27 MAY 2011

“Media Watch Dog on Fridays…is a sort of popular read in the Crikey office”

Crikey’s Andrew Crook on ABC 2 News Breakfast, 24 September 2010.

“Gerard Henderson is big enough to take care of himself, but that doesn’t stop us worrying about him from time to time.  Lately it’s Hendo’s tendency to self-harm that has us losing sleep.

For example, peruse the correspondence he’s published in his latest Media Watch Dog blog…..There’s a part of us that just wants to ask: “Hendo, are you OK?”

– James Jeffrey’s “Strewth!” column, The Australian, 8 November 2010.

“I realise this makes me practically retarded, but until five minutes ago I thought Nancy was Gerard Henderson’s wife, not his dog.”

– Byronbache via Twitter, Monday 7 February 2011

“Before going further can you write to confirm that these emails are private correspondence and not for publication”

– ABC News Radio’s Marius Benson, 11 March 2011. He did go further – see MWD Issue 86.

Media Watch Dog – “disgraceful”, “sick” – Professor Robert Manne, April Fool’s Day 2011.

Stop Press: Malcolm Fraser Shows His Sensitive Side; Chrissy Sharp Vacates Wheeler Centre

● Nancy’s-Pick-of-the-Week: The Age Throws the Switch to Body Language

● A Dog-level View of the Sydney Writers’ Festival: On The Opening; John Howard and Sentimental Favourite David Hicks

Q&A : With Never A Right-Of-Centre Jewish Panellist

● Five Paws Award: Mamdouh Habib Steps Up with Assessment of David Hicks and Jack Thomas

● Historical Howlers : Malcolm Fraser & Margaret Simons Mis-Remember Zimbabwe

● Nancy’s Old Bones: What Gough Whitlam Thought About Murderer Mao

● Correspondence : Factless In The Academy. Doctors Dyrenfurth and Soutphommasane Fail to Come Up with the Evidentiary Medicine


– Malcolm Fraser Accuses Greg Sheridan Of Barracking

What fun.  A letter in The Australian this morning by Malcolm Fraser and Margaret Simons responding to Greg Sheridan’s article, published yesterday, titled “Fraser’s Unreliable Memoirs Rewrite History Books”.

Mr Fraser (who these days writes about himself in the third person) and Ms (“We are superior”) Simons concede that there is “one error” in Malcolm Fraser : The Political Memoirs.  Just one.  Namely “the book says in one sentence that Fraser won four elections” whereas he “contested four elections and won three”.  What’s the logic here?  Labor’s Bert Evatt and Arthur Calwell both contested three elections each and lost six elections between them.

Fraser/Simons simply ignored Greg Sheridan’s claims that their account about the former prime minister’s memory of his attitude to the Vietnam War in the 1960s is manifestly  false.   Mr Fraser says today that he did not know that South Vietnam’s president Ngo Dinh Diem was overthrown in 1963 in a coup which was engineered by the CIA.  Nancy’s co-owner was at senior school in 1963 – and the CIA’s involvement in Diem’s assassination was discussed in the classroom.  Mr Fraser also ignores Greg Sheridan’s documented criticism which pointed out the flaws in his memory concerning the Indonesian takeover of East Timor in 1975.

The Fraser/Simons letter focuses, instead, on asserting that Malcolm Fraser’s memoirs are better than John Howard’s memoirs.  Gosh. They also bang on about the Dismissal of the Whitlam Labor government in November 1975 – despite the fact that this was not mentioned by Sheridan in his article. Mr Fraser and Ms Simons imply that Nancy’s co-owner was “simply wrong” in his criticism of this part of Malcolm Fraser : The Political Memoir in February last year. (See MWD Issue 43). This matter will be addressed in a future issue of MWD. [I just can’t wait – Ed].

Former Liberal MP Michael Baume also wrote an important critique of the Fraser Memoirs in his Australian Financial Review column last Monday. He made the tough-minded point that: “Unlike Howard’s book Fraser’s was a project assisted…through the Australia Council” [Oh dear, not more taxpayer’s money for jam – Ed].

Wheeler Centre De-Wheeled

Jason Steger reports in today’s Age that Chrissy Sharp is about to step down as director of the Wheeler Centre.  The Wheeler Centre, when established in 2009, was the recipient of a mere $10 million in taxpayer funds.  According to Ms Sharp, the Wheeler Centre has “been noticed in Sydney”.  Wow.  Just imagine what it could have done with a government hand-out of $20 million.  Why, with such public largesse Ms Sharp and her colleagues might even have made an impression in Brisbane.

According to Mr Steger, Chrissy Sharpe is off to Honkers with her husband Michael Lynch – the conservative-hating leftie who is currently a member of the ABC Board, per courtesy of an independent nomination and a decision by the Gillard Government.  Could this mean a vacancy on the ABC Board? [Who cares? – Ed].



What would MWD do without “The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra” – aka The Age? Yesterday The Age ran a story by Katie Hodge in London under the heading “The Day Obama Met the Queen: ‘He was like a slightly sheepish school boy’”.

Believe it or not, Ms Hodge’s entire report focused on Barack Obama’s body language when he met the Queen at Buckingham Palace this week.  The caption at the bottom of the photo of Elizabeth II and President Obama read: “He stands up to world leaders and despots, but one little old lady still intimidates US President Barack Obama.”

Which raises the question.  How would The Age know?  Well, it turns out that Katie Hodge consulted a “body language expert” named Judi James [Is this for real? – Ed].  Ms James was reported as saying:

Rather than appearing the alpha male, which he has done so much recently, Obama’s body language was reduced to that of a slightly sheepish schoolboy. His wife was shepherding him around with little pushes and, when he stood next to the Queen, it was with his arms dangling as if he didn’t know what to do with his hands.

And what about the Obamas with the newly married Duke and Duchess of Cambridge? [Is she the sister of Princess Pippa? – Ed].  Well, this is what Ms Hodge had to say – with a little help from Ms James.

The couple appeared no less cowed by the newly married Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. While Kate was “absolutely glowing with confidence” and “easily matched Michelle”, with her eye contact and assured gesticulations, William, who tends to make deferential gestures in the company of well-known figures, also appeared unfazed, she said. “Obama was standing quite submissively.”

So there you have it. The only problem with the Hodge/James psychological analysis is that The Age’s picture does not support this thesis.  The Queen was shown with her hands clasped near her waist. Likewise President Obama.  And both looked relaxed.  The pic did not support Ms James’ claim that Barack Obama stood next to the Queen with his “arms dangling” or that Mrs Obama shepherded him around the Palace. And here’s a picture of Judi James from her website – wrapped in a self-embrace.  So who looks more comfortable. President Obama at Buckingham Palace or Ms James on her website?


On Tuesday morning, the presenter of Mornings With Deborah Cameron warned against bias in the media.  This from the voice of ABC Metropolitan Radio 702’s “Green-Left-Daily” supremo.  How touching.  Yet, how lacking in self-awareness.

For the record, this is how the self-proclaimed bias-free Deborah Cameron commenced her program last Monday:

At 8:30, the Opposition party room is meeting. The atmosphere in there is pretty thick. There’s the climate change haze and there’s the smell of tobacco smoke clinging to the jackets of some of them. Now, you know how that feels, it always –  it doesn’t feel very comfortable. Today there’s been a circuit breaker. Alex Somlyay, a cancer survivor, as well as another member of the House, Ken Wyatt, look like blowing smoke in the face of the Opposition leader. We’ll get more on that in just a moment.

For the record, there is no evidence that climate change was an issue when the Coalition parties met at 8.30 am in Canberra on Monday 23 May.  It is true that there is a debate within the Coalition about trade-marks and intellectual property rights concerning Labor’s decision to enact that tobacco companies present their products in plain packaging.  This is a legitimate debate for a pro-free enterprise and pro-free trade party to have.  There is no evidence that Ken Wyatt was, even in a metaphoric sense, intending to blow smoke in the face by Tony Abbott.

And as to Mrs Cameron’s advanced hyperbole about “the smell of tobacco smoke clinging to the jackets” of some Liberal MPs, all Nancy can say is:

Verily, A Deborah Cameron Moment.


– Michelle Grattan Tells Tony Abbott What To Do

Age political correspondent Michelle Grattan comments for Radio National Breakfast every day – or, rather, this is what she is supposed to do. However, on occasions, Ms Grattan puts aside commentary and tells political parties what they should do.

So it was last Tuesday when Michelle Grattan declared that the Gillard Government’s plan for the plain-packaging of tobacco products was in the public interest.  The following exchange took place:

Fran Kelly : So what do you think the Coalition will do? What do you think Tony Abbott will be predisposed to do?

Michelle Grattan : Well, it’s hard to know. I must say he’s come out with a lot of negatives on this. But you never know till the game’s over.  But I would hope he would support this measure. Because in terms of his own background as a Health Minister, because of the strong arguments on the issue I think that’s the way the Coalition should go.

So there you have it – Michelle Grattan providing free advice on what Tony Abbott and the Coalition SHOULD DO.  Can you bear it?

– Malcolm Mackerras Prevails Over “Angel of Death”

In the Canberra Times yesterday Malcolm Mackerras posited the view that the Gillard Government will last until the end of the three year term.  Fair enough.  It’s just the way Mr Mackerras came to this conclusion that concerned MWD.  According to MM he is “quite confident in predicting there will be no by-election during the current term. Members of the Parliament do not die these days”.

Can you bear it?  What about Liberal MP Peter Nugent who died in office in April 2001 – aged 62?


The taxpayer funded Sydney Writers’ Festival has just concluded.  It was, as predicted (see MWD Issue 90), very much your taxpayer subsidised literary function Down Under.  For the most part leftist organisers dipped into public funds to finance leftist writers – from within Australia and overseas – to entertain primarily leftist audiences.  There was the occasional token conservative speaker – John Howard, for example.  But SWF 2011 was essentially about the sandal-wearers talking to fellow sandal wearers.

Due to the fact that she is very much a private sector canine, Nancy could not get to spend days and nights at the 2011 SWF.  However, she managed to send along her half sister Inky, who filed the following reports about the two seminal events of the festival – namely Opening Night and the David Hicks Appearance – as well as John Howard’s conversation with Radio National’s in-house leftie Fran Kelly.  Here were go – as slightly edited by MWD’s huge literary department.

Inky at SWF 2011 Opening Night

Inky took a well-earned break last week to attend the glittering Opening Night of the Sydney Writers’ Festival. Welcome remarks from the Chair, Sandra Yates AO, who thanked the NSW State Government and the City of Sydney for their financial support – and the audience. The SWF chair then acknowledged the traditional owners of the land, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. Ms Yates then introduced George Souris, NSW Minister for, inter alia, Racing and the Arts, who thanked Ms Yates and the City of Sydney and acknowledged the traditional owners of the land, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. There was more from Sandra Yates who then introduced Clover Moore, Lord Mayor of Sydney – who thanked Ms Yates and the State Government –  and acknowledged the traditional owners of the land, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. Yet more from Ms Yates who introduced a representative of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. He offered a traditional welcome to everyone, and handed back to Sandra Yates, who introduced Chip Rolley, SWF Artistic Director, who thanked … and acknowledged…(Yeah.  I’ve got it –  Ed).

Then Mr Rolley expressed his disappointment over the regrettable absence of the Chinese writer, Liao Yiwu, and a recording of him performing one of his poems was played (Inky confesses that she rather liked the poem with moving translation by Linda Jaivin). And phew, at last, after nearly 35 minutes of introductions and thanks, Chip Rolley finally introduced the Opening Address.

Oh, by the way, the Opening Address was given by Fatima Bhutto, granddaughter of the former prime minister of Pakistan Zulfiker Ali Bhutto and niece of Benazir Bhutto. Very interesting talk but there was no question/discussion period.

Inky Spends Time with John Howard (former PM) and David Hicks (former Taliban)

Inky went along to hear John Howard being interviewed by Fran Kelly on his book Lazarus Rising.  The function was held at 11.30 am on Friday 20 May – so there was not a full house.  However, the large audience was enthusiastic.  Except for a few demonstrators who managed to take a large banner (around 3 metres by 1.5 metres) into the  Sydney Theatre and stood at the bottom of the stage.  Unfurled, the banner read: “John Howard: War Criminal”.

The Howard-hating demonstrators were allowed to remain at the front of the audience for the entire John Howard/Fran Kelly conversation. [Where was Chip Rolley when the taxpayer really needed him? – Ed].  Then it was time for the question/discussion period – with two microphones.  Ms Kelly called two of the demonstrators on separate microphones.  Both asked Mr Howard whether he expected to be charged with war crimes.  For the record, the answer was no.

Later, Inky attended the David Hicks conversation with leftist Donna Mulhearn at 4 pm on Sunday 22 May. The audience was packed out.  Earlier, Mr Howard and Ms Kelly had made their way on stage without fanfare.  However, Chip Rolley attended the Hicks/Mulhearn gig and introduced the couple.  Mr Hicks had time for only four questions – all of which were sympathetic.  There were no demonstrators present and no one held a sign declaring, say, “David Hicks: al Qaeda Graduate” or “David Hicks: Taliban Retd” .  At the end of the event, David Hicks received a lengthy standing ovation. [Did Chip Rolley stand, too? – Ed].

MWD thanks Inky (who was recently photographed in the Australian Financial Review – see below) for her incisive reports.  For the record it should be pointed out that the 2011 SWF was organised – and the 2011 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards decided – before the election of Barry O’Farrell’s Coalition government on 26 March 2011. In 2010 Andrew Tink’s excellent biography William Charles Wentworth: Australia’s Greatest Native Son (Allen & Unwin) did not even make it to the Premier’s Award shortlist.  But then Andrew Tink is a former Liberal politician writing about a conservative figure in Australian history.

(Courtesy Fairfax Media Library)


It is sometimes the case that literary events spill over on to the Q&A program on ABC 1.  And so it occurred last Monday – with the panel comprising Gail Dines, Michael Cunningham, Brendan Cowell, Leslie Cannold and Howard Jacobson.  It was a case of wall-to-wall lefties.  There were moderate social democrats like Howard Jacobson and then there were the real leftists.

When it came to the discussion of Israel, the panel divided between those who agreed with President Obama that the Israeli/Palestine conflict should be decided with an agreement based on the 1967 borders – and those who felt that President Obama had not gone far enough. Neither Tony Jones nor any member of the panel supported the position taken by Prime Minister Netanyahu on behalf of the elected Israeli government.

It turned out that three members of the Q&A panel were Jews – namely Leslie Cannold, Gail Dines and Howard Jacobson. All three bagged the Israeli Government to a greater or lesser extent.  Quite a few Jews appear on Q&A. But, according to MWD’s extensive research, only liberal, left-of-centre or leftist Jews are welcome on the program.  Politically conservative Jewish-types – like Dr Colin Rubenstein and Labor MP Michael Danby – have never been invited on to the program Q&A. [It must be a Netanyahu Free Zone – Ed].



This week’s prestigious award goes to – wait for it –  Mamdouh Habib, the high profile Egyptian/Australian citizen and graduate of Guantanamo Bay.

David Hicks’ standing-ovation-inducing appearance at the Sydney Writers’ Festival reminded Nancy of an interview conducted by David Speers with Mamdouh Habib on the Sky News PM Agenda program on Tuesday 3 May 2011 – shortly after President Obama announced that Osama bin Laden had been killed in Pakistan by US Navy SEALS.

Sure, Mamdouh Habib told David Speers that he did not believe that bin Laden was dead.  And, sure, he claimed that bin Laden’s Al Qaeda terrorist organisation had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks on the United States.  That’s what Mr Habib does.  What interested Nancy turned on Mamdouh Habib’s criticism of al Qaeda training graduates David Hicks and Jack Thomas – both of whom had welcomed bin Laden’s death. Let’s go to the video clip:

Mamdouh Habib: If I keep like – I’m doing like a David Hicks or a Jack Thomas –  they stood up and they say, “Oh, he’s history for America, I’m happy for America that he’s gone”.  I will be hypocrite. I don’t feel good to say it. David Hicks he hasn’t been to speak [to the media] for four years. Today because Osama bin Laden die he stood up and say he’s happy for United States. He was in this – he was in Afghanistan for four years, next door – next door neighbour for Osama bin Laden.  But today he come in and tell me he’s happy because he’s die. Why what he [Hicks] was doing for years? I was only for few days in there. Even Jack Thomas is same thing. I don’t like to be hypocrite – I’m telling you the truth….

Mamdouh Habib may be confused and confusing.  But at least he has not re-written his personal history.  And he’s no hypocrite.

Five Paws.



MWD’s coverage last week of the errors in Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs by the former Liberal Party prime minister Malcolm Fraser and journalist Margaret (“We are superior”) Simons created considerable interest.  As indicated, MWD will continue to monitor the error-laden, award winning, Fraser memoir – which won the Book of the Year gong at the 2011 Sydney Writers’ Festival – over the coming weeks.

Today the focus is on the coverage in Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs of  Southern Rhodesia/Zimbabwe around the time of the signing of the Lancaster House Agreement. This is what Fraser/Simons wrote on Pages 512-513 about the situation in Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) in the lead up to the 1979 election which saw Robert Mugabe’s Patriotic Front prevail at the ballot box :

The challenge was to persuade the Patriotic Front, which had hopes of achieving its aims through force of arms, to instead attend a conference with the enemy, trusting Britain to be an honest broker. Fraser stayed on the case, writing to the frontline leaders and urging the view that the Lancaster House conference was the only forum in which warfare should be avoided.  The conference began in October, and continued for twelve weeks. It was far from smooth sailing, with the Patriotic Front walking out, but being pressured by the frontline [African] states to return.  In December, an agreement was reached under which Muzorewa agreed to step down for supervised elections. A ceasefire was declared; Australia sent peacekeeping troops. Mugabe won the election easily.

And now for some facts.  The Lancaster House conference commenced on 10 September 1979 (not in October) ran for 14 (not 12) weeks – the agreement was signed on 21 December 1979.  Australia did not send what Fraser/Simons call “peacekeeping troops”.  Rather, the Fraser Government deployed a contingent of unarmed military monitors.  This was at some considerable risk to the Australian Defence Force personnel involved.

Australia despatched 152 commissioned and non-commissioned officers to a country where there were up to 22,000 armed guerrillas in assembly points and where the Rhodesia Security Forces had devised plans to attack these cantonments by air.  In the event, fortunately, it turned out alright.  But ADF personnel in Zimbabwe were not only unarmed but hopelessly outnumbered and they did not have weaponry normally associated with the concept of peacekeeping troops.

So there you have it.  Just three errors in one Fraser/Simons paragraph.  Yet the authors of Malcolm Fraser : The Political Memoirs only concede one error in the entire tome.



There was a huge response to Nancy’s digging last week – which revealed the praise showered on Mao Zedong when the communist totalitarian dictator died on 9 September 1976.  Mao ruled China during the Great Leap Forward of 1958-1962 and the Cultural Revolution of 1966-1976 when literally tens of millions died as a direct consequence of Mao’s policies.  These atrocities have been documented most recently in Frank Dikotter Mao’s Great Famine: A History of China’s Most Devastating Catastrophe and Yang Su Collective Killings In Rural China During The Cultural Revolution (CUP).

Mr Fraser was prime minister in September 1976. Readers of MWD have asked – what did Gough Whitlam (then Opposition leader) say about Mao in September 1976?

Well, Mr Whitlam issued a press statement on 9 September 1976 titled The Death of Mao Tse Tung (see here).  Gough Whitlam referred to Mao’s “extraordinary wisdom, scholarly temperament and great personal charm”. Gough Whitlam even claimed that, under Mao’s rule, China experienced “an internal stability she had not known for centuries” and claimed that Mao presided over “the most honest and efficient government China has ever had”. What absolute tosh.

Due to popular demand, MWD also publishes the Hansard report of the “Death of Chairman Mao Tse-Tung” condolence motion which passed the House of Representatives on 14 September (see here). Speeches were delivered by Malcolm Fraser, Gough Whitlam, Doug Anthony, Tom Uren, Bill Wentworth (dissenting), Mick Young and Bill Hayden.

Read it – and weep.  Except, of course, for W.C. Wentworth’s speech in which he depicted Mao as a murderer.



Dr Nick Dyrenfurth and Dr Tim Soutphommasane are two high profile left-wing academics. Recently they both edited and contributed to All That’s Left: What Labor Should Stand For (New South – a publication of New South Wales Press Ltd). The book contains neither footnotes nor endnotes.

According to the cover of All That’s Left, “this book provides compelling reading for those in search of answers….”. So guess what happened when Gerard Henderson sought answers to the question of what were the editors’ sources for assertions made about him in their Introduction?  The learned doctors refused to even acknowledge the correspondence.  And they sought refuge under the bed, so to speak.

The following correspondence is published in the public interest – as an example of how some taxpayer funded academics have one set of standards for their students and another for themselves. Students are required to support their claims with evidence.  But some academics refuse to do the same.  Here we go:

Gerard Henderson to Nick Dyrenfurth  and Tim Soutphommasane 24 May 2011

My attention has just been drawn to the Introduction of your edited collected titled All That’s Left: What Labor Should Stand For (New South, 2010). At Page 9 of All That’s Left, the following comment appears:

Quadrant devoted page after page to dissecting the Left, no accompanying explication of a positive conservative philosophy – or even disposition – was forthcoming on what it meant to be on the “Right”.  So it is with the other standard bearers of the conservative commentariat.  Whether it is Gerard Henderson, Janet Albrechtsen, Andrew Bolt or Christopher Pearson, there is only carping and invective.  To be on the Right is to believe that Labor has returned to its socialist ways: that everything is symbolic and hollow; that political correctness has run riot; and, of course, that Judeo-Christian values are under threat.

All That’s Left contains neither footnotes nor endnotes – so there is no way for readers to fact-check the text.

In the Notes on Contributors at the front of All That’s Left, Dr Nick Dyrenfurth is described as a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Sydney and Dr Tim Soutphommasane is described as a research fellow at Monash University’s National Centre for Australian Studies.  It is clear, then, that both authors have associated their academic credentials to All That’s Left. At the very least, this implies that the authors have documentary evidence to support their assertions.

So, I ask the following questions:

  1. What is your evidence to support your assertion that I “believe that Labor has returned to its socialist ways”?  Where did I ever write or say this – and when?
  2. What is your evidence to support your assertion that I believe that “everything is symbolic and hollow”?  Where did I ever write or say this – and when?
  3. What is your evidence to support your assertion that I hold the view that “political correctness has run riot”. Where did I ever write or say this – and when?
  4. What is your evidence to support your assertion that I hold the view that “Judeo-Christian values are under threat”?  Where did I ever write or say this – and when?

If you cannot support your assertions with documented evidence, it will be obvious that you just invented these claims.  In which case, how do you propose to correct your false assertions with respect to me?

Over to you.  I look forward to a prompt response.

Yours sincerely

Gerard Henderson

cc: Kathy Bail

Gerard Henderson to Nick Dyrenfurth  and Tim Soutphommasane   25 May 2011

I refer to my email concerning All That’s Left – copy attached – which I sent some 24 hours ago. So far I have not received a reply – or even an acknowledgement. So I ask – respectfully of course – when do you propose to reply to my email requesting documentation for the assertions made about me in All That’s Left?

Over to you.

Gerard Henderson

cc: Kathy Bail

Gerard Henderson to Kathy Bail – 26 May 2011


As you are aware, I have emailed Nick Dyrenfurth and Tim Soutphommasane on two occasions seeking documentation for the claims made about me in the “Introduction to their book All That’s Left (New South) – without any response.

I understand that you were not in your current position with the University of New South Wales Press Ltd when All That’s Left was published.

However, I believe that New South should insist that Dr Dyrenfurth and Dr Soutphommasane acknowledge and respond to my correspondence.  For academics to ignore a request to supply evidence is disturbingly unprofessional.

It would be appreciated if you  – or one of your staff – could follow up this matter.

I hope that I do not have to take the issue up with the Vice-Chancellor.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

Kathy Bail to Gerard Henderson – 26 May 2011


I’ll have to follow this up tomorrow.

Just heading off to board meeting and AGM



Phillipa McGuinness to Gerard Henderson – 26 May 2011

Dear Gerard

Thank you for your message. I know that Kathy Bail just emailed you to say that she is preparing for our AGM this afternoon and doesn’t have time to respond properly today. We did note however that we share the authors’ concern about any correspondence between you being made public. I think that if you were able to offer assurance that such discussion would remain private, Dr Dyrenfurth and Dr Soutphommasane would be happy to acknowledge and respond to your correspondence.

Best wishes, Phillipa

Gerard Henderson to Phillipa McGuinness – 26 May 2011

Dear Phillipa

Thanks for your note.

I must say that I do not understand the “concern” shared by you and Kathy Bail – and, apparently, Dr Dyrenfurth and Dr Soutphommasane – concerning this matter.

On several occasions I have asked the editors of All That’s Left to provide documentary evidence for the very public claims they made about me on Page 9 of their book. And you are telling me that they will not even acknowledge my emails unless I can “offer assurance that such discussion would remain private”.

This is an extraordinary request – especially on behalf of two taxpayer-funded academics who engage in the public debate, including in The Australian newspaper.

If I am asked to support an assertion with evidence – I provide the documentary material. However, if Dr Dyrenfurth and Dr Soutphommasane are asked to support their assertions about me, they demand a confidentiality agreement.  If they are so defensive, then perhaps they should refrain from engaging in the public debate per courtesy of, inter alia, the University of New South Wales Press Ltd.

It’s not as if I have made an unreasonable request.  For example, at Page 9 of All That’s Left, the editors claim I “believe Labor that has returned to its socialist ways”.  I have never written or said this – as a simple Google search will reveal.

The Dyrenfurth/Soutphommasane (undocumented) assertion is professionally damaging to me since it claims that I hold a position on the contemporary Labor Party which I do not hold.  It is widely known that I supported the economic reform agenda of the ALP governments led by Bob Hawke and Paul Keating. You and Kathy Bail have attended The Sydney Institute’s Annual Dinner – which was addressed by Kevin Rudd in 2008 and Julia Gillard this year.

Do the editors of All That’s Left seriously believe that Prime Minister Rudd and Prime Minister Gillard would have given valuable time to address an organisation – the executive director of which had verballed them as proclaiming “socialist ways”?

As indicated, all Dr Dyrenfurth and Dr Soutphommasane have to do is come up with the evidence to support their assertions and the issue will be resolved.  I am genuinely surprised that two normally outspoken academics are sheltering behind New South, refusing to answer correspondence and requesting confidentiality clauses.

All this in response to my reasonable request that they stump up the evidence in support of their (undocumented) allegations about me in All That’s Left. Such behaviour is surprisingly unprofessional for such senior academics.

I would be grateful if you or Kathy Bail could explain the justification for allowing (undocumented) allegations about me to remain uncorrected in a New South book while requiring that any response by the editors must remain in the private domain.  As previously advised, if necessary I will take up this matter with Professor Fred Hilmer – since it involves a matter of public policy concerning the University of New South Wales.

As you know, I have always been very supportive of New South but I cannot accept that the comments about me in All That’s Left remain uncorrected in the public domain.

Over to you.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

+ + + +

Until next time.