GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG

ISSUE – NO. 679

3 May 2024

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  • ABC’s LEFTIST ANTI-ISRAEL FAVE ANTONY LOEWENSTEIN SET TO GIVE NARCISSISM A BAD NAME ON HIS FORTHCOMING COMPASS PROGRAM

There are around 100,000 Jewish Australians.  But the ABC TV program Compass on Sunday 5 May has decided to run the views of just one about the Israel-Hamas war.  Namely, those of Antony Loewenstein – an implacable opponent of the Jewish state.

This is how Compass – executive producer Amanda Collinge – describes the forthcoming program titled “Not in My Name”.

Antony Loewenstein is a Jewish journalist and author acclaimed around the world for his criticism of Israel. But it has made him a pariah in much of the Jewish community in Australia, where he’s been branded a traitor and self-hating Jew. Even his family has been shunned and threatened by people who were once close friends. It’s a story that will resonate with young Australian Jews, many of whom, like Antony, are starting to question the narratives about Israel they’ve grown up with.

It seems that Comrade Collinge (who was formerly a series producer for the failing ABC TV Q+A program) is heavily into both hyperbole and prophecy.  Is Comrade Loewenstein really acclaimed “around the world”?   Moreover, how does she know that the program “will resonate with young Australian Jews”?

The left-wing activist Loewenstein is not only highly critical of Israel under any government. He is also high on self-regard.  The clip from the program released by the ABC has Loewenstein saying this:

Antony Loewenstein: Seeing what has happened to Gaza since October 7, has been heartbreaking, I’m so ashamed. I’m so ashamed because it’s been done in my name.  And I think it’s important that Jews or non-Jews are really challenged on what they’re backing.

So, Antony Loewenstein maintains that Israel is retaliating against Hamas’ brutal terrorist invasion of 7 October 2023 – where children were murdered, women raped and elderly hostages taken – in his name. Really.  This runs the risk of giving narcissism a bad name. Just imagine current Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu advising his cabinet – “We are going to attack Hamas in Gaza in the name of a bloke called Loewenstein in Australia.”

Not In My Name seems destined to be the history of Israel and the history of the Loewenstein family – as told by Antony Loewenstein. With no other view heard.  Brought to viewers by the taxpayer funded public broadcaster which happens to be a conservative free zone.

  • GAVIN SILBERT KC CRITICISES THE VICTORIAN LEGAL SYSTEM’S HANDLING OF THE LATE CARDINAL GEORGE PELL’S CASE

Gavin Silbert KC is one of Australia’s most distinguished lawyers specialising in criminal, administrative and commercial law.  He was the Chief Crown Prosecutor in Victoria from 2008 to 2015.

The following discussion took place at the end of an interview with Peta Credlin on Sky News’ Credlin on Thursday 2 May:

Peta Credlin: Is there something crook with justice in Victoria?

Gavin Silbert KC: Yes, there is.

Peta Credlin: What needs to happen?

Gavin Silbert KC: Well, there probably should be some sort of independent inquiry into the things. Because there’s a litany of failures, perhaps commencing with [Cardinal George] Pell, but then going from Pell through to the McMurdo Royal Commission. Then we’ve got the recent Justice Lasry episode with the judicial commission. There’s certainly things wrong that need to be looked at.

Peta Credlin: And we saw when he departed IBAC some very strong comments from the former IBAC Commissioner about politicisation and involvement.

Gavin Silbert KC: Absolutely.

Peta Credlin: I mean, Queensland cleaned up its act –

Gavin Silbert KC: Yes.

Peta Credlin: With its Fitzgerald Royal Commission.

Gavin Silbert KC: Yes.

Peta Credlin: Are we at that stage here in Victoria?

Gavin Silbert KC: We may well be. Or very close to it.

Peta Credlin: Well, you’re an eminent person to have made that comment. Thank you Gavin Silbert.

Gavin Silbert KC: It’s a pleasure.

So, there you have it.  Gavin Silbert KC believes that the Victorian legal system’s handling of the Pell Case is an example of what is crook about justice in Victoria.  But the ABC, which led the media pile-on against George Pell, still censors works by Frank Brennan and Gerard Henderson who have a similar view to Mr Silbert on the Pell Case.


  • MEDIA TRAINER STEVE CAREY SEES IMPORTANT NEWS IN THE BEARDS OF TASMANIAN BLOKES BUT NOT IN POSSIBLE POWER BLACKOUTS

Former journalist Steve Carey – who presents as a media trainer – is a Media Watch Dog fave.  The Melbourne-based Carey frequently does the “Newspapers” segment on ABC TV’s News Breakfast program on Monday morning.

It was Hangover Time on Monday 29 April – after what seemed to be a long weekend for anyone who, er, worked from home the previous Friday – when your man Carey reported on the news of the day.  As Ellie’s (male) co-owner recalls, Comrade Carey’s chosen topics were (i) the violence against women rallies [Fair enough. – MWD Editor.], (ii) discipline in schools, (iii) aged drivers and (iv) whether workers for Water Tasmania should be able to have beards.

Worthy topics, to be sure.  But the media trainer missed the lead – as the saying goes. The front page of The Australian that very day covered a report by the left-of-centre think tank the Grattan Institute titled Keeping The Lights On.

According to the Grattan Institute’s comrades, Australia’s push for zero emissions is ad hoc and uncoordinated. Jess Malcolm reported that the Grattan team has called for significant reforms to the national electricity market to avoid blackouts in the post-coal era.

So, there you have it.  Given the opportunity to discuss either the prospect of blackouts or blokes with beards at Water Tasmania –  Steve Carey went for the latter.  Can You Bear It?

  • AFR COLUMNIST LA TINGLE SUGGESTS THAT COALITION, RATHER THAN LABOR, POLITICIANS ARE INTO EXAGGERATIONS

It’s not so long since Laura Tingle, ABC TV’s chief political correspondent who is also a columnist for the Australian Financial Review’s Saturday edition, accused Scott Morrison’s Coalition government of “ideological bastardry”.

Sure, it was a late night tweet which was soon removed. However, Media Watch Dog is a follower of the modern version of the saying “you will know them by their fruit” (Matthew 7:16). Which, in modern parlance, translates to “You will know them by their late night posts”.

But MWD digresses.  This is how La Tingle led off her AFR column on 27 April 2024:

It has become a standard, if unfortunate, part of Australian politics in recent years for politicians to pick up and run with some incident to crystallise public sentiment on an issue and let the media debate rage on it. Think African gangs, needles in strawberries, Woolworths not selling enough Australia Day merchandise. You might notice that these have tended to be the preserve of the Coalition side of politics more than the Labor side.

What a load of one-sided tosh.  The fact is that both sides of mainstream politics use controversies to win votes. As do the Greens, Independents (including the Teals), One Nation and so on. However, to the AFR’s weekly columnist, running with incidents to crystalise public sentiment is more the preserve of “the Coalition side of politics than the Labor side”.  Really?

It would seem that Comrade Tingle has forgotten that in Labor’s successful 2007 election campaign its leader Kevin Rudd said that, if re-elected, prime minister John Howard would preside over the installation of a nuclear power station in everyone’s backyard. And then, in the 2016 campaign, Labor alleged – without evidence – that a re-elected Coalition government (under Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership) would abolish Medicare.

It would seem that, to borrow George Orwell’s phrase, Labor’s indiscretions with respect to campaign hyperbole have gone down the Comrade Tingle memory hole.  Can You Bear It?

[No. Not really – now that you ask.  By the way, I do not recall that the Coalition ever campaigned on “needles in strawberries”.  Could the AFR star Saturday columnist have written this, er, late at night? – MWD  Editor.]

  • PK CHANNELS KEVIN RUDD WITH A “WHO WANTS A NUCLEAR POWER PLANT IN YOUR BACKYARD?” THREAT

While on the topic of whether nuclear power should become a significant part of Australia’s energy mix, did anyone watch ABC TV’s Q+A on Monday 29 April?  The program with presenter Patricia (“Please call me PK”) Karvelas returned after what journalists like to call a WEB – i.e. a Well Earned Break.

Towards the end of the program, PK called for a prepared question from a certain audience member which was hostile to Australia moving to nuclear power.  Let’s go to the transcript where Comrade Karvelas contested the view of Bridget McKenzie, the Nationals’ Senate leader, on this issue:

Bridget McKenzie: … we are kidding ourselves if we don’t think our country, with an AUKUS alliance, is not going to be a nuclear – have nuclear over coming decades. That is going to be a reality. We think it should be part of the mix to 2050, absolutely. Because renewables aren’t going to be able to deliver it all.

Patricia Karvelas: Who’s going to have it in their backyard?…

When Kevin Rudd suggested that Australia moving to nuclear energy would result in a nuclear power station in every backyard – that was political hyperbole.  If PK wants to run such lines she should join, say, the Greens.  By the way, Comrade Karvelas has never asked this question: “Who wants to have a wind turbine in their backyard?” Which raises another question. Here it is: Can You Bear It?

  • NINE NEWSPAPERS QUERIES THE ECONOMIC VIABILITY OF EVs WHILE NINE’S “DRIVE” SUPPLEMENT SENDS A DIFFERENT MESSAGE

While on the topic of renewable energy – MWD reports an unfortunate coincidence.

On 27 April, Nine newspapers – The Age and Sydney Morning Herald – ran an article by Sumeyya Ilanbey titled “EV charging network loses its vital spark”.

The article focused on the collapse of the Tritium company in Brisbane.  The company was said to be the second largest producer of electric vehicle charging equipment outside of China. As Ilanbey put it:

The collapse of Tritium as a business model will be raked over, but the real question for the rest of us transitioning to a low carbon economy is: how do we grow this critical industry in a nation where EV uptake had for far too long been too low, and what are the lessons from the once titan house of fast-charger manufacturing?….  There are now more than 180,000 EVs on Australian roads, a figure that has doubled since 2022, but represents less than 1 per cent of the total passenger vehicle fleet.

So, according to Sumeyya Ilanbey, it appears that – in the short to medium term at least – the future of EVs in Australia looks bleak. Even the Grattan Institute’s Tony Wood told Nine that he did not know how we are going to fill the gap in recharging facilities in Australia now the Tritium’s Brisbane factory has closed down.

But wait. Just a few pages later Nine Newspapers ran a 12 page “Drive” lift out supplement headed “Step into your future: Developing electric vehicles from the ground up”.  It contained lots of advertisements plugging electric vehicles.

So, according to Nine’s newspapers, EVs in Australia are facing a difficult future.  But, according to the Nine’s EV advertising-laden “Drive” supplement, it is a matter of “EVs are the future’.  Can You Bear It?

[Interesting.  Perhaps you should read Ben Marlow’s article titled “The West’s electric car giants now risk destroying themselves” published in The Telegraph in London on 23 April.  He points out that in Europe the supply of EVs greatly exceeds demand. He lists the obstacles facing vehicles as “range anxiety, lack of charging plants, insurance costs, fears over reliability, repair bills, concern about convenient qualified technician numbers, limited selection and, of course, affordability”.

Which reminds me that, it’s almost half a century since the then Minister for Environment in the Fraser government drove an electric vehicle around Parliament House to considerable excitement. This may, or may not, interest you. – MWD Editor.]


  • FRAN (“I’M AN ACTIVIST”) KELLY PRESENTS A ONE-SIDED FAVOURABLE VIEW OF THE COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY ANTI-ISRAEL PROTESTORS

When Media Watch Dog fave Geraldine Doogue presented ABC Radio National’s Saturday Extra, it had some political diversity at times. This does not look like the case now that Ms Doogue has been moved sideways and to another (shorter) program and Saturday Extra has been extended with Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly as presenter. This was discussed in the previous MWD issue where it was pointed out that a segment on social cohesion in Australia contained one Muslim panellist – but no Jewish panellist. And the three panellists essentially agreed with each other on essentially everything.

On 27 April, Fran Kelly presented a segment titled “What’s behind the US college protest over the Israel-Gaza War?”  This is how it was described:

As pro-Palestinian protests continue to grow at campuses across the United States, university leaders are doling out more heavy-handed discipline against protesting students. That’s leading to claims that the demonstrations are being weaponised by conservatives to help advance their agendas against elite, liberal universities.

How about that?  According to Saturday Extra, the BIG STORY from the US campus protests against Israel is that the pro-Palestinian demonstrators are being weaponised by conservatives.  So, did Comrade Kelly and her producer Linda LoPresti set out to have a considered discussion with different viewpoints presented?  Not on your nelly. There was just one guest invited to discuss the issue. Namely, Premilla Nadasen, History Professor, Barnard College, Columbia University New York.

Professor Nadasen ran a line that was essentially supportive of the pro-Palestinian demonstrators and went close to denying that the protestors were in any sense violent or anti-semitic.  When pushed by Comrade Kelly to clarify her position, the professor threw the switch to moral equivalence with this remark:

I also want to say that there are instances of anti-semitism at Columbia University, for sure. As there are instances of Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism. And I think the university has a responsibility to take all of that seriously to investigate those complaints. That is the job of the university. So, I unequivocally believe that the university needs to create a safe space for all students. But what I am saying is that this protest is not generating anti-semitism….

What nonsense.  However, on account of the fact that Professor Nadasen was the sole guest, her view was not contested by, say, a Jewish and/or pro-Israel American academic or student. By the way, Professor Nadasen provided no evidence of Islamophobia or anti-Arab racism on the Columbia University campus.  And Fran Kelly did not challenge her on this.

What Saturday Extra needs is some political –  or viewpoint – diversity.  But don’t hold your breath – as the saying goes.


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 11 June 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.

  • THE GRATTAN INSTITUTE ISSUES A WARNING ABOUT ENERGY RELIABILITY WHILE THE NSW GOVERNMENT LOOKS TO EXTEND COAL-FIRED POWER INTO THE FUTURE

Comrade Shane of candlestick fame popped up once again on the 28 April 2024 edition of Insiders. The topic of coal was not broached on the program and Mr Wright did not update the Insiders audience on his “coal is like candlesticks” prediction.

Sunday 28 April also saw the release of a new energy report from the left-leaning Grattan Institute. A report from Grattan is often greeted with great interest from members of the ABC/Guardian Axis, but this latest example seems to have drawn only limited attention on most media outlets. Perhaps this is because the report provides a largely negative assessment of the current state of Australia’s transition to renewable energy.

According to Grattan, “a reliability problem is emerging” in the power grid. Since 2017, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has been issuing more lack of reserve notices. These notices indicate a period when demand for electricity is close to outstripping supply. As the Grattan report warns:

If reliability declines during a period of coal closures and greater renewable generation, it is likely that popular support for the transition to a low-emissions economy will wane, putting at risk political will to continue the process.

You don’t say.

On 30 April, it was widely reported that the NSW government is still likely to announce an extension of the Eraring Coal Plant near Newcastle, which is currently set to close in August 2025. Under the yet to be announced deal, Eraring, which is operated by Origin Energy, is going to be extended until 2027, with the option to further extend it out to 2029.

Given the delays in the rollout of the renewables-based energy grid and the need to shore up energy reliability, it seems likely that coal-fired power is not going to go the way of candle-fired lighting anytime soon.

[I note Shane Wright’s latest Insiders appearance included a pretentious reference to “Ricardian comparative advantage” during his criticism of Productivity Commission chair Danielle Wood. No doubt the ever-pleased-with-himself Mr Wright took great pleasure in dropping a reference to economic theory that did nothing to inform the audience but makes him sound knowledgeable. As avid readers will be aware, David Ricardo (1772-1823) was a British economist and politician known for, among other things, his theories concerning international trade.

Also, what was your man Wright doing on Insiders with, what seemed like, a pen stuck behind his right ear? Or could it have been a candle? – MWD Editor]

 


HISTORY CORNER

  • 15 YEARS AFTER PUBLICATION AND TWO NEW EDITIONS, THE FACTUAL HOWLERS IN MUP’s MALCOLM FRASER: THE POLITICAL MEMOIRS REMAIN UNCORRECTED

 

  • Publisher Louise Adler Goes to Melbourne University’s MUP

Once upon a time, Melbourne University Publishing (nee Melbourne University Press) had a well-earned reputation for publishing scholarly works in the field of Australian history and politics.  Understandably, from time to time, it made errors.  But its general standard was high.

And then in 2003, along came the leftist Louise Adler as MUP’s chief executive officer.  On her watch, MUP commenced publishing such books as the autobiography I, Mick Gatto (MUP, 2009) written with journalist Tom Noble, and Louise Milligan’s Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell (MUP, 2016) – along with, to be fair, a number of important and scholarly works.

As avid Media Watch Dog readers know, your man Gatto has been described as a “colourful Melbourne identity”. Moreover, he is a former heavyweight boxer whom MUP described as an “underworld veteran”. Say no more, as the saying goes.  For the record, even before I, Mick Gatto was published, Gerard Henderson was of the opinion that reviews of Mick’s tome would be favourable.  He was not wrong.  After all, who was going to fang an autobiography of an underworld veteran?

As to Louise Milligan’s Cardinal – it was a best-seller of poor intellectual quality. For example – as documented by Gerard Henderson in his book Cardinal Pell, The Media Pile-On & Collective Guilt – Louise Milligan refused to answer queries about the scholarship in her book – including such questions as to the legitimacy of anonymous sources and the use of direct quotations for hearsay accounts of conversations that had allegedly occurred decades earlier and more besides.

  • The Top Ten Howlers in MUP’s Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs by Margaret Simons and Malcolm Fraser

But MWD digresses.  How about what passes for scholarship in MUP’s Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs (2015) which, believe it or not, is jointly written by former Liberal Party prime minister Malcolm Fraser and Margaret Simons – the former is referred to in the third person while the latter is not. Dr Simons is the director of the Centre for Advancing Journalism at the University of Melbourne. By the time this memoir was published, Mr Fraser had distanced himself from the Liberal Party and embraced a number of left-wing causes.

Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs has gone through a number of editions. It was first published in 2010 and re-printed the same year.  A paperback edition was published in 2010. Mr Fraser died in March 2015 and a new edition was published later that year with a postscript by Margaret Simons.  It was described by MUP as an updated commemorative edition.  The book is now out of print but can be purchased as a print-to-order edition.  MWD purchased a copy of the print-to-order edition of Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs in late February 2024.

So, what has changed between the first edition of Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs in 2010 and the current edition in 2024 – 14 years later? MWD hears avid readers cry.  And the answer is – not much at all.  Why, even the factual howlers remain in situ.

Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs is literally littered with errors.  They are documented in full by Gerard Henderson in The Sydney Institute Quarterly Issue 37 July 2010 and in Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch Dog blog on 8 February 2013.  Copies of The Sydney Institute Quarterly article were sent to Malcolm Fraser, Margaret Simons and MUP in 2010. Neither Mr Fraser nor MUP contested any of the claims.  And Dr Simons (for a doctor she is) refused to answer questions about the content of the book she co-authored.

Here is MWD’s Top Ten Howlers in Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs – in page order:

  • Page 57. The authors claim it was Britain in the early 1950s “that inspired George Orwell’s 1984 – a place where government control was total”. In fact, 1984 was Orwell’s chilling assessment of the communist totalitarian systems prevalent in the Soviet Union and parts of Eastern Europe when the book was published in 1948.
  • Page 134. The authors claim that, when Malcolm Fraser became Minister for the Army in January 1966, the key decisions about Australia’s involvement in Vietnam had already been made. They write: “Prime Minister Holt had announced the dispatch of Australian troops to South Vietnam”. In fact, the decision to commit Australian combat forces to Vietnam was announced by Prime Minister Robert Menzies (not Harold Holt) on 29 April 1965. Menzies had previously announced his government’s decision to introduce conscription for overseas service on 10 November 1964. Holt did not become prime minister until 26 January 1966.
  • Page 174. The authors claim that: “Before the Labor Party Split, it had been the left of politics, with its strong Catholic base, that had favoured state aid for non-government schools”. This is hopelessly wrong. In fact, up until the 1960s, both the Labor and Liberal parties opposed state aid for non-government schools – but Labor’s opposition was vehement. The Liberal Party, at the Federal level, embraced the principle of state aid in the lead up to the 1963 election. Labor did not support state aid until some years later. The Coalition’s support for state aid played an important part in the fact that the Menzies Government won seats from Labor at the 1963 election and Labor won no seats in Victoria – the bastion of the socialist left’s opposition to State aid.
  • Page 329. The authors claim that, on coming to office in late 1975, Malcolm Fraser gave positions in the outer ministry to “two talented men who had come into parliament in the 1974 election: John Howard was Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs and Ian Macphee was Minister for Productivity”. In fact, Macphee was excluded from the first Fraser Ministry. He was not appointed a minister until 8 November 1976.
  • Page 329. The authors claim that Don Chipp “was also left out of the ministry following the 1977 election” and that “he resigned from the Liberal Party shortly afterwards”. In fact, Chipp resigned from the Liberal Party in March 1977, formed the Australian Democrats in May 1977 and was elected to the Senate as a Democrat in the December 1977 election.
  • Page 524. The authors claim that “this book is the first time that Fraser has defended his government’s record on financial deregulation”. In fact, this was one of Fraser’s constant themes from the late 1980s. Philip Ayers’ Malcolm Fraser: A Biography, published in 1987, contains a full defence of Fraser’s record in this area as stated by Fraser. There are many other instances.
  • Page 557. The authors claim that Malcolm Fraser “has always believed that Australia can, and should, support bigger populations”. This claim is made on several occasions in the book. In fact, Fraser disagreed with the high immigration levels during the early period of the Menzies Government – when Harold Holt was immigration minister. Fraser has commented that, when a backbench MP, he “argued with Harold Holt on immigration”. (See Gerard Henderson, Menzies’ Child, The Liberal Party of Australia, HarperCollins, 1998 edition, pp 231-232).
  • Page 593. The authors claim that Phillip Lynch’s decision not to return as treasurer after the 1977 election “led to John Howard’s promotion to that position”. In fact, Fraser made Howard treasurer before the 1977 election – following his decision to remove Lynch from that position. Howard became treasurer on 19 November 1977, the election was held on 10 December 1977 and Lynch was appointed Minister for Industry and Commerce on 20 December 1977.
  • Page 629. The authors claim that by 1990 Bob Hawke “had now won four elections – the same number as Fraser”. In fact, only three Australian prime ministers have won four or more elections – and Fraser is not one of them. Of all people, Mr Fraser should have known this. Robert Menzies won on eight occasions (including 1940) and Bob Hawke and John Howard won four elections each. Fraser won three elections – in 1975, 1977 and 1980. Two other prime ministers have equalled Fraser’s record of winning three elections – namely, Billy Hughes and Joseph Lyons (who died in office).
  • Page 722. The authors claim that John Howard “was a contender” for the Liberal Party leadership following John Hewson’s decision to call for a vote of confidence in his own leadership in May 1994. This comment is repeated at Page 724. In fact, Howard did not contest this ballot. The contenders were John Hewson and Alexander Downer – and Downer won.

Not one of these ten howlers has been corrected in MUP’s current 2024 edition of Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs.

There has been one correction. In the 2010 edition, at Page 337, the authors claimed that the Fraser Government “retained Medibank as a universal taxpayer-funded means of health insurance”. In fact, Medibank was gradually watered down by the Fraser Government until it completely disappeared in 1981. See R.B. Scotton and C.R. Macdonald, The Making of Medibank, (School of Health Management, University of New South Wales, 1993) and Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch Dog (Issue 55).

This howler has been corrected and now reads:

Yet the government’s economic record cannot be judged solely on its success in reducing expenditure.  Fraser wanted balance.  He had always argued for government activism in pursuing social reform.  He at first retained Medibank as a universal taxpayer-funded means of health insurance, before later dismantling it.

As late as 4 May 2010 Fraser said on the ABC TV program Q+A that he retained Medibank.  Not so.

  • Malcolm Fraser’s Clear “Recollection” of an Event that Never Happened – In Which Fraser (Allegedly) Saved NATO

The only new material in Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs can be found at Pages 482-483 which contains Fraser’s assertion that his intervention with the (then) United States Vice-President George H.W. Bush was instrumental in the US’s decision to support Britain against Argentina in the Falklands War in 1982. And that this, in turn, preserved the NATO Alliance. The line is that, without Fraser, Margaret Thatcher would have taken Britain out of NATO circa 1982.

George H.W. Bush visited Australia (as US vice-president) in late April 1982. According to the authors, at a meeting at The Lodge before dinner, Fraser convinced Bush that the US should support Britain against Argentina in the Falklands War. It was known at the time that Jeanne Kirkpatrick, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, was sympathetic to Argentina. The line in Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs is that, before his conversation with Fraser, Bush had not thought through the implications for the US-Britain relationship, and for NATO, if the US abandoned Britain over the Falklands. On hearing Fraser’s advice, the following events took place – according to Fraser’s recollection as reported in Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs :

Bush looked at his watch. He said, “Malcolm, I think that I am going to have to disrupt your dinner party. The National Security Council is sitting down to examine this matter in three minutes’ time; I think that I better key myself into the discussion. Have you got a telephone?” Fraser showed him to the office. Bush made his phone call and emerged about an hour and a half later, giving Fraser the thumbs up. Fraser asked him what would have happened if he hadn’t made the call. “Kirkpatrick would have won the argument in ten minutes,” he said.

By the way, Fraser told journalist Mark Colvin that his conversation with Bush concluded at 7 pm on 30 April – that is 5 am in Washington. This is an instance where Malcolm Fraser had a clear “recollection” of an event that never happened.

The official documents contained in the Ronald Reagan Library reveal that the United States National Security Council met at 9.30 am Washington time – or 11.30 pm Canberra time – on 30 April 1982. This demolishes the Fraser/Simons theory.

In any event, the minutes make no reference to any phone call into the meeting by Vice-President Bush. The minutes also indicate strong support for the British position on the Falklands not only from President Ronald Reagan himself but also from such senior Reagan administration officials as Alexander Haig and Caspar Weinberger. In other words, Messrs Reagan, Haig and Weinberger did not need the advice of Malcolm Fraser via Vice-President Bush to be convinced of the need to support Britain in the Falklands.

  • In the Post Louise Adler Period, MUP Declines to Correct Errors in the Taxpayer Subsidised Malcolm Fraser Memoir

In time, Margaret Simons publicly conceded the error about Fraser’s alleged four election victories.  But it remains in the 2024 edition of the book she co-wrote with Malcolm Fraser – along with all the other errors except for the Medibank correction.  Dr Simons also conceded that there were five errors in the book and claimed that Gerard Henderson had missed one of the errors.  However, she refused to state what the errors were.  Consequently, it was impossible to check her claim.

MUP’s behaviour in this instance is unprofessional – and not merely with respect to academic standards.  After all, a lot of taxpayers’ money was involved in the project.  During the period of writing, Malcolm Fraser worked out of his taxpayer funded Melbourne office on a most generous taxpayer funded superannuation scheme.  And the project, including Margaret Simons’ research and co-writing, was funded by the Australian government via the Australian Council for the Arts. Then the book won the $50,000 NSW Premier’s Book Award which is funded by the NSW government.

Writing in the Australian Financial Review on 31 January 2019, Robert Bolton reported that, on Louise Adler’s watch, MUP was costing the University of Melbourne $1.25 million a year to operate and had run deficits for over 15 years. Melbourne University is subsidised by the Commonwealth government.

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Conclusion

Malcom Fraser was one of Australia’s important prime ministers.  Readers of his political memoir are entitled to expect that it has been fact-checked by a significant publisher like MUP.  Also, Margaret Simons teaches journalism at Melbourne University – readers are also entitled to expect that she would fact-check her work before publication.  Sure, everyone makes errors.  But it would be expected that so senior an academic would ensure that any errors are acknowledged and corrected. As it stands, the current edition of MUP’s Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs contains both errors and misleading recollections of a former Australian prime minister meeting with a former Vice-president.

 

 

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Until Next Time

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