Flat White

The Ramsay Centre? It’s still all Tony Abbott’s fault, apparently

29 June 2018

2:11 PM

29 June 2018

2:11 PM

I must say, Peter van Onselen is doing nothing for the editorial standards over at The Australian at the moment – unless his brief is to provide clickbait.

PVO has written yet another piece arguing that Tony Abbott was entirely to blame for the ANU rejection of the Ramsay Centre’s offer to fund a course on Western Civilisation. It should really come as no surprise that van Onselen would say this because he seems to have an almost visceral hatred of Australia’s former Prime Minister.

Van Onselen bases his entire argument on a sole reference to the article published in The Australian written by the CEO of the Ramsay Centre, Simon Haines, and his ‘apparent criticisms’ of Tony Abbott. But there’s only one problem. Haines never mentioned Abbott in his article, not even once!

After a bit of online digging, I tracked down the piece Van Onselen was probably referring too. As expected, it’s not by Simon Haines, but was probably from an article, almost a week ago, in The Sydney Morning Herald. However, even there Haines does not expressly blame Tony Abbott for the failure of the negotiations.


This is a glaring inaccuracy and, quite frankly, sloppy journalism from the person who basks in the titles of Foundation Chair of Journalism at the University of Western Australia and Contributing Editor to The Australian.

But this is not the first time Van Onselen has made such an egregious error. Back in April, he made the outrageous claim that the Bible never explicitly made any mention of hell. No, really! Actually, it’s mentioned fourteen separate times in the New Testament, twelve from the lips of Christ. Then there was the other time where he tried to represent Jesus as a modern political progressive. This was simply an ill-informed comment. And yet, whenever his errors are pointed out, he never makes a retraction or offers any kind of public apology.

And this is what we’re up against now. Our media and intellectual elites seem to function as a law unto themselves. But if we can’t rely on our only national broadsheet to present facts and issues accurately—and without prejudice—then who can we trust?

Ironically, the writings of Peter van Onselen are precisely why we need a course articulating the virtues of Western Civilisation, particularly the importance of truth in public discourse. In fact, if such a course were taught it might be something that he could maybe benefit from enrolling in himself.

Mark Powell is the Associate Pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, Strathfield.

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