFTIE COMRADES – FOR THE DECLINE IN DEBATE

While on the topic of self-proclaimed comedians on the ABC, ABC TV 1 this morning played a re-run of Mikey Robins One Plus One interview of recent memory. It aired at Hangover Time just before the 6 am News.

MWD switched on at the end of “Tosh Plus Tosh” to hear your man Robins bemoaning the decline of civility in debate. He blamed the right – not his leftist mates – for this alleged bad behaviour.  This is what he had to say in the soft interview with the ABC’s Jane Hutcheon:

Mikey Robins: …what bothers me the most is we’ve lost our civility in discourse.

Jane Hutcheon: Are you talking mainly social media or you mean even face to face?

Mikey Robins: Even face to face, ummm, I mean the most glaring example is America. But I’m terrified, actually I’m not terrified I’m certain, we’re moving down to that same level of tribalism in Australia.

Jane Hutcheon: We are?

Mikey Robins: We are, the umm, you know it used to be, you know, “don’t mention politics” but you would and it was, it was fine. These days people have made up their mind on an issue before it starts, from the perspective of their political background. I think we’ve lost a lot of objectivity and I think we have lost that sense of discourse. We are always, we’ve become more and more screaming heads shouting at each other and um. And I’m not blaming the far-right that take up certain news channels in this country – but there’s a lot of cranky old men [giggles] shouting. And so then what happens is people who disagree with them shout back and we’ve lost that ability to disagree yet get along.

So there you have it.  The (alleged) decline in political debate is all due to the far-right on nudge/nudge Sky News – who happen to be cranky old men. By the way, your man Robins is aged 57. Older than many of Sky News’ presenters.

And how does a leftie get away with blaming the far-right for a loss of objectivity in debate?  Easy – get interviewed by Jane Hutcheon on One Plus One (aka “Tosh Plus Tosh”).  Can You Bear It?


  • MALCOLM FARR FANGS MORRISON GOVERNMENT’S ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE WHILE DENNIS ATKINS RECKONS BRAZIL SAVED THE SURPLUS

There was enormous interest in last week’s “Media Pile-On of the Week” feature which documented the pile-on from the ABC TV Insiders couch directed at Mathias Cormann the Finance Minister and government leader in the Senate.  The date was Sunday 23 June 2019. The participants were Annabel Crabb, Niki Savva, Laura  Tingle and Annika Smethurst.  This foursome agreed with each other that Senator Cormann is discredited – a few days before, as it came to pass that Cormann got the Morrison government’s tax reform proposals through the Senate following negotiations with the crossbench.  Not the mark of a discredited senior politician when you think about it (or even if you don’t).

In MWD’s opinion, this pile-on reflected the view of the Canberra Press Gallery that Mathias Cormann did the wrong thing in playing a role in the removal of Malcolm Turnbull as prime minister in August 2018.  Mr Turnbull is a Canberra Press Gallery fave – unlike his predecessor (Tony Abbott) and successor (Scott Morrison).

The consensus on the Insiders couch last Sunday (7 July) also seemed to reflect a Canberra Press Gallery view – in this case that the Labor Party had better policies than the Coalition at the 2019 election and should have won.

News Corp’s Malcolm Farr declared that it is “wishful thinking” that “the economy is somehow going to repair itself – it ain’t”. The Courier Mail’s Dennis Atkins and ABC Radio National’s Patricia Karvelas concurred.  Mr Atkins and Ms Karvelas ran the line that the Coalition won the election – and they have to wear the result. A somewhat obvious point don’t you think? Mr Farr urged the Coalition to come up with some realistic proposals about the economy – declaring that the Morrison government is “not doing anything”.

However, MWD’s fave voice from The Couch last Sunday was your man Atkins’ reflection on the surplus and all that. Let’s go to the transcript:

Dennis Atkins: We have to, as a country, sort of accept the grim reality that if it hadn’t been for a disaster at an iron ore mine in Brazil – the economy wouldn’t be in as good a shape as it is. The fact that Brazil as a source of iron ore dried up because of that Vale disaster, we are now the biggest source of iron ore in the world. And that is what is sending our terms of trade to record highs, as we saw this week.

Annabel Crabb [presenter]: Will that be enough to save the surplus do you think?

Dennis Atkins: Well it may be in the short term, but it is a precarious thing the national economy….

What a load of absolute tosh.  Sure, the iron ore price is higher than it otherwise would be because of the reduction in the supply of iron ore on world markets due to the mining disaster in Brazil.  But the surplus would be higher in Australia were it not for the drought in large parts of Australia which has adversely affected rural production. It’s called happenstance.  Your man Atkins’ approach reminds MWD of the old tale that if one’s uncle was a female; she would be one’s aunt.  Can You Bear It?

  • SAMANTHA HUTCHINSON CALLS FOR ACTION ON FRANKING CREDITS AND NEGATIVE GEARING – WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM LA TRIOLI

While on the subject of journalists who think that the Australian electorate got it wrong on 18 May, consider the exchange between Nine Newspapers’ Samantha Hutchinson and ABC TV News Breakfast co-presenter Virginia Trioli on the program last Wednesday – during the “Newspapers” segment.

Discussion turned on the possibility that new Labor leader, Anthony Albanese, may scrap the policies on negative gearing and franking credits which Labor took to the 2019 election.  La Trioli indicated that she regards any such move as wrong and Ms Hutchinson concurred.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Virginia Trioli: As many independent commentators and others and the like noted, it [franking credits] is an economic and a budget time-bomb, those dividends. And that money paid to you when you haven’t even paid tax in the first place. Some government somewhere is going to have to deal with that. Maybe the Labor Party didn’t sell it enough – who knows. I’m not buying into that, so lay off Twitter. But the issue itself is so expensive.

Samantha Hutchinson: Why not just kick it down the road? That’s what the Coalition government is going to do and that’s what Albo’s going to do.

Virginia Trioli: Make it somebody else’s problem.

Samantha Hutchinson: Yeah absolutely. And you know, you’ve got a lot of these sleeper issues; negative gearing is another issue. You know, which is–

Virginia Trioli: Yeah

Samantha Hutchinson: Negative gearing, particularly on property, is another issue which, again, the voters have shown that they have absolutely no appetite to touch. But with ageing demographics and more and more people locked out of the home market, will that be revisited again? We’ve got the same sort of debate happening with superannuation at the moment.

Virginia Trioli: Yep.

Samantha Hutchinson: We’ll see what happens.

First up, a correction.  Tax on franking credits is paid by companies.   As the beneficial owners of public companies, taxpayers have already paid tax before they receive payments.  Second, the likes of Virginia Trioli and Samantha Hutchinson seem to believe that, having lost the 2019 election, Labor should front up again at the 2022 election with the same tax agenda.  They are journalists. Can You Bear It?

  • FALSE ABC ADVERTISING – BY MARY GEARIN & VIRGINIA TRIOLI

It’s understandable why media outlets – commercial and public alike – blow their own trumpet.  It’s called in-house advertising or self-promotion.

Currently ABC TV is running a self-promotion featuring news readers Juanita Phillips and Jeremy Fernandez.  Mr Fernandez says that local news is the heart of all news and that’s what the ABC does best.  Ms Phillips concurs. And then your man Fernandez declares: “In a sea of information, noise and opinion – the ABC is Australia’s most trusted voice.”

So the official line of the taxpayer funded public broadcaster is that the ABC is Australia’s most trusted news. Quelle surprise!

ABC journalists readily run the self-promotion promoted by their employer – as indicated in the exchange on ABC TV’s News Breakfast program on 28 June 2019 during the “Newspapers” segment.  Let’s go to the transcript with Mike Smith as the guest commentator:

Mike Smith [guest]:  Trust in all institutons has fallen, but it includes the media. But that’s why they need to concentrate on being the ones that can be trusted. And you know, I think, they’ve [media companies] got to explain where we started with this conversation. They have to relate to people positive changes that good journalism can make to our community. They should do a hundred case studies going back nearly 200 years – saying how this bit of journalism led to an improved Australia, and how you can trust us.

Mary Gearin [co-presenter]: It’s interesting within the ABC we talk often about how we need to be trusted. And I think, alongside those polls that show the overall trust is gone, actual trust for the ABC has risen – not to be too self-congratulatory. But as you say, it’s about rising above that fake news tide and the idea that fake news is rising and actually pointing out when you have done something that is factual. And when you’ve done something that is good.

Virginia Trioli [co-presenter]: And when you’ve done something that’s wrong.

Mary Gearin: And when you’ve done something that’s wrong.

Virginia Trioli: I think that’s the really important part.

Mike Smith:  It is, and not to kiss off people who complain with phrases like “we stand by our stories”. [Laughing]

Virginia Trioli: Which is what the politicians say.

Well, fancy that.  Not to be “too self-congratulatory”, Mary Gearin reckons that the ABC is Australia’s most trusted news source. However, on any night, ABC TV News finishes well behind Nine News and Seven News – and sometimes behind Ten News as well.  So Ms Gearin is asking us to believe that the majority of Australians are so stupid that they prefer to watch a less trusted news rather than the most trusted news.  Sounds bizarre, eh?

And what about Virginia Trioli’s contribution?  La Trioli said that it is really important that journalists ’fess up when they’ve done something wrong.  Mike Smith concurred.  How about that?  The ABC rarely – and invariably reluctantly – corrects its own errors.

This includes News Breakfast. The program has refused to correct the howler made by co-presenters Michael Rowland and Lisa Millar when, on 1 February 2019, they asserted that a group of students from Covington Catholic High School had mocked a Native American elder during a protest march in Washington DC.  They commented that some of the young students were wearing Donald J. Trump inspired MAGA (Make America Great Again) caps. Get it, the students were not only Catholic but also Trump supporters – how shocking.

The News Breakfast report was fake news. But it has not been corrected.  Yet Ms Gearin reckons that ABC News is the most-trusted and La Trioli claims that the ABC corrects its errors.  Can You Bear It?

  • CPAC IN SYDNEY – DOWNGRADING ROBERT MENZIES & JOHN KERR BEHIND RONALD REAGAN & MARGARET THATCHER

Jackie’s (male) co-owner has received an invitation to attend CPAC’s inaugural conference Down Under.  CPAC is the Conservative Political Action Conference based in Washington DC. CPAC is coming to Australia per courtesy of the American Conservative Union and Liberty Works.  The date is 9-11 August 2019 and the place is Rydges World Square, Sydney.

Hendo will not be attending due to his newly adopted Put Australia First mantra. You see those attending to hear the likes of Nigel Farage and Matt Schlapp, MWD and their Aussie mates can purchase various options.  Here they are:

$599

Reagan VIP Freedom Pass

The Ronald Reagan VIP Freedom Pass entitles the holder to all sessions, social functions, gala dinner including preferred seating, VIP event, entry to the VIP room and bonus Sunday’s Activism Bootcamp run by The Leadership Institute from Washington D.C.  An ultimate roam-free pass.

$349

Iron lady General Pass

Margaret Thatcher’s Iron Lady General Pass entitles all conference sessions, social functions and bonus event Sunday’s Activism Bootcamp run by The Leadership Institute from Washington DC but excludes VIP luncheons, special events and priority seating.

$149

Menzies 3-Day Pass

The Menzies Pass entitles the holder to attend all Friday and Saturday’s day speaker sessions plus bonus Sunday’s full day Activism Bootcamp run by The Leadership Institute from Washington DC visiting specifically for CPAC Australia.

$249

John Kerr’s Social Pass

The Sir John Kerr Social Pass entitles the holder to attend the Gala Dinner and the Afterparty on Saturday 10 August.

Turn it up.  The most expensive ticket honours the Yank Ronald Reagan. The second most expensive honours the Brit Margaret Thatcher. What about the Aussies? – MWD hears you cry.  Well, they come down the bottom of the pile.  Sir Robert Menzies is remembered by the Menzies 3-day Pass (at $149) and Sir John Kerr is remembered by the John Kerr’s Social Pass (at $249). This is not the way to Put Australia First. Can You Bear It?

[Er, no.  Not Really.  It’s just UN-AUSTRALIAN that followers of Menzies are excluded from such events as the Friday VIP lunch, the Saturday Gala Dinner and the Saturday Afterparty. Sure, Ming was a Presbyterian – but he did enjoy a whisky or two.  Meanwhile supporters of Kerr are only entitled to attend the Gala Dinner and Afterparty on Saturday 10 August. Sure, Kerr liked a drink – but there was a sober side to him.

I believe that you are correct in boycotting the CPAC conference in view of your Put Australia First ideology.  However, on account of your friendship with the late John Kerr, perhaps MWD should sponsor a Hang-Over-Recovery-Session – for holders of the $249 tickets –  before Sunday Mass on 11 August. Guest speaker Jackie (Dip. Wellness, The Gunnedah Institute). Think about it – MWD Editor.]

VALE ANTON HERMANN (1966-2019)

The Melbourne-based lawyer and published author Anton Hermann died tragically at the weekend as a result of a bicycle accident while on a family holiday in Northern Queensland.  Anton was a good friend of The Sydney Institute.

Gerard Henderson and the Institute team extend deepest condolences to Anton’s family and friends along with the Australian Jewish community.  At the time of his death, Anton was vice-president of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria.

In 1993 The Popular Press published Anton Hermann’s Alan Missen: Liberal Pilgrim: A Political Biography. Alan Missen was the Liberal Party senator for Victoria from May 1974 until March 1986.  In 1975 he was involved in the controversy concerning the decision of Governor-General Sir John Kerr to dismiss Gough Whitlam’s Labor government. Many commentators claimed at the time – and later – that Missen was prepared to cross the floor and make it possible for the Whitlam government to pass supply – which had been blocked by the Coalition in the Senate.  It was suggested that Kerr’s decision of 11 November 1975 prevented this from happening.

In Alan Missen: Liberal Pilgrim, Anton Hermann demonstrated – with reference to Missen’s private diary – that Missen had no intention of crossing the floor and voting against the Malcolm Fraser led opposition on this issue. This validated John Kerr’s judgment at the time that there was no way that either the prime minister Gough Whitlam or Opposition leader Malcolm Fraser would back down and that, if funds for government administration were to be attained, Kerr had no alternative but to dismiss the Labor government and commission Fraser to form a caretaker government pending an election.

Needless to say, supporters of Mr Whitlam and opponents of Sir John have tended to avoid Anton Hermann’s important research in his Missen biography since it does not fit their narrative (see “History Corner” below).

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It is very sad that Anton Hermann’s life was cut so short.  However, it is important to remember that he made a significant contribution to Australian life as a lawyer, ministerial adviser, author, community leader and family man.


PHILLIP ADAMS REVEALS HIS (POLITICAL) PAST – APPARENTLY

Did anyone stay up last night to hear Phillip Adams, on the occasion of his birthday, being interviewed on his very own “little wireless program” last night?  Richard Fidler sat in the Radio National presenter’s chair for this (special) occasion.  The alternative was to have Mr Adams interview himself.

Your man Adams has told his life story many, many times before.  So much so that last night’s performance resembled a version of Alcoholics Anonymous – where a recovering alcoholic tells his life story week after week and occasionally night after night.  Except that AA persona downloads are limited to two minutes each.  The Adams-Fidler download was a 55-minute affair.

But, wait. There was something new last night.  Phillip (“I was a teenage commo”) Adams used to say that he joined the Communist Party of Australia at around age 17 and left after the Soviet Union’s invasion of Hungary in 1956.

However, Comrade Adams told the LNL listeners last night that he quit the Communist Party after the Soviet Union’s invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 – by which time he was a mature 29 years old. Moscow’s crushing of the Prague Spring was, Comrade Adams declared, “the final straw”.

This means that, throughout his twenties, Comrade Adams was a dedicated follower of the Stalinist Leonid Brezhnev.  You may, or may not, have heard this revelation last night.  But you read it here first.

For the record, this is last night’s exchange:

Phillip Adams: Now when I was either expelled or resigned from the Communist Party, I think I was 17, I’m not quite sure. It was such a time of chaos because it wasn’t Hungary – it was Czechoslovakia that was the final straw.

Richard Fidler: ‘68 hmm.

Phillip Adams: Yeah and uh, so what happens then is I floundered around for a while trying to find something else to join I guess. And there was a short lived phenomenon called the New Left and I was, I dallied with that. And then I stumbled into the Labor Party and um and quickly became very embroiled in that. I, as you know more recently I resigned in a huff over the coup against Kevin [Rudd] and I am, believe it or not, still a friend of Kevin Rudd’s. I know he doesn’t have a lot but I’m happy to be one of them. [Fidler laughs]

So there you have it – or not.  Perhaps a Please Explain is warranted.



THE US[ELESS] STUDIES CENTRE: AN UPDATE – DAVID SMITH (TRUMP-PHOBIA VICTIM) BANGS ON ABOUT DONALD TRUMP’S VERBAL TYPO RE AIRPORTS. YAWN.

Due to enormous reader demand, MWD takes another look at the taxpayer funded United States Studies Centre which is attached to the taxpayer funded University of Sydney.

As avid readers are aware, Professor Simon Jackman – the chief executive officer of the US[efless] Studies Centre – told Sky News in the wake of the 2016 US presidential election that not one of his colleagues had tipped Donald J. Trump to defeat Hillary Clinton in November 2016.  Not one. Moreover, he ’fessed up that no one at the USSC supported Mr (now President) Trump. No one.

One of the stars of the USSC is David Smith, a sufferer of Trump-phobia if ever there was one.  He has a special weekly slot on ABC Radio Sydney’s Drive With Richard Glover program. It’s called “Trump Tuesday”.  Listeners to this segment – if listeners there are – would know that when Dr Smith (for a doctor he is) looks at Washington DC he sees only the President and the White House. It’s as if the Congress and the Democrats do not exist – so obsessed is the USSC academic with President Trump’s (alleged) follies.

On Tuesday, Richard Glover and your man Smith spent a large part of “Trump Tuesday” going over old news about President Trump’s 4 July celebration. Smith and Glover made much of the fact that the president had misspoken one word when reading an autocue, which had been affected by rain. Let’s go to the transcript:

Richard Glover: Just finally, the airport thing was a bit of fun wasn’t it?

David Smith: Yeah. So this was during Trump’s Fourth of July speech where he was talking about the American Revolution. It’s very unusual for a President to give a speech on the Fourth of July. Usually presidents don’t have anything to do with Fourth of July celebrations because they don’t want to politicise them. Trump wanted to turn it into a salute to the military – which I think was highly misguided because the Founding Fathers hated standing armies and they fought a revolutionary war to get rid of one – but in his description of the Revolutionary War he described the Revolutionary Army taking over the airports. Now he later on explained that this was because his teleprompter had broken down, still it’s a very –

Richard Glover: Because there weren’t a lot of airports around in 1700s.

David Smith: Although if you go into the United States now you can imagine that some of the airports were built in the late 18th century and that people have been in the security queues since then.

Richard Glover: They certainly haven’t changed the carpet in LA airport since then.

David Smith: No.

And it went on and on.  Yawn. The fact is that radio presenters and academics misstate words from time to time. So do US presidents.

It’s just that President Trump’s reference to airports rather than ports fits the sneering reality of “Trump Tuesday” on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster – along with the ongoing hostility to President Trump at the taxpayer funded US[eless] Studies Centre.


HISTORY CORNER

HOW ANTON HERMANN’S BIOGRAPHY OF ALAN MISSEN DEMOLISHED ONE OF THE MYTHS OF THE WHITLAM GOVERNMENT’S DISMISSAL

As mentioned in “Vale Anton Hermann (1966-2019), in 1993 Anton Hermann’s Alan Missen: Liberal Pilgrim: A Political Biography was published.  This book – which has not received the publicity it deserves – throws a special light on the dismissal of the Whitlam Labor government on 11 November 1975.

In the lead-up to the dismissal, the Governor-General Sir John Kerr faced a dilemma. The Opposition, led by Malcolm Fraser, was determined to block supply. And the government, led by prime minister Gough Whitlam, was determined to govern without supply.  On 11 November 1975, Kerr dismissed Whitlam and commissioned Fraser to form a caretaker government pending a double dissolution election which took place on 13 December 1975.

John Kerr’s decision was opposed by some politicians and commentators on the basis that he acted too early.  The view was that Fraser was having trouble holding the line with half a dozen Liberal Party senators who were opposed to blocking supply. They were said to be led by Alan Missen.  The argument was that if Kerr had not acted when he did, the likes of Alan Missen would have crossed the floor and passed supply in the Senate – and Gough Whitlam would have remained in office at least into 1976.

This theory was completely discredited in Chapter 10 of Alan Missen: Liberal Pilgrim. Here’s what Anton Hermann had to say [note all quotations in italics are from Alan Missen’s private diary.]

The next stage in delivering the Senate majority [to block supply] was to ensure that all thirty Opposition senators co-operated with the supply strategy.  No less than six Liberal senators – Missen, Don Jessop, Neville Bonner, Eric Bessell, Condor Laucke and Peter Baume – were identified in the press as potential dissidents. Missen assessed that, just two days before the Liberal Party voted to defeat the Budget, “there were some ten senators who were, in differing degrees, hostile to the idea of using the Senate as a means of throwing out the Government and requiring an election.

Early in the crisis Missen weighed up his options and determined his personal strategy.  Outside observers considered that Missen was one of the most likely Liberal senators to defeat Fraser’s plan.  However, Missen had made a private decision: I have long since determined that it was not a matter where one person could thwart the whole of the party and, in fact, there would be a need for a reasonably sized group of Senators before they could take such a traumatic step.

As Malcolm Fraser considered his own position, he initiated four conversations with Missen in which Missen implored Fraser to desist from deferring supply. Missen recalled: [I]n the earlier conversations I certainly had the impression that he had by no means made up his mind; that he was trying out arguments which people gave him.

By 14 October 1975, the day before the Opposition voted to defer supply, Missen again met Fraser and came away with the view that he “was obviously leaning much more towards an election.”  On the following day Missen observed the nine other potential objectors at a meeting of Opposition senators and reached a bleak conclusion: “It was very clear to me that I would have nobody who would stand up to the ultimate question of crossing the floor if the proposal was made”….

This [the Liberal Party meeting on 14 October 1975] was the opportunity for other MPs to voice their objections and to follow Missen’s lead. Instead, all three senators who spoke after Missen to register their misgivings also revealed that they would be prepared to abide by the Opposition’s decision, if it resolved to defer supply.  At this point, Missen was aware that his attempts were in vain.  While he never spoke in favour of the decision to defer supply, he adhered to his original strategy by refusing to break ranks on the floor of the Senate.

The principal academic critic of Sir John Kerr’s decision to dismiss the Whitlam government is Professor Jenny Hocking – who is the author of a two volume biography of Gough Whitlam.

Jenny Hocking’s Gough Whitlam His Time: The Biography Volume II deals with the events of 11 November 1975 and their consequences. The author’s bibliography does not mention Anton Hermann’s book – despite the fact that Gough Whitlam His Time contains a number of references to Alan Missen.

In her book, Professor Hocking had this to say about publicity surrounding the release of Gough Whitlam’s book The Whitlam Government on 11 November 1985:

The Whitlam Government was launched on 11 November 1985…. The widespread coverage of The Whitlam Government coincided with another burst of the now-obligatory dismissal anniversary commentaries. Whitlam threw himself into another round of media appearances, interviews and speeches but this time the commentaries drew some important public revelations – “confessions”, Whitlam called them – from four former Liberal senators.  Neville Bonner, Don Jessop, Condor Laucke and Alan Missen had all been rumoured at the time as among the “waverers” who did not condone the Coalition’s tactic of blocking the government’s budget Bills in the Senate and whose wavering Malcolm Fraser had repeatedly denied to Sir John Kerr.

With the release of The Whitlam Government each now came forward, apparently independent of one another, and stated that, on 11 November 1975, within twenty-four to forty-eight hours they would have crossed the floor of the Senate to vote with the government in passing its Budget. Bonner said that he had told Fraser of his intention on the evening of 9 November 1975.  Whitlam had been just hours from the total victory he had always argued would occur in the parliament, when Kerr dismissed him from office. Whitlam’s response to these revelations was surprisingly theoretical; he considered their value now as forming part of the public record of these events as much as a vindication of his strategy of a decade ago: “it is now a matter for the public record that the action against my government on 11 November 1975 was not only wrong and unconscionable, it was simply unnecessary”.

Jenny Hocking provided no direct source for Alan Missen’s alleged comment.  In any event, to accept what Missen is alleged to have said in 1985 you have to dismiss his contemporaneous diary entry of ten years earlier. Also Anton Hermann made no mention of Missen’s alleged 1985 comment.

Professor Hocking’s refusal to address Anton Hermann’s Alan Missen: Liberal Pilgrim – despite the fact that it is quoted in Gerard Henderson’s Menzies’ Child: The Liberal Party of Australia, which is cited in her bibliography – is an example of a historian believing what he or she wants to believe.  It’s called denial.


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 was 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.

On 20 June 2019, ABC TV’s 7.30’s executive producer Justin Stevens wrote to Hendo and stated – with evident irony – “you have a habit of publishing private email correspondence like this”. Quite so – and so it came to pass that his emails were published in Issues 455 and 456.  For his part, Jackie’s (male) co-owner reckons it’s a bit much for journalists who spend a large part of their professional life receiving leaked information – including private correspondence – to lecture others about good manners with respect to the handling of private correspondence.

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, on occasions, Ms Murphy herself (See MWD Issue 297).

  • L.B. LOVEDAY AND GERARD HENDERSON re DERRYN HINCH & ROBERT MENZIES

Last week’s issue of MWD referred to Derryn Hinch’s claim on Sky News’ Hinch program (4 July 2019) that he has “interviewed every Australian prime minister since Robert Menzies, either in print or radio or television – all except one, the current PM Scott Morrison…”.  MWD commented that there is no evidence that Derryn Hinch “interviewed” Robert Menzies while he was prime minister.  The question was raised as to whether the self-identifying Human Headline could have made this up – since Robert Menzies gave very few one-on-one interviews and Hinch was only 21 years old when Menzies stepped down as prime minister in January 1966.

An avid (but not uncritical) reader – a certain L.B. Loveday, wrote to MWD with a novel rationalisation of your man Hinch’s statement – suggesting that the word “since” does not really mean “since” – a Bill Clinton approach to word usage of ever there was one.  Now read on.

L.B. Loveday to Gerard Henderson – 6 July 2019

Hinch said “..I’ve interviewed every Australian prime minister since Robert Menzies“.

Mr Henderson takes issue at length: “.. there is no evidence that Derryn Hinch “interviewed” Robert Menzies when he was prime minister…..“.

“Since” is a simple English word, hardly ambiguous, and defined by Merriam-Webster thus
: after a time in the past : subsequently

So, Hinch in plain English claimed to have interviewed all PMs after Menzies, not including Menzies, and Mr Henderson is wrong to take issue with his claim – not “fake news” at all Mr H.

Regards

L.B. Loveday

Gerard Henderson to L.B. Loveday – 12 July 2019

Mr Loveday

How wonderful to hear from you again. I haven’t been in touch with a pedant for quite some time.

I note that you take exception to my interpretation of Derryn Hinch’s comment on Sky News’ Hinch program on 4 July 2019 – viz “I’ve interviewed every prime minister since Robert Menzies”. My point was to query whether Hinch had ever interviewed Menzies.

I regret to advise that not even the Human Headline himself agrees with your understanding of the word “since”.

In his first speech in the Senate on 12 September 2015, the then Senator Hinch had this to say:

I have met every Australian Prime Minister since Robert Menzies – I met “Ming” in 1964.  I have interviewed most Prime Ministers since then, from Harold Holt on. (emphasis added).

Clearly, when Derryn Hinch said he has met every prime minister since Robert Menzies – and that he met Menzies in 1964 – he was using the word “since” to include the event of 1964. Just as on Hinch last Thursday, he used the word “since” to imply that he had interviewed Menzies.

The accurate way for Derryn Hinch to say what he said last week was this “I’ve interviewed every prime minister after Robert Menzies”.  But, alas, he did not say so.

Over and out.

Gerard Henderson

  • GERARD HENDERSON AND NORMAN SWAN Re HIS COMMENTS QUOTED IN ABC NEWS ON PHILLIP ADAMS AND HENDO

On 10 July 2019, ABC News’  “Backstory” section carried an article by Natasha Johnson titled “ABC Late Night Live host Phillip Adams on life at 80 and his hope of dying at the mic”.  Dr Swan (for a medical doctor he is) made certain comments to Ms Johnson about the (alleged) relationship between Comrade Adams and Jackie’s (male) co-owner. Here we go:

 Gerard Henderson to Norman Swan – 11 July 2019

Good Morning Norma

I have just come across Natasha Johnson’s piece on ABC news’ Backstory concerning Phillip Adams AO etc and ABC Radio National’s Late Night Live.

I note that you are quoted as saying the following:

Norman Swan says Adams’ first program launched at the start of the first Gulf War and promoted an interview with prominent war critic, academic Dr Robert Springborg, which brought furious complaint from the Hawke government before it even went to air.

“Phillip’s never shied away from controversy,” says Swan. “But he’s also wanted to present a diversity of views. Gerard Henderson was also on the first program, in fact, LNL was the first place to give Henderson a voice.”

I’m not sure that your comment is completely accurate – I will check. By the way, I was first given “a voice” in the media when I commenced as a weekly columnist at The Australian in 1987 – some five years before the launch of LNL.

It is true that I was an occasional guest in the early years of Late Night Live. But it’s also true that I’ve only been asked on to the program once in the last quarter of a century – in 2015, in fact.

I eagerly await my next invitation to appear and Comrade Adams’ little wireless program – scheduled for 2040.  Alas, it may have to be conducted from what the psychic John Edward calls “The Other Side”.

Cheers

Gerard Henderson

 

Norman Swan to Gerard Henderson – 11 July 2019

Dear Gerard

Nice to hear from you.

I meant broadcast media. Should have been specific

Hope you’re well and a long distance from the other side.

Kind regards

Norman

 

Gerard Henderson to Norman Swan – 12 July 2019

Dear Norman

Thanks for your prompt response.

It would be nice to think that my old friend Phillip Adams was the first person to give me a voice on “broadcast media”.  However, I did many radio interviews before Late Night Live commenced in 1991.  Especially around the time of the publication of my book Australian Answers in 1990.

Best wishes

Keep morale high.

Gerard

 

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Until next time.

 

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