GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG
ISSUE – NO. 607
30 September 2022
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THE AFR’s “OVERT POWER” LIST INFLATES THE INFLUENCE OF THE TEAL INDEPENDENTS
The Australian Financial Review landed heavily on the kennel of Jackie’s (Dip. Wellness, The Gunnedah Institute) this morning. Heavier than usual, due to the fact that today’s AFR contained the 76 page magazine titled “Power: Behind the Curtain of The New Establishment”.
This year’s No 1 in the “Overt Power” stakes is Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. Last year it was the State Premiers and the year before that the then prime minister Scott Morrison. MWD maintains that the likes of Anthony Albanese and Scott Morrison, when prime minister, possess legitimate authority. Power is properly used to describe unelected rulers who preside over dictatorships of one kind or other. But that’s a discussion for another day – and “power” works better than “authority” on the cover of a magazine.
In today’s “Overt Power” list, Treasurer Jim Chalmers comes in second ahead of Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong. They are followed by, wait for it, the Teal Independents – Kate Chaney, Sophie Scamps, Allegra Spender, Kylea Tink, Zoe Daniel and Monique Ryan (who are photographed) plus ACT Senator David Pocock.
Sure, the Teals – along with other Independents and members of minor parties – are influential in the Australian Parliament. But the Teals do not possess “power” in any sense of the term. The Labor Party has a majority in the House of Representatives and does not need Teal support – and there is only one Teal senator.
Opposition leader Peter Dutton comes in at Number 10 on the AFR’s “Overt Power” list. Yet if the Coalition supports the Albanese government’s legislation in the Senate, the position of Senator Pocock and others is of no moment. Yet the AFR regards the Teals as possessing more overt power than the Opposition leader.
In today’s AFR, political editor Phil Coorey quotes former Coalition foreign minister Julie Bishop (who was one of the “Power” judges) as saying that she would have moved heaven and earth to recruit Teal Independents to the Liberal Party had she known they were interested in politics.
Ms Bishop mentioned Kate Chaney, Kylea Tink and Allegra Spender – overlooking the fact that they defeated such moderate Liberal Party MPs as Celia Hammond (Curtin), Trent Zimmerman (North Sydney) and Dave Sharma (Wentworth).
Julie Bishop does not state in which seats she would have supported any of this trio contesting and winning Liberal Party pre-selection against sitting Liberal Party members in safe or relatively safe Liberal seats. There is also the fact that Monique Ryan (who defeated Josh Frydenberg in Kooyong) and Ms Chaney had previous connections with the Labor Party. None of this is mentioned in today’s AFR report.
Unlike the ABC, Media Watch Dog is always ready to make prompt corrections and/or clarifications – even with respect to John Laws style “Deliberate Mistakes”.
The previous “Can You Bear It?” segment referred to ABC journalist Raf Epstein – who was one of the Australian-based presenters parachuted into London to assist with the reporting of the Queen’s death. MWD cited this comment made by your man Epstein on 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.
MWD regarded this comment as somewhat naïve. But your man Epstein did not agree. On the morning of 30 September he sent the following text:
Thanks for the mention. You inferred the King had not shaken hands with “the Irish head of state.” You said I got “everything right except, er, the facts.” You’re wrong about that. The King did. I thought it noteworthy as did others in the British media.
MWD acknowledges that Raf Epstein’s comments may have been misinterpreted – due to the lack of clarity on his behalf. These are the facts:
- When he visited Northern Ireland (capital Belfast) on 13 September, King Charles III shook hands with Ireland’s president Michael D. Higgins when he passed the president after the memorial service at St Anne’s Cathedral. There was no formal meeting between the head of state of Britain and the head of state of the Republic of Ireland on this occasion. But the King did officially meet with Northern Ireland’s political leaders – as mentioned in last week’s MWD.
- In recent times, there is nothing new in a meeting between the Sovereign of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the President of the Republic of Ireland. Queen Elizabeth met (then) Irish president Mary McAleese during her four-day official visit to Ireland in 2011. And President Higgins met the Queen when he visited Britain in 2014 on an official visit. Handshakes took place on both occasions.
And now the King has shaken hands with the Irish president in Belfast. In MWD’s view, there is nothing newsworthy in this – since relations between Britain and Ireland have improved substantially since the Good Friday Agreement of April 1998.
MWD hopes that this clarifies the matter and makes Mr Epstein happy.
PHILLIP ADAMS APPEARS TO FORGET ONE OF HIS EMPLOYERS
Jackie’s (male) co-owner was walking the said Jackie close to 11 pm on 28 September when – perchance – he happened to hear Phillip Adams AO, AM, Hon DUniv (Griffith), Hon DLitt (ECU), Hon DUniv (SA), DLitt [sic] (Syd), Hon. DUniv (Macquarie), FRSA, Hon FAHA discussing brainwashing, no less, with a certain Daniel Pick. The said Pick happens to be a psychologist and a professor of history at the University of London. He is the author of Brainwashed: A New History of Thought Control (Allen & Unwin).
Towards the end of the interview, the following exchange took place:
Phillip Adams: Of course it [brainwashing] becomes a plaything of popular culture doesn’t it? And I understand it even pops up in an episode of The Simpsons.
Daniel Pick: It does actually, where poor Homer is smitten by a cult. …And who comes to the rescue in the end is Marge, who saves him, but only to go home to Springfield to watch – and this is the sort of gag at the end of the cartoon – Fox News. And it’s a particular gag because The Simpsons is actually part of the Fox Network which is a kind of satire –
Phillip Adams: It’s about the only good thing that Rupert’s ever done really.
Daniel Pick: Yeah, well anyway….
Yeah, well anyway. MWD is not sure that presiding over The Simpsons is “the only good thing that Rupert [Murdoch] has ever done”. But, certainly, Comrade Adams believes this.
Strange when you think about it – and even if you don’t. After all, Phillip Adams has been on Rupert Murdoch’s payroll for eons as a columnist for The Weekend Australian.
And your man Adams reckons that the only good thing that Rupert Murdoch has ever done is to back The Simpsons. Can You Bear It?
SMH COLUMNIST JENNA PRICE ON DRYERS, DISHWASHERS AND THE SECRET TO GROWING THE BEST LEMONS
There was enormous interest in last issue’s coverage of Sydney Morning Herald columnist Jenna Price’s musings in the SMH about what to do as the seasons transition into the equinox (i.e. 23 September) and blokes feel hot when sheilas feel cold. As in partners, you see. As in – what to do with the doona at night? The issue of “doona disposal”. And so on.
The solution? Set the bedroom temperature at around 18 or 19 degrees and make the room cold and dark. However, this assumes that such blokes and sheilas can afford air-conditioning – and then, what about carbon dioxide emissions and all that?
At the request of a number of avid readers from Broome to Launceston, Media Watch Dog has been asked as to whether Dr Price (for a doctor she is – re which see her Twitter handle) has any other you-beaut advice. And the answer is in the affirmative. Here’s some quotes from her SMH columns this year.
- On 1 March, JP led her SMH column by telling readers why “underpants matter today”. It was all about drying – “even as the NSW Coast floods and missiles fall on Ukraine”. That serious? You bet. Because “about 20 years ago, our family ditched the dryer” since power bills were out of control and, yes, climate change. A first world problem, to be sure.
Go on. She did. JP told readers (if readers there were) about the problems of how to dry jeans and sheets in a wet and damp Sydney summer/autumn. JP sought the advice of a psychologist about why she was rotating “socks and the undies” around the house. There was an answer so banal that it’s not worth citing here.
- On 31 August, JP wrote about holidays “100 kilometres away but without the dishwasher”. How about that? According to JP, junking the dryer will help save the planet – but the dishwasher is essential to life.
- Then on 5 September, Dr Price commenced her column as follows:
I am a lousy gardener married to a very good one. He takes Peter Cundall’s eternally good advice to pee on citrus trees, and so provides us with luscious Meyer lemons and delicious cumquats all year round, fresh off the tree or bottled.
It was more than Jackie’s (male) co-owner could handle. Sure, it was Hangover Time when he read the Price column – but he immediately poured a Gin & Tonic to lower his stress on learning of the horticultural habits of JP’s husband/partner. However, on this occasion, Hendo refrained from adding a slice of lemon to his fave drink. Can you blame him? More importantly – Can You Bear It?
[No, not really – now that you ask. But I loved the reference to Peter Cundall (1927-2021) who had been a member of the Communist Party in the 1950s/1960s. And it was great to read about the day Dr Price’s “Ph.D. results” arrived. MWD Editor.]
THE RED BANDANNAED ONE AND THE ARM’S RENEWED PUSH FOR AN INNER-CITY, MILLIONAIRE-LED AUSTRALIAN REPUBLIC
Did anyone see the column in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald on 25 September by Nine columnist Peter FitzSimons – aka the Red Bandannaed One? On this occasion, your man Fitz was photographed without a red rag on his head – with a heading which read “Queen’s death fuels republic allure”.
Now, Peter FitzSimons is chair of the Australia Republic Movement (ARM). So it came as no surprise that his column commenced “We’re back”. This despite the fact that there is scant evidence that the ARM has ever gone away. All that happened was that Fitz and his ARM mates shut up for a while – between Queen Elizabeth II’s death and her burial – to the relief of many. That’s all.
Now Jackie’s (male) co-owner believes that Australia should have an Australian head of state – provided agreement can be reached about a proposed change to the Constitution (which, to succeed, requires the support of a majority of Australians in a majority of states).
However, the ARM leadership is delusional if it remains of the view that this can be achieved under the leadership of a leftist, bombastic, divisive, middle-aged millionaire bloke who lives in a large house with Sydney Harbour views, boasts about driving an expensive Tesla and mocks political and social conservatives.
In his Nine article, Comrade Fitz claimed that “in the ARM’s history we’ve never seen anything like the surge in membership we’ve experienced in the past fortnight”. He added “we just need ever more Australians of goodwill to join us and get this done”.
Turn it up. Fitz has been banging on for some time about the alleged growing support for the ARM. He really believes that political and social conservatives in Australia’s suburbs and towns will identify with him and his wealthy inner-city comrades.
In his column, Comrade Fitz wrote that it is absurd to have Charles III as Australia’s head of state. Maybe. But it is also absurd to expect that a man who wore a red rag on his head for a decade can lead Australia to the promised republican land.
Meanwhile, some republicans are intent on removing the image of the Sovereign from Australia’s $5 note. On 23 September, MWD floated the idea of Fitz’s image replacing that of the Queen on Australia’s least valued note. It was good to see MWD’s modest proposal (see below) getting coverage on Sky News’ The Kenny Report on 27 September.
If Australia is to become a republic, the sooner there is regime change at the ARM the better. In his Nine column, Fitz claimed that he and his inner-city mates are addressing the need for greater diversity in the ARM. Perhaps by junking his red bandanna for a green one. Can You Bear It?
CRIKEY’S AMBER SCHULTZ BACKS TEAL ZOE DANIEL ON THE NEED FOR POLITICAL DIVERSITY – EXCEPT AT THE ABC
On 27 September, Crikey carried an article by associate editor Amber Schultz titled “Highly destructive: Zoe Daniel’s speech on media diversity”. It commenced as follows:
Debate has begun on an inquiry into media diversity in Australia. Introduced by independent Member for Goldstein Zoe Daniel shortly after Lachlan Murdoch announced his decision to sue Crikey for defamation, the motion was debated in the Federation Chamber this afternoon.
There followed an excerpt of the speech to be delivered in the House of Representatives on 27 September by former ABC journalist Zoe Daniel – the Teal Independent candidate who won the Melbourne seat of Goldstein at the May 2022 election on Labor and Greens preferences.
In her speech, Ms Daniel conceded that her motion “will not come to a vote”. Her proposals included a “framework to ensure truth in media reporting” – overlooking the fact that she worked for years at the ABC which has run much fake news over the years and is most reluctant to correct, or even acknowledge, errors.
In her speech, the Member for Goldstein complained that “just two owners are responsible for more than 80 per cent of the circulation of all daily newspapers – an oligopoly if not a monopoly”. Well – it’s certainly not a monopoly since the reference was clearly to News Corp and Nine which compete against each other. Moreover, daily newspapers are only a small – albeit influential – part of total media.
Zoe Daniel made no reference to the fact that the ABC is the most powerful media organisation in Australia – with two free-to-air TV channels, multiple radio stations throughout the nation, an online newspaper and more besides.
The ABC’s reach is far wider than News Corp (which has only a free to air channel available in regional areas and owns no radio stations) and also that of Nine. Moreover, the ABC is a Conservative Free Zone without a conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets. Not one.
When asked to name a prominent ABC conservative recently, ABC Radio Melbourne’s Virginia Trioli named Insiders presenter David Speers (see MWD 2 September 2022). Really. This despite the fact that Comrade Speers does not regard himself as conservative.
So, you have a case of Comrades Daniel and Schultz banging on about the need for diversity in the Australian media – while in denial about the absence of political diversity in the taxpayer funded public broadcaster. Can You Bear It?
[I note that there is more political diversity within News Corp papers and Nine newspapers than within the ABC. Also, there is more political diversity on Nine radio stations than on the ABC and more political diversity on Sky News than on ABC TV. Which suggests that Zoe Daniel MP only sees what she wants to see. – MWD Editor.]
THE POST-ELECTION DECLINE OF POLITICAL SATIRE AT 7:30
Thursday 29 September saw another attempted comedy sketch by 7:30’s self-described satirist Mark Humphries and his co-writer Evan Williams.
The subject of the sketch was the recent annexation referendums conducted in the Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine. Your man Humphries took on the role of an ABC elections analyst reporting on the “sham” results. The sketch was, by Mark Humphries’ standards, adequate. Though, as is so often the case, it consisted of exactly one joke – that the referendums were a sham – repeated endlessly.
By MWD’s count, this is the pair’s eighth effort since the 2022 Federal election. The topics of the previous seven sketches were:
- Clive Palmer spending a large amount of money on the election and not winning any seats [the sketch aired before it became clear the United Australia Party was going to win a Senate seat in Victoria]
- Inflation, in particular the increased price of lettuce
- Delays facing Qantas passengers
- Nightly news bulletins generally being depressing in recent times due to a large amount of negative news stories
- Friction between Labor and the Greens concerning climate change
- Scott Morrison and Angus Taylor saying “Mr Speaker” inappropriately
- Controversy surrounding casinos
So that’s three sketches out of eight focusing on Australian politics – with only one about the new government, one on the Opposition and one poking fun at a minor party. This seems unusual for the typically politically obsessed Humphries, but perhaps this is just a natural lull in political focus following an election?
Well, for comparison’s sake, MWD looked up Mark Humphries’ first eight efforts following the 2019 Federal election. Here are the topics for those sketches:
- Voting below the line
- Scott Morrison
- Bill Shorten
- The AFP raiding the ABC and journalist Annika Smethurst’s home
- Labor’s rhetorical shift post-election
- Scott Morrison again
- The Coalition government not increasing Newstart
- Barnaby Joyce
So that’s eight out of eight on Australian political stories with four out of eight focused on the Morrison government. The gains made by Labor, the Greens and the Teal independents at the last election have apparently robbed Comrades Humphries and Williams of their interest in poking fun at those in office.
“QUESTION EVERYTHING” – EXCEPT FOR WHY ANY OF THESE PEOPLE ARE ON TV
On Wednesday 28 September, ABC panel show Question Everything returned for a second season. For those who don’t recall or never knew, Question Everything stars comedian Wil Anderson and journalist Jan Fran.
Anderson has worked for the ABC for around two decades, most notably hosting 14 seasons of Gruen, a mostly dull panel show focused on advertising. Question Everything appears to be a half-hearted attempt to replicate that formula, with the news media taking the place of the advertising industry. Here is how the show is described:
Jan Fran and Wil Anderson go beyond the headlines, joined by a panel of comedians separating real news from news that is 99% fact-free.
Or at least that is how the show is described by the ABC. Most of the show consists of the panel of comedians being given an ambiguous headline and asked what the story is about. They each recite a joke about the headline, which everyone on the panel pretends to find deliriously funny. Jan Fran then informs the panel and audience what the story was actually about. It’s not clear what that has to do with separating real news from fake news. But there you go.
The show greatly resembles Channel 10’s hit show Have You Been Paying Attention?, currently in its tenth season.
If we are questioning everything, here are some queries MWD would like to submit:
- How does it benefit the Australian public to have the national broadcaster commissioning knock-offs of successful light entertainment shows from the commercial networks?
- How long will it take the producers of Question Everything to realise that Jan Fran serves absolutely no purpose on the show?
- Is it really funny to have panellist Tom Ballard making jokes about Harvey Weinstein and Prince Andrew?
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.
HAS THE ZANY SAMANTHA MAIDEN JOINED THE TROLLS WHO UPSET THE OH-SO-SENSITIVE DAVID SPEERS?
What a stunning performance by ABC TV Insiders presenter David (“Call me Speersy”) Speers on 25 September. His panellists were the Herald-Sun’s James Campbell, news.com.au’s political editor Samantha Maiden and The Guardian Australia’s Katharine (“Malcolm calls me Murpharoo”) Murphy. Liberal Party Senator and Shadow Minister for Finance Jane Hume was the interview guest.
- Early on, the Famous Five lined up for a photo which the ABC posted on Twitter. It was revealed later by TV Tonight that the taxpayer funded broadcaster accidentally screened footage in which Speersy had a hot mic moment when he was heard to condemn some Insiders’ viewers. Let’s go to the (reconstructed) transcript:
David Speers: We are going to do a photo? Ah, terrific. Let’s get a photo. Just for those lovely folks on social media…It’s, it’s a horrible, horrible place – after years of copping it. No, you just have to tell yourself there are hundreds of thousands watching and a few hundred who tweet negatives so you’ve just got to remember it’s –
Katharine Murphy: It’s all anonymous accounts. It’s probably about 40 people basically.
David Speers: 15 people but there are far more who are just loving our work…
How sensitive to criticism can an ABC presenter get? Your man Speers has been criticising others for eons. But he gets oh-so-upset that there are 15 – yes, just 15 – (alleged) “trolls” on Twitter who criticise him and the program.
[That’s nothing. I understand that Jackie’s (male) co-owner has 15 critics by Hangover Time each Monday to Saturday. But, in the words of the song, Never on Sunday. – MWD Editor.]
At the start of the program, David Speers declared that Labor Treasurer Jim Chalmers had adopted “the tough, responsible approach” to the forthcoming budget. It will be delivered on 25 October – so how would Comrade Speers know? He added that the recently announced $50 billion windfall in revenue up to the end of June 2022 (i.e. around the end of the Coalition government) “is money that’s not really there”. Really? Your man Speers seems to be channelling a Labor speech writer here with respect to the increase in revenue primarily due to increase in prices for iron ore and coal exports.
Then Murpharoo declared that in 2010 Prime Minister Julia Gillard had never declared that there would be “no carbon tax” – claiming that this was “rubbish”. She later added that it is “completely ridiculous” to contemplate delivering the proposed stage three tax cuts. “Rubbish”. “Ridiculous”. Isn’t it great to have Comrade Murphy back on the Insiders couch with her, er, considered and disinterested commentary?
Then, believe it or not, when discussion turned on the economy there was a reference to Shadow Treasurer Angus Taylor’s hair. Yes, hair. At various stages, the dialogue became unintelligible as the quartet spoke over each other. However, MWD just loved it when the zany Samantha Maiden described Angus Taylor as “pretty” and the follicle-challenged James (“I’m a Melbourne Grammar man”) Campbell denied that he had “hair envy” – despite having given the shadow minister a positive assessment.
Whereupon Speersy declared: “This conversation has gone in a very different direction than what I was expecting”. You can say that again. Then Comrade Murphy declared that “it would be a good thing if everybody in parliament could support” the proposed national anti-corruption commission. Quelle Surprise!
Then it was time for the Jane Hume interview – in which Speers interrupted his guest on no fewer than 25 occasions.
Highlights of the interview included Speersy’s suggestion that the reduction of excise on (highly expensive) electric vehicles amounts to “lowering taxes”. And the presenter asked Senator Hume to comment on former UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage’s “advice” that the Liberals will never win back the seats lost to the Teal Independents at the 2022 election. What would your man Farage know about this? It would be a bit like the BBC’s Huw Edwards asking Pauline Hanson when visiting Britain whether the UK Conservatives can win back the seats they lost in recent by-elections. Your man Edwards would not be so silly.
David Speers’ interview with Jane Hume was combative. As it had been with Barnaby Joyce (22 interruptions) on 21 August. This compares with Speersy’s soft interviews of similar length with Labor ministers Richard Marles and Brendan O’Connor on 18 September and 4 September respectively.
Let’s go to the transcript for the discussion immediately after the Jane Hume interview where Samantha Maiden suggested that Speersy had been somewhat unfair:
David Speers: Let’s just pick up on a couple of things there [the Jane Hume interview]. The, I guess the budget and the fuel excise is a good sort of example of this conundrum about how to fix the budget, but also provide support for families who need it. Sam, is the Coalition trying to have a bit of both here?
Samantha Maiden: Maybe. David, was that entirely – that was mean, that interview.
David Speers: Mean?
James Campbell: Mean.
David Speers: Oh. Which bit?
Samantha Maiden: It was, well, it was just – I don’t know, it was just a little brutal, I thought. Look –
David Speers: [interrupting] Okay, well thanks for that.
Yes, thanks indeed. Which brings avid readers back to the question. Just how sensitive is Speersy? Clearly, he did not appreciate Ms Maiden’s gentle criticism. Could it be that David Speers now regards the zany Maiden as yet another Insiders troll? – increasing the number from 15 to 16 in all.
— Insiders ABC (@InsidersABC) September 24, 2022
GERARD HENDERSON AND THE GUARDIAN AUSTRALIA’s AMY REMEIKIS RE SALLY MCMANUS’s ADDRESS TO THE NATIONAL PRESS CLUB – AND MORE BESIDES
On 28 September 2022, ACTU secretary Sally McManus addressed the National Press Club. An error-laden segment of the talk, sub-titled “He. Would. Not. Sit. Down. With. Unions.”, commenced as follows:
In that year , Gerard Henderson, a soon to be staffer to John Howard, wrote an article attacking the system of co-operation between employers and unions, and called for the dismantling of bodies that fostered agreements and regulated the different interests of workers and employers. [emphasis added].
In her “Australian Politics Live” report in The Guardian Australia on 28 September, political reporter Amy Remeikis covered these comments by Ms McManus as follows:
Let’s head back to 1983, McManus says, and a wee lad named Gerard Henderson.
In that year Gerard Henderson, a staffer to John Howard, wrote an article attacking the system of cooperation between employers and unions and called for the dismantling of bodies that fostered and regulated the different interests of workers and employees. [emphasis added]
By the way, McManus is correct. Gerard Henderson commenced working for John Howard in 1984.
Gerard Henderson wrote courteously to Amy Remeikis about this matter. At the time MWD was uploaded, he had not received the courtesy of a reply. Now read on:
Gerard Henderson to Amy Remeikis – 29 September 2022
Good Morning Comrade Remeikis
I believe that you have been less than courteous. The reference is to your “Australian Politics Live with Amy Remeikis” report yesterday in The Guardian Australia where you claimed that I was “a wee lad” in 1983. In fact, I turned 38 in that year and was never wee in any sense – even though I possess a Scottish (Protestant) name. Moreover, I wasn’t “named Gerard Henderson” at the time. I was, in fact, Gerard Henderson – the real thing.
It’s hard to believe that you could be so cruel when I have been in the vanguard of the attempt to get you, and your fellow wage-slaves at The Guardian Australia, a 5 per cent wage increase from Comrade Lenore Taylor and other members of The Guardian politburo. Sure, the effort of my Media Watch Dog blog to achieve a wage hike has not succeeded – but not due to any lack of trying on my behalf. The campaign will continue.
By the way, the paragraph from ACTU secretary Sally McManus’ speech at the National Press Club yesterday, from which you quoted, is replete with errors – at least one of which is yours.
Comrade McManus did not check with me before delivering her speech. And she did not cite her sources – so no one can readily check what I wrote in the article in question. As you may or may not know, it was called “The Industrial Relations Club” and published in the September 1983 edition of Quadrant magazine.
I shall correct the matter in either my Media Watch Dog blog tomorrow or in my Weekend Australian column on Saturday.
Keep morale high. And here’s hoping that the toiling underpaid masses of The Guardian Australia will soon get wage justice.
Gerard Henderson AC (Always Courteous)
Copy to Lenore Taylor, Editor, The Guardian Australia
PS: It was great to get a mention in The Guardian Australia. As I recall, the last time my name appeared was in 2021 when Amanda Meade mocked my book Cardinal Pell, The Media Pile-on & Collective Guilt (Connor Court, 2021) before it was published. Comrade Meade and the Guardian soviet did not mention the book once it was published – not even to criticise it. Probably because it criticised, er, Lenore Taylor and some other members of The Guardian/ABC Axis.
This overwhelmingly popular segment of Media Watch Dog usually works like this. Someone or other thinks it would be a you-beaut idea to write to Gerard Henderson about something or other. And Hendo, being a courteous and well-brought up kind of guy, replies. Then, hey presto, the correspondence is published in MWD – much to the delight of its avid readers.
There are occasions, however, when Jackie’s (male) co-owner decides to write a polite note to someone or other – who, in turn, believes that a reply is in order. Publication in MWD invariably follows. There are, alas, some occasions where Hendo sends a polite missive but does not receive the courtesy of a reply. Nevertheless, publication of this one-sided correspondence still takes place. For the record – and in the public interest, of course.
GERARD HENDERSON AND MELBOURNE UNIVERSITY PUBLISHING’S NATHAN HOLLIER RE THE CLAIM THAT HENDERSON AND THE LATE STUART MACINTYRE WERE CLASSMATES
As avid readers are only too well aware, Gerard Henderson contested the claim by Professor Sean Scalmer of the Melbourne University’s Department of Historical and Philosophical Studies that he (Henderson) was a classmate of the late leftist historian Stuart Macintyre. In the face of evidence, your man Scalmer went into denial – and suggested that the matter might be taken up with Melbourne University Press director Nathan Hollier. The “advice” was accepted by Henderson. Here we go:
Gerard Henderson to Nathan Hollier – 28 September 2022
As you may or may not recall, in April 2020 I wrote to you asking whether MUP would be interested in publishing a book on Cardinal George Pell following the High Court’s unanimous decision on 7 April 2020 to quash his convictions for historical child abuse.
As you will be aware, MUP published my Santamaria: A Most Unusual Man in 2015. On 24 January 2019, Sally Heath emailed me advising that my book had sold out. Consequently, I thought that I should contact MUP in the first instance about my proposal for a second MUP book.
On 20 April 2020, you wrote to me stating that MUP believed that my proposed book had “the potential to be an important work” but advised that “it would be necessary to have it properly peer reviewed…and approved by MUP’s Editorial Advisory Board”. As I understand it, these procedures were implemented following MUP’s publication of Louise Milligan’s Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell in 2017– which contained errors and concerning which the author refused to answer questions about her scholarship (or lack of same).
In view of the fact that MUP’s new procedures, in your words, “made the path to publication slower” – and your subsequent advice that the peer reviewers would be anonymous – I withdrew the offer.
As it turned out, my publisher Connor Court did a great job – getting Cardinal Pell, The Media Pile-On & Collective Guilt published in mid-November 2021 against a very tight deadline. A year later, no one has claimed that there are any errors of fact in my book and there have been no negative reviews. All this without any help from anonymous peer reviewers.
But I digress. I am writing to you about The Work of History: Writing for Stuart Macintyre which MUP published earlier this year. I assume that this book passed MUP’s (post-Milligan) procedures and was “properly peer reviewed as a contribution to scholarship” – to quote from your 20 April 2020 email to me.
In his chapter in the edited collection titled “Scrutiny, contest and power: Stuart Macintyre on Australian historians”, Sean Scalmer had this to say with reference to what he claimed were some critics of Stuart Macintyre who (allegedly) attacked him:
Stuart’s response to these attacks was admirable and revealing. In published correspondence with Gerard Henderson, a critic and former classmate, he comes across as unfailing courteous. He did not retreat from his well-established positions, but neither did he lapse into futile polemics.
As you may or may not know, Professor Scalmer did not contact me before writing his article. Moreover, Scalmer has not been able to document any instance where I attacked Stuart Macintyre – or even criticised him. Moreover, contrary to Scalmer’s claim, I was never “a former classmate” of Macintyre – since we never went to the same school.
Professor Scalmer is in denial about this and has attempted to distort the normal Australian usage of the word “classmate” (i.e. a member of the same class at school) by asserting that the term “classmate” applies to someone (like me) who attended a one-hour tutorial, in one subject, for one year, over half a century ago with someone else (like Stuart Macintyre).
This is important since Stuart Macintyre used to say that his alleged “friendship” with me commenced when we were both first year history students at Melbourne University in the mid-1960s. This was a form of what today might be termed gaslighting – since Stuart was distorting reality as a means of discrediting my views.
The fact is that we were never friends. For starters, I am a lifetime anti-communist while Stuart joined the Communist Party. At my request, Stuart dropped the claim – which he had used as a means of giving legitimacy to his attacks on me. Indeed, Stuart was wont to use his manufactured friendship with me to give weight to his assertion, inter alia, that I was like a “Stalinist ideologue”. Really.
My query is this. In view of MUP’s Editorial Advisory Board’s requirements, how is it that Professor Scalmer did not check with me before claiming that Stuart and I were once classmates? – implying that we were once friends or – at least close. And how is it that MUP’s peer reviewers did not query Professor Scalmer’s claim? – either by checking with him or with me.
In his state of denial, Sean Scalmer has declined to make any changes to his article – and advised that I am “welcome to take up the matter with the Director of Melbourne University Press, Nathan Hollier”.
Hence this letter. It would be appreciated if Professor Scalmer’s comments about me in his essay can be corrected in MUP’s Kindle edition of The Work of History: Writing for Stuart Macintyre and in any re-print of the print edition.
Nathan Hollier to Gerard Henderson – 29 September 2022
Professor Scalmer is currently on leave from work. When he returns to work I will contact him about this and then reply further to you.
Gerard Henderson to Nathan Hollier – 30 September 2022
Thanks for your prompt response. I note that Sean Scalmer is currently on leave from work and that you will contact him when he returns from leave – whenever that may be – and get back to me.
As I advised in my email, the Professor is in denial about what he wrote about me in MUP’s The Work of History: Writing for Stuart Macintyre. So much so that he emailed me on 28 July and again on 29 July suggesting that I should take the matter up with you. Now you have advised that you will take the matter up with him – at some time in the future.
Now here’s a modest proposal designed to break the apparent deadlock. Why not ask MUP’s (anonymous) referees – who surely read the Scalmer chapter before it was published in accordance with MUP’s editorial guidelines – why they (apparently) approved Sean Scalmer’s reference concerning me without anyone fact-checking with me. I would be interested in any response.
Keep Morale High.
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Until next time.
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