GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG

ISSUE – NO. 661

17 November 2023

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  • ZOE DANIEL RE-EMBRACES “BOTH SIDERISM” IN HER CONFUSED POSITION ON THE ISRAEL/GAZA CONFLICT

Zoe Daniel, the former ABC reporter who is now the Teal Independent for Goldstein in Melbourne, seems to have good connections with the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.

Take the morning of Friday 17 November, for example.  She obtained a soft interview with ABC Radio National presenter Patricia Karvelas which ran for close to 14 minutes in peak time.  This despite the fact that Ms Daniel, who called the presenter by her fave title “PK”, is an Independent MP in the House of Representatives who does not enjoy balance-of-power status. In other words, the Albanese Labor government has a majority in its own right and the Independents, including the Teals, have scant influence on the government – unlike Independents and minor party politicians in the Senate who are in a balance-of-power position.

As avid MWD readers will no doubt recall, in May 2021 – when a journalist based in the United States – Comrade Daniel signed an open letter titled “Do Better on Palestine” The signatories demanded that the media abandon what they called “both siderism” in covering the Israel/Gaza conflict and report from “Palestinian perspectives”.  The signatories failed to mention the Hamas terrorist organisation –or that Hamas indiscriminately fires rockets into Israel.

Now Ms Daniel is the MP for Goldstein which has a large Jewish population . When talking to PK, Zoe Daniel sought to embrace both siderism. How about that?

She declared that “the grief and the pain is not only in the Jewish community in Australia, obviously” but also in “Palestinian and Muslim communities”. Asked if she supported a ceasefire in the Israel/Gaza conflict, Daniel went all vague and said that this is “obviously a question that we’re all being asked”. She then went on to say that if she supported a ceasefire this would make zero difference to what is happening in Gaza and added:

Zoe Daniel: I’m a former foreign correspondent, I know the logistics of this. Of course, a ceasefire is where we need to get to. But you have a terrorist organisation in the middle of this. If there’s just a ceasefire, and, um, there’s no capacity, therefore, to try to dismantle Hamas, does that allow Hamas to regroup? What does that actually lead to? That said, I’ve said to you before very clearly and I still stick to the position that the Israeli government has to adhere to international law and the rules of the war. And I think in some ways, [it] has not been.

Ms Daniel went on to declare that if Israel is targeting hospitals, “that’s a war crime, pure and simple.” It isn’t – not if a hostile force like Hamas has turned a hospital into a military base.

Zoe Daniel concluded the interview by stating that she agreed with Karvelas that “You can’t bomb your way to peace”. She was so pleased with this vignette that she repeated it. Forgetting, for the moment, that the United States bombed its way to peace in the Pacific War in August 1945. And the Allies did much the same with respect to Nazi Germany in World War II some months earlier. Then, there was NATO’s bombing of Serbia in 1999.

Despite the long, soft interview with Ms Karvelas, it is not clear where Ms Daniel stands on the issue of the Israel/Gaza conflict.

So, there you have it – both siderism is now practised by the Teal Member for Goldstein. Or perhaps best termed “lotsa confusion”.

  • EIGHT OUT OF EIGHT SYDNEY MORNING HERALD LETTER WRITERS ARE IN THE DUTTON-ANTAGONIST CAMP

Has Nine Entertainment gone down the ABC path and lost many of its conservative customers?  The reference is to the Letters Page of the Sydney Morning Herald now run by Nine Entertainment and before that part of Fairfax Media.

On Friday 17 November, the Letters Page was headed “Peter Dutton has shown he is unfit to lead the nation”.  There followed eight letters from (i) Hill Top in NSW’s Southern Highlands, (ii) Balmain (iii) Coogee, (iv) Balgowlah, (v) Bronte, (vi) Balmain, (vii) Stanmore and (viii) Cronulla.  The Angry 8 all bagged Opposition leader Peter Dutton for the stance he has taken in support of border protection and in opposition to anti-semitism.

The Angry 8, all of whom have Anglo-Celtic names and live in prosperous parts of Sydney or the nearby Southern Highlands, supported David Crowe’s column of the previous day titled “An ugly fight we do not need”.

Yes, that David Crowe – the same David Crowe who got the outcome of the May 2019 election and that of the October 2023 referendum hopelessly wrong. Your man Crowe is a Dutton antagonist.  However, the SMH’s Letters Editor could not find one SMH reader who was not a Dutton antagonist to proffer a different view on the Opposition leader.

Yet the SMH boasts that it is “Independent. Always.”  But on the evidence of its Letters Page, the SMH is not Independent of the Dutton antagonists. Like your man Crowe or members of the Angry 8.


  • NINE NEWS CHANNELS THE ABC IN BOOSTING THE LEFTIST AUSTRALIA INSTITUTE AND ONLY PRESENTING ONE SIDE OF THE DEBATE

There was enormous interest in the previous issue of Media Watch Dog in which reference was made to the emergence of an ABC/Australia Institute Pact. To wit, the increasing presence of the avowedly leftist Canberra-based staff of The Australia Institute – headed by Comrade Richard (“Please address me as doctor”) Denniss – on various ABC TV and radio programs.  By the way, most of the Australia Institute soviet are former Greens political operatives.

MWD drew attention to the fact that virtually everyone associated with the Australia Institute gets a gig on the ABC. Unlike the staff of such right-of-centre think tanks as the Centre for Independent Studies, the Institute of Public Affairs, the Menzies Research Centre in Sydney and the Robert Menzies Institute in Melbourne – all of whom appear to have been “cancelled” by the Conservative Free Zone that is the ABC.

Ellie’s (male) co-owner was mulling over this (censorious) reality at around Gin & Tonic time last Sunday when he happened to turn on the 6pm news on Network Nine and saw – guess what –  Comrade Denniss banging on per courtesy of Nine Entertainment (chairman Peter Costello). Let’s go to the transcript:

Presenter:   At the moment, there’s nothing stopping political parties from lying to voters in their ads.  But that is about to change.  Concerns about misinformation in the Voice referendum campaigns have fuelled efforts from the [Albanese] government and Independents to clean up electoral rules.

Eliza Edwards:  Before the nation voted No to the voice, came the political sell from both sides.  But some in the referendum campaign were accused of peddling misinformation about the proposed change.

And then up popped the leftist Dr Denniss (for a doctor he is) on the screen – who had this to say about the need to silence the views of at least some commentators who disagree with him:

Richard Denniss:  There’s no doubt that because some outrageous claims were made [in the referendum debate] – passions were heightened, fears were created.

There followed two sets of comments from Zali Steggall (the Independent MP for Warringah) and Senator Don Farrell (deputy leader of the government in the Senate).  The former advocated legislation to ban what she called “misinformation” in election campaigns – and the latter indicated that the government just might do this.

Then Comrade Denniss vowed and declared that the laws against misinformation would “shrink the size of the scare in the scare campaign”. How clever is that?  And Ms Steggall declared: “I definitely think greater standards bring a greater level of debate”. And this is how it ended:

Eliza Edwards: Eliza Edwards, 9News.

So, there you have it. Comrade Edwards only interviewed advocates of anti-misinformation legislation – along with a senior government minister. No one from the Opposition was interviewed and no one with a different view was heard.  And that’s Nine News.  Can You Bear It?

[With form like this, Eliza Edwards would fit in well at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster, where the ability to censor is a Key Performance Indicator (as in KPI). – MWD Editor.]

  • JANE CARO BOASTS ABOUT HER NEW EV – REASONABLY PRICED AT A MERE $50,000 AND EASY TO PLUG IN AT NIGHT IN HER CARPORT

The good news is that Nine’s Sunday Life Magazine’s occasional columnist Jane Caro is always well-informed when she writes about her favourite topic.  The bad news is that Comrade Caro’s fave subject is herself.  Moreover, she tends to look down on lesser mortals of the conservative kind who she has described as “truculent turds”. Re which see MWD passim.

In the Sunday Magazine on 12 November, Jane Caro wrote about herself and her brand new BYD Atto Electric Vehicle.  She told readers, if readers there were, that “prices of EVs are coming down” and that her EV was “reasonably priced” at “under 50K on-road”.

What’s more, there is no problem with what she called “range anxiety” – since “we have a power point in our carport”.   Ms Caro simply plugs her EV in and leaves it overnight – just as she does with her phone.  And “next morning, both car and phone are fully charged”. Easy, eh?

Jane Caro seems to believe that most Australians (i) can afford to spend $50,000 on an EV and (ii) reside in a house with a garage/carport.  She seems blissfully unaware that many Australians live in flats or apartments or rooms or in houses which have no vehicle access.  They can easily charge their phones every night – but not so much electric vehicles.

Talk about putting touch into “Out of Touch”.   Can You Bear It?

  • IN WHICH MIKE SECCOMBE THROWS THE SWITCH TO DELUSION AND RECKONS THAT A CERTAIN MATTHEW SHEAHAN IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE VICTORY OF “NO” IN THE REFERENDUM

While on the topic of misinformation, did anyone see the Page One story on The Saturday Paper on 4 November titled “The man behind Australia’s new right-wing force”.   It was written by the boring Mike Seccombe who presents as The  [Boring] Saturday Paper’s national correspondent.

Now, whether an avid reader voted “Yes” or “No” in the recent referendum on whether there should be an Indigenous Voice in the Constitution, most would acknowledge that the leaders of the “Yes” cause were Prime Minister Anthony Albanese along with such Indigenous figures as Megan Davis, Marcia Langton, Thomas Mayo and Noel Pearson. While the leaders of the “No” cause were Opposition leader Peter Dutton and such Indigenous figures as Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, Senator Kerrynne Liddle and Warren Mundine.

But not your man Seccombe.  He told his readers, if readers there were, that a certain Matthew Sheahan masterminded the strategy that defeated the Indigenous Voice referendum. Sheahan who? – MWD hears avid readers cry. Well, according to  Comrade Seccombe, he is the head of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) – whatever that is.

It’s fashionable in leftist circles these days to compare right-of-centre operatives in Australia with Donald Trump and the Trumpians.  According to Comrade Seccombe, Sheahan bears a striking resemblance to Donald Trump’s former strategist Steve Bannon. Does he really?  Fancy that.

For the record, Ellie’s (male) co-owner had never heard of your man Sheahan before reading about him in the inner-city Collingwood rag that presents as a newspaper even though – due to early printing – it contains no news.  All MWD can say is that if Comrade Seccombe reckons that Sheahan is primarily responsible for the “No” case prevailing on 14 October, The Saturday Paper’s  national correspondent is running the risk of giving delusion a bad name.  Can You Bear It?

  • ANOTHER BORING EPISODE OF THE DRUM WHERE EVERYONE AGREES WITH EVERYONE ELSE RE SUSSAN LEY

ABC’s The Drum has gotten so tedious that Ellie’s male co-owner rarely watches an episode – even though it frequently makes great copy for MWD. Those avid readers who managed to make it through the whole episode of Thursday 16 November, would have seen the discussion at the end of the program regarding Sussan Ley. Sussan Ley, Liberal MP for Farrer, recently raised complaints from her community about plans for a new strip club in her electorate, and called for a pause on new venues until what she termed a “national conversation” takes place.

As per usual, there was little to no disagreement on The Drum panel – comprising  Damien Cave, Erin Watson, David Blunt and Dr Neela Janakiramanan – as they were all critical of Sussan Ley to varying degrees. David Blunt in particular took a condescending tone, suggesting that Ms Ley’s concern for women is not genuine, and that it’s a “bit gross” and a way to “just score cheap political points”.

There are plenty of legitimate reasons one could oppose a strip club in their community – they frequently have links to organised crime, and women have reported being harassed and feeling unsafe on streets around strip club venues. There is also the lack of regulation, as well as exploitation and abuse reported by women working in them. None of which were entertained on The Drum. Only Erin Watson offered some dissent and commented that she can “see why Sussan Ley has, has made these points”.

As Erin Watson said – before she was cut off so the blokes could bag Sussan Ley again before the end of the program – Sussan Ley is simply taking the concerns of her electorate to parliament. Or, in other words, doing her job as an elected member of parliament. But she got bagged by most of The Drum panel. Can You Bear It?


DOCUMENTATION

  • THE AGE AND ABC IN MELBOURNE GO SOFT ON THE INCREASING EVIDENCE OF WIDESPREAD HISTORICAL CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE IN VICTORIAN GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS

Once upon a time, The Age in Melbourne and the Melbourne-based ABC in inner-city Southbank regarded sexual child abuse by teachers of children as a big story – provided the pedophiles involved were members of the Catholic or Anglican clergy.

However, just like the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse headed by Peter McClellan KC, The Age and the ABC all but ignored historical child sexual abuse in government schools – with the former performing better than the latter.

Once upon a time, The Age would have regarded historical child sexual abuse as Page One news. For example, on 12 December 2012, The Age gave Page One treatment to a story about the Catholic Church, written by its religion editor Barney Zwartz, titled “List grows of abusers moved from parish to parish”.   It was illustrated by a pic of a Catholic priest which focused on his Rosary beads. By the way, Mr Zwartz was an antagonist of Cardinal George Pell and a member of the Pell media pile-on.

That was then. What is now?  Thanks to the avid Melbourne reader who drew MWD’s attention to the report in The Age on 16 November 2023 by Robyn Grace headed “Department failed to stop child abusers”. This is how the story commenced:

Attempts by students, parents and teachers to stop historical sexual abuse in [Victorian] public schools were thwarted by a government determined to protect the reputation of schools over the safety of children, a board of inquiry has been told. Education Department deputy secretary David Howes has described the department’s lack of action on child sexual abuse allegations in public schools as a “dreadful failure” that led to “immeasurable harm”.

As MWD readers will be aware, the Victorian Labor government has set up a board of inquiry, with limited terms of reference, to investigate historical child sexual abuse in Beaumaris Primary School – along with two dozen other government schools in which pedophile Beaumaris Primary School teachers also worked.  The board of the inquiry is headed by Kathleen Foley SC.

The terms of reference were set by socialist left premier Daniel Andrews.  It is not clear whether they will be extended by the new socialist left premier Jacinta Allan.  Mr Andrews promised to apologise to all victims/survivors of child sexual abuse – including those who attended Victorian state schools.  However, he retired from politics before doing so.

Melbourne-based ABC journalists Louise Milligan, Paul Kennedy and Michael Rowland who spent considerable time covering historical child sexual abuse in Catholic schools with special focus on Cardinal George Pell – have all but ignored the crimes that took place at Beaumaris Primary School and in other government schools in Victoria.

On 16 November, The Age quoted Dr David Howes as saying: “There simply were no policies or procedures that we’ve been able to find that would indicate how these allegations [of child sexual abuse] should be followed through.”

The Age also reported that Fiona Ryan SC, counsel assisting the inquiry, advised that the Victorian Department of Education had a long-standing practice of moving teachers accused of immoral conduct to smaller schools.  Ms Ryan added: “It appears that this practice did not change until the 1990s.” She described the “lack of action” as a dreadful failure of the Victorian Department of Education.

MWD will keep readers updated on this story.  As previously pointed out, the McClellan Royal Commission did not do even one case study into government schools with respect to pedophile teachers.  Moreover, it did not inquire as to whether the various State Education Departments had any records about how any pedophile teachers in government schools were managed over the decades. A total fail, if ever there was one, with respect to government schools.

At least The Age is reporting the crimes of historical child sexual abuse in Victorian government schools – but not with the emphasis that it previously covered Catholic and Anglican schools.  The ABC, on the other hand, is not covering the issue on such key platforms as RN Breakfast, News Breakfast, AM, The World Today, RN Drive, PM and 7.30.

Stay tuned – MWD will update readers on developments.


  • THE ABC GIVES SHAUN MICALLEF AND TWO FORMER CHASER BOYS YET ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY

It was not that long ago that the ABC bade farewell to comedian Shaun Micallef. On 10 July 2022, Comrade Micallef took to what was then called Twitter, to announce the 15th season of Mad as Hell would be his last. On 15 September 2022, he gave the following explanation to The Sydney Morning Herald:

I just felt like 11 years and 15 seasons was a good summer. I’ve always felt it’s important to know when to get off before the audience starts readying the rotting fruit. There are limited resources here at the ABC and I wanted to hand over the mic to somebody who was younger. Perhaps a show that has more than just the attitudes of my age group. I’d like to see more of a younger and more diverse bit of programming…

I’ve been fortunate to have had my own stuff over 30 years, and that’s hard won these days. There are some people who I know are talking to the ABC – I won’t put the curse on them by mentioning them by name – but they’re perfectly capable of doing their own stuff without my input.

It would seem your man Micallef’s efforts to hand-off his ABC resources to a younger generation of comedians have proved unsuccessful. It was recently announced that he will be returning to the ABC in 2024 with a new, so far unnamed, show.

As for Mad as Hell’s younger cast members? Well, there has been no announcement about continuing Mad as Hell with a new host, something Micallef, who turned 60 last year, suggested was a possibility. And Tosh Greenslade, perhaps best known for impersonating Ellie’s (male) co-owner on the show, announced in December 2022 that he was retiring from acting due to a lack of opportunities.

Former Chaser Boys (average age 48 1/2) Chris Taylor and Andrew Hansen also have a new comedy show on the ABC titled Australian Epic. They join their former Chaser compatriots Chas Licciardello (Planet America), Craig Reucassel (War on Waste) and Julian Morrow (RN Sunday Extra) in currently having post-Chaser gigs at the ABC. [Can none of The Chaser Boys ever leave their ABC homes – MWD Editor]

In August 2022 there was a minor media controversy when former RN Breakfast host Fran Kelly, who is in her 60s, was given another ABC gig hosting a Friday night chat show named Frankly. Some argued this was emblematic of the lack of opportunities for new and younger performers at the ABC. Ita Buttrose and Patricia Karvelas went to bat for Kelly, dismissing the criticism as ageism. Frankly was cancelled after one season.

The recycling of Shaun Micallef and the Chaser Boys by the ABC would seem to suggest the complaints had some merit. The ABC is essentially run by staff collectives, or soviets, and about the only way to get a prominent ABC gig is to have already been a comrade in good standing for decades.

A younger and older Shaun Micallef

 

Tosh Greenslade as the character “Not Gerard Henderson”


This overwhelmingly popular segment of Media Watch Dog usually works like this. Someone or other thinks it would be a you-beaut idea to write to Gerard Henderson AC (Always Courteous) about something or other. And Hendo, being a courteous and well-brought-up kind of guy, replies. Then, hey presto, the correspondence is published in MWD – much to the delight of its avid readers.

There are occasions, however, when (the late) Jackie’s (male) co-owner decides to write a polite note to someone or other – who, in turn, believes that a reply is in order. Publication in MWD invariably follows. There are, alas, some occasions where your man Henderson sends a polite missive – but does not receive the courtesy of a reply. Nevertheless, publication of this one-sided correspondence still takes place. For the record – and in the public interest, of course.

GERARD HENDERSON AND TROY BRAMSTON

On Saturday 11 November 2023, The Weekend Australian, The Age and Sydney Morning Herald carried articles on the documentary How to Capture a Prime Minister which is directed and produced by Gary Newman. Troy Bramston reviewed the film for The Weekend Australian and Tony Wright for The Age/SMH.  The story turns on a violent demonstration of left-wing radicals against incumbent Coalition Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser which took place at Monash University on 25 August 1976.

“History Corner” will review How to Capture a Prime Minister in due course. In the meantime, avid readers may, or may not, be interested in the correspondence relating to the documentary which took place between Gerard Henderson and Troy Bramston concerning Sir John Kerr who was Australia’s governor-general in August 1976.  Now read on – if you please:

 

Gerard Henderson to Troy Bramston – 13 November 2023

Troy

I read with interest your article “The Campus Warriors Who Captured the PM” in The Weekend Australian on Saturday re the August 1976 demonstration at Monash University against Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser.

I write this in the hope that you will correct (in the online version) an error in your piece – where you wrote:

The dismissal of the Whitlam government left deep scars in the Australian polity. There were protests around Australia in response to the unprecedented intervention by Kerr on November 11…

Fraser and Kerr, along with chief justice Sir Garfield Barwick, who advised Kerr on the use of his reserve powers, were forever cast as principal villains of the dismissal. Kerr could rarely go anywhere without meeting a hostile demonstration and exited the vice-regal office in December 1977. He spent his retirement years in England.

This comment re Sir John Kerr is not only incorrect. It gives credence to the left-wing attack on Kerr – which maintains that, after the Dismissal, Kerr self-exiled from Australia in order to avoid criticism/ridicule. And now for some facts.

As Kerr made clear in his Matters for Judgement: An Autobiography (Macmillan), following stepping down as governor-general, he left Australia with his wife Anne on 10 December 1977 – with the view to spending time in France, followed by London, writing his autobiography. As Kerr wrote in his autobiography: “We kept our home in Australia since we intend in due course to return home.” And they did.

I am not sure precisely when the Kerrs returned to Sydney. I believe it was around 1980. Certainly I knew Kerr from around the time I commenced as a columnist with The Australian in 1987. I interviewed him for an article and was one of a number of people who had lunch with him on occasions in his Sydney office in the years leading up to his death in March 1991. On one occasion the Kerrs visited our home in Hornsby for lunch and Anne and I were invited to Christmas drinks at his North Sydney apartment. They were well-attended events – including many prominent Sydney judges/barristers.

In short, your claim that Kerr “spent his retirement years in England” is simply wrong. It gives unwarranted authority to the left-wing attack on Kerr – namely that he left Australia for good in December 1977 and led a miserable life thereafter. It was not the case. Kerr was always confident that he made the correct decision on 11 November 1975 – and he had many friends during his final years in Australia.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

PS – Interesting piece re Hollingworth and Elizabeth II today.

 

Troy Bramston to Gerard Henderson – 16 November 2023

Gerard,

This is an especially silly email, even by your standards.

There is nothing I wrote that is in error and there will not be any correction made to my article. I am all for facts, as you say you are. But memories can be fallible as yours must be on this occasion. Research is also a useful tool for when memories fade.

The truth is that Kerr lived in London and Surrey in his retirement years until at least 1984-85 when he returned to Australia. He did not return in 1980, as you say. This is quite wrong and you should acknowledge this. Kerr’s letters to many people are available as part of his papers at the National Archives of Australia. I commend them to you. They show him corresponding from London and Surrey through 1984, perhaps longer, where he lived in his vice-regal retirement years.

I never wrote that Kerr was in “self-exile” or that he lived in England to “avoid criticism/ridicule”. But the fact is – again facts are good – Kerr was subject to many hostile demonstrations after 11 November 1975. There are many newspaper and other accounts of the period – again research can be useful – where Kerr was booed at public events, had his car attacked, met with protests when attending functions, and received letters abusing and criticising him. Indeed, Kerr shared the assessments of government security agencies with Sir Martin Charteris, the Queen’s private secretary, which showed no other person in Australia attracted more hostility or violent demonstrations. Kerr was advised to limit his travel and security agencies preferred he remain at Yarralumla. He also raised his security fears with Malcolm Fraser after 11 November 1975 and steps were taken to improve his protection. It might be useful for you to review government files about this in the National Archives.

I am sure that Kerr had friends and family who loved him and enjoyed his company. I never wrote that he did not. Nor did I say that he had a “miserable life” after 11 November 1975. He may have kept a home in Sydney but the fact is – we like facts – he was out of the country from 1977 to 1984 on a near permanent basis. He died in 1991. So he spent more time out of Australia than in Australia during his retirement years after vice-regal office.

With all good wishes and keep morale high,

Troy Bramston

 

Gerard Henderson to Troy Bramston – 17 November 2023

Troy

How nice to hear from you by email on 16 November in response to my email of 13 November. Despite the fact that you refer to my email as “especially silly” and maintain that this is so even by my own “standards”. What a devastating intellectual critique.  You will understand that I could not sleep last night – even after one or two, or was it three Gin & Tonics?

When I woke up at Hangover Time this morning, I wondered why you asked so silly a person as me some years ago to contribute to your anthology The Hawke Government – and why you have bothered to speak so often at The Sydney Institute over the years in the presence of such silliness. As I recall, you have addressed the Institute on some 10 occasions. I can only assume that you were fooling me – as the saying goes (or went). Silly me.

Lotsa thanks for your gratuitous advice that I should do research and not rely on memory.  I thought I had always done the former and always warned about the latter.  But perhaps I have forgotten. Once again, silly me.

For the record, I regard the use of the word “silly” as a term of abuse – somewhat, er, Grade 6.  But, then, this might be a, wait for it, silly opinion.

In response to your (somewhat pompous) email, I make the following (courteous) comments:

  • You claim that “nothing” that you wrote in your Weekend Australian article “is an error”. Clearly you are in denial.  You claimed that Sir John Kerr spent his “retirement years in England”.  This is false.  As you now concede, Kerr lived in England “through 1984, perhaps longer”.  Note that, while you proclaim the importance of “facts” – they are readily introduced by you following the word “perhaps”.  Pray tell me – what is a “perhaps” fact?
  • I never claimed that you wrote “that Kerr was in ‘self-exile’” or that he lived in England “to avoid criticism/ridicule”. I simply commented that your incorrect assertion that Kerr spent “his retirement years in England” gave credence to the left-wing attack on Kerr that he went into self-exile circa late 1977 to avoid criticism, ridicule and more besides.

Moreover, I did not claim that you wrote that Kerr lived a “miserable life” after the Dismissal of 11 November 1975.  All I said was that your incorrect claim that Kerr spent his retirement in England, gave  credence to Kerr’s many haters in Australia who maintained he lived an unhappy life in retirement. What was missing from your article was any recognition of the fact that Kerr retired to, and died in, Sydney. That was a fact.  But you are in denial about this and refuse to correct your error.

  • You write that “Kerr may have kept a home in Sydney”. The fact is that he did keep a home in Sydney and he lived there in the years before he died. The problem is that you appear to know nothing about Kerr’s private life after he retired in Australia – but maintain that you do.

In my letter, I did not state that Kerr returned to Australia in 1980.  You just made this up.  This is what I wrote: “I am not sure precisely when the Kerrs returned to Sydney. I believe it was around 1980.  Certainly I knew Kerr from around …1987”.

You write that Kerr lived in England “until at least 1984-85”.  On your latest analysis, Kerr spent at least the last five years of his life in retirement in Australia. By the way, during his time in Australia Kerr drafted a manuscript, gave occasional lectures and entertained friends and colleagues. It was an active retirement.

  • I am well aware of the demonstrations against Kerr in 1975 and 1976. I worked as a staffer in the Fraser government in, inter alia, 1976 and 1977. I spoke to Ministers who met regularly with John Kerr in his role as Governor-General.

I am one of the few living Australians who had extensive discussions with John Kerr about the Dismissal and its aftermath.  If you had asked me, I would have discussed Kerr’s retirement  with you for the book which you wrote with Paul Kelly titled The Truth of the Palace Letters: Deceit, Ambush and Dismissal in 1975 (MUP, 2020) – concerning which you and Paul addressed The Sydney Institute on 3 November 2020.

As you may recall, this was at the time of Covid – the event was filmed and the discussion placed on The Sydney Institute’s website. Because there was no live audience, I ran the question/discussion period.  You did not query my research or my memory at the time on any matter with respect to the Dismissal or John Kerr – although we disagreed on the proper interpretation of known facts. It’s called debate and discussion.

In conclusion, I was surprised at the contempt with respect to me which is evident in your oh-so-pompous-email.  But there you go – after all, we all live in this Vale of Tears and I am not fazed by criticism – indeed my life would be empty without the likes of you calling my work “silly”.

Yours (in silliness) – and Keep Morale High (to plagiarise you plagiarising me).

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson AC (aka Always Courteous)

 

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Until next time.

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