ISSUE – NO. 464

16 August 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 – John Howard & 7:30;Gray Connolly sounds the clarion call

  • Editorial – ABC Journos obsess over Australia’s coal emissions but ignore New Zealand’s agricultural emissions & Sir John Key

  • Can You Bear It? Shaun Micallef finds no humour in his staff’s drunken antics; K.A. Walsh on Paul Keating discovering Asia

  • The US[ELESS] Studies Centre – Richard Glover declines to correct David Smith’s bump stock howler

  • An ABC Update – ABC Chair Ita Buttrose reflects on the sensitivity and fragility of ABC journalists

  • New Segment: Jackie’s Take on Narcissism Now – Mike Carlton boasts about his rampant ego

  • Media Fool of the Week – Step Forward Richard Ackland

  • The Human Yawn: An Update – Hinch remembers Meryl Streep’s peaches and cream

  • Your Taxes at Work – ABC’s fact checker gets hooked

  • New Segment: A Philosopher Says – A.C. Grayling on why democracy only exists when his preferred candidate wins

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Former prime minister John Howard commented recently that he no longer finds ABC TV’s 7 pm News and 7.30  compulsory viewing. Mr Howard’s position is that both programs often miss the big national and international stories of the day and viewers are more likely to get the news they need elsewhere. 7.30 last night affirms the Howard critique.  Here are the topics that were discussed:

  • Is buying now and paying later too good to be true?
  • Meet the Melbourne artists who are pushing the boundaries of 3D printing technology.
  • Stock markets around the world tumble.
  • Groundbreaking surgery could save the sight of thousands.
  • A young violinist’s incredible journey from war torn Syria to a Sydney symphony.

All stories were worth covering.  But not on the public broadcaster’s main current affairs program. Only the report on the stock market filled this category.  Meanwhile there were big stories at home and abroad that were not covered.


It seems that the somewhat idiosyncratic lawyer Gray Connolly is the ABC’s new fave conservative. As MWD readers are only too well aware, your man Connolly has a tendency to talk about himself.  He didn’t disappoint on The Drum last night when he pointed out how he was serving the national interest by turning up on The Drum and providing the teeming masses with the benefit of his thoughts.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Gray Connolly: And that’s the big problem and that’s one of the great things about here at the ABC, if I can just end on a conciliatory note, is that it’s a national broadcaster. I always urge conservatives to come on to the ABC, stop complaining about the ABC, come on to the ABC.

Julia Baird: Yes you do.

Gray Connolly: You’ll get a fair run and hopefully we’ll have a genuine dialogue of all the different perspectives in the country as best as possible but also serve the interests of objectivity, which I think, once that’s lost media’s gone. No-one’s going to pay for something that’s partisan on either side.

Julia Baird: That’s a clarion call. We’re going to take that.

Gray Connolly: I’m a uniter not a divider.

Your man Connolly overlooked the fact that the ABC is a Conservative Free Zone without a conservative presenter, producer or editor of any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets. Moreover, since the ABC is funded out of taxpayer revenue, no one has a say in whether they have to pay for an organisation which is partisan. Mr Connolly seems somewhat confused here. Likewise, earlier in the program, where he suggested the reason Fox News was a success was that Rupert Murdoch realised that half the country was not being catered for by the media.  In other words, according to Mr Connolly’s own logic, consumers do like partisan commentary – to some extent at least.

The statement by Julia Baird, The Drum’s co-presenter, that Gray Connolly’s advice that conservatives should go on the ABC overlooks the fact that some conservatives do not appear on programs like The Drum because they are not invited.  This suggests that there is some kind of The Drum blacklist of those who are de-platformed before they are platformed. MWD is aware of a female conservative who appears to be on The Drum’s banned list.  And it is known that no employee of the Institute of Public Affairs  has been invited on to the program since Julia Baird wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald (on 27 July 2018) about how there was outrage from viewers of The Drum whenever a conservative appeared on the program. It seems that Gray Connolly’s “clarion call” is only available to conservatives like him.

Even ABC managing director David Anderson has acknowledged that there should be more diversity on ABC panels.  However, this critique does not seem to be having much effect.  Take, for example, The Drum last Friday – which led with a discussion of The Conservative Political Action Conference in Sydney at the weekend.

The panel of four comprised: Josh Bornstein (principal lawyer at Maurice Blackburn and a director of the leftist Australia Institute), Josephine Cashman (executive chair, The Big River Impact Foundation), Licia Heath (CEO of Women for Election Australia) and Rick Morton (freelance journalist and occasional contributor to The Saturday Paper).

Messrs Bornstein and Morton are leftists and neither Ms Cashman nor Ms Heath is a conservative.  In short, the panel reflected the ABC’s reality as a Conservative Free Zone.

After a brief discussion, Matt Schlapp chairman of the Conservative Political Union in Washington DC was interviewed by the panel along with presenter Kathryn Robinson. Here are some of the highlights:

٠ Josephine Cashman suggested that individuals who “haven’t had the benefit of a good education” are attracted to the “more extreme” versions of conservatives. She named no names.  But clearly Ms Cashman regards conservatives as dummies.

٠ Josh Bornstein suggested that “Australian conservatives have always looked to America for ideas” – neglecting that this is the very thing the Australian left have done for half a century.

٠ Rick Morton attempted to link President Donald J. Trump with the mass murder at El Paso.

And so, it came to pass that The Drum discussed conservatism without one Australian conservative appearing on the program. Not even the ABC’s fave conservative – Gray Connolly.



The barracking of ABC journalists on climate change causes was never more evident than when presenter Patricia Karvelas gave a soft interview to Tuvalu prime minister Enele Sopoaga on Radio National Breakfast on Wednesday.  Ms Karvelas allowed Tuvalu’s head of government to lecture Australia that it should not allow the opening of coal mines and should work towards ending coal mining – without raising the issue of China’s coal production.  China produces significantly more coal than Australia – but Mr Sopoaga was silent on the issue and Ms Karvelas was too kind to raise it.

Paul Keating once joked that the problem with the Pacific Island Forum meetings was that he had to listen every year to Pacific Island leaders requesting hand-outs from Australia to finance the extension of airport runways.  Now it appears the request for finance has an eco-catastrophist edge to it since the islands are said to be sinking – a process which, so far at least, has not afflicted the airport runways.

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern got sympathetic coverage on the ABC when her views were interpreted as supporting the likes of Mr Sopoaga against the Australian government.  The focus changed yesterday when New Zealand foreign minister Winston Peters seemed to side with Australia and pointed to China’s continuing coal production.

It’s not as if the Ardern government is problem-free when it comes to New Zealand’s capacity to meet its commitments under the Paris Treaty. This is what former New Zealand prime minister Sir John Key had to say at a post-budget seminar in Sydney on Wednesday 3 April 2019:

John Key: The problem you’ve got, in Australia in particular is, to do the sorts of things that you’re talking about – that that’s no free lunch when it comes to the coal sector in Australia, when it comes to the other significant mining sectors in Australia [and] when it comes to the industrial base in Australia. You know these things – you’ve got all that trying to happen at a time when Donald Trump’s basically said: “Well this is all cool but I’m walking away from the Paris accord, I don’t think the Chinese and Indians are going to live up to what their promises are”.

And so then you’ve got a situation where it kind of feels like, not whether the debate is right or whether climate change is happening, but who’s going to pay and what does that actually mean? And you look at agriculture, under a huge amount of pressure – well it’s different in Australia because of the scale of it – but in New Zealand, our profile is half of all emissions come from nitrate and methane emissions from the agricultural sector. And short of destocking – yep, we’re working on nitrate inhibitors – there’s not a lot of answers at the moment. It’s not an easy thing to resolve that’s all.

So John Key, as recently as 3 April, expressed concern about the impact on New Zealand’s economy if New Zealand substantially reduces its emissions from the agricultural sector – including the need for the de-stocking of cattle.

The ABC’s Ellen Fanning was the compere at this function and the ABC’s Annabel Crabb was on the panel.  Neither reported Sir John’s warning about the impact on New Zealand of cutting agricultural emissions – which would be akin to Australia slashing coal production.

Can You Bear It 


Now here’s a skit proposal for Shaun Micallef’s Mad as Hell – the ABC comedy program which laughs at conservatives (the Coalition) and social democrats (Labor) but not at the Green Left.

Skit Proposal for “Booze and Yell”

After the filming of a comedy program on the taxpayer funded broadcaster, the cast and crew attend a knees-up in the green room in the ABC studio at Southbank, Melbourne. The presenter, who happens to be a teetotaller, goes home early to watch the replays of earlier editions of his program “Booze and Yell” leaving behind some members of the cast and crew – who, after a day of laughing at everyone except the inner-city sandal-wearing members of the Green Left soviet, find themselves somewhat thirsty.  So, they get on the piss, chunder in the women’s dressing room and all but wreck the joint.

On the morning after the night before, the presenter, learning of the carnage, gets as mad as hell.  He calls in the cleaners and the repair men and women and apologises to everyone who had to work around the vomit that very morning.   The program ends with an unresolved question as to who paid for the clean-up.  The staff of “Booze and Yell”?  Or the taxpayer?

Er, come to think of it, this reads a bit like the story reported by Nick Tabakoff in The Australian’s “Media” section on Monday – concerning the very real happenings at the ABC’s Melbourne studio following the recording of a recent program of Mad as Hell – presented by teetotaller Shaun Micallef.

In any event, it should be easy for your man Micallef and his co-writers to make fun of the antics of some members of his crew on Mad as Hell on Wednesday 14 August. But, alas, Comrade Micallef, the one-time head prefect at some school somewhere in Adelaide, proffered not a word about the piss-up.  It seems that Mad as Hell this week was too full of jokes about Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Sky News to throw the switch to real humour. Can You Bear It?

[Er, no. Not really. I note that ABC journalists – whom, we’re told – are intrepid reporters who never miss a big story, did not report the carnage inflicted on the ABC Southbank green room by members of the Mad As Hell soviet in recent times. Quelle surprise! – MWD Editor.]


So how are the remnants of the Canberra Press Gallery Paul Keating Fan Club going – nearly a quarter of a century after Australia’s 24th prime minister was succeeded by John Howard?  Well, pretty well. Or so it appears.  Take, for example, this exchange on Sky News’ Speers on Sunday last weekend. David Speers was in the presenter’s chair and former Sunday Telegraph journalist and Julia Gillard admirer Kerry-Anne Walsh was on the panel. Let’s go to the transcript:

David Speers: [Labor Party deputy leader] Richard Marles was just making the point, we need a bigger broader longer term bi-partisan statement on that issue of China and Australia’s identity in the region.

Kerry-Anne Walsh: How can we do that, when it’s shifting all the time? And the demands on us from our allies are changing all the time. And I can’t see that a statement like that is – I mean we’ve been making statements on Australia’s role in the region for a very long time. Paul Keating was the first one that went there, many moons ago.

Turn it up.  It would seem that Comrade Walsh reckons that Paul Keating was the first prime minister to make a statement on Australia’s role in the Asia Pacific region.  In fact, successive governments – Coalition and Labor – have been focused on the Asia Pacific for eons.  The early period is covered in Alan Watt’s The Evolution of Australian Foreign Policy: 1938-1965 (CUP, 1967). In 1979, Owen Harries wrote the Report of the Committee on Australia’s Relations with the Third World which focused on Asia for Malcolm Fraser’s Coalition government. In 1989, Ross Garnaut wrote Australia and the Northeast Asian Ascendancy for Bob Hawke’s Labor government.

Sure, Paul Keating’s Labor government had a focus on Australia’s role in the Asia Pacific.  However, Ms Walsh’s suggestion that he was the first Australian leader to do so is just well, barracking. Robert Menzies and Gough Whitlam when prime ministers focused on the Asia Pacific. In fact as long ago as 1934, Joseph Lyons’ government sent the former Attorney General and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sir John Latham, on a trade mission to East Asia.  And Comrade Walsh reckons Australia’s interaction with the Asia Pacific commenced with Paul Keating. Can You Bear It?



As avid readers are only too well aware, Professor Simon Jackman (the head of the United States Studies Centre) said in November 2016 that no one at the USSC expected that Donald J. Trump would defeat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.  He also ‘fessed up that no one at the USSC supported Donald Trump. David Smith, who suffers from Trump-phobia, is a USSC staff member.  In short, the taxpayer funded USSC is close to being a Republican Free Zone replete with Trump-haters. Now read on:

Ever since Donald J. Trump became President of the United States, ABC Radio Sydney’s Drive with Richard Glover program has featured a segment called “Trump Tuesday”. It’s based on the (fashionable) leftist assumption that President Trump is a freak who presides over a freak administration. The regular commentator on this segment is the USSC’s very own David Smith, a Trump-hater if ever there was one.

On Tuesday 6 August, following the mass murder in El Paso, Dr Smith (for a doctor he is) had this to say on “Trump Tuesday”:

David Smith: …After the killing of more than 50 people in Las Vegas in 2017 by a man who had modified semi-automatic rifles to effectively turn them into automatic rifles, President Trump said that he wanted to ban the bump stocks that made that possible. And he said he wasn’t afraid to take on the NRA [National Rifle Association]. The NRA had one lunch with him, and he completely abandoned that attack.

As pointed out last week, David Smith’s comment is simply false.  In the wake of the 2017 Las Vegas mass murder, President Trump directed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to review bump stock regulations. This review resulted in the ban of bump stocks. They remain banned.

So, did Richard Glover and/or David Smith correct the USSC’s fake news of the previous week when he spoke on Trump Tuesday on 13 August? Not on your nelly.


The entry for ABC chair Ita Buttrose AO in Who’s Who in Australia 2019 runs for almost a page of small type.  Ms Buttrose certainly has an impressive resume – with extensive experience as a journalist and/or manager in all facets of Australian commercial media – newspapers, magazines, television and radio.

In her decades in the media industry, Ita Buttrose has met many a journalist.  But none, it would seem, quite so precious as the ones she has come across at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster since taking over as ABC chair last year.

This is what Samantha Hutchinson and Michael Koziol had to say about Ms Buttrose’s ABC experience in their “CBD” column in Nine Newspapers on Tuesday 13 August 2019:

Having worked with Kerry Packer and Rupert Murdoch during her career, media icon Ita Buttrose has had a wealth of experience dealing with strong personalities. So perhaps the new-ish ABC chair was caught a little off-guard by the sensitive souls she has encountered in the corridors at Aunty.

Buttrose attended an Aussie Home Loans conference on Monday, appearing on a panel with ANZ boss Shayne Elliott and Aussie founder John Symond, moderated by Nine business editor Ross Greenwood.

Asked about the leadership upheaval at the broadcaster over the past year, Buttrose noted such changes were usually unsettling for staff – but particularly at the ABC. “Creative people, the kind of people who work at the ABC, are very sensitive people,” she said. “You’ve got to understand that – that’s why they do the sort of things that they do. So, they’re a little more fragile than some workers. They have to be patted a bit, and reassured that all is well,” Buttrose said to laughter.

So there you have it.  ABC journalists, producers and editors praise themselves for hard-headed reporting and tough-minded interviews. However, on the inside, Ita Buttrose advises that the ABC is replete with “very sensitive people” who are “a little more fragile than some workers”.

You can say that again. Why ABC management even declines to reveal the names of ABC journalists who make errors which require an entry on the “Corrections & Clarifications” segment on the ABC website.  For starters, the segment is difficult to find. And then no names are named. See last week’s “Editorial” for a recent example of how ABC management deals with the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s very sensitive and oh-so-fragile employees.

Most journalists readily criticise others but find it hard to deal with criticism directed at them.  However, it would seem that the taxpayer funded journalists are more sensitive and fragile than their colleagues who work in the commercial media.



Narcissism is invariably in the air when journalists speak to other journalists about journalism – featuring themselves.

And so it came to pass that Mike (“I’ll pour the Gin”) Carlton spoke to Justinian editor Richard Ackland for the Justinian’s “On the Couch” segment.  Publication date was 24 July 2019. Thanks to the avid Melbourne reader who drew this to MWD’s attention.  Here’s a section of your man Carlton talking to Mr Ackland about Mike Carlton:

Richard Ackland: Describe yourself in three words.

Mike Carlton: Serenely sardonic septuagenarian.

Talk about a lack of self-awareness. The idea that Mike (“Why don’t you f-ck off”) Carlton is serene is just fake news.

* * * *

Richard Ackland: When were you happiest?

Mike Carlton: If we’re talking naked hedonism, it would have been three rollicking years as a 20-something foreign correspondent in Jakarta, covering the downfall of Sukarno and the rise of Soeharto. By day I was the ABC’s Indonesia Bureau Chief. By night I sang in a rock band, did dope and screwed around. For profound happiness, though, I recall watching the birth of my three children.

So here’s a septuagenarian boasting to his bestie Editor Ackland about doing drugs and rooting (presumably) young women over half a century ago.  How serene was this?

* * * * *

Richard Ackland: As a seasoned journalist can you tell us what’s wrong with journalism today – if anything?

Mike Carlton: How much space have we got? Rupert Murdoch and his myrmidons are a cancer in the rectum of journalism and democracy on three continents. The Murdochracy business model in newspapers and television is to lie, cheat and distort to accrue power and profit. With a few exceptions, Murdoch’s hectoring op-ed columnists, tabloid and broadsheet, are the dregs of the alt-right. The rise of crude populism personified by Trump, Boris Johnson and Scott Morrison is due in no small part to his poisonous command of large chunks of the news media in the US, Britain and Australia. Sensibly, I have recently cancelled my subscription to The Australian after however many decades. It felt like the liberation of Paris.

The fact is that News Corp is not as big in Britain and Australia as the BBC and the ABC respectively.  Moreover, the suggestion that Donald J. Trump, Boris Johnson and Scott Morrison are the leaders of the United States, Britain and Australia respectively is somehow due to Rupert Murdoch is just delusional.  Is the Wall Street Journal more influential than The New York Times?  Is Fox News more influential than ABC or NBC or CBS?  Not really. Your man Carlton believes that those people who do not hold his political views are both stupid and easily led.

As to the assertion that cancelling a subscription to The Australian is akin to the liberation of Paris from Nazi Germany is just, well, crap. Only someone who has no idea of what the Nazis were like would make so hyperbolic a claim.

* * * * *

Richard Ackland: You are an inveterate Twitterer. Why is that so?

Mike Carlton: God knows. Soaring narcissism, I suppose. A rampant ego.

Richard Ackland: What is your mission on Twitter?

Mike Carlton: “Mission” would be putting it a bit high. But I do enjoy kicking against the pricks, afflicting the comfortable. I’ve been blocked by most of the federal cabinet and most of Murdoch’s sewer columnists, a badge of honour. It’s actually quite an art restricting your slings and arrows to 240 characters, or whatever it is.

Well, at least your man Carlton admits to a certain narcissism and a rampant ego.  Who would have known?  As to Carlton on Twitter.  Well, he is notoriously sensitive to criticism and is wont to block even the softest of critics who disagree with him.  Usually by a direct “f-ck off”. Re which see below

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Richard Ackland: What words or phrases do you overuse?

Mike Carlton:  I can’t think of any apart from “f-ck off,” which gets a fair run on Twitter

Richard Ackland: If you were on death row, what would be your request for your last meal?

Mike Carlton: Sausages. Fine fat pork and apple sausages with onion gravy, mashed potatoes and lashings of buttery, minted green peas. With a bottle of Krug to wash ’em down.

Richard Ackland: If you were a foodstuff, what would you be?

Mike Carlton: The above.

Does anyone give a stuff about what Mr Carlton would order as his last meal if he was on death row? In any event, how pretentious is your man Carlton’s taste for Krug Champagne (at around $500 a bottle)?

* * * * *

Richard Ackland: What human quality do you most distrust?

Mike Carlton: Piety, particularly – although not exclusively – of the Christian variety. Religion has been the cause of most of our woes for centuries and it still is. Piety stands in the way of reason and common sense, and often in the way of plain old humanity, decency and kindness. Those who are genuinely pious speak of it least but act upon it….

The fact is that the most dangerous causes in modern times were led by atheists who were in no sense pious.  For example, Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, Josef Stalin and the communists, Mao Zedong in China, Pol Pot in Cambodia, the Kim Dictatorships in North Korea and so on.)

Richard Ackland was so impressed by Mike Carlton’s “On the Couch” appearance that he recorded The Thought of Carlton for posterity.  Jackie’s (male) co-owner wonders how he would have got through life without knowing about Carlton The Younger’s (horizontal) activities in Indonesia all those years ago.

Media Fool Of The Week 


While on the topic of the Justinian editor, it seems that Richard Ackland is scaling down on his schoolboy newsletter habit of giving people nicknames.  Although, in his “Gadfly” column in The Saturday Paper last weekend, he did refer to Donald J Trump as “President Pussy Grabber”.  Funny, eh?  Jackie’s (male) co-owner slapped his thigh so hard in amusement that he was severely bruised on Tuesday morning.

Why Tuesday morning? – MWD hears you cry.  Well The [Boring] Saturday Paper goes to print on Thursday evening. So when it arrives at inner-city coffee shops on Saturday morning, it is a newspaper sans news.  So Hendo reads it on Monday. What’s the hurry?

Last Saturday, Richard (“Call me Gadfly”) Ackland led off his “Diary” column as follows:

Sadly, Gadfly’s invitation to hear Minister for Minerals Matteo Canavan at Chuckles Henderson’s Institute got lost in the mail.

It promised to be a spellbinding evening, with the topic “The Link Between Pope Pius XI and Bob Brown”. The theological possibilities are intriguing, especially when you consider Pius XI – formerly Achille Ratti – and the regime of Benito Mussolini had a lot in common.

David Kertzer, who specialises in the politics and religious history of Italy, says that much of the ideology of Fascism drew heavily on the Catholic traditions of authoritarianism, intolerance and dislike of the Jews.

Pius XI was distressed over the state of women’s clothing, particularly backless ball gowns and gym togs, while allowing himself to be shamelessly manipulated by Il Duce into supporting the Fascist regime.

How did this dovetail with Bob Brown, wondered puzzled members of Chuckles’ institute? Was Bob similarly upset by scantily clad women? From what Gadfly can gather from the event, Matteo thought Brown was a busybody who meddled in the Adani mine business, which “really, really frustrates people and leads to very poor decisions to boot”.

Pius XI all over again.

What a load of absolute tosh. If Comrade Ackland knew anything of Italy in the 1920s, 1930s and early 1940s he would know that Benito Mussolini’s fascist movement and Pope Pius XI’s Catholic Church were rivals – especially with respect to young Italians. Put simply, the Catholic Church in general and the Pope in particular did not want to lose supporters to a secular atheist movement like Fascism.

Comrade Ackland dragged up the work of the American historian David Kertzer in support of his cause.  Kertzer’s book The Pope and the Jews was described by Rabbi David Palin as “both false and unpersuasive”.  Moreover, Kertzer’s thesis was demolished by Justus George Lawler in his book Were the Popes Against the Jews?  In fact Pius XI was a supporter of Jews and opposed anti-semitism.  Moreover, the fascist ideology bore no relationship to Catholicism.

In 1937 Pius XI issued his encyclical letter Mit Brennender Sorge. Written in German, it condemned Nazism.  As a condemnation of Nazi totalitarianism practised by the Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, the encyclical also had application to the fascist totalitarianism practised by the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.

Richard Ackland told readers of The Saturday Paper – if readers there are – that he didn’t get an invitation to Senator Matt Canavan’s talk at The Sydney Institute on Tuesday 6 August titled “The Link between Pope Pius XI and Bob Brown”.  In fact, the talk was on The Sydney Institute’s podcast on Wednesday 7 August and shown in full later by Sky News Extra. It seems that Comrade Ackland was too lazy to check what Senator Canavan really said.

In fact, Senator Canavan compared Pius XI’s reading on subsidiarity (i.e. devoting power to small groups) with Bob Brown’s global solutions to perceived problems. That’s all.

As to scantily clad women – Comrade Ackland mentioned sheilas sans (much) clothing twice in a mere six paragraphs.  Somewhat obsessive, don’t you think?

Richard Ackland: Media Fool of the Week.




There was enormous interest in last week’s Stop Press segment titled “Human Mumble Tackles Hugh Hefner – After Dark”.  Avid readers were delighted to learn of the Sky News’ Hinch program’s turn table which determines what (boring) story Derryn Hinch will tell about famous people who have had the privilege of meeting him.

Last night – wait for it – the arrow landed on actor Meryl Streep. This is what the Human Mumble had to mumble:

Derryn Hinch: Okay, Meryl Streep, let me think. Oh I interviewed Meryl Streep uh a few years ago and I – my first question to her, took her by surprise, I said: “Do you know, you made me fall in love with a waitress, uh, many years ago.” She looked at me like I was crazy and I explained that I’d seen her for the first time in a movie, I think it was one of her early movies, maybe her first movie, called The Deer Hunter and she played a waitress in that – in that film. And, of course, since then she’d been one of the most famous actresses in the world. She been nominated for umpteen Academy Awards, I think she’d only won one or two. She should have won more. [In fact, Ms Streep has won three Academy Awards. – MWD Editor.]

Uh to interview her, to meet her, she has the most peaches and cream complexion you could imagine. The only, she uh, it’s just – there was another woman, a European actress, you’re too young to know, her name was Liv Ullmann and she came in that category. But with Meryl Streep, I made one, I made one uhh – breached one of my own rules. When you get into radio and become quite successful you end up saying: “This is my little island, you come into my studio and be interviewed” and people do and sometimes they’ll say “we won’t do it” so you don’t do it. But um, on this occasion she was one of the few people I’ve ever gone away – I’d go to a hotel room to do the interview – is Meryl Streep. I think the Dalai Lama was another one. But uh she was the most extraordinary actress and she is incredibly beautiful and you see that she can play anybody at any time, you find that quite amazing. Alright that’s the end of it.

Er, that was it – thank God for that.  Before arriving at The End, your man Hinch told viewers – if viewers there were – that (i) he fell in love with Meryl Streep when she was in character as an actress, (ii) Ms Streep “has the most peaches and cream complexion” that can be imagined and (iii) Ms Streep is a great actress.

Well, fancy that. Meanwhile Jackie’s (male) co-owner can barely wait for next Thursday’s Hinch.  Could Mr Hinch’s little arrow land on Harrison Ford or Geena Davis or the Dalai Lama – or perhaps Hinch himself.  This would conclude Hinch with Hinch speaking about Hinch – his favourite subject.


Addressing The Sydney Institute on 6 August 2019, Resources Minister Matt Canavan made this comment in passing:

I don’t blame the green activists for their ignorance.  I know little of the issues facing inner city Melbourne.  I may think that hook turns are a stupid way to manage urban traffic flows (demonstrated by the evolutionary evidence that no other city, to my knowledge, has adopted this confusing practice) but then I do not travel to Melbourne condemning hook turns and telling locals to repent their ways.  Melbourne can decide how to manage its traffic the way Melbourne wishes.

Believe it or not, this gave the taxpayer funded folk at RMIT ABC Fact Check in Melbourne a reason to report on Melbourne’s hook turns.  This was covered on ABC News Online yesterday under the heading “Matt Canavan says hook turns are a ‘stupid way’ to manage traffic.  Are they?”

The taxpayer funded Madeleine Morris from the taxpayer funded RMIT Fact Check got a gig on ABC TV’s News Breakfast this morning.  The segment commenced with La Trioli explaining what a hook turn is. Then Michael Rowland took up the story.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Michael Rowland: Someone not impressed is Queensland Nationals Senator Matt Canavan, who says hook turns “are a stupid way of managing traffic”, and they aren’t used anywhere else. Fact Check, here we go –

Virginia Trioli: [laughing] I love you Fact Check.

Michael Rowland: – has been investigating – haven’t they got serious work to do? – these claims.

Virginia Trioli: It’s very important.

Sure it was La Trioli’s last day on News Breakfast.  Perhaps this is why she has not appeared on the ABC’s “Corrections & Clarifications” web page with a declaration of interest. You see it is widely known that Ms Trioli loves Fact Check in a very special way since she is related to the program on her husband’s side.  So to speak.  However, at least Mr Rowland queried the importance of research into hook turns. MWD believes that an examination of hookworms would have been more useful.

For the record, this is what RMIT ABC Fact Check’s Madeleine Morris had to say:

Madeleine Morris: Hook turns. What? Why? The two questions most uttered by visitors upon discovering this peculiarly Melbournian traffic practice. Usually followed by some expletives. Queensland Senator Matt Canavan recently had some snide remarks about hook turns, when criticising environmental activists who’d come from the southern states to protest the Adani coal mine. “I may think that hook turns are a stupid way to manage urban traffic flows, demonstrated by the evolutionary evidence that no other city to my knowledge has adopted this confusing practice” he said, “but I don’t travel down to Melbourne and condemn them”.

In this Fact File we delve deep into the hook turn to find out if Melbourne really is out in the cold on this one. First of all, for the uninitiated, a hook turn is the practice of cars getting into the far left lane in order to turn right, after the light on the street you’re turning onto turns green. Obvious, right? They’re used in Melbourne to give clear passage to trams. Records show that Newcastle and Sydney also enjoyed a hook turn until they were outlawed in 1939. But, contrary to Senator Canavan’s claim, there are other cities that still use hook turns today. Beijing, and occasionally the US state of Illinois also deployed them for cars. Bicycles use hook turns in Japan, Germany and The Netherlands. And in Taiwan, they’re used for motor bikes.

But when Fact Check consulted with an academic expert on hook turns, Professor Graham Curry, he told us Melbourne stand out amongst other cities. That’s because of the sheer number of hook turns caused by its extensive tram network. But get this, when Professor Curry and colleagues analysed the hook turns effect on traffic flows, they found they improve congestion, reduce tram delays and lead to better safety records than conventional intersections. So, perhaps Melbourne does have a thing or two to teach its northern neighbours. For Fact Check, I’m Madeleine Morris and that’s a Fact File.

Well fancy that. In his address to The Sydney Institute, Senator Canavan canvased a wide range of issues from government, to administration, to the proposed Adani coal mine and more besides.  And the only “fact” that RMIT ABC Fact Check wanted to check was a throw away comment on hook turns.

As your man Rowland said – hasn’t the Fact Check team got something more important to do?



What a stunning performance by the British philosopher A.C Grayling and regular talent on the ABC TV Q&A program – on Q&A last Monday.

Your man Grayling told the Q&A audience that “the United States of America is not a democracy”. His reason?  Well, according to the learned philosopher a democracy would not elect Donald J. Trump as president. Ergo, the US is not a democracy.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Tony Jones: OK. I’m going to just pass on to Anthony, who wants to jump in, and then to this side of the panel.

AC Grayling: I just –

Tony Jones: Please address the issue about Trump –

AC Grayling:  Yes, absolutely.

Tony Jones: …rather than why we’ve got a better voting system in Australia.

AC Grayling:  No, quite right. I mean, Trump – Hillary Clinton got more than three million votes more than Trump got. He got the votes in the right place in order to get the Electoral College. The Electoral College was set up to ensure that no idiot, tweeter, sexual harasser, ignoramus would get into the White House. You see, it works perfectly in the United States. So, in two different ways, you’ve got – you’ve got a perfect example of how a democracy isn’t working, because if it – if it were, you just wouldn’t have somebody like Trump being there. You wouldn’t even get some of the other people who stood for the, um, uh – party candidatures putting themselves forward and getting as far as they did in the process.

Well there you are.  Quite right, I mean. Yes. No.  Um, uh.  A nation cannot be a democracy if it elects someone Philosopher Grayling does not like. The Philosopher has spoken – even if it is not at all clear what The Philosopher really said about the Electoral College and all that.

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Until next time

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