GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG

ISSUE – NO. 667

2 February 2024

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EDITORIAL

  • THE REAL THREAT TO THE ABC COMES FROM WITHIN THE GATE

In recent times, the ABC managing director and editor-in-chief David Anderson has taken to the ABC airwaves to explain the position of the taxpayer funded public broadcaster in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war.  He spoke to Patricia Karvelas at Radio National and Raf Epstein at ABC Radio Melbourne.

The questions were soft – as to be expected when an employee interviews their employer.  What was missing from the discussion was a recognition that the ABC’s problems essentially come from within.  There is staff opposition to management extending from John Lyons, one of the ABC’s most senior journalists, to rank and file reporters. Since the ABC is a conservative free zone, its problems do not come from internal right-of-centre critics.  But, rather, from some left-activist journalists within the organisation.

Reporting on the ABC for the New York Times, Natasha Frost and Damien Cave asked the question:

Has Australia’s beleaguered public broadcaster been so weakened by underfunding and right-wing political attacks that it will not stand up for its journalists, especially people of color and women?

This is absolute tosh. The ABC is well funded and any “right wing political attacks” come from outside – since it is a conservative free zone. The problem facing ABC management essentially turns on how to handle left-of-centre and leftist journalists who want to be activists within a taxpayer funded media organisation.

As far as the ABC is concerned, the activist enemy within the gate is more of a danger than critics outside the gate.  After all it is present and former staff who are criticising ABC management as racist, sexist, xenophobic and the like.  And it is these very people who are saying that it is okay for activist journalists to defy management rules as to the use of social media – the immediate cause of current discontents.

The ABC has been a staff collective – or soviet – for eons.  ABC management which has tolerated this reality for half a century is now having to deal with the consequences of its failure to manage over the decades. It has to do so at a time of falling ratings and a loss of many traditional viewers/listeners who have deserted the public broadcaster in silent protest at what they perceive in the ABC’s left-wing bias. Such perceptions cannot be overturned by Mr Anderson and his management throwing the switch to denial – as in interviews with his own staff.


  • IT’S NOW OFFICIAL – THE GUARDIAN’S COMRADE MURPHY SIGNS ON WITH LABOR

At 10:48 AM on 29 January, Katharine Murphy (“Malcolm calls me Murpharoo”) Murphy announced that she was quitting her role as The Guardian Australia’s  political editor and added: “I will be joining the office of @ALBOMP.”  There is no such entity.  Comrade Murphy is joining the media office of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.  It would seem that Murpharoo wants everyone to know that she is besties with “Albo”.

Soon after this shock news, Opposition leader Peter Dutton posted this message at 11:18 AM:

What fun.  The reference is to David Crowe – Nine’s political correspondent for The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.  For Comrade Crowe’s false prophecy about – and evident hostility to – the Coalition in general and the Opposition leader Peter Dutton in particular see “A David Crowe Moment” in the previous MWD edition.

For his part, Ellie’s (male) co-owner does not want your man Crowe to join the comrades in the Prime Minister’s Office. It’s bad enough for MWD to lose Murpharoo’s copy – it would be dreadful if Comrade Crowe went down the same employment path.  So MWD is not in the Peter Dutton-endorsed #givecroweago camp.

In her somewhat pompous “So long, it’s been good to know you” exit, Comrade Murpharoo posted:

Turn it up.  As MWD readers know, Katharine Murphy seems to confuse “good journalism” with abuse.  For example, late last year she accused Peter Dutton of being “the figurehead of fear and fake news”.  And said that he was “involved in helping to flood the zone with shit”. That’s not good journalism.  It’s just abuse.

And so it came to pass that on 30 January 2024, ABC RN Breakfast presenter Patricia Karvelas (an Insiders’ panellist) discussed the appointment of Insiders’ panellist Katharine Murphy to the PMO with The Saturday Paper’s political correspondent Karen Middleton (also an Insiders’ panellist).

It was an Insiders’ panellist talking to an Insiders’ panellist about another Insiders’ panellist. How inbred can Insiders’ panellists get?  PK (as she likes to be called) merely asked Comrade Middleton about the “broader shake-up” of the Prime Minister’s team.  Her conclusion was as follows:

Karen Middleton:  …So I think we can interpret this as definitely a reset and an attempt to refresh those relationships [between the Albanese government and the media] because we know that the government was not doing well politically at the end of last year, and they really need things to improve.

So, there you have it.  Neither Comrade Karvelas nor Comrade Middleton thought there was anything unprofessional in Comrade Murphy fanging Peter Dutton late last year in The Guardian Australia and on ABC TV’s Insiders – and becoming a senior Labor staffer soon after at the beginning of 2024.  Can You Bear It?

[No. Not really – now that you ask.  I note that the following morning PK interviewed yet another Insiders’ panellist about Peter Dutton’s comments on the Insiders’ panellist David Crowe.  It was – wait for it – Comrade Crowe himself.  At the end of the daily political commentary on RN Breakfast – on which Crowe frequently appears – the following exchange took place.

Patricia Karvelas:  I’ll have to talk to you next time about Peter Dutton’s tweet.  It think you’re a great reporter.  Thanks for joining us.

David Crowe:  Good on you, thank you.

[So PK thinks David is “great”.  And David thinks PK is “good”.  Somehow, however, I doubt that RN Breakfast will return to this issue next time.  But we shall see. I also note that  in the SMH on Friday 2 February, your man Crowe defended himself against Peter Dutton’s witty post. He obviously takes himself seriously. I understand that you will be covering this in your hugely popular “A David Crowe Moment” in the next issue. – MWD Editor.]

  • LENORE TAYLOR SHOULD REPLACE MURPHAROO WITH GUARDIAN WAGE SLAVE AMY REMEIKIS

While on the topic of Katharine Murphy’s exit from The Guardian Australia, Media Watch Dog is barracking for Amy Remeikis to get the political editor’s gig.  Currently The Guardian Australia’s political reporter, Comrade Remeikis is what any good Marxist would like to call a “wage slave”.  After all, MWD has been advised by its contacts in the Canberra Press Gallery that it is common knowledge that The Guardian Australia is a low-wage employer. It abides by the relevant award rates of pay – but not much more than that – for the lower ranks.

As MWD readers will recall, on 26 June 2020 Comrade Remeikis told ABC TV Insiders viewers that she had no hope of getting a 5 per cent wage increase from The Guardian Australia – editor Lenore Taylor.  So low was Comrade Remeikis’s pay, that on 27 July 2020 she complained of the high cost of rent and food which she declared is “hurting us all”.

Now here’s an opportunity for Comrade Taylor to help a fellow comrade. Make Amy Remeikis The Guardian Australia’s political editor and increase her salary substantially.  This might keep her in situ.  MWD certainly does not want to see Comrade Remeikis do a Murpharoo and leave the socialist newspaper to join the office of, say, Greens leader Adam Bandt or some other “Guardian Reader” (to use a British term).  If this does not occur, MWD must ask the question: Can You Bear It?

  • THE AUSTRALIA INSTITUTE/ABC ENTENTE IN ACTION AS EBONY BENNETT PRAISES LABOR, BAGS THE COALITION AND SUCKS UP TO THE ABC

You’ve heard or read about The Guardian/ABC Axis – a name tag that reflects the fact that so many comrades of the avowedly leftist The Guardian Australia get commentary slots on the ABC, which is a conservative free zone.

Now hear about the Australia Institute/ABC Entente. Like The Guardian, The Australia Institute is an avowedly leftist organisation – in this instance, a left-wing think-tank.

This Entente is demonstrated by the regular appearances on the “Newspapers” segment by Ebony Bennett, The Australia Institute’s deputy director, on ABC TV’s News Breakfast program. No such access is provided to such right-of-centre institutes as the Menzies Research Centre in Sydney, the Robert Menzies Institute in Melbourne or the Institute of Public Affairs – as befits the taxpayer funded public broadcaster as a conservative free zone.

As MWD understands it, the idea of the “Newspapers” segment is that commentators are invited to discuss what is in the news.  However, Comrade Bennett invariably focuses on what should be on the news.  On MWD’s count, she has done the “Newspapers” gig on News Breakfast three times already this year which demonstrates that The Australia Institute/ABC Entente is alive and well.

Here’s a summary:

  • 1 February 2024: Ms Bennett chooses to comment on a story by a fellow leftist in The Guardian Australia. She supports the Albanese government’s decision to restructure the promised tax cuts and bags the Coalition for criticising Labor’s decision – declaring that the Coalition “wants to keep the original Stage 3 tax cuts plus Labor’s additional, more generous, tax cuts to lower and middle-income earners”. In fact, the Coalition had made no such decision.

The Australia Institute’s deputy director then quoted The Australia Institute’s executive director – a certain Richard Denniss – to support her criticism of the Coalition. Somewhat inbred don’t you think? Comrade Bennett then praised the Albanese government for the fact that the annual inflation rate is now down to 4.1 per cent – describing it as “fantastic news” and concluded by praising – wait for it – the ABC.  A real Entente indeed.

  • 16 January 2024: Rather than describing a Federal Court decision that increased the possibility of Santos developing its gas project off the Northern Territory coast, Ms Bennett bags the project itself as a “big pollution bomb”. Adding “the project should not be proceeding” and that “this is the last kind of project that Australia or the world needs”. She went on to criticise Donald J. Trump. Sounds like a preacher, eh?
  • 4 January 2024: Comrade Bennett criticises the proposed Stage 3 tax cuts – in the process criticising Labor and the Coalition – both from a left-wing position.

This leftist commentary which identifies as news analysis would be okay if the leftist Australia Institute’s view was balanced every now and then by right-of-centre views. But this does not occur at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster since so many right-of-centre commentators have been de-platformed or cancelled. And so, The Australia Institute/ABC Entente prospers. Can You Bear It?

  • AFR AND ABC OVERESTIMATE IMPORTANCE OF TEALS

Perhaps it is because the media, like other businesses/organisations, have markets.  In any event, in recent times Nine’s Australian Financial Review and the ABC have been giving lotsa attention to the Teal Independents with respect to the taxation debate.

On 29 January in the AFR, Tom McIlroy reported on the response of the Teals to the Albanese government’s amended Stage 3 tax cuts. The heading was “PM rules out deal after teal tax warning”.  Your man interviewed Allegra Spender, Kylea Tink, Zoe Daniel and Monique Ryan.

Then on 30 January, Patricia Karvelas interviewed Zoe Daniel and Kate Chaney about the Stage 3 tax cuts.  The ABC blurb advertised the occasion as follows:

The government’s announced changes to the stage three tax cuts, but the Independent Teal MPs are now calling for the next stage of broader tax reform.  They represent some of the wealthiest communities in the country, so what exactly do they want to see next?

The following day the AFR highlighted the views on tax of Daniel plus Spender, Tink and Monique Ryan.

Their views were frightfully interesting.  But to no effect.  It seems that sections of the media are yet to recognise that the Albanese government has a majority in the House of Representatives and the Teals are not that important.  However, both AFR and RN Breakfast expressed interest in how the Teal Independents would vote on the Stage 3 tax legislation – despite the fact that their votes will count for naught.  Can You Bear It?

  • SMH URGES LETTERS WRITERS TO PRAISE ROSS GITTINS

There was not much news in the Sydney Morning Herald  on Friday 2 February.  Except if a story about a billionaire’s daughter who is upset at golf balls ending up on her property from the Bondi Golf Club nearby is what interests you. For its part, MWD does not give a toss about wayward golf balls landing on an 11-million-dollar property – with water views.  So Ellie’s (male) co-owner turned to the Opinion Pages.

What Hendo noticed first was a mug shot of the somewhat garrulous Ross Gittins, the SMH’s economics editor since Moses was in short pants.  Readers were advised that your man Gittins – who, believe it or not, has an AM plus a Doctor of Letters from somewhere or other – “is celebrating his 50th anniversary with the masthead on February 7”. There followed this announcement:

On February 7, the Herald’s letters pages will be dedicated to a selection of your letters about Ross and his writing. Please send them to the usual email address, with Gittins in the subject line, and help us mark this momentous achievement in style.

Zzzzz.  Can there be anything more boring than the letters pages of a newspaper being solely devoted to praising Saint Ross – who has written much the same column for half a century?  Can You Bear It?


Due to overwhelming popular demand, the Flann O’Brien Gong returns again this week. As avid Media Watch Dog readers will be aware, this occasional segment is inspired by the Irish humorist 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 oral expression or the use of pretentious words – or a combination of all of the above.

  • ABC CHAIR-ELECT KIM WILLIAMS DISCUSSES, YES, “ACRONYMS” & “APHORISMS” ON BREAKFAST RADIO

On 24 January 2024, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced that Kim Williams would become the next chair of the ABC.  Gerard Henderson wrote about this appointment in his Weekend Australian column on 27-28 January.

The day after the announcement was made, Mr Williams was interviewed by an ABC employee on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster. In this instance, Patricia Karvelas on RN Breakfast. The date was 25 January and, at times, your man Williams sounded like he had recently swallowed a copy of Roget’s International Thesaurus.  To explain why – let’s go to the transcript, just after PK (as she likes to be called) said “that’s absolutely right” to her boss:

Patricia Karvelas: Yesterday, I spoke to Jonathan Holmes, our ABC Alumni head, and he raised this issue that diversity and impartiality essentially could be at odds. I have had a lot of strong feedback from people who are really concerned by that comment and say that that they are not at odds. What’s your view on this?

Kim Williams: I think I probably share a, a common view with Jonathan – that this is complex, a complex matter, and something which requires extended discussion, until one arrives at a workable and appropriately informed view. I mentioned in a couple of interviews yesterday that I’ve recently finished, Martin Baron’s excellent book, Collision of Power: Trump, Bezos and The Washington Post. In which he goes into issues of, of diversity and expression and impartiality with great rigour.  With lots of what I might describe as case study style approaches from his working experience as an editor – as one of the great editorial leaders in American history. And I think when you read it, you get a sense of just how complex these requirements are in a modern world – which is infused with so many technologies, which inherently appeal to acronyms, and very, very compacted aphorisms often. Which are highly emotionally charged, in endeavouring to describe matters that are very much more complex than that.

Patricia Karvelas: This is a really key role….

Very clever, don’t you think?  But what does it mean?  And do RN Breakfast  listeners (if listeners there are) really care about the difference between acronyms and aphorisms at Hangover time on a Thursday morning?

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Literary Criticism
By Flann O’Brien
of Ezra Pound

My grasp of what he said and meant
Was only five or six %
The rest was only words and sound —
My reference is to Ezra £

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Inspired by your man O’Brien, this is Ellie’s literary effort for today:

Literary Criticism
By Ellie
of Kim Williams AM

 

My grasp of what he said and meant

Was only four or five per cent

Distinctions stated on a whim

The reference is to your man Kim

 


Media Watch Dog’s Five Paws Award was inaugurated in Issue Number 26 (4 September 2009) during the time of Nancy (2004-2017). The first winner was then ABC TV presenter Emma Alberici.  Ms Alberici scored for remembering the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 23 August 1939 whereby Hitler and Stalin divided Eastern Europe between Germany and the Soviet Union.  And for stating that the Nazi-Soviet Pact had effectively started the Second World War, since it was immediately followed by Germany’s invasion of western Poland (at a time when the Soviet Union had become an ally of Germany). Soon after, the USSR invaded eastern Poland in accordance with the protocols of the Nazi-Soviet Pact.

Over the years, the late Nancy’s Five Paws Award has become one of the world’s most prestigious gongs – rating just below the Nobel Prize and Academy Awards.

  • ABC ALUMNI SUPREMO JONATHAN HOLMES SCORES FOR DRAWING ATTENTION TO THE CONFLICT BETWEEN COMMITMENTS TO BOTH DIVERSITY AND OBJECTIVITY

Jonathan Holmes is a Media Watch Dog fave – sort of.  The former ABC journalist – who presented ABC TV Media Watch program between 2008 to 2013 – is currently heading the somewhat pretentiously titled ABC Alumni association.  Why, then, is your man Holmes something of a MWD fave? – MWD hears avid readers cry.  Well he is the only senior figure in living memory who conceded that the ABC lacks political balance when he wrote this in The Age on 5 April 2016:

It’s … undeniable, as the likes of [Andrew] Bolt and [Gerard] Henderson have complained about for years, that the ABC’s capital radio presenters come across, overwhelmingly, as leaning more to the left than the right. I say undeniably, but senior ABC managers for decades have chosen, if not to deny it, then to ignore it, and they’ve certainly failed to do anything about it.

Comrade Holmes’ 2016 admission flies in the face of the ABC managing director David Anderson’s recent comment that there is no bias at the ABC.

As avid readers know, the taxpayer funded public broadcaster excels in talking about itself – usually by talking to each other.  Here’s another example.

On 24 January ABC Radio National Breakfast presenter Patricia Karvelas interviewed Jonathan Holmes about the ABC’s internal debate as to whether or not it is sufficiently diverse.  Note that when ABC types discuss diversity they never consider political diversity – as befits a conservative free zone. Nevertheless, Holmes had some interesting points to make about the diversity debate at the public broadcaster. Let’s go to the transcript:

Jonathan Holmes: I think they’ve just got to sit down and they’ve got to sort out this diversity thing, they’ve got to find a better way of, of combining these two actually almost conflicting notions of objectivity and diversity.

Patricia Karvelas: Are they conflicting? Why do you think they conflict?

Jonathan Holmes: Well, I mean, they, yes, I think they [objectivity and diversity] can be in conflict. Because I think what quite a lot of people now want, young journalists in particular. I heard Sarah Ferguson talking about this at the Adelaide Festival a year ago, that young journalists think that the notion of objectivity is suspect. That what they’re there to do is to tell the truth, from the perspective that they’re coming from. Especially if they come from, you know, if they’re gay, or if they’re from a non- Anglo background, or whatever, or Aboriginal. They, they’re there because they need to tell, as it were, their truth. Now, that can sometimes cause real difficulties. And it needs to be flushed out. And it’s not it’s not going to be easy. But at the same time, I don’t think you should abandon the idea that we need more diverse voices and that people on screen or on your audio reflect this extraordinarily multicultural society that we live in.

What Holmes is saying, albeit somewhat inarticulately, is that many ABC journalists want to “tell their truth” rather than report events.  Meaning that they want to “learn” their audiences and readers.  And that this commitment to diversity with respect to gender and/or race leads to a situation where, to them, “the notion of objectivity is suspect”.  In short, they are committed to activism and not journalism – activism of a leftist genre.

Jonathan Holmes: Five Paws.


  • WHILE INSIDERS SLEPT – OR HOW THE ABC’S LEADING CURRENT AFFAIRS FORUM MISSED THE BIG POLITICAL STORY OF 2024

MWD switched on ABC TV at 9 am on Sunday 28 January only to find that Insiders (executive producer Samuel Clark, presenter David Speers) was still on its six-week-long WEB (aka Well Earned Break).

Yet the week commencing 21 January 2024 will probably be one of the biggest news weeks of the year.  After all, it saw the Albanese Labor government break an unequivocal election commitment to introduce the Stage 3 tax cuts, which had been legislated by the Morrison Coalition government. Apart from the Stage 3 tax decision, the Israel-Hamas war was very much in the news last Sunday as were the continuing consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in early 2022. However, all the while Insiders slept.

Come to think of it, this is not the first occasion when Insiders has missed news – in spite of the fact that the program is presented as the ABC’s leading current affairs forum.  Insiders  is filmed in Canberra (where David Speers resides) and focuses oh-so-much on Australian national politics – to wit, the Canberra Bubble.

Take Hamas’ invasion of Israel on 7 October 2023 – which is likely to be one of the major events of the 21st Century for example.   This is how Insiders missed the lead – illustrated by a timeline.

Saturday 7 October 2023 Timeline

    • At 6.30 am Saturday 7 October in Israel, the sounds of rockets and sirens were heard from a music festival in Israel near the Israel/Gaza border. At the same time, Israel was attacked by sea – north of Gaza [3.30 pm Canberra time, Saturday 7 October].
    • By 7 am Israel time, Hamas terrorists reached the festival [ 4.00 pm, Canberra time].
    • At 8.30 am Israel time, two hours after the attacks began, the Minister of Defence of Israel, Yoav Gallant, addressed the nation. [5.30 pm Canberra time]
    • At 10.46 am Saturday 7 October, Israel announced it would start to strike targets in Gaza. [7.46 pm Canberra time, Saturday 7 October.]

Hamas’ invasion of Israel was being reported in the Australian media by around 5 pm on Saturday 7 October (AEDT) –  some 16 hours before Insiders  went to air.

And what about Insiders?  The truth is that comrades Clark and Speers were asleep on the job on Sunday 8 October in Canberra.  Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was the program guest and the panel comprised Dan Bourchier (ABC), Katharine Murphy (The Guardian Australia) and Peter van Onselen (formerly of Network Ten, currently a columnist with The Australian).

At 9 am Canberra Time on Sunday 8 October it was evident that the Hamas attack on Israel was a huge international story. Except to David Speers and Samuel Clark.  This duo believed that the big story of the day was the forthcoming referendum (on 14 October) concerning the placing in the Constitution of an Indigenous Voice to Parliament and the executive.

When introducing the news of the morning on Sunday 8 October, Speers made a brief mention of the Hamas/Israel conflict.  Then it was the panel’s turn.  Speersy (as he likes to be called) directed all the discussion to The Voice.  Then the Prime Minister was interviewed.  Again, the overwhelming focus was The Voice.  Of the eight and a half page official transcript, six-and-a-half pages cover Speers’ questions and the PM’s replies on The Voice.  Israel got two-thirds of a page as did Ukraine. Donald J. Trump got half a page.

Comrades Clark and Speers seemed not to appreciate that The Voice had been discussed for much of the year and there was nothing fresh to say by “Yes” or “No” advocates. It was boring television.

Then the panel discussion commenced.  Once again, discussion focused on The Voice.  Speers threw one question on Israel to PvO.  He had only spoken for a minute when Speers said “We’ve got to move on.”  Which meant that neither Bourchier nor Murphy said anything.

Talk about missing the lead. Insiders = Zzzzzzzz.


HISTORY CORNER

  • THE ABC NEMESIS PROGRAM ON THE ABBOTT, TURNBULL AND MORRISON GOVERNMENTS PROVES ABBOTT WAS RIGHT IN AVOIDING AN 8-HOUR INTERVIEW – EVEN CRIKEY’S BERNARD KEANE AGREES

There is an old adage that if you ask a silly question, you’re sure to get a silly answer. And so it came to pass on 23 January 2024 when Phillip Adams AO, AM, Hon DUniv (Griffith), Hon DLitt (ECU), Hon DUniv (SA), DLitt [sic] (Syd), Hon. DUniv (Macquarie), FRSA, Hon FAHA put out a post:

Media Watch Dog is not sure about the relationship between Australia’s 25th prime minister and the ABC’s Man-in-Black. However, any avid MWD reader would know that Hendo gets invited on to Phillip (“Have I ever told you I was a teenage commie”) Adams’ little wireless program Late Night Live every quarter of a century. Hendo appeared in 1990 and again in 2015. Next stop 2040 – God or Gaia willing.

In any event, it was Crikey’s political editor Bernard Keane who kicked off the political commentary slot for the year when he appeared on Late Night Live on Monday 29 January.  Comrade Adams asked Comrade Keane about the ABC TV Nemesis series on the prime ministerships of Liberal Party leaders Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison which had commenced earlier that very night.  The interviewer/reporter is Mark Willacy. The executive producer is Morag Ramsay.

A big cheerleader for the program is Mike (“I used to pour the Gin”) Carlton who presents these days as the best-undressed bloke on Sydney’s Whale Beach.  See MWD passim ad nauseam.

It is not clear why Comrade Ramsay and her team at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster elected to film all interviewees in very large rooms which are dimly lit.  This style of setting was not used with the ABC TV’s documentary The Killing Season on the Labor governments headed by Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard. Could it be that Ms Ramsay and her comrades believe that Liberal Party types are a health risk?

MWD will return to Nemesis in later issues.  So far, the highlight of the series is the revelation that Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison each spoke to Mark Willacy for eight hours over two days. Tony Abbott, on the other hand, decided not to front up.  It was a wise decision.  There are better ways to spend a third of a day than talking to the ABC – which is not a friend of the Liberal Party.  Moreover, Abbott has already spoken and written about his time as prime minister.

Comrade Keane and the Crikey soviet are also not friends with Australia’s 28th Prime Minister. However, Keane did agree with Abbott on this one – telling readers:

Bernard Keane:  He [Tony Abbott] he’s sitting this one out, he’s declined to participate in this particular process. The ABC says he’s the first prime minister not to engage in this sort of retrospective analysis. I can’t say I blame him. I don’t think…with some of the quotes from his own colleagues being uttered in the course of the program. I’m not sure that anything he said was going to provide any sort of glow, where any darkness pervaded the account of other people.

Quite so.  Not surprisingly, Crikey’s  political editor fanged Scott Morrison and his government, describing the latter as “the most corrupt government at the Federal level in Australian history”.  He provided no evidence to support this assertion.  And Keane declared that Abbott and Morrison did not “have the competence to actually govern successfully”.  He made a similar assessment of any future government led by Peter Dutton.

Has anyone worked out who’s missing here? Yep, you’ve guessed it.  One Malcolm Bligh Turnbull. What Keane neglected to point out is that, after replacing Abbott in a successful party room challenge in August 2015, Turnbull lost 14 seats in the 2016 election and nearly conceded government to Labor when the Coalition had been in office for only one term.

Your man Keane – like many members of the Canberra Press Gallery – seems to hold the view that it’s okay for the Liberal Party to hold office from time to time. Provided it is led by a left-of-centre type like Malcolm Turnbull.  This overlooks the fact that a Liberal like Turnbull has never led the Coalition to victory from Opposition – this was done by the political conservatives Robert Menzies in 1949, Malcolm Fraser (he was conservative in 1975), John Howard in 1996 and Tony Abbott in 2013.


Nine’s Shane Wright has risen without trace (as the late Kitty Muggeridge once said about the late David Frost) to become the senior economics correspondent for The Age and Sydney Morning Herald – not having published anything of note apart from newspaper articles and columns plus the occasional essay. Even so, you would expect a person in such an elevated position to know about the international energy market.

It’s only a few years since your man Wright ridiculed anyone who said that coal had any future as a part of energy supply – even in such markets as India, China and Indonesia. He declared on ABC TV Insiders on June 11, 2017 that “coal is like candlesticks” and compared those who said that there is still a demand for Australian coal exports with members of the Candle Makers Union circa 1870 who (allegedly) argued the case for candles over electricity. Now read on.

  • COAL-FREE STEEL COMING NO TIME SOON

News came down the wire on 31 January that the federal government is contributing $137 million towards a $1.15 billion upgrade to the blast furnace at Port Kembla Steelworks. The upgrade will be ready by 2026 and will allow Port Kembla to continue using metallurgical coal and iron ore to make steel for another 20 years after that.

So, coal will continue to play a key role in Australian steel manufacturing through at least 2046. At some point so-called “green steel” may replace the need for coal in the making of steel. But for the next couple of decades (at least) it seems coal will resist Shane Wright’s candlestick prediction.

[Thanks for that. I notice that you avoided making the hard point that Mr Bowen did not take Comrade Wright’s advice and fire up the Port Kembla furnace with candle sticks. – MWD Editor].

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Until Next Time

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