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Nov 25, 2011

Coba Point residents back Flannery in 2GB spat

Residents of the Sydney riverside retreat of Coba Point have backed environmentalist Tim Flannery in his bitter climate spat with 2GB presenter Ray Hadley and a dissenting neighbour David.

Andrew Crook — Former <em>Crikey</em> Senior Journalist

Andrew Crook

Former Crikey Senior Journalist

Residents of the Sydney riverside retreat of Coba Point have backed environmentalist Tim Flannery in his bitter climate spat with 2GB presenter Ray Hadley and a dissenting neighbour David.

And notes of a crucial August rendezvous between David and Flannery, compiled by the former Australian of the Year’s anthropologist wife Alex, appear to lend weight to the Professor’s version of events.

Hadley and David have accused Flannery of hypocrisy because he purchased a house close to a river while simultaneously warning about sea level rises stemming from global temperature increases. They say the professor pilots a polluting boat and regularly speeds through “no wash” zones around Berowra Waters.

This week Hadley has repeatedly called Flannery a “low bastard” on his high-rating 2GB mornings show after his attention was drawn to a Crikey item quoting from the November edition of Quarterly Essay.

A letter penned by Flannery in the storied journal accused the duo of cooking up a plot to discredit him. Flannery wrote David had told him that he had once worked for Hadley and that the “slander was based on a completely manufactured story”.

Flannery said that David had admitted to him in the face-to-face meeting that the shock jock was “out to get” him because he was “on the other side of the fence” on climate change.

But this week David, 39, claimed point-blank on Hadley’s program that he had never met or worked for the presenter.

Coba Point resident Bruce Foot, who owns a substantial chunk of the inlet, told Crikey this morning that his close neighbour, whose wife’s name is Hope Martyn, told him directly that he once washed and detailed Ray Hadley’s car.

“To hear himself say on radio the other day that he didn’t work for Ray is an out and out lie and that’s what’s so shocking,” he said.

Foot said David had previously “parroted the Andrew Bolt line on climate change” over a few beers at a neighbourhood get-together.

He told Crikey that Flannery had bought his house in 1997, well before he began agitating to curb climate emissions due to prevent sea level rises and that David was no-longer working for Hadley but was now “selling papers”. Foot added that another neighbour, Stu, had also been directly told by David that he worked for Hadley.

According to Hope Martyn’s Facebook page, David and his wife moved to Coba Point in September 2009. On her public wall, Martyn includes a link to a podcast of her husband speaking on Hadley’s show.

“How imbarrasing!! [sic],” she wrote. “So typical of Dave though …”

Tim Flannery’s wife’s notes of the mid-jetty encounter in August appear to confirm that David indeed stated that he once undertook “car detailing” for Hadley. According to the notes, David says Hadley had called him and that it was all a setup. The notes make for compelling reading:

21.viii.11 Sunday afternoon

Tim pulls up at pontoon — v crowded with debris — revs motor to reverse.

Man appears on verandah, shirtless, comes down pulling on sweater.

T calls out: Are you David? I’d like a word.

Man walks down, diffidently but expecting us (?) Tells barking dog to be quiet.

Man & T meet mid-jetty.

T: Are you David?

Man: Yes.

T: You’re the caller David who called Ray Hadley?

D: That’s me.

T explains visit. D is barely coherent [does he have a speech impediment?] T asks re call to 2GB?

D, matter of factly: They called me … They had it all arranged. I just called in.

D: … You’re on the other side of the fence [re climate change], they [2GB] hate you, they’re out to get you. I didn’t call them, they called me.

Alex (surprised): Why would they call you?

D (flatly): I work for them.

A (politely): What is your work?

D (softly): Card [incoherent]

A (gently): Sorry?

D (clearly): Car detailing. I do car detailing for them at 2GB. I know them all.

T (firmly, fairly): Well, we’d like the podcast permanently removed rom the public domain. Could you ask Ray Hadley to do that.

D (hesitating, uncertain): Well, I won’t see him for another fortnight, another two weeks.

A (quietly): You’re a newcomer here. We don’t do this sort of thing to each other. We’re a small community & just respect each other’s privacy.

T (gently): It’s OK, leave this to me. (firmly, fairly): OK David, the decent thing to do is to get the podcast removed. It’s untrue & it’s dangerous. That’s all.

We leave.

On air yesterday, Hadley said his wife’s car had been detailed by Garry Smith Detailing in Haberfield and that his was occasionally “dry washed” by someone called Sharon in the 2GB car park. But enquiries over David’s presence at either company drew a blank.

Today, he dedicated his weekly Daily Telegraph column to lambasting Crikey, which he described as “Media Watch on steroids” and (perhaps cynically) as a “bastion of truth and justice”.

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65 thoughts on “Coba Point residents back Flannery in 2GB spat

  1. 2dogs

    @ SB and ENKL

    When ENKL states: “What were your lawyers thinking of in letting you publish this?” I can only assume that there is a breach in the law that is so obvious that an armchair critic who gets all his legal expertise from Law and Order can see that Crikey does not have a legal leg to stand on.
    I am asking ENKL, with all his knowledge in legal matters, to point out to me specifically what particular law(s) have CLEARLY been broken to the point of it having legal implications on Crikey (of course keeping in mind that The Quarterly Essay lawyers who were also not “thinking” when they published the story and will be subject to the same).

  2. B.Tolputt

    @ENKL:
    Not at all, truth is a defence as is publishing an “honest opinion”. Flannery reported on David’s statements and, given the weight of evidence, I would posit that David’s retraction under pressure would not be viewed as credible. Based on those statements, Hadley’s claims that there was no setup because David called in are not convincing. It doesn’t take a criminal mastermind to say “call up at time X and we’ll chat on air about Flannery”.

    Flannery already has the evidence to backup the publishing of claims made by David (witness to the statement & corroborating evidence from neighbours) which can serve as the basis for an honestly held opinion regarding it being a setup. Hadley would have to prove them false or, at the very least, lacking credibility in order to extract damages from the proceeding. With 2GB’s star witness having been caught telling a different story to his neighbours than claimed on radio – I think Hadley would be hard up doing it legally… hence his sticking to radio on the matter.

  3. Hewett Michael

    It amazes me that a ‘news organisation’ such as Crikey reports things that aren’t true. Take this one,”They say the professor pilots a polluting boat and regularly speeds through “no wash” zones around Berowra Waters”. Now did Hadley say it or did David? Well David made the claim, does Flannerys boat pollute? Unless he rows it, yes. Does he speed, David claimed it, not Hadley. Hadley repeated Davids claim but attributed that claim to David. Does Flannery have that property at Berowra? Yes of course, he admits it. Is it fair to question why a person that preaches to us about rising sea levels would purchase a property on the river? I think it is, don’t you?

    Now if Crikeys journalists were any good, why haven’t they checked to see if David has actually worked for Hadley? Flannery has claimed David did, Flannery claims David said he did but to Hadley, David said he never has. Why hasn’t Crikey checked if David did? If Flannery can find David, Why can’t Crikey? Flannery could give you Davids name. Why haven’t you checked out Flannerys claims and reported those without checking to see if Flannery is telling the truth?

    The media is under a lot of scrutiny at the present time, one of those reasons being because of perceived imbalance in reporting. Crikey’s reporting is extremely biased and certainly does not report both sides before deciding who is telling the truth. I was always told this was a left wing rag, now I know it for myself. Understand this Crikey, if the government and greens have their way, the same scrutiny that they want to apply to newscorp, will be applied to you. That means you will have to check on and reprt both sides in your articles. Won’t life be great for you then?

  4. CliffG

    Isn’t it time to stop treating these powerful radio shock-thugs like they’re some kind of a joke? They are exploiting public airwaves, not their own property, to influence huge numbers of people with baseless, or worse contrived personal attacks, vicious diatribes, disinformation, arrogance and abusive and unacceptable on air language? Why do we just nod and do nothing? Can’t action be taken to stop this?
    There should be an inquiry of the kind currently running in the UK into the appropriation of radio airwaves, especially in Sydney. These people can’t be allowed to just shred people’s lives and reputations in the way they do with impunity.
    It’s a national disgrace.
    Mind you it also seems to say something about the general thuggery of Sydney that so many people seem to enjoy these abominations as fun and entertainment. Kyle has a million listeners. What does that say about his audience? But to justify it as “popular” says nothing about the damage it is doing, both to individuals and their families as well as to the quality and demeaner of public debate and information.

  5. CliffG

    These radio thugs can rip into whomever they choose. But the minute someone tries to set the record straight they scream,”I’ll sue you!” They are gutless lying cowards, hiding being bullying and threat. Isn’t it time Australia stood up to them and turned off their mikes?

  6. Enkl

    @2Dogs

    Defamation, of course. The defamatory claim, attributed to David, is that David’s initial on-air call to Hadley was solicited by Hadley.

    Consider the possible defences to a defamation action in respect of the initial publication of the claim by Crikey on Tuesday …
    Truth? No, the detailed 2GB logs prove the claim to be untrue.
    Opinion? No, the claim is a matter of fact, not one of opinion.
    Unintentional? No, the claim was the main point of the article.
    Trivial? No, the claim had clear potential to damage Hadley’s reputation.
    Political debate? Probably not, the claim does not relate to a matter of government policy.
    Further, a message left on Hadley’s phone would not satisfy the test for having made a reasonable attempt to seek a response from Hadley.

    So, Crikey’s Tuesday article was probably defamatory.
    Hadley’s response on Wednesday morning, in which he detailed information from the 2GB logs to prove the claim false, should have led Crikey to at least publish the details of his rebutal, if not acknowledge the falsehood of the claim and apologise.

    To repeat the claim today in this form is even more clearly actionable, because Crikey was fully aware that it was untrue, so even the previously dubious political debate defence is not available.

  7. Tom McLoughlin

    Hadley sounds like a whiner. Just like Bolt and Jones – all three of them are whiners.

  8. 2dogs

    @ENKL

    *Sigh* I still fail to see how this is the HUGE legal blunder that you are making it out to be.
    Deformation is defined as follows:
    The publication of any false imputation concerning a person, or a member of his family, whether living or dead, by which (a) the reputation of that person is likely to be injured or (b) he is likely to be injured in his profession or trade or (c) other persons are likely to be induced to shun, avoid, ridicule or despise him.

    Having reread the original Crikey article the only way that I can see Crikey getting into legal trouble is if the conversation between Tim and David never took place as they have simple reported what others have said in a fairly factual manner. The only possible “false” component to the story would be the following:
    “Flannery did his own investigation. He found an address for “David” and made a house call.”

    I believe that how Crikey laied out this article well within the law (ohh is that Law and Order on TV right now?)

  9. heavylambs

    ENKL,it seems like David had a story for Hadley when he rang in and a story for Flannery when confronted on the pier… so Flannery,if misled by David, has nothing to answer for. You seem to be indifferent to the fact that it was Hadley who started this boofheaded intrusion into someone’s private life. Hadley chose to air unchecked claims in a manner deliberately designed to belittle Flannery. Just a shitty piece of gossip,followed by the preposterous sound of Hadley trying to claim some high ground with his manufactured outrage and staged man-of -the -people rubbish when Flannery said “enough!” So you can quit lawyerin’ and get informed.

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