GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG
ISSUE – NO. 573
28 January 2022
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ABC FAILS TO COVER HANEEN ZREIKA CASE
The decision of Greater Western Sydney Giants player Haneen Zreika to stand down from her team’s AFLW (Australian Football League Women) match against the Western Bulldogs on Friday, was covered this morning by the media – including Nine, News Corp, The Guardian and SBS – but not the ABC.
Ms Zreika, a practising Muslim, refuses to wear a guernsey containing the LGBTIQ+ logo during the current Pride Round of the AFLW competition.
Now if Haneen Zreika was a Christian – like, say, Israel Folau – it is likely that she would have been attacked within the ABC and social media as some kind of bigot. But, since she is Muslim, it’s acceptable for her to stand aside this week.
This is a double standard. Clearly Ms Zreika opposes the LGBTIQ+ lifestyle on religious grounds. Mr Folau effectively lost his professional football career for the comment he made about homosexuality and other practices which he regards as sinful. Ms Zreika will merely miss one game.
Nevertheless, the fact that Haneen Zreika will not line up against the Western Bulldogs demonstrates an intolerance by the AFLW on account of her religious views. Sure, she will not lose her career – not now, at least. However, Ms Zreika will miss the opportunity to play a football game in an AFLW competition which does not have many rounds. This is a severe penalty for a young woman who wants to live according to her religious beliefs. But there was no discussion about this on the ABC this morning.
THE ADELAIDE WRITERS’ WEEK – ANOTHER LEFTIST STACK
It was hardly news. But ABC Radio reported this morning about the forthcoming Adelaide Writers’ Week which will run from 5 March to 10 March. It included a grab from AWW director Jo Dyer, who is running as an Independent candidate against the Liberal Party in the 2022 election, criticising a person she referred to as simply “Murdoch”. Quelle Surprise! And the ABC reckons that this is news suitable for the 8am bulletin in Sydney, Melbourne and elsewhere.
As avid Media Watch Dog readers know, literary festivals are occasions where a soviet of leftists get their hands on lotsa taxpayers’ money and ask a number of their ideological mates to speak about current, past or future books to rooms replete with left-wing sandal wearers.
MWD has had a glance at the 2022 Adelaide Writers’ Week program – and, yes, it is a predictable literary festival leftist stack. Here’s why.
The line-up for Adelaide Writers’ Week features quite a few MWD faves – taken from the official program.
۰ Annabel Crabb talks about her new book Well Hello (co-written with Leigh Sales and Miranda Murphy) inspired by the podcast Comrade Crabb hosts with Leigh Sales.
۰ “Cometh the Virus, Cometh the Man” features Dr Norman (“Trust me, I’m Australia’s most trusted doctor”) Swan talking to David Sly about the book he released and promoted during the Pandemic, titled So You Think You Know What’s Good For You. According to the front cover, it’s “The ultimate health guide from Australia’s most trusted doctor”. For the record, “Australia’s most trusted doctor” has not practised medicine for some four decades.
۰ Annabel Crabb makes another appearance in “Scott Morrison: Who the Bloody Hell is He?”, talking to Sean Kelly and Annika Smethurst about their books on Prime Minister Scott Morrison – The Game: A Portrait of Scott Morrison (Kelly) The Accidental Prime Minster (Smethurst). MWD covered Sean Kelly’s book on the PM in previous issues, see here. All three panel members are critical of Scott Morrison – no other view will be heard.
۰ But best of all, the first day of the AWW features ex-PMs Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull in “How Fast Things Fall”, chaired by Jo Dyer, Independent candidate running for the Liberal-held seat of Boothby.
The event is described as follows:
Since leaving office, former Prime Ministers Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull have definitely and determinedly not gone gentle into the good night, instead becoming trenchant critics of the incumbent Prime Minister and his Government, and the type of politics they practise. Focussing particularly on the pernicious power of Murdoch and the urgency of action on climate change, this unlikely duo remain important and unapologetic voices in our increasingly polarised political debate.
Sounds like it could have been written by Comrade Dyer, don’t you think?
Kevin Rudd’s most recent book The Case for Courage, In The National Interest was published in March 2021. Malcolm Turnbull’s latest book A Bigger Picture was released on 20 April 2020. Not exactly current releases. But near enough, apparently, for the Adelaide Writers’ Week.
۰ Another MWD fave Van Badham is also making an appearance speaking to Sharon Davis about her new book QAnon and On: A Short and Shocking History of Internet Conspiracy Cults.
۰ Richard Flanagan discusses his essay The Australian Disease: On the Decline of Love and the Rise of Non-freedom with former ABC journalist Kerry O’Brien – a regular at these sorts of writers’ festivals. The session is titled “Holding the Hose” – it is presumably a reference to a much derided comment made by the Prime Minister two years ago. So, it looks like yet another session aimed at Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Perusing the program, you’ll find plenty of lefties including Jane Caro, former Greens senator Scott Ludlam and ABC sports journalist Paul Kennedy, whom you may have seen plugging his dull sounding memoir on News Breakfast not long ago. There may be some conservatives in the line-up but MWD is yet to spot them. If there is, it would be highly unusual for a taxpayer-funded writers’ festival. We’ll keep avid readers posted.
2022 KICKS OFF WITH SCANT DEBATE ON THE DRUM & RN BREAKFAST
Since 2022 is an election year, the ABC swung into political discussion in early January with fill-in presenters for such programs as The Drum and Radio National Breakfast.
On Monday 3 January, The Drum presenter Adam Spencer chaired a panel comprising leftist newsletter Crikey’s Kishor Napier-Raman (who is critical of the Coalition), Sydney small business activist Angela Vithoulkas (who is hostile to the Morrison government) and Professor Nancy Baxter (who is critical of the Morrison government’s handling of COVID-19).
Ms Vithoulkas accused the Coalition of a “lazy approach” to the pandemic and declared that Australia has no leadership at the “local, state and federal level”. She also referred to the prime minister as “Scotty from marketing”. Original, eh? Napier-Raman bemoaned the lack of “clear national federal leadership”. And Nancy Baxter essentially agreed with her fellow panelists. No contrary voice was heard.
Then on Tuesday 4 January RNB (stand-in) presenter Hamish Macdonald presided over a panel comprising three Scott Morrison critics. Namely Dennis Atkins (who confidently predicted that the election would be held in 2021), Network 10’s Peter van Onselen (who got the outcome of the 2019 election hopelessly wrong) and the leftist Guardian Australia’s Amy Remeikis.
Hamish Macdonald raised the issue that Treasurer Josh Frydenberg had engaged in personal attacks on Opposition leader Anthony Albanese. Ms Remeikis agreed that the (alleged) attacks were “pretty personal”. In fact, the Treasurer had merely criticised Anthony Albanese’s economic legacy. How personal is that?
Neither the presenter nor any of the panelists had a positive word to say about the Morrison government.
So, both The Drum and News Breakfast commenced the 2022 election year with panels that lacked political balance. Could this be a precedent? More seriously, Can You Bear It?
NINE’S NICK O’MALLEY & NINE’S TONY BOYD READ BLACKROCK CEO’S LETTER AND REACH QUITE DIFFERENT CONCLUSIONS
On 18 January, writing in Nine’s Age and Sydney Morning Herald, under the heading “Decarbonise or die, world’s biggest investor warns business chiefs”, Nick O’Malley (Nine’s national environment and climate editor) commenced his column as follows:
One of the world’s most powerful investors is again urging that chief executives rapidly and boldly embrace the green economy or be swept aside by a wave of faster, smarter competitors. Or in Larry Fink’s more colourful language, chief executives today cannot avoid the global transition now unfolding, but they can choose whether to recast themselves as unicorns, phoenixes or dodos.
So that’s pretty clear then – BlackRock’s chairman and chief executive Larry Fink believes that we must embrace the green economy by, in Comrade O’Malley’s words, “responding to issues such as climate change by embracing rapid decarbonisation”. Or does he still hold the view?
Writing in Nine’s Australian Financial Review on 9 January 2022, Tony Boyd commented in his “Chanticleer” column.
Two years after taking a rigid divestment stance against thermal coal, BlackRock chairman and chief executive Larry Fink is backing the oil and gas industry as the world transitions to net zero carbon emissions. In his annual letter to the CEOs of companies partly owned by the world’s biggest fund manager, Fink said the world needs to pass through “shades of brown to shades of green”.
BlackRock is a major investor in the world’s largest oil and gas stocks because of the $US6.6 trillion ($9.15 trillion) of assets under management in index and exchange-traded funds. It owns 6 per cent of Woodside and 6 per cent of Santos. It also owns 6 per cent of each of the country’s two largest coal-fired power generators, Origin Energy and AGL Energy.
Fink says that “to ensure continuity of affordable energy supplies during the transition, traditional fossil fuels like natural gas will play an important role both for power generation and heating in certain regions, as well as for the production of hydrogen. Divesting from entire sectors – or simply passing carbon-intensive assets from public markets to private markets – will not get the world to net zero”.
So Nine’s Nick O’Malley reckons that Larry Fink is urging companies to immediately embrace the green economy. And Nine’s Tony Boyd reckons that Larry Fink is still investing in coal while backing oil and gas as the world transitions to net zero carbon emissions. That’s Nine’s economic analysis for you. Can You Bear It?
CULTURAL DIVERSITY IN RETREAT ON ABC NEWS BREAKFAST
Jackie’s (male) co-owner was moved, oh so moved, last year when ABC TV News Breakfast co-presenters Michael Rowland and Lisa Millar called for greater cultural diversity within Australian society (See MWD Issue 549). Which includes the ABC, needless to say.
Michael Rowland and Lisa Millar returned to News Breakfast this week – after what journalists like to term a Well Earned Break (W.E.B). This was good news for members of the Rowland/Millar Fan Club. But, alas, it did not do much for diversity at the public broadcaster.
For, you see, the News Breakfast co-presenters during the Rowland/Millar W.E.B. were Iskhandar Razak and Fauziah Ibrahim. Which would suggest that, in the view of management, the Anglo Celtic team is favoured over the culturally diverse team (who appear to have been used as summer-time fill-ins). In spite of Comrades Rowland and Millar lecturing others on the need for cultural diversity. Can You Bear It?
PK SCORES WITH 18 INTERRUPTIONS OF BARNABY JOYCE
David (“Oh yes, I’m the great interrupter”) Speers’ first Insiders interview for 2022 will take place on Sunday. So MWD’s gong for Media Interrupter of the Week had a smaller field than usual on this occasion.
The winner was Patricia Karvelas, the new presenter of ABC Radio National Breakfast. Last Tuesday, PK interrupted Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce on 18 occasions in an interview of less than 13 minutes. On the same day, Comrade Karvelas commenced an interview with Opposition leader Anthony Albanese with a friendly “Albo, welcome”. He certainly was. Then on Wednesday Labor Party frontbencher Tanya Plibersek spoke for over 11 minutes without a single interruption by PK.
Sure, PK disappointed with her interruption-lite approach to Labor Party interviewees. But she certainly earned the Media Interrupter of the Week gong for a stunning performance in interrupting Barnaby Joyce. Speersy, beware. PK seems to be coming after you.
MARK HUMPHRIES SAYS GOODBYE TO 2021 AND HELLO TO REPEATING SKETCHES
7:30’s resident satirist Mark Humphries was notably absent from the program in the latter months of 2021. Media Watch Dog had begun to worry that Humphries’ sketches had been quietly cancelled, leaving MWD with one less source of copy. It was a relief then when, during the 16 December 2021 edition of 7:30, presenter Leigh Sales dutifully introduced a new sketch, giving her usual satire warning.
Non-avid MWD readers might expect Comrade Humphries to have spent his time away from 7:30 coming up with new sketch ideas. Avid readers will recall your man Humphries (and his co-writer Evan Williams) love nothing more than to take an old sketch, change a few words, and pass it off as new.
In 2019 he debuted a sketch concerning a “Greta Thunberg Hotline”, before following this up in 2021 with a near-identical sketch about a “Meghan Markle Hotline”. Whenever Barnaby Joyce is in the news, Humphries returns to his parody character Barabbas Loins. And as previously documented by MWD, Humphries has done infinite sketches featuring himself as a smug and incompetent Liberal Party staffer.
It was no surprise then when Humphries’ 16 December 2021 return to 7:30 featured a sketch “Everything 2021 must go”, which bore a striking resemblance to his final sketch of 2020 “Let’s chuck out 2020!”. Both sketches feature Humphries standing in front of the same background, wearing the same clothes, giving the same performance, while the same music plays in the background.
As you can see, Humphries has mostly succeeded in recreating his 2020 sketch, although he has failed to replicate the same lighting and text font and has dropped the exclamation point from the onscreen text. MWD assumes these changes are the result of incompetence, not originality. For his final sketch of 2022 Mr Humphries may want to consider just dubbing new audio over a previous sketch to maintain consistency.
Both sketches consist of Humphries yelling references to events from the previous year at the camera. These brilliant works of satire ask the audience: Do you remember things that happened? MASKS! PANGOLINS! LA NINA! DO YOU REMEMBER!?!
The style of the sketches is meant to resemble a particular kind of TV ad for a closing down sale. Any children forced to watch 7:30 would be unlikely to recognise the reference, as this style of ad was most prominent many years ago.
Children would be similarly confused by Humphries’ latest offering, which appeared on the 20 January 2022 edition of 7:30. This sketch takes the form of a movie trailer parody, specifically a parody of the style of movie trailer popular in the 1980s and 1990s. It is unclear if Humphries is aware of how dated this reference is, or if he is aware of much of anything. This sketch did at least require some effort, of the physical kind, as it features many shots of Humphries running around the streets of inner-city Sydney.
MWD looks forward to future efforts by 7:30’s self-professed satirist. Perhaps a parody of a 1980s music video in which Mr Humphries plays a smug Liberal staffer singing about how Scott Morrison hates women? This would seem to fit within Mark Humphries’ small repertoire.
In 1967 the music hall entertainer Ken Dodd (1927-2018) sang the song “It’s a Funny Old World” in his album For Someone Special. The term was popularised by British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in November 1990 when she was forced by her Conservative Party colleagues to step down. At her final cabinet meeting the Iron Lady reflected: “It’s a funny old world”. And so, it is – as this new MWD segment will demonstrate.
DAVID WILLIAMSON RECALLS THE MELBOURNE OF HIS YOUTH – BUT NOT THE BUSHFIRES
During the (recently ended) media Silly Season, ABC TV’s 7.30 asked a number of, yes, senior Australians to reflect on their summer holiday experiences growing up in this Wide Brown Land. One was playwright David Williamson (born February 1942) who made the following reflection on the Melbourne summer holidays of his youth camped on Port Phillip Bay circa the suburb of Rosebud:
David Williamson: Summer still gives me a kick – even though sometimes it’s too hot. Our summers are different in a sense too, because we know it’s bushfire season. We always knew it was bushfire season. But it never seemed to pose the threat, or didn’t pose the threat that it does now. With global warming, which conservatives won’t even mention as a cause, we know it is though. The place is tinder dry. We know that catastrophe is waiting to happen.
Well catastrophe didn’t happen in the Summer of 2021-22. On the contrary, South East Australia was remarkably wet. As to the summer of young David’s youth, virtually everyone growing up in Melbourne in the 1940s learnt of the devastating bushfires that surrounded Melbourne on Black Friday, 13 January 1939, in which some 70 Victorians were killed. There were summer bushfires in Victoria in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s when Williamson was growing up. It’s funny that he does not remember this. Needless to say, in remembering what didn’t happen in his youth, your man Williamson was not corrected by the 7.30 presenter. So young viewers might have got the impression that until climate change became an issue, bushfires in Victoria did not occur.
ALLEGRA SPENDER SUPPORTER JILLIAN BROADBENT PURCHASES BEACH PROPERTY DESPITE THE THREAT OF RISING SEA LEVELS
The “Title Deeds” column in the Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald is misnamed. What the column is really about turns on “Entitled Deeds”. The point being that the powers-that-be at the Nine Newspapers’ Sydney masthead are not really interested in the property purchases of the hoi polloi living lives of quiet desperation in the outer-suburbs and low socio-economic regional areas of Australia.
Not at all. “Title Deeds” is about Sydney’s oh-so-rich and famous. For example, on 5 December 2021 Lucy Macken reported in “Title Deeds” that “corporate high-flyer Jillian Broadbent” has just “settled on a Werri Beach getaway this week for $7.55 million”.
Ms Broadbent is currently among the multi-millionaires supporting the “Voices-of” Independent Allegra Spender in the seat of Wentworth – who opposes the Coalition’s climate-change policies. They believe, among other things, that the seas will rise by substantial margins if drastic action is not taken immediately to comprehensively reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
So what does a climate change catastrophist do when the world is apparently threatened by rising sea levels? Buy a $7.55 million pile close to the sea on Werri Beach on the NSW South Coast, north of fashionable Gerringong. It’s a funny old world.
[It sure is. But I guess that Jillian Broadbent will have some cash left-over to purchase a life-jacket when the likes of Ms Spender drop in for a Werri Beach sleep-over. – MWD Editor.]
THE ABC’S CENSORSHIP OF FRED PAWLE’S BIOGRAPHY OF BILL LEAK
There was considerable interest in last Monday’s (surprise) Media Watch Dog which came out earlier than expected to kick off 2022. And, in particular, to Gerard Henderson’s correspondence with the ABC managing director and editor-in-chief David Anderson. Of particular interest was Hendo’s point that ABC producers and presenters have effectively silenced authors of recent books on the case of Cardinal George Pell – namely Fr. Frank Brennan S.J., Keith Windschuttle and Hendo himself – by refusing to give the authors air-time.
So far Mr Anderson, in his capacity as ABC editor-in-chief – and, as such, responsible for all the material that goes to air on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster – has not replied. MWD’s avid readers will be the first to know if there is a response – but don’t hold your breath. It’s likely that Hendo’s epistle to the Sandalista HQ in Ultimo will suffer the fate of a papal encyclical – to be read and then ignored. But MWD digresses.
Avid readers have asked how common it is for the ABC to engage in literary censorship of this kind. Well, it is likely – when it comes to authors who upset the Green/Left ethos that prevails at the ABC.
Take Fred Pawle’s Die Laughing: The Biography of Bill Leak (Institute of Public Affairs, 2021) which contains an introduction by Barry Humphries. Bill Leak (1956-2017), like Fred Pawle, was a man of the left who became more conservative in his later years – to such an extent that he was loathed by the left for his cartoons in The Australian. As Humphries points out – Bill Leak was brutal, incisive, relentless and hilarious. He added that Leak’s “laughter would have enraged the humourless rabble who feared and slandered him”.
Without question, Leak was a brilliant cartoonist and artist. Sure, he criticised and offended people from time to time – on the right and on the left. Conservatives like John Howard who were criticised by Leak were tolerant enough to accept Leak’s, at times, bitter satire. But not the left, when it came its turn to be on the end of Leak’s satire.
A number of ABC figures were friendly with Bill Leak – including Leigh Sales, Richard Fidler, Libbi Gore and Phillip Adams. Chris Mitchell pointed out in The Australian on 11 October 2021 that all four, who are quoted in Die Laughing, were sent copies of the book. But Fred Pawle has not had one interview on the public broadcaster despite the fact that, in late 2021, all four presented ABC programs which interviewed authors of books. As Chris Mitchell has put it – “this is the sort of cancel culture our ABC is falling into as social media activists exert even more pressure on an organisation they think they own”.
Chris Mitchell made the point that Bill Leak’s “crime” was to satirise some of the left’s favourite causes – as he had once satirised some of the right’s favourite causes. The right-of-centre understood the role of the irreverent cartoonist in Australian society. The left threw the switch to censorship.
It is a matter of record that, as a result of silencing Fred Pawle’s biography of Bill Leak, ABC senior management has presided over a form of censorship. The ABC is – but does not have to be – a staff collective. Yet it will remain an organisation run by staff until some senior ABC management fulfil the role of editor-in-chief.
PAUL BONGIORNO DECLARES THAT THE COALITION WILL LOSE THE ELECTION BUT SAYS THAT LABOR IS THE UNDERDOG – IN ONE COLUMN
The [Boring] Saturday Paper (editor-in-chief Erik Jensen, proprietor Morry Schwartz) goes to press on Thursday evening and arrives in inner-city coffee shops on Saturday mornings – COVID-19 permitting. Since The Saturday Paper newspaper is bereft of news, Jackie’s (male) co-owner reads it on Monday. After all, what’s the hurry?
Each Monday, Hendo is unsure whether to read The Saturday Paper’s boring columnist Dr John Hewson (for a doctor he is) or its boring columnist Paul Bongiorno. This week, the dice fell on Bonge. As is common to the Hewie/Bonge unity ticket, both bag Prime Minister Scott Morrison virtually every week.
As usual, the Bongiorno column last Saturday was long on turgid writing and devoid of headings. Yawn. This is how it commenced:
Wishful thinking and an incompetent handling of the pandemic over the summer have shattered the chances of Scott Morrison pulling off another improbable election win. What I would call the “Ellis factor” may yet save him, but it is a long shot. By that I mean voters applying the same tolerance for failed behaviour that my two-and-a-half-year old grandson Ellis applies to himself. When his father admonished the miscreant for jumping up and down on his grandfather’s furniture with the punishment of “no Icy Pole for you”. Ellis shot back, “But I’m good now”.
So Bonge has a grandson who, apparently, provides an insight into the 2022 election. Really. But, nevertheless, the message is pretty clear. Bonge The Grandfather reckons that the Coalition under Scott Morrison will lose the 2022 election.
But then there is this conclusion:
After Morrison’s 2019 victory no one is prepared to write him off. This makes Labor the underdog, which the published opinion polls don’t support. It suits Albanese just fine.
So there you have it. Prime Minister Morrison has “shattered the chances” of the Coalition pulling off another improbable election win. But Opposition leader Anthony Albanese is the underdog. Work that out if you can – while trying to stay awake.
IN WHICH THE GUARDIAN’S AMANDA MEADE GIVES A SOFT INTERVIEW TO ABC’S PATRICIA KARVELAS
And so Patricia Karvelas has concluded her first week as presenter of the influential ABC Radio National Breakfast program. As avid readers are well aware, Comrade Karvelas has replaced Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly – who will be taking her activist journalism to other places within the taxpayer funded broadcaster at a time and place to be announced.
Writing in The Guardian on 17 December 2021, Amanda Meade (the online paper’s media correspondent) expressed concern that Media Watch Dog “has coined a new phrase The Guardian/ABC Axis”. She added that “Hendo…intends to feature said Axis on a regular basis”.
You betcha. If Comrade Meade is upset with “The Guardian/ABC Axis” term, it’s an encouragement (if encouragement was needed) to continue to use the label.
But, guess what? On 24 January 2022 – Patricia (“Please call me PK”) Karvelas’ first day on RN Breakfast – Comrade Meade wrote a soft profile piece on PK in The Guardian. Thus consummating The Guardian/ABC Axis for the commencement of the New Year. What fun.
Chris Kenny, Gerard Henderson and others have commented that replacing Comrade Kelly with Comrade PK is just replacing a Green Left activist journalist with another Green Left activist journalist. Comrade Meade reported that Karvelas bristled with irritation when it was put to her that Sky News’ Chris Kenny had said this – and commented:
Patricia Karvelas: Unlike maybe him and some others I’m not a card-carrying member of the Liberal party and I have not worked for Liberal prime ministers or senior Liberal figures. I also haven’t worked for senior Labor figures and I never will. And that’s something I definitely can guarantee you: I will never work in politics because I don’t believe in it because I am a journalist.
Chris Kenny said on Sky News on Monday that he is not a member of the Liberal Party – and has not been for decades. Meade ran Karvelas’ imputation without bothering to do any fact-checking. It’s called professional journalism.
Also Meade did not bother to check what Karvelas meant by stating that a journalist should never have worked in politics. What about such ABC star presenters of recent memory as Kerry O’Brien (who worked for Labor’s Gough Whitlam) or Barrie Cassidy (who worked for Labor’s Bob Hawke)?
PK did tell Meade: “I’m not a conservative”- Quelle Surprise! – and added “What I am interested in is the truth”. This seems to be a suggestion that, according to PK, conservatives are not interested in the truth. In which case she must feel comfortable to have one of the most important roles in the Conservative Free Zone that is the ABC.
MWD will continue to run stories on The Guardian/ABC Axis. So – stay tuned.
THE HUMAN-RIGHTS ADVOCATE TIM SOUTPHOMMASANE TAKES UP THE CAUSE OF STALINIST EGON KISCH (1885-1948)
Professor Tim Soutphommasane is a Professor of Practice (Sociology and Political Theory) and Director, Culture Strategy at the University of Sydney – whatever that might entail. Your man Soutphommasane presents as a political theorist and from 2013 to 2018 was Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner. His CV would suggest that – in his brilliant career, so far – all employment has been funded per courtesy of the Australian taxpayer. Oh, yes, TS presented the documentary Mongrel Nation on – you’ve guessed it – ABC Radio National, part of the taxpayer-funded public broadcaster.
Like many a theorist, TS does not seem to know all that much history. In 2010, he co-edited All That’s Left with fellow leftist Nick Dyrenfurth. The book seriously verballed Gerard Henderson. But the co-editors went into denial and refused to correct the howlers. But that’s another story – which is documented in Media Watch Dog Issues 107, 108 and 124.
At 6.05pm on 10 January 2022 the following tweet appeared.
This Novak Djokovic case now arguably surpasses that of Egon Kisch for Australian political absurdity
— Tim Soutphommasane (@timsout) January 10, 2022
The tennis star Novak Djokovic entered Australia on 5 January – intent on playing in the Australian Open. He was placed in detention by Australian Border Force. It declared that he did not meet the entry requirements at the time of COVID-19 which required that non-citizens entering Australia be vaccinated. He was placed in detention immediately. On 10 January, a single judge in the Federal Circuit and Family Court ordered that Djokovic had been treated without due process and he was released from detention. It was at this time that Tim Soutphommasane’s tweet appeared.
On 14 January, Alex Hawke (the Minister for Immigration) cancelled Djokovic’s visa – citing the grounds of health and good order along with the public interest. Minister Hawke’s decision was upheld in a unanimous decision of the full court of the Federal Court and the tennis star headed home to Serbia.
This indicates that when Soutphommasane sent out his tweet on 10 January, the University of Sydney professor did not have a clue about Australian immigration legislation or the operation of the Australian legal system. After all, the law is not studied by most political theorists.
It’s much the same with history. The learned professor – who proclaims a commitment to human rights – does not seem to know that Egon Kisch (1885-1948) was a Stalinist. This is the story of Comrade Kisch as it applies to Australia.
Egon Kisch was a journalist – and a communist. As Stephen Koch points out in Double Lives: Stalin, Willi Münzenberg, and the Seduction of the Intellectuals (HarperCollins, 1995), Kisch was a “committed communist and deep in Comintern affairs”. The Comintern – aka the Communist International or the Third International – was set up in 1919 by the Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin to advance the interests of world communism. Those who worked with the Comintern – like the Prague born Egon Kisch – were willing agents of Lenin and Josef Stalin. Kisch’s wife Gisela worked for the Soviet Union’s GPU – the secret police.
In 1934, Kisch was invited to attend a conference in Melbourne held by the Movement Against War and Fascism – it was a Communist Party front organisation at a time when the Communist Party of Australia acted in accordance with the Comintern’s instructions and was committed to the destruction of Australia’s democratic system of government.
When seeking to enter Australia, Kisch lied about his communist affiliations – see the entry by Carolyn Rasmussen in The Australian Dictionary of Biography. When the Australian government – led by Prime Minister Joseph Lyons – found out about Kisch’s membership of the Comintern he was declared a prohibited immigrant and not allowed to land in Fremantle. Kisch jumped from his ship on to the wharf in Melbourne, breaking a leg. He was taken to Sydney where he was freed by a decision of Justice Bert Evatt in the High Court on a technical matter. Kisch was finally deported in March 1935.
Egon Kisch became a hero of the Australian pro-communist left which proclaimed that he was an anti-fascist. Which he was. But the left in Australia declined to acknowledge that Kisch was also a Stalinist.
The record speaks for itself. Kisch supported all the crimes committed by the Soviet Union in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s – including Stalin’s forced famine in Ukraine, the purges of the 1930s and the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939 which prevailed until June 1941 when Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union. The Nazi-Soviet Pact effectively commenced the Second World War since it made it possible for Germany to invade Poland on 1 September 1939 and for the Soviet Union to conquer the Baltic States in mid-1940.
So, there you have it. Tim Soutphommasane not only believes that it was absurd for the Australian government to deport the unvaccinated Novak Djokovic. The learned professor also maintains that it was absurd for the Lyons government to have deported the Stalinist Kisch in March 1935.
How about that? A human rights activist taking up the cause of one of Stalin’s apparatchiks. As A. T. Yarwood points out in the English edition of Egon Erwin Kisch’s Australian Landfall (Australasian Book Company, 1969), one of Kisch’s greatest Australian fans was the novelist Katharine Susannah Prichard (1883-1969). Prichard went to her death bed a confirmed Stalinist. She was a co-founding member of the Communist Party of Australia.
This overwhelmingly popular segment of Media Watch Dog usually works like this. Someone or other thinks it would be a you-beaut idea to write to Gerard Henderson about something or other. And Hendo, being a courteous and well-brought up kind of guy, replies. Then, hey presto, the correspondence is published in MWD – much to the delight of its avid readers.
There are occasions, however, when Jackie’s (male) co-owner decides to write a polite note to someone or other – who, in turn, believes that a reply is in order. Publication in MWD invariably follows. There are, alas, some occasions where Hendo sends a polite missive but does not receive the courtesy of a reply. Nevertheless, publication of this one-sided correspondence still takes place. For the record – and in the public interest, of course.
WENDY BACON & GERARD HENDERSON ON GREENS’ SENATOR LIDIA THORPE
In his column in The Weekend Australian on 8 January 2022, Gerard Henderson wrote about the 6 January 2021 riot in the US Capitol Building and the alleged arson attack on Old Parliament House in Canberra on 30 December 2021. Towards the end he referred to a tweet put out, and soon withdrawn, by Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe. It led to the following comment from political activist and author Wendy Bacon.
Wendy Bacon to Gerard Henderson – 10 January 2022
People have a right to withdraw comments including on the medium of twitter. I myself have withdrawn tweets that I felt could be misunderstood. Lidia Thorpe’s position was to some extent covered in the SMH yesterday. She clarified her position.
Frankly I think there are better things for the media to do than focus on deleted tweets. I am not sure what having a white father has to do with a person’s view on colonialism.
The following correspondence ensued:
Gerard Henderson to Wendy Bacon – 25 January 2022
Your comment about my Weekend Australian column of 8 January 2022 has been passed on to me. As you will recall, you took exception to a comment towards the end of my column concerning the recent fire at Old Parliament House, which read as follows:
Lidia Thorpe, the Victoria-based Indigenous Greens senator, responded to the news of the fire as follows: “Seems like the colonial system is burning down. Happy New Year.” The tweet was soon deleted. Thorpe has not explained what she meant by this. Moreover, it is not clear whether she totally condemns Australia’s “colonial system”. After all, she has a white father who was interviewed on Sky News’s The Bolt Report in May last year.
You maintained that “people have a right to withdraw comments including on the medium of twitter”. I agree. But others have a right to comment on a tweet – before or after it is withdrawn. It’s a bit like someone commenting on a book which was subsequently withdrawn from publication. You also state that you have withdrawn tweets which you felt “could be misunderstood”. Okay. But I believe that an author should state just how a tweet was misunderstood. Senator Lidia Thorpe has not done so in this instance.
You also wrote: “I am not sure what having a white father has to do with a person’s view on colonialism”. In my view, this is of some relevance if a person is condemning the colonial system – since that person lives in contemporary Australia because of one-time colonialism. It’s much the same with those people of Anglo-Celtic heritage who condemn what they maintain was the “invasion” of 1788 – while failing to recognise that without the “invasion” they would not be here today.
That is, Lidia Thorpe was born to both her mother and her non-Indigenous father. Without the latter, she would not have been born. That’s all. Good to hear from you.
Wendy Bacon to Gerard Henderson – 25 January 2022
I think that your point that anyone has the right to comment on a tweet, withdrawn or not, is right.
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Until next time
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