Now be a good sport


Dave Kesby [ASOPA 1962-63] writes: "As well as being the editor of our much-loved Mail, in a previous life Keith mixed with the powerful. There is a great story in the Sydney Morning Herald (5 August) of how our editor was in a meeting where Bob Hawke was tearing strips off the management of the ABC over a story Four Corners did on Bob Hawke’s best friend, Sir Peter Abeles.

"It was Keith’s meticulous notes that were used to show that Bob Hawke used undue pressure on the ABC. Great stuff and a great insight into Keith’s previous life. The article was written by Alan Ramsey who writes angry articles each week. He dislikes most politicians but has a huge loathing of both Bob Hawke and John Howard. I love the articles anyway."

Dave's reference is to this extract from Ramsey’s article:

“Ken Inglis, a former professor of history at the Australian National University and professor of Australian studies at Harvard, has just published his second ABC blockbuster. The first, in 1983, titled This is the ABC, covered the ABC's first 50 years from 1932. The second completes the next 23 years. And on page 155 of his latest book, Whose ABC?, there is a wonderful excerpt from the diary of Keith Jackson, a senior ABC management figure of the 1980s.

“Inglis recounts a meeting by Somervaille and Jackson with Hawke in the prime minister's Canberra office in late August 1987, the detail of which Jackson later committed to his diary.

“Inglis quotes Jackson's diary: "The prime minister began [the meeting] with an 'intemperate attack on Four Corners as a nest of vipers'. Says he knows there is a program in production on 'the friends of the government' and advises ABC to seek the counsel of defamation lawyers. Expresses repugnance that 'public funds should be used to underwrite people whose purpose is to undermine the fabric of society'. Somervaille placidly absorbed all this, and more, and responded with words to the effect: 'I hear what you say, prime minister, but I know you would be the last person to want me to interfere in ABC programming.' "


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Keith Jackson

We all know, when Richard writes AFL, it's merely a sign his obsession has escaped and is making a bid for freedom. So, for 'AFL' read 'ALP' throughout. For what it's worth, and despite the encounter descibed in Ken Inglis' book, I reckon Bob Hawke was a great ALP leader.

Richard E. Jones

AND as Dave and I well know, Keithy is a firm AFL supporter -- just like Dubbo and myself. Additionally Keithy stood as a candidate, albeit unsuccessfully, for the great People's Party.
Whether Hawke sits among his pantheon of heroes I'm not sure. For me Curtin and Whitlam stand out as the top ALP leaders of my lifetime, but as someone who uses words to earn a living I also loved Keating's brilliant use of language.
He once majestically described the Senate as a house of "unrepresentative swill".

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