GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG
ISSUE – NO. 606
23 September 2022
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CONTRARY TO MYTHOLOGY – JOSH FRYDENBERG WHEN TREASURER WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR PROVIDING ADDITIONAL FUNDING TO THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES
Media Watch Dog watches Sky News’ The Front Page (presenter Jenna Clarke) at 10pm on Mondays to Thursdays. Last night, Caroline Di Russo was one of the panelists. When discussing The Canberra Times’ front page story today, she had this to say about the funding of Canberra’s national museums, galleries and the like:
Caroline Di Russo: Before the election, Labor did have a bit of a win against the Coalition in relation to the National Archives. There’s a whole heap of stuff in the National Archives that was deteriorating and needed to be digitalised. … Labor, in Senate Estimates, did get a bit of a kick into the Coalition. And – and, frankly, if we’re [i.e. the Coalition] going to be the traditionalist and the conservatives and all that kind of – we should probably start with our National Archives.
This is inaccurate. In June 2021, the National Archives was given additional funding of $67.7 million over five years for the preservation of records at risk. This did not come about due to the advocacy of the Labor Party, then in opposition. Nor, contrary to some mythology, was it the result of lobbying by prominent authors and journalists.
In fact, the decision to increase funding of the National Archives was the personal initiative of Josh Frydenberg, which was supported by the Cabinet. The then treasurer arranged to meet David Fricker – the then head of the National Archives of Australia – who arranged for Frydenberg to have a detailed briefing on the NAA’s holding of records during the early prime ministerships of Robert Menzies, John Curtin and the like.
Josh Frydenberg was the Member for Kooyong, Robert Menzies’ seat, when he was in the House of Representatives, and is a close friend of Menzies’ daughter Heather Henderson.
After consulting David Fricker, Frydenberg was convinced that more funding was required to preserve historical records which were deteriorating and would ultimately disintegrate.
It is to be hoped that Labor will adequately fund the NAA. However, Josh Frydenberg deserves credit for the additional funding provided to the National Archives in 2021.
RAF EPSTEIN & DAVID SPEERS – ALL AT SEA OVER NORTHERN IRELAND AND IRELAND
As covered in Media Watch Dog’s last issue, the ABC sent reinforcements to Britain to cover events leading up to the Queen’s funeral. Three ABC Radio presenters got the privileged gig. Namely Raf Epstein and Virginia Trioli from Melbourne plus Richard Glover from Sydney. ABC Radio presenters based in Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Hobart were overlooked – as were presenters in regional stations.
So, how did the fave trio go? MWD hears readers cry. Last week it was revealed that both Comrades Glover and La Trioli had provided essential information to ABC listeners. The former advised of the names of Elizabeth II’s first horse and first corgi while the latter reported that the crowds in London were so thick on the ground that “journalists are actively trying to interview journalists”. Which is precisely what Comrades Glover and Trioli were up to.
And then it was over to your man Epstein. This is what he had to say when interviewed by David Speers on ABC TV’s Insiders on 18 September:
Raf Epstein: What’s really interesting to me is how much of a role the sovereign, the new King, can actually have in the thorniest questions that this country has. When King Charles III was in Belfast, he shook hands with the Irish head of state. That’s never happened between the two heads of state in Belfast.
Talk about confusion. King Charles visited Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, on 14 September. There he met a number of Northern Irish politicians – including Sinn Fein vice-president Michelle O’Neill and the Democratic Unionist Party leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson. Ms O’Neill is Northern Ireland’s First Minister-elect.
According to your man Epstein, when in Belfast King Charles “shook hands with the Irish Head of State”. The head of state (ie president) of Ireland is Michael D Higgins and he is based in Dublin. Moreover, Ms O’Neill is not Northern Ireland’s head of state – that position is held by King Charles.
The first British monarch to shake hands with an Irish head of state in the island of Ireland occurred when Queen Elizabeth II made an official visit to the Republic of Ireland in May 2011 where she met Mary McAleese, Ireland’s then president, at her official residence in Phoenix Park.
Well done Comrade Epstein – in his report on the King and Ireland he got everything right – except, er, the facts. And David Speers did not notice the howlers. Either your man Speers was not listening – or he shares Comrade Epstein’s ignorance on the United Kingdom (including Northern Ireland) and the republic of Ireland. Either way, Can You Bear It?
ANDREW PROBYN’s INSIDERS’ DAY OUT – IN WHICH HE COMPARED MUCH OF THE RESERVE BANK BOARD TO 14-15 YEAR OLDS
While on the topic of Insiders on 18 September, what a stunning performance by ABC political editor Andrew Probyn – who was a panelist on 18 September.
Early on, your man Probyn was doing well. He commented that former prime minister Scott Morrison “has been smashed from one way to the next, hit all over the head over everything he did in government”. The ABC political editor then pointed out how the Morrison government’s decision to purchase nuclear-powered submarines had been embraced by the Albanese Labor government.
But then followed a discussion where Andrew Probyn stumbled with respect to the Reserve Bank of Australia and interest rates. Let’s go to the transcript:
Andrew Probyn: I’m reliably told that, for example, when the board is presented with the advice as to what they should do, they have to really dumb it down. Write it for, say, the equivalent of a 14 or 15-year old, because there are people who might not understand.
Turn it up. The members of the Reserve Bank Board are Philip Lowe (chair), Michele Bullock (deputy chair), Mark Barnaba, Wendy Craik, Ian Harper, Carolyn Hewson, Steven Kennedy and Carol Schwartz.
Governor Lowe and deputy governor Bullock are ARB employees and Steven Kennedy is Secretary of the Treasury Department. The remaining board members are highly experienced in business and/or highly credentialled economists.
It’s absolute tosh to suggest that the likes of Carolyn Hewson and Ian Harper have to be treated as if they are aged 14 or 15 when Reserve Bank Board papers are prepared. Fellow panellist Jennifer Hewett corrected Comrade Probyn’s claim, pointing out that RBA Board members are “not dumb”. But presenter David Speers said nothing. Can You Bear It?
CORY BERNARDI ON THE SOVEREIGN AS HAVING ONE OF THE TOUGHEST GIGS IN THE WORLD
As readers will recall, on 9 September, the day the Queen’s death was announced in Australia – Media Watch Dog paid tribute to Elizabeth II’s exemplary role as the Sovereign and also praised her as a fine Christian leader. However, it is appropriate to note that, at times, some of the media commentary has been a bit over the top.
On 20 September, Cory Bernardi stood in for Paul Murray as presenter of Paul Murray Live on Sky News. Your man Murray was in transit to Australia having been one of Sky News’ small – but highly efficient – contingent covering the death and burial of Queen Elizabeth II.
Towards the beginning of PML, your man Bernardi had this to say:
Cory Bernardi: But let’s reflect. We’ve never had a live global telecast of a British ruler’s funeral. To see her heirs and successors upholding their dignity and duty in the face of incredible personal and public loss is a reminder of just perhaps how restrictive the role can be. Personally, I can’t think of a worse job anyone could have than to be the head of the British Royal Family. To my mind, it would be one of the toughest gigs in a world, filled with mind-numbing tedium and incredible constraint.
Now, Media Watch Dog has no experience of being head of the British Royal Family. And blue-heeler Jackie, not being of Corgi Royal Stock, has no understanding of what it means to be a Royal canine. But it would seem that there may be some worse gigs out there.
Indeed, Cory Bernardi seems to be forgetting that there are many jobs that require years of training and a high level of skill along with a risk of injury, emotional trauma or even death. Whereas being a king or queen requires being born royal along with a certain degree of longevity in order to inherit the throne from the current sovereign. Sure the work is demanding – but there is no risk of being fired for poor performance.
Here’s a little list of a few jobs that may be tougher than being born into Royalty:
Asbestos removal technician
Nurse or paramedic
Bomb disposal engineer
Media Watch Dog proofreader
In relation to Cory Bernardi’s claim that being the Sovereign is one of the toughest gigs in the world, MWD asks: Can You Bear It?
Jim Bain died on Friday 9 September 2022 at age 92 years. Jim played an important, and at times controversial, role in the reform and development of the Australian financial system. In business, he is best known as the head of investment bank Bain & Company and chairman of the Sydney Stock Exchange between 1983 and 1987. Jim is credited with introducing Screen trading to Australia.
But there was more to Bain than business. Jim was primarily responsible for the establishment of what became The Sydney Institute on 31 March 1989. When introducing John Howard as the guest speaker at the Institute’s 30th Anniversary Dinner on 27 March 2019, Gerard Henderson, the executive director of The Sydney Institute, had this to say:
At the end of 1986, I received a call from the Sydney businessman Jim Bain who asked me to take over an old organisation in Sydney with a view to reviving it. Jim and Janette made a very generous personal financial contribution over three years. Without Jim’s role, we would not be here tonight.
Gerard Henderson also spoke about the formation of The Sydney Institute when introducing Katharine Birbalsingh, who delivered The Sydney Institute’s inaugural Jim & Janette Bain Occasional Lecture in September 2011.
Jim Bain was unusual among many business figures of his generation in that he always maintained an interest in ideas. In retirement, he wrote three books: The Remarkable Roller Coaster: Forty Years in the Australian Finance Industry (2001), A Financial Tale of Two Cities: Sydney and Melbourne’s Remarkable Contest for Commercial Supremacy (2007) and Uncertain Beginnings: The Remarkable Story of how Australia was Colonised by the British rather than the Portuguese, the Spanish, the Dutch or the French (2011). Gerard Henderson launched Jim’s first book and he addressed The Sydney Institute (with Edna Carew) on the publication of his second book.
In his Who’s Who in Australia entry, Jim Bain described himself, inter alia, as The Sydney Institute’s founding donor. Towards the end of his life, Jim Bain told Gerard Henderson that playing a key role in the formation of The Sydney Institute was one of the best things he ever did.
Vale Jim Bain – With deepest thanks from The Sydney Institute and its supporters.
THE ABC AND THE QUEEN’s FUNERAL: IT WAS ALL WHITE ON THE NIGHT AND DURING THE DAY
In his recently published booklet Now More Than Ever: Australia’s ABC (Monash University Publishing, 2022), ABC managing director and editor-in-chief David Anderson had this to say when stating what “reinforces the importance of the role played by the public broadcaster”:
If the ABC is to be truly effective in representing the diversity of experience in Australian life, we must ourselves achieve greater diversity. With a broader pool of storytellers, we will be better equipped to reflect the breadth and depth of the changing Australian experience.
Fine sentiments, to be sure. So, how did the taxpayer funded public broadcaster go with respect to “representing the diversity in Australian life” along with “the breadth and depth of the changing Australian experience” in so far as its coverage of Elizabeth II’s death is concerned? Alas, not too well.
As pointed out in the last issue, the ABC sent journalistic reinforcements from Australia and the United States to join its journalists already based in London. The contingent consisted of Raf Epstein (ABC Radio Melbourne), James Glenday (ABC, USA), Richard Glover (ABC Radio Sydney), Barbara Miller (ABC, USA), Michael Rowland (ABC TV, News Breakfast), Sally Sara (ABC Radio, The World Today) and Virginia Trioli (ABC Radio, Melbourne) – plus Lisa Millar (ABC TV News Breakfast) who was not mentioned previously.
How about that? Despite David Anderson banging on about the ABC’s commitment to achieving greater diversity, none of the ABC’s hand-picked soviet of blokes and sheilas despatched to England and Scotland for the Royal funeral were Australians of colour.
If there is to be a second edition of Mr Anderson’s Now More Than Ever tome – perhaps Page 32 could be amended to reflect the ABC’s commitment to achieving greater diversity in its programming by adding the following words – “except when the King or Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Supreme Governor of the Church of England dies”.
LAURA TINGLE’s ILL-INFORMED CRITIQUE OF THE AUKUS NUCLEAR-POWERED SUBMARINE PROPOSAL
Friday 16 September marked the one-year anniversary of the announcement of the AUKUS security deal between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. The first major initiative of AUKUS is the acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines by Australia. It was announced that the specifics of this acquisition would be decided during an 18-month period of consultation between the three partner nations.
As acknowledged by Andrew Probyn on the 18 September 2022 edition of Insiders, the Albanese government has embraced AUKUS and the nuclear submarine deal. Despite this, ABC presenters have used the 12-month anniversary to suggest that something has gone awry with the submarine deal.
First up was Insiders presenter David Speers, who on 18 September put this question to Defence Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles:
David Speers: It’s a year since the AUKUS deal was struck. We still have no idea which nuclear submarine Australia will purchase, what they’ll cost, when they’ll be ready for use. You have said during the week the optimal pathway is taking shape. That sounds a little vague. Where is this up to?
Richard Marles: Well, it’s on track is the answer. So, this was an 18‑month process that was announced by the former government. We’ve inherited that process, and expanded it a bit, I might say, but made sure it remains on track. And we’re confident we will be able to make an announcement about which submarine in the first part of next year.
This answer was apparently not enough for 7:30 political correspondent Laura Tingle who, while filing in as presenter for Sarah Ferguson on Wednesday 23 September, repeated David Speers’ suggestion it is unusual or troubling that we do not have more information.
Laura Tingle: Now 12 of those months are gone but we know virtually nothing more about what AUKUS will provide, and in particular, what is happening to Australia’s future submarine capability.
Tingle also raised the idea that Australia’s acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines could violate international law:
Laura Tingle: The US and UK boats run on weapons grade, or highly enriched, uranium. This was sold as a positive as it would mean you never had to refuel the subs or touch the sealed reactor. But talk of us acquiring such boats has already raised questions about whether it would put Australia on the wrong side of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty – a point being aggressively pushed by China but which has also been raised by Indonesia.
Perhaps Comrade Tingle could have consulted with Comrade Ferguson who, in a Tuesday 5 July 2022 interview, raised similar points with Rafael Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA):
Sarah Ferguson: Let me ask you this, the submarines that Australia is planning to use will have reactors fuelled by highly enriched, or weapons-grade uranium. Is that where the regulatory problems lie?
Rafael Grossi: It is not because it is high enriched uranium. Whatever material you have, uranium, plutonian [sic], whatever material you may have, falls under the inspection regime of the IAEA.
So a nuclear submarine can have high enriched uranium or low enriched uranium and by the way Australia are still to define what kind of submarine class, what kind of technology, what kind of approach it is going to have, and then we will know. In any case, high enriched, low enriched uranium, we must inspect it.
Sarah Ferguson: Would your agency have concerns if Australia decided to produce its own highly enriched uranium. That’s to say weapon grade uranium, for use in its own submarines in the future?
Rafael Grossi: Weapon grade, when you talk about weapon grade, you have to bear in mind that you are talking about 90 per cent enrichment. So it is not a given that this is the level of enrichment that Australia would be using probably it would be less than that.
But your question has another aspect and whether we would be concerned if Australia decided to embark on a uranium enrichment project. I don’t think this is the case but if it was, this is not out of line with international norms. The only thing you need to do is to subject your operations to stringent inspections by the IAEA.
Sarah Ferguson: How heavy is the lobbying from China and Russia to stop your approval?
Rafael Grossi: Well, I think it is a public matter that some countries have characterised this project as a negative development, even as something that might run counter to international non-proliferation norms.
As I said, the international norms do allow, or do not forbid, countries from pursuing naval nuclear propulsion but of course this must be done in the right way and here’s the key of the issue.
Laura Tingle chose to raise the idea that Australia could be violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. She did not let 7:30 viewers know that the head of the agency that enforces the treaty had previously said, on 7:30, that Australian nuclear-powered submarines would not violate the treaty if properly monitored by the IAEA.
THE HAWTHORN FOOTBALL CLUB AND FORMER INDIGENOUS PLAYERS
Could it be that Australia is again in the midst of a media pile-on fuelled by the ABC?
On 21 September, ABC TV News led with a story that an external review commissioned by the Hawthorn Football Club had accused the HFC of separating First Nations players from their families and, in one instance, pressured a couple to terminate a pregnancy. The report named then Hawthorn coaches Alastair Clarkson and Chris Fagan as the key HFC staff against whom the allegations were made.
The report was undertaken by the Binmada consulting company. Over 20 former Indigenous HFC players and their families were interviewed – and three families involved spoke to the ABC. Binmada’s report was provided to the HFC and a copy forwarded to the Australian Football League. The document was leaked to the ABC. Neither Clarkson nor Fagan were interviewed by Binmada and both have subsequently stridently denied the allegations.
This is the situation as it stands. Most serious allegations have been made against Clarkson and Fagan – but they have not been heard in response to the claims. As is usual in such cases, the complaints are anonymous. Meanwhile, the AFL is in the process of setting up its own inquiry. Already there is a media pile-on with respect to their former Hawthorn coaches – led by the ABC and Nine newspapers.
Media Watch Dog has no views on the details of the matter. Except to state that Alastair Clarkson and Chris Fagan have already suffered huge reputational damage before being able to present their case. Both men have chosen to step down from the current coaching roles at North Melbourne and Brisbane respectively.
It is to be hoped that the AFL’s inquiry will commence as soon as possible and that those against whom allegations have been made will be able to receive a fair hearing, despite the evident media pile-on. This is required if both the complainants and those against whom allegations have been made are to receive justice.
Media Watch Dog’s Five Paws Award was inaugurated in Issue Number 26 (4 September 2009) during the time of Nancy (2004-2017). The first winner was ABC TV presenter Emma Alberici. Ms Alberici scored for remembering the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 23 August 1939 whereby Hitler and Stalin divided Eastern Europe between Germany and the Soviet Union. And for stating that the Nazi-Soviet Pact had effectively started the Second World War, since it was immediately followed by Germany’s invasion of Poland (at a time when the Soviet Union had become an ally of Germany) and the Soviet Union’s conquest of the Baltic States.
Over the years, the late Nancy’s Five Paws Award has become one of the world’s most prestigious gongs – rating just below the Nobel Prize and Academy Awards.
ZANY SAMANTHA MAIDEN CALLS FOR REGIME CHANGE AT THE AUSTRALIAN REPUBLIC MOVEMENT
It’s invariably useful to hear Samantha Maiden, news.com.au’s political editor, on the “Politics” slot on the ABC Radio National Breakfast program at Hangover Time on Friday. This segment once used to involve ABC TV Insiders David Speers presenter talking to the Breakfast presenter. Your man Speers rarely says anything fresh in such discussions. However, the zany Maiden livens up the segment when she appears with Speers and Patricia Karvelas.
When discussion turned this morning to the role of the Australian Republic Movement – chair Peter FitzSimons, aka the Red Bandannaed One – who is a Nine journalist – Ms Maiden threw the switch to lively. Let’s go to the transcript:
Samantha Maiden: I think the more significant issue is – the Republican Movement has got to get its act together. Because I think that there is a legitimate criticism that it’s become too captured by the wealthy, by the Eastern Seaboard, by media elites and all the rest of it. And they have to make a case for change. And, you know, I think that they probably have to engage in a bit of generational change as well, in terms of who their leadership is.
Good point. Comrade FitzSimons is one of the most divisive individuals in Australian politics – who consistently attacks political and social conservatives. Only the delusional believe a majority of Australians in a majority of states will vote for Australia to become a republic at the urging of a hectoring millionaire middle-aged man who lives near Sydney Harbour and boasts about driving an expensive Tesla – and who, for a decade, wore a red rag on his head.
Samantha Maiden is one of the few Canberra-based journalists to point out that the ARM needs to be reformed before the Constitution is reformed.
Samantha Maiden: Five Paws.
Due to demand from avid Media Watch Dog readers, this (new) segment will give Jackie (Dip Wellness, The Gunnedah Institute), the opportunity to list her media pick of the month – with a little help from her (male) co-owner. Here are September’s contenders:
JENNA PRICE ON THE BLOKES VERSUS SHEILAS DOONA WARS
On 21 September, the Sydney Morning Herald ran a piece by the regular columnist Jenna Price titled “How to uncover the secrets of a happy relationship”. It commenced as follows:
It’s September. If your relationship has survived your partner barracking for the worst team in the history of footy, there may be one more hurdle. He’s hot. You’re not. As the seasons transition, so do our doonas, blankets, sheets then jarmies, in descending order.
And so Dr Price (for a doctor she is) continued for some 600 words as she sought to “uncover” the secrets of bedtime relationship harmony. Apparently, around the equinox (i.e. 23 September) “bedroom trouble emerges” as “all over Australia, the same bedroom conversation takes place”. In places as far as Hobart and Darwin, apparently. It would seem that blokes get hotter than sheilas – or something like that – and this leads to tension resulting in “doona dispersal” across the city as blokes throw off and sheilas attempt to retain doona cover.
Go on – she did. The learned doctor in her research consulted an associate professor in physiology, plus his Ph.D. student, plus the manager of a Tasmanian quilt and pillow factory, plus the maestro of Weatherzone (whatever that is), plus an associate professor of sleep research.
Dr Price’s conclusion? Set the temperature at around 18 degrees or 19 degrees and make the room cool and dark. [It would seem that Dr Price assumes that all Australians possess and can afford air-conditioning. But then she was a journalist who became an academic – i.e. an intellectual with limited life experience. – MWD Editor.]
GHOSTWRITER DE-GHOSTS HIMSELF TO LOOK DOWN ON BRITAIN’S QUEEN-LOVING ANTIQUES ROADSHOW MASSES
On 21 September, Nine newspapers published a piece by Roger Joyce about the Queen’s funeral. There was no particular point to this reflection by someone who declared he is a dual citizen of Australia and Britain and has lived in this wide brown land for about 35 years. How frightfully interesting.
It was a somewhat overwritten piece – there were references to “an en plein farewell”, “stout English hearts” and so on. Plus lotsa mockery as your man Joyce looked down on those Brits who watched the funeral events – describing them as “the same public that regularly appear as a backdrop to the Antiques Roadshow” and “the rank-and-file of the British Isles…in their colourful late summer outfits”. There was also this dross:
I think this was also a fond, last farewell to the England many hoped would return when the nation voted to leave Europe; an England of whistling postmen, Spitfires cutting across the blue skies of the South Downs, a Jerusalem where cyclists flood out the factory and dockyard gates at teatime. It is impossible to hold on to that fading way of life, in the same way that the hearse could not be stopped from moving inexorably along the dual carriageways towards Hounslow, Heathrow and the hinterland running between the M4 corridor and the River Thames.
What a load of absolute tosh. Who really believes that contemporary Britain is like it was circa the Battle of Britain close to a century ago? And hearses can be stopped – it’s just a matter of a driver applying the brakes.
Who is Roger Joyce? MWD hears avid readers ask. Well at the end of the article, your man Joyce is referred to as a “ghostwriter”. It goes on to name two autobiographies he recently wrote and with another two to be published in 2023.
How about that? Here’s a ghostwriter who proclaims his work. That’s not what ghosts are meant to do.
JANE CARO LOOKS AT DONALD TRUMP AND SEES, WAIT FOR IT, HENRY VIII
On 16 September, the Sydney Morning Herald carried an article by Jane Caro titled “Two Elizabethan ages may be UK’s start and finish”. It contained the following observations:
Like her namesake 400 years later, Elizabeth I brought stability to a realm that had been racked by unrest. The Tudors were usurpers and obsessed with male heirs. That’s one reason why the Trump-like Henry VIII (Elizabeth’s father) got rid of so many wives (divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived)….
But why this history lesson? When the second Elizabeth inherited the throne – at the same age as the first – 25, people heralded a new “Elizabethan age”, noting her namesake who had presided over the beginning of the British Empire and a great artistic flourishing. Despite “Cool Britannia” in the 1960s, the reign of Elizabeth II was not so blessed. Given her first prime minister was Winston Churchill, the only way was down.
So, the English-born Comrade Caro – who only surrendered her British citizenship as recently as this year due to her decision to (unsuccessfully) contest the May 2022 Senate election – reckons that Henry VIII was a bit like President Donald J. Trump (but without the yellow hair, it would seem). Turn it up. At least your man Trump refrained from overseeing the dissolution of the monasteries.
The reference to Winston Churchill is ambiguous. However, Britain is one of the world’s most successful nations. That’s why so many migrants (as they are called in Europe) want to settle in Britain even if, as Comrade Caro claims, “the second Elizabeth’s death may herald the end of it”.
Comrade Caro concluded her article by stating, with confidence, that “the future” is “the only one we have”. Really.
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AND THE WINNER OF JACKIE’S PICK OF THE (SEPTEMBER) MONTH IS:
[Are you sure this is a good decision? – he should have at least been short-listed for Media Fool of the Week. – MWD Editor.]
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.
PATRICIA KARVELAS FAILS TO RAISE THE UNLAWFUL ACTIVITIES OF THE NSW ICAC IN HER INTERVIEW WITH BRET WALKER SC
At the political level, the driving force in the campaign to establish a national anti-corruption commission at the Commonwealth level, based on the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), has been led by such Independent MPs as Helen Haines, with recent support by the so-called Teal Independents. A national anti-corruption body also formed part of the policy which the Labor Party took to the 2022 Federal election.
The idea of a Canberra ICAC has been enthusiastically endorsed by a cohort of journalists – led by the ABC, Nine Newspapers (Sydney Morning Herald and The Age) plus The Guardian, The Saturday Paper, the New Daily, Crikey and so on. At a personal level, Patricia (“call me PK”) Karvelas has been in the vanguard of the “ICAC for Canberra” movement in her capacity as presenter of the ABC Radio National’s Breakfast program.
On 19 September, PK interviewed Bret Walker SC following the release of the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s annual report titled Monitoring agency access to stored communications and telecommunications data under Chapters 3 and 4 of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979.
In reporting the release of the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s report, Karen Middleton – one of the Canberra Press Gallery who supports a national anti-corruption commission – commented in The Saturday Paper on 17 September 2022:
Australia’s law enforcement agencies have persistently accessed, retained and used private email, voicemail and text messages without legal authority and failed to provide the data protections that the law requires, according to the Commonwealth ombudsman. In a sweeping annual examination of how the nation’s crime-fighting agencies and investigative and integrity bodies access and handle electronic data, the ombudsman has found repeated breaches of the law. And he suggests that the New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) may be relying on unlawfully obtained data in some of its inquiries, with systems that don’t adequately prove that warrants used were proper.
Substantial criticism of the NSW ICAC can be found at Pages 32, 33, 34 and 77 of the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Report.
In his interview with Comrade Karvelas, Bret Walker was vehemently critical of government agencies which had improperly accessed information about individuals. Without naming names, he suggested that those responsible for such breaches should lose their jobs.
Yet, in her long discussion with Bret Walker, PK never once raised the issue of the NSW ICAC. This despite the fact that she is a supporter of ICAC – like many journalists – and advocates that an ICAC type body be established by the Commonwealth government.
Listeners to the Karvelas/Walker interview are unlikely to have realised that NSW’s ICAC has been accused by the Commonwealth Ombudsman of acting without authority with respect to the personal information of Australians. Yet PK is one of the leading boosters for a Federal ICAC in Australia.
It’s a Funny Old World.
THE AGE PROMOTES THE MYTH THAT INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIANS WERE ONCE REGARDED AS “FAUNA AND FLORA”
The Age’s masthead carries the words “Independent. Always”. However, it’s not quite sure what this Nine newspaper is independent of. Certainly not being part of the left-wing orthodoxy which pervades intellectual and political life in Melbourne.
Media Watch Dog used to call The Age “The Guardian on the Yarra”- until the real Guardian came to Australia via London and, before that, Manchester – with a little help from Malcolm Turnbull. See MWD passim ad nauseam.
But MWD digresses. On 20 September, The Age ran an opinion piece by Jill Gallagher, CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation. It commenced:
On the weekend I was speechless when I learnt of plans to rename Maroondah Hospital after Queen Elizabeth II.
It turned out that Ms Gallagher was not speechless for long – because she soon had an article about the matter published in The Age. The controversy turned on the decision by the Victorian Labor government – led by Daniel Andrews, of Labor’s socialist left faction – to rename the Maroondah Hospital in Ringwood, in Melbourne’s east. Maroondah is an Aboriginal name. The Andrews government has decided to change the name to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, consequent upon the Queen’s death.
In her case against the name-change, Jill Gallagher had this to say:
Aboriginal culture is near invisible in Australia. We as a people are nearly invisible. We have been fighting for recognition since colonisation began when the first British ships swept onto our shores. The beginnings of colonisation were brutal and rapid, and the impacts continue to be felt today. Our people were treated as part of the fauna – and would not be counted as part of the population of Australia until the 1967 referendum.
It is simply not true that Indigenous Australians were ever treated as flora and fauna. It’s a myth which developed, perhaps as a light-hearted exaggeration, half a century ago. Even the ABC Fact Check unit has dismissed this myth. See the article by Sushi Das titled Fact Check: Were Indigenous Australians classified under a flora and fauna act until the 1967 referendum? which was first posted on 20 March 2018.
The answer to Fact Check’s question was that this claim is a myth. The terms flora and fauna are not mentioned in the Constitution and there is no evidence of any legislation that classified Indigenous Australians as flora and fauna at the Commonwealth, State or Territory levels.
It would seem that The Age’s opinion page editor needs to brush up on Australian history. As to The Age’s masthead – perhaps it should be changed to “Accurate. Sometimes.”.
THE AFR’s ANDREW CLARK STEPS UP WITH SOME MYTHOLOGY ABOUT THE SYDNEY INSTITUTE
As covered in this week’s Obituary, Jim Bain died on 9 September 2022. He was the founding donor of The Sydney Institute.
Andrew Clark’s obituary of Jim Bain was published in the Australian Financial Review on 19 September 2022. It paid due regard to Jim Bain’s success in business and his key role in the reform of the Australian financial system. However, your man Clark made the following comment about Jim Bain’s relationship with The Sydney Institute which comment was littered with errors. This is what Comrade Clark wrote:
Jim Bain played the key role in the formation of the Sydney Institute. Describing itself as a “policy forum”, it emerged from the Sydney branch of the Institute of Public Affairs which was historically aligned to the Liberal Party. With Jim Bain’s encouragement, Gerard Henderson, a former senior figure in Bartholomew Santamaria’s National Civic Council, became the Sydney Institute’s executive director and his wife, Anne Henderson, became deputy director. Henderson maintained a wall of secrecy about the Sydney Institute’s funding, but, according to Janette Bain, for the first three years of its existence, Jim Bain paid for Henderson’s salary.
In a mere 100 words, Andrew Clark made several false imputations and errors. Here they are:
- The Sydney Institute did not emerge from “the Sydney branch of the Institute of Public Affairs”. It emerged from the IPA (NSW) which had no constitutional or financial link with the Melbourne based Institute of Public Affairs.
- Gerard Henderson was not “a former senior figure in Bartholomew Santamaria’s National Civic Council”. Henderson worked part-time for Bob Santamaria (he was rarely called “Bartholomew”) in 1970 and 1971 while completing a second university degree. Henderson did not speak to Santamaria (who died in 1998) after 1975.
- Before being recruited by Jim Bain in December 1986, Gerard Henderson was employed as chief-of-staff to John Howard, the then leader of the Opposition. Before that he had worked full-time at the University of Tasmania and La Trobe University, as a senior staffer in the Fraser government and in the Commonwealth Department of Industrial Relations. All this information is available in his Who’s Who in Australia entry. If Comrade Clark had bothered to look.
- Gerard Henderson never constructed a wall of secrecy about Jim Bain’s financial support – as detailed in the Obituary in this issue. He consistently acknowledged Jim Bain’s generous financial support in establishing the Institute.
On 20 September, the AFR published Gerard Henderson’s response to Clark’s error-laden three paragraphs. But it allowed Comrade Clark to publish a reply which contained an additional howler – here it is:
…Regarding Henderson’s employment with B.A. Santamaria’s National Civic Council, he has confirmed the link but, more than 50 years later, downgraded its significance.
This comment is totally false. Gerard Henderson did not “confirm” his link with the NCC (of half a century ago) in his AFR letter – for the simple reason that he has never denied it.
For example, the issue is covered in Gerard Henderson’s Santamaria: A Most Unusual Man which was published by Melbourne University Press in 2015. Santamaria’s friends and opponents commented favourably on the biography – indicating that they regarded it as objective. Andrew Clark ignored it and, presumably, did not read the book. Hence his ignorance. Contrary to Clark’s claim, Henderson did not “downgrade his role in the NCC” since he was never a senior figure in the organisation and never worked full-time for Santamaria. The AFR ran a brief letter to this effect on 22 September.
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Andrew Clark did not contact Gerard Henderson before writing about him and, clearly, the AFR did not fact-check Comrade Clark’s claims – presumably because it trusted its leading journalist to act professionally in reporting a story.
Andrew Clark: Media Fool of the Week.
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Until next time.
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