We raised the issue of a possible conflict of interest for Spencer
Jolly, Channel Nine’s chief political reporter in Queensland, in the
sealed section this week but by all reports he plays politics straight
down the middle.

Sealed section February 4

The details are starting to come through on Spencer Jolly, Channel
Nine’s chief political reporter in Queensland, and his possible
conflict of interest with the Beattie government.

We hear he’s a bit of a party animal who loves a drink – his most
memorable performance seems to have occurred at a hotel in Gympie where
the National Party was holding its state conference a few years
ago.  After an extremely long day he wandered out of his bedroom
in the early hours and fell straight over a balcony railing, breaking
his leg in the process.

He is also known for running events through his company, Queensland
Seafood Festivals; but the big question is whether the company receives
cash grants from the Beattie government to fund the festivals. We
understand he ran at least one event last year which was sponsored by
the Queensland State Development department.

Spencer’s critics are trying to link this with an alleged pro-Beattie
bias in Nine’s coverage although we’ve spoken to observers who reckon
Spencer plays it straight down the middle.

If you’re in the know, set us straight at [email protected].


Journalist and PR spinner rolled into one

The Sweet Lipped Mussel from Moreton Bay writes:

I had the misfortune of trying to pitch a decent (and legitimate)
seafood story to the notoriously conflicted Mr Jolly last year.

Old Spence was too busy organising the Seafood Festival (a paid gig for
his PR business) and at the same time covering it for Channel 9 (also a
paid gig).

Not a bad PR pitch when you can guarantee your client prime coverage on Channel 9 News!

It is certainly not the first example of conflicted journalists, but I
guess it does add to the enticing possibility of getting rid of the
whole problematic relationship between journalists and PR practitioner.
Simply have one person doing both jobs!

Jolly plays it right down the middle

And now for an item to balance that little sledge:

Spencer Jolly does play it right down the middle with both sides of politics.

His links with the seafood industry are well known and he has never
tried to hide anything. His media colleagues (including me) hold him in
such high esteem he has been elected president of the Queensland Press
Gallery uncontested for the past three or four years.

He is also entirely responsible for yearly fundraisers that give us the
means to sponser a couple of journalism students every year. I would be
careful what information you accept in the middle of an election

Inept party officials are desperately looking around for someone to blame for their own stuff ups at the moment.

Sue Lappeman.
State Political Reporter
Gold Coast Bulletin

Jolly’s seafood festivals alright by Nine

Spencer’s involvement with the Seafood Festival is sanctioned by his bosses at Nine who also sponsor the event.

Spencer has had an oyster lease on North Stradbroke Island for some years, hence his involvement with the seafood industry.

Queensland Government support for the Seafood Festival dates back to
1997 (the Borbidge Coalition Government) and that support has continued
under the Beattie Government.

Over the years, the Opposition of the day has taken the view that Nine
has tended to adopt a pro-government stance that is, it seems to be
station policy to focus on what the government of the day is doing
rather than the Opposition.

Having said that, Nine has not held back in giving the Government a
serve over various issues during the course of the 2004 campaign, Merri
Rose being just one of those issues which springs immediately to mind.

Your piece would appear to be the work of a disgruntled member of the
fourth estate or of a desperate Coalition staffer who should have
checked his or her facts before sounding off.

Allegations of conflicts of interest aside, Spencer Jolly is one of the
few journalists working in Queensland politics who understands the
scene, having covered it for many years. This sort of historical
knowledge and understanding of context is invaluable and is sadly
lacking in some of the pups who appeared on the scene five minutes ago
and who parrot Government and Opposition policy/press releases verbatim
without asking the sort of detailed questions which would really apply
some badly-needed scrutiny to both sides.

Roll on 7 February.

Jolly’s festival are not-for-profit

‘ve known Spencer for more years than I care to remember, and have dealt
with him both as a fellow press gallery scribe and as a press secretary.

His journalism is absolutely straight down the middle, although he doesn’t
resort to the attack dog approach to quick and dirty ”gotcha” stories
adopted by some of his colleagues.  I can assure you that on numerous
ocassions his reportage has got right up the noses of both sides of politics
up here.

My understanding is his seafood festival is not a for-profit exercise.
Further it should be noted the first grant to help kick-start the festival –
now a big annual event up here in the South Bank parklands – came from the
Borbidge-Sheldon coalition government.

I have no idea who is peddling this slanderous codswallop or what their
agenda is, but a quick straw poll of the Queensland press gallery or serving
MPs or advisers from either side of politics would tell you very quickly
that Spencer is one of the most respected elder statesmen of the gallery in
Queensland.  And a lovely bloke to boot.

Quite simply I was appaled to see that tripe in yesterday’s edition of

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey