ISSUE – NO. 570

3 December 2021

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It was early this morning when Gerard Henderson’s daily quota of print newspapers arrived with a bang on the roof of Jackie’s kennel.  There were three references to “exclusives” on The Australian’s Page One and one each on the front page of the Daily Telegraph, the Sydney Morning Herald  and The Australian Financial Review.

The AFR’s “Exclusive”, by reporters Sally Patten and John Kehoe, was headed “Broadbent joins businesswomen in the battle to take Wentworth”.  Above the AFR’s “Exclusive” was a photo of Nicolette Rubinsztein, Jillian Broadbent and Wendy McCarthy (dressed in light blue “Vote 1” Allegra Spender tee-shirts) standing behind fashionably attired Ms Spender wearing a relaxed suit. Her father John Spender was the Liberal Party member for North Sydney and the Spender name is well known among some Liberals in Sydney.

Now Jackie’s (male) co-owner thought seriously about joining one of these so-called “Independent” groups – like “Voices of” in Wentworth. But he couldn’t afford it.

It seems that the “Voices of” candidates – who are taking on Liberal Party moderates (not conservatives) in relatively safe Coalition seats want to bring down Scott Morrison’s government.  Which explains, perhaps, why there are no “Voices of” candidates running against Labor or Greens sitting members.

It’s a bit like “Rich Capitalists Supporting Socialism” – which is why the likes of Allegra Spender get such media attention.  The AFR reporters quoted Comrade Broadbent as expressing her total frustration with “nearly every single action this Coalition government takes and every individual” within it. She added: “As soon as they open their mouths, I find myself cringing”. Somewhat hyperbolic don’t you think? Sounds like a rant in the Green Left Weekly.

As Aaron Patrick has reported in the AFR, there are lotsa millionaire types like the Droga family coming out of their Bellevue Hill piles to vote against Dave Sharma, the sitting Liberal Party member for Wentworth.  But are the likes of Comrades Spender, Broadbent, McCarthy (who has been close to the Labor Party in the past) and Rubinsztein  really changing their votes in 2022?  This is an issue which the AFR’s  Sally Patten and John Kehoe did not address this morning.

If Jillian Broadbent voted for Dr Phelps in 2019 – there is nothing new about her position today that would warrant Page One coverage in a national newspaper.

[I understand that Jillian Broadbent is on the Board of Macquarie Bank.  You may remember that in MWD Issue 535, Macquarie Bank won the prize, sponsored by Jackie (Dip. Wellness, The Gunnedah Institute), for the “Most Snobbish Advertisement on Commercial TV”. This advt spoke about Macquarie Group Limited being the home of “Good Borrowers” – as in, “no riff-raff by request”.

It’s not clear whether the “Voices of Wentworth” lot are only looking for voters who, in the words of the Macquarie Bank advertisement, “value their homes a little differently” – or whether votes from any members of the hoi-polloi who still manage to hang out in Wentworth will be sought. You should follow this up. – MWD Editor.]


Hendo was walking Jackie last night when he turned on Rowan Dean’s fill-in Sky News program titled “Inside the News” on iHeartRadio. Your man Dean was doing his all-too-familiar rant against the Coalition government in the wake of the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Let’s go to the transcript as Rowan Dean, who has a weekly column in the AFR, railed at the scenarios that led the Commonwealth and State governments to respond to the crisis:

Rowan Dean: Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with preparing for a  worst-case scenario, that’s sensible.  That’s decidedly better than being unprepared and complacent.  But the trouble is, those hyperbolic alarmist projections and predictions give cover to the worst excesses of government bureaucracy –  and become the justification for all the dreadful authoritarian overreach we have seen.

And the excuse becomes “Oh well, if we hadn’t spent billions on JobKeeper, if we hadn’t thrown those little old ladies on to the ground and if we hadn’t shut down half the small businesses and schools across the land and if we hadn’t pepper-sprayed those protestors – then, you know, the COVID death toll would have been hundreds of thousands or half a million or whatever”.  Which is, of course rubbish.

What a load of absolute tosh.  In fact, your man Dean is equating the actions of Victoria Police in pepper-spraying a protesting elderly person and shooting a protesting middle-aged person in the back with rubber bullets – with the Commonwealth government’s JobKeeper scheme which kept literally hundreds of thousands of Australians in the workforce.  See MWD Issue 566. Also the lockdown and school closures – which were excessively harsh in Victoria and Queensland – were not the initiatives of the Morrison government.

The way Rowan Dean is carrying on he is on a strange unity ticket with the “Rich-Capitalists-for-Socialism-Set” which is intent on toppling the Morrison government – albeit for different reasons.


For a second or so last night, Media Watch Dog believed that ABC Radio National Breakfast presenter Fran Kelly may have “passed” – to use the current acceptable word usage for died.  Jackie’s (male) co-owner tuned into ABC 7.30  to see if the gig by Mark (“I’m a comedian”) Humphries was still running at the end of the program on Thursdays. Alas this was not the case, last night at least – depriving MWD of valuable material to use this morning.

Soon after, Barrie (“Call me Baz”) Cassidy appeared on ABC TV’s One Plus One interviewing Comrade (“Call me Fran”) Kelly. It seemed like one of those programs which follows the death [Don’t you mean “passing”? – MWD Editor] of a world leader or cult guru or something like that.  But it soon became evident that Fran Kelly was alive.

Still, the discussion was certainly of the in extremis genre as, once again, an ABC journalist interviewed an ABC journalist about the ABC. Baz started off by telling viewers that RN Breakfast has 500,000 listeners.  Earlier that morning, on Fran’s own program, sports commentator Warwick Hadfield said that the program had one million listeners.  That’s quite a drop of listeners to have occurred between breakfast and dinner.  But there you go.

Baz spoke to Fran about how each had grown up in large Catholic households of six children. [Shock, horror.  Didn’t some ABC journalists in recent times sneer at NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet for having six children? – MWD Editor]  Then Fran discussed her time at university, her life in a band and presenting a program during a pandemic.  Yawn. Baz said just how balanced Fran was in doing interviews.  Then they discussed women in the Liberal Party.

All frightfully interesting – in a boring kind of way.  But hardly worthy of an 8 pm slot – since the ABC has been replete with the Fran Kelly Cult of Personality in recent days.

After all, yesterday morning on RN Breakfast there was an 8-minute segment where politicians paid tribute to Ms Kelly.  Some of the praise from Coalition types, including John Howard and Barnaby Joyce, reminded MWD that former prime minister Malcolm Fraser had spoken (in private) about “Doing the hypocrisies”. Then came the Canberra Press Gallery’s House Howlers’ Choir – led by Karen Middleton and Mike Seccombe – which sang a song for Fran.  It was a bit like a school break-up day.  This was followed by a segment titled “The best of Fran Kelly”. Groan.


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In last week’s editorial, reference was made to John Lyons’ booklet Dateline Jerusalem and its criticism of Mark Leibler and Paul Rubenstein.  The reference should have been to Mark Leibler and Colin Rubenstein.  Apologies.

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Can You Bear It?


Jackie’s (male) co-owner just loved it on Monday when Fran Kelly (the outgoing ABC Radio National Breakfast presenter) interviewed Patricia Karvelas (the incoming ABC RN Breakfast presenter) about the latest developments at the ABC Soviet.  Here we go:

Fran Kelly: Before we get to the stories of the day, we have some breaking news of our own here on Breakfast. The time has come for me to reveal who will be standing here behind the mic, the Breakfast mic next year.  And we’ve got that radio star on the line with us now. Hello there.

Patricia Karvelas: Hello, Fran. It’s your podcast buddy, Patricia Karvelas.

Fran Kelly: Patricia, congratulations and welcome to RN Breakfast full time.

Patricia Karvelas: I know Fran, what an honour and privilege to join this Breakfast family that you’ve built….

Talk about keeping it within the (ABC) family.  In an interview with Tim Elliott published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 13 March 2012 Fran Kelly declared: “What I am, really am, is an activist.”  Hence MWD’s many references over the years to Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly.  And now the ABC has replaced the activist journalist Comrade Kelly with another activist journalist – to wit, Comrade Karvelas of inner-city Melbourne.

Unfortunately, Jackie’s male co-owner has not been invited on to RN Breakfast for over a decade. Consequently, Hendo was not able to join the long line of guests who have been praising Fran Kelly on Breakfast since she announced her intended retirement.  Much of this seemed genuine.  Some, however, seemed to be what MWD refers to as “Doing the hypocrisies”.   In any event, all praise – real or feigned – was lapped up by the recipient.

For its part, MWD will really miss Comrade Kelly on Breakfast. After all, she has provided great copy on many a Friday morning.  However, the good news is that Patricia (“Call me PK”) Karvelas is also likely to provide great material – in view of her record as a presenter on other platforms. Indeed, PK is more likely to get agitated than her predecessor – who tends to indicate disagreement with controlled anger – so this should work for MWD.

An example occurred during the mutually fawning exchange – with PK declaring that Comrade Kelly was “a star” whose program was “compulsory listening” (whatever that might mean) and who has “pretty awesome” shoes which are “quite stylish”.  PK also said that she was “humbled” by the appointment. (Oh, no.  Not that term again. – MWD Editor.] Comrade Kelly responded that Breakfast  listeners were “thrilled” by the appointment. Groan.

PK also declared “humbly” that RN Breakfast  “sets the agenda”. What a load of tosh.  If RN Breakfast set the political agenda, Australia would have had a Green/Left government for yonks.

Reflecting on her appointment, on Monday 29 November 2021 PK was reported as having said to The Australian’s  media editor James Madden that the “ABC is home to a great diversity of views”.

How about that?  In this instance, the ABC has replaced the Green Left activist Fran Kelly with a person of similar views. And Comrade PK asserts that the ABC is home to a great diversity of views. Clearly PK, like many comrades at the ABC staff collective, is into denial. Can You Bear It?


Media Watch Dog regards the ABC’s Geraldine Doogue and Stan Grant as two of Australia’s best interviewers.  But they can only deal with the talent that their respective executive producers choose for them to interview.

On Saturday 20 November 2021, Jackie’s (male) co-owner was walking the said canine when, tuning into ABC Radio National’s Saturday Extra, he came across a segment titled: “What can Labor bring to the election campaign?”.

The segment ran for 20 minutes and Ms Doogue interviewed Dr Craig Emerson (who is an Australian Financial Review columnist and a former minister in the Rudd/Gillard Labor government) and Sean Kelly (columnist for Nine’s The Age and Sydney Morning Herald, former adviser to Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd and the author of The Game: A Portrait of Scott Morrison).

Interesting guests, to be sure.  But Ms Doogue did not tell listeners about Sean Kelly’s political background – nor was this detail provided in the original ABC program notes produced, presumably, by Saturday Extra executive producer Skye Docherty.

All up, Comrades Emerson and Kelly were sympathetic to Labor and critical of Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Coalition. No surprise there.

However, there was a surprise with Saturday Extra the following week – Saturday 27 November – which had been billed as a discussion on the Coalition’s policies and strategies for the 2022 election.  Naively perhaps, MWD expected that the panel would consist of a former senior Coalition minister (perhaps Alexander Downer) and an author who has written about the Liberals or the Nationals (perhaps Gerard Henderson). [Hang on a minute, don’t get delusional.  Hendo has never been invited on to Saturday Extra MWD Editor.]

But no. For the discussion titled “What are the government’s strengths and weaknesses heading into next year’s election?”, Saturday Extra’s  executive producer chose two commentators – neither of whom are political conservatives.  Namely,’s Samantha Maiden and the ABC’s election analyst Antony Green.

For the record, towards the end of the discussion, Sean Kelly comprehensively bagged the Prime Minister Scott Morrison.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Sean Kelly: …what’s happened in the last few weeks, I think, you know, with the Macron situation, is that this issue of trustworthiness has been put up in lights. And the main reason that’s an issue is not because people care about politicians’ lives – because people believe that all politicians are liars – there are two problems with it.

One is a general building sense of character damage that slowly accrues for every prime minister…arguably that damage has been done faster to him than to other prime ministers. Uh, I think that’s very significant. Uh, and then the second issue – and this is, this is really important – is that I think you’re beginning to see, uh, less deference to Scott Morrison from journalists.

So Sean Kelly was critical of Scott Morrison – whom he maintains, believe it or not, has had a soft run in the media. [Does Comrade Kelly not follow the ABC, Nine Newspapers, The Guardian, The Saturday Paper and more besides? – MWD Editor.]  But no one on the Saturday Extra panel last Saturday made any specific comment about the Opposition leader Anthony Albanese.

In other words, for a discussion on Australian politics in the lead-up to the 2022 election, Saturday Extra interviewed two Labor Party operatives who have worked in Labor governments – followed by two commentators who have no experience working for political parties and neither of whom has any relationship with the Liberal Party or the Nationals.  And that’s “balance”- ABC style.  Can You Bear It?



Avid readers will have noted a dearth of appearances by ABC COVID guru Norman (“Trust Me, I’m Australia’s Most Trusted Doctor”) Swan in recent editions of Media Watch Dog. Comrade Swan, whose specialty is in paediatrics and who has not practised medicine in decades, has been a constant presence on ABC TV and Radio since March 2020. Subsequently he earned many MWD mentions with his failed predictions, vaccine flip-flops and general ravings. As a refresher, here is a recap of some of the greatest hits by the former resident doctor of The Biggest Loser Australia:

  • On 21 March 2020 Dr Swan took to Twitter to declare that Australia was “14-20 days behind Italy” and would have 7,000 to 8,000 cases by the following weekend. He claimed this prediction was based on primary school maths and that “no magic fairy will bring that down”. Australia eventually reached 7,000 cases in May 2020 and 8,000 cases in July 2020.


  • In December 2020 and January 2021, Dr Swan let loose a string of tweets, each more hysterical than the last, claiming that the limited measures being taken by the NSW government to contain the Northern Beaches outbreak were sure to fail.


  • On 30 December 2020, in the midst of his Northern Beaches freak-out, Dr Swan also claimed that Australia could be “condemned to a second-rate vaccine”, referring to AstraZeneca. In early 2021 he frequently used his appearances on ABC TV and Radio to discuss the clotting complication associated with the vaccine. In a 23 May 2021 profile in the Sydney Morning Herald he admitted that he “probably did cause some vaccine hesitancy”.


  • On 5 May 2021 Swan appeared on ABC TV’s News Breakfast to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine. However, in a 17 June 2021 appearance on ABC Radio Melbourne, Swan expressed concern that a 52-year-old woman, who died after receiving AZ, may have been inspired to take the vaccine after seeing him receive it. He also speculated that under normal circumstances the AZ jab would have been taken off the market.

However, in recent times the ABC’s doctor in the house has seemingly become much more restrained. Take for instance his coverage of the new (formerly Nu) Omicron variant. On Monday, Dr Swan appeared on RN Breakfast and on 7:30. In both appearances he offered a noticeably measured and reasonable summary of the information available. While making his final appearance with now departed RN Breakfast host Fran Kelly, Swan finished the interview on a hopeful note.

Norman Swan: Closing borders was very successful for us back last year, but the virus is already in Australia. So the only strategy that I can see that is useful at the moment is just slowing it down until we know the extent of the problem. And it looks okay at the moment, it looks as if we could be okay.

Fran Kelly: Norman thank you very much.

Norman Swan: You’re welcome.

Fran Kelly: Well that could be famous last words, we’ll convene in a week Norman.

Fran Kelly (who momentarily forgot she was going to retire in 3 days) seemed disappointed by Dr Swan’s somewhat positive attitude and felt compelled to conclude the interview on a cliff-hanger. This new, more restrained, Norman Swan is also a disappointment for MWD, as he does not provide nearly as much copy. However, for the sake of the ABC’s audience, let’s hope that Dr Swan can resist the temptation to return to his previous incarnation as the ABC’s chief COVID scaremonger.


In the wake of the wet weather affecting Eastern Australia in recent weeks – which is set to continue, with the Bureau of Meteorology declaring a La Niña event – Media Watch Dog was reminded of a past quote from MWD fave Tim Flannery. Flannery, who began as a paleontologist and ended up a climate prophet, has been frequently quoted by the ABC, The Age, Sydney Morning Herald and The Guardian on matters of climate, the end of the world and all that.

It’s always fun to look back at some of your man Flannery’s past musings. For example, this is what he wrote in the New Scientist journal on 16 June 2007:

Over the past 50 years southern Australia has lost about 20 per cent of its rainfall, and one cause is almost certainly global warming. Similar losses have been experienced in eastern Australia, and although the science is less certain it is probable that global warming is behind these losses too. But by far the most dangerous trend is the decline in the flow of Australian rivers: it has fallen by around 70 per cent in recent decades, so dams no longer fill even when it does rain. Growing evidence suggests that hotter soils, caused directly by global warming, have increased evaporation and transpiration and that the change is permanent. I believe the first thing Australians need to do is to stop worrying about “the drought” – which is transient – and start talking about the new climate.

Believers in the Prophecy of Flannery may have been surprised to hear that many dams this month have been filling. With rain, in fact.

Many dams have become full of water in the past few weeks and are spilling over. To name a few in NSW: Warragamba, Wyangala, Chaffey, Tallowa, and Copeton dams – Copeton Dam in NSW is full for the first time in a decade. And a few in Queensland: the Leslie, Paradise, Gold Creek, Wyaralong, Wappa, Sideling Creek, Nindooinbah, Little Nerang, Lake Macdonald, Ewen Maddock, Enoggera, Cedar Pocket, Borumba dams,  Wyaralong, Wappa, Sideling Creek, Nindooinbah, Little Nerang, Lake Macdonald, Gold Creek, Ewen Maddock, Enoggera and Cedar Pocket dams.

In May 2004, only a few years prior to his dam prophecy, Dr Flannery (for a doctor he is) told the NSW government’s Sydney Futures Forum that Perth was likely to become a “ghost metropolis” – and that Sydney would follow within the next 30 years – i.e. by 2034:

We are one of the most physically vulnerable people on the Earth. There may be a few worse places, like Bangladesh. But southern Australia is going to be impacted very severely and very detrimentally by global climate change.

I think there is a fair chance Perth will be the 21st Century’s first ghost metropolis. Its whole primary production is in dire straits and the eastern states are only 30 years behind.

Now, not being allowed to cross the border into Perth anytime soon, MWD cannot say for sure if it is currently a ghost metropolis. But, by all accounts, WA’s economy is booming and there is still water to be found. However, perhaps we should be thanking Flannery for the continued existence of Perth. See his October 10 2021 interview with another MWD fave Peter FitzSimons.

Fitz: Tim, despite the flak, you talk as a prophet ahead of your time. Most sensible people will now concede you were right on warning of the dangers of climate change and the denialists were wrong. Do you feel tragically vindicated?

TF: I do feel vindicated. Not sure about “tragically”. We do still have time to get on top of climate change, but we have to move quickly.

Fitz: Even now, however, your critics bring up some of your predictions that were wrong, or at least not yet true, like predicting Perth “will be the 21st century’s first ghost metropolis”. Have you been scarified by that constant bitter criticism?

TF: Not in the least. It goes with the territory I am in. They always leave off the last half of that quote, which was that they’d be the first ghost metropolis unless they made changes. Well, they made changes. Half of Perth’s water now comes from desalination and a few years ago their water commissioner personally thanked me for sounding the warning they needed to get things done. As to the critics, most of them are just doing a job. They are paid lobbyists for the fossil fuel industry. I cannot take them seriously.

In fact, there was no “last half of that quote” which Comrade Flannery’s critics leave off. It was never there in the first place. It was (allegedly) once said of Comrade Leon Trotsky that he was so far ahead of his time that some of his prophecies had not been fulfilled four decades after his death. Who knows – this may be the fate of the Prophet Flannery.

Despite Flannery’s history of doom and gloom predictions that have failed to eventuate, Prophet Flannery still gets a run in the Australian media. See his recent articles in Nine Newspapers bagging Australia’s various failings at the COP26 in Glasgow, which Flannery attended in his capacity as Chief Climate Council councillor. [Presumably Flannery took a carbon-emitting flight to Glasgow – not that MWD is judging, it’s understandable to want a holiday as soon as borders open. – MWD Editor.]



So it’s farewell then to Gaven Morris, the head of ABC News and Current Affairs. As avid readers will recall, last week Media Watch Dog reported on your man Morris’ interview with Margaret Simons which was published in Inside Story  on 12 November 2021. In this interview, Comrade Morris looked back in “don’t blame me” mode about some of the ABC’s failures during the six years in which he held the position of ABC News and Current Affairs director – and criticised the fact that the taxpayer funded public broadcaster is too slow to address problems.  It was as if he had nothing to do with this when he was the second most important figure in the ABC.  Or was he?

Last Saturday, The Weekend Australian carried an advertisement for the position vacated by Gaven Morris’ decision to leave the ABC – which was titled “Director News, Analysis & Investigations”.  It commenced as follows:  “The ABC is seeking an outstanding leader in News and Current Affairs media for the most important job in Australian journalism.”

The what?  Just when everyone thought that David Anderson, the ABC’s managing director and editor-in-chief, had the top job, the ABC reckons that the Director of News and Current Affairs has not only a more important role at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster than the editor-in-chief, but also the most important job in all of Australian journalism. How about that?

The advertisement ran the line that “ABC News is Australia’s leading and most trusted independent news service on television, radio and online”.  But no explanation was given for the fact that, for example, ABC TV evening news comes in no better than third in the ratings – behind Network 7 and Network 9.  On occasions, it comes in fourth behind Network 10.  So we are asked to believe that Australians are so stupid that a large majority of them watch a news service that they trust less than the ABC.  Work that out if you can.

The advertisement made it clear that Gaven Morris was responsible not only for ABC News but also such current affairs programs as 7.30, Four Corners, Australian Story, News Breakfast, Q+A, Foreign Correspondent, Insiders, Behind the News, AM, The World Today and PM plus the Asia Pacific Newsroom.

Yet Gaven Morris spoke to Margaret Simons in a way that suggested the mistakes made, on his watch, by these programs had nothing to do with him. It was much the same on Wednesday when your man Morris addressed a Melbourne Press Club luncheon. According to Nine Newspapers “CBD” column, the occasion was attended by some of Mr Morris’ ABC besties – including Barrie Cassidy, Lisa Millar and Michael Rowland.

According to Sophie Elsworth’s report in The Australian yesterday, Morris told the Melbourne Press Club: “If you want to be on Twitter, be on Twitter. But you’re there as an individual and if you step out of line and you step out of the code of conduct it’s on you…from here on in.”

Yet Morris was Head of News and Current Affairs when reporter Louise Milligan stepped out of line in making false claims about Liberal Party MP Andrew Laming on her personal Twitter  account. The ABC covered Milligan’s costs to the tune of somewhere between $200,000 and around $400,000 – despite the fact that ABC journalists had been warned by David Anderson about their use of social media.

Gaven Morris told the Melbourne Press Club that the ABC was Sydney-focused and there was resistance to the ABC’s inner-city headquarters in Sydney’s Ultimo moving to Parramatta. Quelle surprise!

When asked why the ABC was reluctant to admit that it made errors, Mr Morris said: “A genuine factual stuff-up, we should be absolutely upfront about that.” This did not occur during the past six years – or before that.

Despite the fact that Gaven Morris presided over a Conservative Free Zone without one conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s prominent outlets – he told the Melbourne Press Club that the ABC is into balance.  Throwing the switch to denial, Gaven Morris declared that “the ABC [is] very squarely down the middle, reports both sides of any issue in any story almost all of the time [and] gives people a fair right of reply”.

This is just delusional.  Many ABC reports lack balance. The ABC rarely, if ever, makes on-air corrections.  And then there is no right of reply on any ABC outlets.  If Mr Morris has evidence in support of what he told the Melbourne Press Club, MWD will publish it in full next week.

Come to think of it, it was surprising that Gaven Morris decided to address the Melbourne Press Club this week. On 14 October 2021, he participated in the Fourth Estate Podcast with one-time ABC presenter Monica Attard. When the discussion turned to ABC journalists’ social media activity, the following exchange took place:

Monica Attard: Two questions arise for me there – in terms of people being on their own, if they break the [ABC’s rules about social media] rules.  That clearly wasn’t the case, I think, with at least one incident – with Louise Milligan recently where the ABC chose to pay for the legal fees associated with the defamation action brought against her in relation to the tweet.  Why is that?

Gaven Morris:  I’m not going to talk about any of the individual people or cases because you know, frankly, I don’t need to anymore….

So on 14 October 2021, Gaven Morris said that he did not have to talk about the ABC anymore because he was soon to depart the organisation.  But on 1 December he defended the ABC at the Melbourne Press Club.



In the 1960s, Labor leader Arthur Calwell contested two elections when Liberal Party leader Robert Menzies was prime minister of Australia.  Calwell lost both – in 1961 (narrowly) and 1963.  He then led Labor to a large loss in 1966 when Harold Holt was prime minister, following which he was replaced by Gough Whitlam as Labor leader.  Calwell died on 8 July 1973.

Arthur Calwell was devastated by his defeats – which followed Bert Evatt’s losses when Labor leader to Menzies in 1954, 1955 and 1958.  However, not all commentators believe that your man Calwell was a three-time loser. Thanks to the avid Melbourne reader who advised MWD about proceedings at the prelude to Bert Newton’s State Funeral last week at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne – as set out below.

In the preview telecast, Nine’s Tony Jones (not to be confused with the ABC’s Tony Jones) and Alicia Loxley hosted the arrival of dignitaries. They interviewed, among others, renowned television personality Pete Smith. Let’s go to the transcript:

Tony Jones: I know it’s quite an overwhelming day for you and a lot of your colleagues, Pete, to farewell your great mate.

Pete Smith: That’s the word. And just looking back across here, one of the last little stories, you know Bert was a great story-teller, I’ve got to share this with everybody because he never ever said this, to my knowledge, to anybody. Bert said: “When I started at Nine, I was doing a live show …Thursday at One  it was called, an afternoon program.”  So he’s doing this Thursday at One – but it was Arthur Calwell’s funeral that day….

Tony Jones: The Prime Minister…?

Pete Smith’s story was that Bert Newton noticed Sir Robert Menzies sitting in his car outside St Patrick’s Cathedral listening to Calwell’s funeral on the radio.  This is quite possible – since Menzies and Calwell got on well and the former was restricted by a stroke and had difficulty walking at the time. Robert Menzies died on 15 May 1978.

An interesting story, to be sure.  But how interesting, too, that Nine’s Tony Jones was of the view that Arthur Calwell was prime minister of Australia once upon a time – before he was corrected by Mike Smith.


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Until next time

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