ISSUE – NO. 475

1 November 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 – No porridge for nice Mr Scott

  • MWD Exclusive – ABC complaints department rejected 97% of all complaints in 2018-2019

  • Jackie’s Halloween experience with Phillip Adams

  • Can You Bear It? The ABC on private school traffic congestion; Scott Burchill on Boris Johnson & Rupert Murdoch and Lisa Millar on her British friends; Republican Fitz invites a pommy knight to launch his book; Fitz & Offsiders go silent on Folau after Australia’s World Cup exit

  • New Segment: Jackie’s Latest Cause – Occupy Sky News!

  • An ABC Update – The Right to Know vs the ABC’s right to say no

  • Five Paws Award – President Obama on the problem of being too woke

  • Jackie’s Great Media U-Turns of our time – The Australia Institute on consumption taxes

  • Hinch on Hinch – Knock Knock Knocking on Brigitte Bardot’s Door

  • History Corner – David Marr’s not-so Iron Rule

  • Documentation – Ian Macfarlane’s comments on L.F. Giblin, Richard Downing & Pederasty

  • A Walkley Walk-back

  • Correspondence – Louisa Graham helps out on the Walkley’s judging process

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Did anyone hear ABC Radio AM’s coverage of the wage theft issue this morning?  Kim Landers interviewed Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter and ACTU secretary Sally McManus on this issue.  Ms McManus was surprisingly pragmatic in putting re-payments to workers ahead of jailing executives of companies who underpay their permanent or casual staff.

MWD has a special interest in this issue. As the ABC’s 2019 Annual Report reveals, the taxpayer funded public broadcaster could have underpaid its casual employees up to $22.994 million. According to the Commonwealth Public Service Union (CPSU), the underpayments commenced some six years ago.

Now, 2013 was the time when Mark Scott was ABC managing director.  It’s all very well for Comrade Landers to be urging that managing directors who preside over wage theft – deliberate or otherwise – should do porridge.  However, for its part, MWD does not want to see Nice Mr Scott in Long Bay Prison.  So MWD’’s (gratuitous) advice to Ms Launders is – lay off.


Jackie’s (male) co-owner has just completed reading the recently released Australian Broadcasting Corporation Annual Report 2019.  Yawn. Groan and so on.  But someone has to do it. [Are you sure that anyone needs to read such bureaucratic sludge? MWD Editor.]

Pages 147 to 148 cover the topic “Editorial Complaints Management”. The ABC’s Audience and Consumer Affairs department based in Canberra and headed by Kirstin McLiesh, covers written complaints of an editorial kind.  That is, about issues alleging factual inaccuracy or inappropriate content, or bias, or lack of balance or unfair treatment.  This is how the ABC 2019 Annual Report covers this area:

Outcome of investigated complaints

During 2018-19, 50 editorial complaint issues (3.3% of all investigated issues) were upheld. A matter is upheld in cases where A&CA determine that ABC editorial standards have not been met. A further 115 issues (7.7% of all investigated issues) were resolved, after the relevant content area took prompt and appropriate action to remedy the cause of the complaint.

All findings in relation to upheld and resolved complaints are brought to the attention of the senior editorial staff responsible. In 2018-19, actions taken in response to upheld and resolved complaints included written apologies to complainants, on-air corrections, counselling or other action with staff, removal of inappropriate content or correction of material on ABC Online, and reviews of – and improvements to – procedures.

Summaries of upheld and resolved complaints are published on as individual complaints are finalised, providing timely access to complaint decisions. The ABC also publishes a quarterly statistical overview of audience contacts on its corporate website.


A&CA seeks to respond to all complaints as quickly as possible and aims to respond within 30 days of receipt, in accordance with the timeliness standard for complaint handling that is specified in the ABC’s Complaint Handling Procedures.

Of the 2,308 complaints that A&CA responded to directly between 1 July 2018 and 30 June 2019, 1,994 (86.4%) received responses within 30 days.

Put it another way.  Of all complaints investigated in 2018-2019, ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs rejected a whopping 96.7 per cent. Which is why MWD advises ABC viewers/listeners/readers not to complain to Audience and Consumer Affairs. It’s just a waste of time – which could be better spent, say, watching grass grow.

What’s more, ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs failed to meet its 30-day turn-around target some 13.6 per cent of the time.  That is, one in every 7.5 complaints were not decided within the timeline. Impressive eh?

It’s possible for someone, who is dissatisfied with the rejection of a complaint by ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs, to take the matter to the independent Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).  Here’s what the ABC 2019 Annual Report has to say about this:

Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)

Members of the public who complain to the ABC about matters covered by the ABC Code of Practice and who are dissatisfied with the ABC’s response, or who do not receive a response to their complaint within 60 days, may seek review from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). During 2018-19, the ACMA advised the ABC that it had finalised investigations into seven such matters (compared to 14 in 2017-18). In one case in 2018-19 the ACMA found a breach of the ABC Code of Practice.

Catalyst, 14 August 2018

The ACMA found a breach of due impartiality in the Catalyst episode ‘Feeding Australia: Foods of Tomorrow’ (part 1). ACMA concluded that the program did not present beef with the same open-mindedness and fair treatment as it did other foods. The ABC noted the findings but respectfully disagreed with the ACMA’s view that the program lacked impartiality

So, there you have it.  In one out of seven cases, ACMA found that there had been a breach of the ABC Code of Practice.  So, what did the ABC do?  It rejected the ACMA finding out of hand, that’s what. Which raises the point – why have the ACMA as the ultimate appeal against the ABC if the taxpayer funded broadcaster can reject its findings out of hand?

[Perhaps this should be placed in our hugely popular Can You Bear It? segment. Just a thought. – MWD Editor.]


At Post Dinner Drinks Time last night, Phillip Adams sent Gerard Henderson this tweet – a copy of which was forwarded to Jackie (Dip. Wellness, Gunnedah Institute). Jackie also tweeted – so that a thread might commence. Here we go:

Can You Bear It


Thanks to the avid reader who brought what he/she described as this Peak ABC piece to MWD’s attention.

On Tuesday, the taxpayer funded public broadcaster published an article by Griffith University Associate Professor Matthew Burke – which had originally been on the taxpayer funded The Conversation website – titled “The debate over private schooling has missed its impact on city traffic”.  It was essentially a predictable leftist rant against non-government schools.  Except that it contained a new line of attack. Namely, that private schools lead to traffic congestion. In other words, close private schools and traffic congestion will end – or something like this. Here’s how it started:

In Australia today, just over 40 per cent of secondary school children and almost 30 per cent of primary school children attend a private school. By contrast, in the UK only 7 per cent of children are privately educated. Our research shows not only do more students travel by car to private secondary schools in Australia, their car trips are almost twice as long as for government school students.  As these trips are in peak hour, private schooling has a disproportionate impact on traffic congestion.

Commonwealth subsidies of private schools and their charitable status have underpinned skyrocketing enrolments.  Questions over whether private schools should pay tax, why they offer questionable graduate outcomes, their tendency towards “white flight” and social polarisation, and basic fairness have long been debated.

But what if, in weighing up the pros and cons of private schooling, and in calculating their economic costs versus benefits, we’ve all missed something rather important?  Until now, no one has considered the impacts on city traffic.

Go on.  Alas the associate professor did.  His specific target was private schools at the secondary level – with particular reference to south-east Queensland:

At secondary school level, where the non-Catholic independent schools have greater market share, only 1.5 per cent more children are driven to private secondary schools (56.5 per cent to 54.9 per cent) and a few more drive themselves.

But the car trips to those schools are almost twice as long as to the public schools. The private secondary school children are travelling 7.8 kilometres each way, on average, to get to and from school.  As this is school travel, it happens in the morning peak hour, the worst time for traffic congestion in our cities. Private secondary schooling appears to have a highly disproportionate impact.

The landscape of private schooling in south-east Queensland is problematic.  Newer private schools have opened in odd locations on the edges of existing communities, or well beyond the suburban fringe.  Even some of the older established GPS schools (the “elite” ones) are far from public transport.  A few offer private buses, but many parents are left with little choice. They have to chauffeur their children.

So, according to Professor Burke, new private schools in south east Queensland have opened in what he terms “odd locations”. So much so that parents have “to chauffeur” (not drive) their children to school. Fancy that. [Presumably locations that are “odd” are ones to which he does not travel. –MWD Editor]

It seems that your man Burke has yet to work out that parents drive their children to schools “well beyond the suburban fringe” because there is frequently a paucity of public transport in these areas.  Unlike in the inner-city and inner-suburban areas where the taxpayer funded Comrade Burke can use taxpayer subsidised public transport – or cycle in his sandals to get to and from university.

Also, the associate professor is apparently unaware that parents who send their children to non-government schools pay for a significant part of their education which would otherwise be paid for by the government – per courtesy of the taxpayer.  Moreover, Comrade Burke, in his ignorance, fails to realise that there is no “white flight” to suburban private schools.  Rather, many migrants want their children educated in the non-government section.

And the ABC believes that this absolute tosh is worth running on the ABC News website.  Despite the fact that it is not in any sense news – but just another ABC attack on non-government schools by a member of the Sandalista Class.  Can You Bear It?


It must have been Go-to-the-Tip day in Melbourne last Tuesday. How else to explain the appearance of Deakin University senior lecturer Scott Burchill doing the “Newspapers” gig on ABC TV’s News Breakfast  in Go-to-the-Tip gear?  Looking at Dr Burchill on the telly, he seemed to have had a good load parked outside the ABC’s Southbank studio – hence his dishevelled appearance. But MWD digresses. What were the highlights of the occasion? – MWD hears you ask.  Well, here they are – per courtesy of the transcript.

First up, the learned Deakin University academic had this to say about British politics in the lead up to the 12 December election:

Scott Burchill: The opinion polls are all over the place. One minute it looks like almost a landslide to the Tories, the next minute it’s a very close vote. So, anyone who’s trying to predict the result based on those polls could be in for a shock. There’s also that sort of personal animus that exists both towards the leader of the opposition and Mr Corbyn – but also towards [Boris] Johnson. And most of that animus seems to come from within the Tory Party, it has to be said. So even those who support the general thrust of the Brexit deal find it difficult to vote for anything Mr Johnson proposes.

That was on Tuesday (Australian Eastern Daylight Time). Within a day the House of Commons passed a motion by a vote of 438 to 20 in support of Prime Minister Johnson’s decision to hold an early election.   So much so for the claim by Dr Burchill that even those who support Brexit find it difficult to vote for Boris Johnson on anything. Also, the Burchill view that Boris Johnson is more hated by his Tory colleagues than Jeremy Corbyn by his colleagues is nonsense.

The discussion then focused on Brexit. Here co-presenter Lisa Millar claimed to have special expertise since she has been in touch with her mates in Britain:

Scott Burchill: And of course, the Labour Party is proposing a mix of elections and referenda, which are probably going to drive the electorate mad.

Lisa Millar: No. They’re already mad. They’re already mad.  I talk to my friends regularly over there.

Scott Burchill: They’re probably sick to death of the whole thing.

Lisa Millar: They’ve hit the insane limits quite some time ago.

Scott Burchill: So, no progress really at this point.

Er, no.  Not until a day or so later when some Britons get ready for an election on 12 December 2019. Alas, Ms Millar did not identify her British-based mates. MWD is of the view that they are Remain-types who live in London or Britain’s university towns.

Then Dr Burchill (for a doctor he is) turned his thoughts – if thoughts there were – to the situation of the Australian Labor Party:

Scott Burchill: I think there’s a genuine struggle in the Labor Party for its political identity at the moment. What does it stand for? Does it stand for taking the country in a new direction, or does it say: “What do we need to do to win the next election?”?  And if that means making itself a small target and almost indistinguishable from the Morrison government, that’s the best route. Of course, that’s what the Murdoch press has been calling for and it looks like Mr Albanese is heeding that call.

So there you have it. Blame Rupert Murdoch and the “Murdoch press”. According to Dr Burchill the Labor Party can’t think for itself.  His evidence? Zip. Absolutely zip. Can You Bear It?


MWD avid readers are obsessed with one of the great (trivial) questions of our time.  Namely, will Nine Newspapers’ columnist bandanna?  Or will he not bandanna?

The issue arose when the very English Sir Michael Parkinson rocked up in Sydney Town on Tuesday to launch the very latest historical tome by Peter FitzSimons.  To wit, James Cook: The Story Behind The Man Who Mapped The World (Hackette, 2019).

How strange, MWD hears you cry, that the chair of the Australian Republic Movement should invite a Pommy (Yorkshire-born) knight to launch his book – albeit written with the assistance of four researchers. [Only four? Are you sure about this? How can The Red Bandannaed One produce a book a month, or some such, with only four researchers? – MWD Editor.]  Was there no Aussie republican available for the task?

Fitz advised Nine Newspapers’ Josh Dye that he (and his four researchers) had commenced the book in April 2018.  Fitz told the book launch audience: “It’s shocking to me to know how little I knew” about Cook before he started the tome.  For the record, MWD is never shocked to learn the extent of the Red Bandannaed One’s ignorance on any historical matter before his researchers tell him what happened in the past.

And so – to the question of the day. Did Peter FitzSimons wear his “look-at-me” red bandanna to the launch?  Alas, no.

It remains to be seen whether The Red Bandannaed One will be in Red Bandanna mode on the occasion of the forthcoming 20th anniversary of the defeat of the referendum to establish the Commonwealth of Australia as a republic. In his Sun-Herald column last Sunday, Fitz referred to the occasion in this way:

So, as we move closer to the 20-year anniversary of the republic referendum, coming up on November 6, the question is: where to from here? As it happens on the night of the November 26, Anthony Albanese, Malcolm Turnbull and I – as Australian Republican [sic] Movement chair – will attempt to answer that at a dinner held at Old Parliament House to mark the anniversary. The leader of the Greens, Richard Di Natale will also speak. Members of the public welcome – google and go-go!

How about that?  Roll up on – and hear three white middle-aged blokes discuss why Australia should become a republic.  For the record, Gerard Henderson – Jackie’s (male) co-owner – voted “Yes” in 1999.  However, it’s delusional to believe that contemporary Australians will rally behind a republican cause led by a sneering secularist, Neutral-Bay residing, left-wing multi-millionaire who talks incessantly and wears red rag on his head (except in the presence of Sir Michael and, presumably, in the shower). Can You Bear It?


While on the issue of The Red Bandannaed One, MWD notes that in his various columns in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Sun-Herald – along with his regular ABC appearances – Peter FitzSimons has not spoken about Israel Folau with reference to Australia’s exit from the world Rugby Cup in Japan.

Your man Fitz, along with Australian Rugby Union management led by Raelene Castle plus Alan Joyce (head of Qantas, the ARU’s chief sponsor), led the charge to have Israel Folau driven out of Rugby.  Due to Mr Folau’s habit of quoting from Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians about how we sinners (in various categories) will go to Hell unless we repent.  It seems that Mr FitzSimons, the ARU’s Ms Castle and Qantas’ Mr Joyce believe that a warning of eternal damnation – issued by a Rugby Union fullback – is a real threat to Australian society.

Jackie’s (male) co-owner is not a Rugby Union type.  However, he notes that if Australia had defeated Wales (instead of losing narrowly), it would have faced France, not England, in the quarter-final.  As it turned out, Wales defeated France in the quarter-final and narrowly lost to South Africa in the semi-final.

So, Jackie’s (male) co-owner is of the view that if Israel Folau had played in the World Cup, Australia could have done better than just defeating Fiji, Uruguay and Georgia before losing to Wales and being smashed by England – and might have made it to tomorrow’s final against England.

But it was not to be.  The ARU – and its backers like Peter FitzSimons and Alan Joyce – decided that Australia should take the field without Israel Folau. Despite the fact that he is one of Australia’s best players.  [Good point. I was hoping that Fitz and the Qantas supremo might run on the field in the second half to help out against England last Saturday.  But, alas, they were nowhere in sight. – MWD Editor.]

For the record, MWD notes that the ABC Offsiders panel – which was consistently hostile to Folau – has not mentioned that Australia’s team in Japan was without one of its best players. Just like Fitz, Offsiders is in don’t-talk-about-Folau mode in the face of Australian Rugby Union’s drubbing in the World Cup. Can You Bear It?



It is said of Jackie’s (male) co-owner that no cause is ever truly lost until he embraces it.  Sad, yes.  But, alas, true. However, it is hoped that Jackie will be more successful when it comes to advocacy.  Hence this new segment in which Jackie takes up a cause. This time, with a view to keeping The Human Mumble on Sky News After Dark.

Last Monday, Nick Tabakoff’s “The Diary” section in The Australian contained the following (bad) news:

This is a tragedy – for MWD, that is.  It’s apparently true that Hinch on Sky News at 8 pm on Thursdays – does not rate well.  However, the Hinch on Hinch segment is a huge hit when Media Watch Dog goes out at Gin & Tonic time on Friday afternoons.

MWD’s avid readers just can’t get enough of what your man Hinch is mumbling about on Hinch.  And then there’s the Hinch program’s “Spin a Yarn” segment – in which The Human Mumble talks about famous people who have had the privilege of meeting the even more famous Hinch over the past half a century or so.

Jackie’s (male) co-owner understands that, when a senator for Victoria between July 2016 and June 2019, Derryn Hinch would bore his fellow senators witless by telling stories about himself over and over again.  But MWD just loves Hinch’s stories – since they provide great copy for the MWD morning after the (Thursday) night before.

What to do?  Well, demonstrate, that’s what.

Join Jackie and her (male) co-owner at Sky’s headquarters in Sydney’s Macquarie Park on Thursday 7 November 2019 – a week after Halloween.  The time is 7.30 pm – shortly before The Human Mumble commences mumbling on Hinch.  Then Occupy Sky News! until Sky’s management agrees to continue Hinch – or until the twelfth of Never and that’s a long, long time.  As the song goes.

As to Post-Halloween gear – well a Hinch mask should be scary enough.

See also this weeks Hinch on Hinch segment


The Australian on 19 October 2019 carried a photo of the key players in the Australian media’s Right-to-Know campaign. Those photographed were (from left to right) Gaven Morris (ABC), Campbell Reid (News Corp), Chris Uhlmann (Nine) and James Chessell (Nine Newspapers).  An impressive (media) unity ticket, to be sure.

But what is the taxpayer funded broadcaster doing among this lot? – MWD hears you cry.  It’s a matter of not practising what it preaches.  For the ABC rarely recognises a right-to-know when anyone asks questions of it.  This applies to ABC journalists and management alike.

As avid readers are aware, The Drum’s co-presenter Ellen Fanning refuses to answer any questions from MWD.  Moreover, Noel Debien (ABC Radio National Religion & Ethics Report) and Paul Kennedy (ABC TV News Breakfast) have refused to even acknowledge emails about errors made on their programs concerning the recent cases of Director of Public Prosecutions v George Pell and George Pell v The Queen. When questioned by Gerard Henderson – they both went under the bed.

Two more recent examples illustrate the point:

In Issue 469, MWD revealed that ABC management had refused to ‘fess up as to who paid for the vomit-removal after the famous Chunder-Down-Under episode of Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell last August.  It so happened that the teetotaller Micallef left a post-recording party of Mad As Hell and ABC staff partying types early – but the booze up continued in his absence.

The very next morning (then) ABC TV News Breakfast co-presenter Virginia Trioli came across the vomit when she entered the ABC Southbank studio’s News and Current Affairs Female Dressing Room – see pic below.

MWD asked the ABC’s spokesperson this simple question.  Was the vomit removal paid for by Comrade Micallef’s company Giant Baby Productions – or by the public broadcaster (per courtesy of the Australian taxpayer)? The ABC advised that MWD has no right to know this.

And then there is the case of the Institute of Public Affairs staff.  The IPA put in a Freedom of Information request seeking any material relevant to the fact that no one from the IPA has been invited on to the ABC TV’s The Drum since late April 2018.  That is, a request for details about the apparent de-platforming of IPA employees with respect to appearances on The Drum.

 Alas, the documents released by the ABC’s Company Secretary/FOI Co-ordinator Pamela Longstaff contained little material of interest and much that was redacted – including two whole blacked-out pages. Indeed, the redacted pages could yet be an entry in the Art Gallery of NSW’s Wynne Prize – which features much abstract art. Here’s why:

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

Over the years, the late Nancy’s Five Paws Award has become one of the world’s most prestigious gongs – rating just below the Nobel Prize and Academy Awards.


Addressing the Obama Foundation Summit Panel Discussion on 29 October, Barack Obama called on left-of-centre activists to be more tolerant of those with differing opinions, on both the left and right of the political debate.

[Panel discussion on activism featuring Barack Obama, Yara Shahidi and several young activists involved with the Obama Foundation]

Barack Obama: …each of us have to constantly remind ourselves, we’re born into a society, we can’t completely remake society in a minute. So we have to make some accommodations to the existing structures, [Indicates Yara] you are working as an actress as well as a student. Samira even as you are doing your advocacy you have to fund it, which means you have to talk to some people who have money and some of them may have money from places where if you looked at it, you might say “I’m not crazy about what you do but thank you very much” [audience laughs]. We’re all kind of adjusting to, here are the structures that are presented.

But this goes back to the point I was making earlier about constantly testing ourselves about – does this feel like the accommodation I’m making to this existing structure? Am I contributing more or less to the things I want to change? Am I part of the solution or am I part of the problem?

And you’re never going to, you know, this idea of purity and you’re never compromised and you’re always politically woke and all that, you should get over that quickly [audience laughs]. The world is messy, there are ambiguities. People who do really good stuff have flaws. People who you are fighting may love their kids and, you know, share certain things with you. And I think that one danger I see among young people, particularly on college campuses, Malia and I talk about this.  Yara goes to school with my daughter. But I do get sense sometimes now among certain young people and this is accelerated by social media.

There is this sense sometimes that the way of me making change is to be as judgemental as possible about other people and that’s enough. Like if I tweet or hashtag about how you didn’t do something right or the use the wrong verb then I can sit back and feel pretty good about myself because: “Man you see how woke I was – I called you out?”  …If all you’re doing is casting stones, you’re probably not going to get that far. That’s easy to do [audience applauds].

President Obama: Five Paws



The idea that bigger taxes on consumption would help [the economy] is weird. Sluggish GST growth is a symptom of a deeper malaise in the economy. The states should be arguing that the Commonwealth lift its game on public spending rather than treating symptoms.

– David Richardson, The Australia Institute, letter to The Australian Financial Review, 29 October 2019.


Tax policy has a huge influence on what governments can spend and the sort of society we want to be and become. Increasing our tax to GDP ratio to levels comparable to New Zealand or the UK would raise revenue sufficient to have a major impact on our budget and funding of social services and infrastructure.

– Rod Cameron and Cameron Murray, Australia : The low tax country, The Australia Institute, April 2018.

So there you have it. The Australia Institute is opposed to increasing the GST – except when it favours increasing the GST.



There has been overwhelming demand for more news on the “Spin a Yarn” segment — presented by Derryn (“I got a whopping 2.8% of the primary vote in the 2019 Senate election in Victoria”) Hinch on Sky News every Thursday. After Dark, of course. Towards the end of the program, a turn-table determines what (boring) story The Human Mumble will tell about famous people who have had the privilege of meeting the even more famous Hinch. Last week it was actor Jennifer Lawrence — but more of this later.

According to your man Hinch, the idea of the turn-table came from Canberra Press Gallery journalists Annika Smethurst (News Corp) and Rob Harris (Nine Newspapers). MWD does not doubt this. However, MWD believes that the journos were pulling Hinch’s leg in getting him to tell yet more of his oh-so-boring and inconsequential stories about himself. It’s just that The Human Mumble does not understand when people are laughing at him. It’s a narcissistic trait.

Last night, the Hinch media panel comprised Rob Harris and the Courier Mail’s Matthew Killoran. Let’s go to the transcript as the turn-table is spun:

[Spin a Yarn intro, lands on Brigitte Bardot]

Derryn Hinch: Ohh Brigitte Bardot. Well, I have to confess here that, um, unfortunately I’ve never met Brigitte Bardot. I’d like to. When um, when I was 13, I did sneak into the movie theatre in my home town pretending to be 15 because you had to be 15 to go and see a movie called And God Created Woman which was her first big movie for the West. But anyway I have sort of been to her house, years later. Decades later I wrote a novel called Death in Paradise, my second novel.  I wrote Death in Paradise and it was based on Brigitte Bardot, BB. I called my heroine MM, Monique Monet and she got involved with animal liberation causes and the Rainbow Warrior and there was a plot to kill her when the Rainbow Warrior was blown up.

Um so I went to Saint-Tropez and I went to Brigitte Bardot’s house and unfortunately, knocked on the door – unfortunately she was not home. But uh in the novel I could pretend I’d been there because I’d seen photos inside the house and I knew what the outside looked like. So I could have Monique Monet living in Brigitte Bardot’s house and it seemed to work. Rob what do you reckon?

Rob Harris: [laughs] I don’t know what to say to that. That’s the first time someone’s come up you haven’t met them but you had a story anyway, Derryn….

So there you have it.  What a disappointment. And so on.  Despite the tease, Derryn Hinch has never met Brigitte Bardot. But he did knock on the door of her house once in St Tropez and looked through the window.  Close enough to call it an encounter, surely – if you’re Derryn Hinch, that is.

At this stage the discussion deteriorated [could this be possible? – MWD Editor] as the all-male panel reflected on the gorgeous, pouting Ms Bardot.



Jackie’s (male) co-owner expects that all MWD’s avid readers know about the Iron Rule of Oligarchy pronounced by the German sociologist Robert Michels in his book Political Parties, first published in 1911.  His theory went something like this – all organisations, however democratic they are at birth, end up oligarchies.  It’s nonsense, of course.  Yet your man Michels is still being quoted decades after his theory was disproved.  There you go.

In any event, wasn’t it great to see The Guardian Australia’s David Marr throw the switch to Iron Rule on Insiders last Sunday? – when discussion turned on how Labor leader Anthony Albanese was going in opposition.  Let’s go to the transcript:

David Marr: But look, there is a grim and iron rule of Australian politics that goes back to the Second World War – which is that the leader who takes over a party after a major defeat never wins the prime ministership.  And it goes back to Bert Evatt and it’s been true every single time, all the way through. Bill Hayden was just another example of it.  Kim Beazley, Brendan Nelson was another example of it.  And Albanese faces that tough rule of Australian politics.

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

▪ Bert Evatt did not take over the leadership of the Labor Party after Robert Menzies’ Liberal Party defeated Labor by a large margin at the 1949 election and attained government.  Ben Chifley led Labor to defeat at both the December 1949 and May 1951 elections.  Bert Evatt became Labor leader after Chifley died (when Opposition leader in June 1951). Dr Evatt (for a doctor he was) led Labor to defeats in 1954, 1955 and 1958. His major problem was not that he became leader after a major defeat.  But rather the Labor Split of early 1955 – for which he was primarily responsible. No Iron Rule problem here.

▪ Gough Whitlam became Labor leader after the Labor Party’s major defeat in December 1966.  He won seats in the December 1969 election and led Labor into government in December 1972.  No Iron Rule problem here.

▪ It’s true that the role of Opposition leader after a major defeat is a difficult one – as is evident in the careers of Brendan Nelson (after the Coalition’s 2007 defeat) and Kim Beazley (after Labor’s 1996 defeat). But a couple of instances do not amount to an Iron Rule in democratic politics which will affect Anthony Albanese.

Thanks to avid reader Simon Scott and one other for drawing attention to various aspects of today’s History Corner.


There was enormous interest in last week’s MWD Scoreboard which revealed that ABC chair Ita Buttrose has distanced herself from the 1975 statement of (then) ABC chair Professor Richard Downing that, “in general, men will sleep with young boys”.  This followed the refusals of former ABC chairs James Spigelman and Justin Milne to address Richard Downing’s 1975 comment.  This despite the fact that an ABC journalist would not ignore a similar comment made in 1975 by, say, an Anglican or Catholic bishop.   But there you go.  Finally Ms Buttrose has done in 2019 what Mr Spigelman and Mr Milne could have done in 2015 and 2017 respectively.

Thanks to the avid reader who drew MWD’s attention to the chapter on Lyndhurst Falkiner Giblin in former Reserve Bank Governor Ian Macfarlane’s Ten Remarkable Australians (Connor Court, 2019). Now Professor Richard Downing (1915-1975) was a protégé of L.F. Giblin (1872-1951) and succeeded him in the Ritchie chair in economics at the University of Melbourne. Downing was appointed a part-time research assistant to Giblin in late 1934 at age 19 – the position became full-time after Downing graduated in 1935.

In Ten Remarkable Australians, Macfarlane writes that “Giblin showed no romantic interest in women” and quotes [Giblin’s] wife’s biographer as writing that his marriage at age 45 showed neither intimacy nor endearment.  Macfarlane also wrote that “Giblin was strongly attached to boys and young men and the literature about boyhood” – and that this was something he had in common with some of his literary friends in King’s College and Bloomsbury, such as E.M. Forster.  Macfarlane added that today Giblin’s “obsession with boys would be seen as a form of pederasty” – but wrote that we will never know whether Giblin’s pederasty “ever took physical form”.

Macfarlane cited the chapter that Downing wrote about Giblin in Douglas Copland’s edited collection Giblin: The Scholar and the Man (Cheshire, 1960):

…Everything in the essay extolls Giblin’s virtues to an almost fulsome extent, but at the end of the chapter Downing chose to include the full text of a letter Giblin wrote to E.M. Forster, but never posted. It is a rather embarrassing fan letter, and one hinting at a shared but secret interest. It adds nothing to Giblin’s reputation. You wonder why Giblin wrote it in the first place. Having not posted it, you wonder why he kept it, and finally you wonder why an admirer such as Downing chose to have it published. I have come to the conclusion that it was Downing’s not very subtle way of revealing the third side of Giblin’s character. [The other sides were his time as an economic adviser and his role as an outdoors man].


Giblin concluded his letter to E.M. Forster with what he called: The small boy’s friendly ending – Love, L.F. Giblin.

The Giblin/Forster letter praised Forster’s friend Forrest Reid.  Macfarlane quoted Professor Paul Goldman as categorising Reid’s work as focusing on “the internal world of the young male adolescent”. Macfarlane concluded this part of his chapter on Giblin as follows:

Incidentally, further evidence that Downing wanted people to understand this aspect of Giblin’s character came to light in 1975. By this time Downing was the chairman of the ABC, when he made a very controversial public defence of the ABC’s decision to broadcast a program where three pederasts set out their views without any censure. I could have included more evidence of Giblin’s great interest in boys, but I don’t want to labour the point. I suspect that Giblin’s friends and colleagues knew about this aspect of his character, but did not think it important. Contrary to modern opinion, there was quite widespread tolerance in intellectual and artistic circles to differences in sexual preferences, even apparently extending to those whose main interest was in boys and youths. The predominant view would have been – why should we hold this against such an outstanding man, loyal friend and wise counsellor?

That’s correct.  That probably was a prevailing view when Giblin died in 1951 and when Downing wrote about Giblin in 1960 and when Downing declared in 1975 that “in general, men will sleep with young boys”.

However, it was not the prevailing view when James Spigelman and Justin Milne refused to disassociate the ABC from the comments of the one-time ABC chairman (and long-time time admirer of Giblin) Richard Downing about pederasty.


Last week, MWD made fun of the fact that The Guardian Australia’s eco-catastrophist editor’s Canberra house has an Energy Efficiency Rating of a mere 1.5 out of a possible 8.0.  Ms Taylor’s Red Hill pile is co-owned with her husband Paul Daley.

MWD raised the possibility that Ms Taylor may have a perceived conflict of interest – in that she is Chair of the Walkley Awards Judging Panel Board and Mr Daley has been short-listed in an award category.

On Saturday at around 2 pm, MWD was advised that Ms Taylor was not involved in drawing up a short-list for any of its awards.  The reference was removed immediately.

For a full discussion – including Gerard Henderson’s view about the Walkley Foundation’s Awards see this week’s (hugely popular) Correspondence segment.

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).


 As avid readers are aware, MWD has apologised to The Guardian’s Lenore Taylor for suggesting that she might have a perceived conflict of interest with respect to Paul Daley, who is on the short-list for a Walkley award later this month.  Louisa Graham, the Walkley Foundation for Journalism’s chief executive – no less, wrote to Gerard Henderson about this. He replied – courteously, of course. And he asked a question about the Walkley Awards’ first-tier judging panel in a certain category. Now read on:

Louisa Graham to Gerard Henderson – 28 October 2019

Dear Gerard,

I am writing regarding the mention of the Walkley Awards in your column, in The Australian on Friday, October 25, particularly your assertion that there was a perceived conflict of interest between Paul Daley being nominated as a finalist in this year’s Walkley Awards and his wife Lenore Taylor as Chair of the Walkley judging board.

This assertion is incorrect as Lenore Taylor was not involved in the selection of finalists.  The Walkley Foundation carefully monitors conflict of interest and a detailed outline of the judging process can be found on our website here.

The Walkley Awards are peer judged by media professionals from a diversity of news organisations across all states.  The judging is a two-tier process, with three finalists in each category being chosen by a panel of three judges.  The Walkley Judging Board of which Lenore Taylor is Chair is not involved in this process and does not have any persuasion over the selection of finalists.  The Judging Board becomes active in the second round of judging to select a winner from the three finalists in each category.

In both the first and second rounds of judging, The Foundation monitors the potential conflict.  All judges including the Judging Board sign a declaration of any or potential conflict. And the following applies:

  • Board members who have entered and become a finalist do not participate in any board judging for that year.
  • Board members who are editors leave the room and do not participate in the judging of categories where there are nominees from their own news organisation.
  • Board members who have a personal or professional relationship with the entrant leave the room and do [not] participate in the judging of that category.

The Walkley Judging Board represents a number of significant media organisations including three from News Corp, four from Nine Entertainment, four from the ABC and one each from The Guardian, Seven West Media, WIN News and NITV.  Claire Harvey, Deputy Editor of The Sunday Telegraph is the Deputy Chair.

The 2019 finalists reflect a diversity of media organisations and journalism.  The winners will be announced on November 28, 2019.

If you have any questions regarding the Awards please do not hesitate to contact me.


Louisa Graham

Chief Executive

Walkley Foundation for Journalism


Gerard Henderson to Louisa Graham – 28 October 2019

Dear Louisa

I refer to your email which I received around Gin & Tonic time last evening concerning a comment which was published in my Media Watch Dog blog – which went around Gin & Tonic time on Friday 25 October 2019.  The reference was to the 2019 Walkley Awards short list in the category “Commentary, Analysis, Opinion and Culture” – viz:

[Could this be the very same Paul Daley who was emission-shamed in last week’s MWD ? – when you revealed that he and his wife, The Guardian Australia’s editor Lenore Taylor (whose newspaper “will not stay quiet on climate issues” and “recognises the climate emergency as the defining issue of our times”)  are selling their Red Hill pile in Canberra, which has an Energy Efficiency Rating of a lowly 1.5, when the top is 8.0? And is it true that Ms Taylor is the chair of the Walkley Awards Judging Panel.  I would be surprised if this was the case – since The Guardian Australia is always lecturing others about perceived conflicts of interest and all that. – MWD Editor.]

Initially I should point out that I was accused recently by The Guardian Australia of a perceived conflict of (financial) interest with respect to someone else’s wife – for no reason whatsoever.

In any event, unlike some of the supporters of the Walkley Awards – such as the ABC –  Media Watch Dog readily makes corrections and, where appropriate, issues apologies.

The erroneous reference to Ms Taylor’s perceived conflict of interest was drawn to my attention by The Australian on Saturday afternoon – which, as I understand it, was contacted by her. Lenore Taylor made no contact with me.

The Australian advised me around 2 pm on Saturday that it proposed to correct my comment.   I readily agreed. Immediately after this, I deleted the section quoted above from The Sydney Institute’s website.

In other words, you wrote to me at 5.14 pm on Monday 28 October concerning a comment which had been corrected/deleted two days earlier.

In conclusion, I make the following comments and ask one question:

  1. The message sent out by The Walkley Foundation on Thursday 17 October 2019 concerning its 2019 Awards, contained no reference whatsoever to the Foundation’s policy towards perceived conflicts of interest.
  1. You state that the 2019 finalists reflect “a diversity” with respect to journalists. I see no political diversity in the finalists in the “Commentary, Analysis, Opinion and Critique” category for 2019.
  1. In the interests of the-right-to-know and all that, could you please advise who, the first tier, chose the finalists in the “Commentary, Analysis, Opinion and Critique” category for 2019. Just the names will do.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson


Louisa Graham to Gerard Henderson – 30 October 2019

Dear Gerard,

Thank you for your email.

In response to your points.

  1. The message you refer to is the press release issued by our Communications Manager Clare Fletcher.  It is attached and does reference the Foundation’s policy, in the fifth paragraph before the finalists are named states “You can find information about the Walkley Awards judging process here and the Terms and Conditions of the Awards here.”  The first hyperlink goes to our website which outlines the judging process that includes the Walkley conflict guidelines.
  1. My reference “2019 finalists reflect a diversity of media organisations and journalism” refers to the outcome across all categories.
  2. The judges for the “Commentary, Analysis, Opinion and Critique” were:


DavidSpeersPolitical EditorSky
GabrielleJacksonAssociate news editorGuardian Australia

Also present during the entire judging session were representatives from the Walkley Foundation, whose function is not to participate in judging but to administer the process and ensure all procedures are followed.  In accordance with our conflict of interest guidelines, Gabrielle Jackson submitted a signed conflict of interest form prior to the judging session and recused herself from judging two of the entrants Paul Daley and Naaman Zhou.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.


Louisa Graham

Chief Executive

The Walkley Foundation


Gerard Henderson to Louisa Graham – 1 November 2019

Dear Louisa

Thank you for your email of 30 October 2019. In response, I make the following comments:

▪ The references to the Walkley Awards Judging Process and the Terms and Conditions of the Awards – in Clare Fletcher’s press release of 17 October 2019 – do not mention specifically the issue of perceived or real conflicts of interest.  I would have thought that the Walkley Foundation would be more upfront about this issue. Especially with respect to the media profession – in which there are numerous inter-relationships, present and past.

▪ I don’t need a lecture from the Walkley Foundation about how to handle perceived conflicts of interest. In 2015, I was chair of the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards for Australian History and Non-Fiction.  When I found out that UNSW Press had entered the book Menzies at War by Anne Henderson (my wife) – I stepped down for the entire year with respect to all categories.  I note that Lenore Taylor has not stepped down from her role as Chair of the Walkley Judging Board in 2019 and will merely recuse herself with respect to certain entries.  And yet, Ms Taylor’s The Guardian Australia lectures others about conflicts of interest (real and imagined).

▪ I find it hard to believe that at least two out of three judges for the Community, Analysis, Opinion and Critique award could not find one conservative or right-of-centre nominee suitable to make the short list.  The Walkley Foundation is asking me to believe that in a year when a right-of-centre government was returned to office – all the best commentary, analysis, opinion and critique in Australia was proffered by left-of-centre journalists.  Turn it up.

Over and out.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

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Until next time.

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