ISSUE – NO. 592

17 June 2022

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It would seem that the ABC has missed one of the media’s BIG STORIES of the year (so far). In Nine newspapers today, Matthew Knott cites Justin Stevens – the ABC’s recently appointed  Director News, Analysis and Investigations – as making a “heartfelt apology” for the existence of bigotry and racism at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.

Apparently Justin Stevens told ABC employees in an email (presumably leaked to Matthew Knott) that he has received the findings of an internal advisory group which explored the experiences of culturally and linguistically diverse ABC staff, including Indigenous employees.

According to the report, Mr Stevens referred to the “toxic behaviour” experienced by some ABC staff within the ABC.  There are references to verbal and written abuse and more besides.  Moreover, ABC reporter Jason Om, an Australian  of Cambodian heritage, put out these tweets yesterday:

How about that?  Mr Stevens was executive producer of 7.30 for many years – the ABC’s leading current affairs program. Yet he and his colleagues were so busy reporting the alleged racism and culturally insensitive behaviour of others, that the ABC’s own toxic behaviour was overlooked.

To quote Matthew 7.5 (Douay version):

Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam in thy own eye, and then shalt thou see to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

What a shame that members of the ABC soviet, who are so willing to condemn the alleged bad behaviour of others, did not cover the ABC’s own failings in this regard.

By the way, the ABC’s midday news bulletin did not report the comments of Justin Stevens or Jason Om. Quelle Surprise!


On ABC News on 16 June, presenter Juanita Phillips read the following report about the final result of the Senate election in Tasmania:

Juanita Phillips: Liberal power broker, Eric Abetz, has lost his seat after 28 years in the Senate. The party relegated him to an unwinnable third position on its ticket in Tasmania. During his time in parliament, Mr Abetz was well known as a conservative Christian, with hard right views on social issues….

So there you have it.  According to the ABC, during his time in parliament Senator Abetz was known as a conservative Christian, with hard right views on social issues.  That’s all apparently – despite the fact that he held senior ministerial positions and was, for a time, leader of the government in the Senate. Moreover, Senator Abetz lost the Senate position to the Jacqui Lambie Party’s candidate despite receiving a very high below-the-line personal vote.

Meanwhile in The Age today, Annika Smethurst had this to say about the relationship between Victorian Labor premier Daniel Andrews and NSW Coalition premier Dominic Perrottet:

Buoyed by Canberra’s diminished authority during the pandemic, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet have formed an unlikely alliance to push for transformational reforms to health funding, tax and childcare.

On paper, it would seem unworkable. Andrews is a progressive premier from Labor’s Socialist Left faction and Perrottet, a conservative Catholic from the Liberal party’s right. But their desire to be bold political reformers trumps rigid ideology.

It’s true that Premier Perrottet was educated in a Catholic school system – Oakhill College in Castle Hill and Redfield College in Dural.  But Daniel Andrews was educated in the Catholic school system too – Galen Catholic College in Wangaratta and he later boarded at the Catholic residential Mannix College on the Monash University campus.

It seems that the ABC and Nine is obsessed with the religious stance of conservatives – but not of others.


This is how Virginia Trioli promoted the Q+A program on 16 June titled “Australia’s Energy Crisis”, which she presented that very night. The panellists were Energy Minister Chris Bowen, Independent MP Zoe Daniel, scientist Saul Griffith, Australian Energy Council chief executive Sarah McNamara and the Grattan Institute’s Tony Wood:

All the panellists performed well in presenting their respective positions.  But, as is the case with most ABC programs these days, there was little debate and virtually no disagreement. What was missing was a panellist who took a dissenting view on how Australia should tackle climate change.  These days a viewer is likely to find far more disagreement on a Sky News panel than on the ABC.

Among the interesting observations was Tony Wood’s agreement with Sarah McNamara that there has been “a very strong transition towards renewable energy in this country”.  And then there was Saul Griffith’s seemingly optimistic claim that “the majority of batteries” in time will be parked “in our driveways”.  Many Australian households do not have driveways.

According to La Trioli, the audience contained the members of two university “energy clubs”. Which, no doubt, explains why the left-of-centre Teal Independent Zoe Daniel received the most enthusiastic applause.

Q+A audiences continue to lack balance – as do most of its panels.

Can You Bear It?


While on the topic of Q&A, this is what Sydney Morning Herald columnist and Australian National University academic Jenna Price tweeted not long after the (somewhat boring) Q&A program went to air on 9 June:

Which raises the question.  Is anyone still watching ABC TV’s The Drum on which Dr Price (for a doctor she is) appears every now and then?  Take the program which aired on 9 June – just a few hours before Q&A  went to air that very night.

In a highly self-opinionated manner, Comrade Price referred to the Coalition government – during the prime ministerships of Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison – as “the dismal nine years we’re never going to speak about again”. Oh yeah.  Comrade Price mentioned the Morrison government in her column as recently as 15 June.

Soon after, she told The Drum viewers (if viewers there were) that the Energy Ministers’ meeting held the previous Wednesday filled her “with hope and lightness of being”.  Really. The learned doctor went on to describe how she had experienced “tremendous guilt retrospectively” about having driven for some years in her gas-guzzler “little red petrol car”.  She has now bought a hybrid.  Well done. That’s something we all need to know about – to wit, Jenna Price’s (latent) virtue.

Sure, The Drum on 9 June was not as boring as the Q&A program that came after it.  But it was near enough.  Which raises the question: Can You Bear It?


While on the topic of the Sydney Morning Herald  and The Drum MWD notes that Julia Baird (aka Dr Julia Baird), who is a SMH  columnist and co-presenter of The Drum, was in the news of late.

On 13 June, Angira Bharadwaj reported in the Daily Telegraph about a three-day training event to be held by the NSW Secondary Principals’ Council at the Novotel Wollongong, North Beach at which Julia Baird was a keynote speaker.

The seminar had the theme “phosphorescence” (really) and there were presentations of  “finding your light” and “rekindling your flame” plus choosing one’s “own adventure”.  Oh yes, there was also a session on “Climate Change” held near Wollongong Beach – despite rising sea levels and all that.

According to the overview on the event’s website:

The theme for 2022 focuses on phosphorescence: trails of “light and wonder” on the power of public schools and the luminosity of school leadership.

“How do we continue to glow when the lights turn out?”

All we can do really is keep placing one foot on the earth, then the other, to seek out ancient paths and forests, certain in the knowledge that others have endured before us. We must love. And we must look outwards and upwards at all times, caring for others, seeking wonder and stalking awe, every day, to find the magic that will sustain us and fuel the light within — our own phosphorescence.

– Julia Baird

This is you-beaut advice, when you think about it. After all, it’s surely safer to place one foot on the earth and then the other – rather than, say, two feet at a time both clad in Roman sandals.  Yet this is what Dr Baird has been banging on about since her book Phosphorescence was published by Fourth Estate in 2019. Can You Bear It? [By the way, contrary to the learned doctor’s view, don’t some jellyfish glow in the dark?  – MWD Editor.]


MWD is continually surprised that the much touted CBD column in The Age  and Sydney Morning Herald appears to be of scant interest to the men and women who work in the Central Business Districts of Melbourne and Sydney.

Take the CBD column of 19 June, compiled by Kishor Napier-Raman and Noel Towell, for example.  It contained the hold-the-front-page “news” that Phil Gaetjens, the former head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, had declared that he received two tickets to the second day of the Australia v England Test match at the Sydney  Cricket Ground last January.  Big deal, eh?

You could barely walk down Collins Street or Pitt Street on 19 June without hearing the leaders of society discussing CBD’s huge scoop about the man CBD calls “Philly G” – how clever is that?  But there was more.  According to CBD, Mr Gaetjens was also gifted “a handcrafted picture frame along with a mother-of-pearl craft pencil case” And CBD believes that such trivial gossip is newsy. Can You Bear It?


Thank God, Bloomsday is over and we will all get back to contemplating the End of the World (aka Doomsday).

As avid Media Watch Dog readers know only too well, 16 June 1904 is the day your man Leopold Bloom walked the streets of Dublin while his wife Molly was having it off with some chap.  The reference is to James Joyce’s 1922 novel Ulysses.  Your man Joyce’s tome has been judged one of the 100 best English language novels of the 20th Century – even though it is almost impossible to find anyone who has read it from cover to cover.

When reporting on Bloomsday 2022, in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald on 11 June, Helen Pitt quoted Professor Ronan McDonald of Melbourne University as saying of Ulysses: “I don’t think there is a book of the 20th Century that has been so often bought and not read; everybody knows it but no-one really reads it.” Quite so.

The only problem is that Ms Pitt’s article included this somewhat gratuitous advice titled: “Five steps to reading Ulysses”.

▪ Read it aloud and reread it.

▪ Take your time (years, not months).

▪ Start at chapter four.

▪ Try to read it without trying to understand it on first go. Let go of the bits you don’t understand.

▪ Skip the boring parts and go straight to the racy final chapter of Molly Bloom’s sexual musings….

How good is that?  The best way to read – or pretend to read – Ulysses is either (i) start at Episode 4 or (ii) start at Episode 18 – the final chapter, sometimes called Molly Bloom’s soliloquy.

Meanwhile on 11 June, The Weekend Australian published an article by Gabrielle Carey titled “Mr Tellibly Divilcult” – a Joycean reference of James Joyce’s prose style by some clever sub-editors.  It seems that Ms Carey first “read” Ulysses  when her “patient husband read [it] aloud every Sunday morning from the comfort of our warm bed” in the early 1980s.

It would seem that Ms Carey and her husband spent a lot of Sunday mornings in bed in the early 1980s.  After all, there are around some 265,000 words in Ulysses. If Ms Carey’s husband read it to her for one hour every Sunday morning – they would have completed Ulysses in around 34 Sundays.

Gabrielle Carey, who describes herself as “a part-time writer and a full-time Joycean”, concluded her article as follows:

This year, like many others, I am re-reading Ulysses – aloud – with a group of fellow Joyce junkies around my kitchen table.  We start with strong tea and end with wine. In between there are lots of laughs.  And I suspect that’s precisely how Joyce would want to be remembered.

So there you have it. Comrade Carey reckons that your man Joyce would want to be remembered by a soviet of self-proclaimed sandal-wearing Joyceans sitting around her kitchen table – starting with tea and ending with wine.  How precious can a Joycean get?  More importantly – Can You Bear It?

[Er, no. Not really – now that you ask.  I have always believed that one of the problems with the incomprehensible Joyce was that he was educated by the Irish Jesuits in Dublin – who spoke in tongues, or perhaps it was Latin. – MWD Editor.]

By popular demand, Media Watch Dog continues to cover journalists who give soft interviews to the important and self-important alike.  You know, the kind of fawning occasion where journalists are oh-so-impressed with their interviewee that no challenging questions are asked and too much gushing’s all the rage.  And then there is the fawning comment, sometimes on Twitter.


Jackie’s (male) co-owner received lotsa positive feedback about last issue’s coverage of ABC Radio National Breakfast presenter Patricia Karvelas’ fawning approach to two new Labor ministers of the Albanese government. Namely, Linda Burney and Anika Wells.

Thanks to the avid Melbourne reader who drew MWD’s attention to the way PK concluded her interview with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on 16 June.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Patricia Karvelas: Prime Minister, I look forward to many conversations now that you have become Prime Minister. Congratulations. I don’t think I’ve said congratulations to you. So congratulations and thanks for joining us.

Prime Minister:  Thanks very much, Patricia, and my apologies, I understand you’ve got the dreaded COVID.

Patricia Karvelas:  I got it after you, though. So I studied yours first.

Prime Minister: I thought you might have got it at the election night.

Patricia Karvelas:  I did. I got it at your event.

Prime Minister: That’s why I’m apologising, though. It’s a bit of a super-spreader that event, I’m afraid.

Patricia Karvelas:  It certainly was, but I don’t regret going. It was quite a night. And your speech was quite extraordinary. Thank you for joining us.

Prime Minister: Thanks very much, Patricia.

Patricia Karvelas:  Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

Sure, the PM gave a good speech after it was evident that Labor had won the 2022 election.  But was it really so “extraordinary”?

When some listeners queried PK’s enthusiasm about the COVID spreading event, she responded that she was “not quite partying”.  Here’s a tweet from Comrade Karvelas which shows her “not quite partying” with Minister Burney. Enough said.

Media Fool Of The Week


It was around pre-lunch drinks time on 13 June, the Queen’s Birthday Holiday, when Quentin Dempster – the freelance journalist who describes his current employment as “principal, Quentin Dempster” put out the following tweet. [That’s a bit tough on the principal of Quentin Dempster.  Perhaps your man Dempster works for himself because he finds it easier this way to get on with his employer. Just a thought. – MWD Editor.]

Where did Comrade Dempster get this idea?  It would seem that the one-time intrepid ABC reporter just made this up – which is why he whacked a question mark at the end of the comment.

The idea that ABC chair Ita Buttrose and her fellow ABC board members would appoint a young man who works for the Institute of Public Affairs in Melbourne as the ABC’s inaugural ombudsman is, well, bonkers. For starters, some IPA employees have been “cancelled” by ABC programs and the IPA has an unrealistic promise to privatise the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.

By the way, Comrade Dempster referred to the Crikey article by Bernard Keane published on 13 June which, come to think of it, was a bit bonkers too – but contained no reference whatsoever to Mr Mulholland.

It took Twitter activist Therese Rein only six and a half hours to calm down from the shock that the IPA was about to oversee the ABC before she sent out this tweet:

How about that?  On the basis of your man Dempster’s ambiguous question – Comrade Rein called on someone or other to sack Ita Buttrose.  For extra effect, Ms Rein peppered her demand with exclamation marks!!!!!

At 7.23 that evening, Monica (“Call me Professor”) Attard sent out this tweet directed at her one-time ABC colleague:

Quentin Dempster remained silent.  The truth is that your man Mulholland did not even apply for the ABC Ombudsman position. Why would he? – when there are more attractive positions available such as, say, digging latrines in the Sinai Desert.

Quentin Dempster – Media Fool Of The Week.

“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.


Writing in Crikey on 9 June, Media Watch Dog’s fave Marxist comedian Guy Rundle reported on the State Memorial Service held for the one-time Labor MP for the seat of Maribyrnong in Melbourne’s western suburbs.  Dr Cass (a medical doctor) held the seat from 1969 to 1983. He was Minister for Environment and Conservation and, later, Minister for the Media in Gough Whitlam’s government from December 1972 until November 1975. Comrade Rundle’s article was titled “Goodbye Moses: farewelling Moss Cass and an era in Melbourne’s west.”

Moss Cass died on 26 February 2022.  Obituaries by Alan Howe and Tony Wright appeared in The Weekend Australian and The Age/Sydney Morning Herald on 5 and 6 March respectively.

Your man Wright quoted Senator Penny Wong and former Labor deputy prime minister Brian Howe as praising Cass. He wrote favourably about Cass’s views on abortion, homosexuality, Medicare and the media – “a media minister unafraid to criticise Rupert Murdoch’s media empire as ‘paranoid’”.  Wow, as the saying goes – or went. But Wright did not refer to Moss Cass’s views on asylum seekers.

Alan Howe wrote that “even by the standards of Whitlam’s colleagues, Cass was radical”.  Howe also recorded that, in what he described as a “notorious” column in The Australian on 29 June 1978, Cass wrote that “the continuing stream of refugee boats arriving in northern Australia poses a problem which the Australian government cannot ignore any longer”.  The reference was to Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laotian asylum seekers who were fleeing or had fled the communist regimes in (former) South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.  Gough Whitlam’s Labor government welcomed the communist victories in 1975.

In his June 1978 Australian  article, which was titled “Stop this unjust queue jumping”, Cass (who had the title of Opposition Spokesman on Immigration and Ethnic Affairs at the time), (i) condemned Indo-Chinese asylum seekers as “queue jumpers”, (ii) said that many of them arrived in Australia with assets and had not left Vietnam due to fear of political persecution and (iii) should attain “their final settlement among UN member nations” other than Australia.

Moss Cass went so far as to use what he termed “the emergence of the Neo-Nazi National Front” as a rationalisation for his opposition to what he called “the Boat People”. This is what he wrote:

Australia cannot afford to allow such attitudes to develop. The existence of latent prejudice in our community has been demonstrated recently by the emergence of the Neo-Nazi National Front. The extremist views of an organisation like this, which wants to save Australia from the “yellow hordes”, are abhorrent to the vast majority of Australians and have been roundly condemned. Despite the small size of such a group, however, the community cannot afford to dismiss it entirely as a lunatic fringe. We must be conscious of the threat the National Front-type views represent to our multicultural society.

What a cop-out. In fact, the Labor Party at the time was more hostile to Indo-Chinese asylum seekers/refugees than the extreme right-wing in Australia.  As Clyde Cameron reported in his book China, Communism and Coca Cola (Hill of Content, 1980) that, when prime minister, Gough Whitlam declared in cabinet in 1975 that he was “not having hundreds of f-cking Vietnamese Balts coming into this country”. By “Balts”, Whitlam meant anti-communists – like the residents of the Baltic States.   In short, Whitlam opposed Vietnamese refugees at the time because they were anti-communists fleeing communist persecution.

Mr Whitlam never denied making this statement.  This is documented in Gerard Henderson’s article which was published in The Sydney Institute Quarterly Issue 19, Vol 7, 1 March 2003 titled “The Whitlam Government and Indo-Chinese Refugees”.

Guy Rundle attended the State Memorial Service at the Footscray Community Arts Centre on 6 June.  He reported in his speech that Brian Howe “roared” that “socialism is the key to everything he [Cass] did”.  Rundle also wrote that: “Whatever the ‘New Left’ was, Moss was its most effective representative in the halls of power for those three short, productive years [i.e. December 1972 to November 1975]. That extraordinary movement coming out of the war against fascism….”

What a load of absolute tosh.  Hitler’s Germany and Mussolini’s Italy were completely defeated by mid-1945. The New Left was an upgraded version of the old left (which supported the Nazi-Soviet Pact between mid-1939 and mid-1941) in a different form.  The New Left did not come out of any war against fascism. Moreover, most members of the New Left in the 1970s supported the communist regimes in China, Vietnam, Cambodia (until the fall of Pol Pot) and Cuba.  By the way, Brian Howe did not explain how Moss Cass’s opposition to boat people was a manifestation of his commitment to socialism.

Now, here is Comrade Rundle’s account of a conversation that took place between Labor leader Whitlam and Cass after 1975 when Labor was in opposition.

In the cups of opposition after 1975, John Button once recalled, shadow cabinet was discussing whether or not to back a [Malcolm] Fraser government interstate roads bill – “We’re not asking,” Moss is recorded as saying, “what we need roads for?” – before noticing that Whitlam was turning purple, roaring, “I’ve had about enough of this shit!”.

Gough Whitlam’s anger was understandable. He knew that roads were important to Australians who lived in the outer suburbs along with rural and regional areas.  And he knew that Moss Cass (as MWD recalls) lived on Power Street in fashionable inner-city Hawthorn while he was the member for Maribyrnong – and used a car travelling on roads to get from his Hawthorn abode in Melbourne’s east to his office in Melbourne’s west.  It meant crossing the Yarra River – by a road on a bridge.  Mr Whitlam also knew that the less well-off used roads to travel between states on the East Coast since, at the time, air travel was very expensive.

At Moss Cass’ State Memorial Service no one spoke about his opposition to Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laotian asylum seekers of around half a century ago. It was not something to talk about in the presence of self-declared socialists.  Nor did anyone refer to Dr Cass’s hostility to Israel in its attempt to live within secure borders.

However, Jackie’s (male) co-owner is of the view that “You Must Remember This…”.



Given the ongoing energy crisis in eastern Australia it is no wonder that ABC business reporter Dan Ziffer has been asked to weigh in on the issue during his regular appearances on ABC TV’s News Breakfast. Let’s go to the transcript from his 7 June appearance:

Lisa Millar: We’re going to have the Treasurer on the program shortly, his opposition counterpart Angus Taylor, we’re all looking at the scene when it comes to energy and interest rates and thinking, what can be done here?

Daniel Ziffer: It is all happening now. Obviously, we’ve got the big interest rate decision coming as well, and more warnings about just the severity and scale of what we have to do in energy. When you talk to experts in the field of climate change, and particularly in the field of energy, they call what we’ve been through the “lost decade”. And the reason is because we had a chance to retool our economy, to change our energy landscape and get ready for –

Lisa Millar: To be ahead of the curve.

Daniel Ziffer: To be ahead of the curve to get ready for an influx of renewables. And we essentially didn’t do it. A lot of people put on rooftop solar in an attempt to change their power bills, and so we put the price back on to consumers. But then the grid, the kind of bigger system isn’t able to deal with that amount of power coming from this really diversified way. We’re going to have to spend an astonishing amount of money to make it right.

Your man Dan was apparently so enamoured with this “lost decade” line that he went back to it when appearing on the 17 June edition of News Breakfast:

Daniel Ziffer: When you talk to people who work in the field of renewable energy, or energy in general, they talk about a lost decade. Where we did some of the little things we needed but without a lack of decisive government action we haven’t had the transformation required to get ready.

It’s clear that Dan, and his unnamed experts in the field of climate change, believe this “lost decade” began with the election of the Coalition government in 2013. But, unmentioned went a decision made almost exactly a decade ago by the then Labor Government.

In August 2012 a Gillard Government taskforce called Smarter Manufacturing for a Smarter Australia handed down a report calling for, among other things, the government to take action to guarantee the availability of natural gas supplies at a competitive price to the domestic market. The Gillard Government rejected the recommendation and allowed eastern Australian gas to be exported without any reservation for domestic use (unlike in Western Australia where some is reserved for the domestic market). Many senior members of the new government held important positions in the Gillard Government at that time.

The current energy crisis is, as Treasurer Jim Chalmers described it, a “perfect storm” – caused by sanctions imposed on Russia, fluctuations in renewable energy supply, flooding damage to coal supply networks, coal plant outages and a cold snap on the east coast.

Australia’s eastern cities are currently reliant on gas to plug the gaps and so it certainly seems worthwhile to discuss the Gillard Government’s decision of a decade ago. But not so for Dan Ziffer on News Breakfast, who only seems keen to talk about renewables and the supposed “lost decade” – er, make that nine years of Coalition rule.



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Until next time.

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