Clive Hamilton’s criticisms of The Australian in Crikey and New Matilda last week are as factually dodgy as the critique he says we tried to silence in Scorcher. But we didn’t. Clive knows, and so did Crikey last week after discussions with Nick Cater, that I specifically did not ask Clive to change anything in his book.

I rang very politely back in April and told Clive I thought the paper’s position on climate change had moved on two years ago and Clive had not noticed. He said he would read a range of editorials, op-eds and news pieces I believed would persuade him of my view. He said he might have to rewrite the chapter concerned, and I said a second time that I was asking for nothing. Only that he look at the material I would courier to him.

Disagreement and criticism are not the same as silencing debate. Clive and his fellow correspondents complaining in Crikey about The Oz’s editorials last week have never been silenced by The Oz. We have published Hamilton, Manne and Rundle many times, often at great length.

Surely they and Crikey realize the free speech campaign they say I am undermining is in fact largely the result of The Oz’s work. It is a legacy effort by major publishers to get something back from the more than $1 million we paid in legal fees taking Treasury to the High Court on the various McKinnon FOI matters covered in great detail in Crikey over the last four years.

David Marr knows how active The Oz is on this matter. I encouraged many of my staff to speak with him on the Kessing matter and others for his latest Quarterly Essay. The Kessing matter, like the FOI cases, was played out entirely by The Oz. So unsilenced is Marr by The Oz that I even tried to buy the rights to His Master’s Voice but was told Fairfax would not allow him to appear in The Oz.

And Rundle’s research is so dodgy he writes that the original editorial about which he complains was run in the Saturday paper, when that Saturday we actually published a long leader defending Paul Keating (how very neo-con of us Robert) that so pleased the former PM he rang to praise us at great length.

The editorial Guy writes about was on Queens’ birthday Monday. But Rundle also suggests The Oz is foolish to have shut the door on Labor during a year in which it looks likely to form Government. This on a website whose owner, Eric Beecher, criticized me personally for allowing Kevin Rudd to be my two-year-old’s godfather.

I would also be prepared to bet large sums that The Oz’s relationship (and mine) with frontbenchers from Labor and the Government is deeper, closer, more cordial and more productive in yielding stories than that of any of Crikey’s correspondents.

Particularly dodgy in all of the feigned outrage about what was essentially a very good editorial, if a little personal, was the decision by Crikey’s editor to publish criticism of me personally by Scott Howard on Friday for refusing to defend my paper or its editorials last week. Crikey reporters knew all week from discussion with my PA and with Nick Cater that I was away from work and out of contact for much of the week. I never have any problems defending my paper or myself.

Correspondence below provided by Chris Mitchell. Click on image for full size: 



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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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