Jonathan Holmes then and now

holmes goes apeOne of retirement’s great joys, according to many who have returned cue to rack, is the luxury of time to review and reflect upon those years when shoulder was pressed to wheel. That is certainly the situation of Jonathan Holmes, not so long ago Media Watch ‘s chief scold and high priest in the Church of the Authorised Narrative, who now punctuates his golden years with columns for the Fairfax press, the latest of which appears today. It will make him no friends among former colleagues at the ABC, nor with those who proclaim themselves “refugee advocates”, as Holmes has invested some thought in the matter of how Australia might best have coped with those who arrived without invitation and mostly aboard flotillas of infamously leaky boats. His conclusion: the Pacific Solution was the only approach capable of stopping the flood:

“The brutal fact is that we cannot take them all. We cannot, without risking social disruption, take more than a tiny fraction of them. And as John Howard famously said, it should be our government that decides who comes to this country, not a free-for-all scramble for a place on a leaky boat.”

See the benefit of retiring from the ABC, the clarity of thought that comes of no longer being obliged to report daily to Ultimo, where ABC groupthink prevails and heretics are neither hired nor tolerated? Not so long ago — on August 9, 2010, to be precise — Holmes was spouting a rather different view from beneath his Media Watch hat (emphasis added):

“… there are some areas where the politicians are reacting to problems that the media have helped to turn from molehills into mountains.

Like, for example, boat people.

Why does a nation of immigrants get so upset over a few hundred, or even a few thousand, unauthorised boat arrivals?

It seems it’s a mixture of fear, and resentment.

In that Media Watch segment, Holmes went on to excoriate conservative Michael Smith as “one of the many who fan resentment of asylum-seekers”. Adopting a voice rich with sarcasm and that trademarked supercilious smuggery, he cast himself as the then-radio host and, sneeringly, had this to say

“They’re all queue-jumpers, of course; and as soon as they’re accepted as refugees, they’ll be jumping another queue.”

Today, in The Age and SMH, it’s

“The reason the boat people had to be stopped was that – justifiably or otherwise – they were undermining Australians’ belief in a fair and orderly immigration program.”

When not punctuating his dotage by dashing off epistles to the Fairfax press, Holmes sometimes writes to Quadrant Online with complaints about what he sees as unfair criticism of his inconsistency and illogicality. Should he decide to dash off another compote of qualifications and self-serving sophistries, we’ll be delighted to publish it.

Before putting pen to paper, however, he might care to re-acquaint himself with his words and sentiments from 2010, which can be read in full via the link below.

— roger franklin

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