ISSUE – NO. 593

24 June 2022

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The sensitivity of some journalists never ceases to surprise. Take the case of Lisa Wilkinson, a presenter on Network Ten’s The Project.

As Media Watch Dog readers will be aware, Lisa Wilkinson made a public comment about a forthcoming trial by jury in the Australian Capital Territory, following her receipt of a Logie award on 19 June. This was the principal reason for ACT Chief Justice Lucy McCallum deciding to stay the trial – which was due to commence on 27 June – until 3 October.  See R v Lehrmann (No 3), 21 June 2022.

McCallum CJ’s reasons for judgment are clear and compelling. The decision to delay the trial has led to some public criticism of The Project’s star presenter.  Today’s media carries the news that Network Ten has raised the possibility of taking defamation action against media outlets which engage in the “harassment” of Ms Wilkinson. For her part, Network Ten’s presenter has indicated that she will refrain from making any further comments about the case.

As anyone who has followed Lisa Wilkinson’s long media career or read her recent memoir will know, she is no shrinking violet when it comes to criticising others.  But Network Ten seems to throw the switch to possible litigation when it comes to criticism of its own star.  It looks like an unpleasant double standard.

Can You Bear It?


Media Watch Dog’s oh-so-avid Melbourne readers were oh-so-excited to learn that MWD fave Waleed Aly is currently standing in for Virginia Trioli as the presenter of the ABC Radio Melbourne “Mornings” program.

On 21 June Dr Aly (for a doctor he is) told listeners that Comrade Trioli has gone on a “very well-deserved break”. That sounds familiar. Mere employees take holidays.  But journalists only have well-earned breaks. Or WEBs. Or very well-deserved breaks – to wit VWDBs.

Soon after, your man Aly was engaged in a discussion with listeners about energy and all that.  Let’s go to the transcript where the presenter wonders whether the current energy shortage is due to the fact that, in Victoria, the once public owned power stations were privatised.  He suggested that the same problem had occurred in Queensland where most power stations are still publicly owned.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Waleed Aly: I wonder whether or not we’re looking at a situation that’s about public versus private, or really about a system that’s about consumer versus provider. And the way the regulation thing works. I know that the audience of ABC Radio Melbourne is vastly more intelligent than any individual or few individuals that speak on that radio station. So I turn to you for your expertise here. 1300 222 774, you might have some thoughts on that. A few people have called in on that number to have a chat. Let’s go to Ringwood, where Eric is. Hi Eric.

Eric: Yeah, good morning Waleed….

And so it came to pass that Eric from Ringwood reckoned that the energy crisis was “a racket” brought about by “foreign owned companies”. Eric then simply refused to address the fact that a similar problem had occurred in Queensland, in the absence of “foreign owned companies”.  Eric went on to claim that “once upon a time workmen got jailed if they went on a strike” at power stations. Comrade Eric did not say when or where – nor was he asked by Comrade Aly to do so.  And so it came to this:

Waleed Aly:  All right, thanks very much, Eric. Appreciate it.

So there you have it. In contrived humility, Waleed Aly declared that Radio Melbourne’s audience is “vastly more intelligent than any individual presenters who speak on the program” – including himself. And then the first caller throws the switch to conspiracy and refuses to talk about Queensland. Can You Bear It?

[Er, no.  Not really. By the way, if in Melbourne the ABC audience is more intelligent than ABC presenters and producers – why not sack the current ABC employees and fill their spots with the likes of Comrade Eric?  Just a thought.  MWD Editor.]


Media Watch Dog just loves the “CBD” column in Nine’s Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.  It invariably contains vital information necessary for business life in the central business districts of Sydney and Melbourne.

Take “CBD” on 21 June, which was put together by Kishor Napier-Raman and Noel Towell.  First up, Comrades Napier-Raman (he is a member of what Paul Keating once called the Hyphenated-Name-Set) and Towell told readers (if readers there were) that a whole range of journalists and commentators are writing books – or putting together collections – on the 21 May election.  Really.

Namely, Nine’s Niki Savva [Could this explain why Ms Savva’s Thursday column, so beloved by MWD, has gone Missing-In-Action in recent weeks? – MWD Editor], Crikey’s  Margot Saville, freelancer Brook Turner, Melbourne University academic Tom Dunlop and, wait for it, Simon Holmes à Court – the spiritual leader of the Teals.

It’s not clear when the Holmes à Court tome will be published by Melbourne University Press, no less.  Fancy that.  And MUP has been telling us for some years now that it only publishes academic works and not political or crime pot-boilers.  Moreover, your man Holmes à Court can be quite abusive when it suits. Also, MWD remembers how he invaded Liberal Senator Jane Hume’s space during the election campaign. And now he’s about to become an MUP author, according to “CBD”.

The next item in “CBD” reported that the Qantas flight from the Gold Coast to Sydney departed late in the afternoon of Monday 20 June – carrying, as it did, the passengers left over from the Logies awards of the night before.  A Qantas flight departing late during the time of Qantas CEO Alan Joyce.  How newsworthy is this? What’s more, after arriving at Kingsford Smith Airport, “CBD” reported “the glitterati had to wait it out on the tarmac while staff faffed about finding a drawbridge”.  Who ever thought this could have occurred with Captain Joyce in charge?

Then, Nine’s “CBD” reported that Nine’s bestie journalist Kate McClymont’s podcast Liar, Liar is doing really well in the charts.  Based on the story of Sydney fraudster the late Melissa Caddick, “CBD” reported that the podcast has upset her widower who uses bad language.  Hold-the-front-page news, indeed.

There was more.   A couple of wealthy blokes had lunch at Machiavelli restaurant in Sydney and, in time, were joined by a former High Court judge.  And last – but not least – a former Nine executive and his partner have had a baby.

A busy day indeed. One of enormous interest to the “CBD” men and women on Pitt Street in Sydney and Collins Street in Melbourne – who, MWD hears, were talking about nothing else but Savva’s forthcoming book and so on. Can You Bear It?


While on the topic of Nine columnists, did anyone read Kerri Sackville’s column in the Sydney Morning Herald (cleverly) titled: “Feline sad?  Cat’s fine life is a stressfest”?

In case the answer is in the negative, here is the plot.  Comrade Sackville’s cat started losing hair so she took the cat to the vet.  This is how she described her own pain – with a little help from an exclamation mark!!!:

Life is a lot right now for me. For all of us! We’re all still reeling from the pandemic. Housing prices are through the roof. Petrol prices are sky-high. Half the supermarket shelves are bare. We can’t afford lettuce for our salads. Interest rates, Ukraine, America and global warming ain’t going away.

If only I was my cat, I often think. How lovely it would be to sleep all day. How lovely it would be to have no responsibilities, no concerns, and no existential angst. How lovely it would be to have never heard of systemic racism, or inflation, or corruption, or the bear market, or the health care crisis. “You’re so lucky,” I told the cat, as I drive her to the vet.

By the way, doesn’t Kerri Sackville seem alienated? – as she depicts her life in this Vale of Tears surrounded by bare supermarket shelves (or half bare), unaffordable lettuce, America (whatever that might mean), systemic racism and more besides.

It turned out that the vet diagnosed Cat’s problem.  The hair loss was due to the over-grooming.  Most importantly, Cat is stressed.  The vet prescribed a routine for Cat along with some soothing pheromone spray – and asked Comrade Sackville whether she had “any questions”.  Here’s the response:

What does the future hold? Will there be a monkeypox pandemic? Will my kids be able to afford their own homes? Are aliens about to land on earth? Does cabbage taste good in a KFC burger? “Will that work for humans?” I asked. “Can you prescribe me some soothing spray?″ The vet sighed. Quite frankly, she looked stressed too.

No wonder the vet looked stressed. It’s stressful enough for a vet to deal with the stressed pets.  Stressed owners who worry about the end of the world and, before that, the rising price of lettuce just add to the stress load.  And now MWD’s avid readers will have to deal with handling these accounts of the pain of Ms Sackville and her Cat. Can You Bear It?

[Jackie (Dip Wellness, The Gunnedah Institute) comments for MWD: “Although a dog, I certainly feel the all-round Sackville pain. For the owner, I would suggest lotsa Gin & Tonic. For the cat, I would recommend not listening to its owner’s complaints about the world and dismissing her condescending view that felines feel no existential angst. How would she know? It’s offensive.  I do not understand why the SMH’s editor Bevan Shields runs such catist nonsense.  No wonder Cat is stressed.  Perhaps a change of owner is warranted.  I hope this diagnosis helps.]


While on the topic of animals in general and cats in particular – wasn’t Phillip Adams’ column in The Weekend Australian Magazine on 18 June a real hoot?  It was headed “Laughter, it really is the best medicine”.

Your man Adams reckons that laughter is unknown among glum types like Jackie’s (male) co-owner.  But Phillip Adams AO, AM, Hon DUniv (Griffith), Hon DLitt (ECU), Hon DUniv (SA), DLitt [sic] (Syd), Hon. DUniv (Macquarie), FRSA, Hon FAHA reckons that dogs laugh as do dolphins and rats but not, apparently, sharks.  PA, AO etc. reckons that the current count of comedians in animal species is 60.  Important information to be sure – especially for vegan stand-up comedians who like bushwalks and swimming along with cracking jokes with rodents and the likes of Flipper.

It would seem that Phillip (“I was once a teenage, or perhaps young adult, communist”) Adams laughs at most things except Qantas Airlines and its chief executive officer – the Irish-born Alan Joyce AC. Alas, the AC is one rank higher than the AO.

On 23 June, the ABC’s Man in Black put out this tweet:

This refers to Comrade Adams’ advertising days when he entered into contracts to write slogans etc. for which he was remunerated. Nowadays PA AO etc. refers to “Joyce’s Qantas: The airline with right-wing aircraft”. That surely got ten out of ten applause from canines the world over.  And there’s this one:  “Alan Joyce. Qantass” – which saw many a dolphin leap with joy.  PA has also referred to Joyce, Ireland’s gift to Australia, as a “leprechaun” – which some Irish mice found particularly funny.

The Adams rage at Qantas seems to go back to April 2019 when he tweeted that he “was evicted from the inner chamber of Qantas’ Chairman’s Lounge”.

It is understood that many a shark might have laughed at the fact that Comrade Adams was shown the door of the Qantas Chairman’s Lounge. The only problem is that, as readers of Phillip Adams AO etc. on 18 June will know, “there is no evidence that sharks have a sense of humour”. A pity when you think about it.  Can You Bear It?

Media Fool Of The Week


So it is no accident (as the Marxists of old were wont to say) that there is an “i” in Jon Faine.  After all, the Nine columnist often writes about himself.  For those who do not read Nine newspapers online – Comrade Faine’s weekly column appears in the print edition of The Sunday Age – but not that of the Sun-Herald, its Sydney equivalent.

On 19 June, Jon Faine’s column in The Sunday Age was headed “The surprising offer from Sky News that I had to refuse”.  Note that the letter “I” (in uppercase) even made it to the heading of a Faine column. Well done.

It would seem that your man Faine believes that his readers (if readers there are) are interested in both his emails and his diaries.  This is how the column commenced:

I am not in the habit of sharing my private emails with The Sunday Age, but today, I make an exception. Last week, to my surprise I found two invitations in my inbox, both about the 90th birthday of the ABC. One was from Aunty herself, the other a request to participate in a Sky News documentary to be hosted by – of all people – Chris Kenny, an avowed sledger of the national broadcaster.

To summarise, Jon Faine took offence [Er no, not another well-heeled leftist to take offence – MWD Editor] that he had been invited to participate in a Sky News documentary on the ABC to be presented by Chris Kenny. Comrade Faine described Kenny, variously, as the avowed sledger of the national broadcaster, a ranter, a bottom-feeder and a person concerning whom he feels “animus”.   Well, that’s pretty clear then – Comrade Faine does not like your man Kenny.  One of Faine’s reasons for this animus is that Chris Kenny “served as a ministerial adviser to Alexander Downer and Malcolm Turnbull”.

It was a lazy column – unfitting for someone who parades his position as a “Vice Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Melbourne”.  By the way, the lazy Sunday Age columnist did not quote any one word that Chris Kenny or any of his Sky News colleagues have ever said or written.

In fact, Chris Kenny was not a “ministerial adviser” to Malcolm Turnbull when he was a minister or prime minister – he only worked for Mr Turnbull in opposition.  Also, Faine could not be bothered quoting any written or verbal comment made by Kenny to explain his animus to The Australian columnist and Sky News presenter.  How lazy can a Nine columnist and Melbourne University vice-chancellor’s fellow get?

And then there is the issue of Sky News concerning which Jon Faine had this to say:

I am not a fan of Rupert Murdoch’s subscription TV service, Sky News Australia. It is a low-budget, down-market clone of the reactionary Sky News in the UK, which was the major media booster of the Brexit calamity courtesy of regular promotion of windbag Nigel Farage. Sky Australia takes some inspiration from the UK but more from its other toxic sibling, Fox News in the US, infamous for enabling Donald Trump’s appalling regime….

It’s somewhat of an over-statement that subscription TV stations like Sky UK or Fox News are totally responsible for the fact that the Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom in 2016 succeeded with 17 million “yes” votes – or that the election of Donald J Trump as United States president in the same year succeeded with 63 million votes.

Moreover, Jon Faine seems unaware that there is no current business relationship between Sky UK and Sky News Australia.  Rupert Murdoch ceased to have any financial interest in Sky UK when 21st Century Fox was sold to Comcast in October 2019. A google search would have revealed this.

It would seem that it takes time for television news to travel from London to Comrade Faine in his Melbourne abode. Unlike invitations from ABC headquarters at inner-city Ultimo in Sydney and Nine – or was it the University of Melbourne?  Here’s how Faine’s column concluded:

My other invitation this week was from the ABC itself. The televised anniversary party on June 30 celebrating 90 years of excellence on TV and radio is promising to be a grand and nostalgic affair. Chris Kenny should tune in.

So there you have it.  Jon Faine declined to appear on a Sky News documentary – where he would have been able to state a case against Chris Kenny’s critique of the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.  But he invited Chris Kenny to tune into an ABC (taxpayer funded) party when ABC types will celebrate the ABC’s “90 years of excellence on TV and radio” – including Comrade Faine’s years on ABC Radio Melbourne – with no criticism of the ABC allowed. And Comrade Faine reckons that this is worth writing about.  Somewhat delusional – don’t you think?

Jon Faine – Media Fool of the Week.



It has been some time since MWD last checked in on 7:30’s Mark Humphries. Avid readers will no doubt be wondering how the self-identified satirist and his co-writer Evan Williams are coping with the loss of his favourite target – the federal Coalition. Well, for the record, here is a rundown of each of the sketches they have produced in recent times:

20 May – Mark Humphries bids farewell to Election 2022

On election eve, your man Humphries produced a rehash of his two previous end of year sketches, “Everything 2021 must go” (which aired 16 December 2021) and “Let’s chuck out 2020!” (16 December 2020). As with the previous sketches, the flimsy premise is an excuse for Humphries to shout about past events, without bothering to come up with a satirical take on them.

Miraculously Humphries’ recap of the 2022 election managed to avoid any mention of Labor or the Greens, though he did manage to fit in a urination joke, a diarrhoea joke and a flatulence joke into the two-minute sketch. Well done.

26 May – Clive Palmer’s financial advisor breaks down the bad news

In his first post-election sketch, Comrade Humphries returned to his favourite recurring character “smug, unfunny and unlikeable man” – er, on second thoughts, maybe that isn’t a character. The sketch has one joke, repeated ad nauseam, which is that Clive Palmer spent a large amount of money on the election and didn’t win any seats. But we now know Palmer’s United Australia Party did win a Senate seat in Victoria, which renders the whole sketch embarrassing (or should that be more embarrassing?).

16 June – Lettuce, the new luxury item

Apparently lacking any ideas for a political sketch, 7:30’s crack satirical team turned to the subject of lettuce prices. Humphries stars in a mock ad for lettuce, imitating the style of ads for luxury items like expensive watches or overpriced spirits. The sketch works well enough on its own terms, but it is not clear why the ABC’s premier current affairs program is airing a silly sketch about lettuce prices.

23 June – Mark Humphries’ new inflight video for Qantas

Once again Humphries & Williams steer clear of politics, instead opting for a sketch about the delays plaguing Australian air travellers.

With the Morrison government voted out, politics seems to have lost its attraction as a target for satire. There are still plenty of political stories to poke fun at, any of the following could form the basis of a sketch:

  • Labor’s misadventures in Fowler with Kristina Keneally
  • The Teal independents getting elected promising to bring change to Canberra only to find themselves serving as relatively powerless crossbenchers during a majority government
  • Labor and The Greens promising to reduce emissions only to immediately be confronted by an energy crisis
  • Adam Bandt’s flagphobia
  • Labor and The Greens still bickering about the 2009 Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme vote
  • The seemingly never-ending scandals surrounding the Andrews’ Labor government in Victoria

No doubt in the coming weeks comrades Humphries & Williams will return to political satire and find a way to grapple with the new government. Or they’ll just pump out something incredibly lazy about Opposition Leader Peter Dutton. MWD will let you know.


There was much worthy discussion in the ABC TV Q+A program which aired on Thursday 23 June with David Speers in the presenter’s chair.  The focus was on the outer suburbs and their problems – hardly a fresh topic. The occasion was filmed in the outer Melbourne suburb of Werribee.

Speersy, as he likes to be called, did not interrupt much – although, from memory, he did cut off Bridget McKenzie, the Nationals leader in the Senate, from time to time.  There may have been lotsa other interruptions but Jackie’s (male) co-owner fell asleep – along with Jackie. Zzzzzzz.  It was that kind of Q+A.

Once upon a time, there was disagreement on such ABC programs as Q+A, Lateline, The Drum, RN Breakfast and Late Night Live. This rarely happens now as, for the most part, panellists agree with each other and likely dissenters are “cancelled”.

But Media Watch Dog  digresses.  How did David (“Oh yes, I’m the Great Interrupter”) Speers go on Insiders  on 19 June? – MWD hears avid readers cry.

Not too bad, in fact.  Speersy interrupted Opposition leader Peter Dutton on 15 occasions in a 17 minute 30 seconds interview.  Well up on the interruptions which Labor’s Minister for Employment Tony Burke experienced the previous Sunday: namely, 5 interruptions during a 15 minute and 30 second interview.

Well done Speersy – you’re getting back into top (interrupter) form.


Did anyone listen to the ABC Radio National’s Life Matters  program on 14 June titled “Disconnecting From Gas”?  Hilary Harper was in the presenter’s chair and the guests were Jenny Edwards and Frankie Muskovic – both from Sustainability and Regulatory Affairs at the Property Council of Australia.  Highlights included:

  • Jenny Edwards said that if domestic householders want to save money they should get away from gas. Frankie Muskovic and Hilary Harper concurred.
  • Marcus phoned in from Melbourne advising how he had improved the energy of his 1928 cottage built on the side of a hill somewhere or other. Your man Marcus has installed insulation, a heat pump, a Tesla battery and an industrial light cooler for the gas central heater. Marcus was asked when did he do all this – but not how he did it or what it cost. Hilary Harper failed to raise the matter of whether he was, say, an electrical engineer.
  • Bernadette phoned from Canberra. She complained that the gas company had pressured her to keep gas but she had put in more insulation. She recommended rediscovering thermals – presumably as underwear.  The minimum temperature in the Australian Capital Territory on 14 June 2022 was a thermal-friendly minus 3.1 degree Celsius.
  • Margaret texted: “To stay warm, be where the cat is.” The RSPCA was not asked what cats thought about Margaret’s you-beaut suggestion.
  • Dr Sarah Perkins Kirkpatrick called in from Canberra where she is building in a new suburb that has an incentive for energy efficient homes. She said they’re putting in a huge solar rig, extra insulation, double glazing and eventually an electric car charger when they can afford it. She moved to Canberra to have a completely energy efficient house because they “couldn’t do that literally anywhere else in the country”.

Dr Kirkpatrick says that they are getting $10,000 cash from the Suburban Land Agency as part of an energy incentive, and that she believed that Canberra is a “much more progressive state than anywhere else in Australia” in terms of incentives and green energy subsidies. And that other states need to learn from Canberra.

Unfortunately for Dr Sarah Perkins Kirkpatrick (who is some sort of climate doctor), her current property is connected to gas, which she said she hates with a passion.

  • Hilary Harper then read out texts from a few listeners stating that they cannot afford to switch off the gas because of various costs. Which raises the question – how expensive are cats and thermal underwear these days?
  • Some renters phoned in about their problems being dependent on gas. Hilary Harper suggested “door snakes” and asked for other options.  Jenny Edwards recommended bubble wrapping the windows.  Thanks for that.
  • Hannah from Sydney called saying that John Hewson looks forward to biomethane gas replacing natural gas one day – he didn’t say when, alas.
  • Karen from Dandenong Ranges called to say that despite double glazing, insulation and solar energy, she’s still cold during winter because she lives in the Dandenong Ranges. Jenny Edwards said in Canberra they’ve invested in renewables and been protected from electricity price rises. Maybe, but not much help to a cold woman near Mount Dandenong.  Jenny stated that she would love to go around to Karen’s house to check this out.  Stay tuned.
  • Meanwhile, Hilary Harper reminded listeners (if listeners there were) to utilise the hot water bottle – and the cat.
  • (Another) Karen called – this one from Melbourne. She declares that her landlords are nice but do not want to put in solar heating. Comrade Harper, once again, recommended the door snakes option. No doubt she would have mentioned the cat option – except for the fact that few renters are allowed to have pets.
  • Nicholas called from Sydney to talk about where he’s at on his gas journey. He’s in transition mode but wondered if there will be subsidies for those like him on this journey who cannot afford to leave gas. Frankie Muskovic says this is something to think about. Sure is.

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So there you have it.  A 42-minute discussion about disconnecting from gas on Life Matters with no answers – apart from staying warm with live cats and fake snakes.  Perhaps Hilary Harper’s far too long Life Matters program should be retitled “Time Matters”.

As avid readers are aware, the late Nancy (2004-2017) did not die. She merely “passed” on to the Other Side. Hence MWD has been able to keep in touch and seek her advice about behaviour, courtesy and all that – with the help of the American psychic John Edward of Crossing Over fame. Your man Edward has demonstrated a first class ability to communicate with the dead, albeit not so much with the living. And so, Nancy’s “Courtesy Classes” continue – albeit from the “Other Side” in a Zoom kind of way and are channelled to Jackie (2016- __) who passes the “learnings” of Nancy on to Media Watch Dog’s avid readers.  Or something like that.


Alas, Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery  series is in extremis (to use some pretentious Latin suitable to Media Watch Dog  readers).  The final (this time four-part) series will conclude on 10 July 2022.

As avid readers are aware, Home Delivery  takes the form of Comrade Zemiro getting into a 50 or 40 year old car and driving around with a guest to where she or he once lived as a child or young person.  Over the years, guests have included John Safran, Dave Hughes, Wendy Harmer, Billy Bragg, Waleed Aly, Kerry O’Brien, Geoffrey Robertson, Ben Quilty, Sam Neill, Annabel Crabb, Derryn Hinch, Brian Cox, Barrie Cassidy, Magda Szubanski, Judith Lacy, Gillian Triggs, Adam Liaw, Karl Kruszelnicki and Craig Reucassel.

MWD cannot recall one occasion when Comrade Zemiro hopped in a retro motor (to use the English terminology) and examined the youth abode of a political conservative.  But, then, the ABC is a Conservative Free Zone.

Guests this time will be Ray Martin, Marcia Hines, Stephen Page and – yes, Julia Zemiro herself (with a little help from Costa Georgiadis, the ABC’s gardener-in-chief who lives in inner-city Sydney where there are a few gardens but lotsa ABC cameras).

On Radio National Breakfast on 16 June, the following exchange took place:

Patricia Karvelas: Often you visit the child, childhood home. Are the current occupants surprised to learn about the house’s history?

Julia Zemiro: Sometimes they know… And sometimes the people have to hang around in the house, they can’t go anywhere else. And if there’s a baby around or wherever, they’ll hang around and we have to tell them to be quiet while we shoot. And, and sometimes they go away. So, you know, it is actually a lot to ask people to say: “Can you get out of your house, we’ll clean it, get in there and shoot.”  And COVID certainly was a real challenge for that as well.

How about that?  Comrade Zemiro and her crew get permission to film in people’s homes. They ask them to go outside and if this is not possible they “tell them to be quiet while we shoot”.  There is no suggestion that the ABC or the independent production company Cordell Jigsaw Zapruder pays any rent for the use of the facility.  Apparently, it’s just “Shut up or go away while we film in your home”.

Somewhat abrupt and entitled, if not downright rude, to be sure. Julia Zemiro and the Home Delivery team – off to Nancy’s Courtesy Classes for you.

As avid readers are all-too-well aware, Media Watch Dog believes in the dictum that it’s unwise to make predictions. Especially about the future.

Nine’s Shane Wright has risen without trace (as the late Kitty Muggeridge once said about the late David Frost) to become the senior economics correspondent for The Age and Sydney Morning Herald – not having published anything of note apart from newspaper articles and columns plus the occasional essay. 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.


Due to enormous popular demand, Media Watch Dog re-visits the issue about how Nine’s senior economic correspondent Shane Wright is going with his assertion of 2017 that coal today is the candlesticks of over a century ago.  Not too well, it seems.

As avid readers are well aware, it has been a cold winter Down Under this year.  This has been accompanied by rising energy prices due, in part, to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its effect on gas prices.  Also, some power stations were off the grid due to scheduled or unscheduled temporary closures, and the disruption to coal supply caused by flooding. And there was a reduction in renewables due to a lack of sunshine in the overcast winter and a reduction in wind in Eastern Australia.  As a result some ministers in the new Labor government have supported a (temporary) greater input of coal and, where possible, gas into Australia’s energy supply.

This is how Resources Minister Chris Bowen’s interview with ABC TV News Breakfast  co-presenter Lisa Millar concluded on 23 June:

Lisa Millar: This capacity mechanism [involving the use of coal and gas] that’s slated to be introduced in 2025. Any thought about bringing that forward, given what we’ve been through over the last couple of weeks?

Chris Bowen: Yeah, we’d like it to happen earlier than that. I’ll be working with states and territories to try and make, make that the case. I’ve been very clear about that. This is an important safety net. And I know there’s a lot of commentary, and a lot of people have views about it. But it’s an important safety net. And Lisa, under a Labor government, it will support our move to renewables. And maybe under the previous government, it was going to be designed to sort of prop up unsustainable [coal] technology. Under us, it will be an absolutely essential safety net to ensure that this transformation [to renewables] occurs smoothly, that we build the renewables with that support, be focused on new technologies and be focused on things like storage.

We are going to have to manage this transformation very carefully. We’re going to need the existing power stations in the system to help us with that transmission. We do need capacity there, even if it’s not switched on. We need capacity there for things like the last couple of weeks.

In the meantime, there are more urgent things we can do and are doing as you know, we authorised AEMO to buy a gas reserve that they can hold and put into the system in times of emergency. That’s being done and that’s being worked on and developed, all this is happening. That’s the short term, in the longer term renewables, transition and storage is the key. And that’s what we’re focused on.

So there you have it. Minister Bowen is aware that, in the short term at least, Australia will be reliant on coal and gas for energy supply as the nation moves towards renewables. But not candlesticks.  So the Albanese government will proceed with the energy capacity mechanism which was conceived during the time of the Morrison government.

Meanwhile the news from Germany is that the German government (which includes the Greens party in coalition) is planning to re-activate its coal plants as Europe prepares to handle reduced gas supplies from Russia.

Robert Habeck, Germany’s economy and climate minister who is a member of the Greens party, was quoted in The [London] Telegraph on 19 June as saying that bringing back coal power-plants “was painful, but a sheer necessity”. Clearly Mr Habeck does not follow The Thought of Shane (“Candlesticks”) Wright in faraway Canberra – where he is based as a member of the Canberra Press Gallery.


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Until next time.

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