"Tony Abbott and his team are ready to govern, according to voters... The Sunday Telegraph's exclusive Galaxy poll reveals 59% of voters think he's ready." (Abbott is ready say voters, The Sunday Telegraph, 10/3/13)
"Macquarie Radio's 2GB has retained the title of Sydney's most popular station... Morning host Ray Hadley led 2GB's dominant performance, racking up total audience share of 18%." (Ray Hadley remains Sydney's most listened to radio broadcaster as 2GB tops first ratings result of 2012, AAP, 23/2/13)
Abbott and Hadley, kings of the polls and Sydney's airwaves respectively, are good mates:
"... Mr Abbott had lunch yesterday at Penrith Panthers with his daughters, 2GB broadcaster Ray Hadley and friends from his days at Emu Plains as a trainee priest."* (Our leaders say it's not an election campaign, Gemma Jones & Simon Black, The Daily Telegraph, 8/3/13)
So, apart from their popularity with the punters, what do Abbott, the prime ministerial wannabe and Hadley, the foul-mouthed shock jock, have in common? Well, a love of Muslims would have to be high on the agenda.
Here's Abbott on a mall crawl:
"Bailed up by an elderly woman at a shopping centre, Abbott experienced this exchange: Old Woman: I want to be in a country that's not run by Muslims. Tony Abbott: I understand what you're saying ma'am, and as I said the important thing is to make the borders secure and that way people will be happier that the right people are coming to our country." (Abbott's Muslim comment shows the need for a Human Rights Act, Mark Blumer, crikey.com, 10/3/13)
And here's Hadley chatting on air with his bonza mate Baruch O'Farrell, Premier of NSW** about those Muslim protesters last September***:
Ray Hadley: Why the bloody hell weren't they arrested on Saturday, Premier? Barry O'Farrell: Good question, Ray. I know some were arrested on Saturday. Ray Hadley: Someone in the police hierarchy needs to grow a backbone. I have spoken to any number of operational police officers in the last 24 hours who were there on Saturday. They wanted to go in after them, but they were pulled back out of it. They wanted to get them - not just with their dogs - they wanted to get in there, arrest them, handcuff them, put them in the back of vans, but they kept being told, 'No, no, no, don't do that, stay away'. (Protests against anti-Islam film flare worldwide, Brendan Trembath, abc.net.au, 17/9/12)
And Abbott of the simian gait and Hadley the hulk are both blessed with the common touch. Here's young Tony winning friends and influencing people:
"Tony Abbott and the woman who accused him of indecent assault were both passionate political activists. Helen Wilson was a trainee teacher and student newspaper editor at Ku-ring-gai College of Advanced Education... At the more cosmopolitan Sydney University, Mr Abbott burst like a snapping terrier into student politics. He took on left-wing students in aggressive battles for positions on the student council and was a spear-carrier in a push to dissolve the powerful Australian Union of Students (AUS). It was the late 1970s, and Mr Abbott and others who would later become prominent public figures were cutting their political teeth... Political parties, and influential anti-communist groups such as the powerful National Civic Council, were active recruiters at a student level. Never before or since had university students held such political appeal - or power... The end result, for Mr Abbott and Ms Wilson, was a sensational charge of sexual assault and a date in North Sydney court.
"An investigation by The Sun-Herald into Mr Abbott's controversial student days reveals that he spawned many more enemies than friends during those heady days. 'He was a very offensive, a particularly obnoxious sort of guy,' said Barbara Schaffer, a Sydney teacher who was at Sydney University with Mr Abbott. 'He was very aggressive, particularly towards women and homosexuals'. Published university reports show that after a narrow defeat in the university senate elections in 1976 - Mr Abbott's first year of an economics-law degree - he kicked in a glass panel door. In the ensuing two years, he was repeatedly accused in the university paper of being a right-wing thug and bully who used sexist and racist tactics to intimidate his opponents. Lawyer David Patch, who is a Labor candidate in the federal seat of Wentworth, recalls an AUS conference in the mid-70s which had initiated a special 'women's room' for females to discuss political issues. 'Tony used to stand outside the women's room with his right-wing mates and loudly tell sexist and homophobic jokes,' he said.
"Another ex-student, Peter Murphy, who described Mr Abbott as a 'warrior on the Right' believes he was the one most responsible for creating the atmosphere of terror that reigned on campus in 1977. In August 1977 students on every NSW campus were preparing to vote in a referendum on the future of the AUS. That's when Ms Wilson's and Mr Abbott's paths crossed. Both were addressing a rally of students, held in the Ku-ring-gai campus dining room. The incident that prompted Ms Wilson's accusation occurred while she spoke. When it came to court the following January, Mr Abbott was flanked by his parents, a legal team including a QC, and 7 witnesses. Advocates for Ms Wilson are to this day flabbergasted at the firepower Mr Abbott wheeled in, which left their under-represented side wilting.
"The incident didn't seem to break Mr Abbott's stride, although his second tilt at election to the Student Representative Council (SRC} - which was happening at the same heady time - ended in tears. Barbara Ramjan, now a social worker, who defeated Mr Abbott for the SRC presidency that year, remembers the night of September 7, 1977 when officer elections were held. Two letters she wrote then to Honi Soit, a student newspaper, outlined her version of the evening. One letter described how throughout the evening Mr Abbott and his mates, including a dentistry student, harassed and insulted the women standing for election. Outside the meeting, one woman, 'was confronted by J [the dentistry student], who decided to 'have a bit of fun' and exposed his genitalia to her as well as urinating against a tree,' Ms Ramjan wrote. 'He dropped his pants [perhaps for Mr Abbott's entertainment, he seemed highly amused] and bowed in Abbott's direction, flashing his bum towards the woman,' the letter said. In letters of reply, Mr Abbott compared the accusations to Nazi propaganda and said that the 'facts' presented were 'bare-faced lies or gross distortions.'
"Another letter by students Michelle Martin, Anne Woods, Garry Bennett and Ross Vines complained the meeting had been 'characterised by an unending stream of sexist incidents and attacks by right-wing representatives and their cohorts' as well as a 'racist attack against the newly elected ethnic relations officer Takis Constantopedos." (Fellow students recall a champion of the right, Kerry-Anne Walsh & Candace Sutton, The Sun-Herald, 18/7/04)
And here's the easy going, happy-go-lucky Hadley in action:
"Ray Hadley picked on the wrong guy. Fed up with the radio host's constant bullying and physical threats, Mark Piepers did a rare thing: he stood up. When Hadley threatened Piepers physically, the imposing broadcaster must have thought he had an easy target. Like many of Hadley's targets, Piepers, at 175cm, appeared no match for the host's hulking frame. And given Piepers' relatively lowly position as 2UE's overnight newsreader, Hadley wielded significant power over him. But there was one thing Hadley did not know about the newsreader. 'He didn't know any of my boxing or martial arts history,' Piepers said.
"Piepers has decided to speak on the record about Hadley's serial bullying to stand up for dozens of colleagues who have been too scared to tell their stories. Hadley's bullying and intimidation of junior colleagues is an open secret in the radio industry but until recently has been hidden from public view.
"The argument between Hadley and Piepers began one morning in 2001. Hadley was driving into work listening to the 2UE news bulletin. Pieper's made the mistake - in Hadley's eyes - of replacing some two-day old rugby league scores with fresh AFL results. The phone rang. It was Hadley. 'I heard the f... more times in a sentence than I'd ever heard anyone put together before,' Piepers said. But Hadley was not finished. When he arrived at the office he marched up to Pieper's desk and continued his tirade in the middle of the newsroom. If Hadley was abusing anyone else, the incident would have ended there.. But Piepers was tired of the bullying. 'I went into the sports department... and said, 'Ray, that's not acceptable to talk to me in that fashion. Then [Hadley] said: 'If you don't f... off now I'm gonna punch you through that f...ing wall.'
"Colleagues of Piepers say this was not Hadley's wisest move. An article in the Australian martial arts magazine Blitz describes Piepers as having trained in 'close-quarter fighting and ambush drills.' He is an amateur boxer with skills in jujitsu, karate and kung fu. 'Once he'd threatened to punch me out... I kept telling him, 'Mate, step up to the plate,' Piepers said. 'I don't get threatened like that and take it lying down.' But 'lying down' is exactly how Hadley's juniors endure his bullying. Hadley's behaviour has been protected for decades by successive management teams at 2UE and now 2GB.
"... Last month Hadley's bullying was exposed in newspapers after a younger colleague secretly recorded one of Hadley's vicious tirades on his phone. Managing director Rob Loewenthal suspended the top-rating host for the bullying incident, but instead of accepting his punishment Hadley called his friend John Singleton, the network's majority owner, who overruled Loewenthal's decision and ensured the broadcaster remained on air. Since reporting the story, Fairfax Media has been contacted by more than a dozen of Hadley's current and former colleagues. Most spoke off the record because they fear retribution. According to numerous sources, Hadley often demands employees be fired for mistakes as minor as mispronouncing a suburb's name or misreading a football score. This is why Piepers has decided to speak out. 'Hadley's been allowed to get away with this for so long,' he said. His account has been confirmed by former 2UE host Mike Carlton and 3 others who worked at the station at the time.
"By the time Hadley was threatening to punch Piepers through a wall, an audience had gathered near the sports department. A witness recalls Pieper saying to Hadley: 'Let's go, baby.' Hadley 'very quickly' sat down. Hadley did not respond to Fairfax Media's requests for an interview." (How I refused to back down to Ray Hadley, Jonathan Swan, Sydney Morning Herald, 10/3/13)
[*For another dinner date with Tony, see my 27/4/12 post Dinner With Tony; **On Hadley's too-close for comfort links with the NSW Police & Government, see How the NSW Police helped Ray Hadley, Peter Wicks, independentaustralia.net, 6/3/13; ***On the so-called Muslim riots, see my 23/9/12 post NSW Police Riot, September 15, 2012.]