ISSUE – NO. 595

8 July 2022

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ABC chairs and managing directors invariably claim that the taxpayer funded public broadcaster criticises both Coalition and Labor governments.  Media Watch Dog agrees – with the qualification that ABC types invariably criticise both Coalition and Labor governments from the left.  This explains why, when prime minister, Labor’s Bob Hawke and Paul Keating were highly critical of the ABC. And it also explains why the ABC is so strongly supported by the Greens and left Independents.

This morning on ABC TV News Breakfast, co-presenter Michael Rowland interviewed Mark Butler, the Minister for Health and Aged Care. Like many ABC types, Comrade Rowland is very much a lockdowns/compulsory masks advocate in these COVID-19 times.  He’s an activist journalist who believes that his sense of morality is higher than that of us mere mortals.

And so it came to pass that this morning your man Rowland, in disappointment mode, stated that Minister Butler was not about to embrace compulsory mask mandates and suggested that the Albanese government was “comfortable” with COVID-19 deaths.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Michael Rowland: By not taking steps to minimise transmissions, and I know it’s pretty much a State responsibility, we have a very high death toll more than 10,000 Australians dead from COVID, most of those this year. Aren’t we Mark Butler as a society implicitly accepting that death toll – and are you comfortable with that?

Mark Butler: This pandemic is still going on and the virus continues to mutate, evade immunity, and present real challenges to our health and, as you say, more than 300 Australians are losing their life every week tragically to this virus.

Michael Rowland: Do we just accept it?

Mark Butler: We don’t sit back and accept it..

Clearly, Michael Rowland was suggesting that the Albanese government is comfortable with and accepts COVID-19 deaths. Similar false imputations were made by ABC journalists and commentators with respect to the Morrison government. The fact is that both the previous Coalition government and the current Labor government have acted in accordance with Health Department advice.

If indoor mask wearing is made compulsory again, Comrade Rowland will fare better than most.  ABC News Breakfast runs for three hours weekdays and presenters enjoy a mask exemption when on air.


Wasn’t it great that the powers-that-be at the ABC TV News Breakfast program found new talent for its “Newspapers” segment this morning. Here’s how the session was introduced:

Lisa Millar: Let’s have a look at what’s making news in print and online this morning. We’re joined for the first time by Ebony Bennett, the deputy director at independent think-tank The Australia Institute. Good morning, Ebony. Welcome to News Breakfast.

Ebony Bennett: Thanks for having me.

Yeah, Welcome – thanks for having me and all that.  But what’s this about The Australia Institute being an “independent” think tank?  And what’s it independent of? – apart from, say, the Vatican and Donald Trump and the Institute of Public Affairs.

Ben Oquist is a polite, well brought up kind of guy.  But he is a former Greens’ staffer. Richard Denniss, the Australia Institute’s chief economist, presents as a man of the left as does Peter Lewis who carries the impressive title of “director, Centre for Responsible Technology” (whatever that might mean) and Greg Jericho (policy director, labour market and fiscal).

Moreover, Ebony Bennett gave the impression this morning that she isn’t a conservative – and even managed to blame the Coalition (presumably during the prime ministership of Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison) for engaging in “megaphone” diplomacy with China.

In other words, according to Comrade Bennett, the deterioration of the Australia-China relationship during the time of President Xi is all Australia’s fault.  She even implied that Australia has a “shared interest” with China on climate change – overlooking the fact that China is the world’s leading nation when it comes to carbon dioxide emissions and Australia produces just over one per cent of total carbon emissions.

It was an impressive performance – from an Australia Institute point of view. Ms Bennett even managed to get in a plug for the Australia Institute. Well done. Let’s hear it for more Australia Institute comrades on News Breakfast.

The only problem is that MWD cannot recall the name of one political conservative – not one – who has been given a gig on the Newspapers segment in eons. And so Comrade Bennett appeared this morning in order to fulfil the prophecy that the ABC is, and will remain, a Conservative Free Zone.

Can You Bear It?


It’s not so long ago (Sydney Morning Herald, 28 March 2022) in fact when Media Watch Dog fave Tom Ballard said this to the Q+A section of Nine Newspapers when interviewed by Ben Pobjie:

Q: If I recall your career correctly, you rose to the top at a very young age.

A: What do you mean the top?

Q: Well, you did emerge quite young. How old were you when you did your first stand-up gig?

A: I did my first gig when I was 14 years old, which is ridiculous and should be illegal. It was through the Class Clowns competition that the Comedy Festival runs at high schools. I was already obsessed with acting and theatre and performing, and reckoned I was going to be the greatest actor of my generation, and then the Class Clowns happened and I was kind of like, “Oh, this is another chance to get on stage and get some more attention. I’ll do this for a little while and then I’ll go into NIDA and revolutionise the very concept of art and theatre.

Q: There’s still time for that.

A: There’s still time. It’s a process.

Now, your man Ballard is one of those personalities who, in the words of Barry Humphries, identifies as a comedian without having to be funny.  The reference to becoming the greatest actor of his generation could be a “joke”. Or perhaps not.

What is clearly a joke is this self-important tweet which Comrade Ballard put out at Hangover Time on 4 July:

What a joke.  At the May 2022 election some 52 per cent of Australians preferred an Anthony Albanese Labor government to a Coalition government led by Scott Morrison.  The primary vote was as follows:  Coalition 35.69 per cent, Labor 32.58 per cent, Greens 12.25 per cent, One Nation 4.96 per cent and United Australia Party 4.12 per cent. All the Teal Independents who ran in some dozen seats supported a 50 or 60 per cent reduction by 2030 along with some other Independents.

In short, at least 80 per cent of Australians did not support The Climate Council/Greens target of 75 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030.  Some 32 per cent went for Labor’s 43 per cent target and some 35 per cent went for the Coalition’s 26-28 per cent.

Yet, Comrade Ballard is demanding that the good people of Australia explain to him why the Greens/Climate Council target should not be implemented. How pompous can a self-identifying comedian get?  More importantly, Can You Bear It?


Did anyone read Tony Wright’s “Comment” piece in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald  on 7 July?  Headed “Prime minister faces oldest test of leadership and turns up when there’s an emergency”, it commenced as follows:

The key to national leadership in an emergency is simple. You must turn up. Every prime minister has known it since at least Harold Holt. Holt, on an official visit to New Zealand, hurried to Tasmania to survey the ruins and speak to the victims of the Black Tuesday bushfires of 1967, declaring “I had to come to see it for myself”.

Anthony Albanese, prime minister for six weeks, proved himself acutely aware of the old truth on Wednesday. Having streaked across the globe from a communications blackout within a European war, he shrugged off jet lag and waded into the flooded world lapping at Sydney’s borders the day after he landed back in Australia, standing with NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet to hear the frustration and pain of victims, their hopes drowned for the fourth time in 18 months.

And so it went on. And on. [Perhaps your man Wright was trying to get a run in your hugely popular “Fawn Again” segment with his fulsome praise for Prime Minister Albanese. – MWD Editor.]  Nine’s “Comment” columnist also approved of former prime ministers and opposition leaders for turning up at emergencies.  He praised Gough Whitlam, Malcolm Fraser, Bob Hawke, John Howard, Kim Beazley, Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten for turning up – and Julia Gillard for giving a moving speech – when she couldn’t turn up.

Scott Morrison did not make the cut. Comrade Wright wrote:

Mostly, he [Albanese] took care to quietly listen to locals expressing their frustration and to share the floor with Perrottet, whose state is sharing the cost of the disaster payments. Conceit can sink a leader at a time like this.

Albanese had no need to mention the effort of former PM Scott Morrison who arrived at the calamitous flood zone of Lismore, in northern NSW, nine days after water had swept away lives, houses, businesses and livestock while locals initially had to rely on their own resources to survive.

It’s true that Prime Minister Albanese had no need to mention what Comrade Wright calls “the effort of former PM Scott Morrison” at the Lismore flood in March 2022.  Sure, it took Scott Morrison nine days or so to get to Lismore.  But that’s because he had COVID-19 and was required by NSW Health provisions to isolate for at least seven days.

In his wish to bag Scott Morrison, Tony Wright, er, forgot to mention the former prime minister’s illness.  It obviously did not fit Comrade Wright’s narrative. Can You Bear It?


Crikey’s political editor Bernard Keane is a clever kind of guy.  But, at times, he demonstrates a lack of judgment.  In days of old, Comrade Keane used to condemn what he called the national security state.  Come to think of it, he may well still do.  However, he’s oh-so-soft on non-judicial inquisitorial bodies like the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

How else to assess Bernard Keane’s article in Crikey on 5 July titled “Justice resourcing an acute issue for politicians before ICAC – and many others.”   Here’s how it commenced:

Former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian faces further delays awaiting the verdict of the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), with the term of the commissioner overseeing “Operation Keppel” extended to October…. Meanwhile former [NSW Coalition] minister John Sidoti is rapidly approaching the third anniversary of his standing aside pending an ICAC inquiry.

While ICAC can blame the pandemic for delays to the resolution of the Sidoti investigation, it’s absurd that a former minister has to wait several years for an end – one way or the other – to an inquiry into their conduct. It also suggests NSW ICAC indeed has serious resourcing issues that prevent it from bringing complex investigations to an expeditious end.

Turn it up.  Your man Keane acknowledges that it is absurd that ICAC’s investigation of John Sidoti has taken three years (so far). But he partly puts the blame on COVID-19 and ICAC’s  “serious resourcing issues”.   However, no evidence was provided that the pandemic and (alleged) staffing problems have led to a situation whereby the ICAC’s investigations into Ms Berejiklian and Mr Sidoti have taken so long.  The fact is that ICAC  has a reputation for dragging out its taxpayer funded inquiries.

Bernard Keane wanted to make some valuable points about delays in the criminal jurisdiction of the NSW District Court.  But at least individuals facing the District Court and Supreme Court have been charged with offences – unlike those being investigated by ICAC.  Moreover, the pandemic did adversely affect the judicial system due to the inability to empanel jurors – ICAC experienced no such delays since it is not a court of law.

Bernard Keane – an enthusiastic supporter of a national ICAC-type body – wound up with this comment:

Hopefully a federal ICAC will be effectively resourced to conduct investigations expeditiously.  Drawn-out inquiries undermine the credibility of the investigator, which is perhaps one reason why politicians are tempted to under-resource them.

There is no evidence that ICAC-type bodies ever conduct investigations expeditiously – however generously they are funded by the taxpayer.  Comrade Keane’s hope is a manifestation of wish fulfilment.  Which raises the question:  Can You Bear It?


Leftist luvvies the nation over are still grieving the fact that Jane Caro and her Reason Party (formerly the Australian Sex Party) polled only 0.6 per cent in the NSW Senate election and failed to win a seat in the upper house.  It appears that Ms Caro’s late-night tweet (during post-dinner drinks time after the Coalition won the May 2019 election) in which she described half the Australian population as “truculent turds” did not appeal to the voters in 2022.

However, the good news is that Sydney-based eco-catastrophist Comrade Caro (who drives a gas-guzzling four-wheel drive to her family farm) had to surrender her British citizenship in order to contest the May 2022 election.  This means that she can never be deported from Australia and is unlikely to be able to return to Britain permanently.  Which is great news for Jackie’s (male) co-owner since Hendo needs Ms Caro’s most valuable copy for Media Watch Dog.

Which brings MWD to the 3 July 2022 issue of Nine’s Sunday  magazine (which appears in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald)  and, in particular, to Jane Caro’s column titled “Gloriously Wrong: Being yourself can be so much more fun than being right”. Once again, Comrade Caro wrote about the topic she knows best – namely, HERSELF.  Here’s how the piece commenced:

When I was young, I spent so much time trying to be right.  I tried so hard to damp myself down, to make myself smaller, to not talk so much and put my opinions so forcefully. I lost sleep berating myself for saying the wrong thing, for being too forthright, for disagreeing when I should have just stayed quiet.  I felt that I was just too much in every way. I was too emotional, too angry, too shrill, too opinionated, too loud, too talkative, too pushy, too dramatic, too.  Well, pick your characteristic, I was too much of it.

What this felt like was that I was just intrinsically, inescapably wrong. I did not fit in. I made hundreds of resolutions to stay quiet, to be demure and modest, to defer.  I broke every last one and I punished myself for it.

Pretty expressive, eh?  Comrade Caro used the first person pronoun on nine occasions in a total of 143 words – or around 6 per cent of the time or once every 15 words.  Not counting the references to “myself” and “my”.  Indeed, all up, there were some 38  references to “I” plus 18 references to “my” or “myself”.  To re-phrase (and translate) Julius Caesar somewhat: “I came.  I saw. I wrote about myself.”

MWD just loved this advice from Jane (“The I’s have it”) Caro:

I have learnt to like my “wrong” self. I’ve learnt not to care whether you like me or not, or agree with me or not, or think I am just too much. I am me. You don’t have to like me, but nor do you have the right to insist I change to suit you.

Don’t worry Comrade Caro.  MWD does not want you to change one little bit.  As to the “I am me” reference – well, thanks for clearing that up.

[That was an impressive performance by Jane Caro, to be sure.  But, alas, not quite as good as the one put in by Leigh Sales in part of her booklet In Doubt (Melbourne University Press, 2009). At page 88 of this tome, Comrade Sales used the first person pronoun once every seven words. – MWD Editor.]



As avid Media Watch Dog  readers are aware, a Literary Festival is invariably an occasion where a group of leftists and left-of-centre types get hold of a bucket load of taxpayers’ money and invite their leftist and left-of-centre comrades to a taxpayer funded get-together where virtually everyone agrees with virtually everyone else on virtually everything. And a fine (ideological) time is had by all – at somebody else’s expense.

News is just out that the 2022 Canberra Writers Festival will take place from the 10-14 August 2022.  The supporting partner is the Australian Capital Territory government (i.e. ACT and Commonwealth taxpayers).  There is no other partner in this category.  In other words, the overwhelming funding for the 2022 CWF is coming from taxpayers without their consent.  It’s another form of taxation without representation – of the kind that caused George III all those problems in the American colonies of old. [Yes, very old. – MWD Editor.]

Then there are foundation partners – all taxpayer funded and/or taxpayer subsidised.  Namely, the Museum of Australian Democracy, the National Museum of Australia and the Australian National University.  Then there are some partners, media partners and cultural partners.  Enough partners, to be sure, for an international legal company or a very large barn dance (where there is free entry).  But the key funding is from the ACT government.

But MWD digresses.  Here is the list of prominent writers (and yet to be writers) on the 2022 CWF dance-card.

Jimmy Barnes, Caroline Baum, Allan Behm, Jonathan Biggins, Paul Bongiorno, Mike Bowers, Bryan Brown, Jane Caro, Gabrielle Chan, Jo Dyer, John Faulkner, Mehreen Faruqi, Marion Firth, Helen Garner, Peter Garrett, Richard Glover, Virginia Haussegger, Jenny Hocking, Kim Huynh, Linda Jaivin, Fiona Katauskas, Fran Kelly, Sandi Logan, John Lyons, Wendy McCarthy, Karen Middleton, Louise Milligan, Rick Morton, Katharine Murphy, David Pope, Andrew Quilty, Amy Remeikis, Julianne Schultz, John Schumann, Jeff Sparrow, Norman Swan, Christine Sykes, Laura Tingle, Chris Wallace, Kerry-Anne Walsh, Don Watson, Michael West.

MWD has no problem with any of the above group getting a gig at the festival.  It’s just that there’s not one conservative among this soviet of leftist, left-of-centre and social democrat types.  Sure, the likes of Germaine Greer, Paul Kelly, Samantha Maiden and the academic Peter Sutton are also performing at the festival. But none would describe themselves as conservative.

The problem with literary festivals where there is little or no disagreement is that they are oh-so-boring.  A couple of the 2022 CWF events demonstrate the point:

On Saturday 13  August, there is a session tilted “Grilling The Democracy Sausage”.  [Oh, no. Not that tedious democracy sausage cliché again – MWD Editor.] Here’s how it is being promoted.


Moderator: Chris Wallace

Jo Dyer

Stephen Charles

Mehreen Faruqi


12.00 PM – 1.00 PM

House of Representatives Chamber

Museum of Australian Democracy

Does our country have a vision for a stronger economy, fairer society, and more environmentally sustainable future? Who dares to imagine and fight for a better Australia?

Chris Wallace was an ardent critic of Scott Morrison’s Coalition government.  Jo Dyer was an unsuccessful Teal Independent in the May 2022 election – she is a former Labor Party member of its left faction.  Mehreen Faruqi is a Greens senator.  Stephen Charles QC is not on the left but he was a strong critic of the Morrison government’s failure to set up a NSW ICAC style anti-corruption body at the Commonwealth level.

It’s difficult to imagine any one of this quartet providing anything other than the following answers to the questions raised:

Question:  “Does our country have a vision for a stronger and more environmentally sustainable future?”

Likely Answer:  “Yes it does” and “Yes we do”.

Question:  “Who dares to imagine and fight for a better Australia?”

Likely Answer: “We do”.

In other words – Zzzzz zzzzzz zzzz.

Then on Sunday 14 August, the following event will take place:


Moderator: Paul Bongiorno

Christine Sykes

Jenny Hocking

John Faulkner

Paul Kelly


12.00 PM – 1.00 PM

Manning Clark Hall

Kambri Cultural Centre (ANU)

2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the Whitlam Government being elected to office. Our panel talks all things Gough and reflects on our country’s identity and what we want from our leaders now and into the future.

MWD just loves the CWF’s use of an exclamation mark to create attention!!!!!. It’s fair to say that Jenny Hocking (Gough Whitlam’s biographer) and John Faulkner (a former Labor senator who presented an SBS documentary titled Gough Whitlam: In His Own Words in 2002) are members of the Gough Whitlam Fan Club.  Paul Bongiorno is a long time Labor leftist.  Paul Kelly has written objectively about the Whitlam Labor government but it was not so long ago that he expressed his love for Gough Whitlam. Writing about Gough Whitlam on 30 November 2002 in the Weekend Australian Magazine, Paul Kelly felt the need to declare: “When he was good he was magnificent and when he was bad he was a bastard. But I still love him.”

Once again, all members of this quartet are worth hearing on Gough Whitlam and his government.  But the session is surely worth one considered critic of Whitlam and his government’s economic, social and foreign policies.  Another Zzzzzzz session seems assured.

Your Taxes At Work.



John Barron will be known to avid readers for his previous gigs presenting ABC programs including Planet America and ABC Fact Check. He has also served as a research associate at the University of Sydney’s United States Studies Centre. His new show, The Context, claims to take a “deeper look” at a single issue in each episode and put “the headlines in context”.

The 1 July edition of the program focused on abortion, starting with the recent US Supreme Court decision Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned the constitutional right to an abortion established by the court in the 1973 decision Roe v. Wade. Here is how Barron described the ruling:

John Barron: The court has handed the power to regulate abortion back to the individual American states, and dozens are already enacting laws that significantly restrict or completely prohibit someone from ending their pregnancy.

While it is true that some US states are moving quickly to restrict abortion, Barron’s claim – that the power to regulate abortion has been given back to the states – lacks some, well, context. The Roe precedent severely restricted the ability of both the federal and states governments to regulate abortion. With that precedent overturned and in the absence of federal legislation, various state governments are now stepping in. However, the federal government could pass a law either legalising or banning abortion nationwide. Indeed, since the decision, both pro-life and pro-choice politicians and activists have called for Congress to act.

Barron continued:

John Barron: Americans who have for 49 years had the constitutional right to choose whether to have a child or not now face a very different choice, carry an unwanted pregnancy to birth, travel often long distances to another state for an abortion or arrange for abortion pills to be sent to them – and in many states, those final two options will now also be illegal.

Here, again, Barron is leaving out some important context for his viewers. There is reportedly a push by some pro-life activists to have state laws passed prohibiting residents of that state from travelling interstate to have an abortion. However, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who voted to overturn Roe, noted the following in his concurrence:

Some of the other abortion-related legal questions raised by today’s decision are not especially difficult as a constitutional matter. For example, may a State bar a resident of that State from traveling to another State to obtain an abortion? In my view, the answer is no based on the constitutional right to interstate travel.

This would appear to be a clear signal from one of the court majority that this kind of law would not survive a Supreme Court challenge. Therefore, it seems unlikely that, as Barron claims, in many states it will be illegal to travel outside the state to get an abortion.

Back to the transcript:

John Barron: Roe and subsequent US Supreme Court cases affirmed the right to an abortion was not unlimited, and that the rights of the fetus needed to be considered beyond the point of viability outside the womb at around 23 weeks. And for half a century that was largely considered settled law.

The idea that Roe was settled law, is quite frankly, bizarre. For the nearly five decades it was in effect, Roe was a matter of intense political and legal controversy. Even the late liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was critical of the ruling, arguing that it may have gone too far and inflamed the issue and also believing that it would have been less susceptible to legal challenges if it was based on the equal protection of women instead of on the right to privacy.

Overturning Roe has been one of the primary goals of the American conservative movement for decades and has resulted in several prominent Supreme Court cases. It was raised during the confirmation hearing of every Supreme Court nominee and during Presidential debates. Only the most wildly optimistic pro-choice American would have considered it settled law.

Barron continues:

John Barron: While the decision in this case Dobbs V. Jackson Women’s Health [sic] was made by a 5-4 majority on the US Supreme Court.

Again, this lacks the full context. The Dobbs case concerned the constitutionality of a Mississippi state law which banned most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The majority decision upholding the Mississippi law and overturning Roe was supported by five Justices: Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. The minority dissent was supported by three Justices: Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

The final member of the court, Chief Justice John Roberts, wrote a concurrence in judgment, meaning he agreed with the ruling of the majority but not with the opinion written in support of that ruling. Justice Roberts argued that the court should allow the Mississippi law to stand, which would necessarily weaken the protections given by the Roe precedent. However, he wrote that the majority opinion fully overturning Roe was “unnecessary to decide the case before us”.

So, the Dobbs case was decided 6-3. While Roe was overturned by a 5-4 majority, which you could argue was more realistically a 5-1-3 split, considering Justice Roberts’ position.

Finally, Barron had this to say about public opinion on abortion:

John Barron: A majority, 71 per cent of Americans, including a majority of both Democrats and Republicans, say decisions about whether to have an abortion should be made by a woman and her doctor, not the government.

This claim is taken from a 25 June article by Reuters and is based on a May 2022 Reuters/Ipsos poll. Once again Barron has decided to withhold the full context from his audience, here is how it is presented in the original Reuters article:

About 71% of Americans – including majorities of Democrats and Republicans – say decisions about terminating a pregnancy should be left to a woman and her doctor, rather than regulated by the government. But that support is not absolute: 26% of respondents polled said abortion should be legal in all cases while 10% said it should be illegal in all cases. More than half of the 4,409 respondents to the Reuters/Ipsos poll said that abortion should be legal in some cases but illegal in others.

These results are obviously somewhat contradictory, if more than half of Americans believe abortion should be illegal in some cases and 10 per cent believe it should be illegal in all cases then how can 71 per cent believe the government shouldn’t be involved in regulating abortion? Well, respondents in opinion polls sometimes give contradictory answers based on the wording of different questions. Asking whether abortion should be decided by a woman and her doctor likely makes respondents think of medically necessary abortions, which are more popular than elective abortions, hence the high level of support found. The more straightforward wording of the “legal in all/legal in some/illegal in all” question gives a result more in line with previous polling on the subject.

The Context with John Barron allegedly aims to give viewers a more complete view of a subject. But viewers of the abortion episode were told that the US Supreme Court overturned settled law, allowing extreme anti-abortion laws like bans on interstate travel to be forced on an unwilling public who broadly support unrestricted abortion. As with so many ABC programs the point seems to be to reinforce the views of the ABC’s essentially left-leaning audience.


As avid readers are well aware, a certain William (Bill) Thompson – a Melburnian 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.


Just when you (may have) thought that there were enough leftist, left of centre and social democrat comrades on the ABC TV Insiders program, there was yet another newcomer of this ilk on 3 July.  To wit, Network Ten’s Studio 10 presenter Narelda Jacobs.

Media Watch Dog’s avid readers may remember Ms Jacobs’ stunning performances on ABC TV’s Q+A of recent memory.  On 24 February 2021, Comrade Jacobs declared that the “colonial patriarchy want to keep us [Indigenous Australians] oppressed so that they can maintain power”.  She did not identify the “colonial patriarchy” or say who “they” are.  Moreover, the Network Ten journalist did not look oppressed on the night.

Narelda Jacobs received an encore call – appearing on Q+A again on 22 April 2021 – where she had this to say:

When the colonisers came and invaders came along, they brought with them the patriarchy. And the symptoms of the patriarchy and colonialism is misogyny, sexism, racism, discrimination, homophobia, transphobia. None of those things existed before the colonisers came.

So there you have it.  Before 1788 and all that, Australia was perfect one day – and perfect the next.  Then the colonisers arrived and it was the end of Utopia.  Nevertheless, Narelda Jacobs has been able to break through the post-1788 Insiders  patriarchy (executive producer Samuel Clark, presenter David Speers) to win a seat on the Insiders’  couch.

With views like hers, Comrade Jacobs was an obvious choice for Insiders.  Following the entry to the Insiders  couch of one-time Greens candidate Osman Faruqi (5 June) and one-time Labor Party staffer Sean Kelly (26 June) – it made sense of Narelda Jacobs to get a gig on Insiders on 3 July.

Towards the end of the program, discussion turned on the Voice to Parliament proposal.  This is a contentious issue within the Indigenous community. For example, it is opposed by both Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe and Coalition Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price – albeit for different reasons.

The view of such considered Indigenous leaders as Patricia Anderson and Tom Calma is that time is needed to get a Voice to Parliament recognised within the Constitution.  No referendum proposal – requiring a majority of votes throughout Australia along with a majority in at least four out of six states – has succeeded since 1977 (under Malcolm Fraser’s Coalition government). A Labor government has not succeeded in a referendum vote since 1946.  Most referendum proposals are rejected.

For the most part, Insiders presenter Patricia Karvelas (who was standing in for David Speers) along with panellists Nine’s Shane Wright and The Guardian’s  Sarah Martin made considered comments on the issue.  But to Narelda Jacobs (who was the third panellist) it was all straight-forward.  She claimed that the Voice to Parliament “could be done next year” and “no one is going to stand in the way of this, no one”.  Jacobs added “no major party [and] I don’t think any Independent would risk it”.

Certainly Prime Minister Anthony Albanese supports the Voice to Parliament and hopes to achieve this within three years.  But it is not clear as to what will be the position of the Liberal Party or the National Party concerning the proposal (which has yet to be specified).   Moreover, the One Nation Party has two senators and the United Australia Party has one senator – neither party is likely to support a “Yes” vote in a referendum on The Voice.

Narelda Jacobs claimed that the process is “going to be so simple” and seems to believe that a referendum proposal can be put to the electorate and succeed without a bill which covers what would occur if a Yes vote prevailed.

Ms Jacobs asked, “How much detail do people need?” – implying that no such detail was needed. She maintained that “there will” be a 90 per cent “Yes” vote for The Voice.  This is mere wish fulfillment.

Sure, there was a 95 per cent “Yes” vote in the 1967 referendum which brought about a situation whereby Indigenous Australians were included in the census and which gave the Commonwealth government the power to make laws with respect to Aboriginal Australians. However, in 1967 only a “Yes” case was sent to electors – there was no official “No” case.  This is unlikely to be the situation with a referendum on The Voice. Moreover, in 1967 there was no ambiguity in what Australians were asked to vote on.

Constitutional change in Australia is extraordinarily difficult to bring about.  Narelda Jacobs’ contribution on Insiders  was overly optimistic and potentially counterproductive. It was as considered as, say, blaming all the problems experienced by contemporary Indigenous Australians on what happened  in 1788 and after.  Life’s not that simple.

By the way, on the Insiders panel on 3 July, Nine’s Shane Wright claimed that the opposition to a  Voice to Parliament, based on the claim that it would amount to a third chamber (in addition to the Senate and House of Representatives), was an argument of the “far right”.  Maybe it is.  But this was the initial response to the proposal by Malcolm Turnbull when he was prime minister.  See Malcolm Turnbull A Bigger Picture (Hardie Grant, 2020, pp 569-574).  Mr Turnbull may be correct or incorrect on this – but he is not a member of the “far right”.

The chances of a Voice to Parliament being placed in the Constitution will be enhanced if all Australians are consulted, in a measured way, about the proposal – and if the advocates of The Voice recognise the difficulty of getting any referendum proposal carried.  The cause will not be assisted by over-confident assertions bereft of detail.  Narelda Jacobs’ contribution on Insiders was counterproductive.  It would make sense if Insiders invited the likes of Patricia Anderson on to the program for a realistic assessment of the challenge ahead.



Every now and then Media Watch Dog has to be serious.  In this case with respect to the death of Lynette Dawson, who disappeared from her home in Sydney’s North Shore in January 1982 aged 33 years of age.  Currently her husband Chris Dawson is standing trial in the NSW Supreme Court for the murder of his wife Lynette Dawson.  It’s a judge alone case. And, consequently, not one where public comment may affect the attitude of jurors.

The Daily Telegraph and the Sydney Morning Herald reported on 7 July that, in her final submission to Justice Ian Harrison, Dawson’s defence counsel Pauline David raised the matter of then prime minister Harold Holt’s disappearance at sea in December 1967. Ms David is reported to have said: “No one knows where he [Holt] went.”

In fact, Harold Holt went for a swim at Cheviot Beach near Portsea on 17 December 1967.  He was seen to enter the water by his mistress Marjorie Gillespie and her daughter Vyner Gillespie along with Martin Simpson (a medical student) and Alan Stewart.

When Holt entered the water, there was a dangerous surf.  The prime minister had nearly drowned at Cheviot Beach in May 1967 and was rescued by two friends.  On 17 December 1967 Stewart, a fit young man, had entered the water but soon withdrew due to the powerful undercurrent.   Not so Holt who was 59 years old at the time of his death and experiencing medical problems. (See Gerard Henderson’s article in Good Weekend, 13 December 1997).

It is generally accepted that Harold Holt was caught in a rip and taken out to sea.  There have been a number of drownings at Cheviot Beach in the half century since Holt disappeared in full view of four witnesses whose evidence has never been challenged. Moreover, the incident was reported immediately to Victoria Police. Harold Holt’s drowning was in no sense unique – except for the fact that he was prime minister at the time.

In short, there is no comparison between the disappearance of Lynette Dawson in 1982 and Harold Holt’s drowning in 1967.



There has been enormous interest in last week’s Media Watch Dog which reported on the plight of The Guardian Australia’s political reporter Amy  Remeikis.

In recent times, the leftist Crikey newsletter revealed that The Guardian is known to be pretty lousy when it comes to paying staff – apart from its management and a few media “stars”.  This in spite of the fact that The Guardian is an avowedly left-wing newspaper which invariably rails against capitalism, big business (aka the Top End of Town), wage theft and the like – and supports generous wage increases for workers (other than its own, apparently).

On Insiders on 26 June, Amy Remeikis (The Guardian Australia’s political reporter) told the ABC TV Insiders program: “The Guardian is not going to give me a 5 per cent wage increase …like, it’s not going to happen; it would never happen.”

So there you have it.  The Guardian is always banging on about wage justice and all that. But its Canberra-based political reporter declared on national television that her Sydney-based editor-in-chief would never give her a 5 per cent pay increase – even though the headline inflation rate is currently running at 5.1 per cent and many Australian workers have recently received wage increases between 5.1 per cent and 4.6 per cent.

Support for MWD’s fave Remeikis increased dramatically when she tweeted on 29 June 2022 that her landlord had increased the rent by $40 a week for digs where the toilet blocks every six months and the oven won’t work.

Which raises the question.  Has The Guardian Australia’s editor-in-chief Lenore Taylor – who also appears on Insiders  as part of The Guardian/ABC Axis – no shame?  Why are current day (journalistic) descendants of the socialist Manchester Guardian (as it once was in the truly radical days) not prepared to pay wages that make it possible for a Guardian employee to cover a $40 a week rent increase?

Shame, Guardian, Shame!

Jackie (Dip. Wellness, The Gunnedah Institute), comments for MWD:

My morale increased this week when I learnt that Treasurer Jim Chalmers was intent on bringing down a “Wellbeing Budget” in October.  But then I reflected on the plight of wage-slave Remeikis and morale dropped.  It’s time for action. Occupy The Guardian’s office in Sydney’s inner-city Surry Hills until Comrade Remeikis gets wage justice!  Guardian workers rise! – you have nothing to lose but your re-cycled chains!  I hope this helps.