GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG

ISSUE – NO. 629

31 March 2023

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  • AUSTRALIA INSTITUTE’S EBONY BENNETT MISREADS REPORT ABOUT AUSTRALIA’S ENERGY EXPORTS TO JAPAN

Like the Guardian Australia, the avowedly left-wing Australia Institute has a close connection with the ABC and many an Australia Institute comrade appears on, or is quoted by, the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.

For example, Ebony Bennett – the Australia Institute’s deputy director – seems to have a regular slot on the “Newspapers” segment of the ABC TV News Breakfast program presented by Lisa Millar and Michael Rowland.

This morning Comrade Bennett commented on the article in today’s Australian by Geoff Chalmers and Jess Malcolm titled “Japan’s energy warning for PM”. The Australian reported that a Japanese businessman and Japan’s ambassador to Australia have expressed concern that the Albanese government’s energy market interventions will choke investment, strangle expansion of Australia’s LNG projects and allow Russia, China and Iran to fill the void. Chalmers and Malcolm also reported Trade Minister Don Farrell’s refutation of these claims.

This is how Ms Bennett read The Australian’ s story. Let’s go to the transcript.

Michael Rowland: Yeah. Hey … let’s round out the conversation, Ebony, with some pretty strong allegations – claims made by Japanese oil and gas giant about Australia’s activities on the international gas market.

Ebony Bennett: Yeah [laughing] just extraordinary claims here. I mean, the [Albanese] government has flagged some interventions completely in line with what it took to the election. And here you’ve got, um, surprise, surprise, the head of a major oil and gas company warning that, uh, world peace is at stake if the government continues to regulate gas prices, or, indeed, make interventions that might reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.

It would seem that Ebony Bennett just made this up. The Australian’s report makes no reference whatsoever to “world peace”. Rather, it focussed on Australia’s energy exports to Japan that keep the lights on in Tokyo. Yet, Ms Bennett made two other references to world peace.

Funny that. The Newspapers segment is supposed to involve commentary about what is in the newspapers – rather than what is not.

  • PK CHANNELS DAVID CROWE IN REGARDING ADAM BANDT AS THE REAL OPPOSITION LEADER

Here’s how Patricia Karvelas’ interview with Opposition Senate Leader Simon Birmingham on ABC Radio National Breakfast commenced this morning.

Patricia Karvelas: Simon Birmingham, welcome.

Simon Birmingham: Good morning, Patricia – and happy Friday to your listeners.

Patricia Karvelas: Thank you. Has Adam Bandt effectively replaced Peter Dutton as, uh, Opposition Leader?

Simon Birmingham: No, that’s a ridiculous proposition.

Quite so. So where did Patricia (“Please call me PK”) Karvelas get the idea from? Possibly from her mate David Crowe, whom Professor PK talks to in her political commentary slot every Tuesday. Comrade Crowe is the chief political correspondent for The Age and Sydney Morning Herald. He concluded his column in Nine Newspapers this morning by criticising Peter Dutton and praising leader Adam Bandt as follows:

Put simply, the Liberal Party knows its federal leader costs them votes. This takes the Liberals and Nationals out of the action and turns the Greens into the de facto opposition on some of the biggest decisions in parliament. The Liberals want to raise the spectre of a Labor-Greens alliance, of course, but they are doing it with a vote of no confidence in their own leader. While Dutton hides, Bandt is vocal every day. It is almost as if the parliament has a new opposition leader.

What a load of absolute tosh. The Adam Bandt-led Greens are not the second largest political party in either the House of Representatives or the Senate. Consequently, Mr Bandt is in no sense the Opposition leader. The Greens do not even have the numbers on their own to join with the Albanese government in the Senate to pass legislation the Coalition is opposing. Adam Bandt, as Opposition leader, is a figment of Comrade Crowe’s imagination and now, apparently, that of Comrade PK.

  • MARK HUMPHRIES’ LATEST EFFORT DISAPPEARED BY THE ABC

At around Gin + Tonic Time on the evening of Thursday 30 March, Jackie’s (male) co-owner tuned in to ABC TV’s 7:30. At the end of the program, presenter Sarah Ferguson gave her usual satire warning and 7:30 funnyman Mark Humphries presented his latest attempt at a comedy sketch. Hendo’s recollection is that the sketch parodied advertisements for gambling companies and, like most of Comrade Humphries’ efforts, failed to bring a chuckle.

Around Hangover Time this morning, Hendo fired up ABC iview to refresh his memories of the previous night, only to find that the Thursday episode of 7:30 had not been added. Later in the day the episode did arrive on iview, but with Humphries’ sketch edited out. As of publication time, the sketch appears to be absent from the ABC website and social media pages.

The ABC has not yet offered any explanation for the disappearance of the sketch. MWD will keep avid readers updated if an explanation, or the lost sketch, appears.


Can You Bear It?

  • IN WHICH NIKI SAVVA COMPARES PETER DUTTON TO A VIRGINIA-CLASS SUBMARINE

Isn’t it great to see Niki Savva back on Nine newspapers opinion page? Since moving to the The Age and Sydney Morning Herald in 2021, Comrade Savva’s columns have bagged the Coalition or its leader (previously Scott Morrison, now Peter Dutton). With only one exception – which Jackie’s (male) co-owner cannot quite remember.

In short, the Thought of Savva provides lotsa copy for MWD. So, it was terrific to see her back in Nine newspapers on 30 March in a piece titled “Will Liberals be torpedoed again?”. The reference is to the by-election in the federal seat of Aston in suburban Melbourne on April Fool’s Day.

The highlight of Ms Savva’s most recent column was the reference to Opposition leader Peter Dutton as having done “a credible impersonation of a Virginia-class submarine”. The attempt at humour had to do with the Opposition leader “staying submerged” on issues. Funny, eh?

There was also a reference to the Albanese Labor government having “loaded torpedoes into its attack ads in Aston”. Somewhat hyperbolic, don’t you think? There was also lotsa advice as to what Peter Dutton “should do”. Does Niki Savva have no other topics? Which raises the question: Can You Bear It?

  • NINE’S THOMAS MITCHELL WRITES ABOUT HIMSELF ONCE AGAIN

While on the topic of Nine’s columnists, there was enormous interest in Media Watch Dog’s previous issue which looked at the work of Nine’s Sun-Herald columnist Thomas Mitchell. MWD commented that there’s a lot to be said about journalists/columnists who write about the subject they know best. Namely, themselves. If only because it provides Jackie’s (male) co-owner with material.

On 19 March, your man Mitchell wrote about how he is not a dog person and how he became upset when a couple of women approached him in a café and wanted to talk about their canines. The Nine scribbler, on the other hand, wanted to tell readers (if readers there were) about his baby. Groan.

On 26 March, the Thomas Mitchell column was presented by Nine as being all about Rupert Murdoch. But it was really about – you’ve guessed it – Mr Mitchell. Here we go:

Allow me to wind the clock back to my first year of high school when I decided to join the local rowing team, ignoring the fact that I enjoy sleeping in (rowing is an early morning sport) and I have quite soft hands, which would (and did) blister easily.

Twice a week for three months, I forced myself out of bed and onto the water, my fellow oarsmen and me moving as one. Except we were not moving as one because I was terrible at rowing. With each passing week, I tried desperately not to listen to the voice inside which told me what I already knew to be true: You are bad at this, and therefore, you must stop.

Go on. Alas, he did. The ex-rower with soft hands bored on – advising that in a life of just 33 years (yes, he gave his age as well) the Sun-Herald columnist has abandoned “Spanish lessons, the trombone and making homemade pasta”. How frightfully interesting. The column concluded with the writer referring to his “troublesome knees”. Troublesome perhaps. But without them, how would your man Thomas have finished his column? Can You Bear It?

  • IN WHICH PK APPEARS TO BACK THE BLOKE MATT KEAN IN A SEAT IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES RATHER THAN A LIBERAL PARTY PROGRESSIVE WOMAN

As avid readers know, Media Watch Dog is of the view that there are lots of left-of-centre journalists who will put up with Coalition governments – provided they are led by the likes of Malcolm Turnbull. It is for this reason that such journos as Patricia (“Please call me Professor PK”) Karvelas likes the politics of such Liberal Party types as the former NSW Treasurer and Energy Minister Matt Kean – who is a friend and political ally of the former Liberal Party prime minister.

In spite of Kean being a key player in the government led by Dominic Perrottet, the Coalition was defeated in NSW on 25 March by Labor. This, despite the fact that the Perrottet government’s policies on climate change, identity and carbon emissions reduction, etc. were to the left of Labor led by Chris Minns. In view of this, Mr Kean must carry some responsibility for the Coalition’s defeat after 12 years in office.

On PK Breakfast on 27 March, Comrade Karvelas interviewed senior Liberal Party front bencher Paul Fletcher – who holds the Sydney seat of Bradfield in the House of Representatives. Directed by PK, discussion turned on whether Mr Fletcher might retire from politics before the next election. For his part, Fletcher would say no more than he was “committed to serving the people of Bradfield”, which sounded like he was yet to make up his mind.

But PK would not let up. Then she posed the Matt Kean question. Let’s go to the transcript:

Patricia Karvelas: Would Matt Kean be a candidate [for Bradfield] if you decide not to run again?

Paul Fletcher: Again, I’m not going to get into hypotheticals other than to say, Matt Kean is a friend of mine…

A predictable and professional response. But what’s PK on about? For years, Comrade Karvelas and the feminist faction within the ABC Soviet have been banging on about how the Liberal Party needs to pre-select “progressive” women to contest winnable seats.

Bradfield is certainly winnable for the Liberal Party at the next election. Yet PK seems to be boosting the cause of the leftist “progressive” bloke Matt Kean to replace Paul Fletcher rather than support the cause of a “progressive” woman. Can You Bear It?

[No. Not really – now that you ask. And how strange. After all, Matt Kean – a feminist bloke, if ever I saw one – has long proclaimed the need for Liberal Party women to contest winnable seats.

On 30 November 2022 – after Natalie Ward failed to win preselection in the safe Liberal Party seat of Davidson – Mr Kean was quoted as saying to The Sydney Morning Herald: “Clearly we’re not seeing the results that the community expects the Liberal Party to be delivering” about pre-selecting women. In view of this and similar comments over the years – surely your man Kean can’t be hoping to win Liberal Party pre-selection in Bradfield – or nearby North Sydney. Surely. – MWD editor]

  • PAUL BARRY AND HIS TEAM OF TEN THROW THE SWITCH TO (MEDIA) TRIVIA

As avid Media Watch Dog readers are only too well-aware, the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s Media Watch program has around ten staff who put together 15 minutes of television once a week for around 42 weeks of the year. So many staff for so few minutes – you wonder what they all do. Well, here’s an example.

Paul Barry – who has fronted the ABC TV Media Watch for the last 10 years –concluded the program on 27 March with a story titled “Perth Red Faces”. And what made Perth’s faces red? – MWD readers cry. Well, there were two reasons.

A bloke – or was it a sheila? – posted on Reddit an image with a caption “The cost of parking in the city these days”. There was a pic of a $430 parking fee which Barry referred to as a case of “bill shock”. This was reported by Seven’s Perth Now. But, the following day, Perth Now acknowledged that the post was a joke. The machine was broken hence the $430 “bill shock”. In fact, the real charge was $4.50 for a two hour park. Well fancy that. Verily a “Hold the Front Page” moment for Paul Barry and his team of ten.

But Comrade Barry continued, stating that Perth Now had covered stories about (i) a huntsman spider, (ii) a blue symbol on a TransPerth train and (iii) expensive Easter eggs at “Woolies, Coles and IGA”. Comrade Barry opined, assisted by a sneer, that this was not real news. Correct. But newsy enough for the ABC TV Media Watch team – executive producer Timothy Latham.

Then Paul Barry proceeded to tell Media Watch viewers (if viewers there were) that Perth Radio 6PR presenter Steve Mills read on air a text by a certain “Charlie” which – guess what? – fooled your man Mills, who did not know the name of what Comrade Barry referred to as a “male sex toy”. Gosh. The ABC TV presenter (with a team of ten) reported that, after being informed of his error, Steve Mills apologised to listeners. Go on.

Does anyone give a toss that Perth Now ran fake news about a parking fine and a 6PR presenter did not know the name of a sex toy? The ABC gets over $1 billion from the taxpayer each year and Paul Barry uses some of the moolah to run absolute dross on what the ABC presents as “Australia’s leading forum for media analysis and critique”. Can You Bear It?


  • ABC MANAGEMENT’S NON-SOLUTIONS TO ABC RADIO’S DECLINING RATINGS

Media Watch Dog readers have not been surprised to hear confirmation of the fact that the ABC’s ratings are in decline – particularly in the area of ABC Radio which carries most of the taxpayer funded broadcaster’s major news and current affairs outlets.

Needless to say, this also comes as no surprise to Jackie’s (male) co-owner. In fact, Hendo has been banging on about this for eons. The ABC is a conservative-free zone without one conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets. What’s more, over the years, the ABC has pissed off many of its traditional conservative listeners/viewers/readers. And then there’s the boredom factor – whereby program after program is obsessed with gender, identity and climate issues and only one view is expressed.

What to do? Well, here are two recently published attempts by the ABC to regain listeners/viewers. They are:

  • Part 1: Sophie Elsworth reported in The Australian on 27 March that the ABC has sent an urgent survey to listeners to gauge whether ABC radio stations are diverse enough and providing accurate and impartial news coverage. Fancy that – since the ABC chair and management have consistently claimed that the taxpayer funded broadcaster is Australia’s most trusted news outlet. And now the ABC is querying whether its radio stations are providing accurate and impartial news coverage.

ABC management’s latest response to this problem has been to send a questionnaire to the online community at ABC YourSpace. Haven’t heard of it? Well, ABC YourSpace is a website anyone can sign up to. YourSpace members are sent surveys about the ABC. Small prizes are given out for participating in the surveys.

How about that? ABC Radio is losing listeners – and the ABC has decided to ask its current listeners why this might be the case. The ABC has not asked former listeners why they junked the ABC – but they are the one-time listeners the ABC needs to win back.

  • Part 2: On 27 March, Zoe Samios reported in Nine Newspapers that the ABC has hired Cherie Romano (a former radio 2CH manager) to provide external advice about how to improve local and regional stations such as ABC Melbourne 774 and ABC Sydney 702. Both have experienced dramatic ratings falls in recent times.

The ABC bureaucracy is replete with managers. Yet it has commissioned an outsider to – in the words of Ms Samios – “update its five-year plan and to try and halt the decline of its radio audiences in capital cities across the country.”

As MWD recalls, the character Jeeves (valet to Bertie Wooster) in P.G. Wodehouse’s novels was very wary of five-year planners and their five-year plans. And for good reason – after all, the communist dictator Josef Stalin commenced the Soviet Union’s inaugural five-year plan in 1928 aimed at establishing socialism in one country. As it turned out, this led to government killings in one country – including Stalin’s forced famine in Soviet Union-controlled Ukraine which led to the death of millions of Ukrainians.

As it turns out, the ABC Communications department is once again in its “no comment” mode by declining to communicate about the visiting assessor Cherie Romano. Previously, the ABC had advised that Jeremy Miller – the ABC head of corporate strategy – was leading the five-year planners in this instance. In any event, while the ABC is not communicating about this issue, Ms Romano sure is. She told Nine that the ABC’s increased ratings at times of pandemics/bushfires/floods was disguising the public broadcaster’s existential challenges. “Existential challenges” is PR speak for losing listeners.

It seems that one such existential challenge is for the ABC to appeal to younger audiences – an unlikely outcome – which was discussed in MWD’s previous issue. Meanwhile, no one appears to be focusing on how the taxpayer funded public broadcaster can appeal to its one-time traditional conservative followers who have junked the ABC and headed off to Sky News and other places.

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Clearly the ABC is in denial about the fact that many of its news and current affairs programs have become a turn-off (in a real sense) for many conservatives who once tuned into ABC news and current affairs. It has made no sense for a public broadcaster which used to have many conservative listeners/viewers to operate as a conservative-free zone.


HISTORY CORNER

  • YET MORE MISINFORMATION ABOUT THE 1967 REFERENDUM

As Media Watch Dog has pointed out on many occasions in recent times, the ABC is running false accounts of the successful 1967 referendum with respect to Aboriginals. This change to the Constitution gave the Commonwealth power to make laws with respect to Aboriginal people wherever they lived in Australia. It also made it possible to include Aboriginal people in the national census. The first alteration deleted part of Section 51 (xxvi). The second alteration repealed Section 127 of the Constitution.

The ABC is involved with the RMIT-ABC Fact Check Unit – which sets itself up as an organisation that corrects historical errors in the Australian media. MWD has argued consistently that some of its resources should be devoted to instructing ABC journalists how to avoid historical howlers.

Let’s go to the transcript of Q+A on Monday 27 March with Indigenous Australian Stan Grant in the presenter’s chair as he engages with an audience member concerning the proposed alteration to the Constitution to include The Voice:

Aunty Tracey Hanshaw: … I have sat in forums with Mark Dreyfus, I’ve put questions to him. I’ve been very vocal about the question in itself …

Stan Grant: Pro or con?

Aunty Tracey Hanshaw: I’m a “Yes” voter. But I’m not confidently “Yes”… I was born before 1967…. I wasn’t classified as a citizen of this country before 1967. However, “Aborigines” were written in Section 127 of the Constitution, and it was removed. I want to see our people recognised in the Australian document.

This is a common error, which Stan Grant failed to correct. All Indigenous Australians were citizens of Australia by no later than 1948. In short, the 1967 referendum had nothing to do with granting citizenship to Indigenous Australians. Nothing whatsoever.

Moreover, Section 127 of the Constitution was deleted by the 1967 referendum because it was the provision that prevented what were called “Aboriginal natives” from being counted in the census. That’s all.

Q+A viewers were entitled to be reminded – or informed – of such facts.


A (LEARNED) PROFESSOR SAYS

  • IN WHICH LEARNED PROFESSORS JAMES CURRAN & HUGH WHITE FORM A UNITY TICKET IN BAGGING AUKUS

There was enormous interest in the previous issue’s new segment titled “A (learned) Professor Says”. This featured the ABC TV Insiders program of 19 March airing Mark (“Please call me professor”) Kenny interviewing Professor Hugh White – about the AUKUS submarine deal. The discussion took place during your man Kenny’s “Democracy Sausage” podcast at the Australian National University. Your man White is also an ANU professor, of the emeritus genre.

Needless to say, the learned Professor Kenny agreed with the learned Professor White that the AUKUS agreement was not a good deal for Australia. Professor White – who has been falsely predicting a war between China and the United States since Moses was a boy – alleged that Australia had made a promise to “go to war against China”. No evidence was cited to support this claim – but Insiders (presenter David Speers, executive producer Samuel Clark) decided to give it a run in any case.

The last MWD issue also mentioned that the New York Times had interviewed the (learned) Professor James Curran of the University of Sydney plus (learned) Professor Mark Kenny – both of whom bagged AUKUS.

Guess what? It turns out that Professor White and Professor Curran appeared on the same program bagging AUKUS and all that. Lotsa thanks to the avid Rockhampton reader who drew attention to the fact that they were interviewed by Geraldine Doogue on the ABC Radio National Saturday Extra program. The date was 18 March.

Ms Doogue – one of Australia’s best interviewers – did a good job in contesting the points made by the professorial duo. But the discussion was essentially a 30-minute bagging of AUKUS by the interviewees.

James Curran started off by criticising AUKUS – even to the extent of mocking the fact that Prime Minister Anthony Albanese apparently put on President Joe Biden’s “aviator sunglasses” after the deal was announced. According to the learned professor, this “might be just as good as it gets for the Albanese government”.

Really. Then Hugh White declared that he did not see any strengths in AUKUS but claimed “there are a lot of weaknesses”. And so, it went on with one learned professor agreeing with the other learned professor.

Professor White threw the switch to abuse – describing nuclear-powered submarines as “stupid things”. A sophisticated analysis – don’t you think? He went on to plug his recent book How to Defend Australia before warning, once again, of a coming war between China and the United States that would be “World War 3”. This is how the discussion ended:

Geraldine Doogue: But the difficult thinking for you is, maybe people are comfortable with the alliance. Maybe they don’t want to do that rethinking, Hugh.

Hugh White: Well, but Geraldine, that’s because they don’t see where it’s leading…

So, there you have it. According to the learned professor, a majority of Australians support the Australia-America alliance “because they don’t see where it’s leading”. In other words, Australians need to be “learned” or “educated” by learned professors like Hugh White and James Curran.

At the ABC it is the executive producer, not the presenter, who determines who will be interviewed on programs. Not for the first time, Saturday Extra executive producer Skye Docherty has brought about a situation where members of a panel of two agree with each other.


  • PK IN “DON’T TALK ABOUT THE SLAVE TRADE” MODE WHEN INTERVIEWING THE GUARDIAN AUSTRALIA’S AMY REMEIKIS

The Guardian is an avowedly left-wing newspaper. Always has been since its inception in far away Manchester during the 19th century. The Guardian Australia, which arrived in Australia in 2013 with a little help from Malcolm Turnbull, is also avowedly left-wing.

Nevertheless, a Guardian Australia rep has the political slot on ABC Radio National Breakfast every Thursday. No conservative outlet – or politically conservative commentator – has access to a regular segment on RN Breakfast. As befits the taxpayer funded public broadcaster as a conservative-free zone.

Usually, the Thursday slot is covered by Guardian Australia editor Katharine (Malcolm calls me “Murpharoo”) Murphy. But in recent weeks the gig has been handled by Media Watch Dog fave Amy Remeikis. As MWD readers know, Comrade Remeikis is a Guardian wage slave. So much so that MWD has been campaigning for Guardian Australia editor Lenore Taylor to give the toiling masses – like Comrade Remeikis – who work for The Guardian Australia, a wage hike. So far, apparently, without success.

It appears that Ms Remeikis gets significantly less on-air time than Murpharoo. On 30 March, for example, she received less than two minutes to state her case. She ran the line that the Albanese government was likely to support a wage increase for the lowest paid workers but everyone else will have to “wait some time”.

Then Comrade Remeikis turned her attention to rising prices – declaring that unless something can be done about this “the government is going to find itself in a world of pain”. Immediately after, presenter Patricia Karvelas said: “Amy, thank you very much – talk to you soon.”

What a pity. PK and her executive producer clearly had decided not to talk about the recent confirmation that The Guardian was set up in Manchester on the back of money attained through the slave trade. This matter was mentioned in MWD on 26 June 2020 (Issue 502).

When this first became an issue in Australia a few years ago, Lenore Taylor claimed that a November 2017 article by Guardian editor Katharine Viner had “addressed” the early Guardian’s slavery connection. Ms Viner’s article said that, after the death of founding editor John Edward Taylor, the Guardian got too close to the Manchester cotton merchants who paid the bills. However, she did not mention that John Taylor himself was a cotton merchant (the article was hagiographic towards Taylor).

Katharine Viner also did not mention that, as revealed in the current editions of the UK Guardian, nine of the eleven other initial backers of the Guardian were in the cotton trade. Moreover, one was the part owner of an estate in Jamaica where over 100 people were enslaved.

In other words, Lenore Taylor initially joined with Katharine Viner in downplaying the importance of the slave trade to the creation of the Guardian in Manchester.

So, there you have it. The ABC and the Guardian are always banging on about colonialism and all that. But Comrade PK did not have time to discuss the Guardian’s connection to the slave trade when talking to the Guardian Australia’s political reporter Amy Remeikis. An example of the Guardian/ABC Axis at work.


YOUR TAXES AT WORK

  • THE 2023 MELBOURNE WRITERS FESTIVAL – NOT A POLITICAL CONSERVATIVE IN SIGHT

On Saturday 25 March, The Age carried the program for the Melbourne Writers Festival – artistic director Michaela McGuire – which has the theme “I’ve been away for a while”. The reference is to the impact of Covid 19 which saw many a literary festival postponed for a while. This year’s MWF will be held from 4-7 May. In fact, there was a Melbourne Writers Festival in September 2022. So, the festival has only been away for half a dozen months. Perhaps it just seems longer. By the way, The Age is a major partner of the 2023 MWF.

As Media Watch Dog readers know, a literary festival is an occasion where a group of leftists get hold of a bucket load of taxpayers’ funds and invite their leftist mates to a leftist get together where essentially everyone agrees with essentially everyone else in an essentially left-of-centre kind of way.

The 2023 MWF is not such a stack as its equivalents in Adelaide and Sydney this year – since it seems to be more focused on literature rather than politics. Even so, MWD cannot locate one political conservative in the lineup of Australian non-fiction writers and would-be writers who will rock up to Melbourne’s forthcoming literary festival in the immediate aftermath of May Day. Here’s MWD’s little list – you be the judge:

Sophie Black, Paul Daley, Osman Faruqi, Chris Feik, Richard Fidler, Jan Fran, Fran Kelly, Marcia Langton, Benjamin Law, Maeve Marsden, George Megalogenis, Katharine Murphy, Sam Neill, Bruce Pascoe, Alice Pung, Margaret Simons, Grace Tame, Sally Warhaft, Michael Williams.

Jackie’s (male) co-owner is on record as promising that he will gift a copy of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital, in the original German, to anyone who can identify a political conservative among this lot. Boring? You bet. But reading Comrade Marx’s rant in his native tongue would probably be less boring than attending sessions of the MWF which are doomed to be high on self-righteousness but low on genuine debate and discussion.

Here are a couple of examples:

Plants: Past, Present and Future

Sun 7 May, 1.30-2.30pm

The Capitol

Zena Cumpston, Michael-Shawn Fletcher, Lesley Head and Bruce Pascoe illuminate the ingenuity of First Nations practices with plants and how this knowledge could hold the key to our world’s future, with Sally Warhaft.

Bruce Pascoe, author of Dark Emu, identifies as an Indigenous Australian but has not provided the name of one grandparent who is Indigenous. His controversial claim that the first Australians were farmers rather than hunters and gatherers has been demolished by Peter Sutton and Keryn Walshe in their book Farmers or Hunter-Gatherers: The Dark Emu Debate (Melbourne University Press 2021). Needless to say, Sutton and Walshe are not part of the 2023 MWF.

And then there’s this session titled “The New Politics”:

The New Politics

Sat 6 May, 3-4pm

Conversation Quarter

State Library Victoria

Leading pundits and Quarterly Essay authors Katharine Murphy, George Megalogenis and Margaret Simons review the year in Australian politics and what possibilities lie ahead, with The Monthly editor Michael Williams. In partnership with Quarterly Essay

For starters, Black Inc which publishes Quarterly Essay, is part of Schwartz Books – a left-wing publisher. So is The Monthly – editor Michael Williams. Katharine Murphy is political editor of The Guardian Australia, an avowedly left-wing publication.

Neither George Megalogenis nor Margaret Simons is a political conservative. So, it is likely that George will agree with Murpharoo who will agree with Margaret who will agree with Michael who will agree with George.  Or something like that. Yawn.

In 2023, the Melbourne Writers Festival will receive taxpayers/ratepayers money via the University of Melbourne, the Victorian government, the City of Melbourne and the Commonwealth government. However, the principal partner is the ARA Group which states that it believes in “celebrating writing, sharing ideas and telling stories”. Oh, yes, it’s also into “delivering essential building and infrastructure services”.

Which suggests that ARA is somehow involved in, er, carbon emissions. But not to the extent of having its moolah rejected by the sandal-wearing luvvies who will rock up at this year’s MWF in Australia’s Sandalista capital carrying vegan sandwiches in hessian bags.

 

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Until next time – after Easter.

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