GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG

ISSUE – NO. 497

22 May 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 – Richard McGregor’s Labradoodle-influenced view of Fox News; Waleed Aly’s Expert Confusion; The Canberra Times gushes over a pop-up hospital with no patients

Can You Bear It? Miriam Margolyes searches for a loo; Katharine Murphy on integrity; Anne Davies on coal propping up the economy; Cake baking socialist Van Badham on Jacinda Ardern’s 4-day work week; Raf Epstein’s Sermon on the Couch

An ABC Update – Norman Swan on modelling

Your Taxes at Work – ABC Life guides us through the pandemic

The Victorian DPP, The Media & Contempt of Court: Two Case Studies

You Must Remember This – Chris Geraghty writes for John Menadue and forgets Vincent Kiss


STOP PRESS Heading

RICHARD McGREGOR’S LABRADOODLE-INFLUENCED VIEW OF FOX NEWS

Perhaps Richard McGregor, of the Lowy Institute, missed breakfast this morning. Your man McGregor usually talks sense about China.  However, this morning on ABC Radio National Breakfast, he threw the switch to hyperbole – with predictable results. Let’s go to the transcript where the Australia-China relationship was discussed:

 

Hamish Macdonald: A day after China suggested via the Global Times which is a state-run media outlet, that Australia was the “kangaroo dog of the US”. How much weight should we put into the words of the Global Times about the way Beijing is viewing us currently?

Richard McGregor: Yes, well, I’m sure we’re all trying to conjure up what a kangaroo dog looks like. I own a labradoodle; I don’t know what a kangaroo dog would turn out to look like. Look, the Global Times is not actually a government paper, its owned by the Communist Party. It’s owned by the People’s Daily. It’s like the tabloid wing of the official party paper. Somebody once described it to me as “Fox News under a Republican administration”. So we shouldn’t take everything in there literally. Their aim is to be an attack dog.

Turn it up. Whatever Fox News is – it does not reflect the daily tabloid put out by the Communist Party of China.  If Mr McGregor watched Fox News he would know that critics of President Donald Trump appear on the channel. In fact, there is more political diversity and debate on some Fox News programs than can be found on the ABC.  Compare, for example, the pluralism in Fox News MediaBuzz (presenter Howard Kurtz) with the left-of-centre line run by ABC TV’s Media Watch (presenter Paul Barry).  Mr Kurtz allows genuine debate on his program; Mr Barry does not.

But, then, Richard McGregor is the owner of a labradoodle. Enough Said.

WALEED ALY’S EXPERT CONFUSION

What a stunning piece by Waleed Aly (of Monash University, Network 10’s The Project, ABC Radio National and Nine Newspapers fame) – in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age today. Dr Aly (for a doctor he is) compared expert advice to government on how to handle COVID-19 with expert advice to government about how to handle climate change.  He continued:

 

Waleed Aly: Of course, our COVID-19 debates are nowhere near as rancorous as the climate wars, but we’re already at the stage where health expert advice is becoming gently contested, and that’s with the possibility of a second wave of infections still lurking.

What a load of tosh.  There is no specific “health expert advice” on COVID-19.  Rather the experts are divided.  The expert medical advice to the Commonwealth and NSW governments is that interstate borders should not be shut down.  The expert advice to Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory is quite different on this issue.

The fact is that experts on a range of issues are rarely united.

CANBERRA’S NO-PATIENTS POP-UP HOSPITAL

While on the topic of COVID-19, what a suck-up piece in yesterday’s Canberra Times about the Australian Capital Territory’s pop-up hospital in Garran.  In fact, the ACT’s Labor/Greens government decided to pop up this COVID-19 hospital on an oval near a school – thus infringing on green space.

Built at a cost of $23 million (we’re told) the new medical facility has room for 51 COVID-19 patients.  As Andrew Brown’s gushing piece in the Canberra Times puts it:

 

Upon arriving, patients are screened in their car in the outdoor car park for potential symptoms, before being directed to one of the two hospital sections based on their condition. Separate entrances are available on either side for patients being transported to the hospital by ambulance. From there, patients are taken to a triage room, before being going into one of three wards for COVID-19 patients, including one for acute patients.

Exciting and brilliant, don’t you think?  Sure is, except for one small problem.  No COVID-19 patients have popped up in Garran for treatment in the ACT government’s pop-up hospital.  Moreover, the ACT has currently had no known COVID-19 cases. So your man Brown has written a gushing piece about an expensive hospital with no patients.  Meanwhile there are no pop-up schools in Canberra – in fact the Labor/Green government has kept government schools closed. Come to think of it, some of ACT’s children could have been educated in, say, a Garran Pop-up Primary School.


Can You Bear It

● ON THE ROAD WITH MIRIAM MARGOLYES

On Tuesday Jackie’s (male) co-owner sat down with Jackie to watch Miriam Margolyes’ Almost Australian  documentary  on the ABC. The British leftist is now a dual British/Australian citizen. So it came as no surprise that the taxpayer funded broadcaster commissioned her to drive around Australia to give a brand new assessment of what a racist, sexist, misogynist and unjust nation Australia is.  A female version of what the male British-based Australian leftist John Pilger used to do – for the ABC, of course.

This is how the program commenced:

 

Miriam Margolyes: Six years ago, after coming here for – gosh, nearly forty years – I finally became an Australian citizen. It was a day of supreme happiness, of real joy, but it also made me realise how little I know about the place I can now call home. I live in a silly little bubble of people who think like me, sound like me. So this 78 year old Jewish lesbian is embarking on a 10,000 km two month journey to explore what it means to be an Australian.

How about that?  Comrade Margolyes admits that she knows little about Australia and hangs out in a bubble of people who live and sound like her.  So it came as no surprise that the ABC, a Conservative Free Zone, commissioned another alienated and avowedly out of touch left-wing activist, who has been an Australian citizen since 2014, to tell us what we are all about.

It sounded like compelling television to Hendo and his canine Jackie.  So they sat together on a bean-bag, which bears  Che Guevara’s image, and looked forward to learning what reactionaries we are from a British actor (aka Professor Sprout of Harry Potter fame.)

Alas, it turned out that the initial focus was not on the meaning of Australian life or some such.  But, rather, on Comrade Margolyes’ search for a toilet.  Here’s an early part of Almost Australian:

 

Miriam Margolyes: Nice to meet you. Where’s the loo?

Miriam Margolyes: There will be attitudes that I will find difficult to absorb. [Yelling at a guy in a ute] You f-cking idiot.

Miriam Margolyes: And there will be wonderful things that I never knew about.

It was not at all clear to Jackie or her (male) co-owner why MM’s yelling abuse at a ute driver made it into the final cut.  But there you go. Soon after, MM told her viewers (if viewers there were) that on this road trip she wanted to find out “what the Australian dream means to different people”. Then she felt the need to explain why she is driving about Australia in a motor-home which resembles a small truck:

 

Miriam Margolyes: Of course, a lady of my years needs to travel with one facility constantly nearby. Which is why I’ll be travelling in this fully equipped motor home.

Surprise! The “facility” is a toilet – or “a loo” in British terminology.  MM is shown entering the said “facility” and sitting on it. Groan.

Then it’s time for this leftist lady to commence her planned eight week (taxpayer funded) trip around Australia. First stop Bondi Beach – where the traveller looked back in happiness at the time she bought a house in Bondi in 1980.  Let’s go to the transcript when MM talks about her favourite topic –  herself – and ends up conversing to a group of mature male swimmers on Bondi Beach.

 

Miriam Margolyes: My first stop is 150 kilometres north, in Sydney, where at the ripe old age of 39, I first landed in Australia. For a new arrival from England, and for many of my compatriots, Bondi Beach was a dream come true. When you grew up, as I did in wartime England, things were drab and grey and worried. And then coming to Australia and seeing for the first time that sweep of beach, the great Australian sky, big, blonde, beautiful people – because they weren’t fat then – was really like a kind of paradise.

[Talking to elderly swimmers at Bondi Beach]

Miriam Margolyes: Can I talk to you? Have you been swimming? And is this a daily thing?

Swimmer: Every day of my life.

Miriam Margolyes: And do you pee in the sea?

Swimmer: No, no, no…Well, fish do.

What a start.  Almost Australian commenced with Miriam Margolyes reaching for a toilet.  And the first question she asked an Australian turned on whether he pissed in the sea.

At this stage, Jackie looked wilfully at her co-owner.  Jackie’s mind had obviously been on the television star’s toilet obsession – and she was feeling a certain need.  So this particular odd adult-canine couple headed off for their evening walk.  Jackie had “a pee” (in MM’s terminology) near a tree.  Or perhaps it was Jackie expressing her opinion of the early part of Almost Australian.  Can You Bear It?

[Er no. Not really.  However, next week perhaps you might look at the second part of the documentary on iView and report back. I’m sure readers would like to know what Comrade Margolyes found out about Australia from her mobile room with a loo.  – MWD Editor.]

● MURPHAROO – YET TO REVEAL MALCOLM TURNBULL’S FUN-FACT

Lotsa thanks to the avid reader who drew MWD’s  attention to the tweet which MWD fave Katharine Murphy put out on 13 May.

https://twitter.com/murpharoo/status/1260323373063651328?s=20

Now, Murpharoo (as Malcolm Turnbull likes to call her) is a stickler for integrity and all that.  You know, she and her editor Lenore Taylor at The Guardian constantly wave the flag for openness, full disclosure, transparency and all that stuff.

Unfortunately, neither of these two comrades are scheduled to appear on Insiders this Sunday.  In fact, neither have rocked up since Malcolm Turnbull revealed in his book A Bigger Picture that it was his idea to set up The Guardian Australia and that he recommended Comrade Taylor and Comrade Murphy for their present jobs.

As far as MWD can recall, Insiders viewers have never been told of this fun fact.  Nor, as MWD remembers, has Murpharoo even written about this in The Guardian.  But now she’s supporting Zali Stegall’s call for openness and integrity and all that. Can You Bear It?

● THE GUARDIAN’S ANNE DAVIES BACKS COAL IN A TIME OF ECONOMIC CRISIS – REALLY

While on the topic of The Guardian, let’s hear what its correspondent Anne Davies had to say on ABC TV’s The Drum on 15 April 2020.  Presenter Ellen Fanning queried whether Australia could rapidly recover from the economic downturn that has followed the partial lockdown in Australia as a response to COVID-19. This is what she had to say:

 

Anne Davies: Well, you’ve got to remember we are still exporting coal, iron ore to the rest of the world. So part of the economy is still functioning very well….

So there you have it.  Comrade Taylor and her team at The Guardian are always banging on about how coal is (allegedly) destroying the planet and so on.  But Guardian correspondent Anne Davies reckons – correctly – that one of the factors keeping the Australian economy functioning is the fact that “we are still exporting coal”. Can You Bear It?

● CAKE BAKING SOCIALIST VAN BADHAM OVERLOOKS FOREIGN EXCHANGE INGREDIENT

While on the topic of economic responses to the looming recession – did anyone read what Guardian  columnist Van Badham had to say about her hero, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who is looking to try and bring about an economic revival in the Land of the Long White Cloud?  This is how her column commenced in The Guardian yesterday – under the heading “’Snap back’? Jacinda Ardern snaps forward with a four-day week: no wonder she’s popular”.

Comrade Badham who describes herself as a middle-aged, cake-baking, flannel-shirt-wearing rural based socialist feminist – is taken by Ms Ardern’s suggestion that moving to a four day week might help the New Zealand economy by making it possible for Kiwis to have endless long weekends where they can travel to Queenstown, Rotorua and so on.

In her socialist utopia in regional Victoria, Comrade Badham seems unaware that tourism is New Zealand’s largest export industry. And that international tourists bring lotsa foreign exchange into the country.  If a Kiwi travels from Christchurch to Queenstown, they are spending money they would normally have spent at home.  But if Australians or Americans travel to Queenstown they are bringing money into the country. Yet, apparently, The Guardian’s columnist does not understand this. Can You Bear It?

● RAF EPSTEIN’S SUNDAY SERMON ON THE COUCH

As avid readers will recall, MWD welcomed the fact that Melbourne non-shock jock Rafael Epstein had been invited to join the Insiders panel this year.  For starters, it confirmed the reality that the ABC is a Conservative Free Zone. Moreover, MWD reckoned this is just what the ABC TV Sunday morning program needed – i.e. another left-wing ABC presenter.  It turned out that there are now three Melbourne-based left-wing ABC presenters on the Insiders couch.  Virginia Trioli (ABC Radio 702) joined the couch in 2020 and Patricia Karvelas (ABC Radio National) is a carry-over champion from 2019 and beyond.

As far as MWD can work it out, Comrade Epstein has spent his entire career in journalism – mostly at the ABC.  He has not been a political operative either in government or opposition at the Federal, State or Territory levels. He has not worked in the public service – Commonwealth or State. And he has not been employed in business – big, medium or small.  (MWD will correct this if this resume is incorrect).

In spite of a life in journalism – or, perhaps, because of same – your man Epstein feels extremely confident in telling political leaders what they SHOULD do – or what they SHOULD have done. Here’s an extract of The Thought of Raf Epstein from last Sunday – first up concerning Foreign Minister Marise Payne’s call for an independent inquiry into the COVID-19 pandemic:

 

Rafael Epstein: I think the really important question is – why are we out there on our own? Why [did Senator Payne] come on and chat to David Speers and announce that? Did they ask Europe? Did they ask Japan? Did they ask India? And is there a cost to going out there on our own? I just want to mention costs and trade wars…. So it’s fine to stand up to bullies. But you have to use your words carefully and strategically and I’m not sure if we always are.

So here an oh-so-confident Comrade Epstein was saying that Foreign Minister Marise Payne should not have gone on Insiders and told David Speers that Australia proposed an inquiry into COVID-19 without first checking with “Europe”(whatever that might mean), Japan and India.  According to this view – it’s fine to stand up to bullies, except when it’s not.  Or something like that.

Then at the end of Insiders:

 

Rafael Epstein: Look, if anything reminds us that we all need every nation to pull together – and always be focusing on multilateral institutions – it’s this. We’re going to be pushing, as Lanai [Scarr] said, for Taiwan to be upgraded in the World Health Organisation. They started scrutinising flights from Wuhan on December 31st. So we’ve got a lot to learn from a country like Taiwan. And I just hope that the Coalition junks the rhetoric around internationalist, unaccountable bureaucracies that was used by the Prime Minister last year. Turns out there’s an international bureaucracy like the World Health Organization and other global institutions that are really worth backing. And we’ve got to do the quiet, hard, difficult, boring work in the quiet times so they work in a crisis.

So here an oh-so-confident Epstein said that Australia should be in the forefront of pushing for Taiwan to be admitted to the WHO – despite the fact that this is opposed by China – but not in the forefront of calling for an inquiry into COVID-19.  Somewhat inconsistent, don’t you think? Also he reckons that Australia can learn from the WHO – despite the fact that the WHO criticised Australia’s decision to close its border to China soon after the pandemic commenced.  Also Australia classified COVID-19 as a pandemic well before the WHO did.

No doubt leading members of the Coalition and Labor tune into Insiders when your man Epstein is on the couch to find out what they should do.  Can You Bear It?


NORMAN SWAN & FRAN KELLY: A COVID-19 UPDATE

On the morning of Monday 18 May, Fran Kelly sat down for her regular RN Breakfast segment with the ABC’s resident COVID-19 expert Dr Norman Swan. Avid MWD readers will remember Ms Kelly and Dr Swan’s dire COVID predictions which failed to come to pass. As a reminder: Ms Kelly stated that Australia’s ICU capacity would be overwhelmed by mid-April and Dr Swan predicted Australia would see 7000-8000 cases by the end of March [Australia reached 7,000 cases on 15 May]. And so on Monday discussion turned to how many lives have been saved by Australia’s lockdown.

 

Norman Swan: …And the worst thing that could happen is that nothing happened. And in fact, nothing did happen. Well, not for 100 families who’ve lost a loved one. That’s not nothing. But it’s not 10,000 or 20,000. So everybody – so you have these economists now saying “oh, we’ve had 100 deaths and, you know, if you go see Ian Hickie’s figures, Brain and Mind modelling, 3,500 additional suicides in Australia the next five years”. That’s a lot of people dying. It’s certainly more than 100. But if you go back to the modelling of the – of the pandemic, we were facing far more than that. And the group in Melbourne writing in The Conversation had done the analysis. We are well – if you’re just on the crude basis of mortality, of deaths, we are well, well ahead by many, many thousands.

Dr Swan appears to be referencing an article which appeared on The Conversation on 8 May 2020, written by Dr Neil Bailey of Monash University. This article compared estimates of the COVID-19 death toll to estimates of the increase in suicides caused by economic turmoil and isolation. Dr Bailey’s conclusion was that, even accounting for the increased suicide rate, the lockdown measures will save over 200,000 lives as compared to a scenario in which there were no containment measures beyond the quarantine of suspected cases.

Dr Bailey’s estimates are, in part, based on modelling conducted for the Federal government in early April which sought to predict ICU bed demand under different containment scenarios. This modelling found that without social distancing 67.5% of the Australian population would be infected and ICU demand would peak at around 17,000 beds. With social distancing, they found an infection rate of 11.6% and peak demand just shy of 5,000 beds. In fact, Australia’s ICU demand peaked at around 100 beds and our infection rate is likely still well short of 0.1%. That the modelled infection rate and ICU demand with social distancing turned out to be so inaccurate did not stop Dr Bailey from using the modelled infection rate without social distancing when calculating his estimated death toll.

But RN Breakfast listeners can rest assured that Dr Swan thinks the lockdown has saved “many, many thousands” of lives because “the modelling” showed that we were facing a far higher death toll. This is not to suggest that the lockdown has not saved many lives – after all, the predicted increase in suicides may itself turn out to be false. But perhaps Dr Swan should cast a more sceptical eye at COVID-19 models.


PANDEMIC LIFE AS SEEN BY ABC LIFE

The good news is that, in this Vale of Tears in which we all live – made worse by a pandemic or two – the ABC is getting (taxpayers) value for money out of its ABC Life website. According to a report by Lilly Vitorovich in The Australian on 14 May 2020, ABC Life costs a mere $3 million a year and employs around a score of staff.

So what’s the work load that would justify employing over 20 staff on the taxpayer teat. You be the judge. Here’s the work the team at ABC Life, led by its editor Bhakthi Puvanenthiran, has been up to of late.

• First up, let’s hear from “Chase”.  She’s dating a bloke on “Animal Crossing”- and believes that video game dating at a time of COVID-19 has a new meaning. Involving, as it does, the use of “virtual words to get to know people”. And fall in love. Oh, shucks. Read all about it:

For their first date, they went to Chase’s “island” – a virtual hangout area you can create in the game. “I decorated one part of my island as a little romantic picnic area,” Chase says. “He decorated a few clothing items for me as gifts.”  She says dating in a video game is not without the real-world excitement of dating, with the primping and pampering to boot. “Yes, I wore a nice dress!”

• And then there’s this – how novel coronavirus can make us realise why we never really liked our old friends.

Fancy that. Without COVID-19, we might not realise why we lost touch with past acquaintances.  Let’s hear it for more pandemics to contribute to our self-awareness.

• And then there’s advice about the ideal menu at a time of pandemic. It’s a vegan recipe, of course:

Without ABC Life – who would have known how to cook chickpeas in rich tomato sauce? Worth $3 million on its own, to be sure

• And how about this update of the Goons’ joke of recent memory, i.e. “How do you repel boarders?” “Don’t change their bed linen”. Well, ABC Life knows how to repel an acquaintance in marketing who wants to talk about, say, essential oils when you just want to bitch about life. ABC Life does not provide any solutions but Comrade Puvanenthiran and her team feel your pain.

Your Taxes At Work.


THE VICTORIAN DPP, THE MEDIA & CONTEMPT OF COURT: TWO CASE STUDIES

Barely a week goes past when MWD does not receive a note from the Media Adviser, Communications and Engagement, at the Supreme Court of Victoria concerning what is referred to as R v Herald & Weekly Times Pty Ltd & Ors (Cardinal Pell contempt matter). Or so it seems.  Needless to say, Cardinal George Pell is not a party to these proceedings.

The latest missive from the Supreme Court advised that the case management hearing scheduled for some time in the past has been re-scheduled again. The new time is for Tuesday 26 May 2020 at 9.30 am. MWD can hardly wait.

As some readers will be aware, the Victorian Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions took exception that some media outlets reported in December 2018 that someone had been convicted of a serious crime which, due to a suppression order, could not be reported.   The implication was that the person in question was Cardinal Pell – however no media outlet named the name.

George Pell’s conviction on five charges of historical child sexual abuse was quashed by the High Court of Australia on 7 April 2020.  The reason for the suppression order that was in existence in December 2018 turned on the DPP’s intention to put Pell on a second trial – and that reporting the verdict in the first trial could deny Pell a fair trial in the second proceedings.  In fact, in late February 2019, the DPP decided not to proceed with the second trial – so Cardinal Pell was not affected by the stories. Nor is he involved in the matter scheduled for hearing on 26 May.

Pell’s trial and conviction was widely reported at the time on social media.  Writing in Crikey on 6 May 2020, freelance journalist Stephen Brook commented that, not long after the jury delivered its verdict, “Facebook and Twitter were awash with news of Pell’s conviction”.

So the reports in December 2018 of an anonymous person being convicted was hardly news to numerous Australians. Nevertheless the DPP seems intent on proceeding with the action alleging contempt of court against some 30 individuals and organisations.

The office of the DPP is a taxpayer funded organisation. The media companies defending the action are commercial businesses that have already been adversely affected by the drop in advertising revenue in the wake of the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To summarise, the proceedings initiated by the Victorian DPP against media companies and personalities – now scheduled for hearing on 26 May –  relate to a suppression order with respect to a trial which did not occur.

It is worth noting that the DPP appeared to take a different approach to a suppression order when Cardinal Pell’s case was under way. The jury delivered its verdict in R v George Pell on 12 December 2018 after deliberating for some four days.

In the County Court of Victoria on 28 November 2018, Chief Judge Peter Kidd expressed concern about a media release by Melbourne University Publishing concerning an award which had just been won by Louise Milligan – the author of Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell (MUP, 2018). The ABC journalist Milligan, a Pell antagonist, in her book initially raised the allegations that led to Pell’s subsequent trial and conviction.  At the time of the trial, copies of Cardinal could not be sold in Victorian bookshops.

Chief Judge Kidd also expressed his concern about tweets on the same subject by, among others, Louise Milligan, Louise Adler (MUP’s then chief executive) and Sydney Morning Herald  journalist Peter FitzSimons. Senator Derryn Hinch (as he then was) also involved himself in the twitter thread.  The MUP media release was taken down from its website – and the tweets by Louise Adler, Peter FitzSimons, Derryn Hinch and Louise Milligan were deleted.

On 30 March 2019, Gerard Henderson wrote to Anthony Loncaric, Senior Communications Advisor, Executive Services Office of Public Prosecutions, Victoria inquiring as to whether the Victorian DPP intended to take steps with respect to the concerns raised by Chief Judge Peter Kidd on 28 November 2018 while the jury in R v George Pell was still empanelled.

Following a reminder, Mr Loncaric responded on 4 April 2019 as follows:

Hi Gerard

We don’t wish to make a comment in response to your query.

Regards

Anthony

So there you have it. The DPP is continuing its case against certain media outlets for allegedly breaching a suppression order related to a trial which did not proceed. However, the DPP has refused to comment about why it did not take action with respect to publications during the trial, R v George Pell, which was under way.


 

CHRIS GERAGHTY WRITES FOR JOHN MENADUE AND APPARENTLY FORGETS VINCENT KISS

While on the topic of George Pell (born 1941) did anyone read Chris Geraghty’s mocking so-called “open letter” to Cardinal Pell which was published in John Menadue’s Pearls and Irritations blog on 12 May 2020 titled “Pell Again”?

Possibly not. Because few Australians have heard of Dr Geraghty (born 1939) despite the fact that he has written a three volume memoir.  Yes, three volumes.

Writing in Pearls and Irritations the former priest, lawyer and judge accepted without question the finding of the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse that Pell, when a junior priest in Ballarat, was responsible for moving the pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale from parish to parish in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

As a Catholic, the learned doctor should know that, especially in the 1970s and 1980s, only bishops and archbishops had such power. Moreover, Ronald Mulkearns, the Bishop of Ballarat at the time, was an authoritarian and secretive leader who was not inclined to give reasons for his decisions to priests or the laity.   In any event, there is no written or independent oral evidence to support the Royal Commission’s finding – and there is some evidence that the finding is contrary to the known facts. But that’s a matter for another time.

For the moment, MWD readers may be interested in what Chris Geraghty did when faced with a complaint of child sexual abuse when a junior priest. This is how Linda Morris reported the matter in the Sydney Morning Herald on 14 July 2012:

 

Geraghty has his own confession to make, admitting he never passed on to police or to his superiors information about a sexual relationship between a well-known priest and one of the seminarians in his care [at St Columba’s Seminary]. There were extenuating circumstances.

Geraghty was sexually naive and the student spoke to him on condition of silence. Geraghty advised him to confront the priest, Father Vince Kiss, and to end the relationship, which had been going on since he had been about 12, and assisted him [the student] in “his search for a new life”. The two later renewed their friendship when the victim, a headmaster at a state school, came forward to testify against Kiss.

“I don’t feel remorseful about it. I don’t feel guilty, but I do feel diminished. I’m regretful I was not more worldly wise, I wasn’t more informed, I wasn’t more educated; that I was never aware of the possibility that priests could be pedophiles as they were; and how to deal with it. If I’d known then what I know now and dealt with it aggressively, Vince [Kiss] maybe would not have interfered with a number of other boys and caused them untold trauma.”

Now Vincent Kiss was a notorious pedophile Catholic priest.  Chris Geraghty has stated he knew that Kiss was a child sexual abuser – but did not take action since he (Geraghty) was sexually naïve at the time. He regrets that he was not more worldly wise when informed of Kiss’ crimes.

The point is that Chris Geraghty did not reveal any of this in his Pearls and Irritations piece where he ripped into Pell. But MWD remembers. (For a full account see MWD Issue 351, 3 March 2017) – note that Dr Geraghty told his story to the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.)

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Until next time.

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