GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG
ISSUE – NO. 634
12 May 2023
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THREE ABC PRESENTERS ENDORSE A BOOK SUPPORTING THE VOICE
Media Watch Dog favours a wide-scale debate on the Yes and No cases with respect to the forthcoming referendum concerning the creation in the Constitution of an Indigenous Voice to Parliament and the Executive. The Sydney Institute has practised much diversity of opinion in recent forums about this issue. Needless to say, there is a requirement in the debate to be courteous and respectful.
In today’s Daily Telegraph, it is revealed that high-profile ABC journalists are among a number of Australians who have written an endorsement for the second edition of Thomas Mayo’s Finding the Heart of the Nation: The Journey of the Uluru Statement from the Heart Continues (Hardie Grant, 2023). Note that Thomas Mayo is also known as and referred to on occasions in the book as Thomas Mayor.
The three ABC journalists who have endorsed Thomas Mayo’s case for the Yes case are Dan Bourchier (co-host ABC The Drum and Voice referendum correspondent), Patricia Karvelas (presenter, Radio National Breakfast) and Laura Tingle (7.30 political correspondent and occasional presenter).
Obviously, the likes of Dan Bourchier, Patricia Karvelas and Laura Tingle are entitled to hold whatever view they wish on the forthcoming referendum. But they are more than mere players. Karvelas and Tingle hold key positions in major ABC current affairs programs and Bourchier is responsible for the ABC’s coverage of the referendum.
Moreover, Patricia Karvelas has been counselled by ABC management for describing Linda Burney, the Albanese government’s Minister for Indigenous Australians, as “a legend”. And Laura Tingle has been counselled for calling the Morrison government, when in office, as being replete with “ideological bastardry”. And, in recent times, the ABC has seen fit to train its staff with respect to impartiality.
It is one matter for the ABC to be objective in its reporting. But it must also be perceived to be objective. The conscious entry of this trio into this debate is a problem and could be counter-productive to the “Yes” cause. Especially concerning Ms Karvelas who told the Sun-Herald as recently as 30 April that she was not a supporter of the Voice and that “impartiality is actually quite key to my job”. Karvelas added: “I am being a stickler for not taking a position” on the Voice.
Media Watch Dog readers can form their own view as to whether the following endorsements breach the ABC’s idea of impartiality:
As we have a national discussion about a Voice, we can’t forget the movement started in the heart. Finding The Heart of the Nation offers a powerful reminder of the gift from the Elders and the call to action to all Australians.
– Dan Bourchier, ABC Canberra
A profound piece of work that asks us to consider a future where First Nations people and culture are placed at the heart of our country. Thomas Mayor’s [sic] seminal book is like a hand outstretched, an invitation to jointly create a better Australia.’
– Patricia Karvelas, ABC Journalist
The Uluru Statement from the Heart is indeed a most gracious gift from people with no reason to be so generous. In telling us the story of how it was created and explaining what it is hoped it can offer both First Australians and the Nation as whole, Thomas Mayor [sic] reveals what a truly transformational gift it is – if only we take it.
– Laura Tingle, ABC Journalist
The Daily Telegraph quoted an ABC spokesman today as saying: “The comments were given as appraisals of the book itself. No ABC policy has been breached.”
ON BUDGET SURPLUSES AND MEDIA EXCITEMENT
Media Watch Dog understands that politicians – Labor, Coalition, Greens and Independents alike – promote their causes as much as feasibly possible. Journalists, on the other hand, should temper their acceptance of the claims of politicians.
In the wake of the 2023 budget, many journalists expressed excitement verging on satisfaction that Labor Treasurer Jim Chalmers had achieved a projected budget surplus – the first one since 2007-2008. Some went on to claim that this indicated that Labor had now prevailed over the Coalition as the top performer for economic management.
However, the Australian Financial Review’s Phil Coorey threw some cold water on the excitement when he wrote this on 11 May:
Labor may be on track to deliver the first budget surplus in 15 years, but under the same methodology used to calculate the $4.2 billion forecast on Tuesday, the Coalition would have delivered a $7.2 billion surplus four years earlier.
That is because since the 2020-21 budget and onwards, the net earnings from the Future Fund have been counted towards the budget bottom line. The $4.2 billion surplus, if delivered, would be the first since the 2007-08 budget, the last before the global financial crisis took hold.
However, in 2018-19, then-treasurer Josh Frydenberg and then prime minister Scott Morrison restored the budget to balance with a $690 million deficit (a budget is considered balanced if the bottom line is less than $1 billion in deficit or surplus).
Had Mr Morrison and Mr Frydenberg been able to count the net earnings of the Future Fund, which were $7.9 billion in 2018-19, they would have delivered a $7.2 billion surplus rather than a balance.
All this demonstrates that just as Groucho Marx had alternative principles, there are the occasional alternative statistics.
IN WHICH CONSULTANT TONY BARRY REGARDS THE TRAGIC DEATH OF SOME 1500 SOULS AS THE BASIS FOR A HYPERBOLIC HAND-ME-DOWN “JOKE” ABOUT THE VICTORIAN LIBERAL PARTY
As Media Watch Dog readers are well aware, the Nine newspapers columnist and ABC TV Insiders panellist Sean Kelly is very much a MWD fave. Why, he even won this blog’s “Media Fool of the Week” award for 2021.
The gong was well-earned. After all, your man Kelly (who managed to work for both Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard when they were prime ministers) achieved this glittering prize for his book The Game: A Portrait of Scott Morrison (Black Inc). Here Comrade Kelly revealed that he dreamed about PM Morrison. What’s more, in his dreams, he began to look like the Liberal Party prime minister.
But MWD digresses. Here’s what Sean Kelly said in the “Observations” segment of Insiders on 7 May – when referring to the plight of the Victorian branch of the Liberal Party:
Sean Kelly: …Tony Barry is becoming a huge star on social media these days.
David Speers: I think we [the ABC] might be partly to blame for this.
Patricia Karvelas: [laughing] Are we?
Sean Kelly: He described the Liberal Party this week as the Columbia Space Shuttle bumping into the Hindenburg and then crashing on the decks of the Titanic. And, um, you know, I think at the moment he’s probably right.
David Speers: Yeah, another “hat tip” there to Tony Barry – wonderful turn of phrase.
What a load of absolute tosh. For starters, this is a very old “joke”. All Barry did in his tweet was to illustrate someone else’s humour with new hyperbole. Even so, Barry’s revamped joke clearly amused Comrade Kelly and Insiders presenter David Speers.
Then there is the matter of how funny Tony Barry’s hyperbole is. Here’s the reality of what Speersy calls one-time Malcolm Turnbull staffer’s “wonderful turn of phrase” about what were human tragedies. Here are the details:
Space Shuttle Columbia (1 February 2003): 7 Astronauts killed.
Hindenburg Airship (6 May 1937): 36 Deaths – 22 crew, 13 passengers and 1 ground crew.
RMS Titanic (14/15 April 1912): The exact number of deaths is not known because the passenger and crew manifests were not entirely accurate. It is estimated that around 1,500 died. The British Board of Trade report listed 1,514 deaths – 696 crew and 818 passengers.
So there you have it. Tony Barry’s “joke” is dependent on his Twitter followers cracking up about the tragic deaths of over 1500 souls.
How funny is that? More importantly, Can You Bear It?
[No. Not really – now that you ask. I note that your man Barry rose without trace (to use a Kitty Muggeridge phrase). He was all but unknown until he used his position as a former deputy director of the Victorian Liberal Party to bag the Liberal Party every morning, every night and frequently during the day – primarily on the ABC. Without the taxpayer funded public broadcaster, Tony Barry would be just another little-known consultant cracking bad jokes. – MWD Editor.]
NINE COLUMNIST SEAN KELLY QUERIES WHETHER HIS COLUMN IS A COLUMN AT ALL
While on the topic of Sean (“I’m a dreamer”) Kelly, did anyone read his column in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald on 8 May? Headed “Budget plot lines set up sequel”, it commenced with Comrade Kelly telling readers (if readers there were) that he watched the Coronation in “dribs and drabs”. Really. To your man Kelly, “something about the ceremony felt empty”. How frightfully interesting, as the saying goes. Or went.
The scribe went on to state that Labor’s October 2022 budget felt a bit like the Coronation – and Labor’s most recent budget might go the same way. He then went on and on with enough dross to make King Charles III’s Coronation monologue seem lively. For those who didn’t get to the end of the Kelly column, here is its last testimony written before the budget speech and the budget-in-reply address were delivered:
And so within a week we may well have had a coronation that didn’t feel like one, a budget that didn’t feel like one, and a budget-in-reply that did not feel like one. To which one might add, what use is a political column written after all of the budget decisions have been made, but before they have been announced? Is it really a column at all? It is a fair question.
At least Sean Kelly has a degree of self-awareness. However, the fact is that he wrote a column in which he wondered out loud as to whether it was a column at all. A fair question indeed. As is this one – Can You Bear It?
KATHY LETTE COVERS THE CORONATION BY TALKING ABOUT KATHY LETTE
ABC management declares from time to time that the ABC is Australia’s most trusted news service. Which suggests that the powers that be at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster reckon that a majority of Australians are so stupid that they watch TV news on networks that they trust less than the ABC.
This issue’s “An ABC Update” refers to the coverage of the Coronation on ABC TV on Saturday 6 May. It was the occasion where the likes of Stan Grant (ABC), Craig Foster (Australian Republic Movement) and leftist lawyer Teela Reid used a captive audience to “learn” viewers just how bad Britain and its Royal Family really are – on a panel that lacked political diversity. Meanwhile, other channels were reporting the Coronation news from London without bagging Britain or the British Monarchy.
It turned out that the ABC was outrated comprehensively by Network 7 and Network Nine and only just beat Network Ten over the line. This is yet another example of the ABC which presents itself as Australia’s most trusted news service, finishing second-last in a field of four.
The author Kathy (“I love having fun with puns”) Lette also made an appearance during this part of the coverage. Ms Lette is a republican who likes mixing with the Royals when in London. And, subsequently, boasting about her encounters at Buckingham Palace and the like. So, during the ABC TV coverage, she managed to divert the topic from rants against colonialism at the time of George III to talk about the subject she knows best. Namely, HERSELF.
Like the late Gough Whitlam, much of Kathy Lette’s humour centres on the self. To wit, herself. This is what Ms Lette told ABC TV viewers as guests were entering Westminster Abbey:
Kathy Lette: And she [Camilla] doesn’t stand on ceremony. Like, you know, there’s many times she could have sent me to The Tower. For example, I remember I was going into Clarence House once. And as I was walking in, I’d had an injured leg and I was using a stick and she said: “Oh Kathy dear what happened to you?”
And I didn’t want to have such a boring reason. I said: “Oh, you know, I fell off my toy boy.” And immediately you could see the nostril-flared flunkies around her kind of doing this asthmatic inhalation of breath because you can’t talk that way to the future queen. And she just threw her head back and cackled like a kookaburra. She does have a really good earthy sense of humour. I think she’ll give him [King Charles] the right royal laugh whenever he needs it. And of course, he will need that.
How funny is that? It’s not clear how (now) Queen Camilla could send anyone to the Tower of London these days. Although it’s possible that the Camilla story may have been an unrealisable projection – that, if the Lette head was cut off (à la Charles I in 1649), then at least the Royal Family would not have to endure the wit of Kathy. Just a thought. Another one is – Can You Bear It?
NETWORK TEN’S HUGH RIMINTON THROWS THE SWITCH TO SNEERING IN NINE’S SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
It would seem that Hugh Riminton, Ten News First’s national affairs editor, kept his rant about the Monarchy until he returned to Australia after the Coronation. On 8 May, the Sydney Morning Herald published an article by Mr Riminton titled “Charles’ big circus was majestic but its game’s up”.
Your man Riminton decided to place some humour (if humour there was) in his article – which foretold the eventual end of the Monarchy in Britain. It was the case of attempted humour meets wish fulfilment. Here’s how it began:
Bloody majestic, wasn’t it? Faultless. The Monty Python magnificence. The Archbishop of Canterbury, disguised as a melting candle, gushing on about “the robes of righteousness and the garments of salvation”. As if those were actual things. Filligreed (sic) frolics of finery, perhaps.
Groan. And it went on, sneer after sneer. There was mention of “the pre-pubescent second in line to the throne, dressed in scarlet, insouciantly chewing on his tongue”. This was a reference to Prince George, the 9-year-old son of the Prince and Princess of Wales. It seems that Comrade Riminton thinks it’s fair game to have a go at children – in addition to depicting Archbishop Justin Welby as a melting candle.
For the record, Media Watch Dog is a republican – albeit not of the Peter FitzSimons/Craig Foster kind. However, it’s unrealistic to claim, as Comrade Riminton did, that “the game’s up” with respect to the Royal Family. The institution has been around for a long time and is unlikely to depart anytime soon. This is how your man Riminton concluded his lightweight article:
But the game’s up. The oldest monarch to take the throne will inevitably have to manage its decline. It is not done yet. There is resilience in the model, especially in Britain itself. And every republican has to reckon with the prospect of birthing a Trump. But Charles’s big show might be his last great day. The last dance of a wheeling, brilliant circus that has entertained and beguiled but which soon enough, in its distant realms, will stutter and shrink and reel no more.
Talk about over-written literary sludge. What’s this about “the last dance of a wheeling, brilliant circus”? And what’s the meaning of “birthing a Trump” in this context? Or indeed, in any context. Is this the best that Nine’s Sydney Morning Herald columnist can do? Can You Bear It?
As avid readers are aware, the late Nancy (2004-2017) did not die. She merely “passed” on to the Other Side. Hence MWD has been able to keep in touch and seek her advice about behaviour, courtesy and all that – with the help of the American psychic John Edward of Crossing Over fame. Your man Edward has demonstrated a first-class ability to communicate with the dead, albeit not so much with the living. And so, Nancy’s “Courtesy Classes” continue – albeit from the “Other Side” in a post-mortem kind of way – with a little help from Jackie (Dip. Wellness, The Gunnedah Institute).
MONARCHIST DAVID FLINT (IN A DISCUSSION WITH NINE’S PETER FITZSIMONS) FUDGES HIS ONE-TIME DISCOURTESY TO THE SOVEREIGN’S REPRESENTATIVE IN AUSTRALIA
As avid Media Watch Dog readers are only too well aware, it is some time now since Nine’s Sun-Herald moved the (boring) “Fitz on Sunday” column from the back page – where sport should be – to somewhere near the middle of the paper. Now the Red Bandannaed One, who wore a look-at-me red rag on his head for over a decade until it was sent to the dry cleaners where it was lost, writes a column titled “5 Minutes with Fitz”.
Now five minutes with Fitz can seem like an awfully long time. But it invariably provides great copy for MWD. Jackie’s (male) co-owner cannot understand why any sensible conservative, or indeed social democrat, would spend even five minutes with a middle-aged, ranting, garrulous bore who wore a red rag on his head for eons. Moreover, Fitz is forever sneering at political and social conservatives, Christians (especially of the Catholic faith) and more besides. But some do.
On Sunday 7 May, “5 Minutes with Fitz” featured conservative Professor David Flint AM – a former head of Australians for a Constitutional Monarchy and a member of Australia’s very own Land of Hope and Glory Set. During the interview, the following exchange took place:
Fitz: …you were once a republican!
DF: Never. Always a monarchist. But in my radical years when I was younger –
Fitz: Your what? Your “radical years”? Do tell?
DF: I was quite radical. Being radical wasn’t fashionable then….
Fitz: And yet, tell us the story of what you did on November 11, 1975, when you heard of the dismissal of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam…
DF: The Sydney Institute’s Gerard Henderson never lets me forget this. I was a law lecturer. I joined a demonstration concerning the dismissal, marching in the streets of Sydney because I thought it was wrong, that it was in breach of constitutional practice.
Er, it was not quite like this. Jackie’s (male) co-owner is not aware that the dapper professor ever marched on the streets in support of any cause. Hendo’s criticism turned on manners and courtesy and so on – as would be expected of a person who presents as Gerard Henderson AC (aka Always Courteous). This is what occurred:
On 5 August 1976 (some nine months after the Dismissal), Sir John Kerr spoke at a luncheon organised by the Sydney University Law Graduates Association at a Sydney hotel. Guests at the function included Sir Garfield Barwick (Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia) and Robert Ellicott (the attorney-general in the Fraser Coalition government).
As Sir John commenced his speech to an audience of around 150, some twenty or so young or youngish lawyers walked out. The occasion is described in Michael Sexton’s memoir On The Edges Of History (Connor Court, 2015).
Comrade Sexton led the walk-out and (the then) Comrade Flint tagged along behind. Interviewed by The Canberra Times after the event, the then Sydney Law School academic said: “We are all demonstrating about the actions of the Governor-General on November 11 last year. We see his actions in sacking Mr Whitlam’s government as a gross misuse of his powers.” By the way, the legal walk-out received front-page coverage in Sydney’s afternoon newspapers at the time.
Sure, Professor Flint told Comrade Fitz that he “grew up” since then and had “revised his assessment of the dismissal”. By the way, your man Flint was 38 years of age in August 1976. Which would suggest that he was a slow grower-upper, albeit a well-dressed one in a dapper kind of way. These days David Flint is something of a MWD fave – except for his commitment to the monarchy.
MWD’s criticism of David Flint’s behaviour in the mid-1970s is not that he was on the left at the time and marched in a demonstration against Sir John Kerr with fellow comrades. Not at all. Rather, it is that he engaged in rude and discourteous behaviour. A fact which the professor did not ’fess up to the Red Bandannaed One – and concerning which there has been no subsequent apology or sense of regret.
What to do? Even after half a century, MWD reckons that David Flint should attend Nancy’s Courtesy Classes – sponsored by The Sydney Institute with a little help from Jackie (Dip Wellness, The Gunnedah Institute) and the American psychic John Edward. Nancy teaches that if you do not agree with the designated speaker at a function – don’t turn up.
[Interesting. I wonder whether David Flint took part in this media stunt before or after the main course. – MWD Editor.]
Due to overwhelming popular demand, the Flann O’Brien Gong returns again this week. As avid MWD readers will be aware, this occasional segment is inspired by the Irish humourist Brian O’Nolan (1911-1966) – nom de plume Flann O’Brien – and, in particular, his critique of the sometimes incoherent poet Ezra Pound. By the way, your man O’Brien also had the good sense not to take seriously Eamon de Valera (1882-1975), the Fianna Fail politician and dreadful bore who was prime minister and later president of Ireland for far too long.
The Flann O’Brien Gong for Literary or Verbal Sludge is devoted to outing bad writing or incomprehensible prose or incoherent verbal expression or the use of pretentious words.
CRIKEY’S GUY RUNDLE BORES ON ABOUT THE RUSTED-ONS
Apologies for the delay in getting this to print. It’s just that it has taken some time for Media Watch Dog to fully comprehend – if such is ever possible – Guy Rundle’s piece in Crikey on 2 May 2023.
Now MWD readers are a highly intelligent lot. They know that Guy Rundle is MWD’s fave Marxist comedian. After all, he was co-editor – with Judith Brett, no less – of the Marxist journal Arena Magazine only a couple of decades ago. This was before your man Rundle moved into stand-up comedy. Or was it sit-down? Or perhaps lie-down? And MWD readers know that 2 May is the day after 1 May (aka May Day) – the left’s one day of the year.
In any event, these days Comrade Rundle is correspondent-at-large for the left-wing Crikey magazine and he is an associate editor at the (all but incomprehensible) Arena Quarterly.
But MWD digresses. On 2 May 2023, the leftist Crikey newsletter ran an article by your man Rundle titled “Labor’s rusted-ons can’t deny the decay any longer”. It’s a difficult piece to follow. There is a reference to the Albanese government. But no other name is named – apart from former Coalition prime minister Scott Morrison on one occasion. There are, however, references to the Straussian movement, the fictional Rubashov (from Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon), along with Frankenstein candidates and – er, that’s it.
Guy Rundle’s point? Well, it’s hard to work out but it’s basically that Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has surrendered the Labor Party’s soul to the AUKUS agreement (think US/UK nuclear-powered submarines) and the Reserve Bank of Australia (think interest rate increases). Get it? Well, neither does MWD. It would seem that the leftist Rundle is channelling V. Gordon Childe’s 1923 tome How Labour Governs which argued essentially that Labor governments sell out the working class in general and the left’s causes in particular.
Viewing the contemporary Labor Party from the (disillusioned) left, Comrade Rundle reckons that Labor is only keeping its left-wing support base because it is rusted on.
According to the Thought of Rundle, there are “two types of rusted-on”. There is “the ‘first order’ rusted on, the original true believer who sees the first duty of a Labor type as party loyalty”. However, “such rusted-ons are having a hard time at the moment, to put it mildly”. Due, apparently, to Anthony Albanese’s move to the right. And then Comrade Rundle made this point:
But there is also a second-order rusted on, outside the party, and who may well be in a worse position. This is the rusted-on who is rusted-on to criticising rusted-ons, and who maintains that keeping up an endless stream of specific criticisms of Labor policies will constitute a pole of opposition that might assist left-forces within Labor to rally and resist. To which the question must be asked: ha ha, which left forces internal to Labor? What’s left?….
Ha ha. Yeah. Right on. The rusted-on are rusted-on to criticising the rusted-on. Whatever is Guy Rundle on about? – or, perhaps, on? Who knows? He went on to ask how long can many second-order rusted-ons avoid the truth. Which, apparently, is that the Labor Party is stuffed because it is not left-wing enough and has surrendered to “absolute and total incorporation into global capital and global US rule…”. Or something like that. And this is how the piece concluded with the Epistle of Comrade Guy to the Rusted-ons:
Surely rusted ons, one and two, you can hear the rivets popping? I mean, you are the rivets popping. You’re going to fly off eventually. That is the very nature of rust, which is, after all, a measure of decay, and decay of both whole and part.
MWD is sure that Rundle’s piece in Crikey is full of meaning. It’s just that it’s not clear what the meaning is amid the literary sludge.
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By Flann O’Brien
of Ezra Pound
My grasp of what he wrote and meant
Was only five or six %
The rest was only words and sound —
My reference is to Ezra £
Inspired by your man O’Brien, this is Jackie’s literary effort for today:
of Guy Rundle
My grasp of what he wrote and meant
Was only four or five per cent
Rusted-on Labor lives a lie
How do I know? I learnt from Guy
A ROYAL STUFF-UP AS ABC’S IMPARTIALITY TRAINING FLUNKS FIRST HURDLE
Just when Media Watch Dog readers may have thought that the recent “deep dive” session into “impartiality” awareness (the quotes are taken from an ABC staff email) might have an impact – along came the Coronation.
The coverage kicked off at 5pm on Saturday (AEST). Presented by Jeremy Fernandez and Julia Baird – guests included Stan Grant (ABC), Craig Foster (Australian Republic Movement), author Kathy Lette and Indigenous lawyer Teela Reid. Republicans all, as far as MWD can work it out. There were also comments by Liberal MP Julian Leeser (a constitutional monarchist) and academic lawyer Dr Anne Twomey. Both Mr Leeser and Professor Twomey are mild-mannered types and not of the ranting kind.
Not so Comrades Grant, Foster, Reid and Lette (although the last named does try to be funny). Needless to say, the first three used the occasion to rant against the monarchy, colonisation, contemporary Australia and all that. There’s nothing wrong with the Grant/Foster/Reid trio expressing their views on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster. It’s just that none of the trio was seriously challenged by the presenters or other panelists. And all used the occasion of a captive audience who wanted to watch the Coronation to proclaim their political views without challenge.
Stan Grant accused the Crown of conducting an exterminating war. Craig Foster declared that, due to the Crown, many of our beautiful multicultural communities suffered. And Reid maintained that the Crown had perpetuated colonisation all around the world at the expense of First Nations peoples of colour. She also called for the abolition of the prison system – it’s not clear what relevance this had to the Coronation, but there you go.
MWD changed channels during all this ranting. Free-to-air channels Network 7 and National 9 – which outrated the ABC – were showing footage of guests entering Westminster Abbey at this time. So was Network 10 and subscription channel Sky News. In short, 7, 9, 10 and Sky covered the news. Not so the ABC which seemed to be of the view that Australians need to be “educated” about 1788 and all that.
Gerard Henderson voted “Yes” in the referendum on the republic in 1999. But Australia remains a constitutional monarchy. And while the Coronation affects contemporary Australia, the taxpayer funded public broadcaster should give impartiality a go.
ABC management could have instructed staff to report the Coronation as an important news event. But the ABC is very much a staff collective – and the occasion was loaded with leftist commentary.
As Sophie Elsworth and James Madden reported in The Australian on 8 May, the ABC defended its Coronation coverage (Quelle surprise!) and declared that it reflected a diversity of views. Not so – this would have only been the case if the Grant/Foster/Reid opinions had been challenged by three articulate performers who held a contrary view. The response was yet another example of the ABC in denial.
By the way, ABC Chair Ita Buttrose (AC OBE) went into “no comment” mode and referred questions from The Australian to an ABC spokesman. Sure, the board does not run the ABC – but it is entitled to comment on the taxpayer funded broadcaster’s performance.
Currently ABC ratings are in free fall. The most recent evidence of this is contained in the May 2023 budget. As revealed by Sophie Elsworth in The Australian on 10 May, the ABC failed to meet the target of 18.3 million weekly active digital users in 2022-23. It is expected to reach 13.4 million users – a shortfall of 4.9 million, missing the target by a whopping 26 per cent.
This reflects, in part, the fact that the broadcaster has alienated so many of its traditional audiences without obtaining new and younger viewers/listeners/users. The coverage of the Coronation is an example of the problem – and the ABC’s “no-problem-here” response indicates that no solution is in sight while it remains a Conservative Free Zone, bereft of political diversity.
ABC PROMOTES Q+A WITH ONLY LEFT-OF-CENTRE PANELLISTS FEATURED
Here is how ABC TV’s Q+A program was recently advertised on – you’ve guessed it – the ABC:
Stan Grant: Every Monday, Australia comes together. No matter what you do, how much you earn or where you’re from, you have a voice, and someone has to answer.
Audience Member: Why must I decide between getting an education and putting food on the table?
The anonymous audience member was none other than Bella Mitchell-Sears, making her second appearance from the audience on Q+A. The date was 6 March 2023. No mention was made of the fact that she was the Greens candidate for the seat of Farrer in the May 2022 election. In the election campaign, Ms Mitchell-Sears described herself as privileged.
The Q+A promotion continued:
Stan Grant: Your questions make people accountable.
David Hare: Not to allow Palestinians to speak in this country is just repellent.
The British playwright appeared on Q+A on 13 March where discussion turned on the cancelling (in whole or in part) of authors and the controversy resulting from the decision of Adelaide Writers’ Week to hold a session on the Middle East which comprised entirely of critics of contemporary Israel. This led to criticism of a lack of balance at the 2023 AWW since there was no pro-Israel voice on the panel which only contained authors who were critical of Israel and supportive of the Palestinian cause. David Hare produced no evidence whatsoever to support the claim that it had been suggested that Palestinians should not be allowed to speak in Australia.
The Q+A promotion continued:
Stan Grant: And sometimes even inspire change.
Teela Reid: I don’t usually agree with white men. But I agree, abolish prisons. [laughing/cheering]
The reference was to Teela Reid’s appearance on Q+A – also on 6 March 2023. Let’s go to the transcript at the end of the program:
David Hare: …In Britain, we have 80,000 people in prison. We probably have 20,000 people of those who we actually need to be defended from. The rest of them are being dragged through a degrading and pointless system. And why no politician ever has the courage ever to do anything about pointless prisons, I really do not understand.
Stan Grant: Teela.
Teela Reid: Yeah, I agree.
Stan Grant: The final word.
Teela Reid: I don’t usually agree with white men, but I agree – abolish prisons!
Stan Grant: Thank you, Teela. That’s all we have time for.
So, there you have it. Ms Reid advocates that the prison system should be abolished. No one on Q+A at the time said that this would lead to the immediate release of murderers, rapists, pedophiles, drug dealers and more besides including fraudsters. Teela Reid is a lawyer.
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Just when the ABC is claiming that its program contains political diversity, the powers-that-be at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster run a promo for Q+A (presenter Stan Grant) which features only such leftists as Comrades Mitchell-Sears, Hare and Reid.
NORMAN SWAN & THE DAILY MAIL MISINTERPRET THE SAME COVID REPORT IN DIFFERENT WAYS
On 5 May 2023 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that COVID-19 was no longer a “public health emergency of international concern” (PHEIC). COVID-19 was first declared a PHEIC, the WHO’s highest level of alert, on 30 January 2020.
On Monday 8 May, the ABC’s doctor-in-the-house Norman (“Please call me Australia’s most trusted doctor, even though I haven’t practised medicine in around 4 decades”) Swan appeared on ABC TV News to offer his opinion on the decision. Let’s go to the transcript:
Norman Swan: Last year COVID was the third leading cause of death in Australia. The excess deaths in January of this year, from the Actuaries Institute, was 8 per cent. So, 1,100 people died of COVID or COVID-related diseases who would not otherwise have died.
This comment was picked up by The Daily Mail Australia, which ran an article titled “ABC’s Norman Swan refuses to accept the pandemic is ‘over’ after WHO declaration”. Unfortunately, in their rush to publish the article, The Daily Mail misquoted Swan as having claimed 11,000 people died of COVID in January 2023, not 1,100. This error has since been corrected.
Not content with its first effort, The Daily Mail published another article about Swan’s comment on 11 May, this one titled “ABC’s medical expert Norman Swan is caught out making an embarrassing blunder about COVID deaths”. According to that article, here is Swan’s alleged error:
The Actuaries Institute report showed only 760 of the excess deaths were because of Covid, while the rest were unrelated to the virus.
So, which is the correct figure for January 2023 COVID deaths – your man Swan’s 1,100 or The Daily Mail’s 760? Here is what the Actuaries Institute report has to say:
- The Actuary Institute’s model predicts there would be 13,800 non-COVID deaths in January 2023.
- There were 14,900 deaths in January 2023. So, there were 1,100 “excess deaths” above the 13,800 predicted by the model.
- 760 deaths had COVID listed as the cause of death on the death certificate. The report classifies these deaths as “from COVID”.
- Another 230 had COVID listed as a contributing factor on the death certificate. These are described as “COVID related”.
Norman Swan has decided to count all 1,100 excess deaths as having been caused by COVID or “COVID-related diseases”, describing them as people “who would not otherwise have died”. He has evidently decided that any deaths over the expected average based on historical trends must have been caused by COVID, even if it is not mentioned on the death certificate.
It is worth noting that non-COVID deaths only exceeded the predicted January average by around 1 per cent. This falls well within the expected range of year-to-year variation and is not statistically significant. This would not seem to indicate there are many COVID-related deaths being missed on death certificates.
The Daily Mail instead decided to only count the 760 “from COVID” deaths and ignore the 230 “COVID-related” deaths. While it is possible that some of these COVID-related deaths would have occurred without COVID, it is certainly incorrect to dismiss all 230 as “unrelated to the virus” when a doctor has listed COVID as a contributing factor on the death certificate.
It seems both Dr Swan and The Daily Mail need to brush up on their reading comprehension skills.
The Melbourne based Saturday Paper – publisher Morry Schwartz, editor-in-chief Erik Jensen – goes to press on Thursdays at around Gin & Tonic time and arrives in inner-city coffee shops much to the delight of sandal-wearing leftist luvvies at around Hangover Time on Saturday mornings.
The Saturday Paper identifies as a newspaper. However, due to the time between printing and publication, it contains no news. In view of this, Gerard Henderson reads it on Mondays. After all, what’s the hurry? Needless to say, The Saturday Paper is published in Collingwood – close to Sandalista Central in nearby Fitzroy North.
JULIA BANKS WHO ONCE CLAIMED SHE COULD LIVE ON $40 A DAY TELLS THE SATURDAY PAPER READERS THAT THE CONTEMPORARY LIBERAL PARTY IS OUT OF TOUCH
Opening the 6 May edition of The [Boring] Saturday Paper on Monday 8 May, Jackie’s (male) co-owner noticed an article by Julia Banks on Page 3. It was titled “No business in the party”. Ms Banks held the seat of Chisholm from 2016 until 2019. A Malcolm Turnbull ally, she chose to become an Independent not long after Scott Morrison replaced Malcolm Turnbull, who lost the support of a majority of the Liberal Party room in August 2018.
Ever since, Ms Banks has channelled Mr Turnbull as a public critic of the Liberal Party under the leadership of first Scott Morrison and now Peter Dutton. So it came as no surprise that in her article in The [Boring] Saturday Paper, Julia Banks bored on about the Liberal Party.
However, MWD was surprised to read the one-time Member for Chisholm, who unsuccessfully sought election as the MP for Flinders at the 2019 election, raised the importance of “social issues”.
Which raises the question. Could The Saturday Paper’s scribe by the very same Julia Banks who in May 2018 declared that she “could live on $40 a day knowing the [Turnbull] government is supporting me with Newstart to look for employment”? Sure could.
At the time Ms Banks made this comment, she was MP for Chisholm (based in Box Hill in eastern Melbourne) but lived close to the CBD in affluent Malvern. Moreover, Ms Banks’ parliamentary register at the time indicated that she owned (or part owned) six properties, three of which were based in Malvern.
When Julia Banks claimed that she could live on around $14,600 a year she was criticised – but denied being out of touch. Just the person to write for The [Boring] Saturday Paper about the alleged lack of self-awareness of the contemporary Liberal Party – don’t you think?
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Until next time.
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