ISSUE – NO. 566

5 November 2021

* * * *


* * * *


Last night’s ABC TV Q&A program was unbalanced and unprofessional as is often the case.  The topics (chosen by the Q&A executive producer) turned essentially on the French-Australia relationship in the wake of the AUKUS security agreement and climate change/energy in the wake of the COP26 meeting in Glasgow.

The panel comprised Greens’ leader Adam Bandt, NSW Coalition Treasurer Matt Kean, international human rights lawyer Kavita Naidu, Climate & Capital Media editor Blair Palese and The Australian’s foreign editor Greg Sheridan. The first four were hostile to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Coalition government concerning the chosen topics.  It was as unbalanced as that.

This morning Ms Trioli tweeted out these two extracts from Q&A last night:

Virginia Trioli: I do want to point out that we did invite a range of Federal government voices to join this discussion this evening. And I’m feeling their absence keenly. And, we – the invitations included Barnaby Joyce, Angus Taylor, Dan Tehan, Keith Pitt, Susan Ley, Bridget McKenzie, Zed Seselja and James Patterson. And I’m afraid they all declined it. So I just want to note that they certainly had their opportunity to be here this evening.

Not long after, Greg Sheridan had this to say:

Greg Sheridan: First of all, I think the Federal government makes a tremendous mistake in not appearing on Q+A. They’re losing the argument, they should be putting the argument whenever they can. I think it’s incredibly dumb of them not to have a representative appear.

Virginia Trioli: Could you let them know that when you’re next speaking to them?

Greg Sheridan: Well I’m telling them right now; this is really stupid…

However, as The Australian’s foreign editor – who performed very well in difficult circumstances – was soon to find out, the Missing 8 made the correct decision.   Greg Sheridan, who was constantly interrupted, was the subject of personal abuse from, in particular, Adam Bandt and Matt Kean (who belongs to the left faction of the NSW Liberal Party) and was not protected by the presenter.  Moreover, on one occasion La Trioli laughed at (not with) The Australian’s foreign editor and on other occasions she interjected when Greg Sheridan was speaking.

The lesson from last night’s Q&A, and previous episodes, is that it would be unwise for Coalition ministers to appear on the program – particularly when it is presented by Virginia Trioli or David Speers.

Despite a valiant performance, Greg Sheridan’s advice to the Morrison Government is unwise. The Coalition won the 2019 election despite the Prime Minister’s refusal to go on Q+A. Q+A needs Federal ministers much more than Morrison Government ministers needs to go on Q+A. Being hailed down by left-wing panelists and/or audience members is something that Liberal Party and Nationals ministers can do well without. Q&A appearances do not election victories make.



The 2010, 2016 and 2019 elections were very close affairs, particularly 2010 when the Coalition (under Tony Abbott’s leadership) narrowly lost and 2016 when the Coalition (led by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull) narrowly won.

It could be that the forthcoming election will also be close. In which case the ABC – as the taxpayer-funded public broadcaster – has a special obligation to be fair and balanced to all parties.

This was not the case on Tuesday (2 November 2021) when the ABC TV 7.30 program did a hatchet job on the Coalition government in general and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg in particular with respect to the JobKeeper scheme during 2020-21, which saved so many jobs throughout the pandemic.

The ABC has been running a campaign against JobKeeper for some time. 7.30  on Tuesday was but the latest example. Here’s a summary of where 7.30 reporter Dan Conifer and his producers got it hopelessly wrong. So far, 7.30’s howlers have not been corrected or even acknowledged.

▪ The 7:30 report and accompanying story on ABC News was largely based on a Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) report into JobKeeper. 7.30  did not mention that the PBO analysis was commissioned by Labor. A 2 November article on the ABC website says the PBO report was obtained by the Labor Party’s Andrew Leigh. However, the 2 November 7:30 report claims to be based on “Data obtained exclusively by 7:30”. This was not the case – just fudge.

▪ The ABC News story dated 3 November 2021 originally carried the headline “Josh Frydenberg was alerted less than three months into JobKeeper that unqualified companies were receiving support”. This has since been changed to “Josh Frydenberg warned less than three months into JobKeeper that millions were going to firms with rising turnovers”. No explanation has been provided by the ABC as to why this change was made. The initial heading was inaccurate because the qualification for obtaining JobKeeper was based on estimated – not actual – turnover. Dan Conifer should have known this.

7.30 claimed that Treasurer Josh Frydenberg was alerted on 19 June 2020 that 15 per cent of JobKeeper eligible companies increased turnover in April 2020 – compared to April 2019. In an article published the following day this claim was repeated, with a link to an email it obtained under Freedom of Information laws. The link leads to a copy of an email from that date in which everything but the date has been removed. In other words, 7.30’s claim is not supported by anything.

▪ Despite Andrew Leigh being heavily featured in both the Tuesday 7.30 program and the accompanying ABC online coverage, no time was given to discussing Labor’s past praise for JobKeeper or to Labor’s complaints when JobKeeper ended. Convenient, eh? Moreover, Dan Conifer did not bother to ask whether Labor will try to claw back JobKeeper paid to companies which increased turnover if it attains office after the election.

▪ Last Tuesday, 7.30 followed the 29 January 2021 report by the ABC claiming that JobKeeper may have been paid on behalf of dead or non-existent employees. The ABC finally changed the story on 14 April 2021, admitting that the false claims had been flagged at the applications stage, not after payments had been made. In short, the ABC just made up this (false) claim.

On the eve of the Federal election, an important program like 7.30  should not be making incorrect claims that damage any political party.  MWD will keep avid readers posted if – and how – the staff collective at what is the taxpayer-funded Conservative Free Zone corrects 7.30’s latest howlers.

Can You Bear It?


There was considerable interest in Media Watch Dog  Issue 564’s Stop Press covering Simon Holmes à Court’s appearance on ABC TV’s Q&A program on 21 October 2021 where he attempted to dominate the discussion and continually interrupted Liberal Party assistant minister Tim Wilson MP. Presenter David Speers  let your man Holmes à Court get away with such bad behaviour.

Which brings MWD to Brook Turner’s profile on the man Good Weekend described on Saturday as a “son of Australia’s first billionaire” and wait for it, “a quintessential brahmin”. The reference was to Simon’s old man Robert Holmes à Court (1937-1990) – who, by the way, was not Australia’s first billionaire, it seems.  Since, according to The Australian Dictionary of Biography, he departed this mortal coil with a mere $800 million pile. By the way, Simon’s inherited wealth came primarily from coal, gas and oil interests along with (unsuccessful) attempts to take over the energy company BHP in the 1980s.  Moreover, Australia does not have a Brahmin caste – that’s an Indian thing. But, there you go.

Simon Holmes à Court has re-launched the Climate 200 organisation which supports so-called Independents who are intent on defeating Liberal Party candidates – but not Labor or Greens candidates – in some marginal, or near-marginal, seats at the forthcoming Federal election.  Now, let’s hear from Comrade Turner about Brahmin Holmes à Court:

…Holmes à Court has kept largely to himself, certainly compared to his headline-grabbing elder brother Peter, the former theatre impresario and South Sydney Rabbitohs co-owner. In recent years he has written opinion pieces on climate for The Guardian, emerging occasionally to talk about energy transition. The last time he willingly broke cover for a profile was a decade ago, announcing Australia’s first community-owned wind farm on Victoria’s Central Highlands, a project that arose from building the off-the-grid farm.

That all changed two months ago, when he relaunched Climate 200 (C200), the fundraising group he founded just before the May 2019 federal election with support from 35 investors, including tech billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes.

What a load of absolute tosh.  In October 2018, The Australian Financial Review published an article by Aaron Patrick titled “Robert Holmes à Court’s son launches a green corporate mission”. On this occasion, Simon Holmes à Court “willingly broke cover for a profile” to borrow a Turner phrase. And, according to MWD’s count, 2018 is a long way north of “a decade ago” (aka 2011).  Also Simon HàC appears regularly on the ABC, in addition to writing in The Guardian. Also, he has fired off some 54,000 tweets over recent years.  And Comrade Turner reckons that SHàC “has kept largely to himself” in recent years.  Turn it up.

The Climate 200 supremo talked to the Good Weekend from his 40 hectare farm in Daylesford Victoria – and posed for a  photo dressed in Phillip Adams Black, in front of a couple of windmills.  It could be that this is the very same entity that Aaron Patrick described as follows in AFR three years ago:

Living in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs and on a property in central Victoria, Holmes à Court helped establish the Hepburn Community  Wind Farm in 2011 with the help of state and federal subsidies.

Now Hepburn is only a few solar-farm football fields away from Daylesford where Simon and his wife Katrina and family currently reside at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. By the way, for his 2018 AFR profile, the Aussie Brahmin posed in front of lotsa trees – it is not clear whether the trees benefited from a taxpayer-funded subsidy.

Here’s how Brook Turner finished her somewhat gushing profile:

Holmes à Court remains sanguine. He and Katrina recently told their kids they had decided to sink upwards of $200,000 of their own money into C200. “My daughter said, ‘Wow, that’s a lot of money, are you sure this will work?’ ” he says, out walking the dog in the dark after a virtual, mid-October celebration of surpassing 2000 donors. “I told her that I wouldn’t tell anyone it’s a dead certainty we’ll pull this off. I don’t even know if it’s a 50/50. But if it does work, the payoff for Australia will be enormous. It will be the greatest piece of philanthropy we could do.”

How about that?  To Australia’s toiling masses struggling to pay ever increasing energy bills, 200K is a lot of moolah.  But $200,000 is not that much dough for a multi-millionaire whose old man was, well, a major miner and who believes that the defeat of the likes of the Liberal Party’s Josh Frydenberg in Kooyong and Dave Sharma in Wentworth is essential for the future of Australia and the rest of the world.  Why not kick in more? That’s what a socially conscious real Brahmin would do. Can You Bear It?


While on the topic of multi-millionaires/billionaires of the Green variety, did anyone catch the “Five minutes with Fitz” column in last Sunday’s Sun-Herald?   As avid Media Watch Dog readers know, this is the occasion where Peter FitzSimons (aka the one-time Red Bandannaed One) interviews someone or other about something or other in 5 (excruciatingly long) minutes.

Last Sunday, Fitz (while living in his multi-million dollar pile in Neutral Bay with views of Sydney Harbour) interviewed Michael Cannon-Brookes – he of what Paul Keating used to call the Sydney Eastern Suburbs’ Hyphenated-Name-Set whose pile is in Point Piper.

Here’s how Fitz described your man MC-B as a lead-in to the first question:

Mike Cannon-Brookes is a co-founder of Atlassian, a trenchant critic of the federal government’s lack of action on climate change, and an enormous investor in renewable energy.

Fitz: Mike, given you are said to be $40 billion to the good, I take it the whole “go woke, go broke” thing doesn’t quite apply to you?

MCB: (Light laugh.) I don’t think so – Maybe one day.

Fitz: When you’re a billionaire worth that much, does every bastard with a cause try to get in your ear for help? And is it exhausting?

MCB: There’s certainly a lot of inbound that’s for sure.

Fitz: How did you become so very committed to the cause of renewables?

Groan. How tacky for one wealthy bloke (who wore a red rag on his head for over a decade until he had to get it washed) to bang on about money with another wealthy bloke (who hasn’t cut his hair since Moses was a young lad).  Perhaps this duo should enrol in Nancy’s Courtesy Classes – re which see MWD passim ad nauseam – where the wealthy are encouraged not to talk about their wealth.

Now, here’s how the (boring) discussion concluded:

Fitz: Lastly, what have you done in your own life to limit your carbon footprint?

MCB: Everything I can. I drive an electric vehicle. I live on a farm that runs almost entirely on sunlight, electricity. I have electric farm vehicles up the wazoo. I obviously offset all my flights…and as you know, try to look for the most sensible and efficient way to do everything. Atlassian already runs on 100 per cent renewable energy.

Come on Man (to use a Bidenism). It is widely known that Comrade Cannon-Brookes purchased the late Lady Mary Fairfax’s Point Piper mansion Fairwater for an estimated price of close to $100 million in 2018. According to Garry Lu’s report published in Domain on 30 August 2021, “some speculate Cannon-Brookes could be retaining what is perhaps the country’s largest collection of private homes, weekenders, and farms for personal use”.  Lucy Macken reported in Nine Newspapers last Saturday that Mr and Mrs Cannon-Brookes recently purchased the Think Big Stud in the NSW Southern Highlands for a mere $15.25 million and according to Lucy Manly (SMH, 26 September 2021) the Cannon-Brookes family now has an “extensive property portfolio in the Southern Highlands – which includes six homes totalling about $50 million”.

Yet the Point Piper (and Southern Highlands)-based Hyphenated-Name-Set One convinced the Neutral Bay-based Red Bandannaed One that he does everything he can to limit his carbon footprint. Really.

And then there’s the Atlassian co-founder’s commitment to “drive an electric vehicle”. A family sized Tesla comes at no less than $80,000. Moreover, when Mike C-B powers it up every night in the garage of his Point Piper or Southern Highlands piles – the electricity is powered by, er, overwhelmingly coal and gas. Also vehicles are produced by carbon-emitting steel or aluminium.

The fact is that if everyone could suddenly construct a mansion like Fairwater, around Hangover Time this morning the world would surely cook (to use the eco-catastrophist word) by Gin & Tonic Time this afternoon.  And yet Fitz did not contest Mike Cannon-Brookes’ assertion that he has done everything possible to limit his carbon footprint.  Can You Bear It?


Ben Oquist used to be a senior staffer for the Greens Party and, as MWD recalls, attempted unsuccessfully to attain Greens pre-selection for a Senate seat.  These days, your man Oquist works as executive director of The Australia Institute which presents itself as “progressive”. It sounds more appropriate than, say, Green Left – don’t you think?

Indeed Comrade Oquist is one of MWD’s fave lefties – er, correction, progressives. And he always presents so well – in a fine cut suit, well-tailored shirt and matching tie and dress shoes.  Unlike current Greens leader Adam Bandt – who fronted up on Q&A last night dressed in a black tee-shirt and brown pants and waved his almost bare arms around as he predicted that the end of the world is nigh unless we all wear black tee-shirts and do arm movements choreographed by Greta Thunberg.

In any event, the well-dressed Mr Oquist got the call to appear on the ABC TV News Breakfast program in the “Newspapers” gig last Thursday.  Lisa Millar and Michael Rowland were the presenters.

It is not at all clear why Comrade Oquist believes that The Australia Institute has such an important role in cutting carbon dioxide emissions that it needed to be represented – among some 25,000 delegates – at the COP26 in Glasgow. After all, your man Oquist could have helped to stop the world frying by staying at home in Canberra.

The Australia Institute’s man in Glasgow reported “there hasn’t really been such a disastrous overseas trip by a Prime Minister that people can remember, certainly in modern times”. The reference was to the dispute between French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Scott Morrison over Australia deciding not to renew the contract with France to build attack class submarines. Which had nothing to do with COP-26.

Now Comrade Oquist had set off all those emissions to get to Glasgow to report on climate and all that – but ended up discussing boats and seeming to take Macron’s side in his row with Morrison.  Oquist could have done this from Canberra – especially since he spent a lot of time quoting from what David Crowe had written in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age that very morning.

Comrades Rowland and Millar weighed in – with the latter citing President Biden’s opinion that the AUKUS deal had been handled clumsily by Australia.

The well-mannered Mr Oquist concluded his contribution to News Breakfast by bagging out Scott Morrison’s net zero emissions by 2050 target which he took to Glasgow.  Your man Oquist even went so far as to say that there will be “some renewed climate pressure on Australia” by, wait for it, India. Let’s go the transcript:

India has actually come forward with a net zero target – although only net zero by 2070, not 2050.  But it is a move from India and there has been movement from Brazil.  So there’s some signs of international movement that I think will put more pressure on Scott Morrison in a difficult trip.

Turn it up.  India and Brazil are not putting any pressure on Australia to reduce carbon emissions.  But that’s all that Ben Oquist had to report – apart from bagging the Prime Minister. Can You Bear It? [Okay. But he was dressed in a fine suit if, alas, without tie on this occasion.]


While on the topic of India, at least Ben Oquist handled India’s energy problems with evident courtesy.  Not so Paul Bongiorno, who writes a truly boring column for The [Boring] Saturday Paper. It’s so unreadable that MWD does not read it.

On 28 October, Nationals’ backbencher Matt Canavan tweeted: “India not signing up to net zero. We have chosen the wrong path.” Bonge responded as follows:

Your man Bonge (born 1943) was educated at St Patrick’s College Ballarat and – per courtesy of the Catholic men and women of the Diocese of Ballarat who put money on the plate each Sunday – studied at the Urban University in Rome when he was a trainee priest.  After leaving the priesthood, Comrade Bongiorno worked in well-paid jobs in journalism.

In other words, Bonge’s lifestyle is not comparable with that of the many Indians who live lives of quiet desperation. The Modi government is succeeding in lifting many Indians out of poverty and supplying the basic necessity of power. Yet the Canberra-based Bonge reckons that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is worse than Donald J Trump – and that’s really bad in Bonge Land around leafy Canberra.

So the comfortable Bonge will continue to benefit from the affluent society in which he resides – while the poor in India continue to survive by burning cow dung or using LPG (liquified petroleum gas) cylinders for basic cooking, rather than experience the benefits of gas and coal powered electricity (which powers Canberra).  How self-centred can you get? And, more importantly, Can You Bear It?


Media Watch Dog fave William (Bill) Thompson established the website “Outside Insiders” – in which he would attempt (sometimes successfully) to interview commentators and the occasional politician 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”.


As avid Media Watch Dog readers will recall, last week’s issue dealt with the terrific (from MWD’s point of view) ABC TV Insiders program that aired on Sunday 31 October.  Terrific in the sense that the panel, chosen by Insiders’ executive producer Samuel Clark, comprised three regulars – all of whom got the result of the 2019 election hopelessly wrong. Namely, Patricia Karvelas (ABC), Peter van Onselen (Network 10) and Niki Savva (Nine).

That’s the kind of Insiders’ panel that MWD just loves – since it is sure to provide such great material.  As occurred on 31 October when Comrades Patricia (“Call me PK”), Peter (“Call me PVO”) and Niki (“Don’t call me, just call Malcolm”) all predicted that the Nationals’ party room would not agree to Australia setting a net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 target and the Coalition would split.  See MWD Issue 565.

Needless to say, the PK/PvO/NS trio was hopelessly wrong once again. The Nationals’ party room did not break with the Coalition, no National resigned from the Cabinet or the ministry and the PM took a united government position to the Glasgow COP26. In view of this, Insiders’ executive director Samuel Clark is sure to have this trio on the (virtual) Insiders’ couch again soon – this lot is so bad it’s really good.

But MWD digresses. What about last Sunday? – MWD hears readers cry.  Well, here’s how Insiders commenced on 31 October (aka Reformation Day). [Perhaps you should delete this particular historical reference.  After all, Jackie’s (male) co-owner is a Counter Reformation kind of guy. – MWD Editor.]

David Speers:  I’m David Speers, welcome to Insiders. After securing the support of the Nationals – just – the Prime Minister unveiled his plan this week to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.  It’s light on details and the modelling underpinning the plan has not yet been released. Nor has the cost to taxpayers – something I’ll explore with the minister responsible, Angus Taylor, in a moment.

So that was it.  No mention that the likes of PK and PvO and Ms Savva and Speersy himself had predicted that the PM would not secure the support of the Nationals and/or there would be defections from the ministry.  It was as if the hopelessly wrong predictions of the previous week had gone down the Insiders’ memory hole.

And so last Sunday’s Insiders’ panel – comprising Peter Hartcher (Nine), Cameron Stewart (The Australian) and Laura Tingle (ABC) got into action – soon after Speersy had interviewed Energy Minister Angus Taylor.

Peter Hartcher said that the Minister had announced “essentially policy junk” and a “vacuous piece of policy”.  Needless to say, La Tingle agreed that it was “a vacuous piece of nonsense”. Cameron Stewart said that it was a “wing and a prayer plan”.  Peter Hartcher then declared that Angus Taylor was “not only misleading but condescending” – “complete garbage”, indeed. When attention turned to the controversy over the AUKUS strategic agreement, La Tingle said that the Prime Minister’s comment was “a classic bit of Morrisonism” – a “really hopeless way of conducting international relations”.

So that’s pretty clear then – Peter fired off and Laura agreed with Peter as Peter agreed with Cameron who agreed with Laura and then Laura agreed with Peter who agreed with Laura who agreed with herself. Meanwhile Speersy appeared to concur. In short, no one on the Insiders’ panel disagreed with anyone else on anything. Yawn.

Meanwhile MWD’s Interruption Check Unit scored David (“Oh Yes, I’m the Great Interrupter”) Speers as interrupting the Energy Minister on 18 occasions. This compares with the 6 interruptions by Speersy the previous week with NSW Treasurer Matt Kean – a hero of the left on climate and energy issues.  Not surprisingly, Speersy’s least-interrupted interview this year was with Greens’ leader Comrade Adam (“No coal, no gas”) Bandt who experienced only 4 interruptions from the Great Interrupter.


As far as Media Watch Dog can work it out, since commencing her column in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age  in July 2021, Niki Savva has used every occasion to fang Prime Minister Scott Morrison – with one exception when her column was devoted to praising Tony Smith’s performance as Speaker of the House of Representatives (a sentiment with which MWD concurs).

Niki Savva’s column yesterday was titled “The Siege of Monsieur Morrison”. It contained some oh-so-helpful advice about what Prime Minister Scott Morrison “SHOULD” do – the word “should” was used on no fewer than three occasions. Comrade Savva believes that “if the election becomes a referendum on Morrison, he will lose”. To ram home the point she added: “If it’s about character, trust or integrity, he will lose.”

For her column of Thursday 24 October, Niki Savva happened to get hold of some polling by the anti-Coalition “Voices for” movement – which is supporting so-called Independents who plan to run against Coalition candidates. The news was pretty grim for the Morrison government. This week she managed to get hold of some Labor Party polling. Fancy that.

Needless to say, it was pretty bad news for the Coalition – in general. But readers were only told by Savva about what “a man in the seat of Deakin” and “a man in the Tasmanian seat of Bass” in Labor’s polling had said. That’s all, folks. There was no reference to the Man on the Clapham Omnibus of recent memory – which might have been helpful, or perhaps not really.

This is MWD’s fave paragraph from yesterday’s edition of The Thought of Savva concerning the Prime Minister’s just concluded overseas trip:

In an extraordinary diplomatic feat, Morrison has somehow managed to have China, France and the United States offside simultaneously. It’s an outstanding trifecta, when the Chinese refuse to talk to you, the American President thinks you are a boofhead and the French President calls you a liar.

How about that? Comrade Savva takes some comfort from the fact that the leaders of China, the United States and France allegedly don’t think much of the Australian prime minister. That is, the head of the Chinese Communist Party Xi Jinping (who has revoked democracy in Hong Kong) the American President Joe Biden (who appears not to be endowed with a particularly good memory at the present time) and the president of France, Emmanuel Macron (who called Scott Morrison a liar) – thus commencing a somewhat undiplomatic exchange between the two leaders.

ABC TV’s 7.30  political correspondent  Laura Tingle soon tweeted about Savva’s column (which contained Dionne’s cartoon). This the very same Laura Tingle who, in a late-night tweet earlier this year, accused the Morrison government of “ideological bastardry”.

So La Tingle agrees with Comrade Savva that the Prime Minister is hopeless – when compared with the likes of Xi Jinping, Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron. Quelle Surprise!


* * * *

Until next time.

* * * * *