ISSUE – NO. 658

27 October 2023

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Thanks to Sky News’ The Great Debate for drawing attention to how Channel 9 reported the hoisting of a Palestinian flag outside the Canterbury Bankstown Council Chambers on Thursday 26 October before a small crowd.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Crowd: Free, Free Palestine! [chant repeated]

Reporter: A gesture of support – or one which could divide. The Palestinian flag hoisted outside the Canterbury Bankstown Council Chambers. The man on the end of the rope – the councillor who made it happen.

However, the uncut version of what took place is as follows:

Crowd: Free, free Palestine! [chant repeated] Free, free Gaza! [chant repeated] From the river to the sea! [chant repeated] Palestine will be free! Allahu Akbar!

How about that?  Channel Nine cut this out from its coverage “From the river to the sea/Palestine will be free.” Along with the “Allahu Akbar!” invocation.

From the River to the Sea – means from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea.  In other words, a “free Palestine” would mean the total elimination of the State of Israel which currently exists between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea – as Jewish Israelis are driven into the ocean.

Nine would be well advised to air all that relevant news – not a version which has been sanitised.


This is the post by ABC News on X which went out at 6.39 am on 18 October 2023:

The now-deleted ABC post on X/Twitter. The attached image is unrelated to the hospital explosion.

In its rush to publish, ABC News reported that an “Israeli air strike has killed hundreds of Palestinians at a Gaza Hospital” without providing any evidence.  And without advising that “health advisers” in the Gaza Strip are part of the Hamas administration which has run the area since 2007.

Not surprisingly, The Saturday Paper’s leftist scribbler Paul Bongiorno was among the first to join the anti-Israel chorus at 7.09 am and asked: “How does anyone defend this?”

Talk about a rush to judgment.  It is now widely accepted by, among others, the intelligence services of the United States, Canada, France and Australia that the blast, which occurred in the car park of the al-Ahli Hospital, was caused by an errant rocket (not an air strike) fired by the Islamist Jihad group (not the Israeli Defence Force).

In recent times the BBC and the New York Times have apologised for stating that the IDF bombed the hospital and for exaggerating the number of dead or injured.

For its part, the ABC has withdrawn its post but has not apologised for its own particular contribution to fake news.  Just another example of the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s unwillingness to admit to its mistakes or correct errors.



It is Media Watch Dog’s experience that the ABC Communications Department is tops for not communicating.  This was evident most recently on the late afternoon of Friday 20 October when the taxpayer funded public broadcaster, in media terminology, “put out the trash”.  That is, the ABC released its Annual Report 2023 at a very busy time of the news cycle on a Friday afternoon when it is least likely to be noticed.

Why would this be the case? – MWD hears avid readers cry.  Well, the ABC’s very own annual report confirmed what many know.  Namely that ABC audiences are falling. Why? The report does not make it clear, but this is consistent with MWD’s long-held view that the ABC has lost many of its one-time social and political conservative viewers/listeners without replacing them with a much sought-after younger audience.  This is the reality of the ABC as a Conservative Free Zone without one conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets.

The Nine newspapers are of a similar ilk to the left-of-centre ABC – so it is instructive to look at its coverage of this issue.  This is how Callum Jaspan described the ABC Annual Report in The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday 21 October:

The report, released yesterday afternoon, highlighted a dip in how many Australians were tuning into the ABC (television, radio and online), from 69.4 per cent in 2022 to 65.4 per cent. The fall in reach was heavier across the broadcaster’s digital products, down 23 per cent, despite its new Five-Year Plan, which was published in June this year and emphasises a greater focus on digital products. In total, the ABC reached 13,039,000 Australians via its online services, including iview, the ABC News website and the ABC listen app.

The ABC’s radio audience, including via digital channels, fell 7.7 per cent compared to 2021-22 figures to 4.97 million, while its five-city metro audience, listeners to local radio channels was down 15.2 per cent to 1.87 million. Listeners of Radio National fell 21.6 per cent to 529,000…. Broadcast television also experienced a decline in total reach across metropolitan, regional and digital channels.

The contemporary ABC is heavily into management speak. According to the ABC Annual Report 2023, the taxpayer funded public broadcaster is suffering “growing news avoidance in a post-pandemic media environment” and from the fact that “many audiences have been impacted by news fatigue and news avoidance post-pandemic”.

So, there you have it.  The ABC is the victim of “news avoidance”. And “news fatigue” But it is not merely a news organisation. Moreover, the ABC’s most left-wing product, ABC Radio National, lost close to a quarter of its audience in a year. How fatigued can an audience get?

The fact is that ABC management and staff are in denial.  The ABC has lost many of its one-time conservative viewers because it has increasingly become a Conservative Free Zone.

Some ABC types like to mock Sky News.  They would be better served in asking this question: Where did Sky News gets its viewers from? – viewers who are prepared to pay a subscription fee.  Sky News viewers appear not to be affected by the “news avoidance” excuse that ABC Communications blames for the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s declining audiences.


There was enormous interest in the previous Media Watch Dog which referred to the line-up of Insiders panellists who are strident critics of Peter Dutton and the Liberal Party he leads.  MWD cited hostile comments about the Dutton-led Opposition’s support for the “No” case in the referendum about The Voice from Insiders regulars –  Niki Savva (Age/Sydney Morning Herald), Katharine Murphy (The Guardian Australia), Sean Kelly (Nine’s Age/Sydney Morning Herald) and Laura Tingle (ABC and Nine’s Australian Financial Review).

MWD made the point that at the ABC it is the executive producers, rather than presenters, who are primarily responsible for deciding who will be interviewed and who will be on panels.  Samuel Clark is Insiders’ executive producer. MWD’s avid readers were not surprised by Hendo’s little list.

Indeed, they drew attention to other Dutton antagonists who should have got a guernsey – so to speak.

So, MWD has put together a somewhat larger list (in alphabetical order) of the Dutton antagonists who have appeared on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s Insiders during 2023.  Here it is: David Crowe (Nine), Osman Faruqi (Nine),  Patricia Karvelas (ABC), Fran Kelly (ABC), Sean Kelly (Nine),  Mark Kenny (Australian National University), Karen Middleton (The Saturday Paper), Katharine Murphy (The Guardian), Lenore Taylor (The Guardian), Laura Tingle (ABC & Nine), Amy Remeikis (The Guardian) and Niki Savva (Nine).

In addition to this Couch Dozen, there are other Insiders panellists who campaigned against the position taken by Peter Dutton and the Coalition on The Voice.  Namely, Bridget Brennan, Dan Bourchier, Dana Morse and John Paul Janke.

As to political conservatives – of the Insiders panel in 2023, only Greg Sheridan (The Australian) might fit this role.  But your man Sheridan is critical of both Labor and the Coalition from time to time.  He is best described as an anti-communist social democrat – and he does not parade antagonism.

So, there you have it.  A comrade from the Peter Dutton antagonist Dozen sits on the Insiders couch from time to time.  But not one consistent Anthony Albanese antagonist.  Moreover, on Sunday 15 October, the morning after the referendum result the night before, everyone on the Insiders program had been a “Yes” supporter to a greater or lesser extent.  The “No” vote – which attained 61 per cent nationwide – was not represented.

And ABC management maintains that the public broadcaster practises political diversity.  It’s called denial. Can You Bear It?


While on the topic of Insiders, lotsa thanks to the avid reader who drew Media Watch Dog’s attention to this comment by Julian Morrow, the presenter of ABC Radio National’s Sunday Extra program, on 22 October. By the way, yes, this Julian Morrow is one of The Chaser Boys (average age 481/2) who is still hanging around the taxpayer funded public broadcaster in middle age.  However, MWD digresses (once again). Let’s go to the transcript:

Julian Morrow: Now, often after nine o’clock you’ll hear David Marr on Insiders, jousting with Gerard Henderson. But today, stay tuned to RN because David Marr is our guest on “The Year That Made Me”.  He’ll be talking about formative years for him – but also formative years for his great, great grandfather, who he’s discovered was a member of the notoriously brutal Native Police. It’s all revealed in David Marr’s new book, Killing for Country. And David Marr will be our guest on “The Year That Made Me” after the news.

How about that?  Neither David Marr nor Gerard Henderson has appeared on the Insiders couch since late 2019 – some four years ago.  It’s great that Comrade Morrow can still remember the Marr/Hendo exchanges from all those years ago.

However, they are ancient history in media time. But then, these days, Insiders is somewhat boring and predictable in that nearly everyone agrees with nearly everyone else on nearly everything.

In any event, the evidence suggests that ABC presenter Julian Morrow has not watched Insiders on TV or on iview for four years. And the ABC still maintains that Insiders is Australia’s leading political discussion program. Can You Bear It?


As MWD readers are aware, Ellie’s (male) co-owner abides by the teaching that it’s unwise to make predictions – especially about the future.

On Thursday 12 October, two days before the New Zealand general election, the Australian Financial Review ran an article by Oliver Hartwich, the executive director of the New Zealand Initiative.  It was headed “New Zealand’s cliffhanger election could be a major surprise” and commenced as follows:

With only a few days left until New Zealand’s general election, you might think the outcome should be easy to predict. Many polls have shown that New Zealanders think the country is on the wrong path. Usually, this would point to a win for the opposition. However, the race remains close. Despite current trends, we cannot dismiss the possibility of another Labour government. This has opposition strategists worried about losing what seemed like an unlosable election.

And your man Hartwich concluded:

What should have been an easy win for any opposition could turn out to be a major surprise. On Saturday, we will find out.

As it turned out, the New Zealand opposition – headed by National Party leader Christopher Luxon – had a comfortable victory. Comfortable in view of New Zealand’s complicated electoral system.  Labour prime minister Chris Hipkins conceded defeat on the night of the election and it looks like the Luxon-led National Party will be able to form a government with the right-of-centre ACT Party, led by David Seymour.

And that’s the problem with predictions.  The head of The New Zealand Initiative took the initiative on the eve of the election in warning that the “differing personalities” of Luxon and Seymour “might make it hard for them to present a united front; in fact, they have little in common”. Except that, er, it looks like being a National Party-ACT Party government with Mr Luxon as prime minister and Mr Seymour as his deputy. Moreover, the Labour Party’s primary vote dropped to less than 30 per cent.  Seems like a “united front” of sorts, don’t you think?  Moreover, with respect to the False Prophet Hartwich – Can You Bear It?

[I note that it was only a couple of years ago that most commentators thought that the New Zealand Labour Party under the leadership of the leftist luvvie Jacinda Ardern was invincible.  Comrade Ardern is in New York and played virtually no role in the election campaign. How times change. – MWD Editor.]



On 24 August of this year ABC TV’s 7:30 aired the final sketch by self-described satirist Mark Humphries. 7:30 executive producer Joel Tozer claimed that the discontinuation of Humphries’ appearances was not motived by dissatisfaction with Humphries’ efforts but instead was a cost-cutting move to “expand the range of journalism we can pursue on the program”. MWD will let avid readers know if this expanded journalism ever materialises.

At the time, MWD predicted that it would not be long before a comedian with Humphries’ talents – er, make that left-wing politics – found more work at either the ABC or SBS. A Humphries return, whether on 7:30 or elsewhere, would certainly be good news for MWD, as he always provided good copy.

Although another permanent, taxpayer-funded gig is yet to appear for Comrade Humphries he has made a brief return to the ABC, popping up on the News Breakfast couch on Friday 27 October to spruik for his live shows. Although no longer on the ABC payroll, it would seem he still has promotional privileges at supposedly-ad-free Aunty.

For five minutes Your Man Mark was given free rein to trot out tired jokes about the Queen’s death, AUKUS and Qantas. Despite the Coalition being in opposition everywhere but Tasmania, the only politicians to come in for mockery were from the conservative side of politics – namely, Michael McCormack, Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton. Humphries seemed especially proud of mocking Peter Dutton “to his face” (meaning in the same room) during Parliament House’s Midwinter Ball held last June.

It would seem that Mark Humphries’ time off has left him no less able to skewer the leading figures of Australian politics. So long as those figures come from the political right and were around in 2018 so that Humphries can recycle old jokes.

Caption: Mark Humphries plugging his The War on 2023 show on ABC TV News Breakfast to admiring presenters Emma Rebellato (left) and Lisa Millar (right).



Bill Hayden (1933-2023), former Labor leader and governor-general, died on 21 October.  Mr Hayden – and the late Jim McClelland – were allocated senior ministerial roles in what turned out to be the final months of Gough Whitlam’s Labor government in 1975.

Both men did much to restore credibility to Labor’s economic management – which had been tarnished by the erratic performances of such senior ministers as Jim Cairns, Clyde Cameron, Rex Connor and Tom Uren. However, Hayden and McClelland had little time to turn Labor’s economic performance around before Governor-General Sir John Kerr dismissed the Whitlam government on 11 November 1975 – due to its inability to get its supply bills through the Senate or to advise an election to resolve the deadlock between the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Bill Hayden was a good friend of The Sydney Institute in its early years. He never made it to prime minister, having been replaced by Bob Hawke on the eve of the 1983 election.  Yet Hayden had an important and highly beneficial impact on Australian society across a number of decades.

Bill Hayden became leader of the Labor Party in December 1977 succeeding Gough Whitlam and led Labor at the 1980 election.  Labor obtained a 4.2 per cent national swing – after its dreadful drubbing in the 1977 election –  but the Malcolm Fraser-led Coalition was returned to office.  This was the only election Hayden contested as Labor leader.  In her account of Bill Hayden’s life on 23 October, 7.30 political editor Laura Tingle spoke about Hayden’s brief period as Labor leader.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Laura Tingle:  Labor came very close to winning the 1980 election but faced a late scare campaign from Malcolm Fraser.

Reporter:  Claims of a Labor wealth tax saw the Coalition win its third election in a row.

Laura Tingle:  The election also saw the arrival of the charismatic Bob Hawke – a development which destabilised Hayden’s leadership and put him on notice, despite Hawke’s protestations….As the days ticked down to the 1983 election, Hayden was persuaded by his good friend, Victorian Senator John Button, to stand aside in favour of Hawke, to guarantee a Labor win.

That’s all accurate.  Except that Malcolm Fraser did not initiate a late “scare campaign”.  Rather the Labor Opposition made a serious error which Fraser used against Hayden. Here’s what happened four decades ago:

On 3 November 1980, during the election campaign, Labor front bencher Peter Walsh took part in a debate on the Countrywide radio program with Peter Nixon, the Coalition minister for primary industry. Senator Walsh (who became a fine minister in the Hawke Labor government) was asked this question by the interviewer:

Interviewer: It has been suggested that in the last few days that you might introduce death taxes and gift taxes, is that a fact?

The reply was as follows:

Peter Walsh: The Labor Party believes that Australia ought to have some form of capital taxation as every other country with which we compare ourselves –  and many of them have two or three.

After an intervention by Peter Nixon, Peter Walsh added:

Peter Walsh: I am not wriggling. Whether it will be a capital gains tax, a wealth tax, or reintroduction of inheritance taxes which they have in the United Kingdom and the United States, is something which is yet to be determined.

It was nearly a week until Bill Hayden corrected Walsh’s comment – when he said:

Bill Hayden:  I have stated plainly, there will be no wealth or capital taxes introduced.

An emphatic statement. But it was too late; the damage had already been done.  Malcolm Fraser and the Coalition ran the line that, if elected, a Hayden government would introduce some sort of capital gains tax – including on the family home.

However, contrary to Laura Tingle’s claim, this was no “scare campaign”. Peter Walsh made a serious error in the 1980 election and Malcolm Fraser pounced on it.  It’s called democratic politics.


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Until next time.

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