GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG

ISSUE – NO. 557

3 September 2021

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  • THE MIRACULOUS CONVERSION OF DR NORMAN SWAN ON LOCKDOWNS

ABC COVID guru and MWD fave Dr Norman Swan returned to 7:30 last night to give viewers an update on the New South Wales and Victorian lockdowns. He was joined by Professor Allan Saul from the Burnet Institute and Professor Emma McBryde from James Cook University. Here is how Swan opened the piece:

Norman Swan: Let’s be clear. Lockdowns are still working. It’s just that with Delta, they’re not working nearly as well. The dotted line is where case numbers in New South Wales would be heading, without stay-at-home orders and other restrictions in place.

Allan Saul: There’s no doubt that the lockdowns in New South Wales had a big impact. But when you’re dealing with exponential growth, it gets out of hand very quickly.

Emma McBryde:  Lockdown was a great weapon last year. It allowed Australia to achieve elimination for many, many months. But with the new Delta strain, the game has changed completely.

Norman Swan: You can see how the game has changed if we look closely at Victoria’s second wave, last year. Every time tougher measures were introduced, such as making masks mandatory, the growth rate fell. These restrictions eventually brought the outbreak under control.

Allan Saul: We had expected to see something similar in Sydney. But what’s surprising is there’s actually been no apparent effect of each of those restrictions, on the rate of which the cases are going up.

Norman Swan: One criticism levelled at New South Wales was that the State Government took too long to impose a hard lockdown.

Emma McBryde:  If New South Wales had gone a couple of weeks earlier, there is a chance that it could have led to a COVID zero outcome. Having said that, what was being called for was precisely what Victoria did do and they also have probably missed the boat in terms of the COVID zero outcome. We may have found that whatever we did, we would be in a similar situation to what we are now.

Norman Swan: One possibility is that too many people in New South Wales aren’t following the rules. Mobility data across New South Wales council areas suggests that’s not the case. Movement outside the home is down between 40 and 50 per cent.

Well, Dr Swan is quite right – the lockdowns are successfully keeping case numbers relatively low until vaccination levels are high enough to resume normal life. The only issue is this seems to contradict much of what Norman (“Trust me, I’m Australia’s most trusted doctor”) Swan has been banging on about since the beginning of the current outbreak in mid-June.

Dr Swan has been ubiquitous on ABC TV and Radio, using his platform to agitate for harsher and harsher restrictions to be placed on the people of New South Wales. But now Professor Allan Saul says these restrictions didn’t seem to achieve much of anything. It’s a case of: “well, never mind then”.

Swan was particularly critical of the NSW government for waiting around a week and a half to go into lockdown. But now, as Professor McBryde pointed out, Victoria appears to be in the same position despite locking down immediately. Oh well.

Recall on July 14 when Norman Swan wandered out to a major road during peak hour, filmed a video showing light traffic and tweeted it out with the sarcastic caption “Locked down Sydney”. Well Dr Swan now says mobility data shows the people of New South Wales are obeying the rules and locking down. Too bad that mobility data wasn’t available in July (oh wait, it was).

So, what is the reason for Dr Swan’s return to reality? Well in the last few days, Premier Daniel Andrews has pivoted from seeking to eliminate COVID in Victoria to a “living with COVID” strategy more reminiscent of New South Wales. And what do you know? The ABC’s resident COVID expert is whistling to the same tune. He’s still standing with Dan. It’s just that Dan is standing in a different position.

  • KATE ROFFEY PASSES ON THE POLITICAL FUDGE WITHOUT CLARIFICATION ON NEWS BREAKFAST

Earlier today ABC TV’s News Breakfast welcomed back Kate Roffey, a regular guest on the program and president of the Melbourne Football Club. Michael Rowland and Lisa Millar were in the presenters’ chairs when discussion turned to the ongoing disputes between Australia’s political leaders. Let’s go to the transcript:

Lisa Millar: Gosh, the states have really been at each other this week. And with the feds.

Kate Roffey: Absolutely and this is – we’re starting to get to crunch point now in terms of determining what do we do around opening up as a nation. So we have New South Wales sort of leading the pack, I guess for want of a better term, in terms of saying we’re going to have to live with COVID and this is what we are doing. And New South Wales talking about things like really stopping the contact tracing as we know it and just going to digital alerts on your phone if you’ve been to an exposure site, so that’s a whole ‘nother step. Then we’ve got Queensland and really a lot of the articles in the papers today are around Queensland and the Premier’s conversations yesterday around the fact that firstly, uh, vaccinating children under 12. Which hasn’t been spoken about really on a global scale at all, so that’s an interesting one. And the other thing is, taking some of the Doherty Institute report figures and extrapolating them out to come out with figures that are really scary when you read them. Which is you know 2,000 people might die every month if you reopen the borders.

The conversation then moved on to other topics without further comment from Roffey, Millar & Rowland. The figure of 2,000 deaths per month cited by Roffey related to a tweet sent out by QLD premier Annastacia Palaszczuk the previous day:

Kate Roffey describes this “scary” figure as being based on extrapolating numbers from the Doherty Institute. Yesterday in The New Daily Josh Butler reported that the Premier had extrapolated based on one graph found within the Doherty Institute’s report.

The graph in question models Australia reopening with 70% of adults vaccinated and minimal efforts post-opening to control the spread of the virus. The plan agreed to by National Cabinet proposes a partial opening of the borders when 80% of adults are vaccinated and stipulates that a higher level of restrictions remain in place than were assumed in the graph. Even ignoring those discrepancies, the model Premier Palaszczuk is citing shows deaths peaking at about 80 deaths per day before declining. Deaths would have to remain at almost 80 per day for months for the Premier’s claim to hold.

In short, Premier Palaszczuk’s tweet was an example of the well-worn phenomenon of a politician fudging the numbers for political reasons. But instead of informing the News Breakfast audience of this, Roffey, Millar and Rowland just passed along the fudge without comment.


EDITORIAL

  • ABC DENIAL AND THE LATE NEVILLE WRAN

On Monday the ABC released Editorial Review 25 titled Exposed: The Ghost Train Fire. It was written by one-time prominent ABC identity Chris Masters and former University of Sydney academic Rodney Tiffen.  Neither is an established critic of the ABC – indeed both could  expect an invitation to address a Friends of the ABC function. Or that was the case until this week, at least.

The three-part series Exposed was presented by Caro Meldrum-Hanna and Patrick Begley and cost over $2 million to produce.  The thesis of the program was started at the end.  Namely, that the tragic Luna Park fire in 1979 – in which six boys and one man (a father) died – was an act of murder by arson as part of corruption which went right to the top of the NSW government.  In 1979, Labor’s Neville Wran was premier of NSW.

Gerard Henderson criticised Exposed in his Weekend Australian  column on 29 May 2021. On 19 August 2021, Troy Bramston (The Australian) and Milton Cockburn (former editor, The Sydney Morning Herald) addressed The Sydney Institute (by Zoom) on the topic “The ABC’s Luna Park Fire Conspiracy Beat Up”. The speeches have been published in The Sydney Papers Online.

The Tiffen/Masters Report praised large parts of Exposed – even to the extent to seeming to accept some of the program’s untested theories.  But the authors criticised Exposed with respect to its allegations concerning Neville Wran. In spite of the imputations in Exposed, there is no evidence that Wran had any commercial involvement in the Luna Park site and no evidence that he associated with an organised crime figure Abe Saffron.

Paul Barry, the presenter of the ABC Media Watch program, and his executive producer Timothy Latham are not constant critics of the public broadcaster.  But last week Barry acknowledged that Exposed  “accused Wran of corruption and of helping to cover up murder”.  The problem is that Meldrum-Hanna introduced no evidence for either proposition.  As the Tiffen/Masters report found, Exposed gave a strong impression that the program “concluded that Wran was complicit” in corruption, arson and murder – but failed to support the claim with evidence.

The response of the ABC management and journalists to Exposed was to go into denial.  Before the Tiffen/Masters report was released, Gaven Morris (ABC Director News, Analysis and Investigations) put out a statement advising that the ABC did not accept the findings of the report with respect to Wran.

The ABC line was that Exposed only made allegations – and that it was not asserting “Mr Wran’s guilt”.  But it was. ABC management is of the view that ABC journalists are entitled to make unproven claims with respect to both the living and the dead. When they are challenged – the ABC takes refuge in the position that allegations are only allegations. This is clearly not the case where claims fail to be tested and no alternative view is canvassed.

Gaven Morris’ statement is a form of denial – which, naturally, was embraced by Meldrum-Hanna.  And the denial prevails in the face of an editorial review commissioned by the ABC board. Clearly, the ABC is out of control – which happens when a taxpayer funded organisation is allowed to function as a staff collective.


Can You Bear It?

  • ABC JOURNALIST GIVES HIS CO-PRESENTER AN “A-PLUS” FOR HER BOOK ON HERSELF

As avid readers are only too well aware, Media Watch Dog just loves it when journalists interview journalists about journalism.

And so it came to pass (again) on ABC TV News Breakfast on Tuesday when co-presenter Michael Rowland spoke to co-presenter Lisa Millar about, you’ve guessed it – Lisa Millar.  Here’s how the segment commenced:

Michael Rowland : Now, one of Australia’s top journalists has just released her new memoir. It’s her first book. It’s a story about her great career in journalism, and she joins us now on the Breakfast  couch

Lisa Millar : [much laughter] Thank you, thank you Michael.

Some confusion, surely.  According to Comrade Rowland, Comrade Millar has just released her “new memoir” which just happens to be her “first book”. Alas, it appears that the inaugural memoir was spiked and never made it to book form.

Moreover, your man Rowland told viewers that Comrade Millar “joins us now on the couch”. Sure it was Hangover Time. But Jackie’s (male) co-owner was certain that the first-time author had been on the News Breakfast couch since 6 o’clock and the discussion took place shortly before the 7 am News break.

Discussion commenced on Lisa Millar’s Daring to Fly (Hachette Australia, 2021). The author spoke about her early life “chasing cows” on her parents’ farm in Queensland.  Then she mentioned her siblings – David, Trudy, Wendy and Robert.  Then she spoke about how, as a young reporter, she “was involved in a mid-air incident and developed a terrible fear of flying”. Then she mentioned tracking down a plane that was on the family property fifty years ago. Er, that’s about it.

There was one interesting reflection about memory.  It seems that Lisa believes that when one of her sisters was 13 years of age, she “was selected as the best boy rider at a local show”. Apparently, the said sister maintains that no such event ever took place.  But time was up – and the session ended:

Michael Rowland:  Congratulations. I’ve already given this book an A-Plus review. And anything less than that is not doing it justice.  It’s a great read.  And we’ll be chatting more about it as the show goes on.  Available in all good bookstores from today.  Including the bad ones too.

So there you have it.  An ABC TV News Breakfast co-presenter has given an ABC TV News Breakfast  co-presenter an A-Plus review for her memoir about chasing cattle, being involved in a mid-air incident where the plane did not crash and disagreeing with a sister about a country show many decades ago along with an account of her career in journalism.  This surely was bound to be a best seller even before the relentless plugs for Daring to Fly on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.  Can You Bear It?

Maskless “Essential Worker” Michael Rowland gets his makeup done.

Maskless “Essential Worker” Lisa Millar Poses with Her Book – as shown on ABC News Breakfast

  • QUELLE SURPRISE! – JOHN HEWSON RECKONS THE PM IS NO GOOD

There has been enormous interest from avid Media Watch Dog readers in The Switch – namely, the move of Scott Morrison antagonist John Hewson from the left-of-centre Sydney Morning Herald and The Age to the leftist The Saturday Paper and the move of Scott Morrison antagonist Niki Savva from The Australian to the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.  The columnists have changed places – but, alas, not topics.

At the weekend, The [Boring] Saturday Paper  carried a boring column by Dr Hewson (for a doctor he is) on – you’ve guessed it – the Prime Minister, titled “the politics of the greater good”.  Reader alert – your man Hewson stands for the Greater Good but the PM not so much.  By the way, former Labor prime minister Julia Gillard is a greater good kind of guy – but not former Liberal Party prime minister Tony Abbott.  According to Dr John, that is.

It took some determination to wade through the Hewson literary sludge to get to his main point.  Along the way there was a comparison between the nasty actions of Gellert Grindelwald in The [sic] Wizarding War of 1940 – as told in the Harry Potter books – with this message from your man Hewson:

…As ridiculous as this might seem, I do recall George W. Bush’s reliance on Guantanamo Bay.

Yeah – it sure is a ridiculous comparison. There followed a reference to Immanuel Kant. Now Jackie’s (male) co-owner knows little about philosopher Kant except that he gets a guernsey in Bruces’ Philosophers Song (words Monty Python):

Immanuel Kant was a real pissant

Who was very rarely stable

Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar

Who could think you under the table.

But MWD digresses, again.  Here’s John Hewson’s big Thought for the Day (of last Saturday).

For Morrison the good always goes to the greatest number of people, even if that is only the slim majority of so-called “quiet Australians” required to hold office. The greater good is what’s good for him.

How profound is that? Yet Morry Schwartz, proprietor of The [Boring] Saturday Paper, is paying good money for this (boring) tosh.  Can You Bear It?

[Unfortunately, no.  After all, TSP also publishes a (boring) column by the boring Paul Bongiorno who, as avid readers are aware, was bagged by Niki Savva in her book Confessions of a Conservative Leftie for being a predictable John Howard hater.  I note that in his column on Saturday, Comrade Bonge predicted an early election for November 2021 – a “dash to the polls”, no less. His main source – “senior advisers in the Queensland [Labor] government”. Well, they would know, wouldn’t they?  Really. –  MWD  Editor.]

  • NIKI SAVVA PRESENTS THE LIBERAL PARTY IN A LOSER/LOSER SITUATION

So, our man Hewson predictably wrote about Scott Morrison this week. And Niki Savva predictably wrote about Scott Morrison this week also.

Yesterday Ms Savva commenced her Nine Newspapers’ column with the truly startling revelation that former Labor treasurer Wayne Swan had a sleepover with former prime minister Kevin Rudd at The Lodge “one night towards the end of July 2008”. Readers were told they got on well enough for Rudd to give Swan “some clean undies for the next day”.  Essential knowledge for an understanding of Australian national politics, to be sure.

This was a lead-in comment to the fact that due to the COVID-19 lockdowns in Canberra, Josh Frydenberg is staying with Scott Morrison at The Lodge.  There was no reference to the sharing of underwear, but Ms Savva revealed that the two men were sharing their “good old-fashioned paranoia”.

Then the Nine Newspapers’ star columnist went into analytical mode. Niki Savva told readers that “if Morrison loses the election” the Liberal Party will experience an “inevitable existential crisis”.  However, according to the Thought of Niki Savva:

If Morrison wins, the Liberals’ identity crisis will deepen. For three years the Liberals have lacked a coherent policy agenda and commitment to any cause beyond surviving the news cycle.

Talk about a lose/lose situation.  According to The Thought of Savva, if the Liberal Party loses the next election, it will experience a crisis – of the existential kind.  But if the Liberal Party wins the next election, it will experience a crisis – of the identity kind. Can You Bear It?


  • RE-VISITING SPEERSY’S TOP MEDIA INTERRUPTER GONG

There was enormous interest in last week’s “Top Media Interrupter of the Week” gong which went to ABC TV Insiders presenter David (“Call me Speersy”) Speers.  The Prime Minister’s Media Office counted 26 interruptions by Speersy during his interview with Scott Morrison on Sunday 22 August.  But Media Watch Dog’s interruption-checker put the figure at 30 interruptions.

After reading MWD at Gin & Tonic Time last Friday, an avid reader from Dungog has asked how many times Speersy interrupted Labor Party Anthony Albanese when he was interviewed on Insiders on 11 July 2021. According to MWD’s interrupter-checker, the answer is – on a mere four occasions.  And, then there was Speersy’s oh-so-soft interview with Greens’ leader Adam Bandt on 13 June 2021. Even the Green Left Weekly  would probably have asked The Greens’ leader more tough questions than Speersy did on that Sunday morning – the interview was Vanilla Sponge.

  • MIKE BOWERS’ “TALKING PICTURES” – YET ANOTHER CONSERVATIVE-FREE ZONE

But MWD digresses.  On Insiders  last Sunday, the ABC/Guardian Axis was in action again, comprising half the journalistic talent on show. Namely, David Speers as presenter, The Guardian’s editor Lenore Taylor as panellist and The Guardian’s  photographic editor Mike Bowers as “Talking Pictures” presenter.  In short, 50 per cent of journalists on Insiders on Sunday were from the ABC/Guardian Axis.

While on the topic of “Talking Pictures”, has anyone noticed that the segment resembles the Insiders’ panel discussions of recent memory – in that essentially everyone agrees with essentially everyone else on essentially everything in a left-of-centre kind of way.

A look back on recent editions of “Talking Pictures” documents that part of the ABC is a Conservative-Free Zone.

 

26 July 2021

Comrade Bowers’ guest commentator is Benny Eggmolesse – and the cartoonists discussed are Matt Golding, Mark David, Dean Alston, Alan Moir, Matt Golding (again), Brett Lethbridge, David Rowe and Mark Knight.

Comrade Eggmolesse spends much of his commentary slot bagging Prime Minister Scott Morrison – with the support of Comrade Bowers.  In particular, he is critical of the PM’s alleged refusal to say sorry about COVID-19 and all that – and makes the point over and over again:

Benny Eggmolesse: That’s how you do a sorry, Morrison. Prime Minister Morrison.

Mike Bowers: Down the camera and give us a sorry.

Benny Eggmolesse: “I am sorry, the Australian people, I am sorry.” That’s how you do it Scott Morrison. “I am sorry”. It’s as simple as that mate. We’re a simple folk. And we just want a straight out “I’m sorry”.

Mike Bower: That was good.

 

1 August 2021

The ABC’s Shalailah Medhora joins The Guardian’s Mike Bowers to discuss cartoons by David Rowe, Matt Golding, Jim Pavlidis, Mark Knight, Peter Broelman, Alan Moir, Andrew Dyson, David Rowe (again), John Shakespeare, Matt Golding (again).

This time Comrade Medhora bags Prime Minister Scott Morrison for his comment of recent memory (before the renewed outbreaks in NSW and Victoria) that vaccinating against COVID-19 was not a race.  She makes the point over and over again:

Mike Bowers: Matt Golding’s done probably the most depressing Escher drawing, with the ‘responsibility COVID’ running around in the finish line that moves.

Shalailah Medhora: It’s not a race.

Mike Bowers: It’s not a race.

Shalailah Medhora: Just Remember, not a race.

Mike Bowers: Not a race.

 

8 August 2021

Guess what?  Cartoonist David Pope is the guest – and his work is among the list of cartoonists to be discussed. They are:  Alex Ellinghausen (photos), Fiona Katauskas, David Rowe, John Kudelka, Peter Broelman, David Pope, Cathy Wilcox and Matt Golding.

David Pope uses the occasion to bag Prime Minister Scott Morrison on account of his opposition to Labor’s proposal that Australians should receive a $300 cash incentive to get vaccinated:

Mike Bowers: I did love this Cathy Wilcox. “$300 cash incentive for individuals who get vaccinated. That’s absurd”, says Morrison.

David Pope: [Quoting Wilcox] “I mean, fancy wasting taxpayers’ money on people who may never vote for you”.  Well, he [Scott Morrison] was absolutely vehement that they won’t be having incentives. So it’s a pretty sure sign there’ll be incentives down the track at some point.

 

15 August 2021

The Guardian’s Amy Remeikis is the guest of The Guardian’s photographic editor this week.  The following cartoonists are discussed – Phil Somerville, David Pope, Dean Alston from the West Australian, Peter Broelman, John Kudelka, Matt Golding and Mark Knight. Comrade Remeikis joined the “Talking Pictures” chorus in bagging the Morrison government.

Amy Remeikis: Well, you know, I think we’ve always been worried about climate change. It’s just maybe the government is maybe a little bit worried that we’re worried about it now.

Mike Bowers: I did love this David Pope. He’s got the climate response as a can of Scott Morrison paint, which is probably chock a block full of fluorocarbons. “It’s not a race”.

Amy Remeikis: If you didn’t know it was a race, then it’s not a race, but if you’ve decided it’s a race halfway through the race, then you can still win the race because you’re in the race wholeheartedly.

 

22 August 2021

Dan Ilic joins Mike Bowers to discuss the cartoons of Andrew Dyson, David Pope, David Rowe, John Spooner, Cathy Wilcox and Matt Golding.

Dan Ilic chooses to bag the Morrison government on climate change with reference to a Cathy Wilcox cartoon.  He throws the switch to eco-catastrophist.

Dan Ilic: I love this Wilcox so much because the people that are paying for it are the people in front of him [Barnaby Joyce] right there. The hard thing is, they won’t be able to afford houses, because houses won’t exist. They’ll be underwater or on fire.

Mike Bowers: This is my favourite cartoon this week. Matt Golding, “take me to a leader” there’s Barnaby and Scott Morrison are there, and the person’s approaching an alien.

Dan Ilic: Golding has managed to sum up the entire country’s feeling in one single panel. Thank you, Golding. This is absolutely true.

So there you have it.  According to Comrade Ilic if deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce has his way – “houses won’t exist” since they will be under water or burnt down. And he reckons that contemporary Australia is on its way to be controlled by Aliens.

 

29 August 2021

The West Australian’s Sarah Ison is the guest, and the following cartoonists/cartoons are discussed – Mike Bowers (photos), Mark Knight (Herald Sun), John Kudelka, theWest Australian’s Seinfeld-themed cover, Matt Golding, Tom Reid (Crikey) and Cathy Wilcox.

 

Your man Bowers’ photography is much admired. Comrade Bowers tells viewers (if they were still awake) that “no one was really very happy with the Prime Minister”.  At this stage Jackie’s (male) co-owner fell asleep.  On waking, he thought back on recent episodes and realised that the work of The Australian  cartoonist Johannes Leak  had not been discussed. It seems that he has been silenced by the ABC/Guardian Axis.

So how about that?  Over a six-week period, Comrade Bowers did not invite one conservative commentator on to “Talking Pictures”. And it was a matter of “Don’t-talk-about-Johannes-Leak” – despite the fact that he is one of Australia’s best-known and most admired cartoonists.


A LEGAL REFLECTON

  • DAVID HARDAKER’S ILL-CONSIDERED ADVICE TO SCOTT MORRISON & TONY ABBOTT

Like The Saturday Paper, the Crikey newsletter is a leftist publication.  But unlike The Saturday Paper , Crikey is not boring.  It publishes some interesting and well-informed writers covering important topics.  And, sometimes, Crikey surprises.

But not on Tuesday when it led with an article by David Hardaker titled “Morrison does religion and politics – but you might not know where one starts and the other begins”.

The Hardaker piece was a familiar attack on the Australian Pentecostal churches and on Scott Morrison as a Pentecostal believer. However, towards the end of the article, Hardaker wrote about the Prime Minister’s friend Pastor Brian Houston – who was recently charged by NSW Police with failing to report child sexual abuse committed by his father – the late Pastor Frank Houston.

Brian Houston is entitled to a fair trial and the more his case is commented upon the less likely it is that a fair trial before a jury is possible.  But it seems that David Hardaker believes that commenting on a case before it goes to trial is quite okay.  This is how he concluded his Crikey  article:

Australia has, in any case, seen a version of this movie before. It happened to be about former prime minister Tony Abbott and his close confidant of decades, Cardinal George Pell. Pell is not guilty of any crime, but the McClellan royal commission found that he was “not only conscious of child sexual abuse by clergy” in the early 1970s, but that “he also had considered measures of avoiding situations which might provoke gossip about it”.

How is it that two of Australia’s last three prime ministers [i.e. Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison] have been perfectly at ease with these men of religion with their secrets and unanswered questions? There is a moral betrayal when political leaders ignore the evidence of royal commissions and police investigations. Political leaders, even accidental ones like Morrison, have a responsibility to find the truth and preserve the standards of office.

This is an ignorant comment.  It is true that a politician like the Prime Minister should not comment on a matter when a trial is under way. He has not done so.  But it makes no sense to claim that a politician should not associate with someone just because a police investigation is – or was – under way.

Moreover, if David Hardaker has read the final report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse – which was presided over by former Justice Peter McClellan – he would know that there was no documentary or witness evidence which linked Cardinal George Pell to covering up clerical child sexual abuse. None at all.

The Royal Commission was content with finding such as it was “implausible”, “inconceivable”, “untenable” and so on that George Pell did not know of the offending by the likes of Gerald Ridsdale.  This is a mere opinion.

If David Hardaker had researched Peter McClellan, he would know that in 1991, before he became a judge, McClellan warned against royal commissions and commissions of inquiry for precisely the reason that they sometimes made prejudicial findings which did not meet a proper evidentiary test.  At the time Peter McClellan believed that “persons should only be convicted after due process in the relevant court”.  The principle remains valid today.

David Hardaker would be well-advised to let the legal process with respect to Brian Houston resolve itself.  In the meantime, he might try to find some evidence – any evidence – in the Royal Commission’s report that supports his imputation in his article that George Pell covered up clerical child sexual abuse at any time in his career.


HISTORY CORNER

  • HOW LEFTIST FAVE JOHN PILGER DID THE BUNK OUT OF SAIGON IN 1975 ON A U.S. MILITARIST HELICOPTER

In his column in The Weekend Australian last Saturday, Gerard Henderson wrote that the recent exit of United States’ forces from Afghanistan under the Biden administration was significantly worse in execution than the exit of a few remaining US personnel from South Vietnam in 1975 under the Ford administration.

For the most part, those fleeing Kabul International Airport in recent days opposed the Taliban and its conquest of Afghanistan.  In 1975, however, quite a few journalists supported the conquest of the non-communist government in South Vietnam by military forces of the North Vietnam communist regime.

The leftist Australian journalist John Pilger was based in Saigon when the city fell to the North Vietnamese Army on 30 April 1975. Comrade Pilger had two options. Stay in Saigon and witness the so-called liberation of South Vietnam by North Vietnam (which received substantial military support from the communist rulers of the Soviet Union in Moscow). Or do a bunk with the so-called US imperialists.  He chose the latter course – to what Pilger subsequently described as his “shame”.

The story is told in Chapter 17 of John Pilger’s book Heroes (1986) titled “The Last Days”.  As the North Vietnamese Army marched on South Vietnam in late April 1975, Comrade Pilger sought refuge in the US Embassy in Saigon.  He described himself struggling “through the crowd, pushing and using my strength in order to get my free ride away from the war” – adding “I felt only shame”. But, shame or no shame, he sought to be rescued by what the left used to call the US Military Industrial Complex.

At around 6.16 pm on 30 April 1975, Pilger got a seat on a US helicopter, he called it a “Jolly Green Giant” – which had landed on, and then departed from, the roof of the US Embassy.  He was taken to the USS Blue Ridge  of the US Seventh Fleet where he shared space with Tom Polgar – “the last CIA station chief in Saigon”.  In his book, Pilger acknowledged that “many” Vietnamese attempting to flee the communist forces at the time “would not get out because there were not enough seats” on US planes and helicopters.

So how about that?  Given the chance to stay in “liberated” Saigon and mix with communist forces – the anti-imperialist John Pilger managed to get a seat on a  US military helicopter and sought the protection of Uncle Sam, per courtesy of the US taxpayer.

MWD thought that avid readers might like to hear about Comrade Pilger’s 1975 retreat from the communist “liberating” forces all those years ago – as told in his 594 page tome Heroes.

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Until next time.

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