GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG
ISSUE – NO. 499
5 June 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 – The Project gets an unexpected answer on Presidents Obama & Trump; Murpharoo in double standards denial
Can You Bear It? Comrade Ackland sneers at a former Cleo editor; Hamish Macdonald demonstrates why conservatives avoid Q&A; PVO & the PMO; Sam Clark – At last a full (Insiders) disclosure; A 1980’s Pine-Gap Demo Activist identified – Perhaps
A Jane Caro Moment – Jane Caro joins the virtual Antifa brigades
A Fashionista Moment – Scott Burchill cleans up & Brendon O’Connor dresses down
New Feature: Commentators out of their Depth – Anne Manne’s lightweight “Last Word” on George Pell
History Corner – Peter FitzSimons howler on the High Court & The Palace letters
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QUELLE SURPRISE! BLACK AMERICAN RADICAL BAGS BARACK OBAMA ON THE PROJECT
Network 10’s The Project has been one of the number of media outlets which is sympathetic to the demonstrators on the streets of many United States cities – despite the killings, rioting, looting, arson and property destruction which has taken place, much of it harming black Americans who run businesses and live in neighbourhoods close to the demonstrations.
Last night The Project invited black activist Kwame Rose on to the program. Rose has a controversial past – commencing when he was 20-years of age and shouted down Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera during a protest in Baltimore. The protests followed the death of Freddie Gray in police custody. They led to the looting of one third of pharmacies in the city. Let’s go to the final question by Gorgi Coghlan – which led to an apparently unexpected response:
Gorgi Coghlan: Former President Barack Obama has been pretty quiet throughout Trump’s presidency but today he spoke of the need to review and reduce police violence and like we just heard before he spoke to young people of colour, saying “your lives matter”. How symbolic is it to hear from him right now?
Kwame Rose: You know five years ago we heard from Barack Obama in Baltimore when he called us thugs and criminals – when people ran inside of a CVS [an American pharmacy chain]. A year after that, I heard from Barack Obama when he personally called me a 22-year-old misguided kid for calling him out for calling us thugs. Listen, Barack Obama was the first person to call protestors thugs, uh in my lifetime. And what he did, back 5 years ago, uh gave Trump the audacity to say now we can shoot these thugs.
It was not the kind of happy-ending which the pro-Black Lives Matter The Project team expected. They were expecting that a radical young black man would support President Obama. But Kwame Rose is too much a revolutionary for this. How embarrassing.
MURPHAROO IN DOUBLE STANDARDS DENIAL
What a stunning tweet at Hangover Time this morning from MWD fave Katharine (“I love it when Malcolm Turnbull calls me Murpharoo”) Murphy. This is what The Guardian Australia’s political editor thought was appropriate to tell Australians this morning:
Kind of fun how the some of folks who didn’t want leaders locking down parts of the economy to deal with Covid because protecting Grandma shouldn’t be more important than commerce now want protests locked down because of, wait for it … Covid.
— Katharine Murphy (@murpharoo) June 4, 2020
Now MWD does not want to be unkind to Murpharoo. However, she has missed the point. The fact is that some left-wing journalists, who have been most in favour of maintaining or extending lockdown, have said nothing when Black Lives Matter protests have taken place in Australia – with apparently more to follow this weekend. It is as if all such protestors have an immunity to COVID-19
MWD is not aware that anyone has said that protestors should be “locked down” because of COVID-19. But it has been said that there is a double standard in, say, a government enforcing lockdown laws about 20 people attending a funeral – while indicating that fines will not apply to thousands of protestors who fail to follow the social distancing rules on Saturday.
This debate is not being driven by business, big or small, but by Australians who believe that there should not be one rule for protestors and another one for everyone else. But perhaps such news has not reached The Guardian Australia’s office.
COMRADE ACKLAND SNEERS AT A FORMER CLEO EDITOR
Due to enormous reader demand, MWD will investigate how Richard Ackland is going with his “Gadfly” column in The Saturday Paper.
In his Who’s Who in Australia entry, your man Ackland reveals that he has an AM gong – but not his age which remains a state secret. But MWD reckons he’s around three score and ten – as the saying goes.
Even so, Gadfly seems to have retained his schoolboy sense of humour. For example in last week’s The [Boring] Saturday Paper. He made references to “Grouper Greg Sheridan”, “The Christian Porter”, “Little Winston Howard”, “Lord Fishnets Downer” and so on. Funny, eh? By the way, how many readers of The Saturday Paper would know what a “Grouper” is? – or rather was.
There is also reference to Sky News’ presenter Sharri Markson – who, much to Gadfly’s annoyance has been reporting of late on the possibility that COVID-19 may have come out of a laboratory in China. This is how his “Pry in the Sky” segment commenced last Saturday:
Pry in the Sky
It’s a perplexing world, what with United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatening to “disconnect” from Australia if Victoria’s belt and braces arrangement with China affects US security and its ability to spy on every conversation on the planet. Then we have China being beastly to Australia because we’re Trump’s Toady No. 1. For good measure, President Xi is putting the frighteners on us by ordering a military mobilisation for any eventuality. One person who can make sense of the complexity is former Cleo editor and diplomatic affairs expert Sharri Markson.
So that’s it then. Sharri Markson cannot be taken seriously because she once edited Cleo. Can you bear it?
WHY DO CONSERVATIVES STILL BOTHER TO GO ON Q&A? – HAMISH MACDONALD FRAMES MATT CANAVAN ON LIVE TV
Sometimes Jackie’s (male) co-owner wonders why any conservatives or mainstream social democrats give up valuable drinking time on Monday nights to go on the ABC TV’s Q&A. They invariably get attacked by presenter Hamish (“I never watch the telly unless I’m on it”) Macdonald, or by a stacked panel or by leftist audience members whose questions/comments are invariably approved by the program’s executive producer.
And so it happened on Monday’s program titled “Our Energy Future”. Two politicians fronted up on the panel – the Coalition backbencher Matt Canavan and Labor frontbencher Joel Fitzgibbon. The remaining members of the panel comprised Independent MP Zali Steggall along with sustainability technologist Sophia Hamblin Wang and director of the Investor Group on Climate Change Zoe Whitton – a green/left trio on climate change matters. And all the questions from the audience were critical of the Coalition’s energy policies.
But MWD digresses. Let’s go to the transcript when Comrade Macdonald attacked Senator Canavan’s credibility over his support for a new coal-fired power station in Queensland:
Hamish Macdonald : Let’s be clear about this, though, Senator. You’re a pretty lonely voice in this government calling for this kind of thing. New coal-powered – coal-fired power stations are not really mentioned in this Technology Roadmap. There is some mention of coal, though.
Matt Canavan : Yeah.
Hamish Macdonald : I mean, what is your interest? Your family’s connections with the coal industry are well-documented – you’ve talked about it even in your maiden speech.
Matt Canavan : Yeah. Yeah. Yep. Yep.
Hamish Macdonald : Is this also about your own interests that you’re – that you’re pushing here?
Matt Canavan : Well, Hamish, people can judge me on that. It’s absolutely not. As you say, I’ve disclosed that in my maiden speech. I’ve disclosed other interests all the time. I’ve been up-front about that. And in terms of being a lone voice – well, as I say, it’s not a lone voice around the world. The only – the only continent that –
Hamish Macdonald [interrupting] : But in this government, which has been elected to lead Australia, you know, you are not among many in calling for this kind of thing. Where does your interest lie here?….
So there you have it. Comrade Macdonald implied, on no fewer than five occasions, that the Queensland-based senator only supports coal because his brother has financial interests in coal. This is just an unprofessional smear.
When John Hewson makes one of his many appearances on the ABC advocating renewable energy few, if any, ABC presenters accuse him of having a vested interest in the topic since he has a financial interest in renewable energy. So it seems that on the ABC there is one rule for a pro-coal senator like Matt Canavan and another rule for a renewable energy activist – like John Hewson. Can You Bear It?
[Er, no. Not really. But you make a good point. Why should conservatives go on Q&A only to be mugged by accusations about their motivation by the likes of Hamish Macdonald? If Q&A audiences were so important, the Coalition would not have won the 2019 election . These days I only watch it after a couple of drinks – bottles that is. Only then does it make any sense. – MWD Editor.]
NETWORK 10 PVO’s FRUSTRATIONS
It would seem that MWD fave and Network 10’s Peter van Onselen was somewhat frustrated during his regular Thursday spot with Fran Kelly on Radio National Breakfast. How else to explain that your man Van Onselen answered a question on the HomeBuilder scheme as follows:
Fran Kelly: This new HomeBuilder scheme…to hand out $25,000 grants for people who can build a new home or significant renovations. Should this be ringing some alarm bells? What do you think of the targeting of this?
Peter van Onselen: Yeah look it’s interesting. Let me first, for the benefit of your listeners, let them know this. I can talk about this from what I’ve read in the papers today. But for some reason, as Ten’s political editor, we did not receive the information that SBS, ABC, Nine and Seven all received under embargo late last night to be able to get properly across the detail. I don’t know if that was because I’m also simultaneously asking questions about what the Prime Minister did or didn’t know about the Seven journalist 8.30am on air before the 10am conversation he had with Donald Trump. I’m trying to get to the bottom of whether –
Fran Kelly: You’re suggesting he should have raised it with the President?
Peter van Onselen: Yeah, whether he should have raised it, whether he really did or didn’t know, indeed whether anyone in his office knew but decided best not to tell the boss because you don’t want questions on this. I’m not sure if it’s the reason we’re not being kept in the loop, but it is frustrating.
Well, now you know all you need to know about HomeBuilder – and that the PMO (aka Prime Minister’s Office) is not being nice to PVO. Can you Bear It?
SAM CLARK – AT LAST A FULL (INSIDERS) DISCLOSURE
While on the topic of full disclosure and all that stuff, MWD is happy to report that – at last – those appearing on the Insiders’ virtual couch each Sunday now refer to the fact that Sam Clark is the program’s executive director when it is thought necessary to do so. Presenter David Speers took the lead last Sunday when, commenting about the Australian Federal Police’s ongoing investigation into ABC journalists Sam Clark and Dan Oakes, he mentioned that Comrade Clark is his executive producer.
It’s not a big deal, really. Except for the fact that Sam Clark is wont to call for full disclosure when it comes to others. As avid readers will recall, Insiders panellists in the recent past have expressed support on air for your man Clark – without revealing that it is he who invites them on to the Insiders panel. Re which see, for example, MWD Issue 495.
Apart from Mr Speers’ full disclosure and all that, it was a pretty dreary Insiders as David Speers and his panel Karen Middleton (The Saturday Paper), Gareth Parker (The West Australian) and Virginia Trioli (the ABC) all agreed with each other on almost everything. Yawn.
Moreover, there was no discussion about how to open up the Australian economy after the COVID-19 lockdowns – and, in particular, the role of a number of State premiers in refusing to open up their borders. This is currently the most important issue with respect to both the Australian economy and Commonwealth-State relations.
But what do you expect when neither the presenter nor any of his panellists have experience in business (big or small) or in politics (working in government or opposition) or in the public service (federal or state) or any expertise in economics. Just a bunch of generalist journos talking to, and agreeing with, each other. Can You Bear It?
LAST WEEK’S 1980’S PINE-GAP DEMO ACTIVIST IDENTIFIED (APPARENTLY)
Last week MWD showed this pic from the ABC TV documentary Almost Australian starring the leftist actor Miriam Margolyes. It depicted a group of feminist activists protesting outside the joint Australian-United States Intelligence Facility at Pine Gap. Comrade Margolyes told viewers – if viewers there were – that Pine Gap was an “American missile base”. Which demonstrates that the ABC’s fact-checkers should focus on what the taxpayer funded public broadcaster presents as “facts”.
MWD asked readers if they recognised the face of the (somewhat stressed) woman on the left. Many readers responded in the affirmative. And the majority view – this is the 1980s activist face of MWD fave Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly. We’ll keep you posted if Comrade Kelly corrects MWD’s guess.
JANE CARO ENLISTS IN ANTIFA – BY TWEET
Avid MWD readers may recall a Jane Caro tweet just over a year ago. It was the night of the 18 May 2019 election and Comrade Caro had just worked out that the fascist dictatorship in Canberra – led by prime minister Scott Morrison – had been returned to government. A disillusioned Caro – who admitted that she was “pissed” at her youngest daughter’s wedding – called her fellow Australians “truculent turds” for not voting for Labor or the Greens.
In view of the fact that it was a Saturday night and all that, Jackie’s (male) co-owner understands why Ms Caro may have been on the turps and why she tweeted something that did not look so wise at Hangover Time on Sunday 19 May 2020. But there is no rationalisation for this tweet at 8.48 pm on Tuesday. Or maybe there is – you be the judge:
I am an anti-fascist. Anyone with a shred of decency and a cursory knowledge of history has to be. If that makes me – a 63 year old grandmother – ANTIFA so be it. https://t.co/5E8vOD4b4y
— Jane Caro (@JaneCaro) June 2, 2020
How naïve can you get? It seems that Comrade Caro is willing to line up to support any individual or organisation who/which claims to be anti-fascist. She seems ignorant of the fact that the term “fascist” and “fascism” is used by the left these days to describe a person or organisation whom or which it does not like.
So Australia’s 63-year-old grandmother is happy to support Antifa as men and women acting in its name go about looting and burning the small businesses of Americans – white, black and brown alike – in the current riots afflicting many cities in the United States. Some victims of the riots – including black Americans – have been murdered while protecting property.
So the financially well-off Caro, from her comfortable farm in NSW, is happy to urge support for the “Burn, baby, burn” mob in the US. Has she no self-awareness?
Verily, A Jane Caro Moment.
A FASHIONISTA MOMENT
A (FASHION) TALE OF TWO DOCTORS
As avid readers will be aware, MWD has commented in the past about how Deakin University academic Scott Burchill (see below right) only gets on ABC TV News Breakfast when he is on his way to the tip and dressed accordingly. It seems that the tip must be closed due to the lockdown. Hence the leftist Dr Burchill (for a doctor he is) was neat and tidy when he appeared on the program last week. Here’s hoping the lockdown ends soon and Comrade Burchill returns to normal.
But what about Brendon O’Connor from Sydney University’s United States Studies Centre. This is how Dr O’Connor (for a doctor he also is) appeared on Sky News this week – in his best Pandemic Homewear gear. Or was it a live cross to say, Long Bay Prison where the US[eless] Studies Centre operative was lecturing inmates about the effect of the end of the world on international strategic studies?
NEW FEATURE: COMMENTATORS OUT OF THEIR DEPTH
ANNE MANNE’S LIGHTWEIGHT “LAST WORD”ON GEORGE PELL
How telling that The Monthly commissioned Anne Manne to write the pretentiously titled article “The last word on George Pell” in the June 2020 issue. After all, Ms Manne’s past writings focus on family matters and she has no demonstrated understanding of the Catholic Church nor any record of having written on legal issues. In view of this Ms Manne is hardly qualified to write the “last word” on Cardinal Pell.
Little wonder, then, that her piece contains a serious implication – falsely implying, as it does, that Cardinal Pell did nothing about child rapes by Fr Peter Searson when he [Pell] was an auxiliary bishop in Melbourne in 1992. Clearly Anne Manne’s “last word” was not fact-checked. But more of this later.
Ms Manne takes the familiar tack followed by media participants in the Pell pile-on. This is how her piece commenced:
What did Cardinal George Pell know about child sexual abuse perpetrated by Catholic clergy, when did he know it, and what did he do about it?
For years now, there have been two separate questions of culpability concerning Cardinal Pell. The first, whether he was guilty of the crime of sexually assaulting two boys in Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral in 1996 and 1997, riveted and divided the nation during the sensational events of Pell’s trial, his conviction and imprisonment, and his failed attempt to have his conviction quashed by the Victorian Court of Appeal. On April 7 this year, the unanimous High Court decision to acquit him on all charges ended it all.
As Pell supporters rejoiced, child sexual abuse survivors expressed anguish. Victorian premier Daniel Andrews made no comment on the High Court decision, but expressed the views of many in the community when he said simply to Victim J, “I see you. I hear you. I believe you.”
It’s not surprising that the Melbourne-based Manne has lined up behind the Victorian Labor premier Daniel Andrews on this issue – which, contrary to her assertion, clearly was a comment on the High Court’s decision in George Pell v The Queen. This overlooks the point that if complainants of child sexual assault are always to be believed – then the State of Victoria might as well do away with trials in cases of child sexual abuse, regard all accused as guilty as charged and limit the judiciary’s role to determining the length of sentences for the pre-determined guilty.
The fact is that ten judges examined the decision of the jury in George Pell’s re-trial (the first trial resulted in a hung jury) – three in the Victoria Court of Appeal and seven in the High Court of Australia. Eight out of ten of Australia’s most senior judges (seven out of seven on the High Court and one in the Victoria Court of Appeal) held that Pell should not have been found guilty beyond reasonable doubt. In short, he is innocent of these charges – under the presumption of innocence rule. The fact is that, occasionally, juries make mistakes – as Justice Mark Weinberg, who dissented, pointed out during Pell’s case in the Victoria Court of Appeal.
Also Anne Manne has failed to understand the warning given by Chief Judge Peter Kidd when sentencing Cardinal Pell in the County Court of Victoria following his conviction. His Honour made it emphatically clear that the defendant was not being sentenced for either the crimes of other Catholic priests and brothers or for the failure of the Catholic Church to properly handle the crimes of clerical child sexual abuse. Yet Ms Manne, following Premier Andrews, links the quashing of Pell’s conviction with the “anguish” of “child sexual abuse survivors”. The fact is that Pell has never been found guilty of any child abuse offence with respect to any child sexual abuse survivors.
Having lined up with Premier Andrews and against the High Court , Anne Manne sought refuge in the recently released non-redacted version of the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse with respect to the Catholic Diocese of Ballarat and the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne.
In her (legal) ignorance, Ms Manne seems unaware that royal commissions are not judicial entities and operate to an evidentiary test below that of “beyond reasonable doubt”. Moreover, there is no right to appeal against a finding of a royal commission. For the record, around half the members of the Royal Commission were not legally qualified and most had no particular knowledge of the Catholic Church from the late 1960s to the mid-1990s (when most instances of child sexual abuse occurred) or of the contemporary Catholic Church.
According to Ms Manne, the “last word” on George Pell is that, when a young priest in Ballarat, he was involved in moving the convicted pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale from parish to parish and failed to report sexual assault by a pedophile Christian Brother. And that, when auxiliary bishop in Melbourne, he failed to act sufficiently with respect to the pedophile priest Peter Searson.
In fact, there is no evidence in the report of the Royal Commission to support either claim. Not a shred. The findings are merely expressions of opinion.
- There is no evidence to support – and some evidence to contradict – the Royal Commission’s finding that Father Pell was told by Bishop Mulkearns at the College of Consultors meetings in 1977 and 1982 that Ridsdale was assaulting children and had to be moved from his parish. In any event, Manne has no understanding of the role of consultors in the Catholic Church in the 1970s and 1980s – or, indeed, of the structure of the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Church was – and to a somewhat lesser extent remains – a hierarchical institution where the Hierarchy makes the decisions and priests, other clergy and laity follow. Ronald Mulkearns was a dictatorial bishop and there is no evidence that he consulted anyone – even his consultors. He was a bishop who delivered orders – and was intent on covering up the crimes of his priests lest scandal arise.
- There is no evidence to support the Royal Commission’s findings that Pell could have done more than he did, when an auxiliary bishop, to act against Searson. In fact, soon after Pell became Archbishop of Melbourne in August 1996 he sacked Searson – who had been protected by Archbishop Frank Little (Pell’s predecessor). There is no mention of this in Manne’s article.
Rather, Manne uses Searson to make an ambiguous claim about Pell, writing: “In 1992, Searson went on to rape a boy, and did so for several years”. The implication is that Pell was directly responsible for Searson raping a boy for several years. The Royal Commission’s comment on this matter runs for half a page and makes no reference to Pell. It refers to the case of BVC, who first reported the matter in 2014. In fact, contrary to the imputation in The Monthly, the Royal Commission did not make any specific finding against Pell with reference to BVC’s complaint.
If fact, if Manne has read the relevant section of the Royal Commission report, she would know that the strongest criticism made of Pell with respect to Searson is that he did not act on matters raised about Searson by a delegation of teachers in 1989. However, no specific allegation of sexual misconduct was made at this meeting. In fact, Victoria Police knew much more about Searson than Pell did – since it received an allegation of his indecent assault on a woman in 1990 but took no action.
- Towards the end of her article, Anne Manne accepts, without query, the Royal Commission’s finding that, when a boy in Ballarat, Timothy Green told Pell that Brother Dowlan was a pedophile. She fails to mention that the Royal Commission made this finding against Pell in spite of the fact Green said that he had his back to Pell when he made this comment in a busy swimming pool changing room. Nor does Ms Manne mention that the only living independent witness to this event told the Royal Commission that he had no memory of any such statement made by Green in the presence of Pell.
Ms Manne accepts the Royal Commission’s opinion that Green told Pell about Dowlan. But she fails to tell readers of The Monthly that the Royal Commission did not accept that a man named BPL had told (then) Father Bongiorno about his abuse by Ridsdale. These days Mr Bongiorno is a columnist for The Saturday Paper. In 1971 he was a Catholic priest in Warrnambool who shared accommodation with Ridsdale.
For the record, MWD accepts Bongiorno’s account. The point is that the Royal Commission believed Bongiorno but disbelieved Pell with respect to a similar allegation. Erik Jensen, editor-in-chief of both The Monthly and The Saturday Paper, has previously refused to publish references to Bongiorno’s one-time involvement with Ridsdale. This despite the fact that Bongiorno has criticised Pell’s one-time involvement with Ridsdale – even though, like Pell, Bongiorno shared accommodation with Ridsdale for a year.
What The Monthly claims to be the “last word” on George Pell is but a continuation of the Pell pile-on. Anne Manne’s article exhibits scant knowledge of the Catholic Church and little understanding of the nature of royal commissions.
[I note that Malcolm Turnbull is one of The Monthly’s faves. It so happens that the June 2020 issue contains a review by Robert Manne of Malcolm Turnbull’s A Bigger Picture (Hardie Grant, 2020). Readers might like to know that, in his book, Mr Turnbull refers to the Costigan Royal Commission (officially titled the Royal Commission on the Activities of the Federated Ship Painters and Dockers Union) as having engaged in a denial of natural justice – so much so that it became “thoroughly discredited”. A timely reminder that some royal commissions deny procedural fairness to individuals who appear before them. – MWD Editor.]
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For additional material on the non-redacted reports of the Royal Commission see the article “The Royal Commission denies George Pell Legal Justice” by Gerard Henderson in The Weekend Australian of 17 May 2020 and the article by Sydney lawyer Michael McAuley “Was the Royal Commission hand in glove with the ‘Get Pell’ campaign?” on 29 May 2020 in MercatorNet.
PETER FITZSIMONS’ HOWLERS ON THE HIGH COURT AND THE PALACE LETTERS
Did anyone see the “Fitz on Sunday” column in the Sun-Herald last weekend written by the middle-age bloke who poses with a red rag on his head? This is how Peter FitzSimons’ piece commenced concerning the Governor-General Sir John Kerr’s decision to dismiss Gough Whitlam’s Labor government on 11 November 1975:
Bravo Professor Jenny Hocking. The Monash University academic and member of the Australian Republic Movement’s national committee – which I chair, blah, blah, blah – has fought the good fight for TEN YEARS to get access to the “Palace Letters”, the 211 pieces of correspondence between Buckingham Palace and Sir John Kerr, that led up to The Dismissal. And on Friday, the High Court ruled 6-1 in her favour. Ideally, we shall all soon be privy to the contents of that correspondence.
The most staggering thing? It is that to this point we little Australians had no right to see correspondence between our own head of state and her representative in Australia, the governor-general, on a matter of such enormous import, even though the letters are in our National Archives, not the Queen’s bottom drawer in the third chamber from the left!
It seems that The Red Bandannaed One is out of his depth on this one. [Only this one? – MWD Editor.]
First up, it is doubtful that MWD’s fave taxpayer funded leftist historian Dr (for a doctor she is) Hocking was the first to request the release of the Palace Letters. According to the High Court’s decision in Jenny Hocking V. The National Archives of Australia, Professor Hocking first asked for this material on 31 March 2016. MWD understands that Professor Anne Twomey, a legal academic at the University of New South Wales, wrote to the Commonwealth Attorney-General on 23 October 2012 seeking to get the ruling lifted that these letters were private correspondence rather than records of the Commonwealth of Australia.
In his Sun-Herald column, your man FitzSimons wrote that an Australian had to ask the Queen for the release of this material. Not so. The restriction was placed on the material by one-time governor-general Sir John Kerr when his papers were placed in what is now called the National Archives of Australia in 1978. The release date was to be in the year 2027. 50 years after Kerr ceased being governor-general.
The Red Bandannaed Man fails to understand that the Queen does not write official letters. Any correspondence to Sir John in his capacity as Governor-General would have come from officials at the Palace – not from Elizabeth II herself.
The requests from Professor Twomey, Professor Hocking and maybe others for this correspondence was not blocked by the Queen but by the NAA which believed that it was bound to abide by the instructions it received when the material was handed over to the NAA in 1978. Its interpretation was upheld by the Federal Court but overruled by the High Court last Friday.
For its part, MWD welcomes the decision by the High Court – which is in line with Sir John Kerr’s own wish that the Palace Letters be released. Maybe they will support the Hocking conspiracy theory that the Queen was involved with the dismissal of Prime Minister Whitlam all those years ago. More likely, however, that they will support Kerr’s own account of the events of 11 November 1975 which can be found in his book Matters for Judgment which was first published in 1978. We shall see.
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For those Australian history tragics, it’s worth looking at Anne Twomey’s “virtual” talk to The Sydney Institute on this topic – which has been sent to The Sydney Institute’s associate members today and is on YouTube.
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Until next time.
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