ISSUE – NO. 564

22 October 2021

* * * *

* * * *



Last night ABC TV’s Q+A program (presenter David Speers), was depicted as being about “Australia’s Climate Future”. But it quickly turned into a taxpayer funded television show starring Simon Holmes à Court – the Cleantech financial investor and founder of the political activist group Climate 200 – which is opposed to the Scott Morrison led Coalition Government and, to a lesser extent, the Anthony Albanese led Labor Opposition.

Apart from Holmes à Court – who dominated the panel with his loquaciousness and constant interjections against those with whom he disagreed – the other panellists were Tim Wilson (Liberal MP), Chris Bowen (Labor MP), Amelia Telford (director Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network) and Anne Baker (Mayor of Isaac Regional Council). Holmes à Court’s interjections were mainly directed at Assistant Minister Wilson.

Early on, the Q&A presenter asked Holmes à Court why, as founder of Climate 200, he was “trying to unseat a number of Liberals like Tim Wilson with Independent candidates”. Holmes à Court responded to David Speers’ soft question by bagging the Morrison government in general and Liberal MPs like Trent Zimmerman. All up his rant which was directed at the future of Climate 200 rather than Australia’s Climate Future went close to four minutes.

Then at the end of Q&A, Speers gave Holmes à Court the final say – along with four soft questions.  This time Holmes à Court took almost 2 minutes to plug his left-of-centre Independents and bag the Liberal Party. He conveniently overlooked the fact that Liberal MPs like Tim Wilson and Trent Zimmerman advocate net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and are not opposed to action on climate change.

David Speers knew what the Climate 200 founder was up to. Speers even acknowledged that Holmes à Court was in “quite a pitch…for the (Climate 200) organisation”.  Speers finally said: “Okay, I think we get the message.”

You can say that again.  Holmes à Court used Q+A to plug his political movement rather than to focus on the topic of Australia’s Climate Future.  And Q&A presenter David Speers and executive producer Erin Vincent let the Climate 200 founder get away with it.

Can You Bear It?


Once upon a time, republicans did not believe in the rights of hereditary kings or queens and all that stuff.  But all this has changed apparently.

How else to explain Australian National University academic Jenna Price’s column in The Sydney Morning Herald  on Tuesday?  Titled “Why I learnt to love the Queen and church in a hot minute”, Comrade Price’s piece commenced as follows: “I’m a lifelong republican and an atheist.”

So what’s the story here? – Media Watch Dog hears avid readers cry. Well, it’s this.  As of this week, Dr Price (for a doctor she is) “signed up to the monarchy”. Why?  Because she believes that Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles “were most displeased at climate inaction by world leaders, in particular our very own Scott Morrison”.   In fact, there is no evidence that Elizabeth II has made any reference whatsoever to the Australian prime minister in this context.  But there you go.

There was a time when republicans were opposed to the Royal Family intervening in democratic politics.  Not any more, it seems. Which, no doubt, explains why The Red Bandannaed One (aka Australian Republic Movement chair Peter FitzSimons) has said nothing about Prince Charles’ recent comment to the BBC about Australia and climate change.

Jenna Price went on to run the line that the Prime Minister’s decision to attend the COP26 in Glasgow was due to a unity ticket between Her Majesty and Australia’s very own self-declared investigative humourist Dan Ilic.  What did Comrade Ilic do to bring about such a situation? Well, he ran an advertisement hostile to the Morrison government’s climate change at Times Square “for 10 minutes”. That’s what.  All this is covered in today’s Documentation section.

By the way, MWD noticed today that Comrade Ilic was also quoted in a New York Times article by Damien Cave, the NYT’s bureau chief in Sydney. Cave ran the line that the Times Square billboard combined with non-specific comments by the Queen prompted Scott Morrison to attend the Glasgow conference. There is no evidence of this. The billboard may have had net zero impact on the PM or Australia’s climate policy – but it has certainly been good for Ilic’s profile. Can You Bear It?

[For more on Dan Ilic & his billboards see this comedy video by two of MWD’s avid readers – MWD Editor.]


Lotsa thanks to the Media Watch Dog  reader who drew attention to the ABC Radio National The Science Show with Robyn Williams which aired on Saturday 9 October 2021.  Titled “Paul Ehrlich reflects after 50 years”, the 15-minute segment was devoted to Comrade Williams (born 1944) interviewing Paul Ehrlich (born 1932) – Professor Emeritus of Population Studies in the Department of Biology at Stanford University in California about matters which may or may not have occurred half a century ago.

The segment celebrated Professor Ehrlich’s first appearance on the ABC Monday Conference  program, which was presented by Robert Moore, on Monday 30 August 1971. Needless to say, the Williams-Erhlich exchange was a luvvies get-together to agree with each other and look down on lesser mortals with whom they disagree. Your man Ehrlich told your man Williams that he is currently writing “a book on extinction and population”. This reminded MWD of a book written by Paul Ehrlich on the extinction of populations half a century ago.  Titled The Population Bomb (Random House), it was first published in 1968.  The Population Bomb was replete with errors and false prophecy about population extinction – and will be discussed in MWD’s hugely popular History Corner next week.

For now, let’s look comradely at the elitism of Comrades Ehrlich and Williams.

▪ Ehrlich refers to Australia of 1972. He states that it “was declared by the government and farmers to be in a thousand-year drought and the ABC presenters kept saying things like: ‘This is a thousand-year drought; the last one was 1952’”.  In fact 1972 was an El Nino year. Williams fails to tell Ehrlich that droughts are as old as the Australian continent and that the worst such event, after European settlement in 1788, was the Federation Drought from around 1895 to around 1902.

▪ Ehrlich asserts that “Australia is one of the leading countries…destroying the world through media” – through, you’ve guessed it – Rupert Murdoch. He does not say how Rupert Murdoch is destroying either the media or the world.

▪  Ehrlich declares that Texas is full of “morons” and the State should be returned to Mexico. Comrade Williams did not push back against Comrade Ehrlich except to say, “there are not too many morons in Austin, Texas” but he isn’t sure “about the rest of the place”. How elitist can you get?

What was notable about this episode of The Science Show turned on the fact that it contained no science – but it was replete with hyperbole, ignorance and prejudice.  And here’s the highlight of the discussion when talk turned to someone who could not be named:

Robyn Williams: …The thing I really find difficult to understand is that in the last election in the United States you had something like 74 million people voting for your previous president whose name I can’t quite remember.

Paul Ehrlich: I can’t remember either, sadly.

Robyn Williams: Exactly.

So there you have it. Comrades Williams and Ehrlich put themselves forward as having useful things to say about the US.  But they pretend not to be able to remember President Donald J. Trump’s name. How clever is that?  More importantly: Can You Bear It?


While on the topic of poor memory, did anyone see the discussion on Sky News’ The Bolt Report on Tuesday when Andrew Bolt interviewed author and financial adviser John Ruddick and former Brendan Nelson staffer and executive director of the Centre for Independent Studies Tom Switzer?

Let’s go to the transcript where Andrew Bolt asked Tom Switzer why he abandoned the Liberal Party and joined the Liberal Democrats:

Tom Switzer: Well, I’ve never really been a member of the Liberal Party. But I generally vote Liberal at Federal elections since I was eligible in the early 1990s. And I think, Andrew, the cold hard reality is that the Liberal Party has lost its bearings. And in an increasingly fragmented political environment, it could lose both on its right flanks. And I think the Prime Minister should be aware of the great Margaret Thatcher’s dictum, which I’ve used before, which is that standing in the middle of the road is very dangerous because you get knocked down by traffic from both sides. And that’s the real danger now.

Well, thanks, it’s pretty clear then.  But what about Dr Switzer’s claim that he’s “never really been a member of the Liberal Party”?  This surprised Jackie’s (male) co-owner who seems to recall that Tom Switzer stood for Liberal Party pre-selection for the safe seat of Bradfield on Sydney’s North Shore in 2009 – just over a decade ago.  From memory he came in third in a competitive field. Paul Fletcher won the pre-selection and succeeded Brendan Nelson in Bradfield.

It seems most unlikely that the Liberal Party would allow someone to stand for pre-selection in a safe seat who was not a Liberal Party member.  Yet Tom Switzer, who presents The National Interest  on ABC Radio National, cannot remember what he was up to, political party-wise, in 2009. Can You Bear It?


As one of Media Watch Dog’s  favourite sayings goes – it is unwise to make predictions, especially about the future.

However, Queensland journalist Dennis Atkins has had another look in his crystal ball and has good news about the forthcoming Federal election.  Remember your man Atkins? He’s the political expert who told readers of InQueensland  some time ago to put a ring on the date Saturday 9 October 2021 in their diary – for this was surely Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s chosen date for an election.  A false prophecy, to be sure.  But this has not diminished Comrade Atkins yearning to be a prophet.

Now, if Atkins keeps tossing two coins into the air, they’re both going to land on heads one day.  So MWD advises avid readers to watch out for tomorrow or Sunday. Yes, tomorrow. Here’s why.

Writing in InQueensland on 5 October 2021, Dennis Atkins predicted that the Prime Minister would call an election on “either Saturday October 23 or the following day” – which would be held “almost certainly on Saturday, November 27”.

Sure, Comrade Atkins conceded that “anything can upset the apple cart”. [What’s apples got to do with it? – MWD Editor] but added that 27 November 2021 “is the most likely date”.  So if your man Atkins’ latest crystal ball viewing is accurate, stand by for the announcement of the election date by the PM tomorrow or on Sunday.

In view of the fact that the Prime Minister will be attending the G20 meeting in Rome and the COP26 conference in Glasgow, all this seems unlikely to MWD. But what would Jackie’s (male) co-owner know?  As to Dennis (“Call me a prophet”) Atkins – all MWD can say is – Can You Bear It?


While on the topic of election date predictions, MWD notes that Opposition leader Anthony Albanese has declared that the next election will be held on Saturday 5 March 2022.  It would seem that the man who likes to be called Albo has a different crystal ball than is used by Comrade Atkins in Brisbane. But there you go.

The Labor Party leader made this prediction when he appeared on ABC Radio Melbourne 774’s Mornings with Virginia Trioli yesterday.  Discussion turned initially to the Morrison government’s decision to vote against a recommendation by the Speaker of the House of Representatives to refer Liberal Party backbencher Christian Porter to the Privileges Committee.

Early in the interview, Mr Albanese disagreed with the comment made by La Trioli about this matter, declaring: “No, it goes even further than that, Virginia.  With respect, the Standing Orders say…”.

Hold it there. When Health Minister Greg Hunt used the term “with respect” in an interview on Mornings with Virginia Trioli  on Friday 23 July 2021, La Trioli told her listeners after the interview concluded that when politicians use the term “with respect” they really mean “Stuff you. Sit down. Shut up”.  She added: “It means ‘I hate what you’re asking, and I hate your guts right now’”. See MWD Issue 553, 6 August 2021.

But La Trioli did not object when Albo threw the switch to “with respect” yesterday.  Can it be that Comrade Trioli has one rule when Coalition politicians say “with respect” but quite another when the term is used by the Labor Party leader?  If this is so, then – Can You Bear It?



Many avid readers requested an update to Dan Ilic and his COP26 billboards, as first covered in MWD Issue 561.

For any less avid readers, “investigative satirist” Dan Ilic recently crowdfunded a series of billboards aimed to shame Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Australia’s climate policy in the lead up to the upcoming COP26 climate conference in Glasgow.

A billboard broadcast in Times Square got Dan Ilic an interview with Jake Tapper on CNN’s The Lead where Comrade Ilic bagged Australia and claimed credit for forcing Scott Morrison to attend the Glasgow conference. See the transcript below.

Dan Ilic: You know, at 9:45, the Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison had no plans to go to COP26. And then by 2:45pm, he changed his mind. And incidentally 9:45am was when the billboards went live. So, something happened between 9:45 and 2:45pm. I don’t know what it was.

And later:

Dan Ilic: ..It took a billboard of a burning kangaroo to force him to go to Glasgow.

On the afternoon of Friday 15 October, Prime Minister Morrison announced that he would be attending the COP26 Glasgow Climate Conference. He had previously stated he may not attend primarily due to the required two weeks in quarantine when returning to Australia.

On the morning of Friday 15 October, NSW announced plans to abolish hotel quarantine for vaccinated international arrivals from 1 November 2021. Perhaps this is the “something” that happened. Or maybe it had something to do with the fact that the Coalition was moving closer to firming up its policy on net zero emissions.

Your man Ilic went on to bash Australia’s climate record, stating that “We are global pariahs when it comes to negotiating at these climate talks, we are literally the worst country. We’re up there with Russia and Saudi Arabia, we’re the third largest exporter of fossil fuels.”

There you have it folks, we are “literally the worst country”.

Now, Ilic is correct that Australia is the third largest exporter of fossil fuels. But when it comes to addressing emissions and climate change, Australia is far from the “worst country” by any meaningful measure.

When the Kyoto Protocol agreement ended in June 2020, it was confirmed that Australia had beaten its 2013-2020 emissions targets by around 459 million tonnes, or about 80 per cent of a full year of Australia’s annual emissions.

The Paris Agreement has now replaced the Kyoto Protocol. Australia is on track to beat its 2020 – 2030 Paris Agreement targets of reducing emissions by 26%. Much was made of Australia’s plan to use Kyoto carryover credits. This was abandoned and Australia will still beat the Paris targets without carryover credits.

Australia is also deploying renewables ten times faster than the global average on a per person basis – 25 per cent faster than Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Italy combined – and has more solar and wind capacity per person than any country outside of Europe. An analysis by the ANU Energy Change Institute found that if deployment of wind and solar continues at this rate, Australia will achieve its minimum Paris Agreement target of a 26% emissions reduction by 2025 – at least five years early. Now this hardly sounds like the polluting, climate-destroying hellhole Ilic is attempting to paint Australia as, does it?

For comparison, New Zealand’s emissions have continued to rise. In fact, New Zealand is only behind Turkey among OECD nations for the greatest increase in net emissions since 1990. Sure, New Zealand has an emissions trading scheme and a Net Zero by 2050 policy. But New Zealand’s biggest source of emissions – biogenic methane from agriculture – is largely exempt, with separate agreements under the Net Zero and emissions trading scheme.

Or how about Canada? Like New Zealand, Canada has also committed to Net Zero by 2050. Canada set its first climate target in 1992 at the Rio Earth Summit – and has failed to meet that, and every single target it has set since then. In fact, Canada has had the greatest increase in emissions of any G7 nation since the 2016 Paris Accord.

But there you go.

Critics of Australia – like Dan Ilic – ignore this and point to Australia’s coal exports as evidence that Australia is destroying the world. The reality is that currently the world needs coal and there are global benefits to Australia exporting it.

If Australia stops exporting coal to the countries that require it, it will be sourced from countries with lower quality coal, weaker environmental regulation and worker protections – as we saw last year when China attempted to stop importing Australian coal. China did not switch over to renewables, rather it imported more coal from the US, Russia along with South Africa, and has recently greatly increased supply from Mongolia. Australia has higher quality coal that produces fewer emissions than coal from elsewhere in the world. And unlike Mongolia there is no possibility it is dug up by children. (See the U.S. Department of Labor’s 2020 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor report that found child labour occurs in the Mongolian mining industry.)

Dan Ilic is entitled to have fun with his billboards. It’s his supporters’ money, after all. But it is dishonest to present Australia as the worst offender when it comes to reducing emissions – even if this is the Fake News that CNN likes to run.



On Monday ABC COVID guru Dr Norman Swan made his regular appearance on RN Breakfast, commenting on the end of Melbourne’s (sixth) lockdown. Dr Swan took off his stethoscope and put on his tinfoil hat when asked about COVID testing:

Fran Kelly: As we live alongside this virus, what happens to the testing Norman? We still have big testing stations set up for people to go to. Will it all be home testing? And will we all need to be reminded to get testing when we get symptoms, or will we just live with it like we do with the flu and not bother about telling anyone?

Norman Swan: Um, I have a suspicion that the politicians would quite like to stop testing so that we just don’t know how much Coronavirus is around. Um, it’s dangerous, it’s probably risky to stop it too quickly for public health purposes.

So apparently Norman (“Trust me, I’m Australia’s most trusted doctor”) Swan believes that some unnamed politicians would like to shut down testing to hide the number of cases in the community. It would seem logical that the politician with the most incentive to engage in such a coverup would be Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, due to high case numbers in Victoria. Although, given Dr Swan’s track record as a member of the “Dan’s our Man” media club, he was more likely thinking of Scott Morrison or NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet when he made his conspiratorial remark.

Following that performance, on Tuesday your man Swan popped up on ABC TV’s News Breakfast, offering up the following claim about the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines:

Michael Rowland: Let’s talk booster shots, where are we with that Norman?

Norman Swan: Well, all that’s been announced so far is – I think we should stop talking about booster shots by the way, I think we should talk about third doses. These are three dose vaccines. If they’d had the time to work out the right dosage, they almost certainly are three dose vaccines.

Swan continued his focus on booster shots on the Wednesday edition of his Coronacast podcast and on a segment for 7:30 that night. That episode of his podcast was given the exasperated title “A Third Dose! When will it end?”.

Earlier today, the latest episode of Coronacast was sent out, bearing the title “Norman’s moving the goal posts again everyone”. Apparently, Dr Swan has now decided that Australia needs to aim for a 95 per cent vaccination rate among those eligible to receive the vaccine. Based on the titles of the recent episodes it seems whoever comes up with the episode titles for Coronacast may be growing weary of Norman.

Since Australia apparently now needs to aim for a 95 per cent, triple-dose vaccination rate, it seems Norman Swan will continue to be a fixture on ABC TV and Radio for many months to come, keeping the ABC audience updated on the travails of Australia’s vaccine rollout. This must come as a tremendous disappointment to Dr Swan who has on many occasions remarked that he would love nothing more than to return to the relative obscurity he enjoyed pre-COVID. But the good doctor and whoever writes the titles for his podcast (and MWD) will just have to grin and bear it.


As avid readers will recall, Jackie’s (male co-owner) has always been a fan of British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge (1903-90) since he read Muggeridge’s 1940 book 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 segment is devoted to those who – as citizens, residents or visitors – bore for Australia.


Media Watch Dog  was of the view that The [Boring] Saturday Paper was boring enough. And then editor-in-chief Erik Jensen signed up John Hewson as a weekly columnist. You know, the Dr Hewson (for a doctor he is) who presents as “a former Liberal Party opposition leader” and who spends many of his working hours bagging the Liberal Party.

As avid readers are well aware, your man Hewson moved to The Saturday Paper  after Nine Newspapers decided it needed greater gender balance on its Opinion pages and moved Niki Savva into John Hewson’s Thursday spot in The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald.  See MWD passim ad nauseam.

Without question, the former Liberal Party opposition leader has fitted well into The Saturday Paper. Take his column last Saturday, for example, which was titled “Selling off the dead”.

Believe it or not [I believe it – MWD Editor], John Hewson thought that his readers (if readers there were) would be interested in cemetery management in NSW. Yes, cemetery management.  Now, The Saturday Paper is printed on Thursday and is distributed in inner-city coffee shops (lockdowns permitting) from Brisbane to Perth via Hobart on Saturday mornings.  These folk are interested in inner-city property prices, vegan sandwiches, climate change and the like. But graves?

It seems that the failed Liberal Party opposition leader believes that cemeteries in NSW should be run by a “single body” of government-appointed bureaucrats and the like.  And that the Catholic Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust should be abolished by government fiat. The brand new Saturday Paper columnist believes that the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney is intent on a “takeover” of the cemetery trusts.  As if Archbishop Fisher has nothing better to do.

Go on. Alas, the columnist did. Dr Hewson believes that the appointment of the Catholic Dominic Perrottet as the NSW premier “may soon see the increased influence of the Catholic Church in matters of NSW government administration”.   A Catholic conspiracy, no less. Groan.

This is how Hewie the Boring concluded his boring column in The [Boring] Saturday Paper last weekend:

It would be a tragedy, with his reform potential, if he [Dominic Perrottet] were to define himself by passing the administration of cemeteries to the Catholic Church.  Being on top of the hill, he should remember, does not make you closer to God.

How bad a “joke” is that?

John Hewson – Boring for Australia.


As avid readers are aware, MWD has always had an interest in the phenomenon of memory – with particular emphasis on those who have clear and honest recollections of events that never happened.

Due to popular demand, MWD will document this phenomenon from time to time with respect to MWDs faves among journalist and commentators.


There was enormous interest in Media Watch Dog’s recent coverage of the interview which ABC reporter Paul Kennedy gave to ABC TV co-presenters Michael Rowland and Lisa Millar on ABC TV’s News Breakfast, about his book Funkytown: A Memoir (Affirm Press, 2021) – see Issue 561.  Now, as far as MWD recalls, News Breakfast has not interviewed Sharri Markson or Fred Pawle about their books What Really Happened in Wuhan (HarperCollins, 2021) and Die Laughing: The Biography of Bill Leak respectively.  But News Breakfast has found time to accommodate Comrade Kennedy, who until recently was News Breakfast’s sports presenter.  It’s called keeping matters within the ABC Soviet.

But MWD digresses.  As avid readers will recall, your man Kennedy spoke about his time in Year 12 at Patterson River Secondary College in the Melbourne suburb of Frankston (aka Funkytown).  Comrade Kennedy told Comrades Rowland and Millar about his days as a wild youth who played football, got on the turps, made “a lot of bad choices” and the like. Yawn.  Then there was this exchange – which so upset MWD readers:

Lisa Millar:  Close encounters with the police on a few occasions?

Paul Kennedy: Yes, yes and wound up in jail there, at the end, for a brief, um, time as well. Why, why did that – why did I make those choices?  Because, um, there were no excuses for me. I came from a very peaceful, uh, virtually non-drinking household, my mum and dad gave us everything we could ever want, um,…

Readers were shocked, literally shocked, that Young Kennedy made such bad choices that he ended up in prison for serious offences – albeit only for a “brief time”.  Car theft perhaps, drink driving, assault or some such? And readers marvelled at the Kennedy redemption – from serving time in, say, Pentridge Prison to sitting peacefully on the News Breakfast couch talking about the footy.

At the time Issue 561 came out – around Gin & Tonic Time on Friday 1 October 2021 – Jackie’s (male) co-owner had not read Funkytown. He now has. And – guess what?  Paul Kennedy somewhat fudged his young indiscretions when talking about his senior teenage years.  The truth is that your man Kennedy’s behaviour was a long, long way south of that of horse thief and cop killer Ned Kelly (1854-80).

This is what happened on Muck-Up Day in the vicinity of Frankston in 1993.  PK and some of his Year 12 mates got on the turps – Bourbon, in fact.  In the early hours of the morning, they decided to break into the Patterson River Secondary College school hall to play basketball.  They did not succeed – but they did break a window.  Whereupon a divisional van from nearby Chelsea Police Station rocked up and PK and his mates were arrested for wilful damage to property.

PK was handcuffed and taken to a holding cell at the Chelsea Police Station – where the author of Funkytown fell asleep.  He was woken up at around 4.30 am and interviewed.  It turned out that Victoria Police anticipated to have found a break-and-enter gang. Instead they had come across a group of drunken young louts who had broken into their own school to play basketball. Again, not quite Clyde Chestnut Barrow (1909-1934) of “Bonnie & Clyde” fame.

Victoria Police released the Kennedy Gang, saying that they should talk to the school principal. In time, Victoria Police dropped all charges. As PK acknowledges in the final chapter of Funkytown: “I never saw the inside of a courtroom”. Consequently, he never went to jail – contrary to what PK told News Breakfast viewers – but merely spent a few hours in the local lockup sleeping off the effects of binge drinking.  Again, not quite Brendan Behan (1923-64), when you think of it.

Funkytown ends with Paul Kennedy telling a story about a dream he had concerning football.  It reads a bit like the recollection he had about having gone to “jail”.


Media Watch Dog fave William (Bill) Thompson established the website “Outside Insiders” – in which he would attempt (sometimes successfully) to interview politicians and commentators entering and exiting the ABC Melbourne Southbank studio where Insiders is filmed on a Sunday morning.  Mr Thompson, who describes himself as the ABC’s Southbank Correspondent, has been a bit short of talent in 2020 and 2021 – due to the pandemic since much of the Insiders interviews/panel discussions are currently done online.  So, for a time at least, MWD has borrowed Bill Thompson’s (clever) title – and presents a print version of “Outside Insiders”.


First up, the answer to the question that avid MWD readers raise every week.  Namely, how many times did David (“Oh yes, I’m the great interrupter”) Speers interrupt his guest on Insiders the previous Sunday? And the answer is ______.

Well, last Sunday’s interview was with Labor Party frontbencher Katy Gallagher. So, as expected, Speersy was in interruption-lite mode. All up, the Shadow Finance Minister was interrupted on just 7 occasions when interviewed on Insiders on 13 June 2021.  According, that is, to MWD’s interruption-checker, this compares with Speersy’s recent interviews with Scott Morrison (26), Simon Birmingham (23) and Barnaby Joyce (19).

As MWD has documented, the only way a politician can avoid constant interruptions by your man Speers is to belong to a non-Coalition party. Particularly the Greens. Greens’ leader Adam Bandt was interrupted on just 4 occasions when interviewed on Insiders  on 13 June 2021.


While on the topic of Insiders, wasn’t it great to see the ABC/Guardian Axis back in full swing on Sunday?  To such an extent that two thirds of the Insiders team last Sunday came from the conservative free zone ABC (David Speers) or the avowedly leftist The Guardian Australia (Sarah Martin, Michael Bowers, Amy Remeikis).

However, the most telling discussion took place when Nine’s Shane (“Coal is like candle sticks once were”) Wright was asked about the forthcoming COP26 conference in Glasgow. Let’s go to the transcript:

David Speers: Look, I just want to ask about – Shane – about Glasgow. So, Scott Morrison will go. Um, it doesn’t look like Xi Jinping, though, will go, the Chinese President. There are doubts as to whether the leaders of India and Russia. So, we’re talking about the big emitters here, aren’t going to be turning up necessarily. Um, is this summit going to be able to achieve as much as has been hoped?

Shane Wright: Well, um, I – it may not achieve as much as hoped. But we actually know where China’s position is on emissions. And that, that is – despite all the criticisms around it being such a large emitter – we actually know their playbook. Russia has excised itself from the world, really, in terms of international diplomacy. And India is always playing that role which it has played since, since its creation, in the 40s, of playing a middle role, being a major middle player, uh, non-aligned with the major players.

What a load of absolute tosh – especially coming from the senior economics correspondent of The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald. The fact is that no one has any idea where China stands on emissions now, in 2050 or in 2060.  According to reports, China is going through something of an energy crisis now and is buying plenty of coal (including Australian coal) on world markets.  Apparently President Xi has not taken up Comrade Wright’s suggestion and given candlesticks a go.

This was discussed at some length by CNN’s Selina Wang who reported from Tokyo on 10 October 2021 – not long before Comrade Wright appeared on the (virtual) Insiders couch:

Selina Wang: China has ordered 72 coal mines to boost production by nearly 100 million metric tonnes according to Chinese state media.  That figure is equivalent to about 30 per cent of China’s monthly coal production, and it’s an example of China’s struggle to balance its aims to tackle the climate crisis, while also using coal to keep the lights on….

Coal is still China’s main energy source but, in a push to reduce carbon emissions, China shut down hundreds of coal mines earlier this year.

But experts say that, in the short term, China has little choice but to increase coal consumption to meet demand…

In short, the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party could not predict in early 2021 what would be the demand for coal in late 2021.  And Shane Wright told Insiders’ viewers that “we actually know where China’s position is on emissions”.

No, we don’t.  How naïve can a Nine senior economic correspondent get about China?  Also, Comrade Wright fails to appreciate that India intends to rely on coal – and Russia intends to keep producing and exporting gas.

A challenge for COP26 hosts and organisers is how to get to net zero emissions in 2050 – or 2060 in China’s case – in a conference which the leaders of China and Russia, and perhaps India, do not attend.  But you would never know this if you learnt all you know about COP26 and all that from Nine’s Comrade Wright who seems to know more about candlesticks in the 19th Century than China in the 21st Century.



Last week’s editorial, titled “John Lyons’ Dateline Jerusalem  tells us more about the ABC that it does about Israel”, contained the following comment:

Page 25. Lyons ‘fesses up that, when editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, he took an AIJAC-funded trip to Israel.  He expresses “regret” for having done so – but overlooks the fact that the trip had no influence on how he covered Israel as a journalist.  So what’s the problem with such trips? – unless it is assumed that Lyons-morality is greater than that of his fellow journalists who have accepted trips to Israel.

The reference was to John Lyons’ booklet Dateline Jerusalem:  Journalism’s Toughest Assignment (Monash University Publishing, 2021). As documented in Issue 563, Dateline Jerusalem is essentially an attack on the (alleged) power of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) and its leaders Mark Leibler (national chairman) and Colin Rubenstein (executive director).

In his booklet, John Lyons focuses on “free”  trips to Israel organised by AIJAC.  Last week, Media Watch Dog assumed that the “free” trip Mr Lyons himself took to Israel was funded by AIJAC.

Not so. In fact, contrary to the implication in Dateline Jerusalem, John Lyons never took a trip to Israel funded by AIJAC. His 1996 visit was sponsored by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies – a different organisation (see The Australian Jewish News, 27 December 1996). In other words, in Dateline Jerusalem John Lyons criticised AIJAC-funded trips to Israel concerning which he has no personal knowledge whatsoever.

Mr Lyons is head of investigations at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster – but he did not find time to investigate his own 1996 visit to Israel before writing Dateline Jerusalem.

This is evident from the discussion between senior ABC journalist Stan Grant and senior ABC executive John Lyons at Gleebooks in Sydney on 6 October 2021.  Lyons told Grant that he had been “on a Jewish Board of Deputies and AIJAC trip as the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald”. In fact, the trips organised by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and AIJAC are different.  John Lyons would not have made this error if he had spoken to Colin Rubenstein before he wrote Dateline Jerusalem.



* * * * *

Until next time.

* * * * *