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Wednesday, 8 December 1976
Page: 3552

Mr COHEN (Robertson) -On 17 November I made a strong speech in which I attacked a member of the Press, a Mr Trevor Kavanagh, for what I thought at the time to be a grossly misrepresentative article. I do not wish to go into the details of the matter. The article was about uranium. I had been given misinformation in a telephone call from Adelaide in regard to the article. The headline in the article concerned stated that the Caucus had made a decision regarding uranium. It turned out that the person who telephoned me gave me misinformation. It was the shadow Cabinet which made the decision regarding uranium. It was later changed by the Caucus. The reason I raise this matter is that Mr Kavanagh on numerous occasions has written a large number of very distorted articles which are grossly untrue and which are marked by beatups

First of all, let me say that I apologise to Mr Kavanagh for my speech on his article. I have never yet attacked a person in this House without reason. However, Mr Kavanagh wrote a letter to me. It was a private letter. He criticised me in quite strong terms and called me a craven coward or something to that effect. I assure this House that whenever I have been wrong I apologise, and I apologise in this case. Let me say however that I do not withdraw my remarks about

Mr Kavanaghas a journalist. I was so incensed by him because of a series of articles that were grossly distorted and in many cases untrue. Early on 22 December 1975 1 was moved by one of the most dishonest articles that I have ever seen. It was headlined: 'Labor Delays Decision on Leadership*. I was so moved that I sent a telegram to Mr Kavanagh telling him what I thought of his journalism. I would like to go through the article and pick out all the errors. It reads:

The meeting became extremely heated as members of the shattered Labor Party levelled abuse and criticism at some leading figures.

This did not occur. It is untrue. The article went on:

It is understood Mr Whitlam himself came in for considerable criticism for suggesting he should stay as leader only until Mr Bob Hawke, the President of the ACTU, can enter Parliament and take over.

That did not occur. There was no criticism of Mr Whitlam. The next section reads:

Mr Whitlam's supporters hit back with rebukes against Dr Cairns and Mr Cameron, the 2 sacked Ministers who criticised Mr Whitlam 's leadership after the election debacle.

That did not happen. Neither Minister was attacked or criticised at that meeting. The article continued:

Dr Cairnswas rebuked for stating that Mr Whitlam 's leadership had been 'elitist'.

Dr Cairnsdid not say that, nor was he rebuked in any way. This is typical of the articles which have appeared written by Mr Kavanagh. I said previously that he was a fool or a har. I said that anyone who wrote an article which was totally fictional and imaginary had to be either a fool or a liar. I could go through the article and pick out more inaccuracies. Though I apologise profusely to Mr Kavanagh for the error I made before I do not withdraw by one iota my criticisms of his journalistic standards.

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