ISSUE – NO. 516

02 October 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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  • Editorial – 7:30 flunks reportage of Victoria COVID-19 hotel quarantine inquiry

  • Can You Bear It? – Hamish Macdonald interviews a (Trump-hating) Republican; Goodbye to the “well-earned break” and hello to the “well-earned week off”; Speersy neglects to query Adam Bandt’s eco-catastrophism; Sky News UK’s Adam Boulton’s leading questions – and answers; Another meeting of Geraldine Doogue’s (Anti) Carbon Club

  • Nancy’s Courtesy Classes – Michael Rowland reads out message mocking “the uneducated”

  • New Feature: From the Groves of Academe – Monash Uni PhD candidate tells The High Court what it “must” and “should not” do

  • COVID-19 and The Media: A Factual Update

  • Flann O’Brien Gong for Literary or Verbal Sludge – Mike Richards, Donald Trump & Psychological Projection

  • New Feature: Jackie’s Kennel Prize for The Archibald

  • Documentation – Refuting Justin Stevens’ Denial re 7:30 missing the COVID-19 hotel quarantine inquiry



The COVID-19 hotel quarantine disaster in Victoria, which had led to the deaths of around over 750 (mainly elderly men and women), is one of the worst examples of poor governance in Australia.  Probably the worst.  The toll exceeds that of the November 1941 sinking of the HMAS Sydney off the coast of Western Australia which led to the deaths of all 646 crew on board.

Yet the tragic hotel quarantine story was not properly covered by ABC 7.30 – which presents itself as Australia’s leading nightly current affairs program. The proceedings of the COVID-19 Hotel Quarantine Inquiry, headed by retired judge Jennifer Coate, were only specifically covered by 7.30 on three nights. Namely, Monday 17 August (the first day of the inquiry), Wednesday 23 September and Monday 28 September. That’s all.

Perhaps the biggest news days of the Inquiry were Monday 21 September and Tuesday 22 September – when various senior Victorian Labor government ministers along with their senior public servants could not tell how – or remember why – untrained private security guards were engaged to handle hotel quarantine.  7.30 did not cover the inquiry on either day.  On Friday 25 September Victorian Labor premier Daniel Andrews appeared before the inquiry –  he did not know how his  own government came to employ the private security guards. 7.30  does not go to air on Fridays – due to a decision of ABC management.

The story is covered in full in today’s “Documentation” section – which reveals that 7.30 executive producer Jason Stevens is in denial about  the program’s failure to adequately cover so important a story.  Mr Stevens has tweeted that any suggestion that 7.30 only covered the Inquiry in detail after the program was criticised in The Australian  and on Sky News’ The Bolt Report is a conspiracy theory.

In fact, no one has alleged a conspiracy in this instance – just incompetence.  Jason Stevens’ position is that, before the criticism emerged, he had already commissioned the report that was carried on Wednesday 23 September.  That’s the point.   Why would an executive producer commission a report on one of the worst socio-economic disasters in Australian history. The proceedings of the inquiry should have been covered daily as stories broke.

Since no one really runs the ABC, Jason Stevens’ failure to ensure that 7.30 properly covered the COVID-19 Hotel Quarantine Inquiry is likely to go unnoticed by ABC management – and, no doubt, the taxpayer funded public sector broadcaster will continue to boast that 7.30 is Australia’s leading current affairs program. Don’t believe the spin.

Can You Bear It?


It would seem that  ABC TV Q&A host Hamish Macdonald, who is also a stand-in presenter on ABC Radio National Breakfast, is suffering a continuing dose of Trump Derangement Syndrome in the lead-up to the November  US presidential election.

As Media Watch Dog readers are aware, your man Macdonald told the Good Weekend earlier this year that he does not watch much television – and does not own a TV set.  This would suggest that  Comrade Macdonald believes that he should be watched on television – but that he does not need to watch others.

But MWD digresses. Remember that on Q&A (21 September 2020) Macdonald asked: “Was Trump unfairly treated in the way we all see him?.  According to this view, apparently all of us see President Trump in the same way.  Fancy that. And yesterday Comrade Macdonald interviewed the American conservative David Frum about the outcome of the Donald Trump/Joe Biden presidential debate.  Here’s how the interview concluded:

Hamish Macdonald: How worrying is it to you, this continued indication from Trump that he will most likely not respect the verdict of the election if it goes against him?

David Frum: What’s worrying to me about it is what it says about him. It’s worrying to me about what it says about the Republican Party – my party. I’m a registered Republican – that this kind of talk is not slapped down.

 The segment concluded as follows:

Hamish Macdonald: David Frum is a senior editor at The Atlantic, former speech writer for President George W Bush and, as he says, a Republican.

Sure, David Frum is a Republican.  What Hamish Macdonald did not tell listeners is that David Frum is a “Never Trumper”. For example, on 28 January 2020 he tweeted that he would even vote for the leftist ideologue Bernie Sanders over Trump if the socialist Sanders attained the Democratic Party nomination to run for president.

So, sure, David Frum is a member of the Republican Party. But he won’t vote for the Republican Party’s candidate in the presidential election. Important information but not shared by the RN Breakfast presenter with his listeners. Can You Bear It?


It was around Gin & Tonic Time on Monday when Media Watch Dog was alerted to this tweet from the team at ABC Radio National’s Drive program in Melbourne:

It was great news – since Jackie’s male co-owner just loves receiving messages with exclamation marks. They’re truly great!!. So here’s to the truly wonderful David ( “Call me Speersy”) Speers presenting RN Drive in the absence of Patricia (“Call me PK”) Karvelas!!!!

As avid readers are well aware, mere mortals take holidays.  Journalists, on the other hand, take “well earned breaks”. Or WEBs – with the emphasis on Well Earned.  But Comrade Karvelas has gone one better.  She is the recipient of a taxpayer funded “well-earned week off”.  How pretentious can you get? More to the point –  Can You Bear It?

[I’m not surprised that Speersy’s now getting more game time at the ABC – since, currently, he spends a lot of time on the bench.  Look at it this way.  When at Sky News, your man Speers had a two hour show on SBD – i.e. Sky News Before Dark – each day.  Now, at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster, Speersy is guaranteed an air-time of one hour a week.  So expect Speersy to do lotsa relief work at the ABC to keep him in action in the less work intensive ABC compared with Sky News.  – MWD Editor.]


While on the topic of Speersy, readers will recall that in 2020 the ABC TV Insiders presenter has been the winner on two occasions of Media Watch Dog’s  gong for the Media Interrupter of the Week.  It’s been a tight contest between Comrade Speers and  ABC Radio National Breakfast presenter Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly who has received one gong. A close contest, indeed.

So it was a media matter of some moment that David Speers missed the opportunity to interrupt Greens leader Adam Bandt, who was the Insiders’ guest on a key point last Sunday although he did make an attempt.  Let’s go to the transcript:

David Speers: The benefits [of phasing out fossil fuels] may come, but what initial cost are we talking to? I mean to –  look at South Australia where there’s already the big Tesla battery. In the last three months, gas contributed 56 percent to the state’s energy mix, wind was about 40 percent, battery storage was less than half a percent. Yes, it’s very important when the wind isn’t there for the battery to kick in. But again, you’re talking about a huge transformation.

Adam Bandt: Well, the savings are that we stop our cities from going under water. And the savings are that we stop bushfires from happening quite so frequently –

David Speers: I appreciate your view about what’s at risk down the track. But for this decade, again, do you have any idea what the cost would be?

What a load of absolute tosh.  David Speers missed the moment when Adam (“Give Marx a chance”) Bandt proclaimed that Australia’s cities like Melbourne will be under water within a few decades if Australia does not cut emissions in accordance with The Greens’ demands.  This overlooks the fact that  Australia produces less than 2 per cent of global emissions. Consequently, there is nothing that Australia can do, on its own initiative, to reduce global emissions and stop  Elizabeth Street being 6 metres under water in accordance with the predictions of the eco-catastrophists in our ranks like Comrade Bandt.

And then there is the fact that Melbourne has experienced lotsa floods – even before comrade Bandt wrote his thesis on Karl Marx all those years ago. For example, Elizabeth Street flooded in 1882 [I understand that Jackie’s (male) owner Hendo remembers this well. – MWD Editor.] There was also major flooding in Melbourne in 1934  and half a century ago in 1970.

Alas, Comrade Speers did not interrupt Comrade Bandt to ask him about this.  Also, there was no question about why Adam Bandt hangs out in the Melbourne CBD on The Yarra rather than moving to, say, Mount Feathertop, where he would be assured safe water views of what’s left of Melbourne by circa 2050. Presumably only the tops of Melbourne’s high-rise apartments – plus a few office towers – would be visible by then.

Which raises the question. Where’s Speersy The Interrupter when you really need him?  Can You Bear It?


While on the topic of interruptions, non-interruptions and all that, readers were hugely interested in last week’s coverage of the ABC TV 7.30  presenter Leigh Sales’ friendly leading questions to the left-of-centre Bob Woodward (on 23 September) compared with her unfriendly leading questions to right-of-centre Sarah Huckabee Sanders (on 16  September).  See MWD issues 514 and 515.

Maybe Comrade Sales has learnt from Sky News UK’s Adam Boulton. Here are some of the leading questions which Comrade Boulton addressed to a Conservative MP during his All Out Politics program on Sky News UK (which is available on Foxtel in Australia) on 15 September 2020:

Adam Boulton: It’s indisputable that the Prime Minister [Boris Johnson] lied to the British people, didn’t he –  when he said that this was a great deal that achieved everything he wanted?….

Adam Boulton: Surely he [Boris Johnson] misled people?

Adam Boulton: Hang on, the bill you are supporting is trying to get around the joint committee [on the Northern Ireland protocol]. So, you can’t say that. He said it was a great deal. So he misled the British people, didn’t he?

Adam Boulton: And I’m saying that now the Prime Minister is bringing forward measures to break that deal, it shows that it wasn’t a great deal, and that therefore he misled the British people. I can’t see how you would deny that….

Pretty impressive, eh?  Indisputable, don’t  you think?  Surely MWD is right?  Comrade Boulton was pretty good, wasn’t he?  MWD can’t see how any reader can deny this. And so on.  Which raises the question – Can You Bear It?


There was enormous interest in last week’s report that MWD fave Geraldine Doogue had a panel discussion on ABC Radio National Saturday Extra  (5 September 2020) in which she interviewed Marian Wilkinson about her recently released book The Carbon Club: How A Network Of Influential Climate Sceptics, Politicians And Business Leaders Fought To Control Australia’s Climate Policy (Allen & Unwin, 2020). Yes – all the words in this (long) title commence with Capital letters.

The point about the discussion turned on the fact that Ms Doogue’s panel consisted of Marian Wilkinson, Gillian Broadbent and Martin Parkinson.  The latter two received plenty of favourable references in the former’s The Carbon Club.  Pretty clubby, don’t you think?   Those who got bagged in The Carbon Club – such as the book’s éminences grises were Cory Bernardi, Ian Plimer, Tony Abbott etc – do not seem to have received an invitation to appear on Saturday Extra.  Likewise the late Ray Evans RIP.

[I take your point. Sure Ray  is dead.  But Saturday Extra could surely have made contact with him via John Edward of Crossing Over who helps out with Nancy’s Courtesy Classes.  I would have willingly provided the contact if asked. – MWD Editor.]

Well, the clubiness about The Carbon Club has continued – with a little help from Nine Newspapers.  Thanks to the avid reader who drew attention to the fact that the eco-catastrophist Marian Wilkinson’s book was reviewed by the eco-catastrophist Bob Carr in the eco-catastrophist Sydney Morning Herald  on 12 September 2020.

Needless to say, your man Carr – who is now professor of Business and Climate at the University of Technology Sydney – gave Comrade Wilkinson 101/2 out of 10 for her (alarmist) book. This is how the former NSW Labor premier concluded his hagiographical review:

Wilkinson, an experienced investigative reporter with the ABC and Fairfax, lets the facts speak for themselves, nowhere more than recounting the dogged grassroots campaigning of [Cory] Bernardi or the jaunty mischief of [Tony] Abbott. It is contemporary history at its best, a rough draft of how we got to where we are that, I suspect, historians 100 years off will be hard pressed to improve on.

Except they won’t.  According to the prophecy of the Prophet Bandt (re which see above), we’ll all be under water by 2120 – and fish don’t write or, indeed, review –  books.  Can You Bear It?


As avid readers are aware, the late Nancy (2004-2017) did not die. She merely “passed” on to the Other Side. Hence MWD has been able to keep in touch with her and seek her advice – with the help of the American psychic John Edward of Crossing Over fame – who has demonstrated a first class ability to communicate with the dead,  albeit not so much with the living. And so, Nancy’s “Courtesy Classes” continue – albeit from the “Other Side” in a Zoom kind of way.


Jackie’s (male) co-owner Hendo was well brought up and, as an adult, became a courteous kind of guy.  So much so that he became Gerard Henderson AC (Always Courteous). In his (at home) courtesy classes in the Melbourne suburb of Balwyn all those decades ago, Hendo learnt that those with the benefit of higher education should not look down on those with less education.

For starters, such intellectual snobbish behaviour is discourteous.  And then there is the fact that any sensible person would prefer to be governed by the first dozen taxi drivers on the nearby rank than, say, all the Ph.D. doctors in the Department of Sociology at the University of Sydney – if such a department exists.

But, once again, MWD digresses.  Here’s what ABC TV News Breakfast  presenters Lisa Millar and Michael Rowland had to say (on 16 September 2020) as they read out texts/emails from viewers praising the COVID-19 lock down in Victoria – which happens to be around the harshest in the world but much loved by so many ABC presenters.

Lisa Millar: Graham wrote in and said: “So far I estimate that our [Victorian] state leaders have saved roughly 1000 lives a week with their various measures for the last few months – so I believe this is a fantastic outcome”.

Michael Rowland: Jay’s also echoing that sentiment: …”Lockdowns are a blessing, it is time the uneducated and the greedy understand how important lockdown measures are”.

Turn it up. Michael Rowland (B.A. Communications, UTS – part completed) consciously chose to read out a letter from “Jay” who declared that it was time to stand up to “the uneducated”.  Fancy that.  So Jay BA (or some such) reckons that he is wiser than others because he studied Applied Wellness at some university somewhere – unlike the great uneducated and, presumably, unwashed.

We know that the taxpayer funded and employed News Breakfast  presenters support Premier Daniel Andrews’ lockdowns.  But it’s a bit much to read out a message from Anonymous Jay who reckons that those who disagree with their “I Stand with Dan” approach are uneducated – and, it would seem, need to be learned (as the saying goes).

Michael Rowland – Off to Nancy’s Courtesy Classes for you.

[This should help Comrade Rowland’s career. I note that according to Saxton Speakers Bureau website – where Mr Rowland flogs his presentation wares – he is referred to as having “an engaging manner, dry wit and unflappable charm”.  But there is no mention of courtesy. Time to fill the gap. – MWD Editor.]



Due to popular demand, The Groves of Academe will report to avid readers, on an occasional basis, about what passes for learned scholarship  at Australia’s taxpayer funded (partly at least) tertiary institutions.

Media Watch Dog is a bit of a fan of alternatives. Why MWD, (which is put together by a very small number of people and goes out around Gin & Tonic Time on Fridays) is an alternative to ABC TV’s Media Watch (which is put together by a vast taxpayer funded staff of ten and goes out at Post Dinner Drinks Time on Mondays).

This week MWD focuses on the Alternative Law Journal  which, apparently, is an alternative to something or other. [ Could it be common sense?  Just a thought.  MWD Editor.]

The current issue contains an article titled “The High Court in Pell v The Queen: An ‘unreasonable’ review of the jury’s decision.”  It is written by Greg Byrne, who is based in the Faculty of Law at Monash University in Melbourne. It turns out that the Alternative Law Journal  is also based in Monash University’s Faculty of Law.  Oh yes, Mr Byrne is a Ph.D. candidate in the Faculty of Law at Monash University.  It’s all very Melbourne – of the Clayton variety.

This is how Dr (for a doctor he soon will be) Byrne – a former Victorian public servant –concluded his brief article – which does not even make it to seven pages:

To recognise properly the jury as the “constitutional tribunal for deciding issues of fact” in Australia, appellate review should follow certain principles. First, an appellate court should not substitute its view of the facts for facts that were reasonably open to the jury to find. It must fully respect the forensic advantages that juries possess over appellate courts. Second, to determine whether a jury made a factual error, an appellate court should not review a case based on direct evidence as if it involved indirect evidence. Third, it should be clear that the evidence of a compelling, credible, and reliable witness may be sufficient to disprove opportunity evidence and sufficient to prove a charge beyond reasonable doubt. [Emphasis added].

Unfortunately, the High Court’s review of the jury’s verdict in Pell did not follow these principles.

How about that? Here’s a Ph.D. candidate telling the High Court of Australia what it “should”, “must” and “should not” do – then he berates all seven judges for their “unfortunate” decision.

It seems that Ph.D. candidate Byrne has a bit to learn about the law, precedent and all that.

In Pell v The Queen , by a unanimous 7 to Zip decision, the High Court of Australia overruled the majority decision of the Victorian Court of Appeal and quashed Cardinal Pell’s conviction for historical child sexual abuse.

All up, ten judges looked at the jury’s decision in the re-trial of The Queen v Pell in the County Court – and ruled that it was unsafe.  This included Justice Mark Weinberg who dissented in the Victorian Court of Appeal.  So eight out of ten judges held that the jury decision was unsafe.  But Ph.D. candidate Byrne reckons all the High Court judges and Justice Weinberg (one of Australia’s most experienced criminal jurists) got it wrong and that he knows best.

Also Greg Byrne seems to have overlooked the fact that all seven High Court judges followed  the precedent set by the High Court in 1994 in M v The Queen case.  In other words, Pell v The Queen  did not establish new legal principles.

In Pell v The Queen  the High Court essentially held that Pell should not have been convicted because there was no evidence as to how the alleged offences could have taken place in the time frame claimed by the prosecution.  Also, the evidence of some 20 witnesses did not support the prosecution’s case.

Ph.D. candidate Byrne in his alternative work in the Alternative Law Journal also overlooked the fact that the Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions changed the prosecution’s case before the High Court.  This central fact is not even mentioned in his poorly argued article. Likewise Greg Byrne does not explain why – if jury decisions are so valued – all States except Victoria and Tasmania allow for trial by judge alone.

Could it be that the Alternative Law Journal – home base Monash University – provides an opportunity for Monash University Ph.D. candidates to write alternative “judgments” to the High Court of Australia?  Not about what the common law is.  But, rather, about what it “SHOULD”, “MUST” and “SHOULD NOT” be? All this will make for an, er, interesting Ph.D.


Viewers tuning into The Drum on Wednesday 30 September were greeted by guest presenter Stan Grant, who was filling in for Ellen Fanning & Julia Baird. The US presidential debate which took place earlier that day (Australian time) was the first topic up for debate (if debate there was). Joining in the discussion was former Chaser Boy turned middle-aged political pundit Chas Licciardello. After getting Chas’s initial reactions to the debate (Hint: Trump bad) Stan Grant put forth the following:

Stan Grant: And Chas [Licciardello] if you’re talking about a country [the US] that is in deep, deep crisis. The country most affected by COVID – 200,000 deaths, an economy that has just been shattered, deep political divisions, protests on the streets, so much anger. Where was the big idea, the big vision from anyone about how you renew the United States?

It is undeniable that the United States, like many countries, has been badly hurt by COVID-19 and the subsequent economic crisis. However, the claim that the US is the country most affected by COVID-19 is highly dubious. The US does lead the world in total deaths, having recently passed 200,000. But when the death total is adjusted for population, the US is comparable to much of Western Europe (including Spain, Britain, Italy and France) and well behind Belgium. Stan Grant has also apparently missed the deadly outbreaks of COVID in much of South America over the past few months. Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile and Ecuador all now have deaths per capita greater than the United States.

All of the above is presented to MWD’s avid readers who despise hyperbole.

Due to overwhelming popular demand, the Flann O’Brien Gong returns again this week. As avid MWD readers will be aware, this occasional segment is inspired by the Irish humourist Brian O’Nolan (1911-1966) – nom de plume Flann O’Brien – and, in particular, his critique of the sometimes incoherent poet Ezra Pound (1885-1972). By the way, your man O’Brien also had the good sense not to take seriously Eamon de Valera (1882-1975), the Fianna Fail politician and dreadful bore who was prime minister and later president of Ireland for far too long.

The Flann O’Brien Gong for Literary or Verbal Sludge is devoted to outing bad writing or incomprehensible prose or incoherent verbal expression or the use of pretentious words.


It will come as no surprise that there has been enormous support for the return of this enormously popular segment. Thank God, then, that Peter Fray, editor-in-chief of Crikey, last Friday came up with the you-beaut idea of devoting the entire edition of his newsletter to The Thought of Mike Richards – to wit his psychological profile of President Donald J. Trump.

Who’s Mike Richards? – MWD hears readers cry.  Well, according to Comrade Fray, “Dr Mike Richards is both a former newspaper editor and a former chief-of-staff”.   Apparently Dr Richards (for a doctor he is) did a Ph.D. in political science “which investigated narcissistic personality”. Well, now.

Indeed, the learned doctor was chief of staff (for a while) to Labor Opposition leader Mark Latham circa 2004.  Dr Richards (for a  doctor he is) came to the conclusion that his boss was – wait for it – a narcissist.  See Richards’ article in Crikey on 27 July 2012. See also MWD Issue 147.

That’s all very well.  But what did the learned doctor have to say about Donald J. Trump in his 8,000 word analysis? Well – here it is, or some of it at least.

Early on, Dr Mike Richards offers an assessment of Trump’s signature:

He etches the big, thick lines that make up his signature, which is at once angular and condensed, yet takes up more than half a page-width of what he sees as imperial edicts. Bold and huge, his signature is clearly intended to signal his commanding authority.

Your man Richards then goes on to write some sort of long-winded acrostic poem (the kind you might remember from primary school) using the letters of Trump’s name to list the various traits the Dr has diagnosed the President with – a gimmick that makes an already tedious article even harder to follow.  Here’s the entry for “D” – for example.

Although Comrade Richards notes early on that: “As a non-clinician it is, of course, inappropriate for me to attempt a diagnosis, or even make a judgement, about a personality disorder in Trump” – the learned (non-medical) doctor spends the rest of the article doing just that. He does note that his assessments are of Trump’s “personality traits” – rather than traits of a personality disorder. That’s not much of a distinction, however, when Dr Richards throws around terms such as “disordered”, “delusional”, “narcissistic personality”,  “paranoia” and a suggestion of sociopathy.

At one point, Mike Richards informs readers (if readers there are) that despite his narcissistic personality disorder, the man elected President of the United States does in fact possess some political competency. Who would have thought? At least that’s what MWD  thinks he’s trying to say – see if you can make it through this paragraph:

As appropriate as “delusional” is to describe a key Trump trait, it has to be acknowledged that it is accompanied by high-level political acumen. On the flip side of his delusions is an unerring capacity to pick the weaknesses of his political rivals, perhaps through unconscious projection of his inner vulnerabilities. It is as if his delusions about his own inflated capabilities (founded as they are in unconscious defences against a profound inner sense of inferiority) enable him to crystallise the personality flaws of his opponents — to endow them with the personality traits he denies in himself.

So that’s all clear then?

Of course, when chief-of-staff to Mark Latham, the Labor Opposition leader, Dr Mike did work to get someone he considered a “paranoid narcissist” elected prime minister. So perhaps he doesn’t say “paranoid narcissist” like it’s a bad thing.

It seems that Comrade Richards likes to label others with narcissistic personality. Now, Jackie does not have any psychological or psychiatric qualifications – merely a Dip. Wellness from The Gunnedah Institute – but the term “psychological projection” comes to mind.

Literary Criticism

By Flann O’Brien

of Ezra Pound

My grasp of what he wrote and meant

Was only five or six %

The rest was only words and sound —

My reference is to Ezra £


Inspired by your man O’Brien, this is Jackie’s literary effort for today:


Literary Criticism

By Jackie

of Mike Richards in Crikey

My grasp of what he wrote or meant

Was only four or five per cent

It was such poorly written tripe

Must be the work of your man Mike

* * *  *


Maybe a Dip. Wellness from The Gunnedah Institute does not qualify a canine like Jackie to become an art critic.  Except for the fact that almost everyone is an art critic these days.  And like most critics Jackie doesn’t know much about  art but she knows what she likes – as the saying goes (or went).

And so it came to pass that Jackie has decided to recommend each year that one portrait from those that made the final cut is currently on display at the Art Gallery of NSW and one which has made it to The Salon des Refuses now on show at the nearby S.H. Ervin Gallery be swapped.  The portrait which will be promoted from the S.H. Ervin Gallery to the Art Gallery of NSW will be the winner of Jackie’s Kennel Prize.  More of this below:

Writing in The Australian on 18 September 2020, Christopher Allen (national art critic) had this to say:

As I have said before, the Archibald could be a much better exhibition if the Art Gallery of NSW Trustees did their job and selected the best works submitted. Instead they select on the basis of sensationalism, jarring contrasts and shock value. The show is a bad show, year after year, because the Trustees make it a bad show.

This may be a bit harsh.  After all, once again this year the Trustees picked portraits of lotsa luvvies for the short list.  Including such MWD faves as David Marr, Annabel Crabb, Adam Spencer, Meyne Wyatt, the late Jack Mundey, Magda Szubanski, Jennifer Byrne and more besides.

Art critic Allen described Craig Ruddy’s portrait of Comrade Pascoe as consisting of “an extravaganza of gratuitous doodling”. Which is a bit tough –  on doodlers.

Jackie concurs, in a sense.  She believes that the problem with Ruddy’s portrait is that he left his depiction of the Dark Emu author to dry off in the summer sun for too long.  That’s why the apparently white Comrade Pascoe,  who has never denied that he has four English-born grandparents, appears as if he has suffered a dangerous dose of sunburn.

To illustrate the point – here’s your man Pascoe as seen by artist Craig Ruddy.

And here’s how the same Pascoe was depicted not so long ago.

Here’s Jackie’s modest proposal. Move the Dark Emu portrait to the Salon des Refuses where the extravagant doodling might lose some of its colour in the quiet S. H. Ervin Gallery, and, consequently, Bruce Pascoe might – in time – come to resemble his photographic portraits. And swap it with Steve Tiernan’s portrait of avid MWD reader Professor Ross Fitzgerald –  who hasn’t had an alcoholic drink since 1970 or thereabouts. Which perhaps explains his apparently thirsty lips in the Tiernan portrait.


In any event, Jackie’s (Dip. Wellness, The Gunnedah Institute) hopes that her modest (Archibald) proposal to make one refused portrait a finalist works. And that, in time, Jackie’s kennel prize becomes as well known as the Archibald’s Packing Room Prize.


Pascoe’s Portrait

Jackie Recommends a Move to Salon des Refuses

Fitz’s Portrait

Jackie Recommends a Move to The Art Gallery of NSW




Gerard Henderson’s column in The Weekend Australian on Saturday was headed: “Kept in Dark Like Mushrooms While Victoria Suffers”. It commenced as follows:

At last. On Wednesday evening, the ABC’s 7.30 program discussed the Victorian COVID-19 hotel quarantine inquiry. Headed by former judge Jennifer Coate, it began proceedings on August 17. This first event was covered by 7.30, which presents itself as Australia’s leading news and current affairs program. And then the inquiry was dropped completely by 7.30 until Wednesday [23 September]. A stunning misjudgment, on any analysis. Without question, the pandemic is the greatest social and economic disaster to affect Australia in at least a century….

Between August 18 and September 22, 7.30 covered issues such as dirty quarantine hotels in Sydney, cooking in lockdown, the Tasmanian leatherwood honey industry, NSW quarantine hotels (again) and mushrooms in Tasmania. But not one word on the Coate inquiry.

This comment was accurate. A check of the transcripts reveals that the term “Coate Inquiry” was not mentioned on 7.30 between Monday 17 August and Tuesday 22 September.

On Saturday afternoon, ABC TV 7.30 executive producer Justin Stevens went into big time denial and put out the following Twitter thread:



Justin Stevens’ denial excelled at, well, denial. Here’s why:

1. Contrary to Mr Stevens’ assertion, Gerard Henderson did refer to 7.30’s interview with Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews in his column in The Weekend Australian last Saturday. Here’s what he had to say:

The only 7.30 mention of the inquiry occurred on September 7 when stand-in presenter Michael Rowland asked Andrews one question about whether he would consider his position if Coate made an adverse finding against him. That was all. None of the evidence before the inquiry was discussed.

This statement was correct. This is the 7.30 Rowland-Andrews exchange on the inquiry in full:
Michael Rowland: There is a lot riding on this for you politically. While you’re fighting the virus, this inquiry into the hotel quarantine bungle is continuing. The inquiry has heard that 99 per cent of cases in the second wave were from returned travellers. Now you have been refreshingly up-front about the buck stopping with you, about being accountable and you have also said that you intend leading the government to the next election. But if this inquiry comes back and lays the blame squarely at your feet, will you consider your position?

Daniel Andrews: Well, my position, Michael, and the responsibility that I have is to see our state through this and that is exactly what I’m focused on….

That’s all that was said about the Coate Inquiry – 116 words in total. And the name “Coate” was not mentioned by Michael Rowland or Daniel Andrews.

2. Gerard Henderson did refer to the 7.30 report of 15 September in his Weekend Australian column without citing the date. It was his reference to “dirty quarantine hotels in Sydney”. There was no mention of Jennifer Coate in this report – and the, in passing, reference to the Victorian inquiry occupied a mere 130 words.

Also, at the time, Justin Stevens understood that this report was about NSW – not Victoria and certainly not the Coate inquiry – as he claimed in his Twitter stream. This is how 7.30 described this segment on the ABC website on 15 September:

We take an exclusive look inside hotel quarantine in NSW
Posted Tue 15 Sep 2020, 8:30pm
Updated Tue 15 Sep 2020, 10:41pm

Hotel quarantine remains a key national defence against the pandemic. Since Melbourne’s quarantine program imploded in July, hotels in Sydney now house most returned travellers. Today in Sydney a 26-year-old member of the defence force was fined for breaching the rules. 7.30’s Grace Tobin has been given exclusive access to several quarantine hotels. She spoke to the police and other frontline workers about the enormous challenges they face.

In short, Grace Tobin’s 15 September report focused on hotel quarantine in NSW (which was successful) but not hotel quarantine in Victoria (which was a failure).

3. The fact that Justin Stevens says he “commissioned” the report about the Coate Inquiry by Grace Tobin (which aired on 23 September) shortly before 7.30 was criticised in The Australian and on Sky News’ The Bolt Report, means nothing. Except that he lacks media sense – 7.30 missed one of the biggest stories in Australian history on all-too-many-nights.

For example, the Coate Inquiry was a huge story on the evenings of Monday 21 September and Tuesday 22 September as senior Victorian government ministers and public servants exhibited that they did not know about – or could not remember – how the decision was made to place private security guards in charge of quarantine hotels in Melbourne. Yet it was not covered by 7.30 on either night.

4. 7.30 finally did a detailed report on the COVID-19 Hotel Quarantine Inquiry on Wednesday 23 September and another one on Monday 28 September. This was hopelessly late. Not only had the horses bolted by then – but the stable had burned down.

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Rather than accept that, when it came to the Coate Inquiry, 7.30 had been out to lunch (and breakfast and dinner as well) – Justin Stevens threw the switch to Denial via Twitter.

But nothing can hide the fact that between 18 August and 22 September 7.30 did not devote even one whole segment to the COVID-19 Hotel Quarantine Inquiry in Victoria. Not one. Despite the fact that the Andrews Labor government has presided over the greatest socio-economic disaster in Australian history.

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Until next time.

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