ISSUE – NO. 487

6 March 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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  • MWD “Exclusive”: Samantha Maiden digs up some dirt on The Walkley Awards

  • Can You Bear It? Paul Barry’s 500,000 missing Media Watch viewersMichael Koziol and the fall of the house of mould; Peter Hartcher’s evidence-free China rant; Phillip Coorey on flogging off Parliament House; John Pilger on coronavirus being used as a cover for racist travel bans

  • An ABC Update – ABC Life’s big stories; Q+A and the Red+Cross

  • New Feature: A Mutual Admiration Society Interval – Leigh Sales wins high praise from her ABC colleagues

  • Jackie’s Take on Insiders – Talking Mark Humphries with pictures

  • Report from Sandalista Land – The Monthly shows off its overpriced tote bags

  • Top Media Interrupter of the Week – The gong goes back to you Speersy 


At the weekend Jackie’s (male) co-owner will head out to purchase a copy of the recently released Party Animals by MWD fave Samantha Maiden.  According to the excerpts published in The Weekend Australian last Saturday, the book reveals that Bill Shorten’s campaign in the lead-up to the 2019 election was put off course by an anonymous well-connected Liberal Party figure named “Deep Throat” who was nick-named by Labor.  [Fancy such a nickname. How original.  MWD Editor.]

It seems that Deep Throat fed (false) information to the Labor Party that the Liberal Party was going to release damaging personal information about Bill Shorten during the election campaign.  In the event, it didn’t happen and, anyway, the matter had previously been raised in the public domain to no effect.  So, this was a story about Mr Deep Throat allegedly making a prediction about an event that never happened. A real scoop, to be sure.

According to Ms Maiden, the matter so upset Bill Shorten that he performed poorly during the election campaign and this helped Coalition leader, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, to prevail on election night.  An interesting theory, don’t you think?  It’s just that MWD seems to recall that most journalists reported that Mr Shorten had campaigned well against Mr Morrison and won three out of three election debates.  But there you go.

Jackie’s (male) co-owner was of the view that Bill Shorten had framed former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull as a multi-millionaire who lived in a Harbourside mansion and was out of touch.  And that Labor failed to re-frame its campaign when Captain Suburban Morrison replaced Mr Turnbull. There was also the matter of Labor’s ambitious policy agenda which failed to appeal to the toiling masses in such places as Northern Tasmania, Western Sydney and Queensland north of Brisbane.  But maybe an unfazed Bill Shorten would have overcome such a problem if Deep Throat had not (allegedly) leaked out (alleged) information about the Liberal Party’s (alleged) intentions.  So, the theory goes.

Meanwhile, MWD was fascinated by this take on Party Animals by Charlie Lewis in Crikey last Tuesday:

Maiden looks at the teams digging up dirt on opposition players, detailing the techniques Shorten’s dirt unit used to break at least two scoops any news hound would be proud of.

Firstly, we head back to 2015, when they noticed then-speaker Bronwyn Bishop, enemy of publicly-funded sloth, had taken a taxpayer-funded helicopter trip to a fundraiser. In 2017, the team cracked then-health minister Sussan Ley’s efficient combining of her official business with a spot of house hunting. Both scandals resulted in Walkley-winning news stories, and all without the public realising it came from Labor.

Lest we think this is solely the domain of the ALP, Maiden gets a confession from a Liberal party hack: “Remember, right at the beginning of the campaign, that donation scandal was sparking off?” [Liberal party staffer John] Macgowan said. “That night, we had video on TV of Huang Xiangmo’s wedding with Shorten sitting there.” Where did they obtain the damning vision? From all the other Liberals who attended. “There was a whole table of Liberals there,” he laughs.

Yep, pretty funny – don’t you think?  But at least the revelation by this particular anonymous Liberal Party hack did not lead to the someone winning a Walkley Award gong.

Now Hendo does not follow the Walkley Awards since he can’t bear watching journos, dressed up in their finest, giving awards to one another in a kind of ritual of Collective Narcissism.  So he does not have a clue who won Walkley gongs in 2015 and 2017.

Still, it’s interesting to note that, according to Samantha Maiden, at least two journalists were gonged merely for publishing hand-outs from the Labor Party’s dirt-unit concerning Bronwyn Bishop and Sussan Ley.  Could this be true?

[Maybe you’re a bit tough here. As I recall, Laurie Oakes, the one-time “doyen” of the Canberra Press Gallery, received high praise from his colleagues for his scoop in publishing full details of John Howard’s 1980 budget. Yet it seems all that happened was that Mr Oakes got out of bed one morning only to find that someone – presumably a disaffected public servant – had stuffed the entire Budget (or most of it) in his letter box. This gave a whole new meaning to investigative journalism at the time – since such scribblers could be praised for investigating their own letterboxes. – MWD Editor]

Can You Bear It


Avid readers will recall the response last week by Gaven Morris, the ABC’s Head of News and Current Affairs, to a poll commissioned by the Institute of Public Affairs.  To summarise, the IPA’s polling found that around 30 per cent of respondents believe that the ABC is out of touch with ordinary Australians, around 30 per cent believe it is not out of touch and some 40 per cent had no opinion on this matter. The final figure is no surprise since many Australians do not watch the ABC – particularly younger Australians.

In any event, your man Morris immediately responded to the IPA’s tweet about its poll by declaring that “70% of people did not agree” that the ABC is out of touch with ordinary people.

Fake News, to be sure.  Comrade Morris added the “noes” to the “don’t noes” to get to his claim that 70 per cent did not agree that the ABC is out of touch.  In fact, around 40 per cent had no view one way or the other on the issue.

On ABC TV’s Media Watch on Monday, Paul Barry discussed what the ABC termed “IPA v ABC”. He described the IPA poll as engaging in “a leading question or perhaps even push polling” – and engaged retired Macquarie University Professor of Politics Murray Goot to support this argument, which he did. No other view was heard. The ABC presenter did not even mention his boss Gaven Morris’ Fake News howler. And Media Watch itself sent a leading question to the IPA before it went to air.

This is how ABC presenter Paul Barry ended ABC TV’s Media Watch’s segment on the ABC last Monday night:

The ABC… is by far Australia’s most trusted media company, according to regular surveys by Roy Morgan Research…  And the IPA might like to know that Media Watch won its timeslot last week, with record ratings. And as far as we know, most of our 1.1 million viewers, that’s you folks, were ordinary Australians.

What a boast – MWD hears you cry.  It’s true that, in the program which aired on Monday 24 February 2020, Media Watch had 1.1. million viewers across Australia. Its record ratings were due to the fact that Media Watch followed immediately after the Four Corners program titled “Coronavirus”. Comrade Barry did not tell his viewers this.

It’s also true that in the Media Watch program which aired on Monday 2 March – the comparable figure was around 500,000 less than the previous week.

In other words, Paul Barry’s program dropped around 500,000 viewers in one week. A “record” of a certain kind, to be sure.  And will your man Barry advise viewers next Monday of the collapse in the ratings on this show?  Don’t bet on it.  Can You Bear It?

[Er, no. Not really.  Strange about the ABC’s constant self-praise that the ABC is “by far Australia’s most trusted media company”. You wonder, then, why ABC TV News constantly comes in behind Seven News and Nine News and occasionally Ten News.  The logic must be, if logic there is, that Australians are so stupid as to prefer watching media outlets that they trust less than the ABC.  Please explain – as the saying goes. MWD Editor.]


Avid readers were fascinated with the tale of Sun-Herald deputy editor Michael Koziol as set out in MWD 485.  It told the story about how your man Koziol was grieving about the closure of the Manning Bar on the Sydney University campus.  He referred to the “tragedy” of the shutdown brought about by a circumstance in which “fewer students want to drink schooners at 3 pm on Tuesday”.  How tragic is that? And he recalled the presence of the late False Prophet of Palm Beach and documented pedophile, Bob Ellis, in the Manning Bar “a few sheets to the wind…staging a Christmas pantomime with a medley about the Ebola outbreak”.  Yes, what fun it must have been.

It turns out that this Koziol lookback was one of a trio. MWD Issue 414 quoted a Koziol article in the Sydney Morning Herald in which he mourned the closure of the Well-Connected Café, or WellCo, on Glebe Point Road in inner-city Sydney.  Then he looked back in happiness on the occasion where he could “nurse a latte” at WellCo in Glebe “for three hours and write poetry”.  As MWD reflected, with three-hour turnover time for “just one latte” it was little wonder that WellCo went out of business and had its obituary written by Michael (“One Latte in Three Hours”) Koziol.

And then, in Nine Newspapers’ Sun-Herald and Sunday Age last weekend, MK mourned the fact that a house in inner-city Leichhardt in Sydney was about to undergo a makeover. This is how the story began under the heading “After the days (and nights) of wine and roses”.

It’s not uncommon to fall in love with a house. Plenty of people romanticise their childhood home, or their first apartment, or their marital abode. You’re not supposed to fall in love with your university share-house – especially when it’s not even yours. This particular dwelling, tucked away on a back street of Leichhardt, had all the usual faults and then some: next to a church, under the flight path, basically derelict. [What’s the problem with having digs next to a church?” – MWD Editor.]

One bedroom was dubbed “the mould room” and its window was to be kept open permanently. I never lived in this house. I spent the night there once or twice, after one of the legendary parties that took place within its walls.

How about that?  Comrade Koziol is grieving about a house which he neither owned nor rented and in which he spent the night once or twice. That’s all folks.  But, alas, there was more.  Accompanied by a photo of Young Koziol sitting on the floor in the foodless Leichhardt kitchen in front of empty cans, deserted bottles and undrunk holy water – the column went on about all the parties he had attended at Grot Central.  Indeed, they “were more than just parties…they were fulcrums on which the year pivoted, and as time went on they became like last reunions, imbued with memories stashed within the house’s walls”.

Groan. With all that grog, it’s a wonder that anyone had any (true) memories.  You’ve heard about the phenomenon of the haunted house.  Now MK has introduced the phenomenon of the house with memories stashed in its walls.

In any event, the owner has now sold Grot Central and it has received an inner-city makeover after the successors of MK had to leave the Leichhardt abode with all its mould and all its empty wine bottles.

No doubt it will be acquired by a Green-left voting, sandal-wearing couple – professors both at the University of Sydney – who will cycle to work where they will lecture about the evils of capitalism. Except that the capitalist system makes it possible to live in inner-city $2 million plus properties, live off the taxpayer and listen, for free, to the ABC – the Green Left of the Air. Otherwise society is rotten.  You know the story.

Michael Koziol concluded his column by asking: “Can you mourn the loss of something that was never yours? Absolutely.” To which MWD responds: “Can You Bear It?”


While on the topic of Nine Newspapers’ journalists, consider the case of Sydney Morning Herald columnist Peter Hartcher who appeared on ABC TV’s Insiders last Sunday.

Let’s go to the transcript when discussion turned on the first Annual Threat Assessment by Mike Burgess – the recently appointed Director-General of the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (ASIO).

Presenter David Speers praised Mr Burgess’ comment: “The level of threat we face from foreign espionage and interference activities is currently unprecedented; it is higher now than it was at the height of the Cold War” – and asked your man Hartcher for his opinion.

Let go to the transcript:

David Speers: So, a sleeper agent lying dormant for years in Australia, more foreign spies than during the Cold War, but neither Mike Burgess nor Peter Dutton it seems are willing to call this out. Peter, does it matter that they’re not willing to say, “this is China”? Is it necessary to do so? What do you think?

Peter Hartcher: It does matter. It probably is a good idea because if you have a problem it helps if you name that problem because that’s a prerequisite for dealing with that problem. So, Mike Burgess’s predecessor Duncan Lewis, former ASIO director, in his time in office never mentioned China. The minute he finished the job, in an interview with me, he said it is overwhelmingly about China. And we know that is still the case. Andrew Hastie, who chairs the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee, last week didn’t hesitate. He said: “Yes, we are talking about China”.

The government is timid about this because they don’t want to upset the Chinese government. Which has become the basis, the essential reflex into which the Chinese government has trained Australia over decades. Hats off to them, it’s a good trick. We operate now, on the basis as a country, in the position that I call the Pre-emptive Kowtow. Where we live in fear of upsetting the Chinese. A basis on which we conduct no other relationship in the world.

What a load of absolute tosh.  It’s true that neither ASIO nor the Australian government has named China as engaging in foreign espionage and interference activities.  Such declarations are usually made if and when a crime is alleged, or a diplomat expelled.

However, it is a gross exaggeration for your man Hartcher to assert that Australia’s attitude to China is that of the “Pre-emptive Kowtow” and that Australia lives “in fear of upsetting the Chinese”. Australia led the world in blocking China’s participation in building Australia’s 5G network and in drawing attention to the security problems that would occur if Huawei was involved in the construction of the 5G network elsewhere.  This week Huawei dissolved its Australian Board. Moreover, Australia’s military co-operation with the United States is not approved by China.  And China recently criticised Australia’s handling of the Covid19 virus.

Sure, Australia is dependent, to a degree, on the Chinese economy.  But China is also to a degree, dependent on the purchase of Australian mineral and agriculture products.  That’s why Australia does not necessarily pick fights with China.  But the political editor of the Sydney Morning Herald  should know better than to assert that “the Chinese government has trained Australia over decades to be subservient”. This flies in the face of all the evidence. This was an assertion that the Chinese Communist Party had “trained” the likes of John Howard, Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull. No evidence was presented by Mr Hartcher in support of his claim. Can You Bear It?


While on the topic of Nine Newspapers’ political editors, did anyone see this tweet which Phil Coorey, he of the Australian Financial Review, put out on Tuesday? This was after the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age revealed that Communications Minister Paul Fletcher had suggested to the ABC that it might consider whether it should sell its capital city offices in Sydney and Melbourne and consolidate assets in order to improve its internal budget position.  This is what Comrade Coorey (who, MWD had previously revealed, was an admirer of John Pilger when at university some years ago) had to say about the matter:

Turn it up.  The new Parliament House, which opened in 1988, is already an historical building which has witnessed the prime ministerships of Bob Hawke, Paul Keating, John Howard, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison.

The ABC offices in Sydney’s Ultimo and Melbourne’s Southbank are of no particular architectural or heritage significance – they are just average buildings of around three decades old, situated on prime commercial land.

Also, isn’t it interesting to note that the AFR’s political editor is so contemptuous of Australian politics – on which he reports daily – that he reckons it would be better value for the Commonwealth government to flog off Parliament House (which it owns) rather than ABC offices (which it doesn’t own). Can You Bear It?


While on the topic of John Pilger, here is what he tweeted about the coronavirus (Covid-19) on 3 February 2020:

Comrade Pilger described travel bans on people travelling from China as “racist”. Yet, in more recent times, China has put in place its own travel bans in an attempt to stop the spread of Covid-19 – but not influenza.  How alienated can you get?  Can You Bear It?


The taxpayer funded ABC will not say how much it is spending on the ABC Life online site – except that it’s somewhere between $1 only and $20 million.  Whatever the amount is, ABC Life is a waste of money.

MWD asked a millennial to check out the highlights of ABC Life’s recent efforts. Here’s the (sort of contrarian) report:

Since its launch in 2018 the ABC has faced criticism for funding a “lifestyle” website the same year it made 20 senior journalists around Australia redundant. Its detractors say that the public broadcaster shouldn’t be using taxpayers’ money to fund a website providing lifestyle content readily found on countless other websites – when it claims it doesn’t have the budget to cover the 2020 Olympic Games and will have to “cut into muscle” to cope with the indexation freeze in its annual budget allocation.

However, as a member of what may be ABC Life’s target audience (it’s not completely clear who is), I find ABC Life to be a valuable source of lifestyle advice. Sure, I have the option of approximately 900 freely available websites with very similar content. But something about the fact that it’s funded by the taxpayer just makes it more enjoyable somehow.

Since its launch, ABC Life has provided valuable ongoing analysis on whether it’s okay to enjoy “problematic” media from the past, with articles like “From Aladdin to Breakfast at Tiffany’s, is it OK to keep watching problematic old films?” and “A Friends reunion is happening and in spite of the show’s flaws, I’m here for it”. The latter lets us know that it’s okay to enjoy a show that includes gender stereotyping and fat shaming jokes – and also calls in a clinical psychologist to explain to us why we might enjoy the show Friends.  Apparently, it has to do with wanting friends.

Many praised the ABC for its coverage of the recent bushfires, but I think their psychological analysis of reality television is just as, if not more, valuable.

And those criticising ABC Life must have missed the recent enthralling article “Tahlea knew she had a fast fashion problem when her clothes needed their own bedroom”, about a woman who became overwhelmed by owning too many clothes and how she finally found a solution – buying fewer clothes.

I also can’t think of anywhere else in print and online you can find recipes for things like salad and pasta. Before I discovered ABC Life I was eating dry pasta because I didn’t know how to boil water. And, thanks to ABC’s insights into hunger-induced anger in “Why ‘Hangry’ people are less in control of their emotions”, I now have a scientifically-backed defence to use in court next month.



As avid readers will be aware, recently ABC TV’s Q&A program changed its logo to read “Q+A”. A good idea – except for the fact that the new “+” was red on white, the much protected logo of the Red Cross.  So it came to pass that the program – now presented by Hamish + Macdonald – had to dump its new logo since it breached international copyright law. After all, the Red Cross’ red cross on a white background logo is the international symbol for “don’t shoot” in times of war.

Always trying to be helpful, MWD has come up with a few high profile logos that Q+A might try for a redesign which will not upset the Red Cross. Here they are:


This new segment is inspired by the “Mutual Admiration Society” song which featured in the Broadway musical Happy Hunting.  Tune by Harold Karr, lyrics by Matt Dubey and sung in 1956 by Teresa Brewer:

We belong to a mutual

admiration society

My baby and me…

Now I do not exaggerate

I think he’s nothing

short of great

He says that kind of flattery

Will get you any place with me…

And so on. Many a mutual admiration society exists within the media. But none more so than within the ABC, a conservative-free-zone where almost everyone agrees with almost everyone else on almost everything.

So, it came as no surprise when 7.30 presenter Leigh Sales’ assertive and interruption-laden interview with the Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday, was widely praised by her colleagues.  Here we go:

Enough said.


Following the enormous positive response to the inaugural appearance of this item last  week, “Jackie’s Take on Insiders” continues. This week the focus is on last Sunday’s “Talking Pictures” segment. As Insiders  viewers will be aware, the segment is hosted by Mike Bowers, photographer-at-large for the left-wing Guardian Australia.  Comrade Bowers invariably interviews someone of similar mind about the cartoons and photographs of the week in politics.

Writing in Crikey on 3 February 2020, Stephen Brook had this to say about the first “Talking Pictures” for 2020:

Unfortunately the program hit the buffers during the long-standing and tired “Talking Pictures” segment. We live in a visual age, so analysis of photographs and cartoons, but also of memes and tweets is welcome. Just not in the manner presented here.

Similarly, Mike Bowers interviewing Amy Remeikis while dressed in Hawaiian shirts and leis to mock the PM’s Hawaiian holiday could have been novel — if this was still the 1980s and we were watching The Comedy Company. As it was, two Guardian Australia journalists taking the same pot shots weeks after everyone had done the same felt both smug and stale …

In Jackie’s view this is too harsh an assessment. It overlooks the fact that the ABC is a Conservative-Free-Zone – a kind of Guardian-of-the-AirSo it stands to reason that Comrade Bowers will agree with Comrade Remeikis that the Prime Minister warrants a mocking and a sneering.

Jackie’s take, on the other hand, is to critique “Talking Pictures” according to what it is – rather than what it should be. Here we go re last week’s offering:

  • Mark Humphries talking pictures (and himself)

On last Sunday’s Talking Pictures segment Mike Bowers was joined by 7:30’s resident satirist Mark Humphries. They began by plugging Humphries upcoming appearance as a contestant on the SBS quiz show Celebrity Mastermind.  Apparently your man Humphries will be quizzed on the musicals of Stephen Sondheim. Fascinating.

Following this guest side story, Bowers and Humphries moved on to the usual discussion of the week in political cartoons and photos. Last Sunday they focused on climate policy or, more specifically, cartoons criticising the Coalition’s climate policy. Humphries particularly enjoyed David Rowe’s depiction of Barnaby Joyce wearing a smokestack Akubra. Later in the segment they showed another recent David Rowe cartoon which depicted Barnaby J. wearing a similar hat, but this time emblazoned with a large green dollar sign. Just in case you didn’t get the implication. It’s no wonder that Humphries, who often recycles the same characters, has lotsa love for Rowe’s brand of repetitive, heavy-handed satire.

Towards the end of the segment talk turned to Joel Fitzgibbon’s and Barnaby Joyce’s joint press conference – if that’s the proper way to describe the impromptu encounter:

Mike Bowers: This week Barnaby Joyce and Joel Fitzgibbon had a joint press conference, and did they bring the heat? My God I felt like we should stand around going “fight, fight, fight!”. “Labor, Labor, Labor, Labor, Labor…”, this was your tweet.

Mark Humphries: That was me. That was a reference to Barrabas Loins, my alter ego. Who may or may not bear some resemblance to Barnaby Joyce, I don’t see it myself.

Mike Bowers: In fact someone, when he [Barnaby Joyce] was playing football the other morning, was yelling out “go Barrabas!”.

Mark Humphries: Oh really?

Mike Bowers: Didn’t go down well.

Mark Humphries: Oh okay, am I sitting next to that person?

Mike Bowers: You might. [both laugh at their own joke]

And so the segment ended as it began, with talk turning to comrade Humphries himself. Hardly a surprise when Mike Bowers seems to be Mark Humphries’ biggest fan, not counting Mark Humphries.


Thanks to the avid reader who found the John-Laws-Style-Deliberate-Mistake in MWD Issue 485.  There it was mentioned that Morry Schwartz’s Schwartz Media was located in Melbourne’s fashionable inner-city Collingwood.  In fact, Schwartz Media recently moved from inner-city Collingwood up Johnson Street to fashionable inner-city Carlton. From one-part of Sandalista Land to another.

Schwartz Media publishes, among other things, The [Boring] Saturday Paper and The Monthly.  They are publications of the Green Left, by the Green Left for the Green Left and oh-so-popular in Sandalista Land located in the inner-city of  Australia’s various capitals.

So it’s appropriate, then, that The Monthly’s  editor-in-chief Erik Jensen has chosen to illustrate the magazine’s Tote Bag – a bargain for a mere $49, $29 for subscribers (postage included) – in its March 2020 issue with a person wearing SANDALS.

How appropriate that a sandal-wearing, The Monthly reading, Sandalista is flogging a “limited edition tote bag”- which is not only “designed in collaboration with Alpha60” but is “as chic as it is practical”.  For example, “it is big enough for shopping and has a useful pocket and wine sleeve”. Just what every Sandalista needs.

And to think that Carlton and Collingwood were once working-class suburbs, the good people of which would never have thought of buying a chic tote bag.

It’s not clear to what extent Comrade Schwartz and Comrade Jensen have researched Alpha60 and its products – including, presumably, The Monthly’s “chic” tote bag – all of which are made in China.

However, MWD’s research has found the following reference to Alpha60 on the fashion rating website:

Alpha60’s environment rating is “not good enough”. There is no evidence it reduces its carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions. There is no evidence it has taken meaningful action to reduce or eliminate hazardous chemicals. It minimises packaging. There is no evidence it implements water reduction initiatives. Its labour rating is “it’s a start”. There is no evidence it has a Code of Conduct but it has a formal statement covering workers’ rights. It sources its final stage of production from countries with extreme risk of labour abuse. It ensures payment of a living wage in the final stage of production. It traces some of its supply chain including all of the final stage of production. It visits its suppliers regularly. Its animal rating is “good”. It does not use fur, wool, down, exotic animal skin, exotic animal hair or angora. It uses leather and silk. Alpha60 is rated “It’s a start” based on information from our own research.

Last Updated: November 2019

An interesting – but not all that “chic”- assessment.  Which suggests that those who place The Monthly in the The Monthly tote bag will be contributing to global emissions.


MWD’s “Top Media Interrupter of The Week” gong is rapidly becoming one of its most popular – and prestigious – awards.  Now in its third week – the previous winners are David Speers and Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly.

So it was no surprise, then, when there was lotsa competition this week from all sections of the media. However, Insiders’ new presenter David (“Call me Speersy”) Speers was the hands down winner with a truly stunning performance when interviewing Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton last Sunday.  For the record, Minister Dutton adopted a “Keep Calm and Carry On” approach – and gave an impression he was counting  Mr Speers’ interjections.  Or, perhaps, it was sheep.  Whatever the tactic, Peter Dutton emerged from the exchange with a tick for courtesy.  Not so Speersy.

Here’s a taste of the interview – where David Speers interviewed Peter Dutton, or was it the other way around? – on the ASIO director-general’s Annual Threat Assessment as it relates to right-wing extremism in Australia:

David Speers: Yeah but when it comes to the right-wing stuff, Minister, Australia has not proscribed any right-wing terror organisation, unlike other countries. And I know you said you haven’t been called on to do so by ASIO. Do we need to change the way the listing process works?

Peter Dutton: I don’t think we do. I think the listing process has served us well for a long period of time. It’s obviously an arduous process in that it needs to go for consultation to the States and Territories – to their first officers – and it’s signed off by the Prime Minister as well. But I have not rejected advice from ASIO. If ASIO’s recommended a listing [indistinct]. I’ve been criticised for not listing Hezbollah over the course of the last 12 months or so. But the agencies look at all of this. And we don’t have a presence in our country of some of these right-wing groups as well so if there’s–

David Speers: [interjecting] Well the problem’s growing according to the ASIO boss [speaking at the same time]

Peter Dutton: – a presence, if there’s an emerging [David Speers interjects, speaking at the same time]. If there’s an emerging, and if the ASIO boss believes that there’s a case for listing I promise you that [extreme right wing] organisation will be listed. We’re completely blind to where people are–

David Speers: [interjecting] Well just on that

Peter Dutton: On the spectrum, I want to make sure we neutralise that–

David Speers: [interjecting] You said, speaking of the spectrum [speaking at the same time]. You seem to suggest this week that Islamist terrorism is left wing terrorism. Can you clarify that, is that what you’re suggesting?

Peter Dutton: I just think, the point I was making David, is I’m just completely blind to somebody’s religious beliefs, their mindsets–

David Speers: [interjecting] Sure but is Islamist terrorism left-wing?

Peter Dutton: You could put it wherever you like on the spectrum–

David Speers: [interjecting] I’m asking where you put it.

Peter Dutton: Well my, I put it in the same lunacy basket as I do those on the right-wing and-

David Speers: [interjecting] Okay but it’s not left-wing is it?

Peter Dutton: And I don’t believe that we should tolerate people acting outside of the law wherever they are on the spectrum so–

David Speers: [interjecting] Okay but it’s not left-wing is it? Islamist terrorism?

Peter Dutton: It’s, it’s, it’s an organisation that’s on the spectrum David. And it doesn’t matter where they are.

David Speers: Doesn’t ASIO say that it doesn’t fit on a left/right continuum?

Peter Dutton: You can get into the semantics of it–

David Speers: [interjecting] Well you are Minister, that’s the point I’m saying. You’ve suggested it’s left-wing. It’s not is it?

Peter Dutton: David, the point that I would make is wherever people are on the spectrum, if they are terrorists, if they pose a threat to Australians, and I think I’ve demonstrated this in my time in this portfolio–

David Speers: [interjecting] Sure, but it’s important to be accurate about what you’re trying to fight here isn’t it? [talking at the same time]

Peter Dutton: We are not discriminating against anyone [David Speers interjects, talking at the same time] except on the basis that they pose a threat to our country. So that’s the approach I’ve taken.

As the saying goes, “Back to you Speersy” – and well done last Sunday.




Until Next Time.