GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG

ISSUE – NO. 596

15 July 2022

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  • PK IN ACTIVIST MODE ACCUSES MINISTER BUTLER OF NOT TALKING SENSE

The ABC invariably declares that it is fair and balanced because it is criticised by both Coalition and Labor governments.  True. But this overlooks the fact that ABC types criticise both Coalition and Labor – but invariably from a leftist or green/left perspective.

Take this morning’s Radio national Breakfast, for example.  Patricia (“Call me PK”) Karvelas interviewed Mark Butler – the Minister for Health and Aged Care.  Comrade Karvelas criticised the Albanese Labor government – running the line, which finds strong expression on the left, that more should be done to tackle COVID-19 by additional expenditure and/or greater regulation.

Early in the interview, PK in activist mode declared that “we’re calling for” the government to reduce the transmission of Covid-19. She soon softened this but it was clear that PK vehemently opposes the Labor government’s policy on this issue.

Let’s go to the transcript as Comrade Karvelas gets stuck into Mark Butler:

Patricia Karvelas:  I don’t mean to be rude and interrupt and I know I can sound like I am, I’m trying to be respectful. But what you’re telling me doesn’t make sense.  It doesn’t make sense to any of the listeners texting in.

With such strong views, perhaps PK should join the Greens and run for Parliament – where she can campaign for all Radio National listeners who text.

  • LATIKA BOURKE ULTRA-RIGHT SHAMES KEMI BADENOCH

In today’s Sydney Morning Herald  and The Age, Latika Bourke has a piece titled “Three candidates pull ahead as race to replace Boris Johnson heats up”.   When assessing the five candidates remaining in the contest to become Britain’s prime minister, Ms Bourke had this to say:

Kemi Badenoch, who is the darling of the Conservatives’ ultra-right wing, is also lagging with just 49 votes.

Sure Britain’s Minister of State for Local Government, Faith and Communities and Minister of State for Equalities (until her resignation in July 2022) is lagging in the contest. But she hardly belongs to the ultra-right wing of British politics.  The Wimbledon-born of Nigerian descent Badenoch does not support net-zero carbon emissions (which she regards as “unilateral economic disarmament”) and does support Brexit. She is against gender-neutral toilets and is a fan of Margaret Thatcher when it comes to economics.

The evidence suggests that Kemi Badenoch is a social, economic and political conservative. But she is no modern-day Oswald Mosley or even Enoch Powell – and certainly not “ultra-right”.  The way Comrade Bourke describes the Tory contestant you would think that she’s the modern-day leader of the British Union of Fascists.  What a load of absolute tosh.

  • SRI LANKA’S DISASTROUS ORGANIC FARMING OBSESSION

The situation in Sri Lanka was not discussed on Q+A last night – nor on Insiders on 10 July. Two discussions on Radio National on 14 July and 15 July failed to mention the disastrous effect on Sri Lankan society of the Rajapaksa government’s decision to impose organic farming. This is discussed in today’s Documentation section.


Can You Bear It?

  • PATRICIA (“I BREAK DEALS”) KARVELAS BREAKS A DEAL LIVE ON AIR

On Tuesday 12 July, Tony Abbott agreed to an interview with Patricia (“Please call me PK”) Karvelas on ABC Radio National Breakfast  following the assassination of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe. It was an interesting discussion as the former Australian prime minister spoke about the Australia-Japan relationship now and in the past – with special focus on his friendship with Mr Abe. And then PK chose to change the topic. Let’s go to the transcript:

Patricia Karvelas: Now, I do have to ask you, because you were very interested in this in your time as prime minister. We now look like we’re going to have a referendum on Indigenous recognition in this term of Parliament. That’s what Anthony Albanese says should happen. The Uluru Statement has been sitting there waiting for attention from, from governments. Do you think the Opposition under Peter Dutton should get on board with this? And advocate for a Yes vote?

Tony Abbott: Now Patricia, I know why you’re asking me this question –

Patricia Karvelas: [Interjecting] Because it’s a good question.

Tony Abbott: We did have, kind of had a deal that we were going to deal only with foreign policy issues. But out of respect for –

Patricia Karvelas: [Interjecting] I break deals.

How about that?  ABC Radio National Breakfast breached an agreement with Tony Abbott to only cover foreign policy issues during his interview with Patricia Karvelas. When Mr Abbott drew attention to this fact, PK proudly boasted: “I break deals.” What about journalistic ethics and all that. And, more importantly, Can You Bear It?

  • FORMER GUARDIAN JOURNO MICHAEL WHITE BOASTS HE’S TALKING “NONSENSE” ABOUT BORIS JOHNSON

It was the morning of Friday 8 July in Australia – not long after Boris Johnson announced that he would be resigning as prime minister of Britain.  So who did the ABC Radio Melbourne’s Mornings program go to for fair and balanced comment?  Michael White, no less, the former political editor of the avowedly left-wing Guardian in London. Comrade White retired from The Guardian in 2016 and now appears regularly on the BBC.  He is not a predictable leftist and has taken some intellectually unfashionable positions over the years – but he is no conservative.

Early in the interview, Virginia Trioli asked Michael White what he thought of Boris Johnson.  Not much – which was no surprise.  He made a few positive and negative comments about the British prime minister before coming to this conclusion: namely, that Prime Minister Johnson “was a loud-mouth liar from day one and always has been”.  White reminded Mornings’  listeners (if listeners there still are) that Johnson was sacked from his first job at The Times of London for making up quotes.  Comrade White gave the impression that this should be a capital crime.

Then the one-time Guardian political editor threw the switch to hyperbole. Let’s go to the transcript:

Michael White: And he [Johnson] hasn’t actually resigned as prime minister…He’s only resigned as the party leader.

Virginia Trioli: He has to go and see the Queen doesn’t he, in order to really relinquish that position?

Michael White: He hasn’t, he hasn’t done that yet. He’s said: “I’ll stand down as a Conservative leader, you can all go out and pick one.” And well, I wonder in his slightly deluded fantasy…he might have [this] up his sleeve:  “Well, maybe things will go bad in in the Ukraine, maybe something dreadful will happen, the economy will get worse and they’ll all change their mind and say `rescue us’.” Or even worse, some sort of version of Trump at the Capitol – where the Conservative Party conference in October will say: “No, no; sack the MPs – don’t sack Boris”. I mean, this is nonsense I’m talking. But not entirely nonsense, because Boris is a fantasist, and a narcissist….

How about that?  Michael White admitted he was talking “nonsense”.  And yet he described Boris Johnson as a fantasist. Can You Bear It?

[Er, no. Not really.  I note that less than a week after Michael White’s fantasy, the Conservative Party short-listed eight candidates to contest the prime ministership which will be determined by 5 September, well before the party’s conference in early October. – MWD Editor.]

  • THE PROJECT’S HAMISH MACDONALD GETS ANGRY WHEN HE GETS A “WRONG” ANSWER TO HIS QUESTION

Alas, Network Ten’s The Project star Lisa Wilkinson is still sitting on the program’s interchange bench (to use a football analogy) due to the (unintended) consequences of her Walkley Award speech which resulted in a criminal trial in the Australian Capital Territory being postponed.  It seems that, like quite a few journalists, Ten’s fave and most experienced presenter does not appear to understand the difference between an allegation and an established fact. But there you go.

On Monday 11 July, Carrie Bickmore returned to The Project’s desk after a WEB (aka Well Earned Break) somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere.  Her fellow panellists were Hamish Macdonald, Steve Price and Peter Helliar.

First up, discussion turned on COVID-19 and the need for mask mandates, work from home requirements and so on.  Tim Piper, Victorian head of the Australian Industry Group, was interviewed. He expressed his concern that employees would be forced to work from home where possible – maintaining that some employers and employees did not want this to be the case.  Comrade Macdonald – in intolerant mode – did not like what he was hearing – as the transcript demonstrates:

Tim Piper: We’re continuing to listen to the health advice and we have to do that. But at the moment the health advice is quite varied. Some are saying this, others are saying it’s not necessary to be, to be literally putting in another mandate –

Hamish Macdonald: [Interjecting] With respect Tim –

Tim Piper: We really need to be listening to what’s good for the economy –  and good, and good for health. That’s what we should have been throughout this pandemic.

Hamish Macdonald: With respect, are you across what the AHPPC recommended?

Tim Piper: I’m across what the AHPP [sic] recommended, but I’m also listening to other medical practitioners who are suggesting that, that we don’t have to be making these mandates at the moment, that we don’t have to be requiring people to be to be staying at home. I don’t think it’s the right message –

Hamish Macdonald: Come on Tim. This is not Trump’s United States where you choose your own adventure and which doctor you listen to. Australia has done pretty well by the [talking over each other] AHPPC….

How intolerant can a Network Ten presenter get? – despite his “with respect” qualification.  For starters, Comrade Macdonald was wrong. The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC)’s statement, released on 8 July, said that “there are a range of behaviours all Australians can undertake to reduce the transmission of COVID-19…”. Note that the word is “can” – not  “must”.

One of the AHPPC’s recommendations is “wearing a mask outside your house when in crowded, indoor environments including on public transport”. Another is that “employers…should consider the feasibility of some employees working from home”.  These recommendations fall far short of what Comrade Macdonald claimed – containing as they do, such words as “should consider”.

As to Hamish Macdonald’s angry assertion that Tim Piper is trying to establish “Trump’s United States where you choose your own adventure and which doctor you listen to” – it’s just bonkers.  The US’s CDC (Centers for Disease Control) remained extant during the Trump administration.  Moreover, as in the US, Australia’s States and Territories are primarily responsible for lockdowns, mask mandates and so on.

No wonder The Project is failing when one of its key presenters gets angry when a guest’s answer is not liked. Can You Bear It?

  • THE AFR’s MICHAEL RODDAN BAGS ONE AFR COLUMNIST – OR IS IT TWO?

Joe Aston who (usually) co-authors the Australian Financial Review’s  “Rear Window” column is a Media Watch Dog fave – and a multiple winner of MWD’s most prestigious Five Paws Award. Alas, your man Aston writes some – but not all – of the column each weekday.

On 13 July, the “Rear Window” segment (written on this occasion by Michael Roddan) fired a full barrel at another MWD fave – Amanda Stoker (whose first column in the AFR appeared on 12 July).  Here’s how the “Rear Window”(non-friendly) fire commenced under the heading “Amanda Stoker’s wild imagination”.

Post-parliamentary careers are often a thing of wonder given Australia’s best and brightest, by virtue of their calling to higher office, generally lack any discernible skills or qualities befitting human beings operating in civil society.  Here at The Australian Financial Review, we have gladly assisted former Liberal National Party senator Amanda Stoker with a fortnightly column….

A harsh judgment, to be sure.  According to Comrade Roddan’s very own wild imagination, Ms Stoker (who represented the Queensland Liberal and National Party in the Senate from 2018 until mid-2022) is one of those post-parliamentary types who “generally lack any discernible skills or qualities befitting human beings operating in the civil society”.

But MWD is aware of another person whose post-parliamentary career has involved writing a fortnightly column for the Australian Financial Review. Step forward Craig Emerson (the Labor Party member for the Queensland seat of Rankin between October 1998 and August 2013).  The said Dr Emerson (for a doctor he is) last filed for the AFR on 5 July. His column was titled “Why the RBA must not over-react and slam on the brakes.”

Maybe Michael Roddan regards both Amanda Stoker and Craig Emerson as lacking any discernible skills or qualities befitting human beings operating in a civil society?  In which case – Can You Bear It?

[Could it be that the clever Mr Stutchbury (the AFR’s editor-in-chief) has decided to balance the AFR’s Opinion Page by publishing the views of one ex-LNP parliamentarian and one ex-ALP parliamentarian – both of whom (allegedly) lack any discernible skills?  Just a thought.  – MWD Editor.]

  • CONSTITUTIONAL IGNORANCE ON NEWS BREAKFAST

What a stunning inaugural performance by Lizzie O’Shea – chair of Digital Rights Watch – on ABC TV’s News Breakfast program on 13 July. James Glenday and Lisa Millar were in the presenters’ chairs.

It was the “Newspapers” segment – and discussion turned on a report from that very morning that the Albanese Labor government is considering increasing the number of senators in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory from a total of two to four each.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Lizzie O’Shea: And then [the Labor government is] also looking at increasing the number of senators for territories. I didn’t realise this actually. But the NT has two senators for 250,000 people; the ACT has the same number for 460,000 people. And meanwhile, Tasmania with 560,000 people has 12 senators. So, you get a bit more value out of your vote if you’re a Tasmanian, I think, in the upper house. And so I think there will be support amongst those communities for an increase in representation. The aim is to introduce these measures in 2023 – and for it to be considered by a parliamentary committee. I think they’ll be popular so I wouldn’t be surprised if they do get introduced –  yeah.

Yeah. So here is ABC News Breakfast’s expert commentator for the day – who until the morning of 13 July 2022 was not aware that each state of the Commonwealth of Australia has an equal number of senators. After all, this has been part of the Constitution since 1901. See The Australian Constitution Section 7. James Glenday and Lisa Millar did not help in this instance.

As to representation.  If it’s somehow unfair that Tasmania should have 12 senators with a population of 560,000 people – why is it fair that the ACT should have four senators for a population of 460,000?  After all NSW, which surrounds the ACT, has a population of 8.365 million – and it has 12 senators.

Which raises the question – what does Comrade O’Shea think about “the value” of votes in the ACT and the Northern Territory (which has a population of 253,000) if this proposal goes ahead. More importantly – Can You Bear It?


In 1967 the music hall entertainer Ken Dodd (1927-2018) sang the song “It’s a Funny Old World” in his album For Someone Special. The term was popularised by British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in November 1990 when she was forced by her Conservative Party colleagues to step down. At her final cabinet meeting the Iron Lady reflected: “It’s a funny old world”.  And so it is – as this MWD segment demonstrates.

  • SMH REPORTER CAROLYN CUMMINS MISSES IRONY OF ECO-CATASTROPHIST BUYING AN ISLAND DESPITE PREDICTIONS OF RISING SEA LEVELS

Did anyone see the report by Carolyn Cummins (Nine Newspapers’ commercial property editor) in the Sydney Morning Herald on 13 July titled “Cannon-Brookes’ wife snaps up Dunk Island for $24m”?  Just when you would have thought that Annie Cannon-Brookes deserved to be regarded as a businesswoman in her own right – she was referred to as some bloke’s wife by a Nine sub-editor and reporter.  Here’s how the report commenced:

Annie Cannon-Brookes, the wife of tech billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes, has added to her vast property portfolio with the purchase of Dunk Island in Far North Queensland for $24 million with plans to rejuvenate the faded resort. It is the first foray into the Great Barrier Reef region for the Cannon-Brookes’ who sit in third place on the AFR Rich List and own an extensive array of real estate in NSW including homes in Sydney’s upmarket eastern suburbs, Pittwater and six significant properties in the Southern Highlands….

A spokesperson for Annie Cannon-Brookes said: “Annie has purchased the land with the intent to preserve its natural beauty for years to come”. The 147 ha freehold Dunk Island, which has been closed since early 2011 after being battered by Cyclone Yasi, has an existing 160-room hotel, a 9-hole golf course and a day spa. It sits 4 km off Mission Beach near Cairns.

Hang on a minute.  Isn’t Ms Cannon-Brookes – wife of Mike Cannon-Brookes (he of what Paul Keating once used to call the Hyphenated-Name Set of Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs) – concerned about global warming, rising sea levels and all that?  Sure is. So why has she bought an island in Queensland’s far north – not far from the Torres Strait where sea levels are said to be rising to dangerous levels?

Also, Nine’s intrepid reporter did not tell readers that, according to Ms Cannon-Brookes’ spokesperson, the intention is to preserve Dunk Island’s natural beauty “for years to come”.  Well, this could occur.  But if the predictions of the Cannon-Brookes husband and wife team are to be taken seriously it’s more likely that Dunk Island will become like an underwater ship-wreck for years to come – where its existing 160 room hotel can be used for diving and its day-spa will be surplus to requirements.

Come to think of it, the eco-catastrophist Cannon-Brookes family has been buying a lot of seaside properties – in spite of rising oceans and all that – in such places as Sydney Harbour and Pittwater.

It’s A Funny Old World – of which Carolyn Cummins seems unaware.


DOCUMENTATION

  • SRI LANKA’s BAN ON INORGANIC PESTICIDES AND FERTILISERS – WHAT THE MEDIA DOES NOT ALWAYS TELL YOU

The economic crisis in Sri Lanka is the result of many bad decisions made by the Sri Lankan government in recent times as well as global events. Among the contributing factors are:

  • A multi-year downturn in Sri Lanka’s large tourism sector due to the 2019 Easter bombings and COVID.
  • Severe tax cuts in 2019 which decreased tax revenue as a percentage of GDP by almost a third. This forced the government to print money to cover spending and to service foreign debts.
  • Large infrastructure projects financed by foreign debts.
  • The global energy crisis brought on by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Perhaps the most unusual factor in the Sri Lankan crisis is the decision by the government, in April 2021, to ban the import of inorganic pesticides and fertilisers.

In recent decades residents of some agricultural regions of Sri Lanka have experienced an unexplained spate of chronic kidney disease. Agrochemicals have been investigated as one potential contributing factor, however no definitive cause has been identified.

Nevertheless, the Sri Lankan government, led by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his brother, Prime Minister and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, pushed ahead with the ban. In doing so they dismissed the concerns of many within the Sri Lankan scientific community and agricultural industry who warned this would devastate the industry, listening instead to proponents of organic agriculture who claimed sudden transition to organics could be achieved without a substantial fall in yields.

The impacts of the ban were swift and severe. Domestic production of rice, a staple food in the Sri Lankan diet, fell by 20 per cent in the first six months. Sri Lanka had to start importing rice, after previously being self-sufficient, and the domestic price of rice has soared.

Sri Lanka is one of the world’s largest exporters of tea and faced with falling production the government had to partially lift the inorganic fertiliser ban for some export crops in November 2021, before fully lifting the ban for those crops in February 2022. The government had to offer partial compensation to farmers who suffered losses, further exacerbating the economic crisis.

Today, amidst the ongoing political and economic crisis, the price of food has risen by 80 per cent and the United Nations estimates that three quarters of Sri Lankans are reducing their food consumption due to shortages. Due to the collapse of the Sri Lankan economy, food and fertiliser imports are limited and it is likely that without international humanitarian aid the country will experience a famine.


AN UPDATE ON THE ABC’S CAMPAIGN AGAINST CARDINAL PELL

On Thursday 14 July, there was considerable news around.  Overseas, the Sri Lankan government was about to be overturned while at home the Albanese government was being criticised by some State governments over its handling of COVID-19.

But ABC News led with a story about Cardinal George Pell – thus continuing its decade-long campaign against Australia’s best-known Catholic.  This is how ABC News Online covered the story at 8.42 am on 14 July – which was updated at 11.04 am.

The father of a former choirboy, who prosecutors alleged had been abused by George Pell, has launched legal action against the cardinal and the Catholic Church. In December 2018, Cardinal Pell was convicted of abusing two choirboys in the 1990s during his time as archbishop of Melbourne. Two years later the High Court of Australia quashed the convictions in a unanimous decision, and the cardinal — who has always maintained his innocence — walked free. One of the former choirboys died in 2014 of a drug overdose. His father, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was told by police about the alleged abuse of his son a year later. He has now launched legal action against Cardinal Pell and the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne in the Supreme Court of Victoria.

The fact is that Victoria Police set up an inquiry into George Pell’s behaviour a year before anyone made a complaint.  It was the case of the police in search of a crime. In the event Victoria Police charged Pell with 26 offences of historical child sexual assault. Only five made it to trial and all five convictions were quashed by a unanimous decision of the High Court of Australia.

Sure, the Victorian Office of Public Prosecutions alleged some years ago that Cardinal George Pell had sexually assaulted two boys in the mid-1990s, but this was hardly a suitable lead to a story about a claim made against Pell in the civil jurisdiction.  Unless the ABC was intent on a beat-up. It was unprofessional journalism.  As anyone who followed the Pell Case impartially through the courts will know, the Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions’ case fell apart in George Pell v The Queen before the High Court of Australia.  Put simply, Kerri Judd QC could not explain how Pell’s alleged assaults against J and the late R (as they were referred to in the District Court of Victoria) could have occurred.

The father of R – who is referred to as RWQ – is taking a civil action against Pell for psychological harm suffered after he was told by Victoria Police that his son had been assaulted by Pell. In its initial coverage of the civil claim, ABC News did not report that all parties agreed in the District Court trial (i) that R had told his mother that he had not been sexually assaulted and (ii) that R’s death from an accidental heroin overdose was not related to any sexual assault he may have suffered as a result of any alleged action by Pell.

The ABC’s focus on the civil case – which was not even matched by other media outlets engaged in the earlier Pell media pile-on (e.g. The Guardian Australia and The Age) suggests that the taxpayer funded public broadcaster is seeking payback for the fact that its long-running campaign against Pell was discredited by the unanimous decision of the Full Court of the High Court of Australia.

The fact is that some ABC journalists have never accepted the High Court’s decision. Take Louise Milligan, for example, who led the ABC’s pile-on against Pell. On 14 July she sent out this tweet:

The problem with the case against Pell concerning which Milligan is in denial –  turns on the fact that no one has been able to explain how Pell could have attacked J and R in a public place where witnesses (whose evidence was not challenged) placed Pell at the front of St Patrick’s Cathedral when the alleged assault was alleged to have taken place in the priests’ sacristy behind the altar.

If Louise Milligan wants to be a serious reporter – and not an activist with a cause – she would describe in writing how the attack could have taken place with reference to all the evidence.  She has not done so – presumably because, like Kerri Judd QC – she cannot explain the case against Pell.

All seven judges of the High Court found that Pell was not guilty beyond reasonable doubt – and the unanimous judgment even referred to the possibility that an innocent person had been wrongly convicted. This term is rarely used when appeal courts overturn jury verdicts.

The ABC invariably beats up any claim against Pell.  But it censors those with a contrary view.  For example, the ABC has refused to discuss the books written on the Pell Case by Keith Windschuttle, Frank Brennan and Gerard Henderson.  Moreover, before Pell’s acquittal, ABC journalist Noel Debien said that he did not feel comfortable expressing the view within the ABC that Pell was not guilty – even in private.

The problem with the ABC remains that the staff run the organisation. In this case, the likes of Milligan are intent on continuing the case against Pell – while the ABC managing director and editor-in-chief David Anderson refuses to respond to correspondence as to why the public broadcaster has “cancelled” those who have written (considered and analytical) books on the Pell Case with a different perspective from that of Louise Milligan and her ABC supporters.

In time, that current matter will be resolved in the first instance in the Supreme Court of Victoria.  Moreover, the matter could be appealed to the High Court – outside of the Victorian jurisdiction.

The ABC’s current excitement about the case in its very early stage does not warrant its beat-up.


YOUR TAXES AT WORK

  • COMMONWEALTH AND NSW TAXPAYERS FORCED TO FUND YET ANOTHER LITERARY FESTIVAL LEFTIST STACK – THIS TIME AT BYRON BAY – STARRING BARRIE CASSIDY & “RED” KERRY O’BRIEN

There was enormous interest in the previous issue of Media Watch Dog – which discussed the forthcoming Canberra Writers Festival. Needless to say, it’s (yet) another leftist stack.  The only way a conservative is likely to be found on a Canberra Writers Week platform is if they get lost on the way to the Canberra headquarters of the Liberal Party of Australia after celebrating Gin & Tonic Week.

MWD is yet to examine the (literary) team that will run on to the park/field at the Byron Writers Festival, which is scheduled to run between 26 and 28 August.  However, Helen Pitt gave us all an idea of what is to come in her report in the Sydney Morning Herald on 13 July titled “Byron’s back on the books with a focus on climate”.

The theme for the 2022 BWF is – yes, you’ve guessed it – “Radical Hope” about climate change. Not just Hope – but Radical Hope, as befits a taxpayer funded literary festival.  The BWF’s artistic director Zoe Pollock told Helen Pitt: “We are making a deliberate statement that the arts need to put climate change front and centre of our cultural conversation.” Groan. Once upon a time, we mere mortals engaged in a discussion.  Now having a “Conversation” is the fave cliché of the (literary) moment.

Jackie’s (male) co-owner is most interested in Helen Pitt’s report about the CONVERSATION on journalism, the media and all that which will take place at the Byron Writers Festival. Here is how it is described:

Journalist Barrie Cassidy will host the inaugural Mungo Panel named in honour of legendary journalist and long-time Byron Writers Festival stalwart, the late Mungo MacCallum. Joining the Mungo Panel will be Kerry O’Brien, Karen Middleton and Margaret Simons to ask “Has the Media Lost Its Mojo?”

How about that?  The BWF media discussion is named after the late Mungo MacCallum (1941-2020) whose death was previously – and prematurely – announced in a tweet by fellow leftist Anne Summers as early as 2014. Either Comrade Summers got it wrong in 2014 – or our man Mungo arose from the dead and remained among us for almost another decade.

The Mungo Panel at the Byron Writers Festival will comprise Barrie Cassidy (ex-ABC and a former Bob Hawke staffer), Kerry O’Brien (ex-ABC and a former Gough Whitlam staffer), Karen Middleton (Anthony Albanese biographer who writes for that leftist weekly epistle The [Boring] Saturday Paper) and Margaret Simons (a left-of-centre academic and former journalist who palled-up with the late Malcolm Fraser and co-wrote his biography around the time Mr Fraser palled-up with the Greens.)

MWD is of the view that it’s unwise to make predictions – especially about the future. However, in this instance, it seems at least likely that Barrie will agree with Kerry who will agree with Margaret who will agree with Kerry who will agree with Karen who will agree with Barrie who will agree with Kerry who will agree with himself that, yes, the media has lost its mojo and does not know where to find it.  And it’s all the fault of Rupert Murdoch and News Corp. Or something like that.

Here’s hoping that the sandal-wearing leftists who rock up to the 2022 BWF also get to hear from Mungo himself.  Sure the Sage of Ocean Shores (near Byron Bay) has died – sorry, “passed”. But, with a little help from MWD fave the psychic medium John Edward, it may be possible to communicate with Mungo.  If so, Comrade MacCallum will be able to agree with Barrie after he agrees with Kerry and Karen and Margaret about – Zzzzzzz.

Can there be a more boring time than to go to a taxpayer funded literary festival where everyone agrees with everyone else on about everything?  According to BWF artistic director Zoe Pollock, the answer is in the negative and reckons that BWF attendees will be “uplifted by listening”. Go on. Yawn.

By the way, the 2022 Byron Writers Festival is funded by the NSW government and the Australian government.

Your Taxes at Work – for yet another writers’ festival leftist stack.


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 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. Now read on.

  • NINE’S SHANE WRIGHT’S COMPARISON BETWEEN COAL TODAY AND CANDLESTICKS A CENTURY AGO – DISCREDITED ONCE MORE

Thanks to the avid reader who drew Media Watch Dog’s attention to the recent report by Phil O’Donoghoe, chief economist for Deutsche Bank in Australia.  This is how it commenced under the heading “Australia’s largest export commodity isn’t iron ore. It’s coal.” :

Australia chalked up two notable trade records in May [2022]; the overall trade surplus rose to $16bn, a fresh record high. Even more remarkably, coal replaced iron ore as Australia’s single most valuable export commodity. …The value of coal exports rose to $14.7bn in May, compared to $14.5bn for the value of iron ore exports. That is the first time the value of coal exports has exceeded the value of iron ore exports in 13 years (April 2009). And since 2000, the value of coal exports has only outstripped iron ore 12 times, most of those months were during the GFC.

…Surging coal (and other energy) prices are delivering a significant boost to Australia’s national income, one of the reasons we, and the RBA it seems, remain comfortable looking for activity to remain robust over the second half of 2022, even as US recession fears have escalated in recent weeks.

The report went on to express a more pessimistic view for 2023 on the back of a rise in unemployment and the likely absence of a new mining investment boom.

So here’s the situation.   In 2017 Shane Wright prophesied on ABC TV Insiders program that coal is as relevant today as candlesticks were over a century ago.  Just five years after your man made this comment, coal is Australia’s leading export.

Yet Shane Wright remains the senior economics correspondent of Nine’s The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.  Enough said.

 

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Until next time.

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