ISSUE – NO. 529

12 February 2021

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Last night Mark Humphries returned to 7:30 for the first time in 2021. As usual Leigh Sales introduced him and gave viewers a reminder along the lines that Humphries is considered by some to be a satirist. She also warned that he was assisted by Evan Williams who is considered by some to be a writer.

The subject of the sketch was the Federal Coalition Government. This is usually the case but occasionally Humphries & Williams branch out and have a go at a state Coalition government.

This latest edition took the form of an ad for “ScoMo’s Dressing Down Service”. Humphries plays a man who will “dress down” rogue MPs, a la Scott Morrison’s closed-door meeting with Liberal Party backbencher Craig Kelly. The joke, or at least the intended joke, being that the dressing down would actually involve praise for the offending MP. Yawn.

Humphries makes sure to mention Greg Hunt’s use of a Liberal Party logo on a vaccine announcement (a story nobody outside the media cares about) and his subsequent interview with Michael Rowland (a story nobody outside the ABC cares about). [Apart from MWD that is – See today’s “An ABC Update” segment]

At one point Humphries begins to list the names of Coalition MPs, presumably to pad out the sketch (running time: 106 seconds). In the future perhaps Mr Humphries will finally achieve the plutonic ideal of ABC political comedy and stare into camera while listing both political buzzwords and the names of public figures he doesn’t like: “Tony Abbott! Climate Justice! Murdoch! Decolonisation! Alan Jones!”.

The sketch ends with the line: “Who needs a federal ICAC when you have got ScoMo’s Dressing Down Service?”

This seems to suggest that Humphries thinks Craig Kelly’s Facebook posts would warrant an investigation from the theoretical federal ICAC. Why stop there? Why not the Hague? And if Facebook posts can land you before ICAC, why not unfunny comedy sketches?


There was enormous interest in last week’s MWD which reported that two of Australia’s leading economic journalists – the Australian Financial Review’s Aaron Patrick and The Australian’s Adam Creighton – had been effectively cancelled as guests by ABC TV’s The Drum.  Apparently for disagreeing with other guests – or something like that.

Guess what?  It was late last night that Jackie’s (male) co-owner Hendo turned on the repeat version of The Drum and noticed on the panel, wait for it – Adam Creighton.  Sure he seemed to be batting against the three other panellists – but he was there.

What’s next?  Now that Adam Creighton has been resurrected by The Drum – is there hope for Aaron Patrick?  Moreover, an Adelaide reader advises that he believes that the likes of Parnell McGuinness and Anne Henderson – apparently also cancelled by The Drum – might get a guernsey if your man Creighton’s redemption works out. We’ll keep you posted – but don’t put your money on either filly.

Can You Bear It?


MWD just loves reading the CBD column by Samantha Hutchinson & Stephen Brook in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age – primarily because it says so little about the CBD of either city.  Take Wednesday’s column, for example, which carried this non-CBD story under the heading “Abbott taps provocateur Leak for his official portrait”. Here’s how it commenced:

After cartoonist Johannes Leak triggered a Twitterstorm last year when a hamfisted depiction of US Democratic vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris drew criticisms of racism, it was always going to take someone with nerves of steel to give Leak his next high profile gig.

Step forward Tony Abbott, who has handpicked Leak to paint his official portrait to be hung in Parliament House. Leak, a cartoonist at The Australian who is the son of the broadsheet’s late celebrated cartoonist and provocateur Bill Leak, scored the official government portrait contract earlier this month via the Historic Memorials Collection. Department documents show he’ll be paid more than $40,000 for the honour, too.

So there you have it, according to Nine’s CBD scribblers, the late Bill Leak was a provocateur – and so is his son Johannes Leak.  Bill was a “celebrated cartoonist” and Johannes is a mere “cartoonist”.  Neither is given the title “painter” or “artist”.

Yet Bill Leak was a fine painter – whose portraits include Barry Humphries as Sir Les Patterson, Don Bradman, Graham Richardson, Malcolm Turnbull and Robert Hughes.  In short, he was much more than a provocateur (not that there’s anything wrong with that, as the saying goes).

Also the evidence suggests that Johannes Leak is more than a cartoonist.  It seems that objection to Johannes Leak’s commission to paint former prime minister Tony Abbott turns on his perceived politics rather than his artistic ability.  Can You Bear It?


Thanks to the avid reader who drew MWD’s attention to the recent edition of The Garrett, published by the State Library of Victoria. It featured an interview with ABC star Louise Milligan by a certain Astrid Edwards – who sure knows how to lay on the flattery.

At the end of her oh-so-long interview with Four Corners reporter, Louise (“I urge everyone to vote for me in any People’s Choice Literary Awards currently under way”) Milligan, Ms Edwards had this to say:

Astrid Edwards:  I adore your honesty, and I have to say, I deeply respect your compassion, your integrity, and your intellect as well. Thank you so much, Louise.

Yes, thank you so much.  It turned out that, earlier in the discussion, Comrade Milligan had also thrown the switch to flattery – with respect to the Four Corners team.  She described how her colleagues “have a really rigorous fact-checking process”. This might come as a surprise to some.  But MWD digresses.

Following the decision of Eddie McGuire to resign as president of the Collingwood Football Club on Tuesday and of businessman James Packer to withdraw his Consolidated Press Holdings representatives from the board of Crown Casino the same day – Four Corners’ executive producer Sally Neighbour had this to say, alongside pictures of McGuire and Packer, in a since-deleted tweet:

Alas, Four Corners’ executive director, who presides over the program’s fact-checkers and appears to like dancing on graves, had not done any fact-checking. Anyone familiar with the political and media scene in Victoria would know that Eddie McGuire grew up in the Melbourne working class suburb of Broadmeadows in public sector housing and worked his way to success. The Sydney-based Gray Connolly said that it took him 0.81 seconds to find this out.  According to Eric Beecher, as a young man McGuire worked up to three jobs.

It’s a pity that Comrade Neighbour did not meet ABC’s Head of Investigative Journalism John Lyons in the ABC lift. An old boy of Christian Brothers College St Kilda, he might have told her that McGuire is a fellow alumni. CBC St Kilda was a low-fee Catholic school run by the Christian Brothers.  James Packer, on the other hand, was born into a lifetime of wealth – being the son of Kerry Packer and the grandson of Sir Frank Packer.  He went to school at Cranbrook in Sydney’s fashionable eastern suburbs.

According to Google,  McGuire is worth $55 million while Packer is worth $4.7 billion. Yet Comrade Neighbour sees “uncanny similarities” between these two men. What a load of absolute tosh.

By Thursday morning, it was time for a “correction” – of the ABC kind.  At 8.12 am this tweet, also since-deleted, appeared:

So it’s all okay, then.  No need for Sally Neighbour to apologise for her howler or even do a proper correction.  Just replace “a lifetime of wealth and privilege” with “a life of wealth and privilege” – and Bob’s your uncle, as the saying goes. By the way, what’s the difference between a “lifetime of wealth and privilege” and “a life of wealth and privilege”?  As MWD constantly says, being an ABC journalist means never having to say you’re sorry. Can You Bear It?


While on the topic of millionaires, has anyone noticed that Nine columnist Peter (“Look at me”) FitzSimons, the “Red Bandannaed One”, has gone naked from the neck up?  Below are a series of pics taken from Fitz’s “Fitz on Sunday” column in Nine’s Sun-Herald.  Once upon a time he looked like any other leftist luvvie posing for a pic (with hair).  Then he decided to wear a red rag on his head. Then in the pandemic he wore a red rag as a mask. And now he’s gone neck-to-skull nude. Oh yes, on one occasion Fitz posed for MWD (sort of) in a full-facial-red-burka.

The big (media) news of the week is that Stan Grant, currently with the ABC, decided to send-up the Peter FitzSimons/Lisa Wilkinson Australia Day party – now termed Independence Day party – in a chapter he wrote for The Australian’s “Oh Matilda: Who Bloody Killed Her?” crime novel.  Your man Fitz, who is invariably sneering at political and social conservatives, got mighty upset at this reference in “Oh Matilda”:

But that Matilda Meadows was a piece of work. Now she haunted him [McCredden]. He had to admit though, she was a stunner. He remembered when he’d seen her; Fitzy and Lisa’s Australia Day barbecue at their grand house overlooking Sydney Harbour.

What a woke leftie love-in that was: journos, actors, writers, couple of ex-Wallabies (well it was the North Shore), a few washed up politicians, even a couple of Liberals (small l of course) and a former managing director of the ABC for good measure. Everyone there voted yes for same sex marriage – the year before last they’d all tearily applauded their first gay married couple guests – they hated the Catholic Church, and had cried when Kevin Rudd said sorry.

Little did anyone know McCredden was a secret Tory. He could never admit to it of course, or he’d never get another acting gig. This annual charade was always his most convincing acting performance of the year.

Very amusing, to be sure.  But not to Fitz.  The (once-upon-a-time) Red Bandannaed One – who excels in sneering at others – got mighty upset when Stan Grant laughed at him. Can You Bear It?


Could it be that ABC TV’s Insiders program is taking a new tack in David Speers’ second year as presenter? The question arises because of this exchange during the Final Observations segment at the end of last Sunday’s program between the presenter and the Australian Financial Review’s Jennifer Hewett – with a small contribution by the ABC’s Andrew Probyn.

David Speers: Let’s get some final observations, then. Jennifer, to you first.

Jennifer Hewett: Well, of course the last year I think has taught us we should all be humble in our predictions. And you never say never in politics. But despite all the excited talk about this being an election year, I think the chances of it are pretty, pretty minimal. And it’s far more likely to be – any election is going to be next year rather than this year.

David Speers: We’ll keep the tape on that one.

Jennifer Hewett: You can hold me to it

Andrew Probyn: Brave.

Hang on a minute. Insiders is going to hold Jennifer Hewett to her prediction that there will not be an election in 2021.  But Insiders (executive producer Sam Clark) never held any of its panellists – plus (then) presenter Barrie Cassidy – responsible for getting the result of the May 2019 election so hopelessly wrong.

For example, none of the “experts” who appeared on Insiders during the 2019 election campaign thought that Scott Morrison would prevail over Labor’s Bill Shorten. Indeed the lack of diversity of views in this instance was criticised by former BBC journalist Kerry Blackburn in her report which was commissioned by ABC management after the election and released in December last year. To name names, they were:

April 14:  Annika Smethurst, Mark Kenny, Niki Savva

April 21: Patricia Karvelas, Andrew Probyn, David Marr

April 28:  Karen Middleton, Malcolm Farr, Peter van Onselen

May 5: Sarah Martin, Fran Kelly, Dennis Atkins

May 12: Annabel Crabb, Malcolm Farr, Lenore Taylor

In the Blackburn review titled ABC Editorial Review No 19 Impartiality of the Federal Election 2019, the following comment was made:

Nevertheless, while the conclusion is that Insiders met the impartiality standard, the ABC is encouraged to reflect on how it might improve the reflection of a diversity of perspectives during an election period. While the intent for the Insiders panel is that it is non-partisan, the effect of this during the programs reviewed – where so many issues were determined to have played so well for the Labor campaign – was that there was not sufficient challenge to the prevailing consensus. As a result the return of the Morrison government was never seriously contemplated.

One solution would have been to have secured more conservative-leaning political commentators as panellists. Those conservative voices could have articulated, with conviction, that there was a Coalition path to victory. Theirs would still have been a professional judgement, drawing on evidence, albeit they might have a particular starting point. Audiences are generally sophisticated enough if they are given adequate information, to make up their own minds about what weight to place on a contribution. The missing narrative was available: a few commentators were articulating just that view in the pages of The Australian and The Spectator for example.

It is understood that some of the more well-known conservative voices have chosen not to appear on the ABC. But Australia is a big country and 40% of those who voted preferenced the Coalition. Impartiality requires the reflection of a diversity of principle relevant perspectives, particularly when the matter of contention is at a critical point. The final weeks of a federal election campaign meet that threshold.

As it turned out, all the 2019 Insiders’ panellists who got the May 2019 election wrong were invited back in 2020.  Yet now Speersy is going to hold Jennifer Hewett accountable for her view on the timing of the next election. Why start with her when it comes to holding Insiders  panellists to their predictions?  Can You Bear It?



It is widely acknowledged that times are tough in this time of pandemic – especially for those in the restaurant industry – where, for example, numbers for inside dining in NSW in recent times is one person per four square metres. Some other States have harsher regulations.

So it’s good news that the Australian Financial Review has persisted with “Lunch with the AFR”  in its weekend edition – sometimes termed The Weekend Fin.  Or is it?

On Saturday, The Weekend Fin had lunch with Liz Broderick – the former sex discrimination commissioner who is currently the United Nations special rapporteur for discrimination against women and girls.  Sally Patten was the AFR host. As is the practice, the guest got to pick the restaurant.  The choice was Wilson Café, 35 Richards Lane, Surry Hills – i.e. inner-city Sydney. And the AFR picked up the tab.

This is what Ms Broderick and Ms Patten chose:

Wilson Café

35 Richards Lane

Surry Hills, NSW

Earl Grey tea, $3.80

Peppermint tea, $3.80

2 toasted prosciutto tomato and cheese

sandwiches, $13

Total: $20.60

Get it? The host and guest ate two sandwiches between them (valued at $6.50 each) and had one Earl Grey tea and one Peppermint tea (valued at $3.80 each).  A whole $20.60 – while the UN rapporteur and the AFR journalist discussed the life of poor women and girls in the Vale of Tears that we inhabit.  Here’s how Sally Patten’s report ended:

Broderick is gravely concerned about the state of liberal democracy and the rise and rise of authoritarian regimes around the world. She is also not hopeful that Gen Z will be a game changer and that the pay gap will disappear as companies and government institutions are run in equal numbers by men and women.

Data shows the amount of unpaid work carried out by men and women hasn’t shifted in almost 20 years. Furthermore, Gen Z may start off believing wholeheartedly in gender equality, but once they enter the workforce, they are likely to succumb to the existing ways of working.

“The way our organisations are structured, and the way the gender system is built into the walls, the floors and the ceilings of an organisation, that reminds [them] every day that this [way of working] needs to be my primary focus if I’m going to get ahead in this organisation,” Broderick says. “You become institutionalised, so that [underscores] the importance of shifting institutions. That takes courageous leadership.”

On that note, I have clearly used all of my allotted time and Broderick needs to rush off to a meeting. The staff have been extremely patient with us, given there is only room for about four people to sit down inside (there are a few seats outside) and we have been there for well over an hour. I feel like the bill should have been more than $20.60.

So there you have it.  Elizabeth Broderick and Sally Patten spent well over an hour eating a sandwich each and sipping tea while occupying half the available indoor space in Wilson Café.

Sally Patten thought that the bill should have been more than $20.60 – but she paid the meagre amount anyway.  According to the report, no tip was left for the staff who were extremely patient while the dynamic duo solved the world’s problems at about $15 an hour. Surely Comrade Patten could have slapped down a $50 note as a way of saying “thanks”.  But no.

How lousy can The Weekend Fin get?

[I’m so pleased that Jackie’s (male) co-owner knocked back one of these lunch invitations in recent years.  The (attempted) host was Tony Walker.  Sure, Hendo’s motives may not have amounted to a protest about the AFR’s unwillingness to provide tips for lowly paid restaurant staff. Sure, it might have been more about the fact that Hendo did not want to let AFR readers know (if readers there are) about how many bottles of Holy Water might have been consumed.  But the outcome was wise. Lunch with The Weekend Fin  is best avoided. – MWD Editor.]


While on the topic of faux lunches put on by Nine Newspapers – did anyone read about the Sydney Morning Herald’s “Lunch with Michael Brissenden” on Saturday?  It seems that Nine’s journalists can be found hanging out around lunch-time in inner-city Sydney restaurants.  And so it came to pass that Michael Brissenden (of the inner-city ABC) had lunch with Michael Ruffles (of the, until recently, inner-city Sydney Morning Herald) at The Erko at 102 Erskineville Road in inner-city Erskineville.

Your man Brissenden is perhaps best remembered for his work at the ABC on such programs as AM, 7.30 and Four Corners.  The leftist journalist was in good company.  As MWD readers well know, the ABC is a Conservative Free Zone without one conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or on-line outlets.  In short, Comrade Brissenden works within a taxpayer funded inner-city bubble where all the leading presenters, producers and editors essentially agree with essentially everyone else on essentially everything – in a fashionable leftist kind of way.

The lunch was held on the occasion of M.B.’s latest book – a work of fiction titled Dead Letters.  It was released by Hachette – managing director Louise Adler, the go-to publisher for the leftist-luvvie intelligentsia set Down Under.

The Brissenden/Ruffles lunch must have been a boring occasion – judging by the report in the SMH.  Except for the fact that Smoked Chicken Maryland and Goldband Snapper was consumed. How frightfully interesting, don’t you think? By the way, this time Nine paid a whopping $48.62 – and again did not leave a tip. The highlight of the interview was Comrade Ruffles’ revelation that Dead Letters provides an insight into “the art of hot desking” at the Sydney Morning Herald. How exciting. Worth a read at $32.99, surely. [Quite right. I would be willing to pay $33. – MWD Editor.]

What fascinated MWD was the reference to the fact that author Brissenden has recently moved into fiction.  However, in Jackie’s (male) co-owner’s view, he has always been into fiction.  Remember the time when Michael Brissenden broke an off-the-record agreement and reported on a private dinner which he had shared with (then) treasurer Peter Costello and two journalists, Paul Daley and Tony Wright.  For full details see “Dining out with the ABC: A Warning”, The Sydney Institute Quarterly, December 2008.

It turned out that the then ABC “star” reporter not only broke an off-the-record agreement. But Comrade Brissenden could not get the date of the event correct – confusing 2 June 2005 with 5 March 2005 – and being unable to remember whether the dinner took place in a Canberra summer or a Canberra winter. For those who know the Australian Capital Territory, there’s quite a difference.  Except, apparently, for those with bad memories, hang-overs or whatever. Also, the ABC 7.30 reporter reported his own story on 7.30. In doing so he had said he had notes of the Costello dinner conversation – no such Brissenden note existed.

And now Michael Brissenden is telling anyone who will listen that he has only recently tried his hand at fiction. Talk about a lack of self-awareness.


When walking Jackie on a fine Saturday morning, Hendo tends to listen to Jonathan (“Proudly the ABC’s Sneerer-in-Chief”) Green’s Blueprint for Living program on ABC’s Radio National. It’s great listening at Hang-Over Time – since you can always blame any sense of incomprehension on Comrade Greens’ guests.  Like Elizabeth Farrelly last Saturday.

Dr Farrelly (for a doctor she is) was being interviewed on the occasion of the publication of her book Killing Sydney: The Fight for a City’s Soul.  It was not long before Green and Farrelly threw the switch to incomprehension along the following lines:

Jonathan Green: Cities though, are not just their core, you know, the inner city is a small part of Sydney, a tiny part of Greater Sydney. And I wonder whether those inner cores of cities which expand into the suburbs as Sydney does, become victims of that expansion, that the centre simply becomes a thing which serves the greater whole and loses its own liveability?

Elizabeth Farrelly: Yes, look, I think that does happen, and certainly it happens here, and the way we do it. And, you know, of course, because cities grow in sort of annular rings like trees, the old, the centre bits are the old bits. And when that process happens, of the dominance of the suburban fringe, the city centre can easily be sacrificed. But I don’t think that’s necessary. I think that’s largely down to the sort of North American idea of the city, which says, the middle bit is the CBD, and that’s full of work. And that’s men’s business it’s very serious, because it’s making money. And it’s all about towers. And so we have to be very serious. And it doesn’t matter about things like sunshine and trees, because this is very serious stuff.

Brilliant eh?  And is the CBD all about men’s business? And so on. But what does it mean?   After more of the incomprehensible same, Comrade Farrelly reflected on her recent decision to move to Clarence Street in the Sydney CBD:

Elizabeth Farrelly: And I have to say, having just this week moved into the very city centre into Clarence Street in the city in Sydney, I see how unsuited it is to actually that sort of living, there’s no fruit market. Or you know, there’s nothing sort of soft. So, it’s interesting, the way we’ve sacrificed that, I suppose for the sake of – and those are kind of community choices in a way, for the sake of making a big money-making centre.

Turn it up.  Dr Farrelly, who writes a Saturday column on urban matters for the Sydney Morning Herald, presents herself as an expert on city living.  And she moved into a Clarence Street apartment in the Sydney CBD – only to find that there was no fruit market nearby. Quelle Surprise!


MWD is always banging on about the fact that the ABC is a Conservative Free Zone – see this week’s “Keeping Watch on Nine’s Long Lunches” segment.  In response, ABC management and journalists are wont to declare that this is not the case. It’s just that no one is ever able to name even one conservative presenter, producer or editor who works on any of the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s prominent outlets. Fancy that. MWD is willing to publish a little list if Friends of the ABC types are prepared to name names. But this seems unlikely.

While the ABC cannot cite one prominent conservative on its books, ABC staff go into denial when anyone suggests that they are left-wing. That’s what occurred on Wednesday when, during an interview, Health Minister Greg Hunt told ABC TV News Breakfast co-presenter Michael Rowland that he is a man of the left. It turned out that Comrade Rowland got somewhat rattled on air – as is evident in the number of times he used the words “I” and “No”. Let’s go to the transcript when an agitated Comrade Rowland denies that he is of the left – after he criticised Minister Hunt for allegedly improperly associating the Liberal Party with a tweet about how the Coalition government was handling the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out. It was a difficult transcript to put together in view of the interruptions involved – but MWD succeeded well enough:

Michael Rowland: Greg Hunt, when you announced the very welcome $10 million additional doses of Pfizer on your social media channels last week, why did you feel the need to attach a Liberal Party logo to an Australian government announcement?

Greg Hunt: Well, in fact, we made the Australian Government announcement as the government, with the Prime Minister.

Michael Rowland: But I’m asking why the Liberal Party logo was –

Greg Hunt: Michael, I know you have strong views –

Michael Rowland: [interrupting] I’m not – no, I’m just, I’m asking why –

Greg Hunt: I’ll finish, if you let me…you seem to be the most exercised of any person in the Australian media about this….

Michael Rowland: It’s an Australian government announcement, who paid for the vaccines?

Greg Hunt: Well, let us draw a clear distinction here. I know this is an issue for you. In many ways, you identify with the left. You do this a lot, and I respect that –

Michael Rowland: No Minister, no. No, I, I, I, I’ll pull you up there –

Greg Hunt:  You’re open about that –

Michael Rowland:  No, I, I, I, I find that offensive, I’m asking you –

Greg Hunt:  Oh, come on Michael. There’s no one who’s watching who doesn’t identify you with the left.

Michael Rowland: No, no.  I’m exercised about what’s right and wrong –

Greg Hunt: And you should be open about that. I’m open about my origins.

And so it went on and on. Needless to say, Michael Rowland got the last word and declared that he’s interested in what’s right and wrong – as determined, as you would expect, by Comrade Rowland himself.

In any event, Michael Rowland – Welcome to the “I’m offended” club. For its part, MWD is happy to cite any views which Mr Rowland holds that are not of a fashionable leftist kind. But don’t hold your breath.

[Perhaps this item should have been placed in your hugely popular Can You Bear It? segment.  Just a thought.  MWD Editor.]



So it’s farewell then, to borrow a Private Eye term, to Gadfly (aka Richard Ackland). This week The [Boring] Saturday Paper announced that “after the better part of seven years Richard Ackland has stepped down from writing the Gadfly column; he remains The Saturday Paper’s legal affairs editor”. For its part, MWD is more focused on the worst part of Gadfly’s time writing the “Diary” column for Morry Schwartz’s vanity publishing gazette.

How could this be the case?  Did your man Gadfly run out of sneers?  Or perhaps he could not come up with any more campus newspaper style nicknames for his political enemies – like “Little Johnny Howard”, “Bookshelves Brandis”, “Lord Moloch”, “Sharri (Lois Lane) Markson” and “Arfur (Daley) Sinodinos – not to mention “Chuckles Henderson”. MWD will miss the Ackland undergraduate Saturday witticisms terribly and wonders just how life can go on after Gadfly.  After all, Gadfly has provided great copy for MWD over seven years.

However, the good news is that The Saturday Paper has engaged a real comedian as its new Gadfly – a certain Sami Shah, formerly of the ABC Radio Melbourne 774 Breakfast program.  How is he going after his first two weeks? Well, it’s been a slow start. But on 5 February Comrade Shah did refer to former tennis star Margaret Court as “a loathsome crank”. So it’s possible that Sami Shah will morph into Richard Ackland. In the meantime, Comrade Shah is doing what the Green Left does – attacking both the Coalition and Labor from the left.

Media Watch Dog’s Five Paws Award was inaugurated in Issue Number 26 (4 September 2009) during the time of Nancy (2004-2017). The first winner was ABC TV presenter Emma Alberici.  Ms Alberici scored for remembering the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 23 August 1939 whereby Hitler and Stalin divided Eastern Europe between Germany and the Soviet Union.  And for stating that the Nazi-Soviet Pact had effectively started the Second World War, since it was immediately followed by Germany’s invasion of Poland (at a time when the Soviet Union had become an ally of Germany). Over the years, the late Nancy’s Five Paws Award has become one of the world’s most prestigious gongs – rating just below the Nobel Prize and Academy Awards.


As avid readers are aware, MWD has traced the (false) prophecies of Dr Norman Swan – the ABC’s go-to commentator on COVID-19. Norman (“Proud to be called Doctor Doom”) Swan has forever been warning about COVID-19 super-spreader events and all too willing to call for lock-downs and the like.  Your man Swan lives in comfort in Sydney.  The same could not be said about parents with children who were locked-down in small Housing Commission flats in Melbourne.  But there you go.

However, MWD digresses. On the ABC TV Outsiders program on Sunday, sports commentator and author Gideon Haigh – who supported Melbourne hosting the Australian Open tennis grand slam tennis event, in spite of COVID and all that and the evidence of some community infection in Melbourne on the eve of the event – had this to say about the fear-mongering of the likes of Norman Swan.  Let’s go to the transcript of the opening moments of last Sunday’s Offsiders:

Kelli Underwood: Gideon. Hi, good morning to you.

Gideon Haigh: Morning.

Kelli Underwood: Have you started to question whether it’s [the Australian Open] all worth it?

Gideon Haigh: No, no. I think there’s value in continuity and tradition and even pleasure. We’ve managed the virus effectively. I think there’s no reason to think that we won’t do it again. The general objection sort of feels more sort of moral than epidemiological – you know, “Don’t people know there’s a war on?” But, you know,  what did we try to achieve a relative degree of COVID security for – if it wasn’t for the occasional bout of things that we enjoy? You know, I was in favour of crowds at the Sydney Test match and they seem to have worked out alright. You know, there were the Norman Swans and Steve Prices, busy telling us that it [the Test] was the mother of all super-spreader events. But you know, being a celebrity epidemiologist means never having to say you’re sorry.

Kelli Underwood: Whack, he started with a bang.

He sure did. By the way, Dr Swan is not an epidemiologist – but he is a celebrity with medical qualifications.  To the likes of Comrade Swan, there can never be enough lock-downs, it seems.  But we all survived the Second Test cricket match between Australia and India in Sydney.  Sure Victoria is going into lockdown again. But this is due to the apparent incompetence of the Victorian Health system rather than to the Australian Open. The community spread of COVID-19 that is currently in Melbourne is not associated with the tennis – so far at least.

Your man Haigh is correct.  Being a celebrity like Norman Swan means never having to say you’re sorry for howlers, unfulfilled predictions etc. Especially, it seems, if you’re an ABC presenter.

Gideon Haigh: Five Paws.


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Until next time.

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