GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG
ISSUE – NO. 553
6 August 2021
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Can You Bear It? – Niki Savva replaces John Hewson at Nine, same as it ever was; John Hewson joins The Saturday Paper, same as it ever was; Mark Kenny muddles up elections on Insiders; Translating David Speers with a little help from La Trioli; Gideon Haigh calls for less winning and more participation at the Olympics; Sally Neighbour offers a bizarre excuse for a lack of disclosure on Four Corners
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NIKI SAVVA’S FIRST SMH/AGE COLUMN’S PREDICTABLE RANT AT THE MORRISON GOVERNMENT DISPROVES JOHN HEWSON’S MORRISON GOVERNMENT CONSPIRACY THEORY
As documented in MWD Issue 551, when the powers-that-be at Nine Newspapers terminated John Hewson’s weekly Sydney Morning Herald/Age column, he blamed the Morrison government along with what he termed MSM (i.e. mainstream media). It is not clear why.
MWD regretted the departure of Dr Hewson (for a doctor he is) since his continuing attacks on the Liberal Party – which he led unsuccessfully for a time in the early 1990s – has provided Hendo lotsa quotable quotes.
For her part, Sydney Morning Herald editor Lisa Davies said that your man Hewson’s Thursday column had been discontinued in line with the SMH’s “pledge for 50/50 gender balance”. And so it came to pass that Niki Savva commenced a weekly Thursday column in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age yesterday. Thus disproving the Hewson claim of 17 July 2021 that Comrade Davies was intent on replacing him with sycophantic types who would suck up to the Morrison government “on political or ideological matters”.
The heading of Ms Savva’s inaugural SMH column gave the lie to that yesterday – it was “The incredible shrinking PM”. In fact, the columnist continued the constant attacks on the Coalition in general, and Prime Minister Scott Morrison in particular, which had been her constant theme in her column in The Australian before she decided to move to Nine. Here are some highlights of the inaugural Savva effort.
▪ NS is of the view that “more and more Australians…question whether he [Morrison] has the physical, intellectual or mental ability or even the empathy to lead, to earn trust, build coalitions, forge consensus, or to be something more than a moneybags, a punching bag or a spokesman for the premiers”.
▪ NS uses “the somersault with pike” cliché to make this assessment with respect to the Prime Minister: “Given his penchant for Olympic analogies, his skill at triple backward somersaults with pike could save him. Unless it reaches the point where people no longer trust him to do what he says, not only because that changes by the day but because of his habitual smudging of fact and fiction after his own words are played back to him.”
▪ NS accuses the Prime Minister of “convoluted unconvincing gobbledygook”.
▪ Believe it or not [I believe it. – MWD Editor], Niki Savva filled out much of the rest of her column with assessments as to which seats the Coalition might lose or win at the next election. This from a Canberra-based journalist who got the outcome of the 2019 election so hopelessly wrong that she had to change the title of the post-election book from “Highway to Hell: The Coup that Destroyed Malcolm Turnbull and Left the Liberals in Ruins” to Plots and Prayers: Malcolm Turnbull’s Demise and Scott Morrison’s Ascension.
Ms Savva concluded that Scott Morrison’s condition is “not yet terminal”. All frightfully interesting to be sure, but hardly consistent with John Hewson’s paranoid prediction that he would be replaced in Nine Newspapers by someone who supported the Morrison government. Can You Bear It?
[Er, no. Not really – now that you ask. I note that Ms Savva’s column in Nine Newspapers was warmly welcomed by one of the main presenters of the taxpayer funded public broadcaster. This is what ABC Radio AM presenter Sabra Lane had to say:
I Can see Nine papers have printed Niki Savva’s first column. It’s a cracker! (Can’t find it online…🧐) pic.twitter.com/aubHulfJOG
— Sabra Lane (@SabraLane) August 4, 2021
Quite right. But it surely must be the 30th time that Niki Savva has lit this very same cracker and fired it at Scott Morrison. – MWD Editor.]
JOHN HEWSON JOINS THE [BORING] SATURDAY PAPER
While on the topic of John Hewson, MWD predicted that the refugee from Nine Newspapers would soon be picked up by the Green/Left media. Perhaps The Guardian Australia or The New Daily or The Saturday Paper or perhaps the Green Left Weekly itself. An unusual prophecy – in that it came true.
As avid readers know, The Saturday Paper goes to press on Thursday and lands in inner-city coffee shops on Saturday mornings. By which time it carries no news at all. Jackie’s (male) co-owner reads it around Gin & Tonic Time on Mondays. After all – what’s the hurry?
The inclusion of John Hewson’s column in Morry Schwartz’s vanity publishing newspaper will make The [Boring] Saturday Paper even more boring – if such an outcome is possible. And so it came to pass that Hewie’s inaugural column in The Saturday Paper (editor-in-chief Erik Jensen) was much the same as his last column in the Sydney Morning Herald/The Age. The title tells the story: “Why Scott Morrison can’t tell the truth”. Yawn. Quelle Surprise! and so on. Here’s how John (“I now bore for Morry and Erik”) Hewson’s comment piece commenced:
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”
– Lewis Carroll: Through the Looking Glass
There are many theories as to the identity of Humpty Dumpty. Possibly the nursery rhyme was referencing Richard III, falling off his horse in battle. Or possibly it was a cannon destroyed during the siege of Colchester. Possibly it refers to our own prime minister, Scott Morrison, or at least his spin doctor.
The quote from the fragile egg certainly encapsulates Morrison’s approach to the management of….
ZZZZZ. Groan. ZZZZ and so on. At this stage – after reading Hewie’s suggestion that Lewis Carroll (1832-1898) possibly had Scott Morrison (born 1968) in mind when he wrote Through the Looking Glass – Hendo poured (yet) another Gin & Tonic and commenced staring at the wall. And The [Boring] Saturday Paper is paying Professor Hewson to write such sludge. Can You Bear It?
ANU PROFESSOR MARK KENNY’S ON-AIR POLITICAL HOWLER
Media Watch Dog has always held the view that Mark (“Please call me professor”) Kenny has well and truly deserved his spot on the ABC TV Insiders panel. After all, Professor Kenny has an impeccable background to end up on the Australian National University’s payroll. Your man Kenny spent a couple of years as a student at the University of Adelaide before heading off to work for a Labor left faction parliamentarian in the South Australian parliament. From the Labor Left to a full-time ABC job and on to (the then) Fairfax Media with a seat on the ABC TV Insiders panel and then on to an Australian National University professorship (while remaining on Insiders). It was an obvious career progression for a left-wing man like Comrade Kenny.
Also, like all the Insiders panellists who appeared on Insiders during and immediately after the 2019 election campaign, Mark Kenny did not believe that the Scott Morrison-led Coalition could defeat Labor. In other words, his analysis was wrong – false enough to keep a place on the Insiders’ virtual couch as an, er, expert.
So it was great to see the highly qualified Mark Kenny on the Insiders (virtual) couch last Sunday. For a second week in a row, two-thirds of the Insiders on-air team – presenter, panellists and “Talking Pictures” personnel – were part of the ABC/Guardian Axis. The two non-ABC/Guardian types last Sunday were Comrade Kenny (the ANU’s man on Insiders) and Peter Hartcher (Sydney Morning Herald/Age).
Let’s go to the transcript where the learned Professor is discussing recent Australian political history with David (“Please call me Speersy”) Speers. Following Peter Hartcher’s reference to Opposition leader Anthony Albanese’s announcement that Labor has ditched the negative-gearing and opposition to stage three tax policies which it took to the 2019 election in order to assist Labor to victory at the next election – the following discussion took place:
David Speers: And Mark, it may help in that regard, do you agree? Nonetheless, it’s a huge concession on the tax front to basically embrace the government’s income tax cut plan and ditch their own plans.
Mark Kenny: It is a huge concession. I do agree that, with the sort of political orthodoxy on this, it’s hard to argue with. If you don’t have policies that create losers or for, you know, for whom there is, or which create, you know, create their own objectors, then I guess you’ve got a smoother path to government. And it is a difficult thing to get Australians to change the government, they don’t do so very readily. And asking them to both change the government and change the country in significant ways I think is a double ask. It’s a compound request of voters. It’s much harder to do and so we don’t see it done that often. That said, governments can take unpopular measures to elections. I mean, John Howard won in 2001 with the GST about to start – um
David Speers: [interjecting] Only just.
Mark Kenny: Yeah, true. But he fought that fight, and, and the GST is very much now part of the landscape. And Kevin Rudd might say that he didn’t take a tax increase, uh, to the, uh, 2007 election. But he did take a plan for an emissions trading scheme, uh, and, and it did get endorsed. So, it’s not impossible to do…
What a load of absolute tosh. When prime minister, John Howard took a proposal for a goods and services tax to the 1998 election – which the Coalition narrowly won, after losing a number of seats. The GST came into operation on 1 July 2000 and the Howard government was returned with an increased majority at the 2001 election. Professor Mark Kenny got this hopelessly wrong – and Speersy concurred with the howler.
What’s more, it’s true that Kevin Rudd did take an emissions trading scheme, when Opposition leader, to the March 2007 election. But so did John Howard – the incumbent prime minister. So it is false to present Kevin Rudd’s campaign as somehow brave. In fact, during the election campaign Kevin Rudd presented himself as an economic conservative – a bit like John Howard.
You wonder what’s taught in Professor Kenny’s classes in the ANU. Can You Bear It?
DAVID SPEERS’ “WITH RESPECT” MOMENT – TRANSLATED WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM VIRGINIA TRIOLI
There was enormous interest in Media Watch Dog’s “exclusive” at Gin & Tonic Time last week that ABC presenter Virginia Trioli has defined the term “with respect”. The occasion took place on Friday 23 July 2021 following La Trioli’s (somewhat hostile) interview with Health Minister Greg Hunt on ABC Radio 774.
After Minister Hunt had used the term “with respect” on several occasions, Comrade Trioli took it upon herself to define what Greg Hunt really meant. Here it is:
Virginia Trioli: When a politician says to you, in answer to a question, “with respect”, that is not without meaning. Let me tell you what the meaning is. I actually can’t say it on air because it’s a rude word. What it means is “Stuff you. Sit down. Shut up”. It actually means the opposite of “with respect”. It means “I hate what you’re asking, and I hate your guts right now”. So, that’s actually [laughing] what that phrase means.
By the way, on ABC Radio 774’s “Mornings with Virginia Trioli” last Monday, the presenter wondered again why Morrison government ministers will not come on her program. Fancy that.
But MWD digresses. When it comes to interviews, many political journalists spar with politicians on an equal footing. So consider the exchange on ABC TV Insiders on Sunday when presenter David Speers interviewed NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard:
Brad Hazzard: What I have said, David, is what I intend to say again. And that is that we have taken the health advice [about lockdowns etc] and we will continue to do that. And it’s all very well to be wise after the event by numerous commentators, as everyday –
David Speers: [interjecting] Yeah. But when you’re saying at the time, though Minister – with respect – [there were] plenty of health experts saying at the time as well that you should lock down.
So, according to La Trioli’s interpretation, when Speersy said “with respect” to Minister Hazzard he really meant “F—k you”, “stuff you”, “shut up” and “I hate your guts right now”. How about that? More importantly – Can You Bear It?
GIDEON HAIGH SUPPORTS “WINNERS”- BUT NOT OF THE BOOKISH KIND
It was Hangover Time on Sunday when Jackie’s (male) co-owner turned on the ABC Offsiders program to find a discussion on the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games. With large parts of Australia in lockdown, Hendo was of the view that the Offsiders team would regard the Olympics as a suitable morale-booster at a difficult time. It did – with one exception. Step forward author and Media Watch Dog fave Gideon Haigh.
Your man Haigh, it seems, does not like the Olympics much. Here’s what he told Offsiders presenter Kelli Underwood.
Gideon Haigh: There’s a strong argument that the Games shouldn’t actually be taking place and that the site of it taking place, in a city with 10,000 covid cases a day, in isolation, in empty stadia, at the wrong time of year. It’s far too hot for athletes, really – um, is just a – is just indicative of the fact that it’s – I know it’s a place of sporting pilgrimage for, for athletes. But it’s also a TV show about winning….
Gideon Haigh went on to state that “we evaluate the Olympics as a success” according to “how many medals we win”. It seems that non-Olympic team sports like cricket are okay. But not “transient spectaculars” like the Olympics “which is about an elite of winners who will become household names”. Instead, according to The Thought of Haigh, we should all celebrate the “ideal of participation”.
Well, that’s pretty clear then. It’s out with winners. And it’s in with celebrating participation.
But what about, er, literary awards and the publishers and authors who enter such competitions with the hope of becoming not only winners but also household names? What about them?
As far as MWD can work it out, Gideon Haigh has won lotsa literary gongs – from competitions presided over by judges. For example, the 2006 John Curtin Prize for Journalism, the 2013 Douglas Stewart Prize for Non-fiction, the 2016 Ned Kelly Award for the Best True Crime and more besides. [By the way, Gideon Haigh’s “Certain Admissions: A Beach, a Body and a Lifetime of Secrets” about the murderer John Kerr – is a great read. – MWD Editor.]
So your man Haigh is a winner of the literary kind. And that’s okay. But has little time for Olympic gold medal winners of the high jump kind. Can You Bear It?
SALLY NEIGHBOUR IMPLIES THAT FOUR CORNERS CANNOT PRODUCE A ONE-LINE SUPA IN LESS THAN THREE MONTHS
As pointed out in today’s Documentation section, in its hatchet job on the Coalition in last Monday’s Four Corners program, Dr Michelle Ananda-Rajah (for a medical doctor she is) was interviewed by Adam Harvey. But no one at the ABC saw fit to advise viewers that she is the endorsed Labor Party candidate for the seat of Higgins in Melbourne – currently held by the Liberal Party’s Katie Allen (also a medical doctor).
Few would doubt that Dr Ananda-Rajah’s criticism of the Coalition government was motivated by what she believes. Even so, the ABC is always banging on about the need for disclosure and all that. And it did not happen on this occasion.
As usual, Four Corners’ executive producer Sally Neighbour declined to accept any criticism for the oversight – and put out this tweet at 8.55 pm on Monday, as the program was underway. Here it is:
#4Corners interviewed Michelle Ananda-Rajah in May, well before she announced her candidacy.
— Sally Neighbour (@neighbour_s) August 2, 2021
In other words, Comrade Neighbour is saying that at no time in May, June, July or early August did the Four Corners team have the time to advise viewers of Dr Ananda-Rajah’s Labor Party’s affiliations, either by on-air supa or by means of the reporter’s commentary. Which raises the question – Can You Bear It?
MWD COMMENTS ON LAST MONDAY’s FOUR CORNERS COVID-19 PROGRAM
Returning to Four Corners expert and Labor candidate for Higgins Dr Michelle Ananda-Rajah (re which see Can You Bear It?), it is worth revisiting her appearance on Q+A on 1 July 2021. During the show a 31 year-old audience member named Tristan Lawrence asked the panel whether he should go ahead with receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Dr Ananda-Rajah advised the young man against receiving AstraZeneca, emphasising the rare clotting risk, as did her fellow panellist Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. Health Economist Stephen Duckett weighed in to say that the young man receiving a vaccination would not bring forward an opening of Australia’s borders. Only Jason Falinski, the Liberal member for Mackellar, had a good word to say about Mr Lawrence’s urge to get vaccinated with AstraZeneca.
After the panellists had weighed in, guest-presenter David Speers returned to Tristan Lawrence and asked if he now had clarity re vaccines. Mr Lawrence responded that, while he had been seriously considering getting AstraZeneca, he was now going to talk to his GP and “maybe I will wait for Pfizer”. So Q+A and Dr Ananda-Rajah appears to have had a role in getting a young man in Melbourne to delay his vaccination.
Viewers of Monday’s Four Corners also heard from Dr Katie Attwell who was presented as a “Vaccine Policy Expert”. Dr Attwell is certainly an expert in vaccination policy, but given the subject matter many viewers would have assumed her qualifications included medical training. In fact, Dr Attwell’s honorific stems from her Doctor of Philosophy, which she earned from Murdoch University with her thesis No way out: How Israeli Jewish dissidents attempt to use alternative national identity discourses to connect with their Palestinian other.
In her capacity as an expert in vaccine policy, Dr Attwell advises the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI). On Four Corners she had this to say on whether ATAGI is responsible for slowing the vaccine rollout.
Katie Attwell: I think perhaps there has been too much reliance on ATAGI to design policy for a successful rollout. When that’s not their job, their job is to assess the safety and efficacy of vaccines and to consider the available supply. That’s why I think it’s really important that we understand that ATAGI’s remit is narrow and far more narrow than having responsibility for rollout. So, I think the responsibility for rollout does rest with our executive government, it does rest with the Prime Minister and his team to, uh, to be accountable for the decisions that they make.
This raises the question. If ATAGI has only a narrow responsibility for assessing vaccine safety and efficacy, why are they being advised by a Doctor of Philosophy? Surely Dr Attwell’s expertise in vaccine policy (as opposed to vaccine science) would be of limited use to such a group.
Four Corners also briefly touched on the controversy concerning remarks made by Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeanette Young. Here is the transcript for the entire Four Corners segment dedicated to Dr Young’s remarks, featuring Professor Mary-Louise McLaws:
Jeanette Young (clip): I don’t want an 18-year-old in Queensland dying from a clotting illness who, if they got COVID, probably wouldn’t die. We’ve had very few deaths due to COVID-19 in Australia in people under the age of 50, and wouldn’t it be terrible that our first 18-year-old in Queensland who dies related to this pandemic died because of the vaccine?
Mary-Louise McLaws: I thought Dr. Young’s response was, very reasonable and scientifically driven. And I think that any evidence-based medicine or epidemiologist would concur that she quite rightly wanted her younger constituents that she is responsible for to have the best vaccine that would not only keep them safe from adverse events, but keep them safe from acquiring COVID, and then reduce that likelihood of symptoms and therefore spread. So, it’s a win-win, giving the young ones Pfizer.
Four Corners then immediately moved on to other matters. Four Corners did not even bother to inform viewers that Dr Young’s comment had been highly controversial at the time, sparking widespread criticism. Including from RACGP [Royal Australian College of General Practitioners] director Charlotte Hespe – who described Dr Young’s remarks as “scaremongering”. Instead, Professor McLaws’ defence of Dr Young was allowed to stand as the only opinion heard.
Finally, no ABC COVID program would be complete without a word from Norman (“Please call me Australia’s most trusted Doctor”) Swan who made a brief appearance. ABC viewers disappointed by the Swan-light Four Corners on Monday needed only to wait until the following morning for more from the good doctor as he made one of his regular appearances on ABC News Breakfast. During the interview, Dr Swan offered up a remarkable claim:
Norman Swan: I don’t think this has been tried anywhere else in the world, where you are trying to use vaccination to curve an outbreak. And, um, in a sense New South Wales, the residents of New South Wales are guinea, or at least Greater Sydney, are guinea pigs in this. To see whether or not, if you can really intensify vaccination, can you bend the curve downwards?
Swan’s appearance was shared by News Breakfast on Twitter, with the line about guinea pigs emphasised. It received a strong pushback from infectious disease specialist and former deputy chief medical officer Dr Nick Coatsworth:
No, Dr Swan, they are not guinea pigs. I vaccinated during measles in Chad in 2005. Rapid vaccination during an epidemic is part of epidemic control. And it’s what every other country has done with #covid19 #auspol #astrazeneca #pfizer Restrictions plus rapid vaccines works https://t.co/sWn1o3bCOO
— Dr. Nick Coatsworth (@nick_coatsworth) August 2, 2021
Dr Coatsworth is correct. Swan’s claim that the residents of New South Wales are being treated like guinea pigs is complete nonsense. Not only was rapid vaccination an integral part of epidemic control long before COVID-19, it has also been a successful strategy against COVID internationally. The US, UK and Israel all began their vaccination programs in the midst of surging COVID case numbers and all saw a rapid decline in numbers as vaccination levels increased. Below is a chart showing COVID cases per million from December 2020 to April 2021. All three countries began their vaccination program in December and then saw a steep decline in cases in the following months as vaccination numbers rapidly increased.
QUENTIN DEMPSTER (AFTER DARK) SEES RUPERT MURDOCH LEADING THE ALLIES INTO WAR WITH CHINA
It is said that, circa 1943, British prime minister Winston Churchill was in conversation with Soviet Union dictator Josef Stalin about the war effort. The Nazi Soviet Pact having ended, and Germany having invaded the Soviet Union – Churchill suggested to Stalin that, somehow or other, Pope Pius XII might be able to help with diplomacy with a view to ending the conflict. To which, allegedly, Stalin replied sarcastically: “How many divisions has the Pope, then?”. Or something like that. Or perhaps he didn’t say this at all.
Last Friday, The New Daily’s Quentin Dempster sent out a late night tweet. It was so late that it was after the dark of what Comrade Dempster and his comrades like to call “Sky News After Dark”. Here it is:
Rupert Murdoch will lead us to war with China without compunction or pause to review/consider USA’s post WWII follies: Korea, Vietnam, Iraq. As Australians we really need to discount/ignore his distorting influence on our foreign policy options.
— Quentin Dempster (@QuentinDempster) July 30, 2021
Now Rupert Murdoch was born in 1931 – so he was too young to influence United Nations policy with respect to Korea. Moreover, as far as MWD recalls, Murdoch did not support the Allied commitment in Vietnam.
As to China. Comrade Dempster seems to think that Rupert Murdoch plus Jerry Hall along with some spear throwers recruited from Fox News really want to lead the United States, Australia and more besides into war with China. Perhaps Comrade Dempster should ask the question: “How many divisions does Mr Murdoch have, then?
It would seem that Murdochphobia takes over the mind of the likes of Quentin Dempster. Especially around 10.30 pm on a Friday night.
MISTAKES & OMISSIONS IN ANNABEL CRABB’S MS REPRESENTED
Annabel Crabb’s four-part documentary Ms Represented concluded on ABC TV on Tuesday. It was two hours of viewing which broke little new ground. The difficulties facing women in Australian politics have been documented in recent years in a number of considered and well researched books. See the list below.
Certainly there were some interesting moments in Ms Represented. But the essential fault with Annabel Crabb’s documentary (executive producer Frances O’Riordan) was its animosity to the Liberal Party/Nationals side of Australian politics. As Parnell Palme McGuinness put it in her Sun-Herald column on 25 July 2021:
It is true that Labor men are not singled out for criticism in the documentary in the way Liberal and National Party men are. It has angered many Liberals that John Howard, the longest-serving prime minister since Menzies, is implied to have somehow wangled his way into Parliament because of his gender rather than on merit. No such charge is levelled against a Labor man. Also, the Liberal Party women who agreed to appear in the series – among them Julia Banks, Amanda Vanstone and Julie Bishop – are critical of conservative Liberal Party men, while the Labor women who participated are not specifically critical of Labor men.
All this is best illustrated with reference to Ms Represented’s mistakes and omissions. They will be examined in MWD over the next few weeks – commencing today with the first part of Episode 1:
- Episode 1: Annabel Crabb Misrepresents John Howard’s Early Political Career by suggesting that he stopped an Australian version of Margaret Thatcher from Joining the House of Representatives
The first message of Ms Represented was that John Howard never should have become Australia’s second-longest serving prime minister. Or that, at the very least, he never should have become the Liberal Party member for Bennelong in metropolitan Sydney.
Early in Ms Represented, this is what Annabel Crabb had to say about a certain Joan Pilone with respect to John Howard:
Annabel Crabb: Meet Joan Pilone. It’s okay, you’re not supposed to have heard of her. Joan emigrated to Sydney from Britain in 1952 and was surprised to find that in her new home it was considered unusual for women to run for Parliament. She made inquiries with the Liberal Party and was told that in order to be preselected, she’d need experience. “Okay”, said Joan. She set out to get experience at the local government level and won a seat on North Sydney Council in 1959.
In 1962, she sought Liberal preselection for the state parliamentary seat of Kirribilli. “No, thank you”, said the Party. In 1964, she was passed over again, this time for the seat of Willoughby. The following year, she ran for Sydney City Council, overcoming the objections of existing aldermen who protested that there wasn’t a ladies toilet in the council building. She made history.
Joan was a member of the Liberal Party’s state executive. She was a popular and influential local government figure and a go-getting industry executive. Exactly the kind of pedigree, you’d think, would help smooth the next step into Parliament. But Joan kept on losing. Her next attempt was in 1973, when she nominated for a safe Federal seat. But she was beaten, by a 34-year-old suburban solicitor who’d never served in public office but had been president of the NSW Young Liberals. And just four years later, despite his inexperience, he was the Treasurer of Australia.
So according to Annabel Crabb, John Howard was a suburban solicitor before entering parliament. Which raises the question – what’s wrong with suburban solicitors? By the way, the reference to John Howard being a suburban solicitor was put around years ago by his political opponents. Ms Crabb’s put-down is not even original.
For the record, John Howard was never a suburban solicitor. He did his articles with the Sydney CBD solicitor Myer Rosenblum. Then he worked for Stephen Jaques & Stephen and then Clayton Utz before becoming partner with Truman, Nelson and Howard. All of these offices were in the Sydney CBD. All up, John Howard practised law for some 12 years, broken by a long overseas trip. Ms Crabb could have found this out for herself. It’s called research.
If Crabb has read John Howard’s Lazarus Rising: A Personal and Political Autobiography (HarperCollins, 2010) she would know that John Howard was certainly not politically inexperienced in 1973.
In late 1972 he had been chosen by the Liberal Party to help Prime Minister William McMahon who was somewhat floundering in the 1972 Federal election campaign. In the event, despite Labor’s Gough Whitlam outperforming McMahon in the campaign, the Coalition held more seats than expected – facilitating the Coalition’s return to office in 1975.
In the 1963 election, Howard (who was born in 1939) had been the campaign director of the successful campaign which saw the Liberal Party’s Tom Hughes QC win the seat of Parkes from the Labor Party’s left-winger Leslie Haylen. In 1967 Howard won Liberal Party pre-selection for the NSW seat of Drummoyne which was held by Labor. He lost narrowly at the 1968 NSW election.
In 1971 Howard unsuccessfully sought pre-selection for the Federal seat of Berowra – finishing third behind Dr Harry Edwards and NSW State member Jim Cameron – and ahead of such prominent Liberals as Bob Ellicott QC and Dr Peter Baume. In 1973 Howard narrowly won pre-selection for the seat of Bennelong over Peter Coleman – the NSW State member for the area – and entered Federal Parliament at the 1974 election following the retirement of Sir John Cramer.
John Howard was a strong candidate in the Bennelong pre-selection. So was Peter Coleman. Irrespective of gender, Joan Pilone did not have anything like the political experience of John Howard or Peter Coleman or some other candidates who failed to win the pre-selection. John Howard was appointed to the ministry in December 1975 and became treasurer in December 1977.
It is pure mythology for Annabel Crabb to suggest that John Howard should not have prevailed over Ms Pilone to win the Bennelong pre-selection – his principal opponent was not Ms Pilone but the politically experienced Peter Coleman. If John Howard had not won the highly competitive pre-selection, Peter Coleman would have become the member for Bennelong. When Howard entered the House of Representatives in 1974, he was a politically experienced young man who was across policy issues and a fine political debater who had been involved in the public debate for over a decade.
Ms Represented provides an historically-flawed view of the early political years of Australia’s second-longest serving prime minister. No male Labor or Greens politician is accused by Ms Crabb of entering parliament at the expense of a talented woman. And it’s absolute tosh to suggest that Australia’s second-longest serving prime minister ever did so.
Books on Women and the Liberal Party – Attention Ms Represented
▪ Women in Australian Politics by Jocelyn Clarke and Kate White (Collins 1983)
▪ A Woman’s Place: Women and Politics in Australia by Marian Sawer and Marian Simms (Allen & Unwin 1984)
▪ Getting Even – Women MPs on Life, Power and Politics by Anne Henderson (HarperCollins 1999)
▪ Media Tarts: Female Politicians and the Press by Julia Baird (Scribe Publications 2004)
▪ So Many Firsts – Liberal Women from Enid Lyons to the Turnbull Era by Margaret Fitzherbert (Federation Press 2009)
▪ Founders, Firsts and Feminists; Women Leaders in Twentieth-Century Australia, edited by Fiona Davis, Nell Musgrove and Judith Smart (eScholarship Research Centre, University of Melbourne 2011)
▪ Seizing the Initiative: Australian Women Leaders in Politics, Workplaces and Communities, edited by Rosemary Francis, Patricia Grimshaw and Anne Standish. (eScholarship Research Centre, University of Melbourne 2012)
- IN WHICH LIFESTYLE COACH ANDREW MAY SEEMS TO BELIEVE THAT ALL AUSSIES HAVE A PAIR OF ALAN JOYCE ENDORSED QANTAS PYJAMAS
Media Watch Dog notes, with deep regret that Victoria’s back in lockdown for the sixth occasion and sends best wishes to avid readers in Melbourne and beyond. After all, Jackie’s co-owners were born and educated in Melbourne.
The reality of yet another lockdown in Victoria – along with those in parts of NSW and Queensland – reminded MWD at Hangover Time this morning, about the discussion on ABC TV News Breakfast (which was filmed in the ABC TV Melbourne headquarters) yesterday.
Andrew May, who presents as a life coach – which seems to be a more challenging career than presenting as a mortician – looked back on how he and his client handled the first lockdown in March 2020. Here’s what the founder of StriveStronger had to say to co-presenters Lisa Millar and Michael Rowland – who did not demur:
Andrew May: I think when this first [lockdown] happened in March last year, it was almost novel, you know. We didn’t have to travel to work, we saved on commute time. We didn’t even have to wear proper pants – you know, leisure wear was the uniform that everyone was doing. But as this has gone on longer and longer – I had a coaching client say to me last week, she said “Andrew, I feel like I’m constantly jetlagged or slightly hungover, there’s just no, no pyjamas from Qantas and no champagne on the tarmac”. So it is, it is, it is draining, it is fatiguing. But there are some definite strategies we can do to get through this….
How out of touch can a life-coach get? The Sydney-based Andrew May – who is into wellness and all that – seems to be of the view that in the March 2020 lockdown, everyone got out of bed in the morning, changed from their pyjamas into leisurewear and then prepared for a day working at home on the computer. Everyone, apparently, including emergency and health workers, bus and train drivers, along with butchers, bakers and candlestick makers – oh yes, and brewers. What a load of absolute tosh.
Also your man May seemed oblivious of the fact that only those who travel First Class on international flights get to wear Qantas pyjamas and to drink champagne on the tarmac. Qantas boss Alan Joyce does not even hand this gear out to the somewhat better than riff-raff cohort who happen to travel Business Class.
Presenter Lisa Millar said she started walking home from work every day – this suggests that she lives close to Southbank, which is just over the Yarra River from the Melbourne CBD and just a brisk walk to, say, Green-left central aka inner-city Fitzroy North. And the weather guy Nate Byrne declared he did the same and it took him an hour. Which suggests that your man Byrne lives within 4-5 kilometres radius of Southbank. And Comrades Millar and Byrne seem unaware that such a walk-home feat could not be achieved by security staff at Southbank who live in, say, Dandenong or Frankston.
At least co-presenter Michael Rowland stuck to his “Dad jokes” and did not exhibit insensitivity to the toiling masses who live far from their homes and whose only hope of wearing a pair of Qantas pyjamas is if they happen to raid your man Joyce’s rubbish bin late at night.
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Jackie, Dip Wellness, The Gunnedah Institute, comments for MWD:
As a lifestyle kind of sheila with a Dip. Wellness, I would suggest that Andrew May gets out more – even in times of pandemic. For my part, I try to get out of my kennel as much as possible. That’s why I know that lotsa my fellow canines do get out of their pyjamas every day and work as guard dogs, tradies’ on-the-job mates and so on. I accept, however, that such first-hand knowledge of how the other half lives (to use a cliché) will never lead to me getting a life coach gig despite my qualifications from The Gunnedah Institute.
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Until next time.
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