ISSUE – NO. 609

14 October 2022

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Media Watch Dog was of the view that ABC TV’s Q+A  program might improve with Stan Grant as the permanent presenter.  This was not evident last night.

The designated topic was Protests, People and Power.  The first question asked panellist Erin Brockovich whether Julia Roberts’ portrayal of her in the movie of the same name was accurate.  Clearly one of the most significant questions in the world right now. Soon after, some other panellists reflected on whom they would like to play them on the silver screen.

Then there was a segment on protests.  Followed by one titled “Iran-Australia Government Action”. This segment – which occupied a third of the entire program – was dominated by panellist Saba Vasefi with audience members Arezou Narimani and Sara Bakhshi participating at some length.

MWD supports the protest movement in Iran against the oppressive Iran regime. But it’s unrealistic to expect that Australia can do all that much to improve human rights in Iran.  Yet, with the support of Stan Grant, pressure was put on Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones, a panellist, to impose more sanctions on Iran and resolve the visa problems of some Iranians in Australia.  Neither issue falls within the Minister’s area of responsibilities.

Stan Grant wanted answers on the spot. It was that kind of night.  But it wasn’t good current affairs television.  Meanwhile Q+A  did not even touch on Australia’s energy problem with respect to both price and supply.


Today’s Daily Telegraph and Herald-Sun carry a story by Clarissa Bye that ABC chair Ita Buttrose has formally advised Liberal Party Senator Claire Chandler that an article in ABC Online published on 27 April 2022 was amended by the ABC on 9 August 2022.  The amendment reads as follows:

EDITOR’S NOTE, August 9, 2022: This story has been amended to include the findings of a 2020 study which showed that trans women in the US air force ran on average 12 per cent faster than cisgender women. More information has also been added about the guidelines on transgender inclusion implemented by the governing bodies of sports such as rugby union and cycling.

It’s good that the ABC Chair has acted to correct the original article and expressed disappointment that it did not meet the ABC’s editorial standards.

However, it should be pointed out that the original article appeared during the 2022 election campaign in which trans women in sport was an election issue.  It was not corrected until nearly three months after the election.

Clearly the ABC’s complaints system is improving. But it still has a long way to go.  Such a correction could be made almost immediately in the commercial media.

Can You Bear It?


As avid readers will be only too well aware, Media Watch Dog believes in the dictum that it is unwise to make predictions – especially about the future.

So Jackie’s (male) co-owner is oh-so-grateful to the reader who forwarded an email dated 9 October headed “The perils of predicting the future”.  It drew attention to a couple of articles on the Sydney Morning Herald’s homepage that very morning.

The first was by SMH’s political and international editor Peter Hartcher and headed “PM prepared to break his first promise: Axe tax for the rich”. Your man Hartcher commenced his piece as follows:

The Albanese government is about to take its first really big risk. By breaking a major election promise. And Peter Dutton can’t wait. The government formally hasn’t made a decision, but it is careering towards rewriting the stage three tax cuts. Dutton won’t have to wait long. Otherwise, why would we even be talking about them? They are legislated to take effect on July 1, 2024. That’s one year, eight months and three weeks away. That’s half an economic cycle and three budgets hence.

The second by David Crowe (the SMH’s chief political correspondent) and Mike Foley (The Age’s climate and energy correspondent) was headed “Our position has not changed: Albanese dismisses talk of tax cut changes”.  Here are the first two paragraphs:

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has rebuffed talk of an overhaul of the stage three tax cuts for workers earning more than $45,000 a year by declaring the government’s position has not changed despite a furious debate over the cost of the package.

The move confirms the government’s support for the $243 billion plan ahead of a federal cabinet meeting on Tuesday to consider the state of the budget at a time of growing unease within the ministry about breaking this year’s election promise to deliver the tax cuts.

So there you have it – or not.  According to Nine Newspapers on 9 October – the Albanese government will/will not junk the promised Stage 3 tax cuts. How’s that for top reporting?

Not surprisingly, the oh-so-pompous Comrade Hartcher was wrong. Treasurer Jim Chalmers said on 13 October that the promised tax cuts will not be touched in the forthcoming budget. But no doubt your man Hartcher will continue to make predictions – especially about, er, the future.  Can You Bear It?


As avid readers know, ABC Radio National presenter Geraldine Doogue is something of a Media Watch Dog fave. Why – on her RN Saturday Extra program on 9 October she even presided over a rare event for the taxpayer funded broadcaster.  Namely, a real debate with two intelligent and well-informed commentators disagreeing with each other.  Fancy that.

Sure, MWD prefers the standard form of discussion on the ABC where essentially everyone agrees with essentially everyone on essentially everything in a left-of-centre kind of way.  After all – this makes good copy for Jackie’s (male) co-owner and, consequently, MWD.

In any event, there was a real debate on Saturday Extra on 8 October about the decision of the Essendon Football Club to part ways with newly appointed CEO Andrew Thorburn over his role with the City on the Hill outlet of the Anglican Church in Melbourne. This congregation has intellectually unfashionable views on abortion and homosexuality.  However, when Andrew Thorburn was chief executive officer of the National Australia Bank, the NAB was very much into diversity including gay pride activities.

The Cranlana Centre’s Leslie Cannold broadly supported the EFC’s decision and the Institute of Public Affairs’ John Roskam broadly opposed it.  It was an informative discussion in which Ms Doogue listened to the conflicting views and asked questions without imposing her own views on the discussion.  [Good – I’m glad that you did not use the word “conversation” in this context. – MWD Editor.]

Geraldine Doogue, however, made one error.  She mentioned that Essendon has been “an amazing organisation over the years”.  What years?  Essendon has not won a final since Moses was a boy.  How amazing is that? – asks Jackie’s (male) co-owner who identifies as an Essendon tragic.

But MWD digresses. On 1 October, Liam Mendes reported in The Weekend Australian that the ABC has acknowledged that its proposal to relocate some of its head-office based journalists in the Sydney inner-city suburb of Ultimo to Parramatta in Sydney’s west is causing consternation.  Some members of the ABC Soviet have even raised concern about the increased cost of public transport to the new location.  A problem which, needless to say, would not exist if more staff at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster lived near, say, Parramatta.

Writing in The Guardian Australia on 7 October, Amanda Meade named the names of some dissidents.  In a piece titled “RN Revolt”, Comrade Meade revealed that

Geraldine Doogue led the resistance to the move and ABC management “caved”.  And so the likes of Phillip Adams, Robyn Williams, Norman (“Proudly Australia’s most trusted doctor – even though I don’t practise medicine”) Swan and Geraldine Doogue herself will be spared from mixing with the hoi polloi of western Sydney.  Radio National will remain in situ in Ultimo – Sandalista Central – which is 25 kilometres from Parramatta.

The Guardian  quoted the acting director of ABC Entertainment and Specialist, Jennifer Collins, as saying that some RN staff will make special trips out west for festivals, cultural events or science week.  Nice, eh?  Ms Collins added: “We will start to explore the kinds of content initiatives we would like to host at Parramatta.”

So there you have it.  The ABC Radio National Soviet – led by Comrade Doogue – rebelled. And ABC management – unlike Leon Trotsky with respect to the Kronstadt Rebellion in 1921 – wilted.  The likes of Ms Collins will now “explore” content initiatives at Parramatta.  Unaware, apparently, that from a European settlement point of view, Parramatta was explored and settled circa November 1788.  Can You Bear It?


It was Post Dinner Drinks Time on 11 October and Jackie’s (male) co-owner suddenly awoke from the couch to see Rowan Dean performing on Sky News’ The World According to Rowan Dean.

Presenting a panel of three – John Allen, Alexandra Marshall and James Macpherson – your man Dean turned the discussion to China. Ms Marshall reckoned that China under the Chinese Communist Party was bad. But, apparently, not as bad as Australia under the Liberal Party of Australia.  Here we go:

Alexandra Marshall: China is a threat, talk about stating the bloody obvious. But what’s really worrying is they earmarked things like smart cities as being a problem, and who’s giving all these grants to smart cities, oh that would be the Australian government under the Liberal Party organised that. And it was the Liberal Party who introduced our digital identity, which is the stepping stone to a Chinese style communist social system. And so yes, it’s a threat, but China’s not as much of a threat as our own homegrown communism.

So there you have it. According to The Spectator’s Ms Marshall, the Liberal Party of Australia is a greater threat to Australia than the Communist Party of China. Then it was over to The Spectator’s Mr Macpherson.

James Macpherson: There’s so much going on in the world right now that no doubt we’ve lost focus. But it’s not just the totalitarian instincts of China… that same spirit exists in our own country. We’re worried about China using digital currency and social credit scores. Well, if we don’t think that’s going to happen in the West, look at what PayPal attempted to do to people just last week, so it’s not just the totalitarians. Well, it’s not just the totalitarians over there, it’s the totalitarians right here at home….

So why worry about the totalitarians who run totalitarian regimes overseas?  In short, the Macpherson question is “What’s to be done with totalitarianism at home?”  MWD replies with its own question. Namely, Can You Bear It?

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). 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.


It was an excited Radio National Breakfast presenter Patricia Karvelas who, on 10 October, revealed that a full decade had passed since (then) prime minister Julia Gillard delivered what came to be called her Misogyny Speech.  It so happened that the Canberra based journalist Michelle Grattan, who now writes for The Conversation, was the political commentator on RN Breakfast that very day.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Patricia Karvelas: It’s now ten years since Prime Minister Julia Gillard delivered her famous Misogyny Speech, Michelle. Her words really struck a nerve with the public, particularly women. At the time, some of the Press Gallery dismissed it. But it had a huge impact across the world. Has it had a lasting impact on politics too?

Michelle Grattan: Yes, I think it has had a lasting impact. In terms of the day, it was interesting that, I think, most of us who were reporting on that debate did not see it at the time in the wider context. It was very much seen as Julia Gillard defending the controversial speaker, Peter Slipper, who’d been enticed to move over to be speaker. He was, of course, a Coalition member. He was in all sorts of trouble – including making some sexist comments in texts exchanged. And she [Ms Gillard] was defending him. So, that’s how it was seen in the moment. But, of course, it resonated with so many women in Australia and, indeed, abroad. And I think that it set a context for much of the way sexism in politics was treated later.

An inconvenient truth.  But a truth, nevertheless.  Ms Gillard was defending the appointment by her government of Coalition MP Mr Slipper to the position of speaker – thus giving Labor an extra vote on the floor of the House of Representatives.  The sexist comments made by Peter Slipper with respect to women can be found in the Australian press on or about 9 October 2012.

Not long after her exchange with Michelle Grattan, PK (as she likes to be called) interviewed Julia Gillard about her 2012 Misogyny Speech – which was directed at (then) Opposition leader Tony Abbott. PK did not raise the Slipper texts with the former prime minister – it might have spoiled the occasion. Earlier, however, Michelle Grattan had put the Misogyny Speech in its long-forgotten context.

Michelle Grattan: Five Paws.



The last time MWD checked in on 7:30’s resident satirist Mark Humphries, it was to document Comrade Humphries’ turn away from political sketches following the 2022 federal election. Apparently having tired of non-political sketches and unable to justify having a go at the Opposition, Humphries returned to the program on 13 October with a sketch aimed at the Albanese government.

True to form the sketch knocked the centre-left Labor government from the left. This type of joke is one the three pillars of ABC comedy, those being:

۰ Knocking the right from the left

۰ Knocking the centre-right from the left

۰ Knocking the centre-left from the left

Occasionally a particularly daring ABC comedian breaks the mold and has a go at another leftist. Usually for being insufficiently left. That’s balance, ABC style.

Returning to the most recent 7:30 sketch, on 13 October, it concerned the Albanese government’s refusal to abandon the Stage 3 income tax cuts in the coming budget. Pushing Labor to abandon the tax cuts is the current obsession of much of the Australian left, so it’s unsurprising to see Comrade Humphries take up the cause.

Your Man Humphries parrots the current left argument that Labor should dump the tax cuts to prioritise managing current economic conditions over keeping an election promise. Why Labor should abandon tax cuts that aren’t due to start until July 2024 based on economic conditions in October 2022 is left unexplained.

Another comedian might point out this lefty line doesn’t make much sense. That comedian would be unlikely to be employed by the ABC.

In a telling moment, Humphries refers to the tax cuts as costing “the country 243 billion dollars”. Tax cuts don’t cost “the country” anything. They just mean the federal government is collecting less tax from Australian taxpayers. But that’s an easy mistake to make when those tax dollars pay for your continued employment at the public broadcaster.


If Australians want to hear a genuine debate on the media they can tune into the Rupert Murdoch controlled Fox News’ MediaBuzz program which is presented by one time CNN journalist, Howard Kurtz.  MediaBuzz airs on Foxtel in Australia early on Monday mornings.  Kurtz runs discussions about the media by involving liberals (in the American sense of the term) and conservatives.  In other words, MediaBuzz practises political diversity.

Unlike the ABC’s Media Watch.  There is no debate on this program – which has only had leftist or left-of-centre presenters since it commenced over three decades ago.  No conservative has even got this gig – as befits the ABC as a Conservative-Free-Zone without one conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets.  Rather, the presenter – Paul Barry – lays down the line about what is proper and improper journalistic behaviour. There is no debate and discussion and no right of reply on the program itself.  Media Watch is very much a cult-of-personality program.

Take the current debate about the decision of the Essendon Football Club to part ways with its CEO Andrew Thorburn – which is referred to in today’s Can You Bear It? segment.

Paul Barry covered the story in Media Watch on 10 October and came to the conclusion set out below – perhaps “teaching” is a better term.  Earlier he had bagged Sky News’ Chris Kenny and Andrew Bolt along with News Corps’ Greg Sheridan.  And he quoted favourably from Herald-Sun journalist Susie O’Brien and Nine’s Osman Faruqi.

Now here’s Preacher Barry’s Sermon on the (ABC) Mount about the Essendon Football Club and all that:

So why did Thorburn lose his job? Well you can’t run the Conservative Party if you’re a paid up Communist. You can’t head up the Anglican Church if you’re a Catholic cardinal. And you really can’t expect to run a footy club that champions diversity if you chair a church that teaches homosexuality is a sin.

What a load of (lightweight) absolute tosh – which would not work in a Year 12 debate. The Conservative Party and the Communist Party in a democratic society are political rivals.  The Anglican Church and the Catholic Church are theological rivals.  But the EFC is a sporting organisation which is about prevailing over its competitors on the football field.  Moreover, it is not at all clear that the Church on the Hill teaches that homosexuality “in itself is a sin”- and Media Watch produced no evidence in support of this claim.

Media Watch, which goes to air for 15 minutes once a week for about 45 times a year, has a total staff of about ten.  Yet the best argument that Comrade Barry could come up with to justify the dismissal of Mr Thorburn is to bring up the Conservative and Communist parties and the Anglican and Catholic churches.



In a Guardian Australia article on 7 October 2022, MWD fave Katharine Murphy covered an interview between Opposition Leader Peter Dutton and Sky News’ Andrew Bolt.     In the interview Bolt brought up the notorious 2007 comment by Tim Flannery and the opposition leader commented that “Tim Flannery was dead wrong.”

Avid readers will be familiar with Flannery’s comments on the ABC TV Landline program of 11 February 2007.

Professor Tim Flannery: We’re already seeing the initial impacts and they include a decline in the winter rainfall zone across southern Australia, which is clearly an impact of climate change, but also a decrease in run-off. Although we’re getting say a 20 per cent decrease in rainfall in some areas of Australia, that’s translating to a 60 per cent decrease in the run-off into the dams and rivers. That’s because the soil is warmer because of global warming and the plants are under more stress and therefore using more moisture. So even the rain that falls isn’t actually going to fill our dams and our river systems, and that’s a real worry for the people in the bush. If that trend continues then I think we’re going to have serious problems, particularly for irrigation.

Of course, Murpharoo (as she likes to be called) went into “defend Flannery mode”, stating:

What Flannery said in 2007 was, and remains, consistent with what climate science says about global heating leading to more extreme weather, like floods, droughts and bushfires.

The links take you to two articles. One of them dated 9 April 2022 “Latest IPCC report offers key lessons for Australia but is anyone listening?”, discusses how governments may reduce their emissions in the wake of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that says greenhouse gas emissions must peak by 2025.

The article focuses on renewables and technology and does not say anything about rain or dams. There are references to “climate breakdown” and “ catastrophic consequences” but no specifics on what the catastrophic breakdown might entail.

The other article, dated 5 April 2022, details the recommendations of the IPCC report – such as increasing the use of renewables, shifting to fuel-efficient cars and encouraging the use of non-car forms of transport and reducing the use of fossil fuels.

Other than the articles being about climate change, none of them proves Tim Flannery correct. Sydney has just recorded its wettest year on record. Dams are full. The communities bracing for their fifth flood event in five years don’t have any worries about empty dams and river systems

Your man Flannery made a highly specific comment while doomsaying, that has now been proven incorrect. Why must the Guardian and others continue to defend him?


Jackie:  Mr Micallef, thanks for being so generous with your time.

Shaun Micallef: No problem.  Fire away – provided you’re not firing blanks. I’m paid to be funny, you know.

Jackie:  Yes, I know – primarily by the ABC, I understand, for your 15 season series Mad As Hell. Tell me about your memoir.  In the main body of Tripping Over Myself – excluding the Acknowledgements and Appendix sections – you use the word “me” 592 times and “myself” 86 times.  Plus there were so many references to the first person pronoun that they cannot be counted.  A bit too much ego?

Shaun Micallef: No – but I understand your point.  I put it to a vote. I asked myself whether I should refer to me a lot. The question was: “Should I use ‘I’ constantly in my memoir – yes or no?”  In the event, it was the case of “The Ayes have it”. And the rest is (my) memoir – replete with “I”, “I’m”, “I’ve”, “Me” and “Myself”.

Jackie: I’m but a humble canine from Gunnedah.  Media Watch Dog  readers will be more interested in your answers than my questions.  Perhaps you might describe the highlights of your autobiographical tome rather than participate in a standard interview.

Shaun Micallef:  Sure. I’m always happy to talk about myself. Here we go:

Introduction. I’m sure some people will think that I’m a bit of a knob.  But I tell readers about my brilliant memory – recalling my first performance playing the prince in a kindergarten performance of Sleeping Beauty somewhere in Adelaide at age four in 1966. I rode a rocking horse.  Even the horse laughed at the wit of my lunchtime performance.

Chapter 1. Here I write about my life growing up in Adelaide’s Clovelly Park and my parents and grandparents and my favourite cardigan and the Snowtown murders.  Somehow, they all fit together in my mind. My brilliant mind, I mean.  I decide not to name my parents to protect their privacy – which prevails until a reader reaches page 290.

Chapter 2.  My best sentence in this chapter is: “I’ve mentioned me (and will continue to do so throughout the book)”.  At least I warned my readers about me. I also inform my readers about my early education at the local Catholic primary school and describe in detail the consequences of my youthful hiatal hernia.  I also declare that I won the “Christian Leadership prize” at Sacred Heart College – I even write leadership with a capital “L”.

Chapter 3.  My readers will be surprised that I really enjoyed prancing on stage and showing off when I was at school.  This time my revelation is that I was elected captain of my Sacred Heart College.  I was a conservative Pius XII type Catholic at the time. Wow indeed.

Chapter 4.  My readers learn that I was a dreadful drunk when at Adelaide University and in my early years working as a lawyer. I never had a drink again – until Chapter 7 (see page 112). Oh yes, I once danced with Princess Diana – [now I sound like Rowan Dean don’t I?].  At university, I met Leandra and vowed to become “a more complete and better person” – if such was deemed possible for myself.  Leandra, who became my wife, is entitled to privacy as are my children and other family members. Until Chapter 18 and the Afterword and, come to think of it, Chapter 16 as well.

Chapter 5.  Now I talk constantly about myself and comedy – perhaps “comedy and me” is a better way of putting it. Patrick Cook once told me my work was derivative and sort of not funny.  I was impervious to his advice but perhaps I shouldn’t have been. Whatever.  Oh yes, circa 1994 I danced around the empty streets of Adelaide at 3 in the morning.  Worth recalling for posterity, don’t you think?

Chapter 6.  I write about driving to Melbourne and passing through Bordertown and Ballarat.  I hope my readers  are not confused because I wrote in Chapter 5 that I got lost on the way to Melbourne and took the Great Ocean Road – south of Bordertown and Ballarat.  But there – or, rather I,  go (or went).

Chapters 7, 8, 9.  I bore on (now that wasn’t a joke) and I report that I did a pretty good job hosting the Logies and starred at the Canberra Press Gallery’s Midwinter Ball. I must have been funny because Malcolm Farr laughed at my jokes. I reveal that I had it on good authority what Janette said to John Howard on that occasion – but I never heard the conversation.  I’m a comedian, don’t forget.

Chapter 10.  I declare my love for Labor Party prime ministers Gough Whitlam and Bob Hawke for providing me with free tertiary education.  No doubt Gerard Henderson will say that, before Whitlam, the Coalition governments funded the generous Commonwealth Government Scholarship Scheme.  But who cares? – I want a reason to love Gough.  Oh yes. I mention again that I hosted the Logies and – in my own words – “I was ready for big-time commercial television and commercial stardom.”

Chapter 11.  I use the word “proscenium” and I praise my own work in Welcher & Welcher. I manage to get the first person pronoun into one sentence on five occasions.  Like this: “I stiffened my resolve and for the rest of the shoot and into post-production convinced myself, as I do on most things I’m in the process of writing on, that it was the best thing I’ve ever done.”  How about that?  Worth the Walkley Book Award for sure – Lenore Taylor please note.

Chapters 12, 13, 14 & 15. I mention again that I hosted the Logies – achieving the highest ratings the Logies have ever received.  Also, Graham Kennedy told Graham Blundell that I am “too clever”.  No wonder I won a Logie. And no wonder people love me.

Chapters 16 & 17.  I start by declaring “I’m going to name-drop a bit here so brace yourself.”  I didn’t bother to pick any names up.  I head back to my school days and tell readers (if readers there still are) about when I ceased going to church.  I write about my time in India.

Chapters 18 & 19.  Having recovered from a midlife crisis, I happen to turn fifty.  I tell (another) apocryphal story about John & Janette Howard and bag Liberal Party MPs Bill Heffernan, Ian Goodenough and Bert van Manen – despite having previously said in Chapter 14 that I am apolitical (see page 202). By the way, I have a greater acting range than Jack Lemmon. I conclude my memoirs as follows: “Other people devote their lives to others; I have squandered mine on myself….  I am a shallow, self-absorbed narcissist.”

Afterword. Here I advise readers of the stuff I’ve left out of my memoirs.  Such as when “I wet my pants in a phone box”. (Thank god – or is it God – for the invention of mobile phones). Also, I have not referred to the chat I had with Ben Elton – except here.

I finish my opus magnum – or is it magnum opus? – with me reflecting on myself:

I would like to be remembered – and I hope this doesn’t sound pretentious – as the Jean-Paul Sartre of Australian comedy: challenging the spiritually destructive conformity of my bourgeois upbringing and ultimately finding a more authentic way of being a light-entertainment television presenter.

I hope you’re impressed, Jackie.  Will this do?

Jackie: Yes, I surely am.  Many thanks for talking to me. All I would like to say is that your conclusion comes as no surprise to someone with a Dip. Wellness. who read your book. I worked that out in the first chapter.

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.


Rob Harris is currently the able Europe correspondent for The Age  and Sydney Morning Herald. Previously he worked for the Herald-Sun.

On 8 October, your man Harris reported on the current energy crisis in Britain as the northern winter approaches.  Under the heading “Brits face ‘controlled’ blackouts”, he had this to say:

A shortage of gas in Europe, as well as maintenance issues with several French nuclear power plants and low water levels at Norway’s hydropower plants, have raised the risk Britain could be unable to secure the gas it needs or the imports of electricity it typically receives from the continent….

But avoiding controlled blackouts will hinge on firing up old coal plants and recruiting big businesses or millions of households to a new scheme that would pay them to voluntarily ration electricity usage.

That’s pretty clear then.  Nine’s Rob Harris reports that in order to avoid blackouts Britain will have to fire up its old coal plants in 2022-23, among other things. This is just five years after Nine’s Shane Wright compared coal in 2017 to candle sticks in 1870. To repeat, Comrade Wright is Nine Newspapers’ senior economics correspondent.

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.



Avid readers of a certain age may, or may not, be familiar with the “Lives of the Saints” genre in which accounts of those canonised by the Catholic Church were presented as if they were without stain.  Even to the extent – at times – of throwing into doubt the reality of The Fall, Original Sin and all that sort of stuff.

These days, the Lives of the (Catholic) Saints genre is in Rest in Peace mode (aka RIP). It seems to have been replaced by the “Lives of the (Secular) Saints” within left-of-centre circles.

MUP’s The Work of History:  Writing for Stuart Macintyre (edited by Peter Beilharz and Sian Supski) is one such example.  It contains paean after paean of praise for the late Comrade Macintyre – a one time member of the Communist Party in both Australia and Britain whom the editors of this book describe as someone who was “always on the Left”.

Gerard Henderson has been in correspondence with Professor Sean Scalmer (who co-edited a book with Macintyre in 2006) and MUP chief executive Nathan Hollier concerning what your man Scalmer wrote about Hendo in “The Life of Saint Mac” collection. The correspondence continues.


Nathan Hollier to Gerard Henderson – 7 October 2022

Dear Gerard,

I have spoken with Professor Scalmer about this and am satisfied that his references to you in his chapter are not inaccurate. However, I am happy to modify the reference to you in any subsequent edition of the book so that you are referred to as ‘a critic and former university classmate’.



Dr Nathan Hollier


Gerard Henderson to Nathan Hollier – 12 October 2022

Dear Nathan

I refer to your email of 7 October 2022.

I note that you have spoken to Sean Scalmer and report that he is “satisfied” that the references to me in his chapter in The Work of History (MUP, 2022) are “not inaccurate”.  Quelle Surprise!

A MUP author tells his MUP publisher that he is “satisfied” with his very own comments. Fancy that. Professor Scalmer does not even assert that his comments about me are accurate. He simply claims that they are “not inaccurate”.  When I was a university academic, first year students would not have been allowed to get away with such fudge.

In your most recent letter you also write:

I am happy to modify the reference to you in any subsequent edition of the book so that you are referred to as “a critic and former university classmate [of Stuart Macintyre]”.

In response, I make the following points:

  • Sean Scalmer presents as the Professor of Australian History, Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne.  As such, it would be expected that he is capable of doing historical research. In which case, Professor Scalmer should be able to provide documentation concerning the occasion/or occasions where (allegedly) I was a critic of Stuart Macintyre when he was alive.  He has not done this so far.

The fact is that, over the years, I rarely referred to Stuart Macintyre’s work. In my article “Rewriting our History” – which was published in The Bulletin on 2 February 1993 and which effectively commenced what Stuart later referred to as “the history wars” – I did not mention the name “Macintyre”.  Yet Stuart wrote in The History Wars (2003) that my Bulletin  article indicated that I was a “Stalinist ideologue”.   It was around this time that Stuart claimed that we were friends – despite the fact that I never had a personal conversation with him in my life.  It would seem that he manufactured a friendship in an attempt to make his criticism of me plausible.

Professor Scalmer’s essay in The Work of History contains 60 footnotes. Not one supports his assertion that I was “a critic” of Macintyre with reference to anything I have written or said.  There is no surprise here – since, as previously indicated, I barely wrote about him. For example, my few references to Stuart in my books Menzies’ Child: The Liberal Party of Australia (Allen & Unwin 1994 – then HarperCollins) and Santamaria:  A Most Unusual Man (MUP, 2015) are benign.

  • The suggestion that Professor Scalmer’s false claim should now be amended to say that I was a “former university classmate” of Stuart is ridiculous. Unless it is pointed out that this reference relates to a one hour tutorial, once a week, for one year during university terms over half a century ago. Because when it’s put like this –  it hardly supports Stuart’s claim that we were university “besties”, does it?
  • I note that you have not answered my question about whether Professor Scalmer’s essay in The Work of History was checked by MUP’s referees – as required by MUP’s current editorial standards. If not, why not?
  • You state that MUP is prepared to modify Sean Scalmer’s reference to me in “any subsequent edition” of The Work of History.  This overlooks the fact that there is an E-book in existence which could be altered almost immediately.

Best wishes


Gerard Henderson






Until next time