GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG
ISSUE – NO. 485
21 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 – A Statement by Gerard Henderson
New Feature: An Inner City Update – Don Watson remembers John Cain but forgets about The State Bank of Victoria
Can You Bear It? Michael Koziol’s fond memories of day-drinking with Bob Ellis at a university bar; Richard Ackland claims President Trump has never visited Australia; Tony Walker on standing next to Saint Gough 45 years ago; Hinch still mumbling on about his interview with Sir Robert Menzies that never was
Great Media U-Turns of our Time – Matthew Knott changes his tune on Mike Bloomberg’s presidential chances
An ABC Update – Stephen Long’s gassy sermon (continued)
The US[eless] Studies Centre – For a mere $25 you too can hear the USSC’s greatest minds discuss just how disastrous President Trump is for America and the World
Quelle Surprise! – The World Today discovers that the well-off residents of Sydney’s North Shore are concerned about climate change
Correspondence – Gerard Henderson, Louise Milligan & Ellen Fanning
A STATEMENT BY GERARD HENDERSON CONCERNING THE BOLT REPORT
21 February 2020, 8.42 am
I refer to the statement of Paris Street dated 20 February 2020.
Initially I should state that I had no intention of upsetting a victim of child sexual assault – of whom I know several. I am very sorry for upsetting Paris Street – obviously a fine young man – with respect to my comments on The Bolt Report on Tuesday.
By way of background, the fact is that my comments essentially were directed at Louise Milligan’s Four Corners program “Boys Club” and I made little reference to Paris Street in response to the questions I received.
My only reference to Paris Street, the victim, was as follows:
Well, of course, we are sympathetic to the victim in this case. And I can understand the victim’s annoyance after the event.
The second sentence of the above comment related to the fact that the victim found out that the St Kevin’s headmaster had provided a character reference to the court after the former coach was found guilty of grooming Paris Street.
When I appeared on The Bolt Report, I had no knowledge of the facts of the case beyond those revealed on the Four Corners program the previous night.
My principal comments on TBR turned on the practice by which character references are provided after a person is found guilty – but before sentencing. This has been part of the legal system in Victoria, New South Wales and elsewhere for a long time. Criticism of individuals giving references in such circumstances will lead to a situation whereby the practice will surely end. State governments can abolish the practice if they wish. So far, they have not chosen to do so – and character references remain part of the judicial process.
On The Bolt Report I also said that the St Kevin’s headmaster had acknowledged that he had made mistakes in his handling of the Paris Street case – and I agreed with his assessment.
For the record, I did not say Kehoe’s assault on Paris Street was “not bad at all”. In response to a question as to how “terrible” was the headmaster’s decision to provide a character reference to Kehoe, I replied “Well, not at all”. This related to my comments about such character references being part of the criminal justice system.
And my reference to “the time when this occurred” did not relate to Kehoe’s assault but to the timing of the headmaster’s character reference to the court. Also, I made no reference to “2017”.
21 February 2020
NEW FEATURE: AN INNER-CITY UPDATE
DON WATSON REMEMBERS JOHN CAIN BUT FORGETS THE COLLAPSE OF THE STATE BANK OF VICTORIA ON CAIN’S WATCH
This week, or was it last week?, the February 2020 issue of Morry Schwartz’s The Monthly landed on Jackie’s kennel with a thud. The magazine is a publication of the inner-city left, by the inner-city left (after all it is based in the inner-city Melbourne suburb of Collingwood) and for the inner-city left.
No surprise, then, that the first article in the current edition is titled “Leaders and Dung Beetles: On John Cain, Scott Morrison and our curious inability to elect good people”. Needless to say, the late Victorian Labor premier John Cain (1931-2019) was a “good” person. Whereas the current Coalition prime minister Scott Morrison is a “dung beetle”. Really.
Your man Watson writes that “at some point in any interview with the prime minister one is liable to be reminded of a dung beetle”. It seems that Dr Watson (for a doctor he is) has embraced the royal “we”. How quaint. The theory is that, during an interview, the Prime Minister “creates a ball of bullshit several times his own size”. Oh yes, Comrade Watson goes on to sneer at Scott Morrison’s (alleged) Christian beliefs. Before having a blast at the current prime minister, The Monthly’s scribbler had bagged former Coalition prime ministers Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull (whom he declines to name in person). [Gee, Mr Turnbull will be upset. – MWD Editor.]
And what about John Cain? Well it’s true that Mr Cain was an unpretentious and hard-working politician who won three elections for the Labor Party in Victoria.
It is said that whenever John Cain phoned his wife Nancye during work hours he would place a coin in a container or his desk. It was, after all, a personal call. Clearly Mr Cain was a man of financial scruples.
However, the Cain government in Victoria was asleep at the wheel on economic policy. This is evident in the record of Tricontinental, a merchant bank fully owned by the state. Here’s a brief history of the Tricontinental disaster.
Collapse of The State Bank of Victoria Timeline
- The Cain Labor government comes to office in April 1982.
- July 1985 – The State Bank of Victoria increases its interest in Tricontinental Holdings Limited to 100 per cent from 25 per cent.
- 21 May 1989 – Tricontinental was absorbed by the State Bank of Victoria and ceases conducting new business. However, the knock-on effects of Tricontinental’s bad debts continue to mount.
- March 1990 – Federal Election, Labor loses 8 seats in Victoria.
- 7 August 1990 – John Cain resigns and is replaced as premier by Joan Kirner.
- August 1990 – Sale of the State Bank of Victoria to The Commonwealth Bank announced.
- 31 December 1990 – the State Bank of Victoria sold to The Commonwealth Bank.
- 3 October 1992 – The Coalition, led by Jeff Kennett, wins the 1992 Victorian State Election.
The economic mismanagement of the Cain Labor government contributed significantly to the recession which gripped Australia at the turn of the decade. The State Bank of Victoria had been created in 1842. It effectively died in 1990 and was bailed out by the Commonwealth Bank (which was then owned by the Commonwealth government) when Paul Keating was treasurer.
The collapse of Tricontinental had a deleterious effect on Victoria. John Cain stepped down as premier in 1990 and was succeeded by Joan Kirner who had to handle the resultant economic shambles. It was the biggest economic disaster in Victoria since the depression of the 1890s. So, is the Tricontinental disaster addressed in Don Watson’s tribute to the Good John Cain? Not on your nelly. Such a mention might have upset the inner-city left who will remember economic recovery under Jeff Kennett’s government.
MICHAEL KOZIOL’S “TRAGEDY”- NO SCHOONERS AT 3 O’CLOCK ON A TUESDAY AT SYDNEY UNIVERSITY
Michael Koziol, deputy editor of The Sun-Herald in Sydney, is one of MWD’s faves. So, it was with much anticipation that Jackie’s (male) co-owner read his column in yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald titled “Eulogy from Manning Bar, an incubator of fine minds.”
It was the story about the recently announced closure of the Manning Bar on the Sydney University campus. [Gee, this is big news – MWD Editor.] You see, it seems that the advent of casual labour and Skype (where students no longer have to attend lectures) has led to a situation where – in Michael Koziol’s view – “fewer students want to drink schooners at 3 pm on Tuesday”. This, believe it or not, is described as “a tragedy”. Fancy that.
It seems that Comrade Koziol spent five years at Sydney University before entering “the drudgery of employment” and making “our deal with the capitalist devil”. That is, life writing for the Sydney Morning Herald and the Sun-Herald. On Thursday, he looked back in happiness on his time at the Manning Bar:
…Manning became something of home away from home – the ground zero of our student lives, the living room of our giant campus dormitory. The cheap beers, chips with chicken salt and stained leather couches were pretty average, but the lifeblood was the conversation, the characters, the community. Sunny afternoons giving way to electric nights filled with trivia and theatre sports and booing and cheering, mostly funded by the student union. There were special memories. The late Bob Ellis [born in 1942], on stage at midday and possibly a few sheets to the wind, grumbling about the state of Australian politics. Staging a Christmas pantomime with a medley about the Ebola outbreak. Raucous election nights hosted by the same jaded hacks for the best part of 10 years.
What fun it must have been in Koziol’s pre-capitalist days. There was Bob Ellis, recently revealed as having had sex with underage girls when he was an adult, hanging around young students at the Manning Bar – “possibly a few sheets to the wind at midday”. And how amusing for the (late) False Prophet of Palm Beach to take part in “a Christmas pantomime with a medley about the Ebola outbreak”. By the way, the Ebola virus – which primarily affected Western Africa – killed over 10,000 people. Now, that’s a real tragedy. Can You Bear It?
RICHARD ACKLAND FORGETS DONALD TRUMP’S VISIT DOWN UNDER
There was great excitement at last week’s decision to grant the John-Laws-Deliberate-Mistake award to The Saturday Paper’s Richard Ackland – who presents “Gadfly”. Your man Ackland drew attention to the fact that the High Court recently heard Jenny Hocking’s application to bring about a situation where the National Archives of Australia releases the late Sir John Kerr’s correspondence with Buckingham Palace in the lead-up to the Dismissal of Gough Whitlam’s Labor government on 11 November 1975. MWD’s “deliberate mistake” was to state that the High Court was about to hear Jenny Hocking’s special leave to appeal from a Federal Court decision rather than the actual hearing. A small mistake, but a mistake nevertheless.
And how’s No-Mistakes-Gadfly going? – MWD hears you cry. Well this is what he said last Saturday in a piece titled “Joe Hockey Schtick” concerning an article written for the Sydney Morning Herald about Australia’s former ambassador to the United States:
There’s a possibility that readers of the Nine mastheads have recovered from the acres of nauseating PR about the outgoing ambassador to Washington, Joe Hockey. Regarded as a cack-handed politician on home soil, suddenly he’s transmogrified into the saviour of the United States–Australia alliance, the new Talleyrand, an awe-inspiring Metternich. He did this as ambassador by handing out “mateship badges” and reminding anyone who would listen that Australia has been on “America’s side in every major war of the last century”, even the catastrophic ones. Readers of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age must have been choking on their morning crumpets. Is this the same Hockey who bumbled his way through an unmemorable political career?
There he is playing golf, discussing the plight of koalas, having cosy tete-a-tetes and wolfing down clam chowder with President Pussy Grabber, one of the most feckless, ignorant and corrupt individuals to occupy the White House. “Trump loves Australia and Melania really loves Australia,” Metternich tells journalist Peter Hartcher, despite neither the president nor his wife ever having set foot in the place. Praise be….
Praise be, indeed. A simple Google search – like this below, reveals that Donald J. Trump visited Australia in 2011 to address the National Achievers Congress in both Sydney and Melbourne and to promote his reality TV program The Apprentice. Here’s a pic (by James D Morgan) of Donald Trump in front of the Sydney Opera House. He was also photographed with model Jennifer Hawkins. And your man Ackland reckons that he’s never set foot in the place. Can You Bear It?
TONY WALKER TELLS READERS (IF READERS THERE WERE) OF HOW HE STOOD NEXT TO SAINT GOUGH SOME 45 YEARS AGO
While on the topic of Sir John Kerr, thanks to the avid reader who drew MWD’s attention to Tony Walker’s article in The Age on 10 February 2020 titled “Dismissal of the right to know”. Your man Walker, a vice-chancellor’s fellow at La Trobe University, made the important point that “Kerr himself was amenable to the release of the papers”. Presumably, that’s why he prepared them for eventual release before he died in 1991.
However, it is possible that Kerr may have intended that what he termed The Palace should have a say over the matter since the correspondence is in its possession. In any event, it appears that Kerr’s estate placed limitations on the material when placing it in the National Archives.
It is MWD’s contention that it is unlikely that Kerr’s estate placed limitations on the material when placing it in the National Archives.
MWD’s is of the opinion that it is unlikely that the Kerr Papers, if released, will provide any significant information beyond that contained in Kerr’s memoirs Matters for Judgment: An Autobiography (1978). But we shall see – or maybe not. The High Court will decide the matter in the first instance.
In the conclusion of his column Walker wrote:
On the day of The Dismissal I was the ABC reporter immediately to Whitlam’s left in the historic photographs on the steps of the old Parliament. And, subsequently, it was my question to Fraser, at a contentious press conference, that survives in the historical reconstructions. “Mr Fraser, how do you think history will judge this action of yours?” Indeed, that is a reasonable question. It is one that demands the exposure of the historical record. What is there to hide?
The Dismissal came about after an arrogant and stubborn opposition leader Malcolm Fraser decided to block supply – and an arrogant and stubborn prime minister Gough Whitlam decided to govern without supply. Kerr resolved the deadlock by dismissing the Labor government, installing a caretaker Coalition government and arranging for a double dissolution election to be held on 13 December 1975 – which Fraser won in a landslide.
In late 1975 Fraser was not at all fussed about how history would judge his actions. Moreover, there is no evidence that there is anything to hide. We’ve gone though the CIA conspiracy theory. Now it’s the Buck House Conspiracy. In fact, what took place on 11 November 1975 is exactly what Labor leader Mr Whitlam, some years earlier – said should happen if supply was blocked by a Coalition government. Not much of a conspiracy theory here. Can You Bear It?
IT’S BACK TO THE PAST AS THE MYTH THAT DERRYN HINCH ONCE INTERVIEWED ROBERT MENZIES RE-EMERGES
While on the topic of history, MWD notes that in their “CBD” column in The Age on 11 February 2020, Samantha Hutchinson and Kylar Loussikian had this to say about former Senator for Victoria Derryn Hinch:
Talk about a knees-up. Former senator Derryn Hinch celebrated six decades in journalism – during which he alleges to have interviewed every sitting prime minister – with a love-in at St Kilda bistro Riva on Sunday. It was, coincidentally, his 76th birthday. Having reported for “more stations than the Southern Aurora”, Hinch is this year back on the Seven Network’s Sunrise program.
Of particular note was the appearance of former Melbourne University Publishing chief executive Louise Adler, the very day University of Melbourne vice-chancellor Duncan Maskell reignited a feud over the controversial shake-up of the high-profile institution. “I don’t think it is the right space for an academic publisher to be publishing memoirs of jockeys,” Professor Maskell told The Age….
For the record, MWD has no problems with a university press publishing the memoirs of jockeys. After all, unlike some academics, jockeys get to the finishing line. However, MWD is less certain of Comrade Adler’s decision to publish the memoir of “colourful Melbourne business identity” Mick Gatto – but was not surprised when it received glowing reviews.
But MWD digresses. Despite his claim to the contrary, Derryn (The Human Mumble) Hinch has not interviewed “every sitting prime minister” during his journalistic career. As your man Hinch conceded when challenged by The Australian’s Greg Brown on Sky News late last year, there was no sit-down interview between Hinch and the Liberal Party’s prime minister Sir Robert Menzies. The Young Hinch merely asked prime minister Menzies a question during a press conference. One brief question does not an interview make.
Meanwhile MWD eagerly awaits the publication of former Senator Hinch’s second tome about his life in the Senate, which amounted to a total of three years – that is, one volume every 18 months. Let’s hope he doesn’t win another term at the next Senate election. If so, there would probably be another four volumes about nothing much at all. Can You Bear It?
THE DANGER OF PREDICTIONS CONTINUED – STARRING MATTHEW KNOTT
Matthew Knott is Nine Newspapers’ man in Washington DC from where he reports on North America for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. This is what he has had to say about Michael Bloomberg’s chances of becoming president of the United States of America.
- MATTHEW KNOTT ON WHY MICHAEL BLOOMBERG IS EXTREMELY UNLIKELY TO WIN THE ENDORSEMENT OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY IN THE 2020 US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION – 9 NOVEMBER 2019
…it appears Bloomberg has changed his mind: he has told associates he intended to run and was completing the paperwork to be included on the ballot. It’s an understandable decision, but a quixotic one. A Bloomberg presidential bid is extremely likely to end in defeat.
While the overwhelmingly white and wealthy establishment wing of the party is alarmed by the primary field, polls show grassroots Democrats are far more satisfied with their options…. If Bloomberg did pick up support, it would be at the expense of moderates such as Biden and Buttigieg. Warren and Sanders supporters would never vote for him.
That means a Bloomberg entry into the race would make it more likely rather than less likely that a far-left candidate becomes the party’s nominee. Given Bloomberg’s fears about the party’s direction, it would be a perverse but entirely predictable outcome.
- MATTHEW KNOTT ON WHY MICHAEL BLOOMBERG COULD WIN THE ENDORSEMENT OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY IN THE 2020 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION – 14 FEBRUARY 2020
When Bloomberg announced his candidacy, he was viewed as a long-shot chance of winning the nomination. The field didn’t look like it needed another old white man, let alone one who ran for mayor as a Republican. Biden was leading in the polls and appeared to have the support of moderate and non-white Democrats locked down. Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren were thrilling progressives by promising to reduce the power of the billionaire class.
But then came Biden’s calamitous fourth and fifth-place finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire. Leading the delegate count so far are Sanders – a 78-year-old democratic socialist – and Pete Buttigieg, 38, who recently quit his job as mayor of the fourth-biggest city in Indiana – South Bend, population 102,000.
This has opened up a plausible, if narrow, path for Bloomberg to seize the nomination…. For Bloomberg to win, he would have to excel on Super Tuesday and quickly consolidate more moderate voters behind him. It’s a difficult task, but no longer an impossible one.
So, there you have it. Or not.
Stephen long raises the ayes
There was enormous interest in this segment last week titled “Stephen Long’s Sermon to the Faithful Concerning the Sin of Coal Seam Gas”.
As avid readers will recall, ABC house leftist Stephen Long used ABC TV’s News Breakfast to deliver a sermon to the masses about the evils of a proposed coal seam gas project in the NSW town of Narrabri. In short, Comrade Long declared that the proposed project was a dud and his only interviews were with a farmer and a finance analyst who happened to agree with him and each other. Convenient, eh?
On Sunday, much the same segment ran on the ABC TV Close of Business program except that Comrade Long added another coal seam gas critic to his team of interviewees – a certain David Llewellyn-Smith of Macrobusiness.
Stephen Long may, or may not, be correct in his analysis. However, this is hard to assess since no other view was allowed to be heard.
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 who appears regularly on ABC Radio in Sydney as the USSC’s “expert” on the US. In short, the taxpayer funded USSC is close to being a Republican Free Zone replete with Trump-haters and Clinton/Obama admirers and left-of-centre types. But no one who broadly supports the Trump administration. Now read on.
FOR $25 – HEAR ALL THE ANTI-TRUMP ANALYSIS YOU CAN TAKE
Thanks to the avid reader who drew MWD’s attention to the very latest in the United States Studies Centre’s “Election Watch” series. The function, held at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney on 30 January 2020, was titled “2020 Vision: What to Expect From The United States This Year” (General admission $25).
For a mere $25, the hoi polloi could listen to what the US[eless] Studies Centre proclaimed to be its “experts”. To wit:
۰Kim Hoggard, Non-Resident Fellow and former staffer for President Ronald Reagan and President George H.W. Bush
۰ Brendon O’Connor, Associate Professor in American Politics and author of Anti-Americanism and American Exceptionalism
۰ Ashley Townshend, Director of Foreign Policy and Defence at the United States Studies Centre
The event was chaired by Professor Simon Jackman, the USSC’s chief executive officer.
The one Republican on the platform was Kim Hoggard. But she is a “Never Trump” Republican. As it turned out, all the panellists criticised President Trump to a greater or lesser extent.
Kim Hoggard used the occasion to bag the US president – like this:
Kim Hoggard: Trump has tested the very institutions that give America and its democracy its strength. And indeed, its resilience over 200 years. The three branches of government, the judicial, the executive, the legislative. The guiding foundational documents such as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights. These are all the bulwark, along with a free press, to the American democracy. Yet we’ve seen a President who has challenged and devalued every one of these. A President who undermines the whole US system of democratic government is unsustainable in my opinion. The strength and resilience of these institutions is being challenged. We are seeing that daily.
So, there you have it. According to the “Never Trump” Republican Ms Hoggard, President Trump has made democratic government in the US “unsustainable”.
Then it was time for Associate Professor Brendon O’Connor to contribute to the anti-Trump pile-on:
Brendon O’Connor: …But I think that reminds us of the televisual nature of the modern Presidency starting really from Reagan. That Reagan recast what a President is supposed to look like, and speak like, and sound like. And this last regeneration – and I would argue that Trump is in some ways the dark side of that. Maybe if you were going to be a bit more ungenerous – the mutant side of that. In my book on American exceptionalism and sort of, anti-Americanism, I refer to Trump at one point as the Jerry Springer Presidency. Jerry Springer lasted for 4000 episodes. It was a pretty successful show, but in Jerry Springer’s show – unlike Oprah that had come before it – problems were brought to the fore, dramatic problems often, of sort of incest or infidelity. But they were animated for attention – not to solve those problems. And I think we have the same with Trump. Problems are brought forth, there are definitely lots of issues in America, but they’re brought forth for the benefit of Trump’s campaign and his ego rather than to be addressed.
So, there you have it. According to your (Trump-hating) man O’Connor, President Trump is on the “mutant” side of the recast US presidency which resembles the Jerry Springer Show of recent memory.
Now let’s hear from Ashley Townshend, who holds the exalted position of USSC’s director of foreign policy and research:
Ashley Townshend: After two decades of essentially unsuccessful and deeply draining forever wars in the Middle East, that is something that many in the Asia policy community have deeply applauded and certainly folks here in Australia have. But, since then, he’s spent the best part of the last 18 months trying to pick a fight with Iran.
So, there you have it. According to your man Townshend, President Trump is trying to pick a fight with Iran. Whereas the mullahs in Tehran are smoking peace-pipes, apparently. Or something like that.
And now it’s back to check what Kim Hoggard is on about:
Kim Hoggard: I’ve always felt that Trump doesn’t work for America because he’s so negative. And he doesn’t make Americans feel good about their country. He’s feeding a divide that’s been building in the country for 30 years. I’ve often said to friends and family, I feel like I’m watching Rome burn.
Good one. Perhaps Ms Hoggard should have added that – like what Nero (allegedly) did in AD 64 – Trump’s playing the fiddle while the US burns.
And now let’s throw back to Associate Professor O’Connor:
Brendon O’Connor: … the other issue that is going to have an enormous legacy is Trump’s sort of, climate denialism. That is something we haven’t talked about tonight that is going to have incredibly long-term impacts. And eight years is probably too much for all of us, and the planet to bear, to think about, in regard to the climate.
So, according to the learned associate professor, the Trump administration (if it runs an 8-year term) will lead to the destruction of the planet. Needless to say, this particular sufferer of Trump Derangement Syndrome said nothing about carbon dioxide emissions from such big emitters as China and India. [Does he think that such nations might move to another planet? – MWD Editor.]
And finally, Associate Professor O’Connor barracked for an Amy Klobuchar-Joe Biden ticket – and declared that such a prospect would be fill “a lot of us here” with “joy”.
Brendon O’Connor: You could imagine a Klobuchar-Biden ticket definitely, being quite likely. It would be great, as Kim was saying, to have a woman running successfully against Trump and beating him. That would fill me with a lot of joy, and I think a lot of us here as well. It doesn’t look very likely at the moment so hopefully there is a vice president running with whoever’s the Democratic nominee who is a woman.
Not one of the USSC team – led by Simon Jackman – distanced themselves from Brendon O’Connor’s wish. Nor did any of the $25 paying guests in the bleachers. No other view was heard as he spoke for “a lot of us here”.
THE WORLD TODAY SPECIAL DISCOVERS – ER, NOT MUCH AT ALL
Did anyone hear the ABC Radio’s The World Today program on 13 February 2020? Here’s how it was introduced:
Eleanor Hall: Hello, welcome to The World Today. I’m Eleanor Hall. Today we bring you a special program, where we ask whether the bushfire crisis and weather extremes of recent months have changed Australia’s attitudes to climate change. We hear details from the latest national survey on the issue and we also go to several Coalition held electorates, including this coal mining community which was ravaged by fire over the new year period.
Anonymous Man: You know, I guess you have seen the leader of the National Party or the Prime Minister downplaying the role of climate change in the bushfires. It’s appalling. It’s sickening. They’re obviously not directly impacted; they’ve shown no empathy whatsoever. And to downplay the role just shouts in the face of science.
Eleanor Hall: So how have these recent weather extremes affected Australian’s attitudes to climate change and to the Australian government’s policies on the issue? The World Today visited three Coalition electorates. And shortly we’ll hear from the lead researcher conducting the IPSOS annual climate change survey.
First up, the NSW town of Lithgow – in the Coalition held seat of Calare. Gavin Coote talks to Phil Sparks (who says how important coal is to the community) and to David O’Brien (who is unimpressed with the Coalition’s approach to climate change but will vote for it anyway). Another local reckons attitudes to climate change have shifted in recent months because of lack of rain and bushfires. Gavin talks to a member of the local climate change group who says that a lot of locals see action on climate change as a threat to their jobs while some who have been affected by fires want action on climate change. That’s all folks.
Then Annie Guest visits Beaudesert in the Queensland LNP held seat of Wright. She talks to local residents in a hair salon. Two say that the fires haven’t changed their minds on climate change, but a 91-year-old woman says she thinks something is going on with the climate. No one in the salon is concerned about bushfires affecting the area’s tourism income. A woman in the street says she doesn’t believe in climate change and the fires haven’t changed that. That’s all folks.
And then Victoria Pengilly visits the safe Liberal seat of Bradfield on Sydney’s north shore. Local restaurant owner and swing voter Rick says the fires are influencing the views of his well-heeled customers and his fellow golf club members and that he’s become engaged in climate activism groups since the fires. The president of a local cricket club and Liberal party member, a self-described “Malcolm Turnbull type of Liberal”, thinks the Liberal Party should take action on climate change that doesn’t negatively affect the economy. That’s all folks.
Then, IPSOS researcher Jennifer Brook says that in their research they found that 69 per cent of respondents think that Australia has already been affected by climate change.
- There has been a steady rise in belief in human involvement in climate change and the need for action
- 55 percent say that there are too many different opinions out there for the public to form a view on climate change
- As the Lithgow resident said, Australians are concerned about the economy and reskilling for new industries
Again, that’s all folks.
The local members for Calare (Andrew Gee), Wright (Scott Buchholz) and Bradfield (Paul Fletcher) declined to be interviewed for The World Today’s “special”. A sensible response to a meaningless program story.
So, what did The World Today’s “special” tell us about Australian attitudes to climate change? Er, not much at all. Except it confirmed that the well-off folk of Bradfield are more focused on climate change than the toiling masses of Calare and Wright.
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).
RE FOUR CORNERS AND THE DRUM
The controversy commenced when ABC reporter Louise Milligan sent out a tweet about a program which she boasted she had not watched. Here’s the tweet for the record:
Like most Australians, I never watch @SkyNewsAust after dark, but I hear convicted child sex offender defender Andrew Bolt with Gerard Henderson tonight said Kehoe only “hit on” #StKevins student Paris Street. Really, Paul Whittaker? You OK with this? As a parent & old colleague?
— Louise Milligan (@Milliganreports) February 18, 2020
Andrew Bolt never used the word “only” – Ms Milligan just made this up.
This encouraged some other commentators to join in – despite the fact that it was made clear that many, too, had not watched the program. Here’s some of the correspondence.
GERARD HENDERSON AND LOUISE MILLIGAN
Gerard Henderson to Louise Milligan – 19 FEBRUARY 2020
My attention has been drawn to your tweet re last night’s edition of The Bolt Report.
Your comments – based apparently on hearsay – are dishonest. I never used the term “hit-on” with respect to Kehoe’s victim at St Kevin’s and I expressed my sympathy for Paris Street.
You state that you do not watch The Bolt Report. Yet you tweet about what you “hear” was said on the program. This is unprofessional journalism.
My comments were focused on the propriety of individuals presenting references after a conviction. This, as you may or may not know, is encouraged by Victorian law. I also acknowledged that the St Kevin’s headmaster now conceded that he had made a mistake to present the reference to the court in 2014.
I also made the point that I can understand why no one from St Kevin’s went on Four Corners on Monday since it would be unwise to do a pre-record with an ABC activist journalist.
cc: David Anderson, Managing Director, ABC
Louise Milligan to Gerard Henderson – 19 February 2020
Yet again, you have misquoted me. I quoted Bolt. As always, this goes in the bin. I have previously asked you never to contact me again.
Gerard Henderson to Louise Milligan – 19 February 2020
You should learn to write more clearly. The use of the word “with” implied that I used the word “hit-on”. Otherwise why mention me your tweet? For the record, I am not aware that Andrew Bolt said that Kehoe “only” hit-on the victim. As I recall, Andrew Bolt accurately described the offence of grooming in this instance. But since you did not watch the program before sending out your tweet, you would not know.
Also, it was unprofessional for you not to record that I expressed sympathy for Kehoe’s victim.
As previously advised, I will contact you as I regard appropriate – especially if you tweet, write or comment about me. After all, you are employed by the taxpayer funded public broadcaster and, as such, are not entitled to evade public scrutiny.
By the way, in your tweet you claimed that again I have misquoted you. You have never provided evidence that I have ever misquoted you.
cc: David Anderson, Managing Director, ABC
GERARD HENDERSON AND ELLEN FANNING
Gerard Henderson to Ellen Fanning – 20 February 2020
That was a remarkably unprofessional performance by you (as presenter) and Malcolm Farr (as a panellist) on The Drum last night concerning my appearance on The Bolt Report on Tuesday.
It is true that I described last Monday’s Four Corners program on St Kevin’s College as a “pile-on”. However, the transcript of my appearance on The Bolt Report reveals that – in this instance – I was commenting on the entire program. This comment was not made – as implied on The Drum – with respect to the victim of the crime for which the former St Kevin’s athletics coach was found guilty.
Neither you nor Malcolm Farr mentioned on The Drum that I made the following comment on The Bolt Report (with which Andrew Bolt concurred):
Gerard Henderson: Of course, we are sympathetic to the victim in this case. And I can understand the victim’s annoyance after the event. [i.e. when the victim found out that the headmaster had provided a reference to the court after the former coach was found guilty of grooming.]
Your failure to state that I had expressed sympathy to the victim on behalf of Andrew Bolt and myself was unprofessional.
It could be that, like Louise Milligan, you commented on The Bolt Report without having seen or heard it. It’s called hearsay – which in your case, would be hearsay upon hearsay. But that’s no excuse.
You and Malcolm Farr also objected to Andrew Bolt’s reference to Kehoe’s grooming of his victim as a “hit-on”. However, on The Drum last night, you played a clip from the victim’s friend Ned O’Brien which used the term “coming-on” to explain Kehoe’s criminality. I do not believe there is any difference between describing Kehoe’s crime as “hitting-on” rather than “coming-on”. Yet you had no criticism of Ned O’Brien’s use of the term “coming-on” – nor should you have. It seems that you have one standard with respect to Mr Bolt and another standard with respect to Mr O’Brien.
In relation to my reference to Louise Milligan’s report as a pile-on, I was referring to her frequent use of the clip showing St Kevin’s students engaged in a reprehensible sexist chant (which is old news). Plus the fact that one student had written a foul rap song (wrong but hardly novel among a group of young men). Plus, the constant reference to all the students at St Kevin’s as privileged. Plus, the undocumented assertion that students from schools such as St Kevin’s believe that they will become the most powerful people in Australia. And so on.
Indeed, Louise Milligan did not introduce the Kehoe character reference by the headmaster until around halfway through the program. If Four Corners had only focused on the school’s handling of the Kehoe matter I would not have made the comment about a pile on.
I note that Louise Milligan is also engaged in distorting my reference to a “pile-on” and ignoring my sympathy for the victim of Kehoe’s crime.
cc: Emily Smith, Executive Producer, The Drum
Margie Smithurst, Supervising Producer, The Drum
Gaven Morris, Director News Analysis and Investigations, ABC
PS: Note that this is not a formal complaint. I have better things to do than waste my time being bogged down in the ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs department which dismisses virtually all complaints which it investigates.
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Ms Fanning did not reply.
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Until next time.
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