ISSUE – NO. 581

25 March 2022

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It is said that a sign of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again in the hope that the outcome will change.

Now Media Watch Dog fave Patricia (“call me PK”) Karvelas is as sane as any other journalist – whatever that may entail. But, like a number of her colleagues, PK has a habit of asking the same question repeatedly.

It happened again this morning when Comrade Karvelas interviewed Finance Minister and leader of the government in the Senate, Senator Simon Birmingham. Towards the end of the interview, the topic of the possibility of Solomon Islands entering into a security arrangement with China was raised.

Now, it’s pretty obvious that a senior minister of the Australian government is not going to discuss the relationship between Australia and a friendly nation on a national media program. But PK would not accept this reality – as the transcript demonstrates.

Patricia Karvelas: There’s a story in The Australian today, the Solomons Opposition Leader, uh, Matthew Wale, says that he warned your government last year about the security agreement – this, this security agreement between China and the Solomons. Why didn’t that raise a red flag at that time about the prospect of Chinese military presence in the Pacific?

Simon Birmingham: These are very sensitive matters, and we don’t go to either intelligence briefings we have or discussions we have with foreign governments about –

Patricia Karvelas: [interjecting] No, but this is the High Commissioner –

Simon Birmingham: – matters –

Patricia Karvelas: [interjecting] – was warned. Was your government aware of this warning?

Simon Birmingham: And, Patricia, the discussions we may or may not have with the government of the Solomon Islands, or with any other government across the region, are not things that we then go and comment on publicly. We are by far and away the largest development partner and assistance provider to the Solomon Islands –

Patricia Karvelas: [interjecting] So, you can’t confirm whether you were warned that this was coming?

Simon Birmingham: I’m not going to go into discussions we have with foreign governments about different issues, in terms of particularly sensitive issues –

Patricia Karvelas: [interjecting] Ok, so –

Simon Birmingham: – around security presence or otherwise –

Patricia Karvelas: [interjecting] – these are directly –

Simon Birmingham: – in our region.

Patricia Karvelas: – on the record quotes, saying –

Simon Birmingham: [interjecting] By an opposition leader….

And on it went. All up in this segment, PK interjected on no fewer than five occasions. Senator Birmingham is invariably calm and considered in the face of interruptions. He did not change his position and discussion turned to the budget – where again PK asked repeated questions about what the budget might contain concerning the fuel excise on petrol.



In her book So Greek: Confessions of a Conservative Leftie (Scribe 2010) Niki Savva recalled that Paul Bongiorno – when at Network Ten – was a constant critic of the Howard Government who presented a Sunday TV program Meet The Press which very few people watched. This has been discussed in past issues of Media Watch Dog.

These days your man Bongiorno writes turgid pieces in the leftist The New Daily online publication and long and truly boring articles in The (Boring) Saturday Paper. That’s why Jackie’s (male) co-owner focuses on Bonge’s tweets – at least they’re short, albeit invariably bitter and twisted. Like this one sent out on Saturday at around Gin & Tonic Time:

This is an example of bitter Bonge bagging former Labor MP Michael Danby – a friend and supporter of the late Senator Kimberley Kitching. A reference to the “good analysis” was an article in The Guardian Australia by Paul Karp critical of the Victorian Labor Party Right (including Kimberley Kitching).

For the record, Bongiorno is hopelessly wrong. Michael Danby was pre-selected on four occasions to run for Labor in the (then) seat of Melbourne Ports. He retired at the 2019 election and was not defeated at any pre-selection. The seat – the name of which was changed to Macnamara – remained within the control of the Victorian Labor Party’s right wing faction to which Danby belongs.


Can You Bear It?


Did anyone see Ben Oquist doing the Newspapers gig on ABC TV News Breakfast  on 24 March? Your man Oquist is something of a Media Watch Dog fave.  Like Jackie’s (male) co-owner Hendo, the executive director of the left-leaning Australia Institute gives the impression of having been well brought up.  He is unfailingly courteous and invariably appears on television dressed in a jacket and wearing a tie.

Interviewed by Michael Rowland on Thursday, Mr Oquist chose to talk about an item in the Canberra Times concerning national security.  Specifically a statement by a group of former defence and security chiefs – including Admiral Chris Barrie (Ret’d), the former Chief of the Defence Force.

Let’s go to the transcript:

Ben Oquist: And as you know, the Prime Minister’s been – Scott Morrison’s been trying to make a thing of his bona fides on national security and defence policy. Whereas these former chiefs are warning that climate change is the big future defence and security threat to Australians. The report goes on to say that 70 per cent of Australians think the government should be conducting climate resilience study and adaptation work for Australians. That’s a poll by the Australia Institute – and we’re lucky enough to have Chris Barrie on a webinar of ours today.

How about that?  Nice Mr Oquist used the occasion designed to report on the day’s news to flog a webinar which his Australia Institute was holding later that very day.  A free advertisement for the Canberra-based left-wing institute on the (allegedly) advertisement-free taxpayer funded public broadcaster that happens to be a Conservative-Free-Zone.  Which raises the question – Can You Bear It?

[Er, no. Not really. I note that no executive director of a right-of-centre institute, like the Institute of Public Affairs, gets to appear on News Breakfast. Just Nice Mr Oquist.  Not much balance here.  – MWD  Editor.]


Isn’t it great to have Anne Summers back in Australia after a stint in New York? – and directing her thoughts about the Land Down Under in her regular column in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. And on her Twitter feed as well.

This is what Dr Summers (for a doctor she is) had to say last Tuesday:

It turned out that the “he” to whom the learned doctor was referring was none other than Paul Keating whom Greg Jericho (currently with the avowedly leftist Guardian Australia  and formerly with the Crikey newsletter) had recently quoted.  Hard to follow for sure.  But this is what Comrade Jericho tweeted that very morning:

The “reaction” in question was an interview which Paul Keating gave to Eleanor Hall on ABC Radio’s The World Today in the aftermath of Labor’s defeat of John Howard’s Coalition government at the November 2007 election.  The date was 26 November 2007. Paul Keating told The World Today that he was “relieved that the toxicity of this [Howard] government had gone …this dreadful vicious show”.

Hold it there. Comrade Summers was praising what Paul Keating had said about John Howard’s government in 2007 – as cited by Comrade Jericho. There was no need for Comrade Summers (who worked for Paul Keating) or Comrade Jericho to remind us that Keating had welcomed Howard’s defeat.  This was hardly news.

What is surprising is these two strong opponents of Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Coalition government are reminding electors of John Howard’s (alleged) faults on the eve of the 2022 election. Just when the Labor Opposition, led by Anthony Albanese, is suggesting that an Albanese government would govern a bit like, er, John Howard.

After all, in his speech at the Australian Financial Review conference in Sydney on 9 March 2022,  Anthony Albanese said that he was seeking to reform the Australian economy in the way that Labor prime minister Bob Hawke did in the 1980s and he also quoted favourably from a John Howard speech. Anthony Albanese made this point:

A former Liberal prime minister once said that in the race for economic reform, you would never reach the finish line because it was always advancing and there would always be something else to do to make our economy stronger and more productive. I agree. It’s always a race – the race for improvement. But the current Liberal Government has abandoned the field.

Sure the Labor leader did not cite the former prime minister’s name. But the reference to John Howard was clear enough.  In response to a question from the ABC TV Media Watch program about The Australian’s report  by Simon Benson of the Albanese speech, Chris Dore, (The Australian’s  editor-in-chief) had this to say:

While not directly naming him, Albanese referred to Howard’s approach to policy reform and in doing so clearly attempted to highlight that his own approach to reform would be more aligned to how Howard went about it than the way Morrison works.  He clearly attempted to suggest he shared Howard’s approach to reform.  It’s worth also nothing that Albo’s office contacted our political editor before publication to point out the reference to Howard in the speech in an attempt clearly to get us to highlight the reference he was making in the speech.

The message seems pretty clear. Anthony Albanese now looks back on the Howard government favourably, to some extent at least.  But Comrades Summers and Jericho want us to look back in anger at John Howard.  It seems they didn’t get the memo. Can You Bear It?


There was enormous interest in last week’s “The Silence of the Aunty” segment of Media Watch Dog which was titled “The ABC’s Cancellation of Books on the Pell Case”.

This documented the fact that the taxpayer funded public broadcaster had “cancelled” recent books about Cardinal George Pell’s convictions on historical child sexual abuse charges which were quashed in a 7 to Zip decision by the High Court of Australia on 7 April 2020.

ABC journalists led the media pile-on against Pell and the ABC website contains numerous pages on the Pell Case.  But ABC producers and presenters have refused to discuss three books which came out after the High Court decision. Namely, Keith Windschuttle The Persecution of George Pell , Frank Brennan Observations on the Pell Proceedings and Gerard Henderson Cardinal Pell, The Media Pile-On & Collective Guilt.  With only one exception. Windschuttle was interviewed on ABC Radio National’s The Religion and Ethics Report.

MWD  understands from its sources inside the ABC Soviet that there was considerable opposition from within the ABC to Windschuttle’s appearance on the ABC – despite the fact that no one has been able to point to any significant error in his book.  Neither Brennan nor Henderson has been invited on to any ABC program.

An avid reader reminded MWD that author Fred Pawle suffered a similar fate with respect to his 2021 book Die Laughing: The Biography of Bill Leak.

Without question, Bill Leak (1956-2017) was one of Australia’s finest cartoonists and painters.  In his introduction to Die Laughing, the comedian and artiste Barry Humphries described Leak as a “truly great and fearless Australian” whose work is not only “a record of its time” but also “funny”, “brutal”, “incisive” and “relentless”.

When Bill Leak was on the left and a fierce critic of John Howard and other political conservatives – including, at times, Jackie’s (male) co-owner – his work was untouched.  However, when Leak became a critic of the left and adopted some conservative positions – there were many attempts by left-wing activists to silence him.

Fred Pawle’s work is what a good biography should be – sympathetic but also critical.  In short, it is not a hagiography as is the case with many biographies of the left, by the left and for the left which are discussed ad nauseam on the ABC.  Rather it’s an insightful, considered assessment of a brilliant artist and a clever but flawed man.

Australians can be trusted to read Pawle’s biography and make their own conclusions about Bill Leak.  But not according to the ABC, it seems.  For years, ABC types paraded against political and social censorship. Now censorship is rife within the ABC.

And so it has come to pass that ABC presenters and producers have effectively “cancelled” Die Laughing. The author has received only one interview on the ABC since his book was published last year – on ABC Radio National’s Between the Lines hosted by Tom Switzer.  That’s all.

Now Bill Leak had quite a few mates in the ABC.  Including Phillip Adams, Richard Fidler and Leigh Sales – currently the presenters of Radio National’s Late Night Live , ABC Radio’s Conversations and ABC TV’s 7.30 respectively.

Adams, Fidler and Sales spoke about their late friend Bill Leak for Die Laughing. But not one has brought about a situation whereby Fred Pawle has been interviewed on their programs – despite the fact that Late Night Live, Conversations and 7.30  interview authors about books. This suggests a lack of intellectual courage. If this trio does not believe that Leak is worth discussing on the ABC – why did they think it was worth talking to Pawle about his subject?

This appears to be yet another action by the ABC to silence voices that it does not want to hear.  Another example of “The Silence of the Aunty”.

Media Fool Of The Week


Julian (“I just love flashing my post-nominals”) Burnside AO QC is a millionaire barrister and social media tart who resides in a grand pile in the fashionable Melbourne suburb of Hawthorn. Moreover,  JB AO QC is one of those frightfully clever chaps who keeps making foolish comments – as avid Media Watch Dog readers know only too well. His preferred platform for idiocy is Twitter.

On Tuesday, not long after Gin & Tonic Time, the failed Greens candidate for Kooyong in 2019 and the failed candidate for pre-selection for a Greens Senate seat the following year put out this tweet:

Note that JB AO QC likes to emphasise his asinine points with exclamation marks!!!!!

The first reference was to the speech on 21 March by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. The one-time socialist leader of Portugal used the occasion to describe Australia as a “holdout” when it comes to what he called “meaningful emissions reductions” by 2030.  This overlooks the fact that many nations make commitments to reducing carbon dioxide emissions which are never met.  Also, Australia has done much more to reduce emissions than the likes of Canada and New Zealand led by leftist luvvies Justin Trudeau and Jacinda Ardern respectively.

JB AO QC failed to mention that, in his speech, the UN Secretary-General said that “coal emissions have surged to record highs” and acknowledged that “China, India, Indonesia and others” have a “high dependence on coal”. However, the head of Hawthorn’s Green Politburo bagged the fact that Australia’s support for Ukraine includes a gift of some 70,000 tonnes of thermal coal.

How about that? Comrade Burnside lives in a city where much of the electricity is produced from coal – that makes it possible to put on the lights and heat or cool homes.  But your man Burnside seems to hold the view that it’s better for Ukrainians resisting the Russian invasion to freeze during the Northern Spring than to accept a gift of coal from Australia.

Julian Burnside AO QC – Media Fool Of The Week.

[Which raises the question: does your man Burnside reckon the Australian government should have sent candlesticks instead – following the Thought of Nine’s Shane Wright who believes that coal today is the equivalent of candles in the mid-19th Century. – MWD Editor.]


“You Must Remember This” is based on the chorus line in the song As Time Goes By which was popularised by the film Casablanca. It is devoted to reminding the usual suspects of what they and/or those they supported once wrote or said or did.


In case you haven’t seen it, here is the promotion for the ABC TV’s Election 2022 coverage titled “Australia Votes”. Starring ABC “stars” David Speers (Insiders), Patricia Karvelas (ABC Radio National Breakfast) and Leigh Sales (ABC TV 7.30):

David Speers: I think, on election night, we’re all hoping for that little moment when you see politicians drop their guard.

Patricia Karvelas: After the polls close at 6pm, it goes quiet.

Leigh Sales: So, you’re waiting for that clock to tick.

David Speers: The campaigning’s over, and they tell us what they really think.

Leigh Sales: This is what the nation’s waiting for – it’s big.

David Speers: It’s also fascinating to see a bit more from our politicians to how they handle victory, how they handle defeat.

Patricia Karvelas: And that defeat speech. It’s the moment where you see them at their most honest, their most raw. There is nothing like it.

Er, that’s not quite correct.  Election night is sometimes the occasion when you also see journalists at their most raw – even if they never give a defeat speech.

Take the 18 May 2019 election, for example:

  • When the polls closed at 6 pm on Saturday 18 May 2019, Patricia Karvelas told ABC TV viewers to expect a victory for the Labor Party led by Bill Shorten. Wrong.
  • On the Wednesday before the election, 7.30’s chief political correspondent Laura Tingle told 7.30 presenter Leigh Sales that the Coalition “will not be in a position to form a government” after the election. Wrong.
  • David Speers was at Sky News during the May 2019 election. It is a matter of record that Insiders’ (then) presenter Barrie Cassidy was certain that Labor would win. Moreover, not one commentator who appeared on Insiders during the 2019 election campaign or on the morning after the election believed that the Coalition had a path to victory.  Indeed two Insiders  panellists – David Crowe and Niki Savva – had to change the title of their then forthcoming books which had assumed a Labor victory.

As usual, in 2019 the ABC commissioned a report on its election coverage.  It was written by former BBC journalist Kerry Blackburn and submitted in October 2019.  The ABC fought to keep the report secret – but was forced to have it tabled in the Senate.  For a summary of the Blackburn Report see the MWD  “Exclusive” segment in Issue 526 here.

In summary, Ms Blackburn drew attention to the lack of political diversity on the Insiders panel during this period and suggested that Insiders  executive producer Samuel Clark should have invited on some conservative commentators from The Australian  and The Spectator  who believed that the Coalition had a path to victory during the 2019 election.

On RN Breakfast on 24 February 2022, PK (as she likes to be called) said “we’re all scarred” by the fact that the opinion polls were wrong in 2019.  However, unlike Comrade Karvelas and her ABC colleagues, not all commentators believed that the 2019 polls were correct – and, consequently, not all were “scarred”.

Today such ABC “stars” as Comrades Speers, Sales and Karvelas are telling viewers about how elections are a test for politicians.  They are also a test for journalists and columnists who, unlike most defeated political leaders, rarely accept responsibility for their errors of judgment.

The ABC Australia Votes promo for 2022 overlooks the fact that most of the ABC “experts” who got the 2019 election result so wrong will be giving more “expert” analysis in 2022. The ABC wants viewers to forget this.  But MWD says: You Must Remember This.



It’s just over a week since those within and outside the Labor Party, who supported the late Victorian Labor Senator Kimberley Kitching’s voice-from-the-grave claiming that she had been bullied by those whom she termed the Labor Party’s “Mean Girls”, were being told it was disrespectful to raise such matters before the recently departed had been laid to rest. As is known, the term “Mean Girls” was taken from the 2004 film of the same name.

Kimberley Kitching had identified the “Mean Girls” as Labor’s Senate leadership team – Penny Wong, Kristina Keneally and Katy Gallagher.  Senators Wong and Gallagher are members of Labor’s left faction and Senator Keneally works closely with them.  In a joint statement issued on 18 March, all three denied the allegation.

Senator Kitching died on Thursday 10 March 2022 at age 52 of a suspected heart attack.  Her funeral took place at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne on Monday 21 March. From the time of her death, media and political supporters of Labor’s Senate leadership team ran the line that it would be disrespectful to discuss the late senator’s complaints before the funeral took place.

However, Kitching’s media critics broke their own (unofficial) embargo and commenced their criticism of the late senator, even before the funeral.  The critique was led, as might be expected, by members of The Guardian/ABC Axis.

Murpharoo and La Trioli Fire the First (Media) Shots

First out of the blocks was Katharine Murphy, The Guardian Australia’s  political editor.  In an article released at 6 am on Saturday 19 March, Murpharoo (as she likes to be called) told readers that if they “were reading some of the coverage on the fly” they “might get the impression that Kitching was helpless in the face of arbitrary bitchy hostility, something of a victim”.

This was the inaugural occasion, it seems, that the word “bitch” was raised in the wake of Kitching’s death. The thesis of Comrade Murphy’s analysis can be found in the centre of her article, where the following comment occurred:

Some of the underlying friction, I suspect, was caused by basic philosophical differences. Kitching was, by disposition, a cold war Catholic, an anti-communist hawk.

So there you have it.  The problem, according to Murpharoo, was not merely that Kitching was a Cold War anti-communist – but a Catholic as well.  Clearly such an allegiance was looked down on by the political editor of the avowedly leftist and occasionally sectarian Guardian Australia.

Not long after, ABC Radio Melbourne “Mornings” presenter Virginia Trioli joined in the chorus defending Senator Wong and company against Kitching’s family and friends who were telling reporters about the complaints of Kitching.  Writing on the taxpayer-funded public broadcaster’s website at 7 am on Saturday 19 March, Trioli commenced her opinion piece as follows:

Here we go again. “Mean girls”. It’s a bit coy, isn’t it? A bit retro, a bit high school? At the very least it’s not at all honest.

Because what are the critics, and the opportunists and the political players itching to really call the powerful women in the Labor Party they’d like to blame for an unexpected and untimely death? Don’t they really just want to call them a pack of bitches?

Again, the “bitch” word with apparent reference to Senator Wong and others was raised not by Kitching’s many supporters, who included family members and close friends across the political divide, but by her critics like Virginia Trioli.

Trioli’s piece was essentially a criticism of Victorian Labor’s right-wing faction, of which former Labor leader Bill Shorten is a prominent member – as was Kitching.  Trioli wrote that “many in her party liked her, but some came to realise they couldn’t trust her”.  No evidence was provided to support this allegation. Later in her article, Trioli had this to say:

The friends, colleagues and relatives of Kitching who may feel aggrieved at the pressure she was under to retain her preselection may also feel driven by a righteous anger that now clearly feeds the media cycle — but it is profoundly disappointing that it’s playing out in archaic and sexist language that has its origin in representations of witches, harpies and shrews.

Again, it was Trioli, a critic of Kitching, who introduced the “sexist language” of “witches, harpies and shrews” into the discussion.  None of Kitching’s most prominent supporters used such offensive words with respect to Senators Wong, Keneally and Gallagher. None.

Crikey’s  Guy Rundle Joins the Anti-Kitching Front Line

The ideological guns stopped firing on Sunday – a designated day of rest for some.  But the fire resumed on the morning of Monday 21 March – not long before the funeral commenced.  This followed the publication of Melbourne’s Herald-Sun and Sydney’s Daily Telegraph on Saturday 19 March of an article by Diana Asmar, a close friend of Kitching, concerning the alleged bullying which Kitching had experienced.

Guy Rundle, whom Media Watch Dog describes as its favourite Marxist comedian, is the correspondent-at-large of the leftist newsletter Crikey.  On 21 March, Crikey published an article by Rundle titled “The true story of Kimberley Kitching and the Labor gang” – a play on words associated with the history of the Victorian bushranger and police murderer Ned Kelly (1854-1880).

Rundle’s piece was essentially a hatchet-job on that part of Victorian Labor’s right-wing faction which is run by Bill Shorten.  It was – to borrow the word usage of Murphy and Trioli – “bitchy”.  The third and fourth paragraphs read as follows:

As Kitching’s funeral starts this afternoon – at St Patrick’s Cathedral, a privately arranged affair to look like a state occasion – we can reflect on just how far the people around her are willing to go in their war against their own party, weeks out from a federal election.

Make no mistake about it. If somehow Morrison can use this to his advantage and win — and it’s one of the few things he’s got at the moment — then what Bill Shorten and his shrunken sub-faction are doing now will rank as one of the greatest betrayals of the Australian Labor Party in its one hundred and thirty year history. In a wilful connivance with News Corp and parts of Nine, a group angry at being squeezed from party power is building the conditions for a surprise defeat as we speak.

The Rundle rant concluded as follows:

And I am not the only one in the media politics hinterland to conclude from these events that our complicit mainstream media is now beyond any sort of joke, a broke-down, right wing propaganda mill of some dirtwater junta dogpath somewhere, run by vipers; their shivering sycophants and enabling airheads without a care for what their country has become, or where it’s going next. Requiescat in pace. Res ipsa loquitur.

Mike Carlton, Malcolm Farr & Virginia Trioli Support Comrade Rundle

Such exaggerated language runs the risk of giving hyperbole a bad name. Not surprisingly, Comrade Rundle’s rant was welcomed by such leftist journalists as Malcolm Farr and Mike Carlton – the latter’s tweet read as follows:

Rundle’s hatchet-job was also embraced by Virginia Trioli who had this to say:

Guy Rundle’s Post Funeral Attack

However, Trioli remained silent with respect to matters Rundle when, after the funeral which he attended, Crikey’s correspondent-at-large filed another article titled “At the funeral of Kimberley Kitching – a senator, a daughter, a wife and perhaps much more”.  It was a bitter piece.  Rundle claimed that Kitching “had become a heroine in the Roman Catholic style”.  Which demonstrates that anti-Catholic sectarianism can still get a run in Crikey – editor Peter Fray.

Now your man Rundle does not dress like, say, Leonardo DiCaprio in The Great Gatsby.  But he chose to describe and critique the fashion sense of some of his fellow funeral attendees. Former Labor senator Jacinta Collins wore “a 1950s sponge-cake hat” while  Liberal MP Nicolle Flint was “all frown and angles in couture black, like an Athol Shmith model on the lam”.  And there was Peta Credlin wearing “1978 eyeshadow” and Kitching’s friend Diana Asmar “in her red clown hair, like an exploded Magnum of rose spumante”.

There was more abuse of this kind, presented as comedy.  At one stage in his over-written piece, Comrade Rundle admitted his “animus” towards Bill Shorten.  The article concluded with an attempt at ridicule directed at Kitching – suggesting that she wanted Australia to build “tanks against the coming Chinese invasion”.  How funny is that?

Niki Savva Enters the Fray

By Monday evening, Guy Rundle had laid down his verbal sword.  It was taken up by Niki Savva on Thursday 24 March.

As MWD readers are aware, in her column in Nine’s Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, Niki Savva tells her readers almost every week how hopeless Prime Minister Scott Morrison really is.  There was more of this in her column of 24 March titled “Kitching saga no place for PM”.   However, Savva’s main target was the late Kimberley Kitching and her supporters.  As far as MWD is aware, Savva made no criticisms of Kitching when she was alive and able to defend herself – but she sure laid into her when she had departed this mortal coil.

Savva’s hatchet job on Kitching included this comment:

In private meetings later, to prove she was not making it up, Reynolds went so far as to produce for Wong, Gallagher and Keneally, video footage from the Senate chamber showing Kitching approaching her months before in early February before prayers. Reynolds told them this was when Kitching first told her the tactics committee had discussed it and planned to weaponise the alleged rape. [The reference is to an alleged rape in Parliament House].

Reynolds also showed them subsequent text messages she had received from Kitching effectively confirming their initial conversation. The matter had not been discussed in tactics, something Reynolds later accepted, so Kitching’s leak was actually not true. This was a sackable offence in anyone’s language. Kitching was dropped from tactics. Fearing ongoing leaks to their opponents or media, it was no wonder they restricted her access and contact with her.

As a journalist over many years standing, Savva has frequently reported leaks by anonymous politicians seeking to discredit their leader or colleagues. In any event, Savva conceded that the alleged Kitching leak from Labor’s tactics committee in this instance never happened. Some confusion, surely.  Savva did not produce evidence that Kitching ever leaked anything against her Labor Senate colleagues.

Sabra Lane, Patricia Karvelas & Julia Baird back the Savva Attack

Nevertheless Niki Savva’s attack on the memory of the late Kimberley Kitching was welcomed by some fellow members of the Sisterhood – as the following tweets by Sabra Lane, Patricia Karvelas and Julia Baird reveal – sent at 5.38 am and 5.40 am and 10 am respectively on the same day her article appeared in Nine’s newspapers:

ABC Radio AM, presented by Sabra Lane, did not report the controversy following Kimberley Kitching’s death.  But Ms Lane enthusiastically embraced Niki Savva’s evidence-free and at times contradictory column – and recommended that it should be read by Twitter followers.

So did Dr Julia Baird (of Nine and the ABC) with this tweet:

Nine’s Jenna Price Has the Last Anti-Kitching Say – So Far

Meanwhile on Friday 25 March, Jenna Price, another member of the Sisterhood, weighed in against the late Kimberley Kitching. This is what Dr Price (for a doctor she is) tweeted at 7.51 am:

The reference was to Price’s article in the Canberra Times in which she supported Guy Rundle’s view on the matter, described Kitching as “the poor woman” and condemned “the opportunists who turned up at her funeral” (excluding, no doubt, Comrade Rundle).

However, towards the end of her article, Jenna Price had this to say about the Labor senators whom Kitching depicted as “Mean Girls”:

Look, to be honest, I’d also be anxious about Labor’s Senate leaders [Wong, Keneally & Gallagher]. Bright, imposing, ferocious. I think I would be too frightened to cheat on them. They all have don’t-mess-with-me reputations, and I have journalistic colleagues who have been unhappily on the receiving end of firm feedback late into the night.

Then Dr Price suddenly changed the topic to the 2022 election and how she thinks Prime Minister Scott Morrison is hopeless and so on.  Jenna Price regards the Labor Senate leadership as ferocious.  Yet she has bagged Kimberley Kitching for referring to them as “Mean Girls”.

Does anyone smell a sniff of Media Hypocrisy in the air?



After an unexplained absence towards the end of last year Mark Humphries appears to have returned to semi-regularly producing short sketches for ABC TV’s 7:30. His latest effort featured on the 17 March edition of the program.

Customarily Humphries’ sketches are preceded by a satire warning, with presenter Leigh Sales crediting “satirist Mark Humphries and his co-writer Evan Williams”. However, on this occasion the word satirist was dropped from the introduction. Given what followed, it is possible Ms Sales had already seen the sketch and could not bring herself to describe it as satire.

In theory the sketch concerned the 15 March ruling by the full bench of the Federal Court concerning Environment Minister Sussan Ley. In May 2021, a single justice of the Federal Court had ruled that the Minister had a duty of care to protect Australian children from the future effects of climate change. The full bench unanimously overturned the previous ruling.

Evidently Comrades Humphries & Williams didn’t have much to say about the case because the vast majority of the sketch is taken up by characters listing previous political controversies involving the Federal Government. From the transcript:

Woman: Now I know it has been a rough couple of years for us in the government what with the criticism of our bushfire response, the Hawaii trip, various pandemic bungles, the COVIDSafe app that didn’t work, saying the vaccine rollout wasn’t a race, Kevin Rudd having to get on the phone to Pfizer, under supplying rapid antigen tests, over paying companies with JobKeeper, the aged care crisis, not delivering on our promise of an anti-corruption watchdog, the trade war with China, sports rorts, car park rorts, pissing off the French president

After continuing in this vein for some time, the sketch ends with the character “Woman” informing the characters “Man” and “Man 2” that the government has won the Federal Court case and does not have a duty of care concerning children and climate change. After this there are some slow-motion shots (always useful for padding time) of all three characters celebrating with balloons, party hats and streamers (who says the ABC can’t cut costs?). The sketch then ends having assiduously avoided making any jokes.

For the record the character “Man” is played by Humphries and is, as is the norm for his characters, smug and slimy. MWD has never been able to figure out if this is intentional on Humphries part. “Man 2” is played by the no-longer-boyish Chaser Boy Chris Taylor, presumably because he was hanging around the ABC Ultimo building looking for something to do. The sketch takes place entirely within a plain office meeting room and would have taken perhaps 30 minutes to film, which is around twice the time it would have taken to write.

It ended with Humphries, the “Woman” and one of The Chaser Boys (average age 48 ½) blowing party horns and throwing streamers. Your Taxes at Work.

Mark Humphries & Chris Taylor celebrate a job quickly done.



The ABC has joined with RMIT University in what is called the RMIT ABC Fact Check unit.  A worthy venture, no doubt.  However, Media Watch Dog has long argued that the ABC’s fact-checking resources would be better directed at correcting what are presented as “facts” on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.

Stan Grant presented the ABC TV Q&A program on Thursday 10 March 2022.  One of the panellists was Wendy McCarthy – who was described as an “educator, businesswoman and pioneering feminist”.  Mid-way through the program, she made a comment about when Indigenous women got the vote in Australia.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Wendy McCarthy: …my commitment always is that I want to road-test anything I’m speaking out about in favour of, that it’s not going to harm women – any woman – regardless of where she is. If you’re – I mean, Aboriginal women didn’t get the vote when white women got it. Took ages for them to get it – over 100 years.

Australian women first got the vote in the colony of South Australia in 1894.  Subsequently, after Federation in 1901, women obtained the right to vote in State elections – in Western Australia (1899), New South Wales (1902), Tasmania (1903), Queensland (1905) and Victoria (1908) and retained this right in South Australia.

The Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902 made it possible for Non-Indigenous women to vote in Commonwealth elections – irrespective of whether women could vote in State elections. Consequently, women were entitled to vote in – and stand for election at –  the December 1903 Federal election.  This included Indigenous women who resided in States where they were on the relevant State electoral roll in December 1903 – namely South Australia, NSW and Tasmania and, from 1908, in Victoria. Western Australia and Queensland did not allow Indigenous Australians to vote in State elections until 1962 and 1965 respectively.

In 1962, the Commonwealth Electoral Act was amended to give all Indigenous Australians the right to enrol and vote in Federal elections without regard to State laws.   Consequently, by late 1962 all Indigenous men and women had the right to vote in Commonwealth elections.  1962 is a long way south of the “over 100 years” claim made by Wendy McCarthy on Q&A – by around half a century.

Indeed, Indigenous men and women played an important role, as campaigners and voters, in the 1967 referendum – which could not have been the case if they were unable to vote in 1967.

The 1967 referendum essentially gave the Commonwealth the power to make laws with respect to Aboriginal people wherever they lived in Australia and made it possible to include Aboriginal people in the national census.  The 1967 referendum also repealed Section 127 of the Constitution and deleted parts of Section 51 (xxvi).

The 1967 referendum resulted in 90.1 per cent of the total vote for “Yes” and 9.2 per cent for “No” – obtaining a majority in all six States.  There was another referendum proposal in 1967 on the nexus between the Senate and the House of Representatives which did not succeed.

The role of Indigenous Australians in the 1967 referendum is set out in the book by Bain Attwood and Andrew Markus titled The 1967 Referendum: Or When Aborigines Didn’t Get The Vote. The (perhaps too clever) title was aimed at rejecting the myth that Aborigines first obtained the vote in 1967.

It’s easy to make a mistake on live television – by means of a simple error or by a gross exaggeration.  But it’s also easy to correct howlers in a situation where the ABC publishes transcripts and puts videos on iview.  Perhaps this is a cause which RMIT ABC Fact Check could pursue.

A good start would be to correct Wendy McCarthy’s inaccurate claim that Indigenous Australian women got to vote “over 100 years” after white women.  In fact, in South Australia, they got the right to vote at the same time as white women – and all Indigenous women in all Federal and State elections had the right to vote by 1965 – far less than “over 100 years”.

[As is the case with content in this blog, MWD is willing to correct any error in this or any other segment. – MWD Editor.]




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Until Next Time

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