ISSUE – NO. 567

12 November 2021

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Unlike David Speers and Virginia Trioli, Stan Grant is able to preside over ABC TV Q&A panels and audiences in such a way that any conservative on a Q&A panel is not the subject of abuse or derision. This contributes to intelligent and informed discussions as occurred last night when the topic was Australia’s Shifting Allegiances.

However, last night the usually well-informed Stan Grant contributed to an historical howler. Let’s go to the transcript:

Chis Uhlmann: We’re already in a conflict [with China] at the moment. And we have to start thinking about it in 21st century terms, not in 20th century terms. And I don’t believe that Australia, as Paul Keating has said since the 1990s I do recall it, has sought to find its salvation away from Asia. It’s been part of the Asia Pacific. Bob Menzies in one of the most courageous acts in Australian political history, in the shadow of the war, invited a Japanese delegation to come to Australia and sign a trade agreement at a time when members of his government had been –

Stan Grant: He also got a nickname out of that didn’t he?

Chis Uhlmann: Sorry?

Stan Grant: He also got a well-known nickname out of that, didn’t he?

Chis Uhlmann: He did, “Pig Iron Bob”. But he signed that agreement in the shadow of the Second World War, when members of his government had been interned in [Japanese] prison camps. That was the beginning of Australia’s post Second World War engagement with Asia. So it didn’t start in the 1990s [with the Keating government].

Chris Uhlmann was referring to the very important Australia-Japan Trade Agreement of 1957 – when Robert Menzies was prime minister, just over a decade after the end of the Pacific War. Whereas Stan Grant was referring to the controversy in 1938 when, as attorney-general in the Joseph Lyons’ government, Robert Menzies made it possible for iron exports to continue to go to Japan in spite of opposition from communist trade unions. Some confusion, surely. This led to the term “Pig Iron Bob” which was used against Menzies by his political enemies.  Australia was not at war with Japan at the time of the iron-ore exports.

Can You Bear It?


Just when contemporary Sydneysiders were comfortable in the knowledge that one-time Sydneysider Jon Faine was anchored to Melbourne, up he bobs last Sunday in the print edition of Nine’s Sun-Herald in Sydney.

The one-time presenter of Mornings with Jon Faine  on ABC Radio Melbourne’s 774 now writes a column in The Sunday Age in Melbourne – which last Sunday also ran in Nine’s Sydney Sunday paper.

This is how the oh-so-egotistical Comrade Faine commenced his column on Reformation Day last Sunday:

How can Scott Morrison just decide and announce – with no mandate or national debate whatsoever – that Australia is going to embrace nuclear technology?

One of the most impassioned and torrid domestic policy tussles of the last 50 years has suddenly been gazumped – after extensive secret discussions with top Americans and Brits but not a word with Australians. A fleet of Australian Navy nuclear-powered submarines, unimaginable just a few weeks ago, have been declared as integral to our future with barely a murmur.

What a load of absolute tosh. Australia is not about to embrace nuclear technology. Indeed, Australia has embraced nuclear medicine for decades – and there is a small nuclear reactor in the Sydney suburb of Lucas Heights if your man Faine wishes to have a look.

Jon Faine’s comment that “we have long been a people committed to keeping nuclear technology at arm’s length” is simply false. Comrade Faine’s rant in The Sunday Age and the Sun-Herald last weekend could well have appeared in, say, the Green Left Weekly.

Your man Faine even tried a “joke” linking Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s attitude to unlawful boat arrivals on Australian shores to the proposed nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS security agreement. Here it is:

Our Prime Minister no more readily engages in discussion about underwater matters than he did with “on water” matters as immigration minister. He has again stopped the boats – stopped the making of boats.

How funny is that?  And have your avid readers stopped slapping their thighs consequent upon spontaneous laughter? By the way, the reference is to the Australian government’s decision not to proceed with the contract to buy French conventional powered submarines.

But there was more. This is what The Sage of the Yarra had to say about Australia and nuclear technology:

Has the Australian public changed their mind about embracing nuclear technology? The only real test has been in South Australia, which recently abandoned a plan for a lucrative nuclear waste program amid overwhelming opposition.

Germany and Japan are retreating from decades of relying on nuclear power, and post-Fukushima and Chernobyl, nuclear industry boosters have had to accept the commercial reality that their technology is uninsurable and unwelcome.

In fact, the proposal that low-level nuclear waste be stored in South Australia is still alive.  And, just days after the knowledgeable Mr Faine declared that nuclear power is uninsurable and unwelcome, French president Emmanuel Macron announced that France will build a number of new nuclear power plants to achieve its target of net zero emissions by 2050.  Around the same time, British prime minister Boris Johnson supported the proposal that Rolls Royce develop Britain’s first small modular nuclear reactor.

In short, on matters nuclear, Jon Faine is hopelessly wrong.  And he is now spreading his ignorance into Sydney.  Can You Bear It?


What a stunning performance by Melbourne radio presenter/producer and Herald-Sun columnist Justin Smith on Sky News’ The Kenny Report on Wednesday. Comrade Smith was taking part in the “Wednesday Wrangle” with the assertive Liz Storer.

When discussion turned on Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement about Commonwealth government assistance for electric vehicles, Justin Smith had this to say:

Justin Smith: I look at that clip of Morrison, though – look, unfortunately the guy’s full of crap – and somewhere along the line a Liberal Party focus group has told him that he needs to get a little bit more green. But I’ll tell you what, I’m gonna take it for what it is, for what I’m seeing, and thankfully, he’s coming on board with electric cars. It’s great, I’m glad he’s doing it finally and, uh, maybe we can put to bed some of the garbage that’s been floating around about him –

How’s that for a considered response? Justin Smith seems to be of the view that you can prevail in a discussion by asserting that the Prime Minister is “full of crap” and expounds “garbage”.  Which suggests that the Melbourne Radio 3AW broadcaster has a limited vocabulary.

It was at this stage that Chris Kenny showed footage of your man Smith spruiking a couple of years ago about the fact that the coppers in Victoria had acquired a Tesla patrol car.  Here’s what Justin Smith had to say circa 2019 – as he drooled over Victoria Police’s one and only Tesla electric car – as shown on The Kenny Report on Wednesday:

Justin Smith: Have a look at this; this is the Tesla model X. It is new to Victoria Police’s fleet; it is gorgeous, and it is the first fully electric law enforcement vehicle in Australia.

How about that?  Did avid readers know that Comrade Smith once spruiked for Victoria Police when Graham Ashton was Police Commissioner? If not, you do now.

Chris Kenny wanted to know how this “gorgeous” Tesla was doing chasing stolen cars, bank robbers and the like. Here’s the exchange:

Chris Kenny: How have they gone? Are there lots of Teslas on the streets of Melbourne chasing down protestors, chasing down people not wearing masks?

Justin Smith: I don’t know. I’m not sure the point you’re trying to make here. I think – I don’t know if that one [Tesla law enforcement vehicle]  is still on the road. I no longer work for the Victoria Police –

Chris Kenny: [interjecting] Well, I’m just wondering whether their trial came to anything.

Justin Smith: Yeah, but no –

How’s that for an answer?  Mr Kenny asked Mr Smith if the “gorgeous” Victoria Police enforcement car was still in operation – and the answer was, “Yeah, but no”. Whatever that might mean.

Nevertheless, Comrade Smith told Sky News viewers that the electric vehicles were not destined to make an impact on the environment if the job was left to the likes of Elon Musk. As he put it “Nup, not going to work”.  So Justin Smith wants lotsa more subsidies for electric vehicles which only the rich – along with Victoria Police – can currently afford. Can You Bear It?


Did anyone see Imogen Crump doing the “Newspapers” segment on ABC TV’s News Breakfast last Wednesday? The former ABC and BBC journo – who now edits the University of Melbourne’s Pursuit publication – discussed what she regarded as the big stories of Wednesday 10 November 2021. Namely electric vehicles, photos of Prime Minister Morrison and the fact that business is moving its advertising to social media platform TikTok. Yawn.

And then, Comrade Imogen got to the BIG STORY of the day – to wit, coffee. Let’s go to the transcript:

Imogen Crump: Oh Yes. Now this may be bad news for many Melbournites this morning who value their coffee. But it’s yet another example of how our supply chains have been impacted by the pandemic. And those disruptions, even though we’re returning to COVID normal, do continue. So according to the Cafe Owners and Baristas Association of Australia, as a result of an increase in freight and shipping, we could pay up to an extra dollar more per cup for our morning coffee. And overall, that could mean an extra $350 a year in caffeine expenses for the average Australian.

Lisa Millar: Imogen, we are on this story because we’re all coffee drinkers. Right around Australia, not just Melbourne. Hey, thanks for joining us this morning.

So, Melbourne University’s Imogen Crump reckons that what she terms “the average Australian” pays around $5 every working morning for a cup of coffee and that, if prices increase, this could mean “an extra $350 a year in coffee expenses for the average Australian”.

Now this may well be the case for Comrade Crump’s mates from inner-city Parkville, where the University of Melbourne is based, many of whom reside in the fashionable inner-city suburbs of Melbourne. It’s just that Ms Crump’s life seems so insular that she reckons that the average Australian – whoever that might be – currently  has the money to spend $1300 per annum for one coffee every working day morning even before the anticipated price rise. So, according to Imogen Crump – with the support of News Breakfast co-presenter Lisa Millar – this very morning single mothers of three and aged pensioners will be off to see their local barista in order to consume their morning coffee. How out of touch can you get? Can You Bear It?


Last week’s MWD quoted the AFR’s Joe Aston as reporting he had seen Michael Cannon-Brookes driving around Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs in a Range Rover. MWD understands that this is not correct and has withdrawn the comment from Issue 566.



Media Watch Dog has devoted some good drinking time in recent days to reflecting on John Hewson’s column in The [Boring] Saturday Paper of 30 October 2021 – titled “I grew up as one of Pru Goward’s ‘proles’ and her views are deplorable”.

The former Liberal Party leader told, once again, the story of how he grew up in poverty at 81 Welfare Avenue, Beverley Hills – having previously lived in his grandmother’s house in the Sydney suburb of Carlton. Many successful Australians grew up in constant or occasional poverty, but most don’t bang-on about it. Not even in The [Boring] Saturday Paper – especially, if these days, they live a life of affluence.

Dr Hewson (for a doctor he is) took exception to an article by Pru Goward in the Australian Financial Review on 19 October 2021 titled “Why you shouldn’t underestimate the underclass”. It commenced with a quote from the English writer George Orwell: “If there is hope, it must lie with the proles”. Ms Goward made some critical comments about what she termed Australia’s underclass – intermixed with some complimentary comments.

Your man Hewson, however, focused on Pru Goward’s criticism of the underclass rather than her praise for it. He wrote that he was “appalled and disheartened by Goward’s very condescending column”. Indeed, the learned doctor said her column was “deplorable”. You see, according to The Saturday Paper’s scribbler, Goward was “so quick to socially profile different groups” and this he believes is wrong.

So, John Hewson’s message in 2021 is that it is deplorable to socially profile different groups in Australia. Hang on a minute. Didn’t your man Hewson once upon a time get into the social profiling business himself? You be the judge.

On 13 August 1992, when leader of the Opposition, the then Liberal Party leader had this to say in his Sir Albert Jennings Lecture:

In any street, of course, it’s always easy to tell the rented houses. They’re the ones where the lawn isn’t mowed, the plants aren’t watered, and the fences aren’t fixed.

So there you have it. Three decades ago, John Hewson thought that it was a you-beaut idea to socially profile renters as home occupiers who would not mow the lawn, water the plants or fix the fences. But now he finds such comments as deplorable and condescending – without showing any regret about his past comments.

John Hewson: You Must Remember This.


  • The Guardian-Set fret about skyrocketing cases in NSW

Media coverage of COVID-19 in Australia is currently more optimistic than it has ever been. 90 per cent of Australians aged 16 and older are now vaccinated and COVID restrictions are being rolled back across the country. Even usually dour figures, like ABC COVID guru Dr Norman Swan, are spending their time celebrating the success of Australia’s vaccine rollout in controlling the outbreaks in New South Wales and Victoria.

However, it was not too long ago that pessimism was the prevailing media mood, particularly among the anti-Morrison, anti-Perrottet sections of the press. Take for instance this 7 October tweet by Guardian Australia political editor Katharine Murphy (who sometimes goes by Murpharoo):

The tweet links to an article by Comrade Murphy’s fellow Guardianista Melissa Davey concerning changes to the NSW opening roadmap. It quotes from NSW AMA President Danielle McMullen, UNSW Professor Mary-Louise McLaws and University of Sydney Professor Alexandra Martiniuk. All of the assembled experts are against the changes to the roadmap and argue that it could lead to a rapid increase in cases. A quote by McMullen warning of “skyrocketing cases” is featured in the headline. No contradictory view is offered.

Murpharoo was so concerned about these predictions that she took to Twitter to ask if people were mentally prepped for the inevitable increase in cases. She ends her Tweet by darkly warning “Guess we’ll find out”.

On 7 October, when the article and tweet were published, NSW was averaging around 600 cases per day (down from a peak of around 1,400 daily, a month earlier). From there, average daily case numbers continued to decline throughout October, reaching just over 200 at the end of the month. In November, case numbers appear to have plateaued and are still averaging just over 200 per day. Despite more and more freedoms being returned to NSW residents, we are yet to see “skyrocketing cases”.

MWD hopes the continued success of the NSW Coalition government in managing the state’s return to normality has not disappointed the Guardian set. Murpharoo’s default assumption seems to be that any proposal by a conservative government is doomed to failure. Perhaps in future she will be less confident when predicting catastrophes caused by conservative politicians. “Guess we’ll find out”.

[I wouldn’t count on it. Recall Murpharoo confidently predicting on the 29 November 2020 episode of Insiders that “Christmas, let’s be honest, will be a superspreader event”. She apparently learnt nothing from that failed prediction. – MWD Editor]


It was Hangover Time on Remembrance Day when Mike (I’ll pour the Gin”) Carlton sent out this tweet:

How about that?  The Sage of Avalon Beach reckons there’s not much difference between the Australian prime minister Scott Morrison – who has a narrow majority in the House of Representatives along with a minority in the Senate and has to negotiate with State and Territory leaders – and North Korean dictator Supreme Leader Grand Marshal Kim Jong-un who rules over a communist totalitarian state where dissidents are killed or incarcerated, and many North Koreans die due to occasional forced famines.

And Comrade Carlton, who lives in relative affluence on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, and who tweets his often abusive messages freely, reckons that Australia’s prime minister is a bit like Kim Jong-un.

Such supercilious comments do huge injustice to those Koreans who have suffered and died under the Kim family’s brutal rule which has extended for around seven decades. It would seem that The Sage of Avalon Beach is ignorant of the evidence of the United Nations. All this is documented in the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (2014) – which, presumably, The Sage of Avalon Beach has not read.

Mike Carlton: Media Fool of the Week.

Media Watch Dog’s Five Paws Award was inaugurated in Issue Number 26 (4 September 2009) during the time of Nancy (2004-2017). The first winner was ABC TV presenter Emma Alberici.  Ms Alberici scored for remembering the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 23 August 1939 whereby Hitler and Stalin divided Eastern Europe between Germany and the Soviet Union.  And for stating that the Nazi-Soviet Pact had effectively started the Second World War, since it was immediately followed by Germany’s invasion of Poland (at a time when the Soviet Union had become an ally of Germany).

Over the years, the late Nancy’s Five Paws Award has become one of the world’s most prestigious gongs – rating just below the Nobel Prize and Academy Awards.


Avid readers will know that MWD is a big comedy fan – but is often left disappointed by the comedy offerings of the ABC and the like. That’s why today’s Five Paws is going to the best skit this week – performed by Tuvalu’s foreign minister Simon Kofe. Mr Kofe this week presented a speech to the COP26 via video. The minister starts the speech off standing in front of a plain backdrop and flags – pretty standard. We then zoom out to reveal that Simon Kofe is actually standing knee-deep in water.

To be clear, MWD isn’t amused by the idea of Tuvalu disappearing, but thought this was a great comedy bit – and appreciated that Kofe was committed enough to the joke that he actually dragged his podium and backdrop into the sea.

The idea of Tuvalu being lost to the ocean due to rising sea levels is distressing – but may be a bit of a beat-up.

In 2018 the ABC/RMIT Fact Check investigated the claim that Tuvalu is growing, rather than sinking, and found that it “checks out”. A peer-reviewed study in the journal Nature published in 2018 found that despite rises in sea-levels, between 1971 and 2014 the total land area of Tuvalu grew by 2.9 per cent.

Unsurprisingly, this was not something Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly raised when she gave Simon Kofe a soft, interruption-free interview about his speech on RN Breakfast on Wednesday – typical of Comrade Kelly’s interview style when not talking to a member of the Coalition or a conservative.

But let’s not let the facts get in the way of a truly great performance – of such notoriety as to get a gig on RN Breakfast.

Minister Kofe (with a little help from Fran Kelly) – 5 Paws.

[Great stuff. Here’s hoping that Fran Kelly does an underwater interview (perhaps in an indoor swimming pool?) with the Tuvalu foreign minister before the end of the year. – MWD Editor)


As Media Watch Dog reported last week, on Thursday 4 November ABC TV Q&A presenter Virginia Trioli complained that 8 Coalition government ministers had declined an invitation to appear on the panel which discussed the G20 meeting in Rome and the COP26 meeting in Glasgow. In fact, one of those named – Resources Minister Keith Pitt – was in isolation in Queensland and not in favour of appearing on such panels by Zoom or whatever. But La Trioli’s point was essentially correct.

In any event, a total of 7 Morrison government ministers gave “thanks/but no thanks” responses to Q&A’s request to appear on the panel. As it turned out, the panel was (once again) stacked against the positions of the Morrison Government – with the exception of the Australian’s foreign editor Greg Sheridan who received lotsa straight out abuse from some fellow panelists and was not protected by La Trioli.

Yet the likes of Comrade Trioli reckon that senior Coalition ministers, from Prime Minister Scott Morrison down, should rock-up to Q&A on a Thursday night around Post-Dinner Drinks Time and cop abuse from some panel members and the overwhelming Green Left audience (especially where a studio audience is present) without receiving any protection from the presenter. This is especially the case when Virginia Trioli and David Speers (along with their predecessor Hamish Macdonald) are in the Q&A presenter’s chair. When Stan Grant chairs Q&A, panelists and audiences tend to perform more professionally.

Michael Rowland, the co-presenter of ABC TV News Breakfast, is of a similar mind to his fellow comrade Virginia Trioli – as his recent tweets indicate.

On 28 October 2021, Comrade Rowland sent out this tweet:

Yes, Hmm. Your man Rowland was just so upset that the PM did not accept his invitation for an interview on 28 October. Fancy that. And there was more.

Last Monday, the News Breakfast’s co-presenter’s complaint was that Josh Frydenberg did not accept an invitation to be interviewed by him – despite the fact that the Treasurer had appeared on 7’s Sunrise, The Today Show and Sky News that very morning.

And Michael Rowland was at it again on Wednesday. This is what he told News Breakfast viewers after conducting an interview with Labor front bencher Chris Bowen:

Michael Rowland:  Chris Bowen. Appreciate your time this morning. Thank you.

Chris Bowen: Always a pleasure, Michael

Michael Rowland: And we should point out again, we offered the government the opportunity – the Prime Minister, the Energy Minister Angus Taylor –  to come on and talk about this new announcement. To talk about the electric vehicles policy, to talk about its energy policies as climate change polices. More generally, all senior government figures declined the opportunity to appear on News Breakfast.

Has Michael Rowland no self-awareness? He really seems to believe that Prime Minister Morrison, Treasurer Frydenberg and Energy Minister Taylor should automatically subject themselves to be interviewed by him on News Breakfast. Whereupon they will surely be treated to Comrade Rowland’s tedious “gotcha” questions which are repeated over and over again – invariably to scant effect.

Moreover, Mr Rowland, when interviewing Federal Coalition ministers, invariably presents a smirking/sneering demeanour. There are better things to do at breakfast on a weekday morning than to be at the end of a Rowland sneer. Like, say, putting your face in a bowl of Weet-Bix. Sure, some Coalition types will see fit, from time to time, to appear on News Breakfast. But, for the most part, senior Cabinet ministers will find more appropriate outlets.

The truth is that the contemporary ABC is overwhelmingly Green/Left when it comes to news and current affairs. There is much downside but little upside for a political conservative to appear on News Breakfast, Q&A or whatever.

The fact is that if a majority of Australians voted in accordance with the politics of the ABC’s presenters, producers and editors, Australia would have had a  Green/Left government for eons.

Scott Morrison led the Coalition to victory at the May 2019 election in the face of opposition from ABC presenters – and ABC predictions that Labor would win. The Morrison government may, or may not, prevail in the 2022 election. But appearances on Q&A and interviews with a sneering Comrade Rowland on News Breakfast are most unlikely to have any impact on the election outcome. So why bother automatically accepting invitations from the likes of Comrades Trioli and Rowland?

As avid readers are aware, the late Nancy (2004-2017) did not die. She merely “passed” on to the Other Side. Hence MWD has been able to keep in touch and seek her advice about behaviour, courtesy and all that – with the help of the American psychic John Edward of Crossing Over fame. Your man Edward has demonstrated a first-class ability to communicate with the dead, albeit not so much with the living. And so, Nancy’s “Courtesy Classes” continue – albeit from the “Other Side” in a post-mortem kind of way – with a little help from Jackie (Dip. Wellness, The Gunnedah Institute).


Professor Hilary Charlesworth of the Melbourne Law School is something of a Media Watch Dog fave. Indeed she addressed The Sydney Institute in the not so distant past.

Consequently Jackie’s (male) co-owner was delighted to learn that Professor Charlesworth has been appointed a Judge of the International Court of Justice – filling the final period of the term held by the Australian James Richard Crawford who died in May this year. Well done Hilary Charlesworth.

Now the process is as follows. The Independent Australian National Group – a body of Australian jurists who serve as members of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague – nominated Hilary Charlesworth.  Following this, the Australian Government supported the nomination – which was successful when Professor Charlesworth won the subsequent ballot. She will hold the position until at least February 2024.

Let’s go to the transcript when Dr Charlesworth discussed the appointment with Fran Kelly on ABC Radio National Breakfast yesterday:

Hilary Charlesworth:  So I must say, I was just supported magnificently. I cannot speak highly enough of both the, lawyers and the team in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – both in Canberra and New York and the Hague – who were simply magnificent. And the Office of International Law and Attorney General’s [Department]. You could not – I’m just conscious, as excited I am by victory, that you could not possibly win unless you had this extraordinary set of seasoned campaigners behind you.

Quite so. The members of the Independent Australian National Group along with DFAT officials in Canberra and at the United Nations in New York and at The Hague (where ICJ is based) were central to the success of Dr Charlesworth’s appointment.

However, it is highly unlikely that Hilary Charlesworth’s cause would have prevailed without the support of the Morrison government in Canberra. After all, Australian officials in domestic and overseas posts work in accordance with directions from the Australian government – as implemented, in this case, by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Office of International Law which is located within the Attorney-General’s Department.

Yet Professor Charlesworth, while thanking the public servants and the Independent Australian National Group – made no mention whatsoever of the fact that her case was strongly supported by Foreign Minister Marise Payne and successive Attorneys-General Christian Porter and Michaelia Cash along with Prime Minister Scott Morrison. It would have been courteous for Dr Charlesworth to make this point.

Hilary Charlesworth – Off to Nancy’s Courtesy Classes for you.




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Until next time

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