ISSUE – NO. 538

23 April 2021

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Who has heard about the entity called “the smartest person in the room?”. Well, last night the smartest men and women – who understand how the ABC soviet works – were not in the ABC studio room at the ABC Sydney headquarters in inner-city Ultimo as Q&A  went to air.

Media Watch Dog turned on Q&A at Post Dinner Drinks Time wondering why there was no member of the Labor Party on the panel.  Presenter Hamish (“I don’t watch TV unless I’m on it”) Macdonald advised the viewers – if viewers there were – late in the program that Q&A had invited four Labor Party members to its panel but all declined.  No names were named. It seems that Q&A only outs Coalition MPs who decline to enter the modern day version of the stocks that is the taxpayer funded Q&A – and not Labor ones.  The Greens, it is assumed, always accept Q&A invitations. After all, it’s The Greens kind of program.

On Monday, in his exclusive in The Australian, Greg Brown revealed that the Opposition’s shadow minister for resources – Madeleine King – had said that Labor will not stand in the way of new mines and believes that Australia will export coal beyond 2050.  This is hardly a topic that any sensible social democratic Labor MP would discuss before the baying Green/Left mob that is the usual Q&A audience.

And so it came to pass last night as the Green/Left audience cheered 10 News presenter Narelda Jacobs, former Liberal Party prime minister – and contemporary Liberal Party critic – Malcolm Turnbull and South Australian Greens’ Senator Sarah Hanson-Young. And jeered and mocked Minister for Resources Keith Pitt and the Australian-born former CEO of The Dow Chemical Company Andrew Liveris.  Both understand the need for Australia to have reliable energy, you see.

Much of the discussion – and all of the first half of the program –  turned on the proper response to climate change.  An excited Comrade Macdonald told viewers well into the program that President Joe Biden had just announced that the US will reduce its emissions by 52 per cent by 2030 (when he will be aged 87 and no longer president).  Not 51 per cent or 53 per cent – just 52 per cent. Needless to say, your man Macdonald did not advise the audience that the International Energy Agency (IEA) had just announced it expects that demand for coal will rise by 4.5 per cent in 2021 above 2019 levels.  The IEA also expects coal demand to reach the highest ever levels for China.

Among the Q&A Six last night (presenter plus five panellists) only two had engineering and/or science qualifications.  Namely, Andrew Liveris and Keith Pitt. Needless to say, when discussing energy, they were mocked by other panellists and the audience alike.  It was a night for emotion, not facts.

Q&A proclaims that it is all about respectful conversation.  But last night the presenter made no attempt to protect Liveris and Pitt from frequent interruptions from other panellists – along with abuse.  According to MWD’s notes, Sarah Hanson-Young described Mr Pitt as “crazy” and Mr Turnbull said he was into “fantasy”.  Then Mr Turnbull said Mr Pitt’s position was “nuts”. Your man Turnbull – who dominated the discussion early on – accused Mr Liveris of the sin of “mansplaining”. Really. And Senator Hanson-Young referred to Mr Liveris as “the fellow over there”.  Clearly she forgot the name of one of Australia’s leading business figures. And Narelda Jacobs said to Mr Liveris that he was “a fossil fool”.  She thought her “joke” was funny – as did the baying Q&A mob.  Apparently this abuse was with Q&A’s self-proclaimed policy on “respectful” discussion. How about that?

And so it went on and on.  The Turnbull/Jacobs/Hanson-Young tag team bagged Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Coalition government – and the stacked Green/Left audience lapped it up.  As the program moved to other topics, Comrade Macdonald decided that he should inject his views – describing the welfare-card as evidence that Australia is an authoritarian country.

In short, just another Q&A program that lacked political balance and in which anyone who supported the Coalition on anything was howled down.

As mentioned earlier, the smartest guys were not in the room.  Madeleine King made the correct call.  There’s no point going on Q&A if you are going to be interrupted by left-of-centre panellists and mocked by a stacked Green/Left audience.  It makes more sense to stay at home and walk the dog and/or have a late night drink of wine or holy water. Probably both.


Senator Sarah Hanson-Young Telling Minister Keith Pitt that he is “Crazy”

Malcolm Turnbull Looks at His Watch – Correction, inspects his Nails – as Minister Pitt Talks about Gas as a Transition Fuel




It speaks volumes about the ABC’s Corrections and Clarifications policy that it took the taxpayer funded public broadcaster a full three months to correct an error about the Coalition government’s very successful JobKeeper scheme during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here’s the ABC correction, titled “JobKeeper payments”, which was posted on Tuesday 20 April:

News: Reports presented across ABC radio, television and online on 29 January did not make clear that the ATO’s investigations into employers’ JobKeeper claims for potentially fictitious employees – including prisoners and the dead – were occurring at the application stage, prior to JobKeeper payments being made.  The ATO has stated that it is not aware of any ultimately successful JobKeeper claim for deceased or other fictitious employees.  The ABC’s online report has been corrected.  Content which was originally broadcast on radio and television has been removed.

The Australian Taxation Office put out a statement on 30 January 2021 stating, inter alia: “The ATO is not aware of any ultimately successful claim for deceased or other fictitious employees” under the JobKeeper scheme.  Yet it took the ABC from 30 January 2021 to 20 April 2021 – almost three months – to correct the error.

This in spite of the fact that the ABC’s error was challenged immediately by such an important organisation as the Australian Taxation Office – and had also been challenged by the Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

If the ABC cannot promptly correct an error pointed out by the ATO and the Treasurer in under three months – just imagine how it treats individual citizens. Josh Frydenberg was correct to make the following point on Twitter on Wednesday:

Yes, Australian taxpayers are entitled to a higher standard of reporting by the ABC on such important issues. And they are also entitled to a prompt correction when errors are made.

Can You Bear It?


The last segment in Peter FitzSimons’ “Fitz on Sunday” column in the Sun-Herald last Sunday – for anyone who got through the earlier literary sludge – commenced as follows:

Great Scott, they wouldn’t dare

In the lead up to becoming prime minister, John Howard famously said “the times will suit me” and was proved right. Up until recently these times also suited Scott Morrison, but these times they are a’changing, and he is not changing with them. This is most obvious when it comes to his flat-footedness in handling what is no less than an uprising by Australian women on half-a-dozen fronts at once.

What a load of absolute tosh. For starters, if there is an “uprising by Australian women” against Scott Morrison – how come Nine Newspapers’ the Sydney Morning Herald/Age  Resolve Strategic poll (published on Wednesday) found that 21 per cent of respondents believe that Prime Minister Scott Morrison performed best in the area of “women in society and the workforce” compared with 27 per cent for Opposition leader Anthony Albanese.

A gap to be sure, but not one to suggest an uprising of Australian women on half a dozen fronts at once.  Moreover, in view of the fact that Labor currently only has a narrow lead over the Coalition in The Australian’s Newspoll – if the Coalition has a women problem, then Labor must have a men problem.

But MWD digresses.  According to The (one-time) Red Bandannaed One, John Howard said “the times will suit me” in the lead-up to becoming Prime Minister in March 1996. Not so. In fact, John Howard uttered these words to Australian Financial Review journalist Anne Summers at a private dinner in Washington DC in July 1986 – a decade before he moved into The Lodge.

Between July 1986 (when John Howard was Opposition leader) and March 1996 (when John Howard became prime minister), John Howard (i) lost the 1987 election to Labor’s Bob Hawke, (ii) lost the Liberal Party leadership to Andrew Peacock in May 1989, (iii) did not contest the Liberal Party leadership when Peacock stepped down after the 1990 election, (iv) did not contest the Liberal Party leadership after the 1993 election and (v) did not contest the leadership in May 1994 when Alexander Downer successfully challenged John Hewson.

John Howard resumed the Liberal Party leadership in January 1995 and led the Coalition to victory in the March 1996 election.  Clearly Fitz – despite his many research assistants – does not know what he’s talking about in this instance.  Please! (to use a favourite Fitz one-word sentence – replete with Exclamation Marks!!!!!!)

But MWD digresses, yet again.  The penultimate segment of “Fitz on Sunday” last Sunday commenced as follows:

Goodbye to ties

I am wondering if one of the effects of the Plague on Sydney Town has been the obliteration of the necktie. For decades those useless chokers were obligatory wear for male corporate titans, office workers, doctors, lawyers, pox-doctor’s clerks – don’t ask me how I know, I just do – waiters and pretty much all men in the public domain bar lifesavers! Since the Plague though – when for the better part of a year so many men haven’t needed to bother with the nonsense – I reckon most men are staying liberated. At lunch with 10 mostly private school pinstripe men this week, I couldn’t help but notice only one of them had a tie on, and he was 70….

Turn it up. For around a decade until last year, your man Fitz (born 1961) wore a red rag on his head – until going naked from the neck up some months ago.

And the very same Fitz calls the neck tie a “useless choker” worn by “pox-doctor’s [sic] clerks” and the like. Whereas Fitz’s habit of wearing a red-bandanna on his head during middle-age was , er, perfectly normal.  Talk about a lack of self-awareness. Can You Bear It?

[No, not really, now that you ask.  By the way, I note that Peter FitzSimons (ex-Knox Grammar) had “lunch with 10 mostly private school pinstripe men last week”. Sounds a bit like Fitz’s “bring-a-plate-with-food-on-it” annual “Independence Day” knees-up which – according to available pics – lacks diversity.  Perhaps Comrade Fitz should spend a lunch without “private school pinstripe men”. For the record, Fitz left Knox Grammar over four decades ago – but he still refers to middle-age blokes with whom he lunches with reference to the school they attended.  Perhaps he only lunches with guys in pinstripe suits who own expensive Teslas. – MWD Editor.]

Fitz in Red Bandanna Mode

Fitz Wearing A Useless Choker When All Dressed Up To Meet (Then) PM Turnbull


There was enormous interest in MWD’s  story last week that ABC TV’s political editor Andrew Probyn had dropped a howler on ABC TV Insiders on Sunday 18 April – while looking over the Tamar River in Launceston.

Comrade Probyn told viewers that Prime Minister Scott Morrison had only discovered what is called the gender pay gap in late March/early April this year.  The Canberra Press Gallery journalist then revealed comments allegedly made by the Prime Minister to anonymous others to this effect.

No source was given and it would seem that your man Probyn just made this up.  After all, as MWD documented last week, Scott Morrison had tweeted about the gender pay gap on 23 September 2018 and had spoken about the issue on many occasions in Parliament before Insiders went to Launceston.  For example, responding to a question without notice from Anthony Albanese in the House of Representatives on 19 October 2020, Scott Morrison mentioned the gender pay gap on no  fewer than four occasions.

What’s the point of going back over old ground?  MWD hears readers cry.  Well, it’s just this. On Insiders last Sunday, presenter David Speers did not correct the Probyn howler. MWD believes that avid readers would want to know this.

While on the topic of Insiders, wasn’t it great to see The Guardian’s Amy Remeikis on the couch last Sunday?  On MWD’s count – this was her first appearance on the panel. Ms Remeikis’ previous appearances on Insiders involved conversing with her Guardian  colleague Michael Bowers in the “Talking Pictures” segment of Insiders.

Surely this is just what Insiders needed. Another left-of-centre journo from the leftist Guardian on the panel.  Joining The Guardian’s Katharine (“Malcolm calls me Murpharoo”) Murphy and Sarah Martin. The Guardian’s editor Lenore Taylor has been missing from the Insiders panel so far this year.  Here’s hoping Comrade Taylor gets one or more gigs in 2021 – since neither she nor The Guardian’s political editor Murpharoo have ever disclosed on Insiders how Malcolm Turnbull was responsible for bringing The Guardian to Australia and suggesting the two comrades for the current editorial positions which they hold.  Let’s hope that Comrade Taylor can clear this up before the end of the year – to fit in with the full-disclosure rule which appears to apply to non-Guardian panellists who appear on Insiders.

In any event, Comrade Remeikis made a terrific entry – particularly this comment on former Australia Post chief executive officer Christine Holgate, Cartier watches and all that stuff.

David Speers: It was 2018 the watches were purchased. Probably still not a good idea, but not something you should lose your job over necessarily, Amy?

Amy Remeikis: Well, I mean, this whole thing, I just, I’m really struggling with the idea of a multimillionaire CEO being a hero of the people….

How about that?  At Hangover Time last Sunday on Insiders, Comrade Remeikis resorted to the term “the people” – to explain contemporary Australian politics or, in leftist terminology, the toiling masses – and contrasted the people with a millionaire CEO.  It sure helps to have (yet) another Guardian  comrade on Insiders to give a class-war take on such capitalist (expensive) bling as Cartier watches.  Can You Bear It?


As daylight gets shorter and night time comes earlier – it’s difficult to distinguish between what Sky News’ critics call “Sky News After Dark” – and Sky News Before Dark. Take The Kenny Report, for example – which runs from 5 pm to 6 pm. It starts off before dark and ends up after dark.

In any event, could it be that Melbourne Herald-Sun columnist Justin Smith is using Sky News to get a gig on say – 7.30 or Insiders?

On The Kenny Report’s “The Wednesday Wrangle” segment – where Justin Smith is supposed to wrangle with Liz Storer – Comrade Smith is using the occasion to have a go at the Prime Minister, invariably with a sneer.

On Wednesday 14 April, Justin Smith referred to the Prime Minister as “Captain Coward”. Then last Wednesday he implied that Scott Morrison was not honest.  If your man Smith continues to muddy the line between criticism and abuse – he could well land a gig at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster. Can You Bear It?


Could it be that the celebrations surrounding the Sydney Morning Herald’s 190th birthday have led to an outbreak of hyperbole throughout Nine Newspapers Land?  Maybe – judging by how SMH political editor Peter Hartcher commenced his column last Saturday – titled “The folly of great expectations”:

If Scott Morrison wants to know why everyone’s getting cranky with him, he should turn to the six-word truth written by Australian novelist Kimberly Freeman: “Expectations are the enemy of happiness.” High expectations are dashed easily….

Okay. This is an important point. But hardly an original one.  More to the point – is “everyone” really “getting cranky” with Scott Morrison?  As in all of Australia?  For its part, MWD hopes that the Hartcher Hyperbole is dashed as readily as high expectations.  Can You Bear It?


Here’s a shout-out to an avid (but not uncritical) Media Watch Dog reader – ABC TV’s 7.30 executive producer Justin Stevens, no less.

As MWD readers will know, your man Stevens likes to tell viewers about who will not be appearing on his program.  This is a different approach from those executive producers who like to draw attention to who has accepted invitations to appear – not those who have declined.

Here’s the latest update on the The Failure of Justin Stevens – as told by 7.30 presenter Leigh Sales last night.

Leigh Sales: The Prime Minister is due to deliver Australia’s official contribution to the global climate summit this evening. As always Scott Morrison has had other issues to deal with today, including the response to the Federal Government’s move to scrap deals struck between Victoria and China. Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne declined our interview request. Instead 7:30’s chief political correspondent Laura Tingle is with me….

The likes of Comrades Stevens and Sales seem to have never imagined that perhaps the Prime Minister and some of his senior ministers decline invitations to appear on 7.30 because 7.30’s chief political correspondent – Laura Tingle – has accused Scott Morrison of being into “ideological bastardry”. But there you go.

And then there is the lack of political diversity on 7.30. Take last night’s program, for example. The lead story – by Andy Park – was on climate change. Quelle Surprise!

Senior Cabinet minister Angus Taylor, the minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, did a pre-recorded interview with Andy  Park. He put in a good performance.  But Minister Taylor was one of eight who made comments on the program about Australia’s response to climate change.

All the others were critical – directly or indirectly and to a greater or lesser extent – of the Morrison government’s policies on energy and emissions reduction.  Here they are:

Sir David King – former UK science advisor

Heather Zichal – climate and energy advisor to President Obama

Michael Mann – author of The Climate War

Patty Monahan – California Energy Commission

Huw Slater – climate specialist, ICF International

Richie Merzian – The Australia Institute

Mark Howden – Climate Change Institute

That’s it.  In other words, Comrade Stevens lined up seven critics of Angus Taylor but no one who broadly supported the Morrison government’s policy on energy and emission reductions.  Not one.  And 7.30 wonders why many senior figures in the Coalition regard 7.30 as, at best, lacking in political diversity – and, at worst, unprofessional.

Laura Tingle Meets China Diplomat Wang Xining at the National Press Club on Wednesday – as interpreted by MWD

Laura Tingle’s Response on 7.30 last night when Leigh Sales Announced that (yet) Another Coalition Minister was not available for An Interview

Due to popular demand, Jackie’s co-owners requested that Jackie (Dip Wellness, The Gunnedah Institute) write an occasional comment for Media Watch Dog.  Here’s her second effort following last week’s hugely popular debut.


As a Humble Blue Heeler, of the rescue genre, whose mother once walked the streets and whose father only hung around for the conception, it is with some trepidation that I deign to correct Phillip Adams. After all, I’m a cattle dog with one certificate – a Dip. Wellness from The Gunnedah Institute.  And then there’s Phillip Adams AO, AM, Hon DUniv (Griffith), Hon DLitt (ECU), Hon DUniv (SA), DLitt [sic] (Syd), Hon. DUniv (Macquarie), FRSA, Hon FAHA. Phew.

What’s more, my home town was Gunnedah, which supplies lotsa coal.  Whereas Phillip (“I was a teenage communist”)  Adams resides in wealthy Scone – best known for thoroughbred horses. And there’s me – a mongrel.  Moreover, Scone is home base for such well qualified luminaries as not only Phillip Adams but also the heiress Blair Parry-Okeden (a member of what Paul Keating once called the Hyphenated-Name-Set).

But I must make this correction.  During a very long, and very boring, interview on Mr Adams’ little wireless program called Late Night Live on 14 April 2021 with the American writer Jon Lee Anderson who’s written a book on Che Guevara or some such – the following exchange took place about canines. Note that, earlier in the discussion, Comrade Anderson declared that, in a previous decade, some right-wingers turned their Rottweilers on him:

Jon Lee Anderson: ….Home is where the family is, where the heart is. I have two dogs, a wife –

Phillip Adams: [interjecting] they’re not, they’re not Rottweilers are they?

Jon Lee Anderson: [laughing] No, they certainly are not –

Phillip Adams: What are they? –  because I’m obsessed with dogs.

Jon Lee Anderson: Oh, well, they’re both rescues, so, one is a very neurotic Jack Russell –

Phillip Adams: All Jack Russells are neurotic.

Jon Lee Anderson: Exactly. And the other is a very funny, bigger, hairy, crazy dog that’s half lurcher and half Bedlington Terrier. So, yeah, it’s just a funny, crazy, dog.

Phillip Adams: Well, of course, we both, one of the reasons – another reason, let me rephrase that –  to despise Trump, was that he was probably the only dogless President.

Jon Lee Anderson: Exactly, exactly.

Phillip Adams: Need we say more, need we say more?

Jon Lee Anderson: Yeah, you’re right.

Phillip Adams: Does Bolsonaro [Brazilian president] have a dog, because we’re heading in his direction now?

Jon Lee Anderson: Oh boy. No, no, he doesn’t, um, as far as I know, no, he doesn’t. Um-

Phillip Adams: I don’t think our Prime Minister has a dog, I must check on that, but I’d be surprised if he did…

Turn it up.  For starters, one of my best friends is a Jack Russell. The Canberra-based Luke with whom I catch up regularly.  Also, does Comrade Adams need any more reasons to hate Donald Trump?

And now for the correction.  Scott Morrison has a dog. Ben Pike reported in The Daily Telegraph last Friday that Jenny and Scott Morrison have a dog named Buddy who is a schnauzer-poodle cross.  Not a real dog like me, to be sure. But a canine, nevertheless.  See photo below.


The Guardian Australia’s Anne Davies on how Australia is still exporting coal – The Drum 15 April 2020:

Ellen Fanning: Anne Davies I was interested to read the IMF’s predictions and I think the criticism of them in terms of Australia, or the critique was, maybe they were formulated a bit too quickly and didn’t really take account of this JobKeeper scheme, this massive JobKeeper scheme. But the notion that our economy would be down 6.7 per cent this year, and then this V-shaped, you know, pick the letter of the alphabet you like, this V-shaped rebound, up 6.1 per cent. If we are to remain an island nation cut off from the rest of the world, given our reliance on tourism and foreign students, can you see a V-shape emerging?

Anne Davies:  Well, you’ve got to remember we are still exporting coal, iron ore to the rest of the world. So part of the economy is still functioning very well.  I don’t know if that’s an overreaction by the IMF.

The Guardian Australia’s Anne Davies on how coal mining is going to end in Australia – ABC Radio Sydney’s Drive with Richard Glover, 8 April 2021:

Anne Davies:   I think the [forthcoming] Upper Hunter [by-election in NSW] is going to be fascinating because while coal mining and jobs is a really big issue, so is the environment for farmers, and for the –

Richard Glover:  Winemakers –

Anne Davies:  Winemakers, the horse racing industry, you know, there are other industries up there. And it’s not just – it’s going to be so interesting to see how the parties present their cases.  You know, the old politics of “oh, it’s just coal jobs”.  I mean, coal mining is going to end in Australia, it is going to end.  And it’s just a matter of time…. And it’s, you know, I can’t believe that the parties can’t see a way to sell a policy of adjustment.


So there you have it.  According to Comrade Davies (circa April 2020), Australia’s economy is strong because “we are still exporting coal”. And according to Comrade Davies (circa April 2021) “coal mining is going to end in Australia”.

So there you have it – or not.


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Until next time.

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