GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG
ISSUE – NO. 511
28 August 2020
* * * *
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.
* * * *
NORMAN SWAN’S FLAWED ADVICE TO VICTORIANS IN LOCKDOWN
Melburnians who tuned into ABC Metropolitan Radio just after 4 am this morning might have been surprised to hear this discussion from Dr Norman Swan’s ABC Coronacast podcast:
Tegan Taylor: So we are heading into the weekend, what can Victorians do this weekend at an individual level to help their team?
Norman Swan: Do the same things that they’ve been doing – which is minimising mixing with others, wear masks when you get outside. But get outside, get some exercise, get as intense exercise as you possibly can because that will make you feel better. Get the kids outside, get them exercising too. I just think that we’ve got to use the fresh air, we’ve got to use that opportunity to get out to really improve our mood and get outside the four walls. Wear a mask, outside is not a high-risk area, and really get the exercise that you’re allowed to get in Victoria, that will make you feel a lot better.
Hang on a minute. It seems that your man Swan is not aware that Melbourne listeners are in a Stage 4 lockdown and are only allowed out of their homes (houses, apartments, flats, rooms) for one hour a day. Moreover, there is a strictly enforced curfew between 8 pm and 5 am. In short, Victorians under lockdown have no more time out of their abodes than a prisoner in maximum security at Barwon Prison – i.e. one hour every 24 hours.
And Norman Swan has advised all Victorians to get as intensive an exercise as they can – and get children exercising as well. The fact is that any Melbourne resident exercising intensively outdoors this week could well be arrested by Victoria Police and be up before the beak (to use a P.G. Wodehouse phrase) on Monday morning.
YET ANOTHER ABC PANEL WHERE EVERYONE AGREES WITH EVERYONE ELSE IN A TRUMP-PHOBIA KIND OF WAY
It was the kind of panel discussion destined to get a run in Media Watch Dog. In the Journos’ Forum on ABC Radio Sydney 774 last evening, discussion soon turned to United States politics. Comedian/journalist Josh Szeps was in the presenter’s chair and his panel comprised Sydney Morning Herald journalist Jacqueline Maley, ABC Health Report host Norman Swan and 7 News business editor Gemma Acton.
Comrade Szeps got the discussion going when he described the Republican National Convention as a cavalcade of Trumps. This overlooked the fact that key speakers at the RNC have included US Senator Marsha Blackburn, US Senator Tom Cotton, US Rep Daniel Crenshaw, Kimberly Guilfoyle, former UN Ambassador and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, US House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, US Senator Rand Paul, Vice President Mike Pence, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and US Senator Tim Scott. Szeps then suggested that Donald J. Trump has captured the Republican Party and crushed America.
Soon it was away. As Jacqueline (whom Szeps called “Jackie”) agreed with Josh and then Norman agreed with Jackie who agreed with Josh. Then Gemma agreed with Norman who agreed with Jackie who agreed with Gemma who agreed with Josh who agreed with himself.
No other view was heard. A viewer will hear a greater diversity of views on Fox News in the US or Sky News in Australia than on most if not all ABC panels in the lead-up to the 3 November election.
Here are some of the “highlights” of the so-called discussion.
۰ Jacqueline Maley said that President Trump’s policy achievements are “very scant”. She criticised his “lack of hawkishness” on Russia but said nothing about China. Comrade Maley condemned the “egregious and venal aspects of the Trump presidency”.
۰ Norman Swan agreed with “Jackie” that President Trump’s policy agenda is “pretty scant”. Unlike Joe Biden’s, apparently. Then Norman said that “everybody’s terrified that something’s going to happen to Ruth Bader Ginsburg” and the Trump administration will fill her position on the Supreme Court. Absolutely “everybody” – it seems.
۰ Gemma Acton agreed with “Jackie” that Donald Trump got voted in on a personality cult “that was very devoid of policies”. She added that “it seems a shame that the country is so insular” and declared that the US is losing its grip somewhat.
۰ Norman had another go stating that if Trump loses “he’s not gonna go away” and could contest the 2024 election.
۰ Whereupon Comrade Szeps wrapped up the segment with the statement: “That’s absolutely right – thanks for giving me that horrifying image.”
It was that kind of taxpayer funded public broadcaster “debate” where everyone agreed with everyone else in a leftist kind of way and no divergent views were heard. Perhaps next time Comrade Szeps could interview himself.
NINE’s CATHY WILCOX LAUGHS LOUDLY AT HER OWN JOKE
Media outlets don’t ask authors to review their own books – for obvious reasons. But, it seems that the ABC has a different approach when it comes to cartoonists, of a leftist bent, reviewing their own cartoons.
MWD just loves it that so many wage-slaves of the self-declared left-wing newspaper The Guardian get a go on the ABC TV Insiders program. Panelists include Lenore Taylor (The Guardian’s editor) and Katharine Murphy (The Guardian’s political editor) plus on occasions such Guardian scribblers as Sarah Martin and Malcolm Farr. Amy Remeikis (The Guardian’s political reporter) appears regularly on the “Talking Pictures” segment.
As to “Talking Pictures”, it is presented every week by The Guardian’s photographer Michael Bowers – who makes political comment every week and invariably interviews a cartoonist of the left. [Quite a load of Sandalista Guardian types to be sure. Perhaps Insiders should be renamed “The Guardian Weekly”. Just a thought. – MWD Editor.]
MWD just loved it last Sunday when your man Bowers discussed the photos/cartoons of the week with the Sydney Morning Herald/Age cartoonist Cathy Wilcox – another leftist. Let’s go to the transcript where Comrade Wilcox analysed her very own cartoon (see below) which appeared in Nine Newspapers on 21 August concerning the possibility of a vaccine to prevent COVID-19:
Mike Bowers: Cathy it’s turned into a game of “Deal or No Deal” – do we have a deal on the vaccine or not?
Cathy Wilcox: We’ve got a little offering of hope, but it falls into this environment where as soon as you offer the hope of a vaccine, you have the spectre of all of the people who are anti-vax: “I can’t wait for a vaccine so we can get over this bloody pandemic”.
Mike Bowers: “Yeah, apparently it might be mandatory”
Cathy Wilcox: “Are you kidding? They can’t force me to be vaccinated. [Sings] My freedom!” [Laughs loudly].
So there you have it. On “Talking Pictures” Cathy reviewed her own cartoon – and laughed loudly at its message. Can You Bear It?
[Er, no – now that you ask. But to be fair – perhaps Comrade Wilcox laughed at her own cartoon because no one else did – and she chose to fire-up the cheerleaders. Just a thought. Also, as far as I can work it out, many anti-vaxxers are Friends of the ABC types and Sydney Morning Herald readers who live in such leftist-luvvie areas as Mosman in Sydney and Byron Bay on the NSW North Coast. Perhaps Comrade Wilcox could laugh at them – that might be really funny. – MWD Editor.]
FORMER LIBERAL LEADER JOHN HEWSON BAGS SCOTT MORRISON ON (ALLEGED) BRANCH STACKING – BUT NOT MALCOLM TURNBULL
Did anyone read John Hewson’s column in Nine Newspapers on Wednesday titled “PM has little stomach to fix branch stacking”? Hard copies of The Age no longer arrive in Sydney – no doubt they are part of the curfew imposed by Daniel Andrews’ Labor government – and it’s sometimes difficult to find out the headings in the hard copy of The Age.
The columnist was described as “a professor at the Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU and a former Liberal opposition leader”. No mention was made of the fact that, these days, John Hewson has embraced many a Green/Left cause and is known to campaign against Liberal Party candidates. Most notably – in recent times in the 2018 Wentworth by-election when John (“call me doctor – but not for a medical emergency”) Hewson opposed Liberal Party candidate Dave Sharma.
In his article, the learned doctor criticised branch stacking in the Victorian Labor and Liberal parties. He managed to praise Federal Labor’s Anthony Albanese and Wayne Swan but went out of his way to criticise Prime Minister Scott Morrison – as is your man Hewson’s wont, which makes him much desired by Nine Newspapers.
So the “former Liberal opposition leader” bagged the current Liberal Party leader but said nothing about his predecessor. Notable – since the topic was branch stacking. For the previous Liberal Party member for Wentworth – a certain Malcolm Turnbull (and John Hewson bestie) – acknowledged in his memoir A Bigger Picture that he won Liberal Party pre-selection for Wentworth in 2013 as a result of what is called “the great Wentworth branch-stacking affair”.
So John Hewson accused Scott Morrison of hypocrisy since he (allegedly) is “no stranger to the issue of branch stacking, having been state director of the [Liberal] party in NSW for four years”. But he made no criticism of former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s branch stacking of recent memory.
Also Dr (for a doctor he is) Hewson criticised branch stacking in the Liberal Party in Melbourne with “Christian fundamentalists and some ethnic groups”. But he made no criticism when the Liberal Party’s Wentworth branches were stacked with well-heeled business figures from Point Piper and the like. Can You Bear It?
THE POLITICALLY ARGUMENTATIVE VIRGINIA TRIOLI TELLS LISTENERS THAT SHE’S NOT POLITICAL
While on the question of voting, thanks to the avid (locked down) Melbourne reader who advised MWD of what MWD fave Virginia Trioli said on her ABC Radio 774 program yesterday. It was this:
There are no political leanings in me one way or the other. If you weren’t familiar with this – and this usually causes a storm but I’ll say this again – I don’t vote for any of them. I actually don’t vote. I’m enrolled but I don’t vote. I have no political leanings.
Turn it up. Sure, La Trioli does not vote at election time. She’s told us this many times. But this does not necessarily mean that she has no political leanings – since commitment to political causes extends beyond party politics. From listening to and watching Comrade Trioli over the years, it seems that she has political positions on such issues as how to handle climate change, asylum seekers, same sex marriage and the like. And the presenter of Mornings with Virginia Trioli claims to have no political leanings. Can You Bear It?
THE “DAN’S OUR MAN” MEDIA CAMPAIGN – CONTINUED
MWD is no fan of Danni Hunter (the Victorian CEO of the Urban Development Institute of Australia) when she does the “Newspapers” segment on ABC TV’s News Breakfast. The problem is that Ms Hunter doesn’t say anything silly and, consequently, is of little use to MWD. Give Scott Burchill more gigs and why not give Mike (“I’ll pour the gin”) Carlton a go? And so on.
The good news is that News Breakfast’s presenters Michael Rowland and Lisa Millar helped out yesterday. Here’s how. In the middle and towards the end of the segment with Ms Hunter, discussion turned on Victorian Labor Premier Daniel Andrews’ decision to extend Victoria’s state of emergency, scheduled to end in September, for 12 months.
MWD has many avid readers in Victoria and understands that the state is in a dark place due to the lockdown, which includes a curfew from 8 pm to 5 am each day. This means that it is legal to take a dog for a walk which concludes at 7.55 pm but quite illegal to take a dog for a walk which ends at 8.05 pm.
The reaction to Daniel Andrews’ decision was so substantial that he dropped the idea of a 12-month curfew extension. It had been opposed by such leading figures in the Victorian ALP as Bill Shorten and Richard Marles. Also, former Victorian ALP power-broker Stephen Conroy said on Sky News’ The Kenny Report last evening that Premier Andrews was “tired” when he made the decision.
But all this took place after Comrades Rowland and Millar professed their own opinion on News Breakfast.
Michael Rowland declared: “I think Daniel Andrews has got a bad rap here”. He added: “The problem I think he’s had is trying to sell this.” Get it? The attempted 12 months’ extension of the state of emergency was “sold” badly. That’s all. Your man Rowland’s point was that a 12-month extension of the state of emergency was not necessarily an extension of Stage 4 restrictions. Okay – but it may have been and many thought it was.
Danni Hunter declared that “the largest, strongest message from business and community to the [Victorian] government is – we need a plan…to come through Stage 4 restrictions”. Then she argued that this was necessary to restore investment and jobs. To which Lisa Millar responded: “Yes, everyone wants a plan – not just in Victoria but everywhere really, nationally, that is.”
So according to Comrade Rowland “Our Dan” is simply misunderstood. And according to Comrade Millar, Victoria under the government of “Our Dan”, has the same economic problems as everywhere else in Australia – despite the fact that the Victorian economy, post COVID-19, is in a dreadful state. Can You Bear It?
[Er, no. Not really – now that you’ve asked. I understand that, as exempt employees, ABC presenters can go to work and, as such, are not subjected to a 23 hours a day lockdown. Maybe this is why so many Victorian ABC types are willing to join in the chorus of “Dan’s Our Man”. – MWD Editor.]
Due to overwhelming demand, and with a little help from American psychic John Edward, this hugely popular segment will continue – even though Nancy (2004-2017) has “passed”. You see, according to the teachings of your man Edward, Nancy is not really dead but has merely “passed” to the Other Side – from where she is able to send messages. Including her very own modest proposals for the Media Watch Dog blog, which she co-founded with her male and female co-owners in 2009.
As avid readers are aware, this increasingly popular segment of MWD is inspired by the Anglo Irish satirist Dr Jonathan Swift’s proposal to relieve the plight of the Irish under British control, by certain suggestions which he proffered in his writings. In particular, his 1729 tome A Modest Proposal – For preventing the children of poor people in Ireland, from being a burden on their parents or country, and for making them beneficial to the publick. As a consequence of such irreverence, your clergyman Swift (1667-1745) never attained his due rank within the Church of Ireland (i.e. the Anglican Church in Ireland). But that’s another story.
HOW THE ABC CAN SAVE MONEY BY BRINGING ITS TRUMP-PHOBIC REPORTERS BACK FROM THE US AND TAKE A TRUMP-PHOBIC FEED FROM CNN AND MSNBC INSTEAD
Sometimes it’s hard to work out just how many reporters the ABC has in the United States right now in the lead-up to the US presidential election in November.
Certainly Kathryn Diss, James Glenday and David Lipson seem to be based in Washington DC and Phil Williams appears to drop in to the US capital from time to time. It doesn’t matter who’s on what shift since they all seem to be opposed to Republican President Donald J. Trump and, consequently, support his Democratic rival Joe Biden.
Take last Saturday, for example, when Comrade Diss appeared on ABC TV’s The World This Week. She was scheduled to comment on the Democratic National Convention’s launch of Joe Biden’s campaign – but spent half her time bagging Donald J. Trump.
Kathryn Diss ran sympathetic grabs from such Biden backers as Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Then she ran critical grabs of Donald Trump and accused the president of (i) embracing support from fringe conspiracy movement QAnon, (ii) breaking with decorum, no less, by campaigning while the DNC convention was under way and (iii) criticising Goodyear for banning the Make America Great Again (MAGA) slogan at work – and more besides.
Now here’s MWD’s Modest Proposal. The taxpayer funded public broadcaster can save lotsa taxpayers’ money by bringing this anti-Trump quartet back from the US and just taking a feed from such local anti-Trump outlets as CNN and MSNBC. Here’s hoping MWD’s Modest Proposal is considered helpful by ABC management.
As avid readers are only too well aware, Professor Simon Jackman (the head of the United States Studies Centre) said in November 2016 that no one at the USSC expected that Donald J. Trump would defeat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. He also ‘fessed up that no one at the USSC supported Donald Trump. David Smith, who suffers from Trump-phobia, is a USSC staff member who appears regularly on ABC Radio in Sydney – especially on the Drive with Richard Glover program – as the USSC’s “expert” on the US. In short, the taxpayer funded USSC is close to being a Republican Free Zone replete with Trump-haters and Clinton/Obama admirers and left-of-centre types. Now read on.
THE USSC’s DAVID SMITH AND SIMON JACKMAN AND DAVID UREN ALL SUPPORT JOE BIDEN – WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM JOSH SZEPS
Without question Simon Jackman (chief executive of the taxpayer funded United States Studies Centre at the taxpayer funded University of Sydney) and David Smith (the USSC’s Senior Lecturer in American politics and Foreign Policy) are the public face of the organisation – frequently known as the US[eless] Studies Centre.
Around four years after the “experts” at the USSC were so hopelessly wrong about the likely outcome of the US 2016 presidential election, your man Jackman appeared on ABC Radio National’s Saturday Extra program on 8 August 2020 and advised listeners that he hoped the Democratic Party’s Joe Biden would defeat the Republican Party’s Donald J. Trump on Tuesday 3 November 2020. David Uren, a non-residential fellow at the USSC, was also interviewed on a Saturday Extra segment titled “Biden’s America” and expressed a similar view to his boss. Let’s go to the transcript:
Geraldine Doogue: I have to ask you first, are you a Biden man?
David Uren: Look, without in any way speaking for the US Studies Centre, I would say yes, I am, really for similar reasons that Simon’s just outlined. I think that Australia’s interests are in multilateral settlement of disputes rather than unilateral imposition of power.
So there you have it. David Uren agrees with Simon Jackman that Joe Biden should be elected president in November. Fancy that.
Now let’s return to Drive with Richard Glover – even though on Tuesday, it was Drive with Josh Szeps. For his part, Dr Smith (for a doctor he is) has been barracking for Joe Biden in his regular “Trump Tuesday” gig on ABC Sydney Radio 702’s Drive with Richard Glover for eons. On 18 August, he discussed the Democratic Party’s launch – without mentioning any of the Biden campaign’s policies and without referring to the riots taking place in many Democrat controlled cities. And it was more of the same last Tuesday when Comrade Smith spoke about the Republican Party’s launch. On this occasion, the leftist Josh Szeps was in the presenter’s chair. He led off with a sneer at President Trump and his supporters. Let’s go to the transcript:
Josh Szeps: Have you been wowed and delighted by the highlights of the Republican National Convention so far?
David Smith: Well, there was certainly some extraordinary moments in the Republican convention, beginning with the unusual fact that the President actually spoke at it on the first day, usually the president doesn’t speak until the end….
Pretty extraordinary, don’t you think? President Trump spoke on the first day of the Republican National Convention. Well I never – and so on. Comrade Smith criticised former Fox News presenter Kimberly Guilfoyle whom he claimed gave “a very dark speech”. Then he had a go at “a couple from St Louis” whose names, apparently, he could not remember. Then Comrade Szeps re-entered the fray:
Josh Szeps: Absolutely unbelievable, let’s take a listen to Donald Trump. He, you know, this is his normal hobby. His favourite thing to do – disparaging Democrats.
How about that? Last week’s Democratic National Convention did little but disparage Donald J. Trump and the Republicans. But Comrade Szeps did not mention this. He focused on how President Trump disparaged Democrats. Your man Szeps continued to bag Donald Trump until David Smith weighed in to help out with some of the (ideological) heavy lifting. Then Comrade Szeps took over again – followed by Comrade Smith. Not one critical comment was made about Joe Biden and not one supportive comment was made about Donald Trump. That’s balance – US[eless] Studies Centre style.
Then Szeps described Ms Guilfoyle as Donald Trump Jr’s “girlfriend” – on two occasions, no less. The second reference was as follows: “That’s Kimberly Guilfoyle, Donald Trump Junior’s girlfriend.” Which suggests that in 2020, Comrade Szeps thinks it’s okay to describe women with reference to their partners. [Perhaps your man Szeps should spend some time in Nancy’s Courtesy Classes. Here’s hoping this is a useful suggestion. – MWD Editor.]
And so it went on. And on. And on – with yet more digs at Kimberly Guilfoyle. This time, Comrade Smith referred to Kimberly Guilfoyle’s “boyfriend Donald Trump Junior”. Yawn. This is how the ABC presenter concluded the segment:
Josh Szeps: It’s also worth remembering that in 2016, Donald Trump didn’t do any better than a fairly mediocre proportion of the vote, for any generic Republican candidate. What happened was that Democrats didn’t come out to vote for Hillary Clinton. So, if Democrats come out and vote for Joe Biden the way they have for most Democratic candidates who weren’t Hillary Clinton, then Trump loses. David [Smith], it’s great to talk to you as always, thanks for being with us.
How about that? Josh Szeps reckons Donald Trump “didn’t do any better than a fairly mediocre proportion of the vote” in 2016. It’s just that he won. And Comrade Szeps reckons that if lotsa Democrats vote for Joe Biden he will win in November. Whoever would have thought so?
DAVID SPEERS INTERRUPTS DAVID LITTLEPROUD ON 23 OCCASIONS
Top Media Interrupter of the Week is another prestigious Media Watch Dog award that is heavily contested. This week’s winner is ABC TV Insiders’ presenter David Speers. Once again.
As avid readers may or may not recall, on the eve of taking up his current job, your man Speers gave an interview with The Guardian’s Amanda Meade on 1 February 2020. Comrade Speers told Comrade Meade that he saw his role interviewing on Insiders as being “more about eliciting information than trying to catch a politician out”. He added: “I’m not trying to do a gotcha interview.”
Since then David Speers seems to have focused on setting up gotcha moments – especially when interviewing Coalition ministers – rather than attempting to elicit information.
Take last Sunday, for example, when Agriculture minister David Littleproud appeared on the program. In a 15 minute interview, Comrade Speers interrupted Minister Littleproud on no fewer than 23 occasions. That is, more than once a minute (not counting the time that the interviewer was talking). On the previous Sunday, Comrade Speers interrupted Labor frontbencher Bill Shorten on just 8 occasions.
David Speers –Top Media Interrupter Of The Week, for last Sunday at least. And keep it up – MWD needs you.
MWD Issue 509 (14 August 2020) included a “M’learned Friend Opines” segment, sub-titled “David Marr’s Howlers on the George Pell Case”. In the piece, the following comment was made:
In the same article [The Guardian, 31 May 2019], David Marr referred to the case of one-time Christian Brother John Tyrrell whose conviction of historical child sexual abuse was quashed by the Victorian Court of Appeal on 15 March 2019. Marr suggested that the High Court would probably overturn the Victorian Court of Appeal’s decision in the Tyrrell Case. David Marr was wrong. In a majority decision on 15 March 2019, the Victorian Court of Appeal in John Francis Tyrrell v The Queen overturned the jury’s decision. Later, the High Court dismissed the DPP’s application for special leave to appeal in the Tyrrell Case.
It was incorrect for MWD to describe John Tyrrell as “a former Christian Brother”. He still is a Christian Brother – currently living in retirement. Also, this was a unanimous judgment – not a majority decision.
John Tyrrell’s case was an example of when jurors get it wrong. Which is why his conviction was overturned in a unanimous decision in the Victorian Court of Appeal by Justices Stephen Kaye, Richard Niall and Mark Weinberg.
As MWD readers will recall, the ABC did not bother to report the Court of Appeal’s judgment in Tyrrell v The Queen. Gaven Morris, the ABC Director of News and Current Affairs, advised MWD on 19 March 2019 that the ABC’s court reporter only had time on 15 March 2019 (when the decision in Tyrrell v The Queen was handed down) to report one case – i.e. the sentencing hearing on 15 March 2019 for Robert Cerantonio, who had been convicted on a terrorist charge. Despite having numerous news and current affairs outlets, the taxpayer funded broadcaster has never covered the fact that Christian Brother John Tyrrell’s conviction on a charge of historical child sexual abuse was quashed by a unanimous Victorian Court of Appeal decision.
HOWLER BY ANU’S MARK KENNY ON FEDERAL LABOR’S INTERVENTION IN ITS VICTORIAN BRANCH IN 1970 & 2020
As avid readers are aware, Mark Kenny has had a brilliant career. Starting off as an operative for a Labor frontbencher in the South Australian opposition, he worked briefly for The Advertiser in Adelaide before taking the familiar path of a leftist journalist on to the ABC and then on to Fairfax Media – (as it then was).
And then, lo and behold, Comrade Kenny was appointed a professor at the Australian National University. There was a time when professors in social studies departments could demonstrate that they had published a book or two, or even a number of journal articles. Not any more, it seems. Not at the ANU at any rate. Some reports in the Sydney Morning Herald and a gig on Insiders seems good enough to get Comrade Kenny into the professorial ranks in the groves of Canberra’s academe.
On ABC TV Insiders on 21 June 2020, discussion turned on the allegations of branch stacking in the Labor Party’s Victorian branch – which had led to the expulsion/resignation of Labor frontbencher Adem Somyurek. The Herald-Sun’s James Campbell believed that this was a bit of a media beat-up. He also maintained that it also happened to be a convenient excuse for the ALP’s left faction to move on the Victorian ALP’s right faction by means of Federal intervention. This is how the discussion commenced:
James Campbell [Herald-Sun]: The central allegation that Somyurek had taken over the whole Victorian branch is nonsense. He’s not even a particularly effective branch stacker, the numbers involved here are tiny. Somyurek’s power in the party – such as it was – had come from his power to knit together different groups, unions, of left and right. That’s a –
David Speers: [Interjecting] Adam Somyurek himself says that he controls the joint, that he decides who the premier is, that he is all powerful.
Well, as the saying goes, Adem Somyurek would have said that he controls the ALP in Victoria. But that does not prove his claim. Then, later in the discussion, the ANU’s learned professor had this to say:
Mark Kenny [ANU]: The last time there was an intervention in the Victorian branch of the Labor Party was back in the 1970s, after the 1969 election that Gough Whitlam lost. There was Federal intervention – and a couple of years later Labor was in power. Now it wasn’t exclusively down to that but certainly cleaning out the turmoil in the Victorian branch was a factor in that. And that’s clearly what the leadership wants to do now. There is obviously some advantage that they can probably take from it as well. Which is what the right is saying. But it’s just become an unholy mess and it couldn’t have been allowed to go on.
What a load of absolute tosh. When the ALP’s federal executive intervened in the Victorian branch of the Labor Party in 1970, it had been out of office in Victoria since 1955 – losing elections in 1955, 1958, 1961, 1964, 1967 and 1970. This followed the split in the Labor Party in 1955 which led to the creation of the Democratic Labor Party which preferenced the Liberal Party and the (then) Country Party ahead of Labor.
At the Federal level, Labor’s failure to win seats in Victoria at the 1961 and 1969 elections meant that Robert Menzies defeated Arthur Calwell in 1961 and John Gorton defeated Gough Whitlam in 1969. That was the prime reason for the intervention in 1970.
There was “turmoil” in the ALP’s Victorian branch in 1970. But this is not comparable with the position today. In Victoria in recent times Labor has won elections in 1982, 1985, 1988, 1999, 2002, 2006, 2014 and 2018 and has been in office for most of the last two decades. Also, Labor in Victoria holds 21 seats out of 37 seats in the House of Representatives.
James Campbell is correct. The current intervention in the ALP’s Victorian branch is a factional stitch-up. The situation in 2020 is in no way comparable to that which prevailed in 1970. It would seem that the leftist Mark (“Call me professor”) Kenny has lined up with his leftist mates on the ALP left to bag the Victorian Labor right. When it comes to internal “turmoil” – there is perhaps more disruption in Labor’s NSW branch than in Victoria. Moreover, NSW Labor lost elections in 2014 and 2019 and has been out of office for close to a decade.
What Professor Mark Kenny said about the history of the ALP in Victoria five decades ago was not history – even though, perhaps, it could pass for such at the Australian National University.
* * * * *
Until next time.
* * * * *