GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG
ISSUE – NO. 590
3 June 2022
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COMRADES CHARLES FIRTH & BEN ELTHAM ALL STEAMED-UP ABOUT KIRRIBILLI PROPERTY
Charles Firth is now the most prominent of The Chaser Boys (average age 481/2) and is still doing juvenile stunts. His most recent gig was a mock attempt to evict Scott Morrison from his current residence at Kirribilli House in Sydney. The former prime minister appears to have already checked out of The Lodge in Canberra – the main official residence.
“Boy” Firth’s latest stunt commenced with him confronting security staff at Kirribilli House – as the transcript demonstrates:
Charles Firth: Uh, hello, is – is Scott around? Yeah, we’re just, uh, here on behalf of the owners of this property, uh, the people of Australia. And, uh, just need to – the people who are living here are refusing to move out. So, obviously, uh, uh, we’re gonna have to evict him –
Guard: First – First [inaudible].
Charles Firth: So, we will be issuing this, uh, notice of eviction. There we go. There we – [puts notice of eviction on gate].
Guard: That’s not acceptable.
Charles Firth: – there we go. Look at that. Yeah.
Guard: You gonna take that down, right?
Charles Firth: Sorry?
Guard: You’re gonna take that with you?
Charles Firth: [Takes notice down] Well, I – we’ll get it to Jenny. Because apparently, uh, Jenny has a way of clarifying things, so.
Guard: Ok, no worries, you do that mate.
How about that? The patient guard quickly realised this was not a Firth joke – but that Comrade Firth was the joke. Has a middle-aged white guy got nothing better to do – than undertake mock evictions when most Australians are at work?
Charles Firth BA, who co-founded The Chaser Boys in 1999, does not realise that Scott Morrison acted appropriately to the new prime minister by proffering his resignation to the Governor-General on the day after the 21 May election. This contrasts with Bob Hawke, John Howard and Kevin Rudd where there was a 6, 9 and 9 day gap respectively. Morrison’s prompt resignation was undertaken to make it possible for Anthony Albanese to attend the QUAD meeting in Tokyo as Australian prime minister. This was important for Prime Minister Albanese and Australia.
According to reports, Mr Albanese gave Mr Morrison two weeks to vacate Kirribilli House – an agreement which it seems will be met. The Morrison move is a bit complicated because, unlike some previous prime ministers, he has young children.
The leftist academic Ben Eltham has the same observation – without The Chaser Boys’ stunts. On 2 June, Dr Eltham (for a doctor of, wait for it, cultural policy he is) put out the following tweet:
Interested to know the protocol for evicting Morrison from Kirribilli. Does the Usher of the Black Rod turn up with some removal boys or something
— Ben Eltham (@beneltham) June 1, 2022
In his politically cultural ignorance, Comrade Eltham is blissfully unaware that the Black Rod of the House of Representatives has no authority whatsoever with respect to the Commonwealth of Australia’s official residences. Your man Eltham is a lecturer at Monash University.
Q&A ON INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS – A VALUABLE DISCUSSION BUT NO CONSIDERED DEBATE
Unlike other Q&A presenters, Stan Grant appears to have the intellectual authority to quieten the ABC TV program’s leftist baying mob in the audience. And so it was last night where the topic under discussion was “Mabo, a Voice and the Road Ahead”.
All six panellists were worth hearing. Namely Gail Mabo, Aboriginal and Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney, Liberal Party MP Julian Leeser, Shireen Morris, Chris Kenny and Fr Frank Brennan.
It was good to see Frank Brennan back on the taxpayer funded broadcaster. The ABC presenters and producers effectively censored or “cancelled” his recent book Observations on the Pell Proceedings – along with two other books on the Pell Case published after the High Court’s unanimous decision quashed Cardinal Pell’s convictions for historical child sexual abuse. The ABC has entered into a Great Silence on the Pell Case – having previously led the Pell media pile-on.
Chris Kenny made an important point with which Stan Grant agreed. Namely, that there was a lack of diversity of views on the panel last night. Kenny and Grant implied that an effort had been made on this occasion to have some diverse but considered views expressed on the panel – but without success.
The fact is that the ABC has effectively “cancelled” some conservatives – they rarely if ever get invited on the ABC. That’s why so many “debates” on the ABC are, in fact, a manifestation of consensus. What’s more, some conservatives will not go on programs like Q&A and subject themselves to a leftist baying mob in the audience. There is only a downside – and no upside – on such occasions.
Last night’s Q&A demonstrates the ABC’s essential problem with respect to current affairs – the public broadcaster rarely presents a diversity of informed views on contentious issues.
RICHARD FLANAGAN’S ANTI LIBERAL PARTY RANT GETS PRIDE-OF-PLACE IN NINE’S NEWSPAPERS
Lotsa thanks to the avid readers who drew Media Watch Dog’s attention to the article by leftist eco-catastrophist Richard Flanagan published in Nine’s The Age and Sydney Morning Herald on 26 May. It was endorsed by MWD fave Phillip Adams AO, AM, Hon DUniv (Griffith), Hon DLitt (ECU), Hon DUniv (SA), DLitt [sic] (Syd), Hon. DUniv (Macquarie), FRSA, Hon FAHA. Enough said. Here’s how Comrade Flanagan’s article commenced:
As the results rolled in it was difficult to grasp: the Liberals of the 2020s, eerily like the Soviet communists of the 1980s, were suddenly an anachronism. Like the Politburo, they too had become entrapped within their fervent ideologies and grown so distant from reality that they lost the moral legitimacy to govern. Power was now haemorrhaging away in a death agony of lost seats. Morrison was widely credited as the architect of this annihilation. But perhaps he was no more than the sinister final act of a larger story that began decades earlier when John Howard was elected prime minister in 1996.
What a load of absolute tosh. Yet the editors of The Age and SMH (Gay Alcorn and Bevan Shields respectively) decided to not only publish the article but give prominence to this rant which was laden with abuse.
Just as it is foolish to compare contemporary Australia with Nazi Germany in the 1930s and early 1940s – it is also foolish to do the same with the communist Soviet Union from 1917 to 1991.
Sure, the 21 May election was a disaster for the Liberal Party – losing 19 seats all up. It was just a little bit worse than the result in 1946. The Coalition also lost government in 1972, 1983 and 2007. But it was back in office in 1949, 1975, 1996 and 2013 respectively. Labor also recovered from losing office in 1949, 1975, 1996 and 2013.
But it’s just a rant for Flanagan – who appears to hate former Liberal Party prime ministers from John Howard to Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison – to claim that the impact of John Howard has resulted in the Liberal Party becoming an anachronism.
For starters, John Howard won elections in 1996, 1998, 2001 and 2004. Sure, Scott Morrison suffered a big defeat on 21 May. But the Coalition won 48.3 per cent of the national two-party preferred vote to Labor’s 51.7 per cent. Also, the Coalition’s primary vote was 36 per cent compared to Labor’s 32.7 per cent.
In the 1980s and early 1990s, the Soviet Union totally collapsed and the nations which comprised it went their own way, including Russia, where Bolsheviks came to power in 1917. The collapse of a nation that is a dictatorship is not comparable with the defeat of a political party in a democracy. Comrade Flanagan should be able to do better than this.
And then there was the Flanagan hyperbole. According to the Sage of Hobart Town, “Howardism resembled a degenerative disease” which “transferred into a terminal cancer”. Moreover, he referred to a person “allegedly being raped ten metres away from the Prime Minister’s office” – he did not state that the alleged assault took place after midnight on a Saturday morning when Prime Minister Morrison was not in Parliament House and the PMO was closed.
And Flanagan alleged that the Howard/Abbott/Morrison governments turned the Order of Australia into “a currency now more debased than the Iranian rial”. Bollocks. Awards in the Order of Australia are presided over by the Governor-General, completely independent of the prime minister of the day.
Your man Flanagan is a fine writer (of novels) and his piece would have worked out well in, say, the Green Left Weekly or the avowedly leftist Guardian Australia (where The Age’s current editor used to work). But it got a serious run in what Nine regards as its “Independent Always” leading newspapers. Can You Bear It?
Q+A PROMOTION BACK-FIRES BY DEPICTING ITS LEFT-WING AUDIENCE BAYING MOB IN FULL FLIGHT
According to ABC TV Q+A presenter David (“Call me Speersy”) Speers, each week the program’s audience (aka the baying mob) is equally divided between the Coalition, Labor, Independents (including Greens) and Undecideds. Speersy has not stated how the ABC achieves such an allegedly balanced audience. Does it seek outside help to poll potential audience members? Or does it simply believe what the potential audience members state as to how they vote? Or did Speersy just make this up?
The truth is – we don’t know, since the ABC will not tell us. However, anyone who (still) watches Q+A would notice that the audience – especially when the program is filmed in Melbourne – invariably resembles a baying mob cheering for The Greens or green-aligned Independents and booing or mocking Coalition politicians or the occasional conservative who appears on the panel.
If anyone wants to check this out, have a look at the ABC’s recent promotion for the program – where Comrade Speers presented highlights of Q+A that aired on 26 May. The panel comprised Teal (so-called) Independent Monique Ryan, Liberal Party Senator Andrew Bragg, Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi, Labor MP Amanda Rishworth and former Coalition foreign minister Alexander Downer. Let’s go to the transcript:
David Speers: Every Thursday on Q+A, your questions get the nation talking:
Monique Ryan: Why do we have to be held to account for the mess [pointing to Senator Bragg] that the Morrison government has left? [Audience cheers wildly] – [Extract from Q+A on 26 May]
David Speers: And you never know what might happen:
Andrew Bragg: Thank goodness [speaking to Senator Faruqi] you’re not running the government.
Mehreen Faruqi: Well, you’re not running it either anymore. [Audience cheers wildly]. – [Extract from Q+A on 26 May]
So there you have it. When promoting Q+A on ABC TV, Comrade Speers boasted about highlights from a previous program which showed Dr Ryan and Senator Faruqi bagging a Liberal Party parliamentarian as the baying mob cheered them on. And Speersy reckons that Q+A is always balanced. Can You Bear It?
STEVE CAREY ARGUES FOR MORE WOMEN IN THE LIBERAL PARTY BUT GETS LIBERAL PARTY DEPUTY LEADER SUSSAN LEY’S NAME WRONG
Jackie’s male co-owner identifies as a modern-day feminist – albeit of the masculine disposition. So on 30 May he looked forward to former journalist Steve Carey – who metamorphosed into a public relations consultant [Don’t they all? MWD Editor] doing the Newspapers gig on ABC TV’s News Breakfast since he appears to also be a male feminist. Lisa Millar and Michael Rowland were the co-presenters and the issue of politics was on the agenda.
Your man Carey led off discussing the lead story in the Sydney Morning Herald – that Prime Minister Anthony Albanese had decided to increase the number of women in the Labor government’s cabinet. Carey then moved to discuss the matter of women in the Liberal Party and the Nationals.
Let’s go to the transcript where the (male) feminist takes up the need for more women in senior positions in the Liberal Party:
Steve Carey: So very interesting time in Canberra at the moment. You’ve got leadership for the Liberals, or what’s left of the Liberals, with Peter Dutton probably going to be unopposed with Sussan Levy (sic) [as his deputy]…. So interesting times in Canberra.
Michael Rowland: It’s all going on indeed, and I’m glad you raised the issue of women. …And, gee, if the Liberal Party didn’t have a women problem before the election, it’s certainly got a women disaster now in terms of even smaller numbers of female women in parliament. A big problem that Peter Dutton really has to address.
Steve Carey: Yeah, that’s exactly right, Michael. And I think that’s going to be, you know, front and centre for him. I mean, that’s why Sussan Levy (sic) is clearly going to be his deputy. Let’s see what they can do….
Yeah, let’s see. Timely advice, to be sure. The only problem is that on two occasions Steve Carey, when arguing the case for more women in senior Liberal Party positions, referred to Sussan Ley (the former Coalition minister for the environment) as “Sussan Levy” – without being corrected immediately by Comrades Rowland and Millar. It was only at the end of the segment that the following exchange took place – possibly after the presenters were advised of the howler by the producer.
Lisa Millar: Hey early on a Monday morning, Steve, so I’m not going to hold this against you. But Sussan Ley, I think you’re saying Levy.
Steve Carey: Yep, sorry.
Lisa Millar: No, no, and we make you get up so early to chat to us on a Monday. So you, you are 10 out of 10 all the time, anyway. Hey, let’s move on to the front of the Herald Sun…
Sure, Steve Carey apologised. But only after accusing the Liberals of having a women problem when he himself did not know the name of the Liberal Party’s most senior female parliamentarian. Still, as Lisa Millar declared, it was a ten out of ten effort. Can You Bear It?
TEAL INDEPENDENT JO DYER GOES FOURTH IN BOOTHBY
While on the topic of women in politics, there was enormous interest in last week’s issue of MWD which revealed that the leftist Jane Caro had failed in her attempt to become a senator for NSW at the 2022 election. Comrade Caro came in 11th place on the primary vote – with a score of 0.6 per cent.
It would seem, alas, that Comrade Caro did not get much support from that half of the Australian electorate who preferred the Coalition over Labor in the May 2019 election. In a late-night tweet, after it was apparent the Coalition had won, she called this group “truculent turds”. The 2022 NSW Senate election was a case of “The Revenge of the Truculent Turds”.
The absence of Jane Caro on the red benches of the Senate will be a devastating blow for what the Sandalista Set presents as the progressive cause.
Now, let’s consider the case of Jo Dyer, a fave among some ABC journalists for the campaign she waged in recent times against former Liberal Party attorney-general Christian Porter. As MWD readers know only too well, Comrade Dyer was the director of the 2022 Adelaide Writers’ Week which turned out to be yet another left-wing stack. Why Comrade Dyer’s line-up of writing talent even included Comrade Dyer herself. Re which see MWD 574, 4 February 2022.
Like Jane Caro, Comrade Jo Dyer – a dual Australian-British citizen – renounced her British citizenship to run for parliament in the 2022 election, contesting the seat of Boothby in Adelaide – previously held by the Liberal Party’s Nicolle Flint who did not contest the 2022 election. Jo Dyer finished fourth on the primary vote – behind Labor’s Louise Miller-Frost, the Liberal Party’s Rachel Swift and the Greens’ Jeremy Carter.
Jo Dyer is the author of the recently published Burning Down the House: Reconstructing Modern Politics (Monash University Press) which is critical of both Labor and the Coalition and proclaims the cause of Independents. And so it came to pass that Comrade Dyer ran as a Teal “Voices of” candidate for the House of Representatives – but only 6.5 per cent of the good people of Boothby supported her calls to burn down the house (in the figurative sense) and build something anew. Can You Bear It?
NINE’S PETER FITZSIMONS FORGETS THAT HE REGARDS GOD AS A “MAGIC SKY DADDY” WHEN INTERVIEWING BELIEVER KRISTINA KENEALLY
Being well brought up – albeit a long time ago – Gerard Henderson AC (aka Always Courteous) is not inclined to jump on graves, as the saying goes. In his Weekend Australian column on 30 April, Hendo stated that in its focus on the Simon Holmes à Court (so-called) Teal Independents – the ABC had all but neglected the campaign of (genuine) Independent Dai Le in the Labor seat of Fowler in Western Sydney. It continued to all but ignore Ms Le – until the morning after the election night before.
As it turned out, Dai Le defeated senior Labor Party operative Kristina Keneally – who had been parachuted into Fowler from her home base on Scotland Island in Sydney’s North Shore.
On 29 May, Peter FitzSimons – the Red Bandannaed One – interviewed Ms Keneally for his “5 Minutes with Fitz” column, which appears each week in Nine’s Sun Herald. Now since KK suffered a devastating loss and will not be a senior minister in the Albanese Labor government, MWD does not intend to criticise the reasons she gave to Fitz for her Fowler defeat. That would be grave jumping. Rather, MWD wants to draw attention to this part of the Fitz/KK interview:
KK: Every time in my life, when something unexpected, unplanned and unfortunate has happened, something unpredictable and extraordinary has followed. I have found in my life that when God shuts the door, she opens a window and I’m just waiting to see what window might open this time.
Fitz: Is it possible the window that opens for you will lead into the Vatican, that you, like Tim Fischer once did, will become Australia’s ambassador to the Holy See?
KK: When he was prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull offered it to me once already.
Fitz: Why didn’t you grab it?
KK: I told him, thank you, but my children are settled in their high school, and they need their mum to be here for them.
So your man Fitz did not take umbrage at the fact that Kristina Keneally – who presents as a Catholic – believes in the Christian concept of God. This is the same Fitz who in the Sydney Morning Herald on 30 March 2016 referred to religion as a “freaking minefield” and to God as “a Magic Sky Daddy”.
And this is the very same Fitz who – in his Sun Herald column on 15 May 2022 – interviewed Andrew Denton and described the Catholic Church’s opposition to euthanasia as “nuts”. The FitzSimons/Denton exchange gave the false impression that only Christians in general and Catholics in particular are opposed to euthanasia. This is fake news.
So there you have it. The sneering secularist FitzSimons mocks Christianity when it is espoused by such Christian fundamentalists as footballers Israel Folau or Will Hopoate or mainstream Catholics like Archbishop Anthony Fisher. But there is no problem at all if Kristina Keneally expresses her belief in God, because she’s a political mate of the man who wore a red rag on his head for a decade – until, apparently, it needed a wash and was lost in the local laundry.
NO DEBATE ON RN SATURDAY EXTRA ABOUT THE LIBERAL PARTY AS GREG BARNS AGREES WITH JUDITH BRETT IN A LEFT-OF-CENTRE KIND OF WAY
Did anyone listen to the session titled “The Liberal Party’s Move to the Right” which aired on ABC Radio National’s Saturday Extra on 28 May? As usual, Geraldine Doogue was in the presenter’s chair. Her guests were Greg Barns (who was identified as a barrister, author and former adviser to Liberal ministers and leaders) and Judith Brett (who was identified as an historian and author of Australian Liberals and the Moral Middle Class).
Media Watch Dog regards Geraldine Doogue as one of the ABC’s best interviewers. But it is the executive producer, not the presenter, of Saturday Extra (in this case Skye Doherty) and other ABC programs who lines up panellists. And the Liberal Party segment on Saturday Extra was, to say the least, a bit of an unbalanced shocker – as befits the taxpayer funded broadcaster as a Conservative Free Zone.
The problem turned on the fact that Greg Barns SC and Professor Judith Brett are critics of the Liberal Party of Australia and have been for eons. Sure, Barns was introduced by Geraldine Doogue as someone who “was disendorsed as a Liberal candidate in 2002”. This occurred when attempting to stand as a Liberal Party candidate in the Tasmanian State Parliament. But Doogue did not mention that Barns is a one-time member of the left-of-centre Democrats Party and that he is the author of What’s Wrong with the Liberal Party?
It’s true, as Doogue said, that Brett is “well-known to RN listeners” and that she has “written quite widely on the Liberal Party”. But it is also true that she is a left-of-centre academic who was a one-time co-editor of the leftist Arena Magazine – along with Crikey’s Guy Rundle. As avid readers know, Comrade Rundle is MWD’s fave Marxist comedian.
Introducing the segment, Geraldine Doogue declared that, with respect to the Liberal Party, Barns and Brett were “coming from different perspectives”. Not so. Both are vehement critics of the contemporary Liberal Party – especially such recent leaders as John Howard, Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison.
In short, Saturday Extra did not provide any debate about the Liberal Party. Certainly, Barns has particular knowledge of the Liberal Party and warranted a place on the panel. But this is not the case with Brett. There are a number of female historians/ commentators who could have taken Brett’s place – if they were available – including, in alphabetical order, Janet Albrechtsen, Caroline Di Russo, Georgina Downer, Margaret Fitzpatrick, Anne Henderson, Parnell McGuinness, Jennifer Oriel and Gemma Tognini. None follow the Liberal Party line – but none are predictably left-of-centre in the Brett mould.
It’s possible that some of the women listed above might have refused to go on the ABC while others may have been “cancelled” by the taxpayer funded public broadcaster. However, it’s likely one could have been engaged to provide some balance to the segment.
Judith Brett’s main contribution to the discussion was to describe the Morrison Government as “probably the most incompetent government in my lifetime”. Clearly, she regards Gough Whitlam’s government as more competent than the government led by Scott Morrison. Brett’s comment was an assertion about the Morrison government and was unsupported by evidence or even argument.
As it turned out, Barns essentially agreed with Brett who essentially agreed with Barns who essentially agreed with Brett – you know the story. It was as boring as watching grass grow.
Greg Barns criticised the Liberal Party going back to John Howard’s leadership – without mentioning that Howard led the Coalition to four election victories while Abbott and Morrison presided over one victory each while winning seats from Labor. Neither Doogue, Barns nor Brett mentioned Malcolm Turnbull – who as Liberal leader lost 14 seats to Labor’s Bill Shorten at the 2016 election. But Doogue and Barns praised a column by Zoe Daniel (The Australian, 10 May 2022) – the successful Teal Independent in the affluent Melbourne seat of Goldstein.
The “highlights” of the Saturday Extra segment included:
- Greg Barns claimed that “whilst you’ve got a few small ‘l’ Liberal people who are still members of the party, it’s predominantly now a right-wing populist party”. Barns did not reflect on the fact that, in the 2022 election, Teal Independents – who were effectively supported by Malcolm Turnbull – defeated such leading “moderate” Liberal MPs as Jason Falinski, Josh Frydenberg, Dave Sharma, Tim Wilson and Trent Zimmerman. In other words, the Teal Independents are primarily responsible for the fact that the number of influential moderates in the Liberal Party Room has diminished significantly since the 2022 election.
- Judith Brett claimed that when Labor leader Gough Whitlam won the 1972 election he brought over to Labor’s side “a democratic cohort of educated young people” – implying that there is a division in Australia between the “educated” and the “uneducated” – rather than a division between those with higher education and those without. Somewhat elitist don’t you think?
- And Dr Brett (for a doctor she is) had this to say:
Judith Brett: I think the really hard-edged partisanships that we – we’ve seen since Howard, but it’s really an extreme under Abbott, where we saw the Liberal Party shift away from policies it accepted. Um, for example, on negative gearing, doing something there once Labor accepted it, because – and – and much of the debate, or the noise around the failed – various failed energy policies was: “This is going to make us look too much like the Labor Party”.
What on earth does this mean? Sure the Saturday Extra segment was devoted to “the Liberal Party’s Move to the Right”. But MWD was more interested in “Judith Brett’s Move to Verbal Sludge”.
[Good finish. Perhaps you should give Comrade Brett “The Flann O’Brien Gong for Literary and Verbal Sludge”. – MWD Editor.]
As avid readers are well aware, a certain William (Bill) Thompson – who identifies as the ABC’s Southbank Correspondent – set up the “Outside Insiders” video segment some years ago. This is a print edition of the Bill Thompson initiative to report on the ABC TV Insiders program.
DAVID SPEERS’ UNBALANCED INTERRUPTION STYLE – WILL IT CONTINUE UNDER AUSTRALIA’S NEW POLITICAL ORDER?
Could it be that the political change that swept across Australia’s “wide brown land” (except when it’s a wide green land, like now) on 21 May has changed the interview style of David (“Oh yes, I’m the Great Interrupter”) Speers? You be the judge of the ABC TV Insiders presenter’s recent form:
- On 1 May 2022, Speersy (as he likes to be called) interviewed Coalition Finance Minister Simon Birmingham. Speersy interrupted the Coalition senator on 34 occasions during a 16 minute interview.
- On 29 May 2022, Speersy interviewed Labor Finance Minister Senator Katy Gallagher. He interrupted Senator Gallagher on only 4 occasions during a 15 minute and 22 second interview.
Yes indeed. However, the softest Insiders interview occurred when your man Speers interviewed Greens’ leader Adam Bandt on 13 June 2021. See MWD 9 July 2021. Chris Mitchell wrote in The Australian on 20 June 2021 that this was a tame interview: “Famous for interrupting his guests, Speers gave Bandt a free run.”
Stay tuned for further reports on The Great Interrupter.
THE ABC CONTINUES TO MISREPORT ON CANADIAN UNMARKED GRAVES
On Wednesday 1 June, ABC TV’s 7:30 ran a story by ABC North America correspondent Barbara Miller concerning historical abuse of indigenous children at residential schools. Within the report, Ms Miller made the following claim:
Barbara Miller: It took the discovery of more than 200 unmarked graves on the grounds of a former residential school at Kamloops in British Columbia to finally open Canada’s eyes to a disturbing truth – thousands of the kids never made it home from the residential schools.
Later in the report she repeated the claim that unmarked graves had been found at Kamloops.
Barbara Miller: Since the discovery of unmarked graves at Kamloops, the grounds of former residential schools across Canada have become potential crime scenes.
On 27 May 2021, First Nation Chief Rosanne Casimir announced that a survey of an apple orchard had been conducted on the grounds of the Kamloops Indian Residential School. The school was once the largest residential school in Canada and had previously been run by the Catholic Church before being taken over by the federal government. Previously a child’s rib bone had been found in the area by a tourist and there was apparently a widespread belief among the local indigenous community that unmarked graves were located at the school.
The survey, conducted using ground-penetrating radar by anthropologist Sarah Beaulieu, had found disruptions in the soil which could potentially indicate unmarked graves. Initially Dr Beaulieu estimated that 215 bodies could be located beneath the orchard, though excavation would be necessary to confirm the presence of human remains. On 15 July 2021, she revised this estimate down to 200 and noted that they should only be considered “probable burials” or “targets of interest” until an excavation could take place. Excavation has not yet commenced on the site.
Despite the caution expressed by Dr Beaulieu, many media reports treated the presence of large number of children’s bodies as a fact. On 30 May 2021, RN Breakfast featured an interview with York University’s Ravi de Costa about the findings. Here is how Fran Kelly introduced the interview:
Fran Kelly: Canada is mourning the deaths of more than 200 children after a gruesome discovery of remains on the site of what was once the country’s largest indigenous residential school. The Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia held children taken from Indigenous families across Canada. It was all part of a national assimilation policy. Radar was used to confirm the location of remains of 215 children, some as young as three years old.
At no point during the interview did Fran Kelly let the audience know there was any doubt about the discovery. Towards the end of the interview, she offered up another description of the finding:
Fran Kelly: This mass grave of 215 children was found through what’s described as ground-penetrating radar.
Fran Kelly was not alone in referring to the finding as a “mass grave”. The initial New York Times story about the findings featured the headline:
‘Horrible History’: Mass Grave of Indigenous Children Reported in Canada
The term “mass grave” is generally used to describe sites where many bodies have been quickly buried together, usually following a battle, massacre, or disease outbreak. If there are in fact unmarked graves at the Kamloops school, they would have been placed there over the decades the school was in operation. In other words, an unmarked graveyard, not a mass grave.
The announcement was followed by an outpouring of anger and grief in Canada, with impromptu public memorials taking place at government buildings and churches. On 30 May 2021, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ordered flags on Canadian government buildings lowered to half-mast until further notice. They would remain lowered until 7 November when they were raised so that they could be lowered again on 8 November for Indigenous Veterans Day, before being raised again on 9 November and lowered again on 11 November for Remembrance Day.
In June and July 2021 there were a series of arson attacks on churches in Canada with many being burnt to the ground.
In the months after the Kamloops discovery, several other stories concerning Canadian gravesites attracted media attention.
In June 2021, it was reported that 751 unmarked graves had been found at a former residential school in Saskatchewan. On 8 July 2021, Justin Trudeau travelled to the site and was pictured kneeling above where a body had been located, holding a teddy bear. However, in this case, ground-penetrating radar had been brought in to pinpoint the location of remains in an established Catholic graveyard, after some of the headstones and crosses had gone missing.
Another story from June 2021 involved 182 unmarked graves being discovered near a residential school in British Columbia. The reality was that a single body has been disturbed during construction near a golf course and casino owned by the local tribe. Radar had subsequently been used to detect the location of graves where the wooden crosses used to mark the grave had rotted away.
After the Kamloops discovery an excavation was conducted at the site of a former Indian hospital in Alberta. Ground-penetrating radar had identified 34 possible burial sites and there were persistent rumours about patients being buried in unmarked graves. All 34 sites marked by radar were excavated with no remains found.
There were certainly many cases of abuse and mistreatment at Canadian residential schools. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which ran from 2008 to 2015, documented this at great length. However, at this point no bodies have been definitively discovered at the Kamloops school and there was almost certainly never a mass grave in the orchard grove at the school. Excavation of the site may eventually reveal an unmarked graveyard at the school but until then exaggerating the findings only increases the distress felt in Canada and around the world.
In April 2015 Australia experienced a similar, though much smaller scale, version of this story. Two women who had lived at a Catholic orphanage in Ballarat claimed to have heard rumours of children’s bodies being buried on the grounds of the orphanage. Victoria Police were called in to excavate the site and found no remains. The ABC reported on the women’s claims and the planned excavation. The ABC did not publish a follow-up story when no bodies were found.
Nine’s Shane Wright has risen without trace (as the late Kitty Muggeridge once said about the late David Frost) to become the senior economic correspondent for The Age and Sydney Morning Herald – not having published anything of note apart from newspaper articles and columns. Even so, you would expect a person in such an elevated position to know something about the international energy market.
It’s only a few years since your man Wright ridiculed anyone who said that coal had any future as a part of energy supply – even in such markets as India, China and Indonesia. He declared on ABC TV Insiders on 11 June 2017 that “coal is like candlesticks” and compared those who said that there is still a demand for Australian coal exports with members of the Candle Makers Union circa 1870 who (allegedly) argued the case for candles over electricity. By the way, India’s Minister for Coal and Mines, Pralhad Joshi, recently announced that India has “registered a 30 per cent growth in coal production” as a ”growing nation as ours needs energy for its people and industries”. It would seem that Mr Joshi does not read Nine newspapers.
GERMANY LOOKS TO COAL (NOT CANDLE-STICKS) TO RESOLVE POTENTIAL ENERGY CRISIS – AND MORE BESIDES
Here’s an update on Comrade Wright’s 2017 statement that coal today is like candlesticks in the late 19th Century.
On 24 May, Bloomberg’s Arne Delfs wrote an article titled “Germany to Bring Back Coal Power Plants if Russia Cuts Gas”. It commenced as follows:
Germany plans to bring back coal and oil-fired power plants should Russia cut off natural gas shipments to Europe’s largest economy. Economy Minister Robert Habeck will on Tuesday present an emergency decree enabling the government to bring back the facilities in case of gas shortages, according to the proposed legislation seen by Bloomberg. Germany is resorting to desperate measures to keep the lights on and its massive industrial parks running, turning to dirty fuels even if that means a surge in carbon emissions. The nation has almost six gigawatts of facilities that are currently part of a national reserve, many of which were supposed to be closed down as part of the coal phase-out plan.
MWD has not come across any evidence that Germany – following The Thought of Shane Wright – is contemplating resolving its emerging energy crisis by stock-piling candlesticks.
Meanwhile at a media conference in Canberra on 2 June, Chris Bowen (the Minister for Climate Change and Energy) said that the Albanese government “will take any action to ensure proper gas supply”. The Minister added that he is “not going to start unnecessarily demonising particular people or particular sectors”. This has been interpreted by News Corp newspapers as indicating that the Australian government may work with industries to increase coal power production. Minister Bowen did not include candle-sticks as among the sensible and measured action he might take to reduce the current energy crisis.
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Meanwhile, on ABC Radio National Breakfast on 2 June, Joshua Stabler (managing director of Energy Edge) said that some of Australia’s current energy supply problems are partly caused by the fact that “rooftop solar, solar on people’s roofs, is down 25 per cent because there’s a lot of clouds” in recent times and on the fact that “there’s low wind generation”. RN Breakfast presenter Patricia Karvelas did not comment on Mr Stabler’s analysis. It’s not the kind of news about renewables ABC presenters want to hear early in the morning – or, indeed, at any other time.
Due to overwhelming popular demand and following “advice” from MWD’s editor, the Flann O’Brien Gong returns again this week. As avid MWD readers will be aware, this occasional segment is inspired by the Irish humourist Brian O’Nolan (1911-1966) – nom de plume Flann O’Brien – and, in particular, his critique of the sometimes incoherent poet Ezra Pound. By the way, your man O’Brien also had the good sense not to take seriously Eamon de Valera (1882-1975), the Fianna Fail politician and dreadful bore who was prime minister and later president of Ireland for far too long.
The Flann O’Brien Gong for Literary or Verbal Sludge is devoted to outing bad writing or incomprehensible prose or incoherent verbal expression or the use of pretentious words.
JUDITH BRETT THROWS THE SWITCH TO INCOMPREHENSION
As avid readers of today’s ABC Update segment will be aware, Judith Brett got into a verbal tangle when bagging the Liberal Party on RN’s Saturday Extra (28 May). Here is the view of Jackie (Dip. Wellness, The Gunnedah Institute):
By Flann O’Brien
of Ezra Pound
My grasp of what he wrote and meant
Was only five or six %
The rest was only words and sound —
My reference is to Ezra £
Inspired by your man O’Brien, this is Jackie’s literary effort for today:
of Judith Brett
My grasp of what she said or meant
Was only four or five per cent
The rest was tosh and oh-so-wet
The reference is to Comrade Brett
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Until Next Time.
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