ISSUE – NO. 688

5 July 2024

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As avid Media Watch Dog readers know, the ABC is a Conservative Free Zone without one conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its main news and current affairs programs.  ABC management denies this – but no one has been able to name even one conservative in such a role.

By and large it is producers, not presenters, who determine what talent will be invited onto ABC programs.  Take ABC TV News Breakfast, for example.   It runs a Newspapers segment which is devoid of input from political conservatives while finding time to hear from many left-of-centre types.

For example, personnel from the avowedly leftist Guardian Australia  get a gig along with personnel from the avowedly leftist The Australia Institute. But conservative types from the Menzies Research Centre, the Institute of Public Affairs and the Robert Menzies Institute are not invited.

The leftist Australia Institute/ABC Entente was in action again on Friday 5 July when Ebony Bennett, the Australia Institute deputy director, commented on the morning’s print and online newspapers.

As is her wont, she said what should be in the newspapers – rather than commenting on what was in them.

Early on, Comrade Bennett re-interpreted an article in the Courier Mail to bag its story on the importance of the coal industry to the Australian national economy.  She declared it was a “puff piece” and blamed the Queensland coal industry for extreme weather in Queensland.  Ignoring the fact that Australia is responsible for just over one per cent of global emissions.

Then Comrade Bennett commented that Senator Fatima Payman was “resigning from the Labor Party really over the issue of genocide in Gaza as she described it”.  Ms Bennett provided no evidence of genocide in Gaza.

Then co-presenter Michael Rowland felt it was time to declare that News Corp newspapers certainly do not have the influence they had years ago.  Whereupon Comrade Bennett concurred “That’s absolutely right”.  Which make you wonder why she bothers to get up early in the morning to discuss newspapers on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.

MWD has no problem with Comrade Bennett running political lines on the ABC.  The problem is that the ABC does not provide alternative views.  This is another example of the ABC’s lack of viewpoint diversity.


There was enormous interest in last week’s coverage of the return to Australia of Julian Assange. Media Watch Dog drew special attention to ABC TV 7.30 presenter Sarah Ferguson’s (soft) interview with Jennifer Robinson – Assange’s lawyer.  This occurred on 27 June.

MWD commented that neither Comrade Ferguson nor Comrade Robinson had mentioned the reason for Assange’s long-time stay in the Ecuador Embassy in Britain (into which he entered voluntarily) and Belmarsh Prison in London (where he was incarcerated).  Namely, that Assange refused to travel to Sweden to answer questions concerning allegations that he had sexually assaulted two Swedish women.

Rather than face up to his accusers, Assange entered the Ecuadorian Embassy seeking asylum. When the Ecuadorian authorities could not take his behaviour any longer, he was arrested by Metropolitan Police pending requests for his expatriation to the United States to face espionage charges.  Assange was put in a maximum-security prison on account of the fact that he had breached his bail conditions upon entering the Ecuadorian Embassy – a serious crime.  If everyone breached bail, there would no longer be the possibility of bail for those on less serious charges and/or flight risks.

On Saturday 29 June, The Weekend Australian carried an exclusive story by Jacquelin Magnay titled “Julian molested me and lied….but I forgave him”.   It’s not a pleasant story – from which Assange emerges as someone who treats women with contempt and is loose with the truth.  And, yes, he has bad manners.  Magnay spoke to Anna Ardin, one of Assange’s two Swedish accusers.

Since his return to Australia, a number of conservative female journalists have criticised Assange’s evident misogyny – including Peta Credlin in The Sunday Telegraph on 30 June.  But most left-of-centre female journalists have been silent. With the notable exception of Jacqueline Maley whose column in the Sun Herald  on 30 June was headed “The freedom messiah is free.  A few women won’t join the cheer squad”.

However, the leading female members of the Assange Fan Club have remained silent.  Including Kathy Lette who was interviewed by Patricia (“Please call me PK”) Karvelas on ABC Radio National Breakfast on Thursday 25 June.  This was the morning before Assange’s arrival in Canberra.

As is her wont, Comrade Lette was into puns. She referred to Assange, who is a convicted felon in the US legal system, as “someone who has the courage of their convictions”.  There was a reference to the one-time prison at Botany Bay. And then there was this: “I think we should call him the crème de la crème, don’t you? The crème de la criminal?” Groan.

Lette (once again) told the story of how a somewhat non house-trained Assange lived in her London home before his clash with the law. And, once again, she ran the line that she had had “everyone in my attic except Dorian Gray”. And then, in serious mode, Lette fanged Donald Trump without any pushback by PK – as you do on RN Breakfast.

However, MWD was most interested in this exchange between Comrade Karvelas and Comrade Lette.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Patricia Karvelas: Now, you lived with Julian Assange. What are your memories of Julian from when, from when he first came to live with you?

Kathy Lette: Well, I need to explain that when I was married to Geoffrey Robertson, a human rights lawyer, we had a lot of interesting house guests. You know, we had, we had exiled politicians. We had, we had banned poets. We had all kinds of amazing people. Basically, I had, I’ve had everyone in my attic except Dorian Grey. And Julian had come to get some legal advice about, you know, what was happening in, in Sweden. And he was really worried. He wanted to clear his name, but he feared extradition from Sweden to America, where he said he’d be left to rot in some impenetrable, super-max prison.

Kathy Lette did not say what was “happening in Sweden”.   And Patricia Karvelas did not proffer a please explain.  How convenient.  Neither feminist saw fit to mention that Assange had been accused of sexual assault by two females in Sweden. What a cop-out.  Which raises the question: Can You Bear It?


Media Watch Dog just loves it when dyed-in-the-wool leftists give gratuitous advice to the Liberal Party.

Take, for example, Paul Bongiorno who presents as “a columnist for The Saturday Paper and a 35-year veteran of the Canberra Press Gallery”.  That would be The [Boring] Saturday Paper, editor-in-chief Erik Jensen, which goes to print on Thursday evenings and arrives in inner-city coffee shops at Hangover Time on Saturday mornings.  As such, it is the only Australian newspaper which contains no news. In view of this, Ellie’s (male) co-owner reads TSP on Monday afternoon at around Gin and Tonic tim.  After all, what’s the hurry?

In The Saturday Paper of 29 June, Bonge’s weekly column was headed “A Liberal treasurer, a freed publisher and a first-term senator walk into a parliament”.   Sure, this is not original but, at least on this occasion, it’s not boring.  This is followed by a sub-heading which praises Matt Kean, the Liberal Party member for Hornsby in the NSW Legislative Assembly, who is about to take up the position as the chair of the Albanese Government’s Climate Change Authority. The publisher mentioned was Julian Assange and the senator was Fatima Payman. Neither Kean nor Assange walked into Parliament House – but who cares?

Comrade Bongiorno told readers (if readers there were) that there was “an audible gasp” when Prime Minister Anthony Albanese arrived with Mr Kean at a “freezing news conference in the prime minister’s courtyard at Parliament House” on Monday 24 June.

Bonge went on to proclaim the value of your man Kean. He declared that the former Coalition treasurer of NSW is not at all “treacherous to the Liberal Party and its values”. This in spite of the fact that he accepted a job offer from the Labor Party without telling his Liberal Party colleagues and before he had formally resigned as a Liberal Party MP. No political treachery to see here – apparently.

According to Bonge, it’s just that Comrade Kean sees “climate change as the challenge of our generation” which “needs a once in a generation response”.  Like, er, giving Matt Kean a job.  There followed this reference:

Kean remains a member of the Liberal Party and intends to continue his role as a moderate faction powerbroker.  He’s the sort of liberal who would be a valuable addition to the ranks in Canberra, if the party ever got back to being the “broad church” John Howard used to talk about, or closer to what Robert Menzies intended of its name.

How about that? Comrade Bonge is giving free advice to the Liberal Party despite the fact that he’s a left-wing journalist.  So left, in fact, that in her book Confessions of a Conservative Leftie (Scribe, 2010), Niki Savva wrote this about Bongiorno when he presented Meet the Press on Network 10 during the years of the Howard Coalition government: “Bonge was one of the senior people in the [Canberra Press] Gallery who made clear his dislike for the [Howard] government, and who couldn’t wait to see it booted out.”  By the way, neither Robert Menzies nor John Howard looked kindly on those who presented as Liberals but spent considerable time criticising the Liberal Party and its leaders.

So, there you have it.  Paul Bongiorno is a long-time vehement opponent of the Liberal Party who gives advice to the Liberal Party that the left-wing Liberal Kean would be a “valuable addition” to the Liberal Party ranks in Canberra. Can You Bear It?

[Er, no.  Not really. Now that you ask.  However, I did take some “learnings” (to use a modern cliché) from the comrade’s column.  He quoted Matt Kean as declaring that “the way to put downward pressure on energy prices is to build more renewables”.  This, despite the fact that Australia has never had more renewables – or higher energy prices.

My other “learning” was a quote from Graham Perrett, the Labor Party MP for Moreton in Brisbane’s north.  He told The Saturday Paper that Greens leader Adam Bandt “is an opportunist, mercenary, vote-harvesting stunt-minister, and he can go f-ck himself”.  At least, in this instance, The Saturday Paper was not boring.  Well done Mr Perrett.  – MWD Editor.]



The recent return of Media Watch Dog’s “Media Fool of the Week” gong has been so well received by avid readers that it has been decided to give a similar award for the best shot at the title at the end of the previous month.

MWD is delighted to announce the media fool for the month of June 2024 is Peter Hartcher – Nine Newspapers’ political editor whose column appears in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald. To find out why – check out his column on 22 June 2024 titled “Soviet glow to Dutton’s nuclear plan”. Here’s how it commenced:

Peter Dutton’s nuclear power plan has a distinct Russian flavour. First is its Soviet economics. The seven nuclear facilities envisioned in the Coalition plan are to be financed entirely by the Commonwealth. There is no place for private investment or market forces. It’s central planning, Soviet-style. Indeed, electrification was a Stalin priority from his first five-year plan.

Just as an argument is invariably lost if a comparison is made between contemporary Western democratic societies and Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany – the same is true with respect to Josef Stalin’s communist dictatorship that was the Soviet Union.

Whether or not someone agrees with the Coalition’s policy to establish nuclear reactors financed by the Commonwealth government – it is not Soviet economics. For starters, a case can be made for governments running power plants.  After all, power is an essential part of a nation’s security – as is defence.

Comrade Hartcher is correct in stating that electrification was a central part of Stalin’s first Five Year Plan which ran from 1928 to 1932 and focused on heavy industry.  So what?

The State Electricity Commission of Victoria came into existence in 1921 – some seven years before Stalin’s first Five Year Plan.  Its inaugural general manager was General John Monash. At the time Victoria had a Nationalist government. It was a right-of-centre government.

So, according to the “logic” of Peter Hartcher – if logic it is – Joe Stalin channelled the likes of Victorian premier Harry Lawson and Sir John Monash when he set about the electrification of the Soviet Union in 1928.  Yet Comrade Hartcher seems to be of the view that government-owned and controlled power plants are a communist initiative. What a load of absolute tosh.

The State Electricity Commission dominated energy production in Victoria – brown coal in Yallourn and hydro – for decades.  For much of this time, Victoria had a right-of-centre government led by, among others, Henry Bolte.

So, Peter Hartcher’s idea that it was Stalin’s you-beaut initiative to nationalise energy is just bollocks.  As is the suggestion that Peter Dutton is some kind of disciple of Josef Stalin.  Nine newspapers’ political editor should be able to do better than this.

Peter Hartcher:  Media Fool of the Previous Month.


Media Watch Dog readers are well aware of the literary festival/writers week phenomenon.  They are occasions when a soviet of left-of-centre types obtain a pile of taxpayers/ratepayers money. They then use it to invite left-of-centre and leftist writers (or aspiring writers) to get together at a gig where virtually everyone agrees with virtually everyone else in a left-of-centre/leftist kind of way.  In short, a left-wing ideological purity prevails. In other words, these festivals – like the ABC – are Conservative Free Zones.


Media Watch Dog can barely wait for the Byron Writers Festival which will take place at the Bangalow Showground from Friday 9 August to Sunday 11 August in Sandalista Country. Not far from Sandalista Central in Byron Bay – a 15 km walk if wearing comfortable sandals.

As is their wont, writers’ festivals (aka literary festivals) are invariably leftist stacks which are funded by lotsa taxpayers’ money. The Byron Writers Festival (BWF) 2024 is no exception.  Its primary funds come from the NSW Government (per Create NSW) and the Australian Government (per Creative Australia).  Something called Vasudhara is a principal partner (whatever that might mean) and the Southern Cross University (which is partly funded by taxpayers) is a major partner. The major media partners are The [Boring] Saturday Paper and The Monthly – both leftist publications of Schwartz Media with Erik Jensen as editor-in-chief. Comrade Jensen has a gig at the 2024 BWF as depicted in the 2024 BWF program.  Quarterly Essay (editor-in-chief Comrade Jensen) is also supporting the 2024 BWF.

Now here’s a list of speakers – the non-fiction area:

Eric Beecher, Lech Blaine, Bob Brown, Bryan Brown, Nick Bryant, Richard Flanagan, Jan Fran, Joëlle Gergis, Clive Hamilton, Erik Jensen, Meg Keneally, Royce Kurmelovs, John Lyons, David Marr, Louise Milligan, Kerry O’Brien, Julianne Schultz, Bruce Pascoe, Peter Singer, Kim Williams.

Not a conservative among this lot.

The Byron Writers Festival 2024 is yet another example of the left’s unwillingness to debate issues.  Have a look at some of MWD’s fave sessions (taken from the official program) – which are ABC-like in their lack of viewpoint diversity.

  • Becoming Murdoch
    The Murdoch media empire and its patriarch have global influence on markets and politics. But how did it all start, and how did Murdoch become the man he is today? Join journalist and critic Walter Marsh (Young Rupert) and Crikey owner and ex-News Corp and Fairfax editor Eric Beecher (The Men Who Killed the News) for an exploration of the man behind the empire. With Julianne Schultz.

So, two Rupert Murdoch antagonists – Walter Marsh and Eric Beecher – will analyse Rupert Murdoch in a session chaired by Murdoch antagonist Julianne Schultz. No other view will be heard.

  • Future of the Liberal Party
    Join Lech Blaine (Quarterly Essay: “Bad Cop”) and frequent Quarterly Essay contributor David Marr for an in-depth analysis of the Australian Liberal Party’s membership and leadership issues, its changing international influences, and where to next for the party.
    Supported by Quarterly Essay.

How about that?  Liberal Party critic Lech Blaine (who regards Liberal Party leader Peter Dutton as a “punisher”) will discuss the Liberal Party with Liberal Party critic David Marr.  The session is sponsored by Morry Schwartz’s Quarterly Essay, which is written by the left, of the left, for the left.  No one who has been involved in the Liberal Party is on the program.  No other view will be heard.

  • Balcony over Jerusalem
    In Balcony Over Jerusalem: A Middle East Memoir, foreign correspondent John Lyons draws from his years living in Jerusalem to give context to the devastating war between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza. Beyond the politics and headlines, Lyons explains the Middle East through everyday life and the conversations with friends on their balcony overlooking it all. With Julianne Schultz

The ABC’s global affairs editor John Lyons, who is a vehement critic of contemporary Israel, will discuss what is termed the “devastating war between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza”. No other view will be heard.

In fact, Israel is at war with the terrorist organisation Hamas which has taken hostages and refuses to surrender. Hamas uses Palestinians as human shields in its war with Israel.

By the way, Balcony Over Jerusalem was published in 2017. In short, it’s been some years since your man Lyons spent considerable time on a balcony in Jerusalem.

And then there is this:

  • Deadlock: Ending Fossil Fuels
    To curb the climate crisis, there can be no more oil, gas or coal. Yet governments around the world, including Australia, are approving new fossil fuel projects. Climate scientist Joëlle Gergis (Highway to Hell) and investigative journalist Royce Kurmelovs (Slick) analyse the government paralysis around ending fossil fuels and provide a roadmap for taking action. With Julianne Schultz.
    Supported by The Saturday Paper.

Fancy that.  Joëlle will agree with Royce who will agree with Julianne who will agree with Joëlle who will agree with herself about the evils of fossil fuels.  Or something like that. No other view will be heard.

And to think that the “roadmap” taking the leftist luvvie Sandalista-Set to the Byron Writers Festival 2024 will be travelled by car, or bus, or plane – all of which are fuelled by, er, fossil fuels.  Moreover, the 2024 BWF will be funded, in part at least, by company taxes and royalties paid by fossil fuel companies to federal and state governments.

Your Individual (and Company) Taxes at Work.


In his Weekend Australian column on 29 June titled “Vice-chancellor’s cop-out a triumph for anti-Semitism ”, Gerard Henderson wrote about Mark Scott, the vice-chancellor and president of the University of Sydney.  He referred to Scott’s weakness in handling the anti-Israel, and often anti-semitic, protestors who established encampments on the campus grounds. Henderson also referred to Mark Scott’s weakness when he held managerial roles at (the then) Fairfax Media and, later, the ABC where he was managing director and editor-in-chief.

In The Australian’s  “Margin Call” on Wednesday 3 July, Yoni Bashan – who has been covering Scott’s weak response to the demonstrators, some of whom were neither students nor academics – had this to say under the heading “Uni’s dumb deal”.

Benefactors and prospective students are plainly running a mile from the University of Sydney, whose brand has been trashed by management over its deadlocked negotiations with students protesting the war in Gaza. The standoff reached a nadir a week ago – although we’re cautious about speaking too soon – when the Muslim Students Association claimed victory over vice-chancellor Mark Scott and other university officials, announcing a deal with several concessions. The most appalling, most craven, in this series of capitulations is that the MSA will be given a seat on a working group that reviews university investment policies.

We can only imagine the fissures in the university leadership that led to this abomination. And it might also explain why the institution, so captured by its own timidity, has finally sought external advice on how to manage this palaver. Margin Call hears that it’s tapped Sue Cato, of Cato & Clive Partners, for advice and, seemingly, to try to rehabilitate the university’s battered image. Good luck with that! The retainer would have to be enormous.

First task for Cato could be to try to convince university leaders to rip up their dodgy deal with the MSA, a group with questionable ties to Hizb ut-Tahrir (a proscribed terrorist organisation in much of the world). But, given the brain-drain of sensible thinking by some at the top, something tells us that won’t be happening anytime soon.

How about that? After months exhibiting weakness, your man Scott has headed to Public Relations types for advice.  As if all Sydney University’s problems under vice-chancellor Scott will disappear with proper PR.  Well done to Margin Call for calling out this latest absurdity.

Yoni Bashan –  Five Paws.



Wasn’t it great to see Mark (“Please call me Professor Kenny”) Kenny back on ABC TV Insiders on Sunday 30 June?  As Media Watch Dog readers know, your man Kenny has – in the words of the late Kitty Muggeridge – risen without trace. After a brief stint at the University of Adelaide he went to work for a socialist left backbench Labor MP in the South Australian Parliament.  From there, Comrade Kenny became an ABC producer and then it was on to a journalist position at Fairfax Media.

Then, lo and behold, it was a matter of “Arise Professor” as Comrade Kenny was given a professorship at the Australian National University.  Quite an achievement since, according to MWD’s research, he had neither academic teaching experience nor any substantial publications – apart from newspaper articles and columns.

It is not clear whether or not the learned professor teaches any students.  But he does put out a podcast called “Democracy Sausage” which is of little interest to the vegans in our midst – among others.  This will be examined in MWD’s next issue.

But MWD digresses.  MWD can identify a number of Liberal Party and/or Peter Dutton antagonists on the Insiders’ couch. Including David Crowe, Peter Hartcher, Sean Kelly, Niki Savva, Lenore Taylor, Laura Tingle and Shane Wright.  And, yes, Podcast Professor Kenny.  By the way, there are no Labor Party and/or Anthony Albanese antagonists on Insiders’ panels.

On 30 June, Mark Kenny told Insiders’ viewers (if viewers there were) that Julian Assange deserved to be treated “with a little bit of kindness”. He concluded this by saying “if it were worth getting him [Assange] out – then it was worth showing a little bit of human connection in relation to that”.   Kenny added, “But it was, you know, it’s about the degree of this thing, really.” The learned professor was not wrong here.  It’s all about what the ANU professor calls “The Thing”.

When discussion turned to Donald J. Trump, Mark Kenny declared – with respect to the US Presidential debate of recent memory – that “Trump’s lies were on purpose; Biden’s just mistakes”.   That’s all folks.

When discussion turned to the Coalition’s policy on nuclear energy, Comrade Kenny said this:  “It hasn’t been the sort of stink bomb that a lot of people thought it would be out there in the electorate. I think it will probably end up being that, frankly.” Spoken like an ANU professor, don’t you think? – with reference to stink bombs.

When discussion turned on Senator Fatima Payman who was interviewed on the program, fellow panellist Samantha Maiden declared the interview was explosive and likely to see her exit the Labor Party over the details of its policy about a two-state solution between Israel and a Palestinian administration.  A correct prediction.

But the learned professor’s response was that he thought Senator Payman put in “a pretty impressive performance”. Professor Kenny added that Senator Payman had “indicated her desire to stay [in the Labor Party]”.  That was said on Sunday 30 June.  Senator Payman quit the Labor Party on Thursday 4 July.

Verily, a Mark Kenny Moment.



When it was advertised that tickets to the Clive Palmer-produced Australian Freedom Conference with Tucker Carlson were being reduced from over $200 down to $50, I decided to take the opportunity to check it out – not aware it would be a 4-hour event with not that much Tucker Carlson.

As the large crowd filed into the International Convention Centre (many exercised their freedom to turn up late), it was hard not to notice a mysterious, oddly placed chair beside the podium.

The conference began with Queensland GP Melissa McCann. McCann gave a presentation about COVID vaccines and how she believes the Australian and other governments have understated or covered up the risks and vaccine injuries. Some of the more passionate (or intoxicated) audience members responded to clips of Scott Morrison and the Chief Health Officers at the time of the pandemic with heckles which almost livened up the presentation. When McCann got to the part of the presentation where she said she’d been cautioned by the medical board for her anti-vaccine advocacy, I was considering reporting her to the medical board for having no stage presence.

After McCann – about 40 minutes into the conference – was commentator and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza.

Apparently, Clive Palmer flew Dinesh from the United States to Australia to talk for about 10 minutes then put on one of his documentaries, which felt a bit like a lazy substitute teacher chucking on a movie. The documentary – 2000 Mules, alleging voter fraud in the 2020 US presidential election – was released in 2022 and is available on YouTube. So not exactly an exclusive treat for the freedom conference goers.

It’s possible Dinesh wanted to share it since the publisher of the film stopped distribution after being forced to apologise to a man the documentary falsely accused of voting fraudulently. 2000 Mules featured “voter fraud experts” investigating the 2020 election in what looked like a shed dressed up to look like the set of a low-budget sci-fi film. One expert featured is such an expert that at one point he was registered to vote in three states.

About two hours in we had an intermission. A quick look on X shows that others were having a similar experience:

After the intermission, we all returned to the sad news that Clive Palmer had laryngitis, and we would have to watch a video of his speech from another night instead. Palmer talked a lot about his dream to build a replica of the Titanic, called Titanic 2, and at one point talked about Jack and Rose from the Titanic movie like they were real people. Whoever edited the video of the speech clearly had fun, with the reaction shots of the crowd featuring bored or confused audience members.

Then there is a twist – Clive Palmer IS there after all, and comes to finish his speech. He talks some more about the Titanic 2, and then tells a story about ivermectin saving him after he got COVID (suggesting it may have come from being breathed on by WA premier at the time Mark McGowan). Finally, the purpose of the mysterious chair is revealed, as Clive uses it to act out fighting off a doctor.

Finally, Tucker is brought out. It feels like he spoke for less time than anyone else, but that could just be because he’s an entertaining performer. He criticised Australia’s media – claiming they are similar to America’s media but “slightly dumber”, and on the ABC said we should “refuse to pay your taxes on the basis of their existence”.

Just like many a visiting foreign comedian discovers, at some point Tucker realised he could get easy laughs by swearing in an Aussie accent and telling us how laid-back we are. We are encouraged to stay for a q&a between Clive and Tucker, but it is abruptly cut short. We leave exhausted and glad we didn’t pay $200.

Lulu having a rest after the long AFC



There was enormous interest in the last issue of Media Watch Dog. Particularly the “An ABC Update” segment titled “Kim Williams on Redmond Barry & An ABC National Campfire”.

Initially, the focus turned on the new ABC chair Kim Williams’ 2024 Sir Redmond Barry Lecture delivered at the State Library of Victoria on Wednesday 17 June. Ellie’s (male) co-owner was amused that your man Williams had made a historical howler in the very week it was announced that the taxpayer funded public broadcaster had established ABC News Verify to check the facts of others.

And what was Comrade Williams’ error? – MWD hears avid readers asking to be reminded.  Well, it’s this.  Mr Williams said that Redmond Barry, when a judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria, had acquitted “13 rebellious, treasonous miners, saving them from the noose.” The reference was to the 13 men charged with treason following the Eureka Stockade Uprising on the Ballarat goldfields in late 1854.

Here are the facts.  Justice Barry presided over some of the trials of those charged. The Chief Justice, Sir William à Beckett, sat on other cases. Secondly, neither Barry nor à Beckett acquitted the 13 men.  Rather they were acquitted by juries.  Judges at the time had no authority to acquit or convict in the criminal justice jurisdiction.

But there is more.  MWD also challenged Kim Williams’ claim that Barry was a “liberal  Supreme Court judge”.  Sir Edmund Barry’s entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, written by the late Peter Ryan in 1969, declares that Barry was a “harsh” – not a liberal – judge. Although Ryan acknowledges that most judges at that time were harsh.

Since last week, Ellie’s (male) co-owner has found the time to locate Ann Galbally’s book Redmond Barry: An Anglo Irish Australian (MUP, 1995) in his collection. Like Williams, Galbally pays due regard to Barry’s “public achievements as a member of the Victorian community in the nineteenth century” describing this as “unique”.   They included his role in the establishment of the State Library of Victoria and the National Gallery of Victoria (they were originally called The Public Library and Art Gallery) plus the Supreme Court of Victoria, the University of Melbourne, the Museum at the Public Library and more besides.

Also, Galbally points out that “unlike nearly all his contemporaries who held power, Barry was sympathetic to indigenous peoples of Port Phillip and strove, albeit clumsily, for better understanding of their culture and way of life”.

However, Barry was no “liberal”- not even by the standards of the time.  For example, he vehemently opposed admitting women to study at the University of Melbourne.  As Galbally documents, to Barry “women were not just another species but another genus to be treated with a different set of rules and standards from those he would apply to men”.   Barry even refused to discuss business with his sister.  As Ann Galbally puts it, “to Barry women exhibited another sphere and should remain there, to entertain and delight men and to look after their offspring”. This was not a “liberal” view in the late 19th century.

And then there is the matter of Ned Kelly. Redmond Barry presided over the trial of the Victorian Bushranger who was convicted of murdering a Victorian policeman.  Kelly was alleged to have murdered two other policemen but was not charged with these crimes.

MWD has no doubt that Kelly killed the three policemen.  However, Ann Galbally writes that: “The trial was indeed a questionable one” concerning the way it was conducted. Moreover, she supports the view of one-time Victorian Supreme Court Chief Justice John H. Phillips that “the conclusion is inescapable that Edward Kelly was not offered a trial according to law”.  In short, Barry made hostile rulings with respect to the accused who, according to Victorian law at the time, was not allowed to give evidence.   After the death sentence was imposed, Kelly had a feisty exchange with Barry.

While on the Supreme Court, Redmond Barry was regarded as a hanging judge.  He had sentenced Ned’s mother, Ellen, to three years hard labour for a crime. At the time she had a young child. She had wielded a spade when police came to arrest another of her sons. This was regarded by many as an illiberal sentence.

As covered by Galbally, according to reports, the final exchange between Redmond Barry and Ned Kelly was as follows – immediately after Barry imposed the death sentence:

Redmond Barry:  May the Lord have mercy on your soul.

Ned Kelly:  I will go further than that and say, I will see you there where I go.

Ned Kelly was executed on 11 November 1880.

Redmond Barry died of natural causes on 23 November 1880.

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Towards the end of the section of his speech titled “Redmond Barry’s Legacy”, Kim Williams threw the switch to fantasy:

As my friend Barry Jones tells me, when it came to this great library, Redmond Barry was very “hands on”. He chose the architects, the books and even the staff. He often stacked and dusted books and acted as porter…. He insisted on free access. Between us – I wouldn’t be surprised if, late on cold Melbourne July nights, when the wind and rain are beating hard on the dome of the reading room, and the security guards are dozing by their radiators, the pad of his ghostly feet can still be heard as he wheels a trolley through the aisles carefully reshelving books in precise order.

Interesting reflection, don’t you think?  Your man Williams did not remind his audience that the State Library of Victoria holds much memorabilia concerning the Kelly Gang – including Ned Kelly’s armour and rifle when he was captured by Victoria Police.

Between avid readers, Ellie’s (male) co-owner wouldn’t be surprised if, on cold Melbourne July nights, the ghost of Ned Kelly – in full armour with rifle in hand – can be witnessed as it moves under the dome of the Reading Room in search of Redmond Barry and his trolley.

How’s that for florid writing? – à la Kim Williams.

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Until next time.

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