ISSUE – NO. 616

2 December 2022

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So it’s farewell then (to borrow Private Eye terminology) to ABC TV’s Q+A, in its Thursday time slot.  The poorly rated show will return to whence it came – namely a 9.35 pm start on Mondays when the Media Silly Season ends and ABC journalists return from what they like to call their Well Earned Break – or W.E.B.

Q+A presenter Stan Grant maintains that the program makes for respectful and considered debate.  This is absolute tosh.  Invariably political conservatives – when they happen to appear – are treated with ridicule and contempt.  Sometimes this occurs whether they are on a panel or not.

In her report dated 25 November titled Report of the Inquiry into the Appointment of Former Prime Minister to Administer Multiple Departments, The Hon. Virginia Bell AC made valid criticisms of Scott Morrison’s decision to appoint himself to administer a number of departments sometimes without telling the relevant minister.  But she found that Morrison’s actions were constitutionally valid.

By last night Scott Morrison had been censured by the House of Representatives and been subject to wide-ranging criticism for one aspect of his time as prime minister.  But the powers-that-be at Q+A wanted more.

Author and activist Grace Tame (a panellist last night) was allowed to engage in a long rambling rant about Morrison which was anything but respectful and contained references irrelevant to Morrison’s role as prime minister.  Let’s go to the transcript as Ms Tame stated an abusive, and evidently rehearsed, put down of the former prime minister:

Grace Tame:  But the thing is, he wasn’t even, he wasn’t even a good villain.  He was, he had the ambitions of Voldemort with the brains of Peter Griffin. [Enthusiastic applause from audience].

That’s just abuse.  But Stan Grant said nothing.  Earlier Q+A executive producer Erin Vincent gave the green light to a question from the floor which claimed that Morrison’s decision to administer multiple departments was “the most horrible autocratic action in Australian history”.

This was mere hyperbole. The internment of Germans during the First World War and Italians during the Second World War due to decisions of the Commonwealth government was autocratic. Morrison took no autocratic action against anyone. Q+A has become unprofessional in its attempt to appeal to the baying green/left mob.



Is there anything so intellectually pretentious as the Grattan Institute’s Prime Minister’s Summer Reading list which will be launched in Melbourne on 8 December?  It will be covered in the next issue of Media Watch Dog.

The powers-that-be at the taxpayer subsidised Grattan Institute believe that they should tell the Prime Minister of the day what they should read over Christmas.  Invariably this comprises a list of worthy and intellectually fashionable tomes.

MWD has never been able to find an example of a PM who has read a book on the Grattan Institute’s list.

The Grattan Institute even packages up the six book collection and sends it to The Lodge. Needless to say, if a PM had to pick up the parcel from the Grattan Institute’s Carlton inner-city abode he or she might not bother. More of this next week.

Can You Bear It?


Did anyone watch Steve Carey – the former journalist who presents as a media trainer and crisis management consultant – doing the “Newspapers” gig on ABC TV News Breakfast on 28 November?  It was the Monday morning after the Saturday election in Victoria and your man Carey was of the view that the opinion polls had failed to anticipate the convincing victory achieved by Daniel Andrews’ Labor Party government.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Lisa Millar: …good morning to you Steve. Look in the middle of last week you were not quite sure what we might have been talking about today, because the polls were certainly suggesting they’d tightened when it came to the Victorian election. But in the end no, no comp.

Steve Carey: …if I was a pollster this morning, I’d be saying: “How do we get it so wrong again?”. So you know, and the only poll that ever counts, of course, is the poll on the day….

What a load of absolute tosh.  Which raises the point – does the ABC TV News Breakfast guy read the newspapers?  Consider this – The Weekend Australian  on Saturday 26 November carried a page one story by its Victorian political reporter Rachel Baxendale under the heading “Newspoll puts Dan on track for a win.”  It commenced as follows:

Daniel Andrews is poised to ­secure a historic third term ­despite a swing against Labor, with Newspoll showing him on track to retain a diminished majority. A two-party-preferred result of 54.5-45.5 per cent ahead of Saturday’s Victorian election represents a 2.8 per cent swing against Labor since 2018, and compares with 54-46 three weeks ago.

Then on Monday 28 November The Australian ran a report titled “Newspoll spot on about ALP win”.

Could it be that the Melbourne media consultant slept through the morning of the election and missed Rachel Baxendale’s coverage of the Newspoll – which turned out to be close to 100 per cent correct.

For the record, these were the final opinion poll results for the November 2022 Victorian state election:

Newspoll for The Australian – Labor 54.5 per cent

Resolve for The Age – Labor 52.7 per cent

Roy Morgan – Labor 55 per cent

Freshwater for AFR – Labor 56 per cent

Redbridge – Labor 53 per cent

As of Thursday 1 December, the two-party preferred vote for Labor stood at an estimated 54.2 per cent.

In short, the various opinion polls were broadly correct – with Newspoll the star performer.  Yet Steve Carey told the unquestioning News Breakfast  presenters Lisa Millar and Madeleine Morris that if he was a pollster he would be saying: “How did we get it so wrong again?”.  But MWD asks this question: How hopelessly wrong can a media trainer get?  More importantly – Can You Bear It?


Could there be a more important job in the Australian media than that held by Charlie Lewis Esq – who is described in Crikey as follows:

Charlie Lewis pens Crikey’s Tips and Murmurs column and also writes on industrial relations, politics and culture. He previously worked across government and unions and was a researcher on RN’s Daily Planet. He currently co-hosts Spin Cycle on Triple R radio.

Alas, Crikey does not say which government and unions your man Lewis “worked across”- whatever that might mean.  But he has worked for the ABC and has a gig on 3RRR – which presents as a community radio station based in Melbourne, in Fitzroy (aka Sandalista Central) no less.  3RRR is radio of the left, by the left and it would also be for the left if it had a few more listeners.

Writing in Crikey on 29 November, Comrade Lewis referred to the practice, established by Jeff Kennett when he was Liberal Party premier of Victoria, to erect statues of the Victorian premiers who served 3000 or more days in office.  Currently Melbourne contains statues to, among others, the late Sir Henry Bolte (Liberal Party) and the late John Cain (Labor). The recently re-elected Labor Premier Daniel Andrews will qualify for such a monument sometime during his third term of office.

In Crikey, Charlie Lewis commented that the statues of the likes of Bolte and Cain amount to “Stalinist worship”. Turn it up.  Just because communist leaders like Josef Stalin presided over the erection of statues of themselves does not mean that every such construction amounts to “Stalinist worship”.  Perhaps Comrade Lewis should get out (of Melbourne) more.

Jackie’s (male) co-owner recalls that, as a young boy, his parents took him to see the Prime Ministers Avenue in the Ballarat Botanical Gardens.  In case Comrade Lewis does not know this, Ballarat is a large Victorian city situated to the north of Fitzroy North.

Hendo recalls that the most recent statues at that time were those to social democrat Labor heroes John Curtin (died 1945) and Ben Chifley (died 1951). However, according to Crikey’s murmurer-in-chief, those who visit the Ballarat Prime Ministers Avenue – most recent statue Malcolm Turnbull – are into Stalinist worship. Can You Bear It?


While on the topic of Crikey, as avid readers know only too well – Guy Rundle (Crikey’s correspondent at large) is Jackie’s (male) co-owner’s fave Marxist comedian. Why, your man Rundle once used to edit (with La Trobe university academic Judith Brett, no less) Arena MagazineArena was once proudly a Marxist magazine much loved by former members of the Communist Party of Australia.

But MWD digresses. Writing in Crikey on 22 November, Comrade Rundle referred to The Australian’s associate editor John Ferguson as “the world’s oldest Catholic copy boy”. How funny is that?  For starters, Ferguson is no boy.  And, as Rundle should know, attacking someone because they are a religious believer is just a form of sectarianism.  Anti-Catholic sectarianism, in this instance – which seems to be in a state of revival with a little help from the Crikey team.

It’s impossible to imagine that Private Media (publisher Eric Beecher), which puts out Crikey, would allow Comrade Rundle to use the designation of “Muslim” as a means of attack and ridicule.  But Catholics and other Christians are fair game these days when Crikey correspondents-at-large are seeking political targets.

There is another point. Even Marxist comedians like Guy Rundle should understand that there is a division between humour and abuse.  Once upon a time, Rundle understood this. Not any more, apparently.  Which perhaps explains why he spends his middle age writing (boring) laborious pieces for Crikey –  which contain bouts of (boring) anti-Catholic sectarianism. Can You Bear It?


 ABC management, from managing director and editor-in-chief David Anderson down, maintains that the ABC is not a conservative free zone – without one conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets – and not into activist journalism.  It’s called denial.

No one at the ABC has been able to name one conservative in one prominent ABC program.  As to activism – well consider Patricia Karvelas’ performance presenting ABC Radio National Breakfast  on Wednesday 28 November.

The program took place after the decision of the Nationals in Canberra – led by the party’s leader David Littleproud – to oppose the Indigenous Voice to Parliament becoming part of the Australian Constitution. Here’s what happened:

  • First up, Patricia Karvelas interviewed David Littleproud. She interrupted the Nationals leader on numerous occasions and her comments directed at him included:

“No, no, no.  Sorry but that’s inaccurate; you just said something inaccurate” and

“You’re saying something that’s not based in fact”.

  • Not long after, Patricia Karvelas interviewed Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus. It was a courteous, if not soft, interview – the first half of which turned on the Nationals’ opposition to The Voice. There were no interruptions and the Attorney-General was able to state his case in the manner he wished.
  • Then, after 8 am, Patricia Karvelas interviewed Noel Pearson – one of the key Indigenous proponents of The Voice. She did not interrupt Mr Pearson and he was allowed to state his case without being challenged – even to the extent of launching personal attacks on Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price and David Littleproud, both of whom oppose The Voice.

At stages, the presenter was barracking for her guest.  Let’s go to the transcript after Noel Pearson was asked what led the National Party to come out in opposition to The Voice:

Noel Pearson: I am very surprised, because I’ve spoken to almost every Nationals senator and MP over recent years…and of all of the political parties, the Nationals were the most supportive of the idea of The Voice. They were better than the Liberals, better than some Labor Party people….So I obviously, something has changed here in the National Party.

Patricia Karvelas: Do you know what it is Noel?

Noel Pearson: Well, it’s obviously Jacinta Price’s entry into the parliament that has turned everything around. But it is also this, this leader, this apparent supposed leader Littleproud. Little pride, a man of little pride. And he’s like a kindergarten kid, not a leader. They’ve, the Nationals have foisted the mantle of leadership on a boy who’s incapable of the leadership that’s necessary for the country and for his party. I really think that they, that the National Party is writing itself off for the future.

Patricia Karvelas: That’s really interesting analysis….

Sure, Noel Pearson is invariably interesting. So is Jacinta Price.  Both should be able to state their case on Breakfast.  Mr Pearson had this opportunity – not so Senator Price.  Moreover, both the Attorney-General and the Nationals leader should be able to state their case without antagonistic interjections and contestation. Mark Dreyfus was given this opportunity – not so David Littleproud.

No doubt Patricia Karvelas believes by adopting the role of an activist journalist hostile to those who oppose The Voice – she is helping the cause of The Voice.  Clearly this overlooks the possibility that her evident partisanship on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster runs the risk of being counterproductive to the cause of The Voice.

The ABC TV program Media Watch commenced in May 1989 – a month after the publication of Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch (which became, in time, Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch Dog Blog). All Media Watch presenters have been left-of-centre types. No conservative has had this gig in over three decades – confirming the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s reality as a Conservative Free Zone. Since Stuart Littlemore fronted the inaugural program in May 1989, Media Watch has had the format where the presenter lays down the law. There is no debate and discussion, and no one has a right-of-reply on air.

This contrasts with MediaBuzz on Fox News (proprietor Rupert Murdoch). Currently presented by one-time Washington Post columnist and CNN presenter Howard Kurtz, MediaBuzz encourages debate and discussion on the program – where different political and social views are heard. Due to popular demand, MWD continues to record your man Barry’s Occasional (political and social) Sermon on the Mount.


Since 2017 the team behind Media Watch have also been producing an online only spin-off named Media Bites, which is put out on Thursdays. The junior show lasts only a few minutes and features Comrade Barry sans his usual suit jacket, leaning over a bench (presumably somewhere in the Media Watch offices). The idea seemed to be to produce a less formal show where trivial or humorous media stories could be discussed, leaving the serious matters to Media Watch.

However, in recent weeks serious media stories have begun to creep into Media Bites. As mentioned in last week’s MWD, ABC COVID guru Norman Swan’s bizarre comments connecting the deaths of Shane Warne and Kimberley Kitching to COVID-19 were featured on the 17 November Media Bites – then went unmentioned during the 21 November Media Watch on the main ABC channel.

The 24 November edition of Media Bites concerned Lisa Wilkinson’s departure as one of the many co-hosts of The Project. Wilkinson blamed her decision on “relentless, targeted toxicity by some sections of the media”. Paul Barry evidently agrees, with much of the segment dedicated to showing clips of Wilkinson’s media critics.

In his usual hectoring style, the Media Watch presenter makes sure to let us know that he considers the coverage “nasty, intrusive and relentless”. At the end of the segment, after a clip of Sky’s Rita Panahi bagging Wilkinson’s book, Barry delivers his sermon:

Rita Panahi (clip): The entitled, privileged and pampered television personality…it’s a 500 page “woe is me” waffle.

Paul Barry: But however privileged and pampered Lisa may be, in my view the media pile-on is over the top. And it’s no coincidence that once again it’s a woman who is copping it. It’s nasty, personal and exhausting. And in my view, no one deserves it.

So, that’s that then. The criticism of Ms Wilkinson was, according to Wilkinson and Barry: relentless, targeted, toxic, nasty, intrusive, relentless, over the top, nasty (again), personal and exhausting. Oh, and sexist. So sayeth Paul Barry, who seemingly didn’t notice that many of the Wilkinson critics, unlike him, are women.

It seems Saint Barry cannot restrain himself from turning the supposedly light-hearted Media Bites into yet another opportunity to lecture other journos on their many alleged failings.



Media Watch Dog just loves it when vain journalistic blokes and sheilas dress up in their finest, ready to strut the Red Carpet before going to award nights where many drink lotsa grog while they ply one another with awards for being The Best – in various, invariably unmemorable, categories. Except to the winners who are normally “humbled” by being the recipient of their peers’ gongs.  Indeed, the more important the award, the greater the humility expressed by the winner.

Journalists tend to be an irreverent lot who take little seriously. Except for themselves.  Hence journalists who are only too keen to report the disruptions of others tend to get upset if they or their colleagues are the victims of disruption.

It has been reported that at the very latest Walkley Awards – held on 17 November at the International Conference Centre at Sydney’s Darling Harbour –  ABC TV’s Four Corners  won the Gold Walkley for the program titled “State Control” which aired on 20 March 2022.  The winners – Anne Connolly, Stephanie Zillman and Ali Russell – all dressed in their finest, received their gong with acclaim.

There was, however, a disruptor in the room. MWD readers of a certain age will recall the left-wing cry “What About The Workers?” – when a comrade or two wanted to express the view that the working class was being dudded by the bosses, cucumber-sandwich-eating-types at the Melbourne Club and so on. Comrades of this ilk sometimes had a beer or two to help warm up their vocal cords prior to a rant against capitalist oppressors.

No such “What About The Workers?” cry was heard at the International Conference Centre on 17 November. After all, apart from the waiters, there were no real workers operating in the room.  However, from the bowels of the ICC, a new version of that old refrain, reinvented for the Sandalista Class, was heard loud and clear. Namely, “What about Crikey?”.

It was the somewhat emotion-fuelled voice of Crikey editor – Peter Fray. [Was the Voice of Fray just fuelled with emotion? – MWD Editor.]  The editor of the leftist newsletter was miffed that Crikey had missed out on the Gold Walkley – since Crikey’s very own Amber Schultz had written on the topic of public trustee agencies and the like before the Four Corners award-winning program went to air.  As MWD fave Annette Sharp pointed out in her Daily Telegraph column on 19 November, Ms Schutlz’s “reports were published between September 2021 and March this year while the Four Corners ‘State Control’ program was broadcast in March 2022”.

If he was allowed to, Jackie’s (male) co-owner would nominate Peter Fray for the 2023 Gold Walkley on account of his performance in 2022 in reducing the all-pervading pomposity which was rife before the “What About Crikey?” heckling was heard interrupting the award-winning speeches.

But such a move, if possible, would be unlikely to succeed.  Shortly after your man Fray’s Walkley performance – Justin Stevens (the ABC director of news, analysis and investigations) wrote to Eric Beecher, the chair of Private Media (which publishes Crikey) demanding an apology for Comrade Fray’s alleged slight on the Four Corners  trio. Fair dinkum.

Soon after, Peter Fray went into apology mode. On 20 November he did the grovel to virtually everyone who was at the media’s night of glittering media prizes and advised that he was going on leave to “deeply reflect” on his actions.  In a Cultural Revolution-style confession, Comrade Fray declared that his “What About Crikey?” chant “was totally unwarranted, inappropriate and out of character”.  Really. It was a ”mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa” for sure.

Will Hayward, Private Media’s CEO, also apologised in Crikey for the behaviour of Crikey’s editor. Oh yes, in the process, two of Comrade Fray’s tweets – posted at the Walkley Award dinner – were removed – and sent down what George Orwell termed “the memory hole”. MWD was particularly fond of one tweet in which Comrade Fray opined: “Dear ABC, you are a fraud.” What a pity that truth is not always a defence at law in certain defamation actions.

Jackie’s (Dip Wellness, The Gunnedah Institute) comments for Media Watch Dog :

Gee, the ABC is getting extra precious.  A tired and emotional editor gets upset and heckles some boring speeches at the boring Walkley Awards dinner.  And a senior ABC manager writes to Master Fray’s headmaster and demands an apology. This from the taxpayer funded public broadcaster which rarely apologises for anything.  It would never happen if a guest at the 2022 Canine Awards heckled a triplet of Gunnedah Times Award recipients for receiving a gong for, say, a “Dog with No Fleas” Award.  Comrade Stevens needs to toughen up.  I would recommend eating glass for breakfast.  It works for my (male) co-owner.


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 in pre-pandemic times some years ago.  This is a print edition of the Bill Thompson initiative to report on the ABC TV Insiders program.


Wasn’t it great to see Nine’s columnist Niki Savva back on the ABC TV Insiders couch on Sunday 27 November? – along with fellow panellists Katharine Murphy (The Guardian Australia) and James Campbell (News Corp).  David (“Please call me Speersy”) Speers was in the presenter’s chair.

Your man Campbell was the odd panellist out – since he did not have a book, or even a published essay, to flog in the Christmas Sales rush. Niki (“I call myself a conservative leftie”) Savva’s book Bulldozed: Scott Morrison’s fall and Anthony Albanese’s rise has just been published. Katharine (“Malcolm calls me Murpharoo”) Murphy’s Quarterly Essay Lone Wolf: Albanese and the New Politics was released on 28 November.

First up, Murpharoo gave a plug to Comrade Savva – whom the irreverent Joe Aston referred to in the Australian Financial Review on 30 November as the “censurer of all Liberal prime ministers bar the one…”.   Now Jackie’s male co-owner – Gerard Henderson AC (aka Always Courteous) – is a courteous kind of guy so he has censored a part of Mr Aston’s somewhat discourteous reference – with respect to Ms Savva.  But the prime minister referred to was Malcolm Turnbull.

However, MWD digresses.  Here’s how Murpharoo gave the Savva tome a plug:

Katharine Murphy: …I think we had the opening of Josh Frydenberg’s return to government campaign in Niki Savva’s excellent book that we will all read in a week or so.

David Speers: We’ll get to that.

James Campbell: Which his colleagues did not appreciate.

Niki Savva: [Laughs] I wouldn’t put it quite like that.

Then Murpharoo plugged her own essay in booklet form:

David Speers: Do you think, just on them [the Vic Teals], not succeed [in the Victorian election] where they did federally – is it because Morrison not being on the ticket, on the scene?

Katharine Murphy: Yeah, well, I think there’s a couple of interesting takeouts from this election campaign, just quickly. At the helicopter level, what we can see is there’s this massive realignment happening in the Australian electorate at the moment, this shift away from major parties. An imminent Quarterly Essay may actually go to some of these points.

David Speers: Written by the one and only Katharine Murphy.

Katharine Murphy: Sorry, had to do that. 

James Campbell: Everyone’s got products today. I feel like I’m on morning TV.

Yeah, sure, Murpharoo was “sorry” that she had to plug her own book – presumably to balance her promotion of Savva’s book.

James Campbell was correct. It was a bit like a commercial show on morning TV with products being promoted.  At this point, Jackie’s (male) co-owner paid special attention in the hope that Comrade Murphy would make a two-for-the-price-of-one offer.  Or at least throw in a set of steak knives.  But, alas, there were no price reductions for Insiders’ viewers.

Then, just in case viewers had missed advice about the latest tomes from Savva and Murphy – here’s how Speersy opened Insiders’  “Final Observations” segment:

David Speers: Final Observations. Just a reminder. A shout out. Quarterly Essay from Katharine Murphy’s out tomorrow. Niki, Bulldozed is out – Thursday in the bookshops?

Niki Savva: Thursday.

David Speers: Just in time for Christmas.

You bet.  Just in time for Christmas. And the taxpayer funded public broadcaster maintains that it doesn’t do advertising.


Following the enormous success of Media Watch Dog’s  “Outside Insiders”- it has been put to Jackie’s (male) co-owner that he should occasionally write an “Inside Outsiders” segment about the Sky News’ Outsiders program.  It is assumed, apparently, that Hendo has some particular insight into such right-of-centre types like Rowan Dean, James Morrow and Rita Panahi who present Outsiders every Sunday morning.  MWD will do its bit – but is not certain that anyone can get inside the collective mind of the Dean/Morrow/Panahi trio.


While on the topic of “Outside Insiders”, what about “Inside Outsiders”, which commenced in Media Watch Dog on 25 November to enormous acclaim. It’s a kind of yin and yang situation.  On ABC TV Insiders, the presenter David Speers tends to interrupt the program guests (usually Coalition, but not so much Greens or Labor ones). While on Sky News’ Outsiders, the presenters Rowan Dean, James Morrow and Rita Panahi take pleasure in interrupting each other – while tending to allow their guests to speak with few interruptions.

Jackie’s (male) co-owner turned to the start of Outsiders on Sunday 27 November – Hangover Time, in fact.  Here’s a glimpse, perhaps noise is a better word, of what he heard.

When discussion turned on Labor’s victory at the Victorian State election, Rita Panahi (correctly) declared that she had always said that Labor would win in a landslide. Ms Panahi commented that the Nationals performed well but the Liberal Party leader Mathew Guy could not take any credit for that.  Now – let the interruptions commence:

Rita Panahi: This is absolutely a disastrous result, a thumping loss last time around, just as bad pretty much this time. The Nationals did okay. But I don’t think that Matthew Guy can take any credit for that.

Rowan Dean: No, well if you don’t stand for anything, nobody’s gonna vote for you –

 James Morrow: [interjecting] Not all –

 Rowan Dean: It’s the same old problem, if you do not stand clearly for something –

[Unintelligible interruptions]

 James Morrow: Rowan, Rowan, Rowan –

 Rowan Dean: – You have to stand and the people got to know what you stand for. Otherwise, they won’t vote –

James Morrow:  [interjecting] Sorry. Matty Guy and the Liberals in Victoria did stand for something and they stood – 

Rowan Dean: [interjecting] Yeah for everything Dan Andrews stood for –

 James Morrow: [interjecting] And so let’s go back to the pandemic. Well, they never provided any sort of opposition to all of the horror show that Dan Andrews inflicted on the people of Melbourne and Victoria during the pandemic. [continues uninterrupted for a while until]

Rowan Dean: [interjecting] Let me just point on that, let me just make a point on that –

Rita Panahi: [interjecting] Can I say something –

Rowan Dean: [interjecting] – Let me just make a point on that….

At this stage, Hendo headed off for an early morning Gin & Tonic top-up.  When he returned – in between giving advice to the Liberal Party, Peter Dutton and more besides – Rowan was interrupting James who was interrupting Rita who was interrupting Rowan who was interrupting himself until James cried out “Rowan, Rowan, Rowan”- or something like that.

The Guardian was established in Manchester in 1821 as an avowedly left-wing or socialist newspaper.  Now based in London, The Guardian remains a paper of the left.  Hence the word usage, common in Britain, to refer to left-wing types as “a Guardian reader”.  The Guardian Australia  was set up in Sydney in 2013. Like its London equivalent, The Guardian Australia is a left-wing paper.  It is a matter of record that The Guardian Australia, while being a small online newspaper, is over-represented when it comes to talking heads on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster – including such programs as ABC TV Insiders and Radio National Breakfast. Hence The Guardian/ABC Axis.


What a stunning example of The Guardian/ABC Axis in action on 1 December 2022 when Katharine (“Malcolm calls me Murpharoo”) Murphy, The Guardian Australia’s political editor, appeared on her regular Thursday slot talking to presenter Patricia (“Please call me PK”) Karvelas on RN Breakfast.  It’s a continuing example of one left-wing activist journalist talking to another left-wing activist journalist on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.

In the lead-up to what RN calls its “Politics with Katharine Murphy” segment, PK had interviewed Liberal Party Senator Andrew Bragg who supports, in general, the Indigenous Voice to Parliament proposal which is scheduled to be put to a referendum to alter the Constitution some time in 2023.

On 1 December, it so happened that there was less time than usual in the lead up to the 8 am news. Initially Comrade Murphy threw the switch to condescension and declared that she would “provide just some quick translation services to what Andrew Bragg just told listeners” – and added “I think that might be helpful”.’

In other words, Murpharoo believes that Breakfast listeners are too stupid to understand what Senator Bragg is saying about the Voice to Parliament without a little support from her.  Really. When the Murpharoo Translation Service had finished the job, the following exchange took place:

Patricia Karvelas: …thank you for decoding it [i.e. Senator Bragg’s interview]. We’re out of time. But um, yesterday, of course, the censure motion was passed, condemning the former Prime Minister Scott Morrison on his multiple ministries. Because I haven’t got enough time to hear what you think, I’m going to point people to your column because it’s an excellent column today. And I think what you think is beautifully articulated in it. So go ahead and read that, Katharine’s column. Thanks, Katharine.

Katharine Murphy: [Laughs] Thanks Patricia.

 Patricia Karvelas: That way, you’ve got a print version of Katharine and you’ve also been able to hear her analysis on the Voice to Parliament proposition.

Talk about an ideological love-in.  Comrade Karvelas told Breakfast listeners to read Comrade Murphy’s article in the comrade’s own Guardian Australia – since it was not only “excellent” but also “beautifully articulated”. Murpharoo responded with a (pretend) embarrassed laugh.

The Guardian/ABC Axis in action.

The term “What a Coincidence!” was popularised in the film Muriel’s Wedding when the character Bill Heslop (played by Bill Hunter) exclaimed on the occasion of seeing his mistress Deidre Chambers (played by Gennie Nevinson) at a pre-arranged public meeting: “It’s Deidre Chambers, what a coincidence!”. Yes, really.


Media Watch Dog is very much interested in such “What a Coincidence!” moments.  So lotsa thanks to the avid Melbourne reader who reminded Jackie’s (male) co-owner that a much praised and publicised comment by Victorian Labor premier Daniel Andrews on the occasion of his electoral triumph on the evening of Saturday 26 November rang a bell – as the saying goes – with a similar comment made some four decades ago by (then) Liberal Party deputy leader John Howard. Here we go:

  • Daniel Andrews’ Victory Speech (26 November 2022) – Why it’s more important to be right than popular – as covered live.

Dan Andrews: Reforming giant and Labor icon Paul Keating once said to me: “Son, leadership isn’t about doing what’s popular, leadership is about doing what’s right”. Essentially, he was telling me that leadership is about doing what matters.

  • John Howard’s Speech to the Young Liberals (January 1985) – Why it’s more important for a politician to be right than popular – as reported by Paul Kelly in The End of Certainty: The Story of the 1980s (Allen & Unwin, 1992).

[John] Howard’s gospel was delivered in January 1985 to the Young Liberals in a speech written by his aide, Gerard Henderson:

We must do more than just feed off Labor’s mistakes.  We must present ourselves in a positive sense as an effective alternative government with the correct policies to overcome Australia’s social and economic problems.  There will be no shortage of those who advocate a compromise, a blurred approach to difficult issues.  Government, we will be told, is just around the corner, so we should avoid antagonising any part of the electorate by taking a definitive stand on sensitive questions.  Such thinking is not only political cowardice, it also displays dubious political wisdom.  Many people deserted the former Liberal government because they felt it had lost its philosophic clarity towards the end of its term of office.

If the middle ground means that we must automatically adopt the mid-point between the opposing sides of the argument on any given issue then I am totally opposed to such a concept.  Such an approach will produce mediocre, lowest-common-denominator solutions….  In politics, it is more important to be right than popular.  In time correct policies will become accepted.

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Is this a case of Paul Keating channeling John Howard?  Or is it more in the “What a Coincidence!” mode?

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.


Did anyone read the piece in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald by Nine senior economics correspondent Shane Wright on 29 November?  Headed “Sorry excuse for an apology rates poorly”, your man directed criticism to the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) governor Philip Lowe as follows:

In terms of apologies, it was of the “I’m sorry you were offended by what I said” variety. Philip Lowe was asked at a Senate estimates hearing whether he owed an apology to the hundreds of thousands of Australians who took out mortgages over the past two years on the understanding interest rates would not increase until 2024.

His answer was couched as an apology. But the words were more apology-adjacent.  “I’m sorry that people listened to what we’d said and acted on what we’d said, and now regret what they’ve done. I’m sorry that happened. At the time, we thought it was the right thing to do,” he said. So the RBA governor – whose decisions, along with the bank board, are costing mortgage holders about $1000 a month in higher repayments – told people he was sorry they had listened to him.

So that’s really clear then. According to Comrade Wright, individuals who provide economic information should apologise if their comments, however nuanced with caveats, mislead people to make unwise decisions as to investments and so on.  But what about Shane Wright’s hopelessly false comparison between the contemporary demand for coal and the demand for candlesticks over a century ago?  Comrade Wright’s lips are sealed.

On Comrade Wright’s own standards, he should apologise to Australians who, following his advice on the ABC TV Insiders program, sold their coal shares/or did not buy coal shares when they were substantially cheaper than today.  Here’s a Wright-style apology which should do the trick.

Shane Wright (Nine’s Senior Economics Correspondent): I’m sorry that people – particularly Insiders viewers – listened to what I said and acted on my advice that contemporary coal was like candle-sticks and now regret that they sold/did not buy coal shares.  I’m sorry that happened. At the time I thought it was the right thing to say.

Shane Wright – Over to you.



Until next time