October 30 2005
Mr. Jack Herman
Australian Press Council
Suite 10.02 117 York Street
Re; my complaint against The Australian newspaper / your letter October 16, 2005
I thank you for your letter.
I have had the time to examine the response of the newspaper. I would request a hearing.
As follows, I have responded, as briefly as possible, to The Australian.
Response To The Letter Of Mr. Martin Beesley
Managing Editor Of The Australian (October 14 2005)
October 30 2005
The reply to Mr. Martin Beesley is divided into sections labelled by me. I do not follow the order of his letter.
1. My Attitude Towards Mr. Roberts’s Journalism ; His Relationship With The Newspaper
The question of the journalist is very important. I understand that a complaint against the journalist should lie elsewhere, but as I have suggested in the past, the journalist and the publication are often united and cannot really be separated.
In this case, the reply of The Australian suggests that his words are theirs and it is therefore in this instance – a moot matter. I rely on the words of Mr. Beesley: "Mr. Roberts is subject to all the usual employee/employer controls, is assigned and reports under a comprehensive administrative structure and his copy undergoes the same checks as that of every other reporter." For the purpose here, I do not care whether this is true or not. The newspaper accepts the full consequence of the words at issue.
(a) Mr. Beesley says: "Mr. Saleam seems to consider that somehow the writer of these articles is misbehaving because he made similar references to Mr. Saleam when he worked for Fairfax."
I say that I was unaware that Mr. Roberts had ever written about me previously. It was rather that I have written about him.
(b) Mr. Beesley says: "The Australian cannot see the logic in this."
I say that I concur. I do not believe Mr. Roberts has written about me.
(c) Mr. Beesley says: " ..our reporter, Greg Roberts, has established an expertise in this area and naturally he is asked to contribute his knowledge and skills to the newspaper when the topic arises."
I say that Mr. Roberts has essentially fabricated material related to his pocket neo-nazis and Ku Klux Klansmen since 1999 and that his expertise is essentially non-existent. At the very least, I have published and spoken to that extent and I note that at no point did Mr. Beesley deny either he or his employee were unaware of my allegations. I will continue to criticise Mr. Roberts.
As The Australian is aware I am expert in the matter of the Australian neo-nazis if only because it has quoted me. On this complaint I have also shown that I have published on the neo-nazis in Australia and elsewhere and published on the neo-nazi ideology academically and polemically. Given Mr. Roberts has never approached me for the facts about the Australian neo-nazis he has hitherto reported on at expansive length, I can only surmise he refuses to deal with the issues I have raised.
This is all a ‘discourse’ in the Gramscian sense, an ideological positional contest, and I do not expect Mr. Roberts to alter his case.
I have offered The Australian the same information. So far, the newspaper has rejected the information – by default. However, as I noted in my complaint, its reporter Paige Taylor, has corresponded at length with me.
For Mr. Beesley to suggest that Mr. Roberts is an expert tells the Australian Press Council it is The Australian which has adopted his words.
(d) Mr. Beesley says: "..much of the complaint seems to be more a personal attack on Mr. Roberts …"
I say: it was necessary that I show I have criticised this writer in full in the past. He therefore had a "relationship" with me. I say to the Australian Press Council that he used his opportunity to pay me back. That the newspaper adopts Mr. Roberts obviously suggests it does not agree with my criticism of him. It therefore in a circular manner – protects itself.
(e) Mr. Beesley says: "To then say that The Australian failed ‘to exercise proper administrative and editorial control over its employee’ is just silly and smacks of a desperate grasp at any excuse to lodge yet another complaint with the Council."
I say that in his reply (and as below) Mr. Beesley has fused the two interests and I thank him for that.
I have not opted to make a "desperate grasp" at the Australian Press Council’s complaints’ system. It is this remark which seems desperate. Reasonably, Mr. Beesley is aware that I have made other complaints to the Council concerning the neo-nazis generally and my putative support for this ‘ideology’. It seems to me that the newspaper is desperate not to enter into any discussion of what neo-nazism is.
Indeed, I note that my material which defined the neo-nazis was ignored (as below).
2. My Letters To The Australian ; Mr. Beesley’s Inadequate Response
Mr. Beesley agrees that I directed letters to the newspaper.
(a) Mr. Beesley says: "We declined to publish it because it didn’t contribute anything to the then current debate and was unnecessarily abusive."
I say: I was named in the articles. Certainly, I was not the subject of the material. Mr. Roberts dropped me in. The circumstances are contested by the Patriotic Youth League representative, a matter about which Mr. Beesley is silent. Even so, I had an interest in the section that dealt with me.
If I was in any way abusive (I did not think so), this could have been addressed with editorial contact. It was not. I could have been told to alter "attacks" upon the staff member.
(b) Mr. Beesley considered I had no right to reply because their claim was true.
But I was never asked if it was true. It was just asserted that I was a neo-nazi. Obviously, given this complaint, I would have said I was not a neo-nazi.
That seems to me to be the whole point at issue. The Australian wants to be able to say that I am a neo-nazi without even recourse to asking me.
Reasonably, they would reject any letter (then and now) filed by me as it would have contested or would dispute, this assertion.
3. The Articles: Whether They Were About Me Or Not Is Irrelevant.
Mr. Beesley set the stage for his claim about the letters when I said early in his reply: "Neither of the articles were about Mr. Saleam."
Indeed so (as above).
What was played was Mr. Roberts’s ‘links’ game as I discussed in my original complaint. Mr. Beesley said: "Most recently he has been involved in the Patriotic Youth League – and it was that organisation’s listing of Professor Fraser as a member that led to the reference to Mr. Saleam ….
However, I was not asked anything about Professor Fraser. I doubt Professor Fraser was asked about me. I doubt if Mr. Connors was asked about whether he knew of any relationship.
It would be as meaningless as saying Mr. Kim Beazley is linked to paedophiles because a couple of Labor Party members were of that disposition. There is no link. However, Fraser was given a link to neo-nazis because both he and I had some ‘link’ to the Patriotic Youth League.
From my point of view, the articles had a purpose: to attack Fraser. I was to be used in that attack. Or rather my name was to be used – as a "neo-nazi" and a person convicted "for organising a shotgun attack…".
Therefore I am very interested in the Roberts’ style. Mr. Beesley’s reply shows this point very clearly.
4. My Political Violence Connection.; A Clarification
Mr. Beesley said: "We would gather that Mr. Saleam does not dispute that he was found guilty of this outrageous attack and was jailed, only that he has been labelled as a neo-nazi."
For the record, I was framed in the Eddie Funde matter by the notorious self-admitted thief, perjurer, drunk-driving protector of a judicial pervert (Justice Yeldham) – namely Superintendent Neville George Ireland, last Commander of Special Branch (also he was the controller of the neo-nazis 1989-1997). I note this man was, directly and indirectly, responsible for much of the pop history used against me by various journalists as the history of the former National Action organization. This man was briefly a ‘hero’ for liberal journalists and editors until (I believe with some assistance from myself) he was brought down in Royal Commission hearings (1996-1997).
My conviction for this attack is irrelevant to the current issue. Whether or not I was framed is also irrelevant.
I will argue the validity of the conviction in the public arena and one day back in court. I also find it interesting no editor is interested in finding the truth from me.
However, this complaint is about the "neo-nazi" label. It is not about the political violence matter.
5. The Australian’s ‘History’ Of My Neo-Nazi Activities (sic) And Ideology.
The Australian’s defence of its proposition that I am a neo-nazi appears based upon a potted history of my political activities over a thirty year period. It is obvious to me that the newspaper maintains a file on me, a dirt file in effect.
I shall answer in sequence:
(a) Mr. Beesley said: "Saleam’s key role in the small Australian neo-nazi movement is long standing and beyond dispute."
I say: it is utterly untrue to argue this. I note that at no point has Mr. Beasley addressed the material supplied on this complaint. It is obvious in the extreme that I do not match the typology for neo-nazism. At every description of neo-nazi ideology I am at variance. It is clear I have performed actions against the neo-nazi groups and have called repeatedly for a public inquiry into their supposed activities.
(b) Mr. Beesley said: "He first joined the Australian National Socialist Party in the early 1970’s in Queensland when photographed by the media wearing Nazi armbands."
I say: I have never joined the said Australian National Socialist Party. I do not deny that I have had acquaintances in one way or another with some people involved in that police-run movement (I note The Australian, as with other newspapers, refuses to look into that issue and the fact I exposed it). As the Australian Press Council is very much aware, I hardly deny I attended a ‘Nazi’ function complete with swastika – even if the meaning of my appearance is other than the one Mr. Beesley ascribes.
The important point hereafter in the ‘history’ offered as proof of my "longstanding" neo-nazism, is that such associations (on whatever basis they actually were predicated) ended in 1975.
(c) Mr. Beesley said: "In 1974 he was convicted on charges arising from the firebombing of a left-wing bookshop in Brisbane."
I say: There was an offence as a juvenile in Queensland in 1973. It had nothing to do with neo-nazism. I note the date "1974", the date supplied for this offence by a Dennis Freney formerly of the Communist Party of Australia (he created extensive disinformation on me in the 1980’s). The date "1974" will be drawn from The Australian’s dirt file.
(d) Mr. Beesley said: "In 1977, by which time he had moved to Sydney, he founded the Australian National Alliance, and in 1982, he founded another neo-nazi organisation, National Action".
I say: I am not sure whether Mr. Beesley is saying both these groups were neo-nazi organizations. I shall assume he is saying that
In fact, both these organizations were based solely upon the Australian nationalist, republican and labour traditions. Each used the Eureka Flag as its symbol. I have the publications of these groups. I challenge Mr. Beesley to identify the neo-nazi material in these publications. Dr. Peter Henderson’s thesis does not define National Action as "neo-nazi" as I noted in my complaint.
Our relations with such neo-nazi groups as existed (Robert Cameron’s groups and the van Tongeren group) were poisonous. We condemned their neo-nazism openly. We were attacked by them for denouncing neo-nazism. I published specific material aimed at the neo-nazis.
This struggle was carried on by the Palmer group against me personally (the group which Mr. Roberts reported on). Evidence exists Palmer tried to suborn my murder.
Once again, the history of the groups in which I was involved belies any idea of a "lomgstanding" commitment to neo-nazism.
(e) Mr. Beesley said: "..members were linked to attacks on left-wing bookshops,and the offices of conservation groups in Sydney, the bashing of NSW student leader and attacks on the homes of anti-apartheid activists."
I say: Linked? By whom? Other journalists? Dennis Freney? With the exception of the case in which I was involved (and a 1989 case where corrupt Detective Ireland ran two different cases simultaneously against three men for the same offence), no evidence of any such sort was ever used in a criminal prosecution. In other words, Mr. Beesley has no proof of the matters he alleges. "Linked"? By whom? Certainly not by convictions in court.
In any case, the raising of this material matches what I said in the complaint concerning the misuse of the term neo-nazi. A neo-nazi becomes simply some sort of Right radical who uses violence. This is a misuse of the term.
(f) Mr. Beesley said: "More recently, Saleam was an organiser of the Sydney Forum, a meeting of neo-nazi sympathisers in Sydney last August."
I say: This is a bald faced lie.
It was a free speech event and we did not exclude people. I concede I cannot say what each and every person thought. I also did not know all of the attendees. However, and it is a very large however, the meeting was not a meeting of neo-nazi sympathisers.
The topics for discussion involved constitutional reform, home-schooling, and the war in Iraq among other things. It involved war veterans and well known speakers.
I did not witness swastikas, hear Hitler-loving chatter from people, nothing. What test is being employed?
I say this claim matches the method of The Australian. It says something with absolute certainty. I say: it is untrue. Someone is right and someone wrong. On what basis does Mr. Beesley say it is true? He doesn’t wish to say. SBS Television did an interview and report on August 27. Nothing substantiates Mr. Beesley’s claim.
(g) Mr. Beesley said: In an article in The Australian at the time (August this year), Mr. Saleam was quoted as saying he preferred (Mr. Beesley’s emphasis) the term ‘right radical’ to neo-nazi or fascist.
No, no, no. I do not ‘prefer’ to be called an "initiator of child sexual experimentation" over a "paedophile"!
That was not the conversation with the journalist. I told the journalist of the case against Mr. Roberts. I said I rejected the terms neo-nazi and fascist as wrong. I said that I would wear ‘right radical’ and not quibble. I said it might not be right but if employed it was fair enough for the purpose. And on that basis I was properly paraphrased.
I ‘prefer’ to be called a ‘right radical’ because it is a little more honest and defensible, not because it is just a parlour-pleasant way of being a neo-nazi.
Obviously, this article slipped through the curtain of smear.
6. No Proof Presented
Where are we left then with the matter of me as a "prominent neo-nazi"?
At no point has Mr. Beesley defined the term nor explained how it fits to me. He has merely declaimed that it explains me.
That is not proof. Mr. Beesley has not addressed my writings generally, nor identified the specifics in my writing (academic or polemical) or public statements that might establish his case. At best, he has referred to an alleged membership of a ‘Nazi’ group and attendance at a ‘Nazi’ meeting, matters over thirty years old (which by the experience of the Australian Press Council are heavily disputed as to what they meant even then). Mr. Beesley has merely asserted, that I have continued (sic) in this neo-nazi line since the 1970’s.
Since my neo-nazism is "long standing and beyond dispute", then it must be apparent to every idiot.
It also follows that in certain of my academic work that referred to myself (a difficult matter at the best of times), I deceived my examiners when I explained neo-nazism in a particular way that excluded organizations like National Action. These aspects of my work was not disputed by the examiners. Nonetheless it seems some others agree with my findings (Peter Henderson). As I showed on this complaint, I have also composed other material on neo-nazism generally which was adopted by expert on neo-nazism, Nicholas Goodrick-Clark. It is clear I am not a neo-nazi.
So, I must ask Mr. Beesley to show me and show The Australian Press Council what neo-nazism is? Why am I one? If the newspaper wants to say this, and not say it as ’opinion’ but as fact, then it must answer these questions.
Mr. Beesley has not explained whether Mr. Roberts loaded up Mr. Connors with something he did not say, a misleading statement that ‘vindicated’ the statement that I am a "prominent neo-nazi".
Mr. Bessley has not differentiated ‘opinion’ from ‘fact’. Rather he asserts that his opinion is the fact. It might be Mr. Beesley’s opinion that I am a neo-nazi. However, that does not mean it is a fact. I was never given an opportunity to reply to Mr. Roberts’s ‘opinion’ of me slotted into an article as criticism of Professor Fraser.
It is my position that the Australian Press Council is entitled on a matter like this to certainly deal with the usual matters of a complaint: fact v opinion, right of reply, fairness and so forth. However, this case is unusual in that a newspaper has claimed something as a matter of fact. I deny the claim is a fact and maintain there is academic evidence that says it is not so. Further, even if I do not match the tests of fact, but the newspaper says I am still represent that thing, it must have a proof of my deception. It is also very obvious that the dispute is heavily adversarial. Each side has reason for its claim.
The Australian Press Council is not a court, nor is it a tribunal of fact. However, this does not mean that it cannot ask The Australian to advise it what a ‘neo-nazi’ is. Further, it may ask what written and/or oral statements or behaviours of mine establish that I fit the category.
I am not asking the Australian Press Council to stray beyond its brief. Indeed, its rules allow for unusual cases.
The Australian was wrong to label me a "neo-nazi", "prominent" or otherwise. It does not wish to surrender its position. I have little doubt that if I win this case, the newspaper will find some new way in the future to reinstate the falsehood. Even so, I ask the Australian Press Council to apply its principles tempered with the application of some logical inquiry – and find my complaints sustained.