GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG

ISSUE – NO. 687

28 June 2024

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● SARAH FERGUSON’S SOFT INTERVIEW WITH JENNIFER ROBINSON – JULIAN ASSANGE’S LAWYER

Here’s hoping we’ve passed Peak Assange.  In recent days, the ABC’s coverage has been wall-to-wall  Julian Assange.  For example, between the morning of 25 June and midday 27 June, the ABC News YouTube page carried 25 videos about Assange. At this time, there were no videos of Senator Fatima Payman’s decision to cross the floor and vote with the Greens on the issue of a Palestinian state – a decision that was contrary to the rules and practices of the Labor Party Caucus.

And then there were the soft interviews with Assange supporters.  Most notably Patricia Karvelas’ interview with Kathy Lette on 27 June on ABC Radio National Breakfast (which MWD will analyse in the next issue) and Michael Rowland’s interview with Antony Loewenstein on ABC TV News Breakfast the same day. Also, the Sydney Morning Herald on 27 June ran with the Assange story on its first seven pages (two of which carried only advertising).

Sure, Sky News and The Australian have covered the story at some length.  But, unlike the taxpayer funded public broadcaster and for the most part Nine Newspapers, News Corp outlets have heard from Assange critics as well as his supporters.

However, perhaps the softest interview of all was that between ABC TV 7.30 presenter Sarah Ferguson and Jennifer Robinson (Julian Assange’s lawyer). This took place on Thursday 27 June – the evening after Assange’s return to Australia.

There were no Ferguson-like interruptions. And no difficult questions.  This is how the interview commenced: illustrated by the first two questions:

Sarah Ferguson:  What was Julian Assange’s mood on the plane as you approached Australian territory?

Sarah Ferguson:  And just that moment when the plane touches down and it is done. There is a physical, you are physically there. What did that mean for him and for everybody travelling with him?

Talk about gush.  Now, Comrade Ferguson is known for her view that complainants alleging sexual assault should be believed.  And that Vladimir Putin’s Russia interferes in the affairs of Western democracies.

So did the 7.30 interviewer raise with Ms Robinson any reference to Assange declining to travel to Sweden to answer allegations that he had sexually assaulted two women? Moreover, did she raise with Ms Robinson Assange’s known flirtation with Putin’s Russia?  Not on your nelly.  It was as soft as that.

What’s more, Sarah Ferguson did not mention that Assange was held in the high security Belmarsh prison in London because he had breached bail – a serious crime in itself.

No other view about Julian Assange was heard on 7.30. Illustrating, once again, the lack of viewpoint diversity at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.

  • PHILLIPS ADAM EXITS LATE NIGHT LIVE VIA STAGE LEFT

So, it’s farewell then (to borrow a Private Eye terminology) to Phillip Adams’ little wireless program (to borrow a term from the ABC’s Man-in-Black) Late Night Live on Thursday 27 June. And to Comrade Phillip (“I’m not sure of the year I left/was expelled by the Communist Party of Australia but I know it was either 1956 or 1968) Adams.

For its part Media Watch Dog will miss LNL – which Ellie’s (male) co-owner calls “Late Night Leftism”, along with your man 

And what a wonderful last week it was.

On Monday the topic was “Left for dead?  The Australian Left, then and now”.  Here’s the guest list:

The Hon. Dr Meredith Burgmann – academic, Labor Party member and President of the New South Wales Legislative Council (1999–2007). Frank Bongiorno – professor of history at the ANU and a fellow of the Whitlam institute; co-author with Nick Dyrenfurth of A Little History of the Australian Labor Party and Dr Jon Piccini – Senior Lecturer in History at Australian Catholic University and editor of The Far Left in Australia since 1945.

All of these are left-of-centre or leftist types.

On Tuesday, P.A. had a swan song with Laura Tingle (Australia), Bruce Shapiro (US) and Ian Dunt (UK) – all left-of-centre types. 

Then on Wednesday, PA interviewed Naomi Klein and Peter Singer – both left-of-centre types.

Then on Thursday, “Late Night Leftism” concluded its time as Comrade Adams’ little wireless program.  Here’s how it was promoted:

In Phillip Adams’ last Late Night Live, Laura Tingle turns the tables and interviews Phillip. They discuss how the political conversations and media landscape has changed since Phillip started at the ABC back in 1991, and what his hopes are for Australia.

Two leftists talking to each other.

In The Guardian Australia on 28 June, Amanda Meade reported that the ABC chair Kim Williams did not attend the pre-recorded function – but ABC managing director David Anderson did.

As Comrade Meade reported:

“I’m already on the record as not being a great fan of Kim Williams,” Adams told Weekly Beast. “Kim and I have a lot of history. I’m not happy that he got the big job. Although Kim wouldn’t have been my first, second or third recommendation, I wish him well in trying to save the joint. It’s in pretty terrible shape.”

Could Comrade Adams be softening?  For example, he was quoted in the June 2024 issue of The Monthly as saying this “I prefer Kim Jong Un to Kim Williams. He’s not a team builder, he’s a team wrecker.”

Given a choice, Media Watch Dog would rather be on Kim Willliams’ Team than on that of the Norh Korean communist dictator Kim Jong Un.


● NINE’S CHARLES CROUCHER RECKONS IT’S POSSIBLE THAT HE MIGHT CONTEST THE POLE VAULT AT THE 2032 OLYMPICS

Network Nine’s political reporter Charles Croucher is something of an ABC fave.  Hence his role as a weekly commentator on ABC Radio National’s Breakfast program where he invariably talks sense.

A recent appearance from your man Croucher’s on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster took place on Sunday 23 June. During the introduction to the ABC TV Insiders program, presenter David (“Please call me Speersy”) Speers showed this clip from Network Nine’s news earlier in the week:

Charles Croucher: Seven nuclear plants will be built across the country under a future Coalition government. Reactor models currently in use overseas, placed at the sites of existing or recently retired coal plants.  Having two plants up and running by 2037 is ambitious – in the same way me wanting to complete in pole vault at the Brisbane Olympics is ambition.  Sure, it’s possible.  But you wouldn’t want to bet on it.

Talk about giving hyperbole a bad name.  It’s true that for Australia to have two nuclear reactors up and running by 2037 is ambitious.  But it is possible.  However, to compare this ambitious target with the prospect of your man Croucher competing in the pole vault at the Brisbane Olympics in 2032 (he would be aged in his mid-40s) is, well, bizarre.

Yet, Insiders’ executive producer Samuel Clark through that you man Croucher’s hyperbole important enough to run on it Insiders as one of the news highlights of the week. Can You Bear It?

ABC INSIDERS DUO MELISSA CLARKE & DAVID SPEERS SEEM UNAWARE THAT AUSTRALIA HAS HAD A NUCLEAR REACTOR SINCE 1958

As avid Media Watch Dog readers will recall, during his recent appearance at the Sun-Herald’s “5 Minutes with Fitz” column, David Marr was asked by Peter FitzSimons why he was no longer a panellist on the ABC TV Insiders program.  Your man Marr replied that, towards the end of 2019, he learnt that the powers-that-be at Insiders had determined that the program needed more journalists who reported Australian national politics from Canberra and fewer blow-ins from places like Sydney or something like that.  For a transcript of this part of the Marr/FitzSimons interview see Media Watch Dog issue dated 17 May.

And so it has come to pass that, these days, Insiders tends to consist of Canberra-based journalists talking to each other about what went on in Australian national politics the previous week.

Insiders on Sunday 23 June was a somewhat flat affair – with the Canberra-based presenter David Speers talking to the Canberra-based journalists Melissa Clarke (ABC TV), David Crowe (Nine Newspapers) and Ashleigh Raper (Network 10).  The program was so Inside-the-Canberra-Bubble that the following “Final Observation” by Comrade Clarke passed without comment. Let’s go to the transcript:

Melissa Clarke: Look in the nuclear debate, we have heard from the Coalition a number of times about how safe nuclear power is – and it is a very well established energy generation source. But what they haven’t talked about when talking about risk – is consequence. And, if something goes wrong, how catastrophic that can be. So I think any discussion of risk around nuclear has to have consequence as part of the risk matrix. And part of the reason we haven’t been able to have a good discussion about that so far is because of the very quick adoption of nuclear powered submarines under AUKUS by Labor. We didn’t really have a public debate about public appetite for the level of risk and consequence when it comes to nuclear material in the country. And I think that is going to hamper Labor’s argument against nuclear by not having had that debate when it came to AUKUS.

David Speers: That’s a very good point.

No it’s not. Comrade Clarke’s point is absolute tosh.  Australia has had a nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights in southern Sydney for over half a century.  Perhaps Comrades Clarke and Speers don’t know this. After all, Lucas Heights is 280 km from Parliament House, Canberra – and maybe they don’t get out (of Canberra) much.

Apparently, Ms Clarke is of the view that no one has ever thought about the “consequence” if something goes wrong at Lucas Heights.  Or, as the ABC reporter would say – we haven’t considered “consequence as part of the risk matrix” whatever that might mean. In fact, safety at Lucas Heights has been on every Australian government’s agenda since 1958.  How out-of-touch can a pair of Canberra journalists be?  And here’s another question – Can You Bear It?

[Er, no. Now that you ask.  However, I believe that you are being a bit tough on Ms Clarke. After all, some years ago she finished second in a distance race somewhere in Tasmania.  I don’t know who finished first because ABC TV did not cover the winner but second was a newsworthy place, surely.  By the way, I understand that Ellie’s (male) co-owner visited the nuclear power facility at Marcoule in the Cotes-du-Rhone region way back in 1979.  It commenced operation in 1966 – without any catastrophic effect on the French community or preventing Paris from being the site of the 2024 Olympic Games. – MWD Editor.]

  • SYDNEY MORNING HERALD RUNS DAISY TURNBULL CONSPIRACY THEORY

In the Sydney Morning Herald on 23 June, Daisy Turnbull – teacher and author – mocked the Liberal Party’s nuclear energy policy and maintained how it may all be about keeping women out of the Liberal Party – or something of that nature.

Ms Turnbull pitches the idea of putting nuclear power plants in Teal electorates, such as North Head in Warringah and Barrenjoey Lighthouse in Mackellar. A joke, apparently. 

MWD is struggling to interpret Turnbull’s article. But the gist seems to be that the Liberal Party’s nuclear policy means that the Liberals have committed to losing the Teal seats, potentially as part of a broader conspiracy to preselect women for the Teal seats at the forthcoming election, then, when they lose, use that as a justification to replace women with male candidates three years later. Or as Turnbull puts it: 

“…it paves the way for the Liberal honchos to be able to turn around after the next election, after they remain Teal, and say: “There you go. We tried the female-candidate strategy. It didn’t work. Let’s go back to ‘merit’.”

Apart from the article being incoherent, the idea that the Liberals have no interest in winning the seats back is quite insulting to the women who are running for the Liberals against the Teals – including Roanne Knox in Wentworth and Amelia Hamer in Kooyong. [Presumably, it doesn’t matter who is preselected to run in Mackellar, since according to Ms Turnbull, it is “slowly disappearing due to climate change washing away its beaches” – MWD Editor]

It is true that the Teals campaigned on renewables as an alternative to fossil fuels. But considering that nuclear power is a safe source of clean energy used all over the world, there is currently no evidence to believe that the policy will sabotage the Liberal Party’s chances in Teal seats. Which would result in, as Turnbull puts it, “sending strong female candidates to electoral slaughter”. How’s that for a conspiracy theory? More to the point, Can You Bear It?

[I note that voters in Teal seats may not be as committed to renewables as this article suggests – after all, suburbs in Teal electorates have some of the lowest uptake of rooftop solar in the country. – MWD Editor.] 


  • KIM WILLIAMS ON REDMOND BARRY & AN ABC NATIONAL CAMPFIRE

The previous edition of Media Watch Dog looked briefly at the ABC Chair Kim Williams’ Redmond Barry Lecture delivered at the State Library of Victoria on Wednesday 19 June, but covered at some length Mr Williams’ interview with Patricia Karvelas on ABC Radio National Breakfast on Friday 21 June.  As avid readers will be aware, MWD just loves it when ABC employees interview their ABC bosses on the ABC.

In the previous issue, MWD promised to look at some length at Williams’ first substantial speech since being appointed ABC chair at the beginning of the year – namely the 2024 Redmond Barry Lecture delivered at the State Library of Victoria.

But first, a “fun fact” – to borrow a cliché. The 2024 Redmond Barry Lecture coincided with the news that the ABC will establish ABC News Verify as a fact-checker.  Stone the crows.  Here’s the ABC intent on checking the facts of others when it runs many howlers itself and is most reluctant to correct its own errors.  But there you go.

Kim Williams on Redmond Barry

During his Sir Redmond Barry Lecture, Kim Williams spoke well of Barry’s legacy.  He pointed out that following the Eureka Stockade – an armed uprising on the Ballarat goldfields in late 1854 – Barry sat on the Supreme Court of Victoria when some of the rioters were tried.  He had this to say about Barry’s reaction to the Eureka Uprising with respect to Barry: 

In the middle of all this economic upheaval and political tumult, a liberal Supreme Court justice, who the following year will acquit the 13 rebellious, treasonous miners, saving them from the noose, decides to create a great public library. His name is Redmond Barry and we are here tonight to pay tribute to his vision. A vision which gave Victoria not only its radical culture and this magnificent library but almost all of the State’s foundational public institutions

This is incorrect. Redmond Barry was the trial judge when some of the 13 rioters faced the Supreme Court charged with treason. Sir William a’ Beckett was the Chief Justice of Victoria at the time and presided over most of the trials. At the time, judges had no role whatsoever in bringing down guilty or not guilty verdicts in the criminal jurisdiction.  That was the role of juries.  It was the various jurors who acquitted all of the men charged with respect to the uprising on the Ballarat goldfields – not Barry.  

Sure, Barry decided to create the State Library of Victoria. But he did not save anyone “from the noose”.   Moreover, as Peter Ryan wrote in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, as a judge Barry “had a reputation for harshness”.  Certainly, there was evidence of harshness when Barry presided over the trial of the bushranger Ned Kelly (1854-1880) – who was found guilty by a jury and hanged for the murder of three policemen.  In no sense was Barry “a liberal Supreme Court justice”. Rather, as Peter Ryan wrote, Barry was a harsh judge during a “harsh period and he was in tune with his times”.  Let’s see what ABC News Verify makes of this.

Kim Williams’ Concept of an ABC National Campfire – Some Problems.

But MWD digresses.  Towards the end of his speech, the new ABC chair called on Australians to create a “New National Campfire” and ran the case for “improved investment” to fund it.  Meaning, more taxpayer funds in addition to the ABC’s annual hand-out of over $1 billion annually.

Williams then set out three starting points on the way to the establishment of a National Campfire. Some are worthy aspirations – particularly with respect to revitalising ABC Radio National, increasing serious television documentaries and expanding drama production and arts coverage.  However, all this should be able to be achieved within the ABC’s current budget – without additional “investment” – read government hand-outs.

Moreover, Williams avoided the central problem with the ABC – namely viewpoint diversity.  In other words, the new chair seems willing to accept that the ABC should remain a conservative free zone.  This is a major factor in the ABC’s declining ratings, since the taxpayer funded public broadcaster has lost many of its one-time conservative audience, without being able to replace them with a new audience.

While senior ABC management remains in denial about the ABC’s lack of viewpoint diversity across a range of issues, it is unlikely to win back its conservative listeners/viewers who have deserted it.

There is another problem with respect to Kim Williams’ desire to set up the ABC as a “National Campfire”. When interviewed by Martin McKenzie-Murray for the March 2024 issue of The Monthly, Kim Williams had this to say: “It’s…important to remember that there’s a management that runs the place and to understand the separation of responsibilities between a board and the management.”

And that’s the point.  The ABC board does not run the ABC. That’s the role of management – led by the ABC managing director David Anderson.  Like his predecessors, Anderson presides over a staff collective which runs the joint.  An ABC soviet.  It’s one thing for an ABC chair to set out aims – quite another to see them implemented.


A LIZ STORER MOMENT

  • LIZ STORER TALKS (LOUDLY) ON GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS, UKRAINE & NATO, THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION – AND ALSO JULIAN ASSANGE

Every now and then Ellie’s (male) co-owner turns on the Sky News’ The Late Debate (or is it The Great Debate?) to catch up with what panellists Liz Storer, Joe Hildebrand and others are saying – just before he gives the said canine a late-night walk.  A dog walker can learn a lot this way.

For example, on 16 June Ms Storer concluded a rant against what she termed “the state”.  Here’s what she had to say:

My mum…always referred to state schools as cesspools, even when I was too young to even know what a cesspool was.  And her saying was always, “You’ve got to brainwash them before somebody else does. Because kids are sponges, and so whoever teaches them first teaches them best”.

This came as some surprise to Hendo.  After all, even at Post-Dinner Drinks Time, he seemed to recall that John Howard attended government schools, ending up at Canterbury Boys’ High School in Sydney.  JWH never seemed brainwashed when Prime Minister of Australia for over a decade.  Liz Storer – please explain, as the saying goes, or went.

Earlier, Mrs Storer’s offspring had this to say:

It was Lenin who said, “Give me a child for eight years and he will be a Bolshevik”.

Once again, this came as something of a shock.  After all, Hendo had always thought it was St Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus – the Jesuits – who said, “Give me a child until he is seven and I will show you a man”.  Or something like that – after all, Ignatius died in 1556 and he spoke Spanish.

How disappointing it was for Hendo to learn, late one winter night, that it was the Bolshevik dictator Vladimir Lenin who said this – no doubt in Russian.

Then on 24 June, The Late Debate panellist had this to say about the forthcoming United Kingdom election in general and Nigel Farage in particular.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Liz Storer: …the last three polls, in just four days, has his [Farage’s] UK Reform Party in second place. Now nowhere near Labour, okay. Labour are going to win the election. I bet my two front teeth on it. You can quote me on that and claim those teeth, and I will give them if they don’t –

Joe Hildebrand: They’re very nice teeth, by the way.

Now here’s a tip. Who would have thought that the Labour Party will win the British election on 4 July?  But now we know that Keir Starmer is on his way to 10 Downing Street. So, it would seem that Ms Storer’s two front teeth [Does she only have two? – MWD Editor] will stay in situ on 4 July.  Which will make life easier for Sky News contributor Joe Hildebrand, who identifies as a Labor Party voter and a Catholic, since he will not have to debate a two-teeth-short Storer on Sky News.

But at least Sky News has genuine debates – and the Storer/Hildebrand verbal punch-ups are invariably amusing. 

On this occasion, the toothful Storer went on to run the Nigel Farage/Tucker Carlson line that NATO had poked the Russian bear (i.e. Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin) by inviting Ukraine to join NATO. As MWD has pointed out earlier with respect to Ms Storer – Ukraine is not a member of NATO.

Whereupon your man Hildebrand contested the Storer argument that the thug Vladimir Putin was virtually forced to invade Ukraine in order to protect Russia by describing it as “absolute bollocks”. Correct – since Putin is intent on establishing Russia as it was in the days of Catherine the Great. Or is it Peter the Great?

It seems that the Storer position on contemporary Russia is two-pronged.  Step One:  Ask Putin what territory he wants to acquire beyond Russia’s borders. Step Two:  Give it to him.

Then on Wednesday 26 June, Hendo decided to give Ellie a walk at Gin & Tonic time and record The Kenny Report.  As he passed a neighbour’s house, Hendo heard a woman arguing loudly.  Have a listen here:

Ellie’s male co-owner was about to phone the police when he realised that the sound was that of Ms Storer talking loudly and interrupting both her fellow panellist Danica De Giorgio and presenter Chris Kenny.

The sound contained so much volume that even Ellie, who is profoundly deaf, appeared to hear the Voice of Storer.  She was supporting Julian Assange – who has an appeal to libertarian extremes of left and right.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Liz Storer: For starters, he [Assange] was in the Ecuadorian Embassy seeking asylum because he knew that the CIA were planning to off him. Now that is a very well-known thing –

[Talking over each other]

Chris Kenny: To charge him, to face charges for his actions –

Liz Storer: No no, the Trump administration. These are reports from the top CIA officials who have now resigned. They report that they were asked by the Trump administration, Secretary of State was Mike Pompeo. He was asked for options to off the guy, which –

Chris Kenny: What do you mean off the guy? They tried to extradite him, get out of here –

Liz Storer: I’m being dead serious. The Guardian covered this as well as other very reputable papers. You can’t just go “ehhhhh” – it happens.

Chris Kenny: – Charges – they charged him, he fought his own extradition and stayed in jail.

How about that?  Liz Storer’s “evidence” for her allegation that the Trump administration wanted to kill Assange is based on a report in the avowedly leftist Guardian – a newspaper which she regards as reputable.

As documented by Tom Norton in Newsweek’s  Fact Check on 25 June, President Trump has denied the claims – and all the sources alleging that the CIA was intent on murdering Assange are of the anonymous genre.  Still, once again, unlike the ABC – there was a genuine debate on Sky News.

This is how what could be heard, in between interruptions, from the debate concluded:

Chris Kenny: He [Assange] fought his extradition, which is why he stayed in jail.

Liz Storer: Would you want to be extradited to a country that is currently using their own judicial system to impale a presidential candidate? You have seen how things work, and I told you their intelligence agency was planning to kill the guy.

So, there you have it.  Ms Storer reckons that the Trump administration wanted to kill Assange. Her evidence?  Zip.

Verily – A Liz Storer Moment.


  • DAVID SPEERS SETS THE INTERRUPTION RECORD WITH 66 INTERRUPTIONS WHEN INTERVIEWING THE COALITION’S TED O’BRIEN

There’s no doubting it.  Media Watch Dog’s Media Interrupter of the Week – leading up to the Media Interrupter of the Year – has become one of the most prestigious gongs on the Australian media landscape.  So much so that there is a suggestion that some interviewers have increased their interruption rate to score this prestigious gong.

As MWD readers know, ABC TV 7.30 presenter Sarah Ferguson was up towards the top of the Interrupter Ladder, just below David (“Oh Yes, I’m the Great Interrupter”) Speers – the presenter of ABC TV’s Insiders program.

However, on Sunday 23 June, Speersy (as he likes to be called) fired up when interviewing Ted O’Brien – the Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy and Liberal National Party member for Fairfax. Naturally, Speers asked the first question. And he interrupted O’Brien’s first answer.  Impressive, eh? Then it was a matter of interruption after interruption as Speers totalled some 66 interjections. A record, so far.

It could be that Comrade Speers scored so well because he was rested after failing to make many interruptions when he interviewed Foreign Minister Senator Penny Wong on Sunday 16 June. But, in any event, this was a truly impressive performance – surpassing his effort when interviewing Shadow Treasurer Angus Taylor on 12 May.  On that occasion, your man Speers managed 36 interruptions in a 17-minute interview.  On 23 June, he scored 66 interruptions in a 23-minute interview.  Well done, Speersy.

As MWD has pointed out previously, Sky News’ presenter Andrew Clennell is a far better interviewer than David Speers.  The problem with interviewers who constantly interrupt is that they are invariably too busy thinking about their next comment to listen carefully to the interviewee. But don’t tell Comrades Speers or Ferguson.  After all, Media Watch Dog needs all the copy it can get.

David (“I made it to 66”) Speers – Top Media Interrupter of the Week.

 


DOCUMENTATION

● NO DEBATE IN THE LEFT’S FAVE PUBLICATION QUARTERLY ESSAY ON LECH BLAINE’S ARTICLE ABOUT PETER DUTTON WHOM HE IDENTIFIES AS A “BAD COP”

As avid Media Watch Dog readers know, Quarterly Essay published by Black Inc (proprietor Morry Schwartz) and edited by Chris Feik, is a publication of the left, by the left, for the left – to rework an old saying.  Oh yes, the editor-in-chief of Schwartz Media publications is MWD fave Comrade Erik Jensen.

It is the custom of Quarterly Essay to run a Correspondence section on the previous essay.  And so it came to pass that the current issue contains commentary on Lech Blaine’s Quarterly Essay Issue 93 titled “Bad Cop: Peter Dutton’s Strongman Politics”.  Not surprisingly, all of the correspondents are either Dutton antagonists or left-of-centre types or both.  MWD will return to this shortly.

Gerard Henderson wrote about “Bad Cop” in his Weekend Australian  column on 6 April 2024.  He commented that Blaine acknowledges that Dutton is not unelectable or as unpopular as his critics claim.  Henderson added that the author recognises that the Liberal Party leader has impressive political skills. Henderson certainly did not allege that the essay is “infinitely hostile” (re which see below).

However, in Henderson’s view, “Bad Cop” is essentially a hatchet job on Peter Dutton.  As presented by Blaine, he is not only a “bad cop” but he has a “resting death stare” and is both a “punisher” and a “vampire” with a “track record of bastardry”.  Moreover, Dutton is “small and scared”. Also “Bad Cop” quotes Malcolm Turnbull as describing Dutton as a “thug”.

And now to the Correspondence in Issue 94 of Quarterly Essay covering the Blaine essay.  Only six comments were published (amounting to 18 pages) compared with the 18 comments (amounting to 50 pages) for the previous essay. Moreover, there are 12 vacant pages – seemingly to await correspondents who failed to rock up.

۰ Let’s Hear It From Niki Savva, Thomas Mayo and Lachlan Harris

The Correspondence section is led by Dutton antagonist Niki Savva who described Blaine’s essay as “thoroughly depressing” although she agrees with the author that the Liberal Party leader is not unelectable.  Savva refers to Tony Abbott as “Terminator One” and Dutton as “Terminator Two”.  How funny is that?  And she describes Dutton as “dangerous”.

Next up Thomas Mayo, who identifies as Indigenous, criticised Dutton as the leader of the “No” case in the 2023 referendum. He declares that he will buy copies of “Bad Cop” and circulate them to “as many swinging voters as possible before the next election. Apparently, Comrade Mayo believes that your average swinging voter will want to read Blaine’s 72-page essay.  Somewhat delusional, don’t you think?

Next up, former Rudd Labor government staffer Lachlan Harris has a go.  He leads off with a reference to Queensland’s approach to NSW in the Rugby League State of Origin matches.  Really. And he ends up by discussing the State of Origin. Point being – if point there is – that Dutton is a Queenslander. That’s all folks.

۰ And From Mark (“Call me Professor”) Kenny

Now it’s Mark Kenny’s turn – he identifies as a professor at the Australian Studies Institute at the Australian National University.  He agrees with Blaine that Dutton is electable and claims that “some apologists for the conservative cause” have said that “Bad Cop” is “infinitely hostile”.  He cites no evidence for this assertion – in other words, he names no names.

Note that, according to one-time Labor Party staffer Kenny, supporters of the conservative cause are “apologists”.  Just apologists.  Which makes you wonder how Australian politics is taught at the ANU. Then Comrade Kenny writes this:

Singling him [Dutton] out from the cheery pattern of Liberal predecessors – old boys from elite private schools and top universities whose progression has been marked by open doors, privileged access and consistent promotions – Blaine notes that Dutton was no natural student, did not enjoy university life and “bombed out” to become a Queensland copper.

This is an ignorant comment – especially from a former Fairfax columnist who teaches politics at the ANU.  Even a first-year Australian politics student might know that Dutton’s “Liberal predecessors” include John Howard and Scott Morrison – both of whom attended government schools and neither had “privileged access”.  Mr Howard and Mr Morrison graduated from universities – that’s all. Mr Kenny commenced a university course, as MWD understands.

۰ And From Comrades Robert Wood & Paul Strangio

And there is Robert Wood who has a connection with Asialink and the University of Melbourne.  He declared that he had “no doubt” that Dutton has plans “for his own ideological ends and…this should have us concerned”.  How profound is that?

And then up pops the left-wing historian Paul Strangio.  He claims that during his days in the Queensland Police Force, Dutton “blackened his heart” which fuelled in him an urge to “punish the troubled and the dispossessed”.   Comrade Strangio offers no evidence in support of this (free) psychiatric opinion.  Here’s another one: “Dutton’s fostering of social anxieties can be attributed, at least partially, to his own inner fears.”  How does he know that Peter Dutton has “inner fears” – and, if so, how does he know their content?

Your man Strangio, an emeritus professor of politics in the School of Social Sciences at Monash University, has this to say about contemporary Australia.  “There are two kinds of Australians: one cosmopolitan, confident and progressive; the other provincial, apprehensive and conservative.”   Needless to say, the learned emeritus professor is with the cosmopolitan, confident and progressive group.  Quelle Surprise!

Comrade Strangio has the last word:

…Considering the loud warning bells run by Blaine’s valuable and chilling examination of Dutton, we ought to be relieved that political redundancy is his probable fate.

۰ Now It’s Back to Lech Blaine

And then there it was over to Lech Blaine for final comments.  Here are the highlights:

  Following Harris, Blaine takes a football-themed approach. He compares Dutton with “the former Rugby League coach Wayne Bennett” – another former Queensland policeman.

• Like Kelly, Blaine claims that “some on the right have interpreted his Quarterly Essay as being unflinchingly hostile”. But, like Kenny, Blaine does not name names. Could it be that neither wants to draw attention to the review by Professor Timothy Lynch in The Weekend Australian on 13-14 April 2024.  Lynch’s review is critical – but it is not hostile to the author.

Perhaps the powers that be at Quarterly Essay did not want to draw attention to Professor Lynch’s review – since it is highly critical of the fact that there are no conservative voices in Quarterly Essay, which he regards as middle-brow, left-of-centrism publishing.

• Blaine concedes that “Australia’s media and political classes” proved to be out of step with a majority of Australians on The Voice referendum.  But then had this to say:

…The fact that Dutton was on the winning side of the referendum doesn’t let him off the hook. He is the alternative prime minister of Australia, not a single-issue campaigner.  His attacks on the Yes campaign went beyond merely expressing scepticism about the legal mechanism of The Voice.  He went for the jugular of reconciliation. It is necessary to critique his actions and rhetoric during the campaign, and measure them against the future police offerings of the Coalition.  This goes to Dutton’s insistence that he is a far more open-minded politician than the one who boycotted the Apology.  So far, there is little evidence of this.

However, Lech Blaine – who is the 2023 Charles Perkins writer in residence – seems unaware that the principal leaders of the “No” campaign were Coalition politicians Senator Jacinta Price and Senator Kerrynne Liddle along with businessman Warren Mundine. All three are Indigenous Australians – all of whom are open-minded and were critical to the No case. Peter Dutton’s important move was to promote the senators to the opposition Shadow Ministry.

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Quarterly Essay (editor-in-chief Erik Jensen) is a four times a year version of The [Boring] Saturday Paper (editor-in-chief Erik Jensen).  Little wonder that Comrade Blaine’s essay attained little interest – apart from a soft interview on ABC TV’s News Breakfast (re which see MWD dated 19 April 2024).  Black Inc proprietor Morry Schwartz seems unaware just how boring his publications are since they merely preach about what the left likes to call “progressive” causes.

 

 

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Until Next Time.

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