At the ABC, it’s Always Time for Hare of the Doc

ABC insiders speaking on condition of anonymity say that ABC TV has lined up a 30-minute interview with pop-singer Dr Taylor Swift. The favourites of ABC chair Dr Ita Buttrose are fighting to do the gig. Namely Dr Sarah Ferguson squaring off against Dr Leigh Sales, both having bested Dr Geraldine Doogue. ABC has-beens Dr Ray Martin and Dr Kerry O’Brien are already knocked out of contention. Incoming chair Dr Kim Williams will have final say. Over at Channel 10, Dr Lisa Wilkinson is reportedly still chasing an exclusive with Dr Swift, or failing that, with rapper Dr Kanye West.

The babelicious Dr Swift has a Doctor of Fine Arts (h.c.) from New York University. The above-mentioned talent’s doctorates are also “h.c.” It stands for honoris causa, i.e. honorary. Few at the ABC speak Latin, so you never know who next they’re going to call “Dr”.

I intended this piece to be about my old mate, net-zero spruiker Bill Hare who in his distant youth got a B.Sc.(Hons) degree from Murdoch University. Now he heads up a lavishly funded anti-gas and oil lobby called Climate Analytics.[1] He’s been the go-to climate catastrophist for every ABC reporter since forever. And every time they describe him as “Dr” Bill Hare. This makes him look more quote-worthy than “Mr Bill Hare, B.Sc. (Hons) – Murdoch 1983”.[2] His lawfare against Woodside’s Scarborough gas project also acquires a more sciencey lustre.

The woke Murdoch University in 2008 gave him an Honorary Doctor of Science, saying that “his climate change activism and political acumen have seen him described as ‘the best climate lobbyist in the world’.” (Link broken). Then it told him he could strut his Honorary Ph.D. all over the place, contrary to long-established Murdoch, pan-academic and government protocols. (Don’t let someone with an Honorary Doctorate in Veterinary Science spay your Golden Retriever).

Each time the ABC quotes “Dr Hare”, I whine to its complaints team. They’re over a barrel because the ABC Style Guide says, “Honorary doctorates do not usually confer the Dr title.” In other words ABC policy is against dubbing people “Dr” merely because some university somewhere has robed them in a black bonnet and stripey gown for running a lost dogs’ home or a loser state like Victoria (e.g. Dr Steve Bracks, Dr Ted Baillieu, and Dr Jeff Kennett, with Dan Andrews now panting for his statesmanlike turn). The ABC complaints team always agrees I’m right and alerts the 4,971 staff (as at June 2023) about the style breach. The 4,971 staff pay not the slightest attention and in as little as 24 hours, resume calling him “Dr Hare”. And so the cycle continues, as I document later as your special treat.

In my complaint last week, I saved time by also complaining about 7pm ABCTV flagship news on February 4 describing the late Lowitja O’Donoghue eight times verbally and twice in signage as “Dr O’Donoghue”. I respect her life’s work for remote-Aboriginal progress as much as anyone (except it doesn’t progress), but all her six doctorates are honorary and the ABC chose not to mention that. With Aborigines the ABC is utterly inconsistent. The very same 7pm News item quoted Pat Dodson praising Lowitja, but didn’t call him “Dr Dodson” notwithstanding his honorary doctorates from Melbourne Uni (Laws) and UNSW (Letters).

Yet whenever the ABC mentions Voice co-architect Tom Calma, who has a couple of associate diplomas in social work, it’s always “Dr Calma” this and “Dr Calma” that. Another whom the ABC loved entitling “Dr” was Galarrwuy Yunupingu, famed for his $1400-an-hour helicopter on standby full-time at his waterfront mansion to assist conjugal visits to four wives dispersed around the Gove Peninsular. Yunupingu got his honorary doctorate in laws from Melbourne University in 2015.[3] Check this Stan Grant ABC piece about Dr Yunupingu as “The great champion of the Gumatj people”.

And why does the ABC discriminate against doctorate holders (honorary) like ex-footballer Adam Goodes? If it’s Dr Calma and Dr O’Donoghue, why not Dr Goodes? The same appalling ABC discrimination was applied against their own former grievance specialist Stan Grant, whom they never called “Dr” Grant, and health advocate Dr Pat Anderson and flag designer Dr Harold Thomas.

I try to economise on my complaints to the ABC, but through initial carelessness I overlooked another wrong in that Feb 4 ABC TV item. That led me to add a further complaintlast week, about the ABC positioning Lowitja O’Donoghue at age two as having been officially stolen from her mother’s traditional native camp. She wasn’t, regardless of whether the Aboriginal Industry and the ABC would like her to be. The ABC is associated with at least three leftist gangs purporting to enforce truth and suppress mis- and disinformation from the (conservative) media. The gangs are

Trusted News Initiative: ABC joined this BBC-led global consortium working with Big-Tech to suppress any narrative that conflicts with deep-State messaging on climate-doom, covid vaccines, and Hunter Biden getting a $US5m payoff from a Chinese intelligence-affiliated investment consortium.

Newsguard: Another global censoring operation also aimed at throttling the flow of advertising to on-line sites that disrupt leftist narratives. Of course it gives the ABC literally a perfect score for trustworthy bias-free reports.

ABC-RMIT Fact Check: Journo Russ Skelton’s fiefdom, buttressed by $670,000 ABC money, where the overwhelming majority of checks are against the Murdoch and similar right-of-centre outlets, while endless porkies from the “progressive” side go through to the keeper. Skelton’s sister entity RMIT FactLab came a gutser over its “Yes” bias on the Referendum.[4]

Will any of these three hold ABCTV flagship news to account over its misinformation about Lowitja’s “stolen” status? And will ABC Complaints Department validate my rightful concern?

I suspect the ABC will insist without evidence that Lowitja was officially stolen, notwithstanding that Lowitja herself told Andrew Bolt she wasn’t stolen but given up by her father.

The 7PM News item began with a clip of Lowitja saying, “We were stolen but we need to move on.” (The “we” might mean herself and siblings or maybe some wider cohort). Presenter Iskhander Razak script-read, “Born in remote South Australia to an Aboriginal mother and a pastoralist father, Dr O’Donoghue and two elder sisters were taken from their parents [plural] when she was just two. She was trained as a domestic worker.” She then says in a clip, “I feel angry about the policy that removed us and also took away our culture, our language and families.”

Commentator Andrew Bolt has quoted acquaintances and a relative that her white father in fact dumped her and three siblings at Colebrook mission, where two sisters gave her the education that enabled her sterling career.  Bolt interviewed her in 2001:

(My father) didn’t want to be straddled with five kids,” the former Australian of the Year said, sobbing. “I haven’t forgiven him… “I don’t like the word ‘stolen’ and it’s perhaps true that I’ve used the word loosely at times… I would see myself as a removed child, and not necessarily stolen.” Asked whether it would be better to state clearly that she wasn’t a member of the stolen generation, Dr O’Donoghue said: “I am prepared to make that concession.

While she later accused Bolt of mischievously distorting the situation, I can’t find her claiming that he quoted her words inaccurately. An authoritative transcript of her own words in 1994, when she was 62, is here

Were your older sisters also the children of Tom O’Donoghue?

… the indications are that my father had a long standing relationship with my mother and there were five children by that relationship.

And yet he did nothing to prevent you being taken away?

No, but … because it’s difficult for me to really confirm what the situation was but my understanding was that he had a … a wife and family in Adelaide, so I guess one could understand that he really was living a double life and wouldn’t want … wouldn’t have wanted for his family in the city to know that he had five half-caste children.[5]

Is it possible also that he thought it was for the best?

Well, yes, it could have well have been. It could have been a combination of both really, because obviously he wasn’t going to be staying around for that long and then, of course, the other mystery is, of course, whether in fact half-caste children were all that welcome in the … in, you know, as … within the traditions.

Hence 7pm News is wrong or misleading in saying she was “taken” (i.e. unwillingly taken or stolen) from her parents [plural]. Correct would be along the lines of, “She was given up with two sisters by their father to missionaries, probably against the wishes of her mother.”

Getting back now to my original whinge about honorary doctorates, I don’t know of any Australian instances yet of universities giving one to a fake Aborigine. It’s bound to happen as various controversial figures in academia enjoy a high profile and esteem – see Roger Karge’s brilliant website. In Canada Justice Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond notched up 11 Canadian honorary doctorates as the “first person of treaty Indian status to be named to the bench in Saskatchewan.” A tenured professor on $C300,000, she was eventually outed as a “Pretendian” or pretend-Indian, with forebears tracked as entirely European. Her supposed upbringing in a Manitoba home for First Nation kids amid poverty, alcoholism and abuse was actually in Niagara Falls, Ontario. All 11 universities said they were reviewing the doctorates but one had no internal process for revoking one.

As readers’ promised treat re Mr Hare, here’s my ABC updated campaign diary:

April Fool’s Day, 2019: Four Corners transcript refers 13 times to Bill Hare as “Dr” Hare.

April 7, 2019: I complain to the ABC and request corrections. I say the ABC would not refer to comedian Mr Yahoo Serious as “Dr Serious” even though he has an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Newcastle University, 1996.

April 11, 2019: Four Corners executive producer Sally Neighbour responds,

I am advised that Bill Hare has an Honorary Doctorate of Science awarded to him in 2008 by Murdoch University for his work on climate change science and policy. Murdoch University itself refers to Bill Hare as ‘Dr’ in some of its publications. 

It is not uncommon practice to refer to people with Honorary Doctorates as ‘Dr’. I understand this is often qualified with the reference (h.c). For the purpose of our program, we did not feel this was necessary as most viewers or readers would not be familiar with the term. I am happy to take your comments onboard should we interview Bill Hare again on Four Corners. I will also convey your comments to Laura Tingle.

May 7, 2019: Michael Slezak on ABC News Analysis interviews “Dr” Bill Hare.

October 24, 2021: David Speers on Insiders interviews “Dr” Bill Hare.

Nov 5, 2021: RN Breakfast with presenter Sally Sara: “Dr” Bill Hare again

Nov 11, 2021:ABC 7.30: A fawning Leigh Sales achieves six references to “Dr” Hare on one 7.30 episode.

Nov 14, 2021: I complain again to the ABC about “Dr” Hare:

A couple of years ago I complained about your use of “Dr” Hare, and Sally Neighbour informed me the ABC would be more careful about it. Please correct all ABC versions where you call him “Dr” Hare — or at least explain that he has only an honorary doctorate for his lobbying activity.

After 18 days, on Dec 2, 2021, Matt Galvin of ABC News Management replies:

I have referred your concerns to ABC Language, a unit that meet (sic) regularly and advise (sic) ABC staff on correct language usage. They have pointed me to the ABC’s publicly-available style guide…Honorary doctorates do not usually confer the Dr title.

Considering the above, ABC News agrees that as Bill Hare is the CEO of Climate Analytics, it would have been sufficient in both of these recent instances to introduce him without the ‘Dr’ honorific. Please be assured that both programs will be advised about the correct usage of such references. Thank you for bringing this matter to the ABC’s attention.

So Four Corners and Laura Tingle stuffed up about “Dr” Hare in 2019, the ABC organised a corrective, Leigh Sales et al stuffed it up again and the ABC again conceded fault and applied its corrective to ensure it would be repeated no more. All well and good, the system seemed to be working, albeit with some sand in the gears. But the very day after I received the apology from ABC News Management’s Matt Galvin (Dec 2), the ABC published a new report by reporter Rebecca Turner (Dec 3) touting “Dr” Hare all over again. (corrected version linked). Ms Turner confusingly called him “Bill Hare”, “Mr Bill Hare” and “Dr Hare” all within six paragraphs.

Dr [sic] Hare, who received support from the CCWA [Conservation Council of WA] for the [Woodside] study, said WA did not need Scarborough gas to keep the lights on …”So really on the time scale of a decade or so, we could be 100 per cent renewable in the electricity space by the early 2030s, as are other places.” [Like where, exactly?].

So I file yet another complaint to the ABC on December 7:

Despite being twice advised that the ABC would cease calling Mr Bill Hare of Climate Analytics “Dr” Hare, ABC News has reverted to “Dr Hare” just one day after Matt Galvin (ABC News Management) assured me it wouldn’t happen. Can you please correct that Dec 3 report and take steps to ensure that ABC people cease referring to “Dr” Bill Hare. Thanks. 

Dec 8, 2021: Matt Galvin responds promptly and politely, “Thanks for pointing this out Tony – the correction has been made.”

Instead of a correction, the ABC merely did a ‘stealth edit’.

May 17, 2022: For ABCTV 7pm News, it’s “Dr” Hare all over again.

May 17, 2022: I complain again to my friend, Ms McLiesh, at ABC Audience & Consumer Affairs. Either no response or I’ve mislaid it.

February 6, 2024: “Dr” Hare was back on the ABC on January 22 (link to corrected version), courtesy Darwin reporter Roxanne Fitzgerald. I complain again at about 11am.

Can you please again advise ABC staff that however much they might want to big-up “Dr” Hare in order to big up their narrative of CAGW (catastrophic manmade global warming) he is just a BSc Hons holder and should be referred to as “Mr”. Nor has he sufficient physical science papers to warrant the ABC calling him a “climate scientist”. The appropriate descriptor would be “Climate lobbyist” or “Anti-CO2 emissions lobbyist”.

I then resumed my household chores (sweeping, dusting, tidying), not expecting a reply for a fortnight or more. Imagine my surprise — within two hours Complaints had flicked my beef to ABC Darwin office which emailed me back admitting error and by stealth edits, demoting “Dr” Hare to “Mr” or just plain Bill.

From Emily Sakzewski, Deputy News Editor, NT:

I am emailing in response to your complaint over this ABC News story to let you know the story has been updated to reflect Bill Hare’s correct honorific as Mr, rather than Dr.

I googled Emily. Without wanting to give the kiss of death to her career, I rate her published work to be well-researched and free of noticeable leftist bias. The ABC’s Darwin office seems not to be woke b/s merchants and is capable of professional journalism, good customer service and sturdy common sense. I wish Emily well and view her as a future candidate for managing director, if David Anderson (on $1.15 million p.a) retires any time during this century.

Tony Thomas’s new book from Connor Court is Anthem of the Unwoke – Yep! The other lot’s gone bonkers. $34.95 from Connor Court here


[1] Climate Analytics was born from the dark-green Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) , which has led the way into Germany’s current energy crisis. PIK has its anti-gas and anti-coal tentacles all over Australia. Climate Analytics’ funders include the UN and EC, the Rockefellers, Greenpeace, Lock the Gate Alliance, the Togo government (indirectly), the Ivory Coast government, Tim Flannery’s Climate Council, ACF, the World Bank, the German and UK governments, Murdoch University (or course), and the Green Climate Fund,

[2] Bill Hare was a Greenpeace International spokesman as “Climate Policy Director” 1992-2002, its “Chief Climate Negotiator” in 2007, and a Greenpeace “legend”. Notwithstanding, he was also a 2007 IPCC lead author and an expert reviewer on two out of three sections of that report, and one of 40 people on the “core writing team” for the big-picture Synthesis Report. He was a lead author for the 2014 report.

[3] MIT and University of Virginia don’t give out honorary degrees. William Barton Rogers, the founder of MIT, said the concept of honorary degrees was “literary almsgiving… of spurious merit and noisy popularity.” 

[4] “[Conservative commentator Peta] Credlin’s claim that the Uluru Statement is a 26-page document and not a one-page document was found to be false information by RMIT FactLab. The finding led to Credlin’s editorial being removed from the platform, infuriating News Corp Australia which threatened legal action against FactLab for allegedly providing “misleading” information under Australian Consumer Law.”

[5] Lowitja further speculated that the missionaries in general there might have won the trust of mothers through supplying stores and “a few goodies”, but she said mothers would still be unwilling to give up children.

15 thoughts on “At the ABC, it’s Always Time for Hare of the Doc

  • SB says:

    Rather than expending valuable time corresponding with the ABC, why don’t you put all of these matters to the conservative’ political parties and ask them what they would do about it when in government … or at least embarrass them into having to make a statement about it.

  • Andrew Campbell says:

    Wow Tony! You get replies! Ignored, to be sure, but replies! What are you complaining about? I am convinced that my emails get dumped within seconds. A Christian, I constantly protest mistakes in reporting religious matters and suggest (pigs might fly) that they employ a Christian to check their reporting. Or, if they know a Christian (pigs might fly) that they run it past him/her first. Well done to get replies!


    I percieve the ABCas an incorrigible monkey on the back of decency, fair play and whatever is wholesome in society. I am looking forward to that day when the smug ABC has its life support turned off from the enforced and profligate infusion of tax payer funding. For many long suffering Australians, a privatised, subscription only ABC, will be most welcome.

  • yorkgum says:

    I would not like to discourage you, Tony, but you will never succeed in bringing the ABC to task. However, the fact that you actually get answers is important, and they clearly recognise that their answers better be carefully crafted, because you will publish them. However, providing you with an answer is one thing. Doing anything to correct behaviour is another altogether.
    By the way, many years ago my mother received an honorary doctorate from a local University. She only used it when making a restaurant booking by phone, as this ensured excellent, often fawning service.

  • DougD says:

    “this ensured excellent, often fawning service” – was it in the dining room at Fawlty Towers?

  • STD says:

    Oh, but Tony he is a Doctor-in doctrinal Marxism specialising in green economics, whereby they tax- oops sorry, they charge like wounded bulls, and we all know what/ that / this type of bull is luring a very red dead end.

  • Elizabeth Beare says:

    Holders of real and hard won doctorates too should be careful how they use their titles. Or at least do a first aid course, as they may well be called upon to do sterling medical duties at a quick flip down the passenger list during an emergency on the plane.

    Tenacious is your middle name, Tony.
    Excellent grip there on the seat of their pants, and good on you for it.

    • pmprociv says:

      You’re not wrong, Elizabeth. Despite having specialist medical qualifications, and a PhD, I stopped using the title “Dr.” in public a long time ago — never gave me any privileges, but attracted unwelcome attention. Former GP Peter Goldsworthy, in one of his hilarious (for me) short stories (no doubt based on personal experience), writes about a doctor flying in business class who, while awaiting his lunch, is called back to cattle class to attend to a man having a heart attack while eating his inferior meal. The poor victim dies, while the hungry doctor ends up having to sit next to him for the remainder of the flight. Wasn’t even offered a free bottle of wine for his services, or a follow-up thank-you letter from the airline.

      You don’t see doctors’ number plates on cars any more — these long ago went out of fashion: I wonder why?

  • davidmj101 says:

    I would not be surprised to see the level of over-use of ‘Dr’ to get down to something like this:-
    “In discussing the prospects for various football teams in Melbourne this year, Dr. H. G Nelson commented, ‘It’s really time for Essendon to be relegated. It’s just a certainty.’
    His co-host, Dr. Roy Slaven, commented, ‘It’ll never happen.'”

  • pmprociv says:

    Well done yet again, Tony. You deserve and honorary doctorate for your persistent, thankless, interminable crusade for truth-telling and damage control in the ABC. I’m surprised you haven’t yet received a threatening letter from its legal department, advising you to desist from your “attacks” — as I did about 20 years ago (which prompted me to cancel my Friends of the ABC membership). What truly remains a mystery is why our mutual hero, Enterprise Professor Uncle Bruce Pascoe, who has done groundbreaking work in incorporating First Nations grasses into Dark Emu beer (in the footsteps of the World’s First Brewers), still awaits a PhD (h.c.) — there must be something amiss in the system to account for this great injustice. One supposes ABC reporters would be free to call him “Dr.” regardless; what’s holding them back?

  • norsaint says:

    Well done Tony!

  • depths says:

    Tony, your contributions to Quadrant are always “immediately go to” articles for me. This article really shows what little attention (or just plain defiance) ABC journalistic and broadcast staff pay to ABC style guides. Your suggestion that they try to “big up their narrative of CAGW” hits the nail on the head. Great work!

  • Tony Thomas says:

    I’ve received the following response Wed 14 Feb., from ABC Ombudsman to my complaint on February 8 re ABC’s misuse of honorary doctorate titles, and complaint that Lowitja ODonoghue was not “stolen” as asserted by the ABC.
    From James, Investigations Officer, ABC Ombudsman’s Office —
    “The allegation that Lowitja O’Donoghue was not a member of the stolen generation has been discredited, for example here.
    Her removal from her parents as a child was as a result of SA Government policy at the time.

    The ABC style guide does not form part of the editorial standards and we consider there is nothing materially inaccurate in referring to Ms O’Donoghue as Dr O’Donoghue.

    Thank you for providing the ABC the opportunity to respond to you.

    Should you be dissatisfied with this response to your complaint, you may be able to pursue the matter with the Australian Communications and Media Authority

  • Stephen Due says:

    My three daughters have real PhDs’ for which they worked very hard indeed. It seems to me these so-called ‘honorary’ degrees diminish the value of the real ones awarded for academic achievement. At the same time, one might wonder at the stress laid in academic circles on the doctorate. When A. N. Whitehead and Bertrand Russell published Principia Mathematica, Russell’s only qualification was his M.A. Interestingly, however both were also F.R.S. The point is that their work spoke for itself.
    PS: I am amused by the similar fad of universities offering doctors on the staff of teaching hospitals Associate Professorships. As a result many now style themselves ‘Professor’ (apparently to impress their patients).

    • David Isaac says:

      As this titular currency is cheapened beyond redemption most “Drs”, whether medical or philosophical get around addressed only by their given names in any case, female PhDs being somewhat of an exception. The resultant confusion of both family identity and role is just part of the heritage-dissolving, communistic soup in which we all now swim.

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