Chris Kenny: I’m going to go straight to your portfolio area of communications and ask you about Norman Swan. He’s apologised to Shane Warne and Kimberley Kitching’s family, but what about apologising to the public for creating unnecessary fear about Covid killing you apparently, allegedly from weeks after you have gotten over the infection?
Senator Henderson: Chris, good afternoon and great to join you. I’ve seen the report, of course that the ABC says that he has apologised to Senator Kitching’s family, but not to Shane Warne’s family. So I raise that question, has he also apologised to Shane Warne’s family? But more broadly, what is the ABC doing to rein this conduct in. Chris, this is a very serious breach of editorial standards. It shows that Dr. Swan did not even check basic facts. But I ask this, why is the ABC continuing to allow this ABC presenter employed part-time to be giving medical opinions, broadcast live on air? That’s completely improper. It’s an ongoing breach of editorial standards. He’s been a repeat offender. The ABC has not pulled him in, as you rightly say, and now we’ve seen one of the most serious breaches of editorial or journalistic standards that I’ve seen in a very long time.
Chris Kenny: He’s always been overly alarmist. He’s always predicted catastrophe. He’s always defended Daniel Andrews’ lockdown approach and criticised the New South Wales government’s more free approach. I mean, this has been so political. And the trouble is the ABC have been giving him such a platform and giving less of a platform to the people like Nick Coatsworth, Catherine Bennett, Peter Collignon who have been so precise and measured in their advice throughout the pandemic.
Senator Henderson: Well, Chris, the bottom line is he is not a medical expert. He is not hired by the ABC to be anything other than a broadcaster or a journalist or a presenter, all of whom are required to check their facts. They have given him a platform very wrongly, and it is an ongoing fundamental breach of editorial guidelines of the ABC. And now we’ve seen Dr. Swan – and even to promote himself as a doctor, frankly, is quite wrong when he’s not engaged as a doctor – cause immeasurable stress to the families of both the late Kimberley Kitching and also Shane Warne. It is a disgrace, but Australians deserve an explanation as to how this happened and what the ABC is going to do about it. It’s all very well to apologise, but how are we going to see a lift in standards? We’ve seen journalists on the ABC freelancing, going rogue on social media and, frankly, this is another example where the ABC don’t pull their senior journalists in and instruct them that they have got to follow the letter of the law, they’ve got to comply with ABC standards. And clearly this is a very big failing by the ABC.
Chris Kenny: Let’s go to your State Liberal Party taking action against Climate 200 and the Teals saying that they are demonstrably acting as a political party and therefore they are rorting the donation rules because they claim to be independents and third party agents. I applaud this action because to me this has been obvious for so long. Will we see similar legal action, do you think, in New South Wales and perhaps federally?
Senator Henderson: Well, it is very significant legal action that has been taken by the Liberal Party because it reflects the fact that the Teal so-called independents are not independent. They share resources. They share material. They share a platform. There is nothing about these Teal independents that’s independent whatsoever. And that shows, Chris, frankly, a really, really poor failing of integrity. So it is very pleasing to see the Liberal Party take this action to call them out. I can’t of course draw any sort of parallel federally because there are very specific donation laws here in Victoria which cap individual donations for any one party at about $4,300. But certainly it looks like this is a very serious transgression of the law here in Victoria, and I’m very pleased to see the Liberal Party taking this action.
Chris Kenny: I think it’s just more important in terms of the general political debate too, in terms of your marketing, isn’t it? Why market yourselves as independents, when you’re so clearly operating as a political organisation, I mean, it’s just absurd to suggest that even these Teal independents in different states aren’t running the same campaigns, the same policies funded in the same way, by the same people.
Senator Henderson: Absolutely. And that shows an absolute lack of integrity. So when you hear about the Teals talking about integrity, this shows an absolute failing. These so-called independents can’t be relied upon to exercise independent judgement. They’re all dancing to the tune of Climate 200 and Simon Holmes a Court. And frankly, as the Liberal Party has now made very clear, this is a potentially a very serious breach of the law here in Victoria and also possibly has criminal law consequences.
Chris Kenny: Yeah, will be interesting to see actually, if they’re all independents, they’ll have to turn up in court with their own lawyers rather than have one lawyer representing the lot. That’ll be something to watch. Thanks for joining us, Senator. I appreciate it.