ISSUE – NO. 504

10 July 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 – Virginia Trioli, Stephen Duckett & Greg Hunt on outbreaks, lockdowns & figures; Conspiracy or no conspiracy – National Archives to release the “Palace Letters” on Tuesday

  • Can You Bear It? Benjamin Law & Dr Norman Swan on the good doctor’s sex life; Crikey’s Amber Schultz on Mathias Cormann’s political career, as told by his antagonists; “Red” Kerry O’Brien bombs in Eden-Monaro

  • An ABC Update – Ita Buttrose yet to name the ABC’s conservative guests; The ABC reports the death of an alleged pedophile priest but not the death of convicted ABC pedophile Jon Stephens

  • Sandalista Snobbery Space – Julian Burnside AO QC & La Trioli exhibit contempt for lesser mortals

  • Hyperbole of the Week – Eryk Bagshaw & Richard McGregor throw the switch to exaggeration re Michael Danby

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Last night Health Minister Greg Hunt appeared on 7:30 and had the following exchange with guest presenter Virginia Trioli:

Virginia Trioli: Now Australia’s leading health economist, Stephen Duckett, now says that Australia should switch strategy and pursue elimination, not suppression. Are you starting to think that he’s right?

Greg Hunt: No. The particular person you quoted said in March that we would run out of ventilators within three weeks and that was a wildly incorrect and irresponsible and dangerous statement. So I’m a little surprised that of all the people, you choose that person. However, what we have done is –

Virginia Trioli: [interrupting] Stephen Duckett is one of the leading health bureaucrats in the country. He headed the Commonwealth department as you know well. So, I guess, if you reject that you’re prepared to take the risk of 18 months of possible rolling outbreaks and rolling lockdowns like this? That’s the risk you take.

Greg Hunt: Well, I think with great respect, with great respect, you always want to check the accuracy of recent predictions by a particular source.

Quite so. La Trioli was referencing an article which appeared in the Nine newspapers on Thursday 9 July. It was written by Stephen Duckett, currently the Health Program Director at The Grattan Institute and formerly the Secretary of the Department of Human Services & Health during the Keating government and by Will Mackey, a senior associate at The Grattan Institute.

The article argued that Australia should switch to a policy aimed at the total elimination of COVID-19 within our borders. The article was also promoted by the ABC’s resident COVID-19 expert Dr Norman Swan for whom no lockdown ever seems to be extensive enough.

As Minister Hunt noted, this is not Stephen Duckett’s first foray into COVID-19 punditry. On 24 March The Grattan Institute published an article by Duckett & Mackey that tried to predict when Australia’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU) capacity (estimated at the time to be around 2,200 beds) would be exceeded under various exponential growth scenarios. They found that with cases doubling every 3 days, ICU capacity would be exceeded on 11 April. Whereas with cases doubling every 5 days the crisis could be delayed until late April. They warned that:

When we hit a trigger point of 12,000 new cases every day, then we know that we will hit our current ICU capacity soon after if new cases continue to grow.

Duckett appeared on The Drum that same evening to discuss his predictions and there he had the following exchange with Ellen Fanning:

Ellen Fanning: Explain to us though; the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, the government, I spoke to key hospital officials today, they are not sounding the alarm in the way you are?

Stephen Duckett: Well the figures are the figures.

Well here are some figures. On 24 March, the day Duckett & MacKey’s article was published, Australia had an official case count of 2,147. Some 6 days later, on March 30, this had roughly doubled to 4,250. It then took almost 100 days for the number of cases to double again, passing 8,500 earlier this week. New cases peaked at 460 on March 30 and Australia’s COVID-19 cases in ICU peaked at 81 on 12 April. Australia did not have the kind of exponential growth that Stephen Duckett’s modelling assumed.

For the record, Stephen Duckett is an economist.  In his article yesterday, Dr Duckett wrote that New Zealand’s elimination strategy for COVID-19 has “worked”. He added, “Life across the ditch is the envy of the world.”

Really? In the March 2020 quarter, Australia’s GDP dropped by 0.3 per cent.  In New Zealand the reduction in GDP was 1.6 per cent. Life across the ditch might be wonderful for those in taxpayer funded jobs – but life’s more than tough among employers and employees in the private sector – especially small and medium businesses.


 MWD welcomes the fact that what are termed the “Palace Letters” – the correspondence between Governor General Sir John Kerr and Buckingham Palace – will be released by the National Archives of Australia at 11 am next Tuesday (14 July).  This correspondence, plus attached documents, will be published on the NAA’s website.  The correspondence  covers the lead-up to the decision by the Governor-General to dismiss Gough Whitlam’s Labor government on 11 November 1975.

Sir John Kerr always intended that this correspondence should be released.  Gerard Henderson (the proud co-owner of the canine Jackie) discussed this issue with Sir John in the mid-1980s and glanced at – but did not read – some of the material.

Professor Jenny Hocking is one of a number of academics that has been seeking access to the material.  They include Professor Anne Twomey who requested this material from the (then) attorney-general in October 2012 – some four years before Jenny Hocking sought this material. However, Professor Hocking is the applicant who took the matter to the Federal Court and then the High Court which eventually allowed the access before the scheduled date of release in 2027.

Interviewed last night on ABC Sydney Radio 702 “Drive with Richard Glover”, Dr Hocking (for a doctor she is) referred to Queen Elizabeth’s letters to Kerr.  It’s unlikely that the Queen herself would write to a governor-general in 1975 or now.  But we shall see.  Professor Hocking is also on record maintaining that Buckingham Palace was somehow involved in a conspiracy to have Mr Whitlam dismissed by Governor-General Sir John Kerr. There is not a skerrick of evidence to support this view – so far, at least.  Again, time will tell.

In his 1978 book Matters for Judgment, John Kerr described why and how he resolved the constitutional deadlock in 1975 when a determined Opposition leader Malcolm Fraser blocked supply and a determined Prime Minister Gough Whitlam wanted to govern without supply.

It seems that Kerr used his correspondence with the Palace as the source for the material on this issue in Matters for Judgment.  If this is the case, then there will be little news in Tuesday’s release of the Palace Letters.  In which case, Professor Hocking could always revive the left-wing theory of old that it was all the work of the CIA.  Stay tuned.

Can You Bear It?


It was Hang-Over Time on Saturday morning when Nine Newspapers’ Sydney Morning Herald – along with other papers – landed on Jackie’s air-conditioned kennel with a thud. Jackie’s (male) co-owner opened it up and out fell the glossy Good Weekend magazine – editor Katrina Strickland.  Gerard Henderson was about to put this in the recycle bin when, lo and behold, he noticed the leftist luvvie Benjamin Law’s “Dicey Topics” column on the second last page.  This is how the segment was described on 4 July.

Each week, Benjamin Law asks public figures to discuss the subjects we’re told to keep private by getting them to roll a die. The numbers they land on are the topics they’re given.

Roll a die?.  How pretentious can you get? – die is the old English word for a single dice. In any event, last weekend’s public figure was none other than the ABC’s very own Dr Norman Swan. It turned out that Dr Swan’s die – aka dice – landed on Politics, Sex and Death.

First up was politics where – can you believe this? Norman Swan began talking about himself, a topic in which he has real expertise. Let’s go to the transcript:

Benjamin Law: Early in the pandemic, there were reports the PM’s office called your boss at ABC News suggesting you speak to the government’s chief medical officer – apparently concerned your advice on the ABC was contrary to his.

Norman Swan: I’m not going to comment on what calls may or may not have occurred. The government was uncomfortable about how some of the commentary was ahead of the curve, in a sense. What do journalists do? We hold government to account; work off the evidence. I never gave my own opinion. I was relying on people who knew what they were talking about. It was fairly straightforward to report a view based on science.

Dr Swan’s account overlooks a couple of points. The Prime Minister was acting on advice provided by the Chief Medical Officer and the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) – the members of which express views based on science.  Moreover, Dr Swan was not ahead of the curve when it came to COVID-19.  For example, on Sky News Peta Credlin interviewed Prime Minister Scott Morrison on the virus on Australia Day 2020 – a day after the first case of COVID-19 was discovered in Australia.  On 27 February 2020 the Morrison government declared that COVID-19 will become a pandemic and warned that lockdowns may be necessary.

The fact is that it took your man Swan some time to get out of his togs and thongs after the summer break and get into the ABC studio.  On 4 March 2020 the ABC TV’s 7.30 program aired its first report from Dr Swan which was the date of his first Coronacast. As at 4 March 2020 there were 52 COVID-19 cases in Australia.  In other words, Dr Swan’s commentary was behind – not ahead of – the awareness curve.

Norman Swan went on to tell Benjamin Law that he has “a deep, core fear of dying”. This might explain his hyperbolic predictions about the death toll of the virus re which see MWD Issues 489, 491, 492, 493.  But, then, there may be other explanations.

And then it came to Sex.  Groan. Here it is:

Norman Swan: …throughout my life, probably the majority of my closest friends have been women. But a couple of times, I made the mistake of broadening the relationship with women who were friends into a sexual relationship, and it was a complete bloody disaster! What it taught me was the relationship is everything. Sex follows naturally.

Do Good Weekend readers (if readers there are) really need to know this at Hang-Over Time on Saturday morning? There followed Comrade Law’s question and Comrade Swan’s response:

Benjamin Law: I have it on very good authority that you’re a bit of a sex symbol. How do you feel about that?

Norman Swan:  [Laughs awkwardly.] Uh … you’ve just weirded me out.

But alas, not weirded out sufficiently enough to stop Dr Swan (for a medical doctor he is – or was) from answering the question. Now Media Watch Dog is a family blog – going out, as it does, around Gin & Tonic Time on Fridays.  Consequently, your man Swan’s too-much-information response will not be quoted in full. Suffice to say that it was about “an erotic story” written by a female about a woman who, er, gets excited when hearing the voice of Swan. Fancy that.

Can there be anything more tedious than a 67-year-old man talking about his sex life and the ladies? Can You Bear It?

[Er, no, not really. Death sounds better than learning about this.  But wasn’t that a lovely pic of the Scottish-born doctor – sans kilt – in a suit, pink open neck shirt and expensive leather high-top sneakers. No wonder sheilas get excited whenever they turn on Norman Swan’s corona virus podcast. He puts the turn into turn-on.  – MWD Editor].


According to Amber Schultz writing in Crikey on Monday – in an article titled “The sad political epitaph of Mathias Cormann: Here lies the man who knifed his PM in the back” –  the Finance Minister and Leader of the Government in the Senate is retiring from politics as a failure. On Sunday, Senator Cormann confirmed that he will be leaving the Senate at the end of the year.

As it turned out, Comrade Schultz’s lead story was nothing but an ill-informed hatchet job on Senator Cormann – from the trivial to the serious.  Here’s how it commenced:

Australia’s longest-serving finance minister Mathias Cormann, the last member of the original Abbott cabinet still at his post, is resigning from politics. The Belgian-born, Flemish-speaking Liberal senator once had an incredible reputation in political circles, described as a “powerhouse”, great communicator and respected financier – until he didn’t.   Crikey  takes a look at the rise and fall of Cormann.

On the trivial side, Cormann was born in the German speaking part of Belgium.  He now also speaks Flemish, French, and (naturally) English.

On the serious side, Ms Schultz’s analysis (for want of a better term) is absolute tosh.  There is no evidence that Senator Cormann has taken a political fall. He resigned at an occasion and timing of his own choosing – after 13 years in the Senate, including seven years in the important role of Finance Minister. This is one of the top positions in government, behind the roles of Prime Minister and Treasurer (which are held by members of the House of Representatives).

Comrade Schultz only quoted contemporary antagonists of Cormann – not contemporary Cormann supporters (or even such senior Labor Party operatives as Penny Wong and Mark McGowan). Ms Schultz relied on the assessments of former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, former foreign minister Julie Bishop and columnist Niki Savva – all Cormann antagonists.  Enough said.  This is how the Crikey rant concluded:

Last month, Savva called Cormann the man who “used to be somebody. Not so much now,” she wrote. From a rising star, savvy operator, widely respected across the aisle as a politician of integrity, Mathias Cormann’s political epitaph now reads: he knifed his prime minister in the back.

Turn it up.  It would seem that Amber Schultz is one of those journalists who believe that it is okay for the Coalition to be in government – provided it is led by someone like Malcolm Turnbull rather than by a conservative.  The fact is that it is not uncommon for an incumbent prime minister to be challenged in a leadership ballot. Over the last four decades this has occurred to Malcolm Fraser (unsuccessful), Bob Hawke (unsuccessful then successful), Kevin Rudd (successful), Julia Gillard (successful), Tony Abbott (successful) and Malcolm Turnbull (successful). Prime ministers often get “knifed in the back” (to borrow a Schultz-endorsed cliché). Crikey should know this.

There was nothing unusual in Malcolm Turnbull’s removal in 2018 – he lost the support of a majority in the Liberals’ party room in Canberra. That’s all.

Amber Schultz, following Niki Savva, overlooks the central fact that Mr Turnbull called for a spill of the leadership on Tuesday 21 August 2018 – without consulting Mathias Cormann, the Liberal Party Senate leader.  Mr Turnbull survived narrowly, after Peter Dutton challenged for the leadership and scored more votes than expected.  From this moment, Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership was in ruins.  On Friday 24 October, he failed in a subsequent spill motion and Scott Morrison outpolled Peter Dutton in the leadership ballot.  Julie Bishop was eliminated during the previous ballot.

Viewed in this light, Mathias Cormann saved the contemporary Liberal Party and created the conditions under which it was possible for the Morrison-led Coalition to return to office at the May 2019 election.  In 2019, Prime Minister Morrison regained enough seats which Turnbull lost three years earlier, to govern in his own right.  Mathias Cormann’s actions in October 2018 played a key role in bringing about a situation whereby the Coalition remains in office today.

Crikey editor-in-chief Peter Fray should know better than to lead his newsletter with such unbalanced tripe.  But, apparently,  this is not the case.  Can You Bear It?


As Media Watch Dog readers are aware, Morry Schwartz’s The Saturday Paper goes to the printer on Thursday evenings and arrives in inner-city coffee shops on  Saturday mornings.  By which time it contains no “news”.  Jackie’s (male) co-owner reads it on Mondays – what’s the hurry?

So it was not until Monday morning  that MWD noticed this reference in Richard (“Call me Gadfly”) Ackland’s column in The [Boring] Saturday Paper under the heading “Maths and ABC”. As readers are aware, your man Ackland is a former presenter of the ABC TV Media Watch – one of the left-wing blokes who have presented the show for all but three years over the last three decades. It’s very much a white bloke’s show – despite Comrade Ackland’s endorsement of racial and gender (but not political) diversity.

But MWD digresses. This is what Comrade Ackland had to say – after bemoaning the fact that the taxpayer funded public broadcaster has to get by on a mere $1.1 billion a year:

Broadcasting éminence grise Kerry O’Brien has issued a statement on behalf of ABC alumni urging the voters of Eden-Monaro this Saturday to send a heartfelt message to the government: “Don’t mess with our ABC.”

Kerry O’Brien an eminence grise – as in grey éminence?  Come off it.  In so far as Hendo is aware, Red Kerry (as he is called) has a full head of blonde hair.  In fact, it is about blonde as, yes, the hair of President Donald J. Trump.

Red Kerry’s statement – titled “Vote for ABC In Eden-Monaro” – commenced:

As someone who has devoted most of my professional life to public broadcasting and the high ideals of the ABC, I am appealing to voters in the Eden-Monaro by-election who share my view that the ABC is one of the most important institutions in our nation, to take this rare opportunity to send a strong, clear message to all political parties but particularly to the Government on Saturday —don’t mess with our ABC.

Comrade O’Brien urged the good people of Eden-Monaro in rural and regional NSW to register a “protest vote” against “the Liberal National Coalition government”.  He made a special appeal for the “most dyed-in-the-wool conservatives” to do so. The two parties in the by-election which campaigned on a policy of increasing ABC funding were the Labor Party and the Greens.

So what impact did Red Kerry have on the Eden-Monaro result?  Zip – or, really, less than zip.  The Labor Party’s primary vote fell by 3.2 per cent to 36 per cent. And the Greens’ primary vote fell from  8.8 per cent to 5.6 per cent.  The Liberal Party’s primary vote increased by 1.3 per cent to 38.3 per cent .  On the two party calculations, Labor got 50.4 per cent to the Liberal Party’s 49.6 per cent. The Labor Party got over the line on the preferences of, yes, the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party – which is not known as a bulwark for the ABC or even Friends of the ABC.

In short, Kerry O’Brien’s “Vote for the ABC in Eden Monaro” campaign was a complete dud.  Hardly a surprise, really – except for the Byron Bay-based Red Kerry who thinks that he can get voters to vote against Prime Minister Scott Morrison in faraway Eden Monaro. Talk about misplaced self-importance.  Can You Bear It?


ABC managing director (and so-called editor-in-chief) David Anderson invariably avoids interviews with commercial media types about the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.  The likes of David Anderson and before him Mark Scott, prefer soft interviews – of a kind which occur when an employee interviews the boss.

So thanks to the avid reader who drew Media Watch Dog’s  attention to the interview which ABC chair Ita Buttrose did with Deborah Knight on Sydney Radio 2GB on 1 July 2020. It’s good to note that Ms Buttrose is willing to discuss the ABC in the commercial media. Let’s go to the transcript:

Deborah Knight: And there has been a lot of criticism of the ABC…being too left leaning, and not being balanced enough in its approach. Many of our listeners decry the ABC and say that, you know, it’s a one-sided, one-eyed view that is far, far too left leaning. What’s your response to that?

Ita Buttrose: Well, that’s a very common complaint about the ABC. It’s been around for many years. We’ve had a lot of it.

Deborah Knight: Do you think it’s warranted?

Ita Buttrose: No, I don’t. I think there’s some unconscious bias within the ABC. I’ve spoken about that before. But if you look at all the inquiries, we seem to have come through them all very well. And nobody’s been able to identify areas that are so left leaning that there’s no other view presented. And, you know, recently we’ve had quite a few conservatives, if we can call them that, conservative people on our programs. And that’s caused some flak as well.

Now, as MWD readers are well aware, the ABC is a Conservative Free Zone without a conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets. However, MWD was particularly interested in Ms Buttrose’s claim that recently the ABC has had “quite a few conservatives” on ABC programs and this has caused some “flak”.

Gerard Henderson follows the ABC – and does not recall recently seeing or hearing “quite a few conservatives” on ABC programs. Who could they be?  So on Tuesday he emailed Ita Buttrose about this – asking the ABC chair to name names. Alas there has been no reply – so far. But then, Australia Post is slow these days.

And then there is the question of the flak.  The ABC chair seems to be saying that when “quite a few” conservatives appear on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster the ABC gets flak and takes notice of it. It is known that the green/left types who barrack for the ABC are so intolerant of the views of others that they complain if a conservative ever gets a panel gig on the Conservative Free Zone. But MWD was surprised to hear that ABC management takes such flak seriously.

Perhaps this helps explain why some permanent conservatives have been de-platformed by the presenters and producers of many ABC news and current affairs programs. This matter has also been raised with the ABC chair.  We’ll keep you posted if there is a response – but don’t hold your breath.


On Tuesday, ABC New England’s Elle Rixon reported that the former Catholic priest David Joseph Perrett, 82, has died. At the time of his death, Perrett was on bail pending a trial (scheduled for January 2021) on some 139 charges of historical child sexual abuse.  The alleged offences occurred in several areas of NSW – including Armidale, Walgett, Moree and Penrith – between the 1960s and 1990s.

This was an important news report – of special interest to the complainants in this case.  Ms Rixon quoted Bishop Michael Kennedy of Armidale as regretting that Perrett’s “death means that survivors will not get to see these charges heard in court”.

It is notable, however, that the ABC refuses to report similar instances when they affect the ABC staff. Take the late Jon Stephens, for example. Stephens pleaded guilty to the sexual assault of a 14-year-old actor in 1981 when he was on official duties for the ABC on the NSW Central Coast near Gosford.  He served six months in prison. The ABC did not report Stephens’ conviction.

Moreover, the ABC has not reported that, at the time of his death in December 2019, Jon Stephens was facing two additional historical child sexual charges – in the NSW District Court – with respect to two persons.  Nor has the ABC reported that Stephens’ Gosford victim has taken a civil action against the public broadcaster which is currently before the courts.

So it’s a case of one rule for reporting the alleged offences of a former Catholic priest – and another rule for covering proven and alleged offences of a former ABC employee. The taxpayer funded public broadcaster seems intent on protecting the reputation of a dead ABC producer – but not of a dead Catholic priest.

As avid readers will recall, in MWD Issue 57 (11 June 2010) Matt Canavan drew attention to that part of Evelyn Waugh’s novel Scoop in which the snobbery of the leftie journalist Pappenhacker was revealed.

Waugh’s line was that a wealthy communist university-educated chap named Pappenhacker believed that the best way to undermine the capitalist system was to be rude to the members of the proletariat.  This would make them angry and help to bring about a revolution. Your man Pappenhacker specialised in being rude to waiters. Others, it seems, target taxi drivers (like Margaret Throsby – See MWD Issue 500).


As avid readers are aware, “Sandalista Snobbery Space” is devoted to recording the snobbish views of the well-educated leftist Pappenhackers of our day. Here are some recent sightings:

Senator Pauline Hanson is not a MWD fave. However, only snobs believe that her faults lie in her English expression and Australian accent.  Like failed Greens’ pre-selection candidate Julian (“I just love flashing my post-nominals”) Burnside AO QC.  Here’s what JB AO QC tweeted on Monday – after Senator Hanson had been dumped by Nine following comments in her regular slot on Nine’s Today program concerning occupants at some Housing Commission towers in Melbourne:

So here you have the born-again leftist Burnside AO QC – who was educated at Melbourne Grammar School and Monash University – sneering at Pauline Hanson’s accent which he compared to the Eliza Doolittle character in My Fair Lady.  How snobbish can a Greens’ leftist – who resides in a multi-million dollar pile in the  fashionable Melbourne suburb of Hawthorn – get?

And then on Tuesday ABC Radio 702 presenter Virginia Trioli had this to say about low-paid security guards, many of whom are of immigrant background:

This tweet followed the allegation (and, so far, it is an allegation) that security guards supervising individuals in 14-day quarantine in certain Melbourne hotels had sex with some inmates – and spread COVID-19 into the wider Melbourne community.

Whatever the truth of this claim, there is no doubt that there were serious breaches of health security in quarantine hotels which contributed to the decision by the Andrews Labor government to put Melbourne into a six week lockdown to prevent a further spread of COVID-19 – with a disastrous impact on not only Victoria, but also the broader Australian economy.

Does La Trioli blame the Victorian premier Andrews for this disaster, or the Victorian Health Minister, or the Victorian Chief Media Officer? Not on your nelly.  Virginia Trioli simply blamed the security guards, who were not properly trained for the tasks they were given – and said nothing about the Andrews government’s decision to refrain from giving a quarantine-supervising role to Victoria Police and the Australian Defence Force.  Talk about kicking down on a soft target – in a snobbish kind of way.

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[Pappenhackers both, to be sure.  Perhaps Comrade Burnside and Comrade Trioli should be sent to Nancy’s Courtesy Classes.  I know that the late Nancy is in R.I.P. mode.  But, with modern technology, it should be possible to do a Zoom cross over to Nancy in (Canine) Heaven who could give some courtesy advice to Comrades JB AO QC and La Trioli.  Just a thought.  MWD Editor].


As avid readers are aware, MWD is the enemy of hyperbole. So, it has decided to single out exaggerations on a regular basis.  Here are the latest examples.

Did anyone read the article by Eryk Bagshaw in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age last Saturday?  By the way, currently your man Bagshaw holds the title of Nine Newspapers’ Canberra-based China correspondent. How about that?

Now Comrade Bagshaw is not a member of the Labor Caucus in Parliament House. And MWD understands that he has not spoken recently to Michael Danby – the former Labor Party member for Melbourne Ports.  Nevertheless Bagshaw had this to say about the debate in the Labor Party about what should be Australia’s response to China:

To be sure there are valid reasons for alarm rising in the Australian community about Chinese government’s growing influence and ambitions in the region…. But the tenor of the conversation in Australia has now reached such a point that two of Australia’s foremost foreign policy experts were denounced by Michael Danby… on the need for “sensible engagement” with China.

The two experts were Allan Gyngell, a former foreign policy adviser to Paul Keating and head of the Office of Nat­ional Assessments and Dennis Richardson, the former head of ASIO and Australia’s ambassador to Washington. Both suggested that a rising group of claw-branded Parliamentarians known as the Wolverines, who aim to aggressively curtail China’s influence, may be counterproductive. Danby was incensed. “It reeks of someone trying to reinforce ideological conformity,” he told The Australian.

The reference was to an interview given by Michael Danby to Sharri Markson on Sky News’ Sharri program on Sunday 21 June 2020.  And now for some facts.  In the Sky News interview, Mr Danby criticised Allan Gyngell but did not mention Dennis Richardson.  Danby never called for anyone to shut down the debate – nor did he say that there is no room for nuance on China.  Nine’s Canberra-based China correspondent just made this up.

MWD understands that Mr Danby objected to Mr Gyngell using the Labor Party room to criticise members of the Victorian Labor right.  That’s all.

Towards the end of his article Bagshaw quoted favourably from a tweet from the normally considered author Richard McGregor – who had this to say about Danby’s alleged misdeeds:

So there you have it!!!! (to borrow McGregor’s exclamation mark usage).  Michael Danby criticised Alan Gyngell’s intervention in the Labor Party’s internal debate on China. And Mr Bagshaw reckons that Mr Danby wants to close down debate on the topic while Mr McGregor reckons that Mr Danby wants to set up a Joe McCarthy-style House of UnAustralian Activities.  Somewhat hyperbolic, don’t you think?

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Until next time.

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