"Callaghan: “Governments make news, Oppositions give only views”."

— “Joh: The Life and Political Adventures of Johannes Bjelke-Petersen”, Hugh Lunn

"(Callahan) answered the phone (to journalists) like an officer to a corporal: “Speak, it’s your ten cents,” Callaghan would say, or, before you spoke, “we deny everything”. “What do you want, a medal”? was another favourite Callaghan opener in conversations with journalists, not matter how important. Reporters who asked about the Queensland Gerrymander received more than they bargained for, or less might be more accurate: “It’s in the basement with the crocodiles,” Callaghan would say before hanging up, knowing the reporter would have to face a hostile editor for failing to come up with a story."

— “Joh: The Life and Political Adventures of Johannes Bjelke-Petersen”, Hugh Lunn

"None of this is quite true but Leggett feels that to be excitingly right in general is better than to be dully accurate in particular. That is why he is such an effective journalist."

— “Burr” – Gore Vidal

"John Menadue, CEO of News Limited’s Australian operations before heading the Prime Minister’s Department, wrote of Rupert Murdoch’s highly partisan actions in supporting the Kerr dismissal. In the gallery there was much discussion about Murdoch’s behaviour and News Limited journalists in Sydney held several stoppages as a protest against Murdoch’s stand. What was not generally known was the childhood connection between Fraser and Murdoch. Fraser’s father grazed the Victorian Western District property ‘Nareen’ and Murdoch’s father, Keith (later Sir Keith), owned an adjoining property. As small children, Malcolm Fraser and Rupert Murdoch shared the same nanny. With the crisis building, Menadue organised a lunch with Murdoch and News Limited head, Ken Cowley, in a Kingston restaurant on 7 November 1975. Complaining to them both about the coverage of the crisis, he told Murdoch he had cancelled his subscription to The Australian. ‘This didn’t put him [Murdoch] off his lunch,’ Menadue says. On 11 December, Menadue made a written record of the lunch five weeks earlier, and he wrote: Rupert Murdoch told many of his friends that Mr. Fraser had informed him that the Governor-General had given him [Fraser] an assurance that if he hung on long enough there would be a general election before Christmas…although I have no direct information. He did tell me, however on 7 November that he was quite certain there would be an election before Christmas and that he would be staying in Australia until this occurred. He was very confident of the outcome of any election and even mentioned to me the position to which I might be appointed in the event of the Liberal victory—Ambassador to Japan. Murdoch was right about that. Menadue was appointed as Ambassador to Japan and Murdoch could only have got that information from Fraser. When Murdoch later denied this account of the lunch, Menadue stated: ‘I stand by it.’ Having known Menadue well since the 1960s, the author has not the slightest doubt his was the truthful account."

— “Inside the Canberra Press Gallery: Life in the Wedding Cake of Old Parliament House” - Rob Chalmers

"During the 1951 election campaign, Cockburn (Menzies’ Press Secretary) was standing just to one side on the stage of the Adelaide Town Hall. Menzies was about to make his entrance and Cockburn, a bit edgy, was to give a signal to the ABC sound technician in the hall preparing to broadcast the event. The hall was well filled when Ian Fitchett came to Cockburn and demanded to know there and then details of the trip the press party was to take with Menzies to the Woomera rocket range the next day. Cockburn was saying things such as ‘in a minute, Fitch’ and ‘can’t you see I’m busy’. With this, Fitchett, who could be a spiteful bastard, said: ‘You’re a fucking Murdoch stooge [a reference to Sir Keith Murdoch, Rupert’s father and at the time running the Melbourne Herald]; ‘you’re holding it back for the Herald.’ Cockburn’s temper flared and he punched Fitchett in the face. Fitchett staggered back and then replied with a punch right on Cockburn’s chin, almost knocking him out, but Cockburn responded and landed a punch into Fitchett’s ample stomach. A police inspector and Alan Reid (Sydney Sun) broke up the scuffle. Cockburn remembers an outraged Fitchett declaring: ‘He king-hit me.’ This he repeated many times the next day in Woomera and for some days after that. Cockburn said that although most journalists and people in the packed hall awaiting Menzies’ arrival witnessed the incident, surprisingly there was absolutely no report in the media."

— “Inside the Canberra Press Gallery: Life in the Wedding Cake of Old Parliament House” - Rob Chalmers

"One of the more sensational events involving parliamentary privilege occurred after I arrived in the gallery in 1951. The Treasurer, Arthur Fadden, was to deliver his budget speech in August of that year. On budget day, the lock-up for the gallery began in the afternoon. At the dinner adjournment of the house, Fadden briefed the government MPs on the contents of the budget at a special meeting of the party room. Having been briefed that excise rates were to go up on a range of items—whisky and other spirits and cigarettes—a number of government MPs rushed to the members’ bar to order these items before the price rose. ‘Insider trading’ was an unknown term in those days, but it fitted the situation perfectly. In a savage piece designed to arouse voter fury, Alan Reid reported this grossly opportunistic behaviour in the Sydney Sun. Reid also charged MPs with running Parliament as a club solely for their own benefit. At that time beer was in short supply and publicans rationed sales of bottled beer to a weekly quota for their regular customers. Reid’s point was that the non-members’ bar rationed these hard-to-get items (including cigarettes), while there were no restrictions on sales to MPs from the members’ bar. Reid reported that one Sydney-bound MP’s car was so loaded with beer that a rear spring broke. In the gallery there was great concern. While it was widely anticipated that the Sydney Sun staff might be kicked out of the Parliament, we feared the non-members’ bar and dining room might be closed to all gallery members. This was in the minds of members of the house when they ordered an inquiry by the Privileges Committee—one of the terms of reference asking it to examine ‘the wisdom or otherwise of continuing the extension of privileges to other than members of Parliament’. Fortunately, wisdom prevailed and privileges for gallery members (including Reid) remained. The special meeting of the gallery carried a resolution strongly supporting Reid and declaring ‘that the facts contained in it [Reid’s article] are correct’. The Privileges Committee conceded that the article was not ‘wholly untrue’ but was grossly exaggerated and, among other things, conveyed a false impression about the conduct of parliamentarians. It ruled there was a breach of privilege but considered ‘the house would best serve its own dignity by taking no further action in the matter’."

“Inside the Canberra Press Gallery: Life in the Wedding Cake of Old Parliament House” - Rob Chalmers

"A serious weekly chore was filling in the expenses claim—otherwise known as the ‘swindle sheet’; the funds thus acquired would help defray the substantial costs of alcohol consumption. Using whatever cunning we had, we worked the swindle sheet to the maximum, doubling the actual laundry costs, falsifying taxi fares, and it was amazing how many MPs were allegedly entertained at lunch by the Mirror staff. It was flagrant theft. These sheets had to be OK’d by Kewpie Power before dispatching them to Sydney. Kewpie did not have much argument with our claims because, as he was rorting the system himself, we were all in the same boat."

“Inside the Canberra Press Gallery: Life in the Wedding Cake of Old Parliament House” - Rob Chalmers


Foreword by John Faulkner:

If the Canberra Press Gallery is an institution, Rob Chalmers was an institution of that institution. His career spanned 60 years and 12 prime ministers, 24 federal elections and five changes of government. There is not a member of Parliament today who can remember a Press Gallery before Rob Chalmers joined it in early 1951, moving up from Sydney as a young journalist.


— “Inside the Canberra Press Gallery: Life in the Wedding Cake of Old Parliament House” - Rob Chalmers

"(Orwell) could say of a Russian agent encountered in Spain: ‘it was the first time that I had seen a person whose profession was telling lies – unless one counts journalists.’"

— “My Reading Life” – Bob Carr 

"One pro-Adams newspaper warned that if Jefferson were elected, “murder, robbery, rape, adultery, and incest will be openly taught and practiced, the air will be rent with the cries of the distressed, the soil will be soaked with blood, and the nation black with crimes.” Jefferson’s religious views were attacked as the vies of an infidel who “writes aghast the truths of God’s words; who makes not even a profession of Christianity; who is without Sabbaths; without the sanctuary, and without so much as a decent external respect for the faith and worship of Christians.”"

— “Mudslingers: The Twenty-Five Dirtiest Political Campaigns of All Time” – Kerwin Swint

"The fact is that the public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything, except what is worth knowing. Journalism, conscious of this, and having tradesmen-like habits, supplies their demands. OSCAR WILDE, THE SOUL OF MAN UNDER SOCIALISM"

— “Recollections of a Bleeding Heart” - Don Watson


Keating on journalists:

“At least we’re doing it for the history books – you’re doing it for tomorrow’s fish and chips.”


— "Shut Up and Listen and You Might Learn Something" - Edna Carew and Patrick Cook


Dealing with the Press:

“I’d love to tell you but I can’t. Just look at me. Don’t you worry about that until tomorrow, goodness me.”

“I’m not talking to you on what you want to talk… Well I’m not interested in anything you say. You’re always so wide of the mark and generally so critical so I won’t even bother answering what you’ve got to say. Anybody else?”

“Don’t you worry about it, we are looking after it”

On being asked a question on condoms by a reporter: “Let’s come clean, Elizabeth. I thought you looked a decent sort of girl. You don’t mean to tell me that you are in that category also? What’s your lifestyle Elizabeth? What do you really think? Do you really think this is the way for the nation to go? We are being asked to say ‘you go ahead and play around, the Government will help you’?!

“I’m not interested in that, or in anything anyone else says”

“The greatest thing that could happen to the State and the nation is when we can get rid of the media. Then we can live in peace and tranquillity and no one would know anything.”

“You don’t tell the frogs anything before you drain the swamp.”


— "Joh Speak" - Alan Price, Elizabeth Hancock and Erik Scholz

"On Sunday I wrote my first long strategy note of the campaign. ‘The electorate are not connecting with the election and do not understand most of the issues. They find news bulletins fragmented and confusing.’ This last point was important. Night after night I would show people the news (in focus groups), and they would not understand it. This was most true of the BBC, partly because their news is delivered at a level of abstraction that loses many people, but mostly because they insisted on editorialising continually. It was always over to Huw Edwards (or whoever it was) for his view of the election. Sky, who played it straight, were most easily understood, and connected best. The BBC let down their viewers."

“The Unfinished Revolution: How New Labour Changed British Politics Forever” - Philip Gould

"The Sun destroyed Neil and Labour with an eight-page attack entitled ‘NIGHTMARE ON KINNOCK STREET’, warning, ‘He’ll have a new home, you won’t’, ‘A threat to proud history’, ‘My job will go’, ‘Prices set to jump’, ‘Do not trust his judgement or his promises’, and ‘Lest we forget – Hell caused by last Labour government’. It delivered the final knock-out blow a day later with its front-page headline: ‘IF KINNOCK WINS TODAY WILL THE LAST PERSON IN BRITAIN PLEASE TURN OUT THE LIGHTS’. And on it went. The Mail, with ‘Labour would have to raise loan rates’ and ‘Warning: a Labour government will lead to higher mortgage payments. There is no doubt about it. Interest rates will rise within days of Kinnock entering Number Ten.’ The Express: ‘Can you really afford not to vote Tory?’"

— “The Unfinished Revolution: How New Labour Changed British Politics Forever” - Philip Gould