GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG
ISSUE – NO. 540
7 May 2021
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Can You Bear It? – Geoffrey Robertson QC compares his time in hotel quarantine with the plight of political prisoners; Niki Savva asks whether Josh Frydenberg would feel differently if the travel ban targeted Israel; Lenore Taylor returns to Insiders to spruik The Guardian; Patricia Karvelas calls for a kindler-gentler Defence Force
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Q&A ENDS NOT WITH A BANG OR A WIMPER BUT WITH THE PRESENTER INTERRUPTING A LIBERAL MP
On 25 April 2021, Alan Kohler (ABC News finance presenter, editor-in-chief of Eureka Street and columnist for superannuation funds’ online newspaper The New Daily) did a leftist rant-to-paper in The New Daily. Throwing the switch to hyperbole, the ABC’s finance presenter accused Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch of collaborating in “the crime of the century…a vast global crime”. In the process, your man Kohler attacked Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison, praised Greta Thunberg and claimed that the Prime Minister’s address to President Biden’s Leaders’ Summit on Climate Change was “just a pathetic attempt at diversion”.
If an ABC presenter can dish out anti-Coalition abuse like this, an invitation to appear on the ABC TV’s Q&A panel is sure to follow. And so it came to pass last night when your man Kohler appeared on Q&A along with Jess Hill, Fiona Martin, Linda Burney and Bri Lee.
Needless to say, Comrade Kohler pleased the Melbourne audience – which was a bit quieter than usual – with his criticism of the Coalition’s handling of Australians trying to return home from India and his opposition to gender bias. Oh yes and Mr Kohler impressed with his declaration he is “halfway though The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir”. Alas, he did not say which half – but impressive, nevertheless. Comrade Kohler added that “learning about the history of these things” makes him “understand how far, how embedded these attitudes are”. And “how deeply – like thousands of years and so it’s going to take – it’s taking a long time but it is changing, I mean that”.
Yes, we know. Here was our man Kohler downloading about his attitude to women. Just the kind of news and current affairs that ABC TV news and current affairs should be covering around 9.15 on a Thursday night – instead of, say, the Australia-China relationship, or Afghanistan or the forthcoming budget or whatever.
For technical reasons, Liberal Party MP Fiona Martin – who was in Sydney – could not hear much of the early part of the program. Which meant that no one defended the Morrison government on what the Q&A program notes referred to as the “Indian Travel Ban & Racism”.
Fortunately, ABC TV managed to fix some of the technical glitches which had afflicted Ms Martin’s, otherwise fine, performance. For a while it looked like the Liberal Party MP for Reid had obtained the last say. Until – well let’s go to the official transcript:
Hamish Macdonald : I’m going to give one very brief final thought to Fiona Martin, who I can see is trying to get in on the conversation. If you could keep it brief ’cause we’re out of time.
Fiona Martin: Look, we definitely have the highest level of first-home owners since 2009, so we are doing well with first-home owners, and that’s because we’ve put in place some effective programs. The first-home owners deposit scheme, for example, we’re doing incredibly well there. We had up to, I think, 26,000 recipients of that program that we implemented. And also we put in place HomeBuilder, which we had 121,000 applications for. So, these programs have proven effective and they’re programs that we’ve implemented and –
Hamish Macdonald : [Interrupting] Have they, Alan Kohler? Have they proved effective or is it just the interest rates?
Fiona Martin: – one of the highest levels of first homeowner-buyers.
Alan Kohler: [speaking over] Well, those first-home owner grants have just gone on the price. People – The first-home buyers have just – Well, you know-
Hamish Macdonald : OK.
Alan Kohler: They just use the money and bid the price up and it’s, you know – The problem is that everything that you do for it just drives prices up higher, including interest rates lower.
Hamish Macdonald : Well, on that happy news, that’s almost all we have time for tonight. Some music for you in a moment, but first, would you please thank our wonderful panel –
How about that? After promising Fiona Martin the final comment and asking her to be brief because Q&A was out of time – Hamish Macdonald both interrupted Ms Martin’s response and called on his mate Alan Kohler to have the final word. That’s Q&A, 2021 style.
GEOFFREY ROBERTSON QC, IN QUARANTINE, COMPARES HIS PLIGHT WITH THE POLITICAL PRISONERS OF RUSSIA, IRAN AND CHINA
Media Watch Dog just loves the “CBD” column written by Samantha Hutchinson and Stephen Brook, which appears in Nine Newspapers (Sydney Morning Herald/The Age). Primarily because sometimes the column has nothing to do with the Central Business District of Sydney or Melbourne – which can be somewhat boring. You know – many a business journalist advises readers that Businessman A had lunch with Businessman B at Rockpool Bar and Grill, Sydney or the Australia Club in Melbourne. As in – who cares?
But MWD digresses. Yesterday The Hutch and The Brook published a segment titled “A Room Of One’s Own”. It revealed the BIG STORY that the Australian-born, and English accented, Geoffrey Robertson QC had flown in from London and had berthed in the Sydney CBD – on the 24th floor of one of Sydney’s Medina Apartments, no less.
GR QC’s in hotel quarantine, you see. And he’s not very happy, either – as your man Robertson told “CBD”:
I’m experiencing what many of my clients have had to undergo and that’s solitary confinement and being guarded around the clock by armed police. And it’s a waste of their time because I was fully Pfizered months ago …
What a load of absolute tosh. Now, hotel quarantine would not be a pleasant experience. But it hardly equates to solitary confinement and being guarded by armed police as is the situation of some of your man Robertson’s clients in, say, Russia or Iran or China. For starters, GR QC knows that his quarantine period is 14 days and he is not facing torture of various kinds. Also he’s allowed a phone to talk and talk and talk along with a computer (which facilitates Zoom where you can talk and talk and talk).
Moreover, Geoffrey Robertson chose to return to Australia to flog his latest book Bad People and How to Be Rid of Them. Yawn. It will be a speaking tour where the loquacious GR QC will talk and talk and talk in his Epping accent.
What’s an Epping accent? – MWD hears readers cry. Well, it’s the kind of accent men of a certain age, who moved to fashionable London half a century ago, acquired when they did not want it known that they came from the middle class Sydney suburb of Epping. That’s what.
GR QC told “CBD” – and The Hutch and The Brook dutifully reported – that “it becomes difficult for Australia to lecture China on human rights when it doesn’t obey [the] human rights [laws] of the United Nations” – with respect to Australian citizens who want to return home at a time of pandemic.
In other words, Geoffrey Robertson reckons that there is some kind of moral equivalence between managing Australians returning from India due to COVID-19 and China’s incarceration of Australian journalist Cheng Lei for no known reason, its brutal suppression of Hong Kong and its equally appalling treatment of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang province. And GR QC – once he is released from hotel quarantine – will lecture Australians, in his Epping accent, about getting rid of bad people. Can You Bear It?
THE AUSTRALIAN’s NIKI SAVVA RECKONS THAT THE MORRISON GOVERNMENT IS UNAUSTRALIAN
India’s disastrous second wave of the COVID-19 virus hit around mid-March 2021. It would be a difficult task for any government to evacuate some 9000 Australians from India in a few months – especially as there is a limitation on the number of individuals some Australian States and Territories will accept into quarantine. But MWD recognises that lotsa journalists know what governments SHOULD do in such instances.
Writing in The Australian yesterday about what is, in effect, a temporary pause in processing the return of Australians from India until 15 May, MWD fave Niki Savva had this to say:
After decades of governments urging migrants to take out Australian citizenship for their own good, the Morrison government in the early hours of Saturday morning effectively told them it was worthless…. Cabinet ministers, including Josh Frydenberg and Marise Payne, mounted defences over the weekend: it was temporary, it was based on medical advice, it was really no different from previous actions, only some of which was true.
It was impossible not to ponder if Frydenberg, diverted from his carefully calibrated campaign to set the scene for his spend-till-you-drop budget, would have been as visible in his support of the decision if it had been directed at Israel rather than India. [I note that this para has been removed from Ms Savva’s The Australian Online column. – MWD Editor.]
Senior cabinet ministers are expected to defend government policy within and outside their portfolios. It would seem that Ms Savva considers Foreign Minister Marise Payne to have done just this for reasons of collective responsibility. But Savva pondered what Treasurer Josh Frydenberg would have said if the temporary ban had been directed at Israel. Presumably a reference to the fact that the Treasurer is Jewish. But there was no suggestion that Senator Payne would have had a different view if the decision had been directed at, say, Britain. Really.
Niki Savva concluded her column writing about the topic that journalists know best – that is, themselves. She wondered whether she should have become an Australian citizen some decades ago or remained a Cypriot or obtained a British passport. But now, alas, Ms Savva feels “ashamed” of her choice to be Australian and she now regards the Morrison government as, yes, “grossly unAustralian”.
Sounds like a leftist, alienated rant don’t you think? But on Sky News last night Alan Jones enthused about the Savva column. Can You Bear It? [No. But at least there is political diversity in The Australian and on Sky News of a kind that is not found on the ABC. –MWD Editor.]
THE GUARDIAN’S LENORE TAYLOR RETURNS TO THE INSIDERS’ COUCH AND PRAISES THE GUARDIAN WHILE BAGGING THE PRIME MINISTER
As avid Media Watch Dog readers will recall, Issue 538 drew attention to the fact that Lenore Taylor, The Guardian Australia’s editor, had not appeared on the ABC TV Insiders couch – real or virtual – this year. Comrade Taylor was deeply missed. So it was great to see the ABC Insiders–Guardian Axis consummated again last Sunday when Comrade Taylor made her first Insiders appearance for 2021. It was good news for MWD – which is always after good copy at around Hangover Time on Friday mornings.
It was just what Insiders needs – (yet) another left wing journalist on the Insiders’ panel from the Guardian pool. Joining Guardian political editor Katharine (“Malcolm calls me Murpharoo”) Murphy, Guardian chief political correspondent Sarah Martin and Guardian political reporter Amy Remeikis. Oh yes, Guardian photographer-at-large Michael Bowers appears weekly doing the Insiders’ “Talking Pictures” gig – sometimes with a fellow Guardian comrade.
Now Jackie’s (male) co-owner always likes to be helpful. So Hendo is proposing that Insiders’ executive producer Samuel (“Call me Sam”) Clark give Guardian media correspondent Amanda Meade a chance on the Insiders couch along with Guardian senior business reporter Ben Butler.
But MWD digresses. When it came to the “Observations” segment at the end of Insiders last Friday, there were many national and international issues suitable for mention. But Guardian editor Lenore Taylor chose to talk about – wait for it – The Guardian. Here’s what she had to say:
Lenore Taylor: I’d just like to commend a couple of pieces we ran on Guardian Australia last weekend. One by Kevin Rudd and one by Katharine Murphy that go to the speech that the Prime Minister gave to the Christian convention. Obviously, the Prime Minister is free to worship however he chooses – but the speech went to how his faith informs his leadership. I think it does raise questions and it is worthy of discussion.
So there you have it. The Guardian Australia editor Lenore Taylor makes her first appearance on Insiders for the year – and she uses the opportunity provided by the taxpayer funded public broadcaster to flog the Guardian Australia and, in the process, query the nature of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s faith. Can You Bear It?
[Er, no. Not really. I note that Comrade Taylor has still to tell Insiders’ viewers that the Guardian Australia was an initiative of Malcolm Turnbull (when he was a Liberal Party frontbencher) and that it was the former prime minister who recommended her and Katharine Murphy for their current jobs. All this is revealed in Malcolm Turnbull’s A Bigger Picture (Hardie Grant, 2020) – see page 198. But neither Comrade Taylor nor Comrade Murphy have mentioned this on Insiders – despite Comrade Clark’s commitment to full disclosure (from others apparently). – MWD Editor.]
PATRICIA KARVELAS’ CALL FOR A KINDER-GENTLER DEFENCE FORCE
Thanks to the Melbourne-based MWD reader who drew attention to Patricia Karvelas’ interview with Veteran Affairs Minister Darren Chester on ABC TV Afternoon Briefing on 19 April 2021. Comrade Karvelas introduced the topic of the recent comment by Assistant Defence Minister Andrew Hastie – where he had said that “the Australian Defence Force’s core business will always be the application of lethal violence in the defence of our values, sovereignty and interests”.
In other words, Minister Hastie commented that the prime business of the Australian Defence Force was winning – not losing – wars. If, for whatever reason, Australia becomes involved in military conflict. This seemed to offend Comrade Karvelas who appears to believe that the military should not be primarily concerned with military matters. Let’s go to the transcript:
Patricia Karvelas: So when [Andrew Hastie and] you describe it as “lethal force” like that, don’t we diminish all of that work that they do? I mean, during COVID they were on my street, Minister, during the great Melbourne lockdown. Doesn’t — doesn’t that really create sort of a vision of the military which is not actually its full role, the role it plays in Australians’ lives?
Darren Chester: Well, I think — I think we’re running the risk here, Patricia, of splitting hairs a bit. I mean, their core role is clearly our national security. The fact that their skill set can also then be applied in terms of the amount of humanitarian aid and disaster relief in Australia and abroad is a credit to the Australian Defence Force and their capabilities. But their core role is still national security to keep us safe.
Alas, Patricia Karvelas was not happy with Minister Chester’s response. Her “vision” of the Australian Defence Force has military personnel walking down streets during the Great Melbourne COVID-19 Lockdown asking the citizenry to stay inside during the curfew, wear masks and so on. That’s all very well. But it’s not what the military in a democratic society is all about.
It would seem that at least some members of the ABC Soviet are not aware that Adolf Hitler’s totalitarian regime in Nazi Germany was conquered by military force – not by the peace corps.
Take D-Day – 6 June 1944, for example. The beaches of Germany-controlled Normandy in France were stormed by the combined might of American, British and Canadian forces. Not by a tri-nation Pacifist Society. Yet Comrade Karvelas’ vision of the ADF is of blokes and sheilas handing out masks at a time of pandemic in Daniel Andrews’ Victoria. Can You Bear It?
Regular readers may have noticed it has been a while since MWD checked in on 7:30’s comedy sketches, produced by resident satirist Mark Humphries and resident co-writer Evan Williams.
MWD’s last update on the pair [Issue 534] concerned their self-plagiarism, as a September 2019 sketch titled “The Greta Thunberg Helpline” was repurposed for a near-identical March 2021 sketch titled “The Meghan Markle Helpline”.
Since then, Humphries & Williams have returned to their tried-and-true sketch format, with Humphries appearing as what MWD has previously dubbed “the man behind the thing”. In these sketches, Comrade Humphries plays a man responsible for whatever has stirred up the Twitter hordes that week. This character inevitably comes across as smug and unlikable, though it is unclear if that is intentional.
On 22 April 2021, Humphries appeared as the director of the Morrison government’s widely mocked “milkshake consent” public service announcement. And last night he was the government staffer responsible for sending out the controversial press release concerning potential fines and jail terms for Australians violating the travel ban from India. Needless to say, both sketches were an opportunity to bash the Morrison government. And – more importantly – neither was, in any way, funny.
In the more recent sketch, the self-described satirist Humphries was joined by self-described humourist Dan Ilic. Comrade Ilic, like Comrade Humphries, has bounced around various ABC and SBS comedy projects, for example when executive producing the second and final season of Tonightly with Tom Ballard. Fortunately for both comrades they have the right (Left) politics and so their taxpayer-funded careers have not been impeded by the Australian public’s overwhelming uninterest in their work.
In last night’s 7:30 sketch, Dan Ilic plays a second smug and unlikable government staffer. That’s right, the sketch features not one but two men behind the thing. Ilic’s character is, of course, effectively identical to Humphries’, which renders his presence rather pointless. Both characters are dismayed to learn that Andrew Bolt, Matt Canavan and Michael Slater have criticised the Coalition’s press release on Australians in India during the pandemic. Neither are bothered when told that the UN Human Rights Committee have concerns about the policy. In future, they can save Ilic the trip to Ultimo and just do a split screen with two copies of Humphries.
Humphries recently made an announcement that may go some way towards explaining the bizarre laziness of the 7:30 sketches. On 26 April, Humphries informed Twitter that he and Williams have a book coming out in June this year titled On Politics and stuff. Maybe the pair have resorted to repeating sketches so much because they have been hard at work on the book – which promises to “show you the world of politics as you’ve never seen it before”. This is a bold claim from a pair who cannot come up with a new sketch each fortnight. But perhaps they’ll surprise us all. Or perhaps not.
JUSTIN SMITH SCORES FOR HIS PUT-DOWN OF SERVO WORKERS AND PARK GARDENERS
Last Wednesday’s “Wednesday Wrangle” on Sky News’ The Kenny Report commenced with a look at Victoria’s appalling handling of COVID-19 hotel quarantine. Chris Kenny asked the first question – and received this answer from Melbourne journalist Justin Smith who writes an occasional column for the Herald-Sun:
Chris Kenny: Justin, honestly, these revelations today about the people in charge of hotel quarantine in Victoria not actually adhering to the rules. What more does Victoria need to go through before they learn to do this right?
Justin Smith: Well, it does. If anything can make you speechless in this world, it is the way that the quarantine system has been handled in Victoria. And you think, you only think you’ve heard everything – and then something brand new, like the revelations that have come out today. I don’t think they’d ever be able to get it right. The people that handled the quarantine system should never be allowed to ever work again. You know, maybe we can get them working in some service stations or cleaning out rubbish in parks or something. But I think that would be about the end of it. I don’t think that they should be holding a job down anywhere. I just think it’s extraordinary. As I said, very few things make me totally speechless. But when you talk about quarantine and Victoria, you don’t even know where to start. It’s that bad….
In fact, your man Smith was not all that speechless. Rather he was speaking about – well, snobbery. What’s wrong with service station workers along with the men and women who maintain parks? Both are demanding jobs which are well-performed. Either your man Smith does not own a car or walk in the park. Or else he is just a job-snob.
Justin Smith: Media Snob of the Week.
Jackie’s (male co-owner) has always been a fan of British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge (1903-90) since he read Muggeridge’s 1940 book titled The Thirties. Writing in the New Statesman on 11 February 1956, Saint Mug (as he sometimes was called in later life) had this to say about the British Conservative parliamentarian Sir Anthony Eden:
He is a Disraeli hero who has moved into a service flat, or perhaps a deep shelter; a Bertie Wooster who has turned from the Drones Club to Toynbee Hall. As has been truly said, he is not only a bore but he bores for England.
This new segment is devoted to those who – as citizens, residents or visitors – bore for Australia.
THE LOWY INSTITUTE’S HERVE LEMAHIEU BORES ON ABOUT MANELS
There has been much discussion in recent times about the falling ratings of ABC TV’s Q&A. In MWD’s view, the success of ABC programs need not be judged on ratings – since the public broadcaster does not need advertising – but on quality. The fact is that the quality of ABC evening news and current affairs has dropped in recent decades – symbolised by the collapse of the once important night-time program Lateline in 2017.
The (unfashionable) fact is that Q&A has become increasingly boring in recent times. There’s the predictable leftist stack of the audience and usually the panel as well (where conservatives who get invited on are invariably in a minority). And then there’s the topics and the talent. Sometimes the topics are of little interest and some panellists have little of substance to say.
Here’s an example of last week’s Q&A when presenter Hamish Macdonald asked a question of Lowy Institute fellow Herve Lemahieu who is an “expert” on Australia – having been amongst us for six months or thereabouts:
Hamish Macdonald: Do you think that there’s a difference, when you, you’ve watched everything play out in Australian politics over the last six months. Do you think there’s a difference for women in the public space compared with men?
Herve Lemahieu: Yeah, look, there probably is, I think it’s, it’s a very, uh, heated discussion at this point in Australia, when I compare that, uh, to the political discussions ongoing in, say, Europe, uh, where I think we’ve become a lot more, uh, used to seeing women in power.
Bridget McKenzie: Merkel.
Herve Lemahieu: Yeah, that’s right, female German chancellor, female prime minister of Belgium, any number of leaders. And I think there is a point where, there’s a sort of tipping point where that becomes normalised, and a lot of these critical issues, uh, remain, I think, critical. And you don’t have to be, but on the other hand, they’re less polarising and they’re less of a lightning rod. And that’s the point you really want to get to. Um, I mean, if I can speak from the experience of, uh, sort of a non-political perspective, I mean, we’ve tried very hard at the Lowy Institute to ban all manels, to keep them to a minimum.
Hamish Macdonald: As in male panels?
Herve Lemahieu: As in all male panels
Bridget McKenzie: Oh, right, I was wondering what you were talking about.
Herve Lemahieu: Sorry, if you weren’t familiar with the, sort of, might be a bit of a millennial term or something but anyway….
Come on man – to use a Bidenism. Australia has had a female prime minister along with a number of female premiers and chief ministers. It’s possible that the Lowy Institute has just discovered that it needs women on its panels. But The Sydney Institute has had numerous female speakers over the past three decades. Come to think of it, Q&A has always had gender diverse panels.
And Q&A producers reckon that Australian viewers need advice on such matters from Herve Lemahieu. Boring, boring, boring.
YET MORE LEFTIST STACKS ON THE MILL AT THE BRISBANE AND BENDIGO WRITERS’ FESTIVALS
Media Watch Dog welcomes the fact that lotsa members of the Sandalista Set will be heading to the Brisbane and Bendigo Writers’ Festivals this weekend – and hopes that the comrades all have a good ideological time, in person or by Zoom.
As pointed out in MWD Issue 535, the recently concluded Sydney Writers’ Festival (chair Mark Scott, ex-ABC) was a leftist stack with barely a conservative scheduled to discuss matters of national or international politics. It was a bit like a writers’ festival version of the ABC’s Conservative Free Zone.
This is the way with taxpayer funded writers’ festivals. The organisers get a bucket load of taxpayer funds and invite their ideological mates to rock up to sessions where almost everyone agrees with almost everyone else on almost everything – in a leftist kind of way.
MWD cannot locate more than a couple of conservatives in the roll up for the Brisbane Writers’ Festival – where performers include Andrew Boe, Antony Lowenstein, Benjamin Law, Bruce Pascoe (of course), David Leser, Helen Garner, Julia Baird, Lindy Edwards, Lisa Millar, Margaret Simons, Marian Wilkinson, Meredith Lake, Misha Ketchell, Robert Dessaix, Sophie Cunningham, Tim Flannery (of course) and Virginia Trioli.
It’s much the same with the Bendigo Writers’ Festival – where the likes of Misha Ketchell, Meredith Lake, Scott Ludlam, Cathy McGowan, Mark McKenna, Louise Milligan, Margaret Simons and Don Watson are on the program.
It speaks volumes for the Australian left’s lack of intellectual strength that they only feel comfortable on panels where there is no disagreement and they can proclaim before admiring audiences yet the Australian taxpayer funds such intellectual self-indulgence.
“You Must Remember This” is based on the chorus line in the song As Time Goes By which was popularised by the film Casablanca. It is devoted to reminding the usual suspects of what they once wrote or said or did.
ROBERT MANNE’S PROPOSAL TO TURN THE PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE INTO A LIFT LOBBY OR PERHAPS A HOTEL CORRIDOR
The showing of Chris Kenny’s documentary Men in the Mirror: Rudd & Turnbull on Sky News last Sunday evening reminded Jackie’s (male) co-owner of one of the most pretentious books published in Australia this century. [What about the 20th Century as well? – MWD Editor]
It is Robert Manne’s edited collection titled Dear Mr Rudd: Ideas for a Better Australia (Black Inc Agenda, 2008). Kevin Rudd became prime minister on 3 December 2007. Soon after, Robert (“I insist on calling Hendo a publicist”) Manne set about enlisting a group of intellectuals chosen to tell Prime Minister Rudd how he should govern.
Professor Manne’s introduction commenced “Dear Mr Rudd” and concluded with a “Faithfully, Robert Manne”. As it turned out, the assembled learned folk told Dear Mr Rudd what he should do with respect to the republic (Mark McKenna), parliament (Harry Evans), climate change (Clive Hamilton), families (Anne Manne), the arts (Juliana Engberg) and more besides.
Ah, yes. The Arts. Or “The Yartz” as a Barry Humphries character used to call them. In his “Dear Mr Rudd” letter, your man Manne had this to say about The Arts:
…During the period of the Howard government, the nation’s critical intelligentsia had been treated by government ministers, Coalition backbenchers and right-wing commentators as un-Australian traitors. Unwelcome voices – like former senior defence, intelligence and foreign-policy experts, or those who worked in scientific institutes, universities and non-government organisations – had been, by one means or another, marginalised or silenced. With the coming of a new government, in an atmosphere of new possibilities, at the end of the barren Howard years, would there not now be an opportunity for conversation between the government and the nation’s public intellectuals and independent policy experts to begin again?
What a load of absolute tosh. Robert Manne was asking readers (if readers there were) to believe that the likes of Pat Dobson, Geoff Gallop, Mark Aarons, Hugh White and Julian Disney (all of whom contributed to Dear Mr Rudd) were “marginalised or silenced” during the period of John Howard’s government. In fact, they were heard frequently – especially on the ABC and in the Fairfax Media (as it then was). By the way, no evidence was cited to support the claim that members of the Australian intelligentsia had been called “un-Australian traitors”. Who? By whom? When? The book does not provide any evidence to support the assertion.
With respect to The Arts, Robert Manne had this to say:
In the concluding chapter of this book Juliana Engberg, artistic director of the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, offers a spirited case for the opening of a new era in the history of government and the arts.
And precisely what did Juliana Engberg have to say about The Arts under the Rudd government? – well, here it is:
If he [the Prime Minister] really wanted to muck with their heads, Rudd could get Callum Morton to redesign his entire office and turn it into an architectural conundrum, so that when people walk in they find themselves in an entirely different kind of environment – hotel corridor, lift lobby, West Wing. If they haven’t already put one on his desk, he should ask the good people at the Australia Council to send him a Venice Biennale catalogue. Then he’ll see what I mean.
Juliana Engberg – with the encouragement of Robert Manne – maintained that the Prime Minister’s Office, at The Time of Rudd, should have resembled a hotel corridor or lift lobby or the West Wing of the White House. Gee, wouldn’t that have kept Julia Gillard and her supporters at bay – to such an extent that Kevin ’07 could still be in the Lodge as Kevin ’21? Turn it up.
With the advice of such self-proclaimed public intellectuals as Comrades Manne and Engberg – is it any wonder that the Rudd government ended in (literal) tears before the next election and he was replaced by Julia Gillard on 24 June 2010 after two and a half years in office. Barely enough time to build a West Wing in Parliament House.
MWD thought readers would like to remember this. And that, believe it or not, Robert Manne voted for John Howard at the 1996 Federal election.
LATE NIGHT GRIEF AS ABC TASMANIAN JOURNOS REPORT THE APPARENT LIBERAL PARTY VICTORY LAST SATURDAY
It was around Post-Dinner-Drinks Time last Saturday when the outcome of the 2021 Tasmanian State Election became relatively clear. It seemed likely that the Liberal Party government – led by Peter Gutwein – would win 13 seats in the Tasmanian House of Assembly and, hence, would be able to govern in its own right. In short, it appeared that the Liberal government would win 13 out of a possible 25 seats under the Hare-Clark proportional voting system that prevails in Tasmania (it’s a bit like the Senate electoral system).
In fact, the Liberal Party polled around 49 per cent of the primary vote – which, in any other electoral system, would almost certainly lead to a clear parliamentary majority. Also, the Liberal Party has now won three elections in a row – following victories by Will Hodgman in 2014 and 2018. A remarkable achievement in a state which, over the decades, has been traditionally Labor. Labor’s primary vote is at 28 per cent and the Greens at 12 per cent.
Alas, all was not happiness in the Tally Room at Hobart’s Grand Chancellor Hotel. Particularly on the ABC panel – which was chaired by Hobart-based AM presenter Sabra Lane.
Late in the evening, Labor leader Rebecca White gave a gracious speech conceding defeat. Then Greens’ leader Cassy O’Connor did a very long Green/Left rant about how good the Greens’ policies were – overlooking the fact that the Greens’ primary vote is around 12 per cent. That is, some 88 per cent of Tasmanians did not support Comrade O’Connor and her comrades. Then Peter Gutwein took to the podium and declared that he believed he would be in a position to form a majority government.
And then – and then – it was time for the ABC TV wrap-up. If anyone had just turned on ABC TV – or had just dropped into the Tally Room – they could well have just got the idea that the Gutwein government had had a bad night.
First up, ABC Tasmania State political reporter Emily Baker told viewers (if viewers there were) that it was “a long campaign to end up with the status quo”. She made no mention of the fact that this was the first occasion that the Tasmanian Liberal Party had won three elections in a row. To Comrade Baker, the fact that the Liberal Party had apparently won a majority equivalent to the majority it won at the previous election amounted to some kind of failure.
The ABC’s state political reporter also said that there would be “a similar cabinet and a promise to fix these issues that are clearly resonating with some voters”. But not resonating so much, it would appear, as to have led to the defeat of the Gutwein government at the 1 May election.
Baker also referred to potential problems with a likely Liberal Party member for Braddon. Then it was over to ABC Mornings host Leon Compton. Let’s go to the transcript:
Sabra Lane: Now another person who I’m keen to hear from – Leon Compton on the Tally Room floor, your take.
Leon Compton: Yes. It’s been interesting to hear Emily talk about who will be there to manage some of the issues. But let’s talk about those issues themselves. The government went to an early election, because the opportunity was there to cash in on that COVID boost in popularity. But there are also a significant number of issues that are in the very near horizon for this government that they will have to grapple with – like it or not.
There’s been a long-standing review of the State’s public service that may well have some challenging conversations to have in it in the months ahead. In fact, that is due out, due to be released in full in May. We’ve got situations like the expansion of the salmon industry, we’ve got an inquiry at the moment into the way the public service handled serious allegations of child sexual abuse, and a whole host of other issues that need to be dealt with relatively soon. And that’s before we talk about the new gambling legislation….
Now these are all contentious issues that will be coming in front of the government when it re-forms in the first couple of months of its new life. So Peter Gutwein may rest tonight, may rest for the weekend. But certainly a lot of challenges ahead.
And so it went on. And on. And on – with Comrade Compton pointing out the problems that the Gutwein government faced in the future – while avoiding its substantial victory. The ABC Radio Mornings host declared that there was a “sense of frustration in the electorate” – overlooking the fact that the most frustrated Tasmanians last Saturday night were those who had voted for Labor or the Greens or some Independents. In fact, Leon Compton concluded his analysis by praising the loser Greens while downplaying the Liberal Party’s victory. Here’s Comrade Compton’s concluding comments – spoken as if he were a Green/Left operative:
Leon Compton: The Greens have done particularly well. If you look at Clark, a lot of that vote last election around moved from The Greens to Labor. [Independent] Kristy Johnston has had a good vote, it may or may not earn her a quota. The Greens have had a much stronger vote. And I suspect that some of those pokies [i.e. gambling] concerns that might previously have found their way to Labor in the last election have actually moved back over to The Greens and Kristy Johnston, which is saying something.
Well it may have said something – but not much. In fact The Greens won 20 per cent of the vote in Clark and achieved just one seat, out of a possible five seats.
Clearly the return of the Gutwein government led to the wailing and gnashing of teeth among the ABC comrades in the Tally Room.
It was much the same at Hangover-Time the morning after the night before. At 6.33 am on Sunday 2 May, ABC News ran an online article by Alexandra Humphries – who also presented as an ABC Tasmanian state political reporter. Comrade Humphries’ article titled “Was the election 2021 Liberals win not what Peter Gutwein was hoping for” – commenced as follows:
Gutwein has claimed victory calling a snap election a year ahead of schedule, but the results are far from what the Premier was banking on when he walked into Government House all those weeks ago…
And this is how the article ended:
The make-up of the Tasmanian Parliament will take a while to shake out yet, but there’s a clear lesson in this election for anyone tempted in future to gamble on an early poll – think twice.
Turn it up. Peter Gutwein led the Liberal Party for its first three-term victory. The Labor Party had a 4 per cent swing against it. The Greens failed to win an additional seat and the Liberal Party defector Sue Hickey, who stood as an Independent in Clark, lost her seat. And the ABC reckons that Premier Gutwein had a bad election and has learnt his lesson. Fair dinkum.
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Until next time.
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