GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG
ISSUE – NO. 484
14 February 2020
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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 – Hamish Macdonald’s oh-so-polite interview with ACT Chief Secretary Andrew Barr
Can You Bear It? Q+A panellist Osher Gunsberg on wives+dishes; Zak Hepburn doesn’t like it when (conservative) film directors let their politics ebb into their movies; James “I’m a Melbourne Grammar man” Campbell gets taken out to the woodshed
Media Fool of the Week – Fitz goes for a hoon in his big red car
Top Media Interrupter of the Week – Speersy out-interrupts Comrade Kelly
World Comedy Scoop – Mark Humphries finds humour in the coronavirus
Flann O’Brien Gong for Literary or Verbal Sludge – Van Badham verbals female vegans
An ABC Update – Stephen Long’s gassy sermon on News Breakfast
John Laws “Deliberate Mistake” Segment – Richard Ackland scores re Jenny Hocking
Documentation – Malcolm Farr uhh talks about um sports er grants ah
HAMISH MACDONALD’S SOFT QUESTIONS ON ACT LABOR/GREEN GOVERNMENT’S HANDLING OF THE ACT BUSHFIRES
What a stunning interview between ABC Radio National Breakfast Friday presenter Hamish Macdonald and ACT Labor/Green chief secretary Andrew Barr this morning.
Hamish (“I don’t watch television”) Macdonald questioned Mr Barr about the recent bushfires in the ACT. Discussion focused on climate change in general and responses by Commonwealth, State and local governments to the bushfires in particular.
It was an oh so polite interview – unlike most encounters with your man Macdonald who has a habit of asking the same question over and over again if he has not received the response he wants. Possibly because no hard questions were asked.
For example, yesterday the Canberra Times ran a Page One story titled “Volunteer firefighters speak out after fires”. The piece, by Dan Jervis-Bardy, reported that some ACT volunteer firefighters and ACT opposition emergency services spokesperson Giulia Jones had criticised the lack of up-to-date firefighting equipment and inadequate management by the ACT Emergency Services Agency during the bushfires.
So did your man Macdonald ask Andrew Barr any questions about the performance of the ACT government in managing the ACT bushfire emergency of recent memory? Not on your nelly.
HAMISH PLUS MACDONALD HAS “CONVERSATION” WITH REALITY TV STAR
While on the topic of Hamish Macdonald – how’s the ABC TV’s Q&A going? – MWD hears you cry.
Well – well, or so it appears. It seems that not only has the program a new presenter – it also has a new logo which reads Q+A – see below – as in “Q plus A”. And a new exciting number of panellists which last week included Osher Gunsberg (nee Andrew Gunsberg sometimes known as Andrew G).
As some of MWD’s readers will know, Mr G who changed his first name to Osher (after having been advised to do so by a mystic or something like that) since the name change would give him more energy. Oh the in-your-face energy he exhibited on Q&A last Monday.
And so it happened that Osher G made perhaps the most revealing comment of the night when he stated that the argument that Australia would meet its Paris Agreement emission reduction targets by using left-over Kyoto credits resembles what he might say to the second Mrs Gunsberg. Let’s go to the transcript:
Osher Gunsberg: …Trying to say that the Kyoto credits work is like saying to my – this is my second marriage – that I’m in. It’s like saying to my current wife: “Honey, I did heaps of dishes in my first marriage, so I don’t need to do the dishes in this one.”
Your man OG is well qualified to advise on matters of the heart – along with the dishes. After all, he is the host of The Bachelor Australia, The Bachelorette Australia, Bachelor in Paradise Australia and The Masked Singer Australia. Just the man to compare Australia’s climate policy to the approach he does not adopt towards to his second wife on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster. Can You Bear It?
ZAK HEPBURN’S DOUBLE STANDARD RE 89-YEAR-OLD STAR DIRECTOR CLINT EASTWOOD
Did anyone watch Zak Hepburn’s review of the Clint Eastwood film Richard Jewell on ABC TV’s News Breakfast yesterday? It’s a story about Richard Jewell, who was falsely accused by the FBI of setting off a bomb in Atlanta at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. The cops were urged on by a baying media mob. Sounds familiar? A somewhat overweight white male loner is falsely accused of terrorism. But he attests his innocence and is proved correct. But, not, it seems to Comrade Hepburn who had this to say – after watching the film with ideological glasses:
Zak Hepburn: Look, this is a really interesting film. You’ve heard of A Tale of Two Cities, well this is a tale of two films. On the surface it’s a very engaging solid drama about a mistaken identity but underneath that, I found quite a troubling political subtext which I had a lot of trouble sort of coming to terms with looking at a story which vilifies the media and vilifies the FBI. And if you’re remotely familiar with the presidential tweets coming out every so often, it’s very hard to not release that from your mind when you go into the cinema. So, Clint Eastwood obviously is a staunch Republican. So I found that Eastwood’s own politics is ebbing into this narrative and I really struggle to come to terms with that.
What a load of tosh. The fact is that in Atlanta in 1996 the cops got the wrong guy. As did most of the media which went along with the FBI in pointing the finger at a middle-aged white guy in claiming he was a terrorist. The late Mr Jewell (1962-2007) was a victim of the media and a police pile-on.
So what is your man Hepburn’s problem with this? It seems that he is a sufferer of the Trump Derangement Syndrome and cannot bear the fact that Clint Eastwood – whom he depicts as not merely a Republican but a “staunch” one at that – has made a film about 1996 which criticises both the FBI and the media in a similar way to President Donald J Trump in 2020. In short, Comrade Hepburn is troubled by Mr Eastwood inserting his own politics into the script.
Talk about double standards. Comrade Hepburn is troubled by the political subtext which criticises the FBI and the media. But would he be troubled by a film that vilified one-time FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover – such as Oliver Stone’s Nixon? And does he feel troubled when a film director or two vilifies media proprietor Rupert Murdoch? Not on your nelly.
Believe it or not, your man Hepburn went on to use the term “fair and balanced” – which was popularised by Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News – against Clint Eastwood. And he objects to the fact that Richard Jewell has a political subtext. But has Mr Hepburn ever criticised the political subtexts of the mass of films with a political subtext by leftist directors in Hollywood and elsewhere? And has he ever accused leftist director Michael Moore of not directing fair and balanced films? Er, not to MWD’s knowledge. Can You Bear It?
JAMES (“I’M A MELBOURNE GRAMMAR MAN”) CAMPBELL GETS FOUR WEEKS’ SUSPENSION FOR A BAD JOKE
So, James Campbell has been suspended for four weeks for making unseemly comments on the Sky News’ AM Agenda program on 31 January 2020. According to a report by Amanda Meade in The Guardian on Tuesday, James (“I’m a Melbourne Grammar man”) Campbell had this to say in the early stage of the Commonwealth sports grants affair of recent memory with respect to former sports minister Bridget McKenzie:
I suspect that this [matter] has a long way to run even if Bridget McKenzie does the right thing and takes the bottle of whiskey and the revolver into the room and practises her shooting on herself.
Well, now. The Herald-Sun’s national editor may have got away with this (attempted) joke had it been said After Dark. But the AM program was a bit early. In any event, Mr Campbell apologised to Ms McKenzie and, rather than take offence as is common these days, she graciously accepted the apology.
But how to explain your man Campbell’s lack of judgment? Well, Jackie’s (male) co-owner puts it down to his education at Melbourne Grammar school which he referred to on Paul Murray Live on 10 October 2019 (See MWD Issue 474). There, in a discussion with Bronwyn Bishop, Mr Campbell distinguished between Melbourne Grammar School (MGS) and Geelong Grammar School (GGS) blokes. He then declared that he has “no truck for the light-blue men”. Your man Campbell did not bother to inform viewers that the GGS lot wore light-blue football jumpers. He just assumed that Sky News viewers in Melbourne or Bourke knew all about this. Fancy that.
So – how does this explain anything? MWD hears you cry. Well, it does.
There was a time when gentlemen of a certain kind exited this mortal coil – after, say, being caught in a compromising position or suffering financial ruin – by taking a bottle of whiskey plus a revolver and heading off to the study and you know what. It could be that, when at the MGS, Young Campbell came across a book in the school library titled, say, “Melbourne Grammar Men: Some Famous and Infamous Exits” and it all came back to him on AM Agenda. Even so – Can You Bear It?
PETER FITZSIMONS AND HIS TOOT-TOOT CHUGGA-CHUGGA BIG RED TESLA CAR
It’s great to have Peter FitzSimons back from what journalists call a Well Earned Break – or W.E.B. Mere mortals confess to taking holidays.
As MWD readers will be aware, Fitz was seen in business class on a flight to Singapore in late December. Needless to say, The Red Bandannaed One wore a red rag on his head during the entire eight-hour flight. [I’m not surprised. It’s easier to attract a flight attendant’s attention if you flash something red. By the way, what’s a climate change eco-catastrophist like Fitz doing in business class? Surely an economy seat is more efficient in times like this with respect to reducing emissions. – MWD Editor.]
Last Sunday, at Hangover Time, Jackie’s (male) co-owner opened the Sun-Herald and glanced at the “Fitz on Sunday” column. For the record, “Fitz on Sunday” is much like Fitz on a Monday, a Tuesday and so on.
This piece happened to be headed “Whenever I drive my Tesla my inner hoon comes out” – he did not state precisely from whence his inner hoon emerged. Believe it or not, the millionaire socialist who lives on Sydney’s lower north shore boasted about his Tesla Model S which he purchased in mid-2018. A Tesla today costs about $170,000 – well outside the affordability of most Australians, many of whom purchase second-hand fossil fuel vehicles. It’s not clear if this news has been passed on to Tesla-owning Neutral Bay residents.
According to an article in The Australian by Andrew White, The Red Bandannaed One’s Tesla is – you’ve guessed it – coloured red. MWD understands that a red Tesla Model S costs an extra $3,700. Just small change for your man FitzSimons – but more than some pay for a second-hand vehicle.
The Red Bandannaed One initially listed the “Upsides” of his recent purchase. He reckons that his Tesla is more powerful than a Maserati. Fancy that. And while “enormously expensive” to purchase, he has not had to pay for petrol. TRBO overlooked the fact that, unlike mere mortals who buy petrol or diesel-fuelled vehicles, he is a modern day tax-bludger since he does not pay the fuel tax levy which goes to consolidated revenue and some of which finds its way to road maintenance etc. on which rich motorists drive electric cars.
Also TRBO reckons that charging his Tesla is “so simple”. He plugs it “into the home charger every two weeks or so” and all “is done in a little over five hours” on a hot day per courtesy of the solar panels on the roof of his abode. Fitz does not say how many Australians who have to park on the street can charge an electric car. Perhaps by running an electric cord from the kitchen on to the street? Nor does he recount how he charges his Tesla Model S when the sun does not shine on his Neutral Bay roof.
Then TRBO acknowledged some “Downsides”. The power of the Tesla tempts him to be a “hoon”. Your man Fitz is 58 years of age. Then Fitz ’fessed up that his trips to Beechworth and Casino were “a tad problematic” due to “the lack of Tesla Superchargers in those areas capable of charging the whole thing in an hour”. Just a mere hour, when they can be found, folks.
Oh yes, Fitz got a flat tyre down Kangaroo Valley way – the holiday abode for many a Tesla-driving Sydney millionaire. Alas, the Tesla does not carry a spare tyre. Help arrived from nearby Nowra but it cost Fitz a fortune to “get back to Sydney’s Tesla joint to get their Tesla tyres”. He did not reflect on his plight if he had blown a tyre, say, 250 kilometres west of Broken Hill or 250 kilometres north of Port Augusta.
Fitz signed off with a boast that he got into the Tesla “share price when it was only a few hundred dollars”. [It will surely rise after this free plug. – MWD Editor.]
All that was missing from the Peter FitzSimons column was a recognition that Teslas are constructed in China due to a production process which uses lotsa coal and iron – and he charges his electric automobile per courtesy of subsidised solar panels which are produced in China per courtesy of coal, iron ore and all that carbon-emitting mineral stuff.
Peter FitzSimons: Media Fool of the Week
[Interesting. Perhaps you should have run this in your hugely popular Can You Bear It? segment. Just a thought. – MWD Editor.]
SPEERSY OUT-INTERRUPTS COMRADE KELLY TO TAKE PRESTIGIOUS GONG
There was enormous interest in last week’s new segment titled “Top Media Interrupter of the Week”. As avid readers will recall, Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly just pipped ABC TV Insiders’ new presenter David (“Some people call me Speersy”) Speers. Mr Speers had interviewed Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on ABC Insiders while Ms Kelly had interviewed Finance Minister Mathias Cormann on ABC Radio National Breakfast. Even Crikey’s Stephen Brook reported that your man Speers had “interrupted abruptly” throughout the interview.
Well, this week the places were reversed. Fran Kelly tried hard when interviewing Nationals’ backbencher Matt Canavan on Wednesday – but Mr Canavan did have a long interview in which he was able to state his case. This made it possible for Speersy to win the gong this week with a very impressive performance during the early part of his interview with Labor deputy leader Richard Marles. Let’s go to the transcript:
David Speers: Richard Marles, welcome. Would you like to see a new coal-fired power plant built in Australia?
Richard Marles: Well, when the energy industry itself aren’t touching this with a barge pole, why on earth would governments be in the business of subsidising it.
David Speers: So that’s a no?
Richard Marles: Well that’s the bottom line. You made the point up there that industry are not going anywhere near coal-fired power stations, and so that’s that. The fundamental point from Government is to say that – should Government be subsidising coal-fired power stations or not? And the answer to that is obvious, no.
David Speers: What if industry does it alone? Do you have any problem on environmental grounds with a new coal-fired power station?
Richard Marles: Well the market is making its own decision here. In a sense that’s ultimately a really academic question because –
David Speers: [interjection] No, it’s an environmental question as well.
Richard Marles: No, it’s an academic question as well, because the market are not touching this with a barge pole –
David Speers: [interjection] But I’m saying if someone did.
Richard Marles: The market aren’t going anywhere near this with a barge pole.
David Speers: Do you have an objection if they did?
Richard Marles: The fundamental question for Government is whether or not you’re willing to subsidise a new coal-fired power station.
David Speers: Or give environmental approval.
Richard Marles: Yes, but whether or not you’re – but whether or not you’re going to subsidise a coal-fired power station –
David Speers: [interjection] I’m not asking about that. I’m asking if industry decided to build a coal-fired power station, would you be happy with that, or would you block that?
Richard Marles: Ultimately, this is a matter for the market.
David Speers: No, for the Government to give approval.
Richard Marles: No, well then the normal environmental approvals should apply. And that process should apply.
David Speers: [interjection] So that’s a maybe? That’s a maybe
Richard Marles: Ultimately, the question here is for the Government. In terms of whether or not it will fund a coal-fired power station. Now, what’s going on here is – this Government is walking down that track. This Government is walking down the track of actually putting up public money to subsidise something –
David Speers: [interjection] They haven’t decided to do that. They’re holding a feasibility study, to be clear.
Richard Marles: Which is being paid for with public money –
David Speers: [interjection] They haven’t decided to go ahead with it.
Richard Marles: Yes but David they’ve already gone down the path of putting public money into this. And it makes no sense at all – and that’s obviously our position, but half the Liberal Party are saying that as well –
David Speers: [interjection] Just to be clear, just so there’s no confusion. A Labor government may allow a new coal-fired power station if industry were to fund it?
Richard Marles: A Labor government will have the normal environmental approvals for power stations.
David Speers: Okay.
Yep, okay. And well done, Speersy. A fine performance indeed. [Interesting. As I recall David Speers told The Guardian on 1 February that, when doing the Insiders political discussion each week he would not try to do “a gotcha interview” and would focus more on “eliciting information”. But there you go. We shall see what happens next Sunday when your man Speers interviews deputy prime minister Michael McCormack. I can barely wait. – MWD Editor.]
WORLD COMEDY SCOOP
MARK HUMPHRIES FINDS HUMOUR IN THE CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)
Mark Humphries returned to 7:30 on Thursday night with yet another political sketch. As is customary when introducing your man Humphries, 7:30 presenter Leigh Sales made sure to tell her audience that Mr Humphries is in fact a “satirist” and that he was assisted in writing the sketch by Evan Williams. It’s handy to know this, don’t you think?
In this week’s sketch Humphries brought back his recurring character Barrabas Loins (Member for Offalseed), a thinly veiled and thinly written send-up of Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce. Mr Loins seems to have become the fall-back option for Humphries & co. when they cannot think of a better (or at least different) idea for a sketch.
Thursday’s offering relied, as usual, on toilet humour to elicit a chuckle from 7.30’s oh-so-sophisticated audience. Some typical examples:
Barrabas Loins: After numerous conversations with the voices in my head I recently decided to run for the Nationals’ leadership. That’s right, just as I do when one of my cows is giving birth, I decided to put my hand up.
Barrabas Loins: I’m Barabbas Loins, and I love regional Australia, particularly my nether regions.
The lowest point in the sketch came near the end when 7:30’s Humphries/Williams satirical dream team offered up the following line:
Barrabas Loins: Michael McCormack better watch his back, I have got a strain of coronavirus and I’m not afraid to use it.
Cue laughter. Perhaps Mr Humphries & Mr Williams both thought it was the other’s job to come up with a joke to replace this line. Instead what we got was a gratuitous reference to the ongoing coronavirus epidemic (current death toll around 1,500), presumably meant to elicit giggles through shock value. Oh well, there’s always next time (and the time after that, and the time after that…).
Due to overwhelming popular demand, the Flann O’Brien Gong returns again this week. As avid MWD readers will be aware, this occasional segment is inspired by the Irish humourist Brian O’Nolan (1911-1966) – nom de plume Flann O’Brien – and, in particular, his critique of the sometimes incoherent poet Ezra Pound (1885-1972). By the way, your man O’Brien also had the good sense not to take seriously Eamon de Valera (1882-1975), the Fianna Fail politician and dreadful bore who was prime minister and later president of Ireland for far too long.
The Flann O’Brien Gong for Literary or Verbal Sludge is devoted to outing bad writing or incomprehensible prose or incoherent verbal expression or the use of pretentious words.
This week’s segment stars MWD critic Van Badham.
VAN BADHAM’S SLUDGE ON PATRIARCHAL GUYS AND VEGAN GALS
Thanks to the avid (feminist) reader who drew MWD’s attention to this tweet from MWD fave Van Badham. This is what The Guardian columnist had to say about veganism and all that last Tuesday:
Veganism is an ideology of diet control that self-justifies and reaffirms the ancient patriarchal shaming of women for their food choices and coercion around consumption. Coaxing women out of a self-chosen omnivorous diet that is better for them is shameful.
— Van Badham (@vanbadham) February 10, 2020
Jackie’s (male) co-owner had to read this multiple times but is still confused as to what Comrade Badham is saying. Perhaps Jackie had a large serve of omnivorous stuff for canines last night. Here’s an interpretation – MWD is happy to run different translations next week if avid readers choose to forward same.
▪ According to VB, veganism is an ideology of diet control. Unlike, say, a commitment to lasagne or pork sausages or large milk shakes.
▪ According to VB, sheilas who reckon that it’s a good idea to give animals a chance – and to refrain from consuming a side of beef or a pint of milk or a dozen eggs for breakfast – are too dumb to realise that they are not in control of their diet. Not at all. Rather they are the unconscious victims of the ancient patriarchal shaming of women. How frightfully interesting. [And what about my male mates who are vegans – who’s controlling them? MWD Editor].
▪ According to VB, sheilas of the omnivorous kind only move to veganism as a result of shaming which implies that they’re too weak to make up their own minds.
Or could Van Badham be saying something else? Who knows?
By Flann O’Brien
of Ezra Pound
My grasp of what he wrote and meant
Was only five or six %
The rest was only words and sound —
My reference is to Ezra £
Inspired by your man O’Brien, this is Jackie’s literary effort for today:
of Van Badham
My grasp of what she wrote and meant
Was only four or five per cent
The rest it just was play-the-man
The reference is to your gal Van
STEPHEN LONG’S SERMON TO THE FAITHFUL CONDEMNING THE SIN OF COAL SEAM GAS
The ABC increasingly resembles a Church, of the secular kind. The (secular) priest gives a sermon to the faithful and the congregation is expected to believe what is being said. This is now a constant theme in oh-so-many of the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s reports on such of its fave topics as climate change and the like.
Take the report by ABC leftist activist journalist Stephen Long on ABC TV Breakfast on Wednesday about the proposed gas project at Narrabri in north-west New South Wales. Needless to say, Comrade Long is opposed to the construction of a coal seam gas plant – inland gas – at Narrabri. Or, indeed, anywhere else.
So guess what? Your man Long introduced the segment on ABC TV News Breakfast by saying that the Narrabri coal seam gas project had renewed “hopes for some” and “fears for others”. But he only interviewed those who held fears about the project. First & foremost – Alistair Donaldson. Then someone who was given a super titled Energy Finance Analysis. Let’s go to the transcript:
Stephen Long: Amid the drought a little rain here in North West NSW is a welcomed relief, but the region’s doing it tough. The hotel behind me tells a story. Prospects for a revival of the Narrabri gas project are renewing hopes for some – and fears for others. We spoke to Alistair Donaldson, a farmer in the region who’s been fighting the coal seam gas plant for 10 years.
Alistair Donaldson (Narrabri Farmer): It’s effectively a Trojan horse for a roll out of the industry.
Stephen Long: Why is that of concern?
Alistair Donaldson (Narrabri Farmer): A multitude of reasons – mass industrialisation of landscape, acute water resources. The produced water that’s coming out of these coal seams is extremely salty. So, to put that in layman’s perspective, it’s around about a gravel truck tipped into a swimming pool. It contains all manner of components such as salts, carbonates and anything down to radioactive components, arsenic etc etc.
Stephen Long: At first blush it might seem that brining on more gas reserves is a sure fire way to push down prices – supply and demand. The problem is that the gas from this region is quite expensive to produce, far more expensive than gas from some other regions in Australia. Narrabri gas is very high cost gas. According to the Australian Energy Market Operator, the cost of producing the gas is $7.40 at the wellhead. Now they’ve got to then transport that gas to Sydney. This makes it far more expensive than the current prices are in Australia, or indeed far more expensive again than our international competitors pay for Australian gas.
Bruce Robertson (Energy Finance Analysis [sic]): There are fears that the gas producers could be sending the cheap gas offshore to markets where prices are low and keeping the expensive gas for Australian users and therefore providing no relief of the soaring prices that have been hitting consumers and heavy industry.
Stephen Long: They will export that cheaper gas and they will sell the Australian public the expensive gas. Why don’t you think the government has a policy that reserves cheap gas for local people in Australia?
Bruce Robertson (Energy Finance Analysis [sic]): Because basically they’re beholden to the gas companies, it’s as simple as that.
Stephen Long: The alternative plan that’s being looked at is to import gas from overseas via Port Kembla in NSW or Newcastle. Now step back and have a think about this. We are now the biggest exporter of gas in the world, so we face the prospect of – at great expense and using a lot of energy – sending gas offshore and then bringing it back into the country because we’ve got a shortage. How much sense does that make? Go figure.
So there you have it. Alistair agreed with Stephen who agreed with Bruce who agreed with Stephen who agreed with Alistair who agreed with Stephen who agreed with himself.
By the way, there is no such entity as “Energy Finance Analysis”. The ABC just made this up. Mr Robertson works for the Institute for Energy, Economics and Financial Analysis which is committed to renewable energy.
And then, in case viewers (if viewers there were) didn’t get the message, Stephen Long concluded the segment by stating that the proposed gas project at Narrabri made no sense at all. No other view was heard. Amen.
THE JOHN LAWS – “DELIBERATE MISTAKE” SEGMENT
One of the most challenging tasks for avid readers each Friday – after lunch, of course – is to find a John-Laws-Style-Deliberate-Mistake in MWD. If there is one.
As avid MWD readers will know, Hendo is not into pedantry and does not focus on the written typos and verbal misstatements of journalists – since everyone makes them. Not so some other scribblers. But “deliberate mistakes” are still mistakes – and need to be corrected. Here we go, again.
RICHARD ACKLAND DETECTS JOHN LAWS STYLE “DELIBERATE MISTAKE” RE THE LATE SIR JOHN KERR AND THE PRESENT DR JENNY HOCKING
In MWD Issue 482, there was a reference to Dr Jenny Hocking’s appeal to the High Court in her bid to attain the release, from the National Archives of Australia, of former Governor-General Sir John Kerr’s letters to Buckingham Palace in the lead up to his decision to dismiss Gough Whitlam’s Labor government on 11 November 1975.
The case involves the question of whether Kerr’s correspondence was personal and that, consequently, his estate was entitled to put conditions on the time and circumstances in which the correspondence would be released. MWD’s “deliberate mistake” was to state that the High Court is currently considering Dr Hocking’s application for special leave to appeal rather than her substantive appeal.
Richard Ackland AM writes “Gadfly” in The [Boring] Saturday Paper. Thank God he is an avid MWD reader. For it was your man Ackland who picked the John-Laws-Deliberate-Mistake in Issue 482. It was an error but not a substantial one.
In his Saturday Paper piece, Mr Ackland AM implied that Gerard Henderson was somehow opposed to the release of the Kerr Papers. Not at all. Rightly or wrongly, he believes that the best way to confront Jenny Hocking’s conspiracy theory that the Queen was involved in the Dismissal is to release the relevant papers. Provided that the High Court believes that such an action is in accordance with the legal obligations of the National Archives.
Once upon a time, the Australian left’s conspiracy theory of choice was to claim that the Robert Menzies government conspired to bring about the defection of Vladimir and Evdokia Petrov from the Soviet Embassy in Canberra in order to discredit Labor leader Bert Evatt on the eve of the 1954 election. It was the decision of Bob Hawke’s Labor government to release the Petrov Papers which proved that the Petrovs provided high level intelligence about the operation of communists and communist fellow-travellers. And so, the Petrov conspiracy theory was demolished.
It is likely that the release of the Kerr Papers would reveal that the Palace was not involved in the Dismissal and thus demolish the Hocking conspiracy theory.
For the record, MWD stands by its view that the 7.30 report on Jenny Hocking’s High Court application was lightweight. Especially in the decision to interview Philip Benwell, the quaint British born head of the quaint Australian Monarchist League. Mr Benwell has no particular knowledge of either John Kerr or the Dismissal. It would seem that he was invited onto the program to boost the cause of Dr Hocking (for a Doctor she is).
MALCOLM FARR UHH TALKS ABOUT UM SPORTS ER GRANTS AH
There was extra grief and despair in this Vale of Tears when avid readers learnt last week of Jackie’s kennel plight. It will be recalled that, believing the wisdom of the Bureau of Meteorology as passed down in December that there would be no significant rain in eastern Australia until at least April 2020, Jackie decided to have the roof of her kennel replaced. And so far, for some weeks, she slept on her back gazing up at the clear, dry evening skies – watching the stars go by and so on. Until it rained. Pelted down in fact. So much so, it appeared that the end-of-the-world-was-nigh. [That’s enough. Now you are channelling David Marr in The Guardian on the morning after New Year’s Eve. – MWD Editor.]
And so it came to pass that some MWD material prepared by Jackie for her (male) co-owner last week was damaged. Including a piece on Malcolm (“Gerard Henderson is a complete f-ckwit”) Farr. Fortunately, Jackie was able to do a new transcript after moving inside her co-owner’s abode. She passed it on this morning to Hendo. So – here we go.
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Thank you to the avid reader who drew attention to the interview between presenter Tom Tilley and commentator Malcolm Farr on ABC Radio National Breakfast on 16 January 2020. On the ABC website the segment was titled “Politics with Malcolm Farr” who was described as a “veteran political commentator”. Let go to the transcript of the veteran talking to Young Mr Tilley:
Tom Tilley: Malcolm Farr, thanks so much for joining us. What do you make of the minister’s [Bridget McKenzie] defence for this sports grounds program?
Malcolm Farr: It wasn’t much of a defence was it? – because the uh the central claim is that a lot of these uh funding decisions were not made on merit, they were made uh out of uh political convenience. And I don’t think Senator McKenzie addressed that uh with any overwhelming frankness. Um, it it’s a very difficult uhh uh position for her to be in um because I’m I am prepared to speculate that when parliament resumes in February the Senate will call for an inq- a committee hearing into this matter and Labor and the Greens will not relent on Senator McKenzie because it uh it would, uh it would, the charge would be a gross misuse of uh public funds for political uh purposes. And, as I say, I’m I’m not sure that uh the uh minister successfully rebutted that uh charge while talking to him. [Sic]
Tom Tilley: No she just gave details of various sporting clubs that got money and how that benefited them. She didn’t address the question about distribution or bias which the Auditor-General laid out very clearly in his report. What would fully fledged accountability look like in this situation?
Malcolm Farr: Well I, I guess uh for e – for example an explanation from the minister as to why, in the third round of funding, some 73 per cent of the officially recommended uh recipients were not back [sic] uh by her or her department. That is, the list of people who uh by merit, or organisations, who by merit deserve money um was drastically altered uh and, as the uh Auditor-General has suggested, for political purposes.
Look it, i-it, i-it uh, it goes beyond um uhh-um potential or possible misuse of taxpayers’ funds for political purposes. Pork barrelling, as we know, it also a-a-attacks the legitimacy of of the Morrison government uh uh not uh not in a way that uh delegitimises it completely but it it raises questions about how um it won that election–
Tom Tilley: Yeah [interjecting]
Malcolm Farr: – back in May. And and also don’t underrate the importance of these grants to communities particularly regional communities where sport is an essential and vibrant part of community life. And you know, if a community gets new money to to replace uh uhhhh dank and ancient dressing rooms or put up uhhh um a few more uh spectator seating areas uh it’s really appreciated as a bigger impact than uh arguably than um building a billion dollar highway uh uh uh 20 kilometres away. Uh, it is of huge importance and you’ve also have to remember that there are a lot of sporting organisations run by amateurs, um most of them uh not paid a cent for their work who would’ve gone to great lengths to prepare applications–
Tom Tilley: Yeah [interjecting]
Malcolm Farr: – for this money and now they’re they’re looking at news reports and the Auditor-General’s findings um which says all their work went to nothing because they were not the politically convenient uh uh electorate.
Tom Tilley: Well they’ll be furious. And I guess if they start speaking out that’ll really ramp up the pressure. In 1994 um a Labor minister lost her job over a similar scandal of a much smaller magnitude of money. Bridget McKenzie is no longer the sports minister so she can’t necessarily be sacked from that portfolio but what, what would the political accountability look like for this?
Malcolm Farr: Oh well as I say I’m I’m quite sure that uh uh the ALP and the Greens will be interested in launching a Senate inquiry into this matter.
Tom Tilley: And what will be the final outcome of that if they’ve found gross wrongdoing?
Malcolm Farr: It’d all depend on the makeup of the committee as to the final report but it would keep the issue alive and keep people talking about it not just in Parliament but out in the regional areas where these things are so important. Look, um, it’s interesting to to go, if you want an explanation, it’s interesting to go back to where it started and and the lovely little area in South Australia called Yankalilla where in February last year the Liberal candidate for the seat of Mayo Georgina uhhm–
Tom Tilley: Yes the giant novelty cheque that a political candidate, not a local MP, was giving to a sporting association. We didn’t even get a chance to mention that but yeah that’s where this, this began. And clearly there’s going to be a lot of, uh, there was public outrage about that and it’s gonna, it’s gonna flow on. Malcolm, we’re gonna have to keep moving into our next interview but as you point out it’ll be interesting to see what Labor and the Greens do with this when parliament starts again. Thanks for your time.
Malcolm Farr: No worries. Thanks Tom, bye.
Yeah, um, ah, no worries. No worries at all. MWD anticipates your man Farr’s next tweet about Jackie’s (male) co-owner will read like this: “Gerard um, uh, Henderson is a uhh, um complete, eh, F-ck, um wit”.
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Until next time.
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