ISSUE – NO. 533

12 March 2021

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Could it be due to MWD’s prurient interests?  Or perhaps a desire to get an update on Australia’s “big existential questions”?  In any event, Gerard Henderson – Jackie’s (male) co-owner – tuned into ABC TV’s Q&A last night at Post-Dinner Drinks Time.

Hamish Macdonald was in the presenter’s chair. As avid readers are aware, he advised in early 2021 that Q&A this year would “deliver genuine answers” to “the big existential questions”. As readers will recall, Comrade Macdonald’s big existential questions last week involved asking female panellists about their sex lives.  On the occasion of International Women’s Day, no less. How existential can an ABC presenter get? – when it comes to big questions.

Alas, it turned out that last night’s Q&A was just like the nights of old when Tony Jones was in the presenter’s chair and the executive producer was the leftist Peter McEvoy.  MWD readers are familiar with the traditional Q&A large leftist audience stack. Well, last night it was a relatively small leftist audience stack – due to COVID-19 restrictions prevailing in Melbourne where the program was filmed.

It seems that the audience was recruited from the Sandalista Set in inner-city  Fitzroy North who teamed up with fellow Che Guevara-admiring sandal-wearers in inner-city Carlton and headed to the ABC studio in inner-city Southbank, just over the Yarra River from the CBD to heckle any conservative thought and praise every green left comment.

Labor’s deputy Senate leader, Kristina Keneally expressed annoyance that the Victorian-based Education Minister Dan Tehan was not on the panel – and that the Morrison government was represented by an assistant minister Zed Seselja (who did well in difficult circumstances). But why should the Coalition put up a high profile cabinet minister who would only attract scorn from the leftist stack which is a typical Q&A audience – especially in Melbourne?

Comrade Macdonald invariably calls for Q&A followers to be respectful. But he rarely protects panellists from the ire and scorn of the program’s leftist audience. Nor did he do anything of significance to prevent Senator Keneally from talking over Senator Seselja. No wonder some conservatives boycott Q&A – while others would if they had not been de-platformed already.

MWD Exclusive


Now the ABC Chair Ita Buttrose AC OBE is something of a MWD fave.  After all, she has addressed The Sydney Institute on two occasions – including a talk on manners in 2011 titled “Australians Behaving Badly”. Jackie’s (male) co-owner is a well brought up kind of guy. But everyone can do with a manners update from time to time. Especially from Ita Buttrose.

But MWD digresses.  Did anyone see the “An Open Letter to the Prime Minister” sponsored by the Minderoo Foundation – which was published yesterday in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and the Australian Financial Review. It was essentially a plea to Prime Minister Scott Morrison to “make the lives of Australian women easier”.

A worthy cause, to be sure.  But a political one.  Co-authors included Lucy Turnbull, ACTU president Michele O’Neil, former Labor minister Jenny Macklin, the Grattan Institute’s Danielle Wood, ACOSS’s Cassandra Goldie and – yes – Ita Buttrose.  They listed a series of demands.

It’s understandable why organisations like the ACTU, the Grattan Institute and ACOSS should petition the Morrison government before the budget.  But Ms Buttrose is a high profile ABC chair.  As far as MWD is aware, no other senior media figure signed the open letter.

And then there is the matter of manners – or courtesy.  It’s not long ago that Ms Buttrose criticised the fact that Communications Minister Paul Fletcher released a letter on Twitter that he had written to her about the ABC. She regarded such an action as discourteous.

But now Ita Buttrose has signed an Open Letter to the Prime Minister which is critical of existing government policies.  It contains such gratuitous advice as “it is time to recognise”. And it demands an answer to the question as to why an “important” women’s impact statement “was removed” from something or other – it’s not quite clear – possibly the last budget.

There’s something to be said for the Open Letter. It’s a bit like a Papal Encyclical – in that no reply is required or expected.

Ita Buttrose has chosen to be an activist ABC chair – of an organisation which is supposed to be neutral in the political debate.  Yet she has endorsed an open letter signed by some of the Morrison government’s harshest critics.  Should the ABC chair do a quick refresher course in Nancy’s Courtesy Classes? (re which see MWD passim ad nauseam).

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

Can You Bear It?


Why is it that so many of the leftist-luvvies in the land have little or no sense of self-awareness?  It’s a good question – with no apparent answer.

Media Watch Dog had this (reflective) thought after reading Jane Caro’s “Life Matters” column in Nine’s Sunday Life magazine on Sunday.  It was headed “The shame of the father: When will a woman simply be a fellow human who happens to be a female, asks Jane Caro”.

Jackie’s (male) co-owner ploughed through the latest update of The Thought of Jane Caro and came to the impression that she had said it all before.  But wait, the “I’m Loving” breakout segment contained something fresh:

So Jane Caro AM is delighted with her new dress from Gorman.  That’s cool – as the saying goes.  But you wonder how Ms Caro was able to make such a judgment while living in a society which has many “resonances” with the resistance to Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime in Germany between 1933 and 1945. Come to think of it, not many members of the resistance to Adolf Hitler had the time or funds to purchase stylish Gorman dresses – but there you go.

Catrine Clay’s The Good Germans covers the stories of Germans who witnessed the rise of Nazism and decided to resist it.  Namely, (i) Irma Thalmann – a teenager who was sent to Ravensbruck and Buchenwald concentration camps, (ii) Fritz-Dietlof von der Schulenburg – who was involved in planning the Operation Valkyrie assassination attempt on Hitler and was hanged in Plotzensee Prison, (iii) Rudolf Ditzen – who was incarcerated in a Nazi insane asylum, (iv) Bernt Engelmann – a student imprisoned in various concentration camps, (v) Julius Leber – who was executed in January 1945 and (vi) Fabian von Schlabrendorff who attempted to assassinate Hitler, was tortured and imprisoned in Dachau concentration camp.

Catrine Clay writes mainly about everyday Germans who opposed the Nazi regime.  The better-known ones were the Catholic student activists at Munich University, Hans and Sophie Scholl, and the Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer – who are not included in this book. All three were brutally executed.

It seems that Comrade Caro, in her ignorance, reckons that the brave struggle of the above nine is similar to her contemporaries today who “resist” the government of Scott Morrison along with President Donald Trump’s administration of recent memory.  Talk about a lack of self-awareness. Can You Bear It?

[Perhaps you’re being a bit tough on Comrade Caro. Remember it was not so long ago that she got bagged for using her husband’s  gas-guzzling LandCruiser VX on the way to the family’s high-emitting farm which contains lotsa flatulent cattle.  Could Ms Caro be traumatised to such an extent that she believes that Australia in 2021 is a bit like Nazi Germany – except that it has more Gorman dresses? – MWD Editor.]


Lotsa thanks to the avid Melbourne reader who drew attention to the ABC’s apparent recently developed sensitivity to criticism of its pile-on against Cardinal George Pell and now Attorney-General Christian Porter.

Let’s go to the transcript of ABC Radio National’s The Law Report on Tuesday presented by Damien Carrick – when a comparison was made between the ABC pile-on against Pell and the ABC pile-on against Porter.  Here were go:

Damien Carrick: Greg Barns SC, like Tom Percy QC, you’re not a fan of Christian Porter. But you do have huge concerns about, you know, upholding the rule of law and the presumption of innocence here. But, nevertheless, you also feel that there could be scope for an independent inquiry.

 Greg Barns: Not into the allegations. There can’t possibly be an inquiry into the allegations because, as Tom rightly points out – the complainant, sadly, is deceased. And it would be grossly unfair to Christian Porter for there to be any finding made. And I’m not aware of a case involving – where it’s a word against word case, where you don’t have any forensic evidence or any other supporting evidence where a finding is made. And it would establish a very dangerous precedent. However, there is the issue of the fact that he, as Kate [Eastman SC] says, his office is different to that of other cabinet ministers. And he has various roles in addition to being a political member of the government. The issue of the impact on his office and the administration of law is something that could be examined, and an opinion furnished to the government by an individual. But I do not support for a moment these calls for an inquiry.

I have to say, I’ve been stunned by the trial by media that’s taking place. It was bad enough in Pell. I think there’s a real issue here about the way the media conducts itself, including, dare I say it Damien, the ABC – in relation to serious allegations against individuals. I think that’s a major issue.

Damien Carrick: Okay.

Greg Barns: Not that I’m saying it should be part of any inquiry, but I think it’s a major issue.

Sure is.  But not to Damien Carrick – who hurriedly dismissed the ABC’s unprofessional coverage of the Pell and Porter matters with a quick “Okay”. Can You Bear It?



MWD has gone out of its way today to avoid, in so far as possible, the latest episode of “(Outside) the Palace” starring Meghan and Harry and Oprah and Mrs King and her son Prince Charles and grandson the Duke of Cambridge and their heirs and successors according to law.

However, there is reason to correct a few howlers in the media lest additional confusion about the Royal Family prevail in the land.

۰ On Tuesday, Stephen Drill – The Daily Telegraph’s Europe Correspondent – wrote that “Prince Harry is the current ‘spare’ to the Throne”. No he’s not.  The Duke of Sussex is sixth in line to the throne. He was the “spare” after his father Charles and his brother William – before the latter married and had three children. That makes him Number Six.

۰ On Wednesday, Bevan Shields, the Europe correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, in Nine’s Online edition referred to Catherine as “the Duchess of Sussex”.  No she’s not. She is the Duchess of Cambridge.  Fortunately, this was corrected. Phew.  There are enough problems in the (Royal) family already without switching wives.


It was late last night when Peter FitzSimons, Nine’s Sun-Herald columnist bobbed up on Network 10’s The Royal Fallout to be interviewed by Sarah Harris, Angela Bishop and Hugh Riminton. Quelle Surprise! Fitz was dressed all in black.  Like a Catholic priest of old or a contemporary Phillip (“I’m the ABC’s Man in Black”) Adams. What’s more, Comrade FitzSimons rolled up to Network Ten with his red bandanna missing-in-action.  That is, the new sans red rag, naked-from-the-neck-up style.

It came to pass that the head of the Australian Republic Movement had decided to make use of Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Harry and Meghan to advance his cause that Australia should have an Australian head of state and not rely on the British Sovereign for this position.

Fair enough.  MWD supports the republican cause.  But MWD is not so foolish to believe that Aussies in the suburbs and regional centres will support a cause advocated by a multi-millionaire Sydney leftist who dislikes conservatives, sneers at Christians (especially Catholics) and talks down to mere mortals.  But that’s another matter.

Here are the highlights of Fitz’s bombastic appearance on The Royal Fallout.

۰ Fitz spoke about the “insanity of having a family of aristocrats living in a palace in London presiding as our head of state for generations to come”. He made no reference to the fact that if Australia is insane in this respect – then so is Canada (led by the beloved Justin Trudeau) and New Zealand (led by the super beloved Jacinda Ardern).

۰ Fitz then spoke about presenter Angela Bishop’s young daughter.  He reckoned that she is capable of doing anything except becoming president of an Australian republic.  According to the Red Bandannaed One (retired), young Miss Bishop, by the age of 40, would be talented enough “to rid us of Pauline Hanson”. By then, Senator Hanson would be around 95 years of age – by no means a high bar for the (by then) 40 year old Ms Bishop.

۰ Fitz claimed that “it’s specifically written in our Constitution from 1901 – you little Australians….your blood is not blue”. Hugh Riminton commented: “I don’t think that’s what the Constitution actually says”.  But Fitz was not for turning. Who knows? – perhaps he has not read the Constitution and has only dreamt about it.

۰ But there was no stopping the President of the Australian Republic Movement – he told viewers (if viewers there were) that he loved The Crown. Fitz did not demur when a panelist described The Crown as “a great documentary”.   Fact? Fiction? What’s the difference – to Fitz at least.

At this stage, Hendo headed off for a late night port – convinced that the Sovereign will long reign over us Australians while the likes of Peter FitzSimons lead the republican cause.

A Dressed in Black Fitz on Network 10 last night – sans bandanna


As pointed out in MWD Issue 532, the ABC seems to have an inconsistent policy on what ABC TV Insiders  host David (“Call me Speersy”) Speers  calls disclosures.  That is, declarations of perceived conflicts of interest.  For example, last Sunday on Insiders Speersy commenced the panel discussion as follows: “Welcome to you all; I think it is important to start this conversation with a quick disclosure….”

As it turned out, the only real disclosure required by Insiders’ executive producer Sam Clark from the panel of three – Annabel Crabb, Katharine Murphy and Peter van Onselen – was for PVO to declare his friendship with Attorney-General Christian Porter.

Annabel Crabb said that she knew the woman who made allegations against Porter – and then withdrew the allegations shortly before she died – some decades ago. However, Ms Crabb did not mention that she was a close friend of one of the woman’s close friends who had supported her in recent years.

And the Guardian Australia’s Katharine Murphy said that she had “no declarations”.  This despite the fact that Malcolm Turnbull was involved in bringing the left-wing online newspaper to Australia and had introduced Ms Katharine Murphy to its editor.  Ms Murphy and her editor Ms Lenore Taylor have never declared this association on Insiders in recent years.

This would suggest that Insiders has no coherent policy on disclosures.  Likewise the ABC as a whole.  Here are two examples.

۰ On 8 March 2021, 7.30 did a segment on Angus Chance, a young man who plays semi-professional football for Dulwich Hill in Sydney.  The evidence suggests that he was punched – and badly injured – after he defended two teammates whom he believed were the victims of verbal racial abuse.

The story turned on Mr Chance’s fight for compensation under the club’s insurance policy. Reporter Elias Clure said that Angus Chance and his family are “being assisted by lawyer and former Liberal staffer Tim James”. What’s the point of this disclosure? Does it really matter in this legal case that Tim James has worked as a Liberal Party staffer in NSW.

۰ And then there is Fiona McLeod SC.  Ms McLeod is a prominent Melbourne barrister and the Chair of the Accountability Roundtable.  Oh yes, she was the Labor Party candidate at the May 2019 election standing against Katie Allen in the not-so-safe Liberal Party seat of Higgins in south eastern Melbourne.

Fiona McLeod appeared on a Radio National Breakfast panel last Friday, chaired by Sally Sara, which discussed the Christian Porter matter.  Her fellow panellists were Terry O’Gorman (who was introduced as a criminal law specialist and President of the Australian Council of Civil Liberties) and Pru Goward (who was introduced as a former Sex Discrimination Commissioner and former Liberal minister in New South Wales).

What about Fiona McLeod’s Labor Party affiliations?  Well, Sally Sara made no reference at all to Ms McLeod’s Labor Party candidacy at the 2019 election.

It was much the same on Media Watch on Monday.  Paul Barry presented what he termed a “Media Watch Special” which was titled “Porter’s Media Storm”. Comrade Barry cited Fiona McLeod’s appearance on RN Breakfast – and referred to her as a “barrister”.

He did not tell viewers that Fiona McLeod was a Labor Party “star” candidate in Higgins in 2019 – who attained a six per cent swing.

So it seems that when the likes of Tim James and Pru Goward appear on the ABC their Liberal Party affiliations are cited. But when Fiona McLeod is mentioned – it is as if her Labor Party affiliation has disappeared down a taxpayer funded memory hole.


While on the topic of the Christian Porter case, wasn’t Louise Milligan’s much-hyped Four Corners’ program on Monday a real fizzer.  The fact is that Bursting the Canberra Bubble contained no fresh information concerning the unproven allegations against Porter. Apart, that is, for the fact that Louise Milligan and Four Corners’ executive producer Sally Neighbour revealed confidential information about the complainant – who Milligan named as Kate.  In this instance an anonymous professional counsellor gave confidential information about a deceased client.  How unprofessional can you get?  Especially in view of the fact that, according to the available evidence, Kate’s family did not want her case used by Four Corners.

Nevertheless, Louise Milligan is still using Kate’s name to continue her activist campaign against Christian Porter – as the tweet below demonstrates.

So Louise Milligan has involved herself in the “I Believe Kate” movement despite the fact that there is no forensic or independent witness evidence to support the allegation which Kate made – and then subsequently withdrew by asking NSW Police not to continue its investigation into what allegedly occurred in 1988.


There has been an overwhelming demand by avid readers for an update on the correspondence between Gerard Henderson and Professor Jane Goodman-Delahunty, Dr Natalie Martschuk and Professor Mark Nolan of the taxpayer funded Charles Sturt University (CSU).

It will be recalled that the CSU Trio wrote an article titled “Memory Science in the Pell Appeals: Impossibility, Timing, Inconsistencies” which was published in the October 2020 issue of Criminal Law Journal (Volume 44, Part 4).  In short, the article questions the High Court of Australia’s unanimous judgment in Pell v The Queen with respect to memory.  Gerard Henderson criticised the following paragraph in the CSU Trio’s article:

While the High Court seemed to have considered both the credibility and reliability of the complainant, it focused on the honesty of the opportunity witnesses, without specific consideration of the reliability of their memories, in particular in light of the advanced age of some opportunity witnesses, such as Potter or Portelli [emphasis added].  Leading contemporary memory researchers emphasise that human memory is not inherently unreliable, and that factors such as delay (a long lapse of time between the event and recall of it) do not inevitably render memory unreliable. With periodic reminders, even very young preverbal infants can retain memories of specific episodic events for long periods of time. However, older age is a factor correlated with delay that does have a bearing on memory. [emphasis added].

On 13 January 2021, Gerard Henderson asked the CSU Trio whether they were aware of the fact that, at the time of the trial, Monsignor Portelli was 60 years of age – and whether they regard a person of 60 years as being of “advanced age”.  There was no reply from any of the joint-authors of the Criminal Law Journal.

So on 8 February 2021, Gerard Henderson wrote again to the CSU Trio.  Again, there was no response. Then, to the delight of MWD readers, the entire correspondence was published in Issue 530 on Friday 19 February 2021 at the usual time of publication (i.e Gin & Tonic Time – 4.06 pm in fact.)

Then, at 5.05 pm on Friday 19 February, Professor Goodman-Delahunty, Natalie Martschuk and Mark Nolan  finally got around to replying. This is how the letter commenced:

Thank you for your recent email and query in relation to a comment in our paper published in the Criminal Law Journal. We are perplexed by your allegations of unresponsiveness.  Your earlier communications were addressed to the editors of CLJ, not us….

This statement is totally false.  Both of Gerard Henderson’s emails were directed to the authors – with copies to the CLJ editors.  Gerard Henderson acknowledged the Trio’s email at 6.28 pm on 19 February – and emailed a formal response on 23 February 2021.

In their email of 19 February, the CSU Trio avoided Gerard Henderson’s questions and regurgitated the argument in their CLJ article criticising the High Court.

So you have a situation where the CSU Trio have the “courage” to criticise the High Court – knowing that justices cannot participate in the public debate and defend their judgments.  But the CSU Trio lack the courage to answer basic questions themselves.

In his email of 23 February, Gerard Henderson repeated his (unanswered) questions:

  • I asked you whether you are aware that Monsignor Portelli was 60 years of age at the time of the retrial of The Queen v Pell. You still have not answered this straight-forward question.
  • I asked you, if you were aware of Portelli’s age, whether you regarded 60 year old Australians are being of “advanced age”.  You still have not answered this straight-forward question.

In their email of 19 February, the CSU Trio stated that they “fact-checked and calculated ages of witnesses in the Pell case from available information”. Gerard Henderson also asked this question on 23 February:

  • I asked youwhat fact-checking youdid before describing Portelli of such “advanced age” as to have “a bearing on [his] memory”. You have replied that you “fact-checked and calculated ages of witnesses in the Pell case from available information” This is a non-answer.  What was the “available information” that led you to conclude that Portelli was of “advanced age”? It would appear that you just guessed his age – and managed to get this past the CLJ referee process.

As MWD readers might have expected, the CSU Trio have not replied to any of the above questions – after almost three weeks.  If a reply does arrive, it will be published in full in MWD along with the Trio’s full letter of 19 February.  But don’t hold your breath – as the saying goes.

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Postscript No 1

Gerard Henderson’s letter to the CSU Trio on 23 February concluded as follows:

When I was an academic many years ago, I would have marked down BA (Hons) students who refused to answer simple questions about their work – and who were not sufficiently motivated to find out the age of a person they were writing about by making a simple phone call (or sending a letter) to a readily contactable person.  I would have regarded such work as of poor scholarship.

Postscript No 2

If the Charles Sturt University Trio had bothered to obtain Monsignor Charles Portelli’s Statement to Victoria Police dated 6 December 2016 – they would have discovered that it commenced:

My full name is Monsignor Charles PORTELLI.  My date of birth is the 22nd of October, 1958. I live at an address known to the Police. I am the Parish Priest of Keilor Downs – Kealba Parish.

In other words, if the CSU Trio had examined Monsignor Portelli’s statement to Victoria Police they would have been able to work out that he was 60 years of age when the retrial of The Queen v Pell occurred.  This is a public document.

This overwhelmingly popular segment of Media Watch Dog usually works like this. Someone or other thinks it would be a you-beaut idea to write to Gerard Henderson about something or other. And Hendo, being a courteous and well-brought up kind of guy, replies. Then, hey presto, the correspondence is published in MWD – much to the delight of its avid readers.

There are occasions, however, when Jackie’s (male) co-owner decides to write a polite note to someone or other – who, in turn, believes that a reply is in order. Publication in MWD invariably follows. There are, alas, some occasions where Hendo sends a polite missive but does not receive the courtesy of a reply. Nevertheless, publication of this one-sided correspondence still takes place. For the record – and in the public interest, of course.


 There was enormous interest in last week’s Correspondence segment concerning Robert Manne’s insistence on using the word “publicist” to describe Gerard Henderson –  and the Australian Dictionary of Biography’s acceptance of the use of what it termed Mr Manne’s “noun”. Previously, the ADB described this word usage (with reference to Gerard Henderson) as an “oddity” – and apologised for its appearance in Robert Manne’s entry on the late Frank Knopfelmacher in the ADB Volume 19 (which is published online).

An avid reader suggested that the ADB should provide Robert Manne’s reasoning – for want of a better word – in support of his insistence on describing Gerard Henderson as a “publicist”.  This would be interesting –  since Hendo has never worked for, say, Russell Crowe or Elle Macpherson.  Certainly, MWD would like to see Robert Manne’s case for the defence.  ADB are you listening?

Meanwhile – as avid readers might have expected – the correspondence has continued. What fun. Here we go:


Melanie Nolan to Gerard Henderson – 8 March 2021

Dear Gerard,

Yes, sometimes things are complex, justices compete with each other and interests have to be balanced. I am the editor of the ADB, but it is not the role of the editor to insist that every article reflects my own views of what should be said. In most circumstances, authors must have a right to express their views (otherwise who would want to write for the ADB), and so the bottom line is that the ADB does not unilaterally change an author’s text without their permission; this is a case of authorial responsibility.

Kind regards,



Gerard Henderson to Melanie Nolan – 9 March 2021

Dear Melanie

I refer to your note of 8 March 2021.  My responses are as follows:

  • Your comment that “sometimes things are complex, justices compete with each other and interests have to be balanced” seems clever. But what does it mean?
  • There is nothing complex about this matter. I am not a “publicist” – but Robert Manne asserts (without evidence) that I am.  You have acknowledged that this description of me as a publicist is an “oddity” – and apologised for its use in Robert Manne’s ADBentry on Frank Knopfelmacher.  But now you justify Robert’s error with reference to competing “justices”.
  • I have never expressed the view that it is the role of the ADBeditor to insist that “every article reflects” the editor’s views on what should be written.  You just made this up.
  • If, as you say, the ADB “does not unilaterally change an author’s text without their permission” – how come in the past the ADBhas published Corrigenda?  There is one such document in my possession which reads as follows:

Documented corrections are welcome from readers. Additional information, with sources, is also invited and will be placed in the appropriate files for future use.

  • Your email suggests that the ADBputs what you term “authorial responsibility” ahead of accuracy.  And yet the ADBclaims that “few journals have such thorough editing and refereeing process”.

In conclusion, I look forward to Robert Manne referring to me in a subsequent ADB entry as a “male stripper” or some such – which will remain uncorrected due to his “authorial responsibility” and your refusal to “unilaterally change” his text. How odd would such an oddity be?

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

cc:      Samuel Furphy

Malcolm Allbrook

Karen Ciuffetelli


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Until next time.

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