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Friday, 06 November 2020 08:50

Journalism as Activism: The Case of Louise Milligan

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Louise Milligan, who sought to destroy the reputation of Cardinal George Pell, has written a new book.  She should have, instead, abjectly apologised for having written the first one.


Not content with setting out coldly and with venom to destroy an innocent man’s life – I speak of George Cardinal Pell – Louise Milligan has written another book.  If I were her, I would have determined to correct my earlier effort, including its now outdated subtitle, rather than writing a new one.

In doing so, Milligan has again teamed up with her old publisher, another Pell getting Louise (Adler, aka Mrs Max Gillies).  Adler was shown the door from Melbourne University Press by Pell ally and Chancellor of the Parkville Asylum (sorry, the University of Melbourne), Alan Myers AC QC, after Milligan’s first book was published. 

Regrouping for further battles to be fought.

This is not a book review.  To review a book, you have to read it.  I will leave it to my indefatigable fellow Pell case researcher in Wales, Chris Friel, to undertake that gruesome task.  No doubt the redoubtable Gerard Henderson will have a crack, as well.

Interestingly, Google books had this to say about the new Milligan effort:

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Expectedly kind reviewers have appeared.  They have described the new book as a “devastating” and “excoriating” critique of the criminal justice system.  Que?  Many of us on the other side of the Pell argument would agree that the criminal justice system in Australia is systemically compromised, but in very different ways to that asserted by Milligan.  The Pell case proves this.  A forthcoming piece in December Quadrant that I have worked on with Augusto Zimmermann will demonstrate that the Pell case is not alone in demonstrating the flaws in the system, and that the system faults are not confined to Victoria.  The dreadful case of Father John Fleming, similarly hounded by vile journalism that was rewarded by judicial bungling, highlights questions of bias and plain incompetence across the states and territories of this fair, locked down land. 

Milligan gets it 180 degrees wrong again in her targeting, then, it would seem.  It is no surprise that one of the kind early reviews comes from the ubiquitous law academic (I won’t say scholar), Ben Matthews of QUT University.  One of the Dawkins ones.  Unsurprisingly, the review is published in The Conversation, the natural home of left liberal bloviating types like Ben.  One of The Conversation’s strategic partners is – the Victorian State Government!  Convenient, then, to be publishing as a review a piece of sycophancy about Louise Milligan, whose service to the Victorian Government has been not inconsiderable, these past years.

To say that Milligan, she of the Harper’s Bazaar fashion shoots and public relations agents, has egg on her face over Pell would be an understatement.

The exoneration of Pell seven to nil by the High Court in April 2020 was an obliteration of his various tormentors, networked in various combinations south of the Murray.  Sensible ones have kept their heads down.  Daniel Andrews, serial manslaughterer, has had other things on his plate.  As has his politicised police thuggocracy, aka Victoria Police, currently occupied in hounding the innocent with brute force while refusing point blank to investigate the new Pell developments coming out of Rome.  Graham “you just can’t keep him out of the news” Ashton and other senior “civil” servants in the great state of Victoria are pre-occupied, too – those that haven’t resigned to protect a premier who appears to have lied under oath – mostly in appearances before one of the tribunals investigating corrupt behaviour by Victorian institutions.

Time will tell whether the McMurdo Royal Commission into Lawyer X will skewer VicPol.  One hopes so.  An institution less deserving of our sympathy than VicPol would be difficult to imagine.  The  favourite answer of members of Ashton’s Circus when cornered under oath is “I don’t recall”.  In this they follow their old boss Christine “Big Kev” Nixon who almost single-handedly turned that phrase into an art form. 

Day one of VicPol training, as well as inculcating a love for all things LGBT+ among new recruits, clearly teaches them all to chant on cue “I don’t recall”.  Chris Friel has given us two new snippets on VicPol in his recent, as ever forensic researches – first, that when she was Commissioner of VicPol, Nixon cleaned out from the sex crimes squad anyone but anyone who didn’t reflexively believe the complainant, and second, that no one in VicPol can remember whose idea Operation Tethering (Get Pell) was.  Funny that.  You would think someone would remember.  Or take the credit.  Funny things, VicPol memories.  Louise Milligan certainly had allies aplenty in her me-tooism in Victoria Police, courtesy of the copper from HR.  (Yes, that is what Nixon’s job was in the NSW Police before her trip south).

Back in April a smarting Louise Milligan exhorted us all to hug our children, following Pell’s exoneration.  Commendable advice any day of the week, but curiously irrelevant to the release of a patently innocent prelate.  Daniel Andrews simply chanted “we believe you” to no one in particular, via Twitter.  We can assume he was incandescent with rage.

Pell was a man who had been hounded cruelly, absurdly charged with offences that blind Freddy could see were fabricated, and bizarrely convicted by a jury (at the second attempt).  Pell’s subsequent appeal was then dismissed by two judges neither of whom, clearly, should ever have been elevated to the Victorian Supreme Court, who should now be consulting and who must be hoping against hope that no one ever recognises them in the street.

Louise Milligan is a bitter, ex-Catholic feminist.  Anyone who has ever confronted such, as I have, seldom escapes the encounter unbruised.  Her chosen metier is journalism as activism, which clearly suits her background, interests and ideology.  It also clearly suits the sheltered workshop for which she works in her day job, paid for generously but without any choice in the matter by the taxpayers of Australia.  She is entitled to her views, but I wish she would hold and express them not on my dime.  And if she could, in future, confine her investigations to pursuit of the guilty rather than the innocent.  Make no mistake, her first book was hugely influential in getting Pell gaoled for 405 days.  The timing of its publication was carefully orchestrated to do this very thing.  Her culpability is extreme.  Her intervention was strategic.  She should be on her knees begging for our forgiveness.  Not preening further.  These kinds of folks don’t tend to apologise for their blunders, though.  Or lick their wounds.

This new book of Milligan’s is a classic example of “look over there”, with the intent to distract all from asking the hard questions.  The real questions about the current criminal justice system in Australia.  Like these.

The theme of the book – the legal system’s brutality against complainants and witnesses like herself – is an act of doubling down rather than of restraining her earlier hubris.  The adversarial nature of cross examinations during trials is a nothingburger compared to the injustices experienced by Pell and other innocents accused.  The outworkings of the reversal of the onus of proof would seem to me to be far more worthy of journalistic attention than the roughing up by lawyers of complainants and hostile witnesses to – shock, horror – try to undermine their credibility.  In a seemingly all-too-reasonable attempt to establish the innocence of the falsely accused.

Here is Milligan the victim-witness in the Pell trials:

“You don’t sleep the night before that first day in court …” she writes. “You vomit … Your mind spins … You cry …”

This from the woman who did just about as much as anyone did, or could, to see an innocent man destroyed.  I wonder how George felt …

The legal system’s brutality against against complainants?  Really?  The Pell complainant – whose identity I know and no doubt, if I do, so must half of Melbourne – cannot legally be named.  Not now, not ever.  But his empty accusations were plastered all over every bookshop in Victoria.  Before Pell’s day in court.  He was protected in court in any number of ways, too, what with video evidence astonishingly allowed merely to be re-used at the second trial. 

The High Court, in effect, has found Witness J to be either addled, a liar or a fantasist of gargantuan, Carl Beech, proportions.  It is reasonable to assume he was coached by the me-tooist police – the same ones who can’t recall whose idea Operation Tethering was, but who routinely pay witnesses (Lawyer X), advertise for witnesses and leak like sieves to journalists such as the repugnant Lucie Morris Marr, another “journalist” who needs to change her book title post the High Court decision.  Witness J was “believed”, by no less than the Prime Minister in parliament who was equally strategic in his own dumb, me-tooist intervention, no doubt to Pell’s cost as the parliamentary response to the McClellan Royal Commission occurred neatly between the two trials. 

No, this complainant was believed and was given every support known to man, Louise. 

By credulous police, recruited post-Nixon to be just that, always.  Back in the days that Daniel Andrews was merely a minister – happy days, indeed – Victoria’s legal system was upended and transformed top to bottom so that Witness J would be believed come his day in court.  Shouldn’t accusers who have the ability to destroy innocent lives and reputations face the same rigorous level of scrutiny that the real paedophiles receive from police and in the courts?  No, the Victoria court system is dripping woke through and through. 

It wasn’t once upon a time.  Many in VicPol felt guilt over their own, earlier ignorance of the extent and seriousness of institutional sex abuse.  This was clear to those like the Melbourne Response independent commissioner at the time VicPol was fibbing to the then Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry (2012-13), the inquiry that kicked off the whole child abuse show trials of the last decade.

Milligan’s network of obsessive Victorian survivor groups, priest chasing lawyers, leaking coppers and very imaginative but hopelessly compromised complainants is an ongoing source of comfort to her, and a source of succour for her seemingly profitable writing.  Much of it fictional writing, to be sure.  All these people think exactly the same way.  All are me-tooist ideologues compromised by the distorted fanaticism of their views and their bitter personal hatreds.  Some at least have done well out of it too, career and bank account wise.  But what drives them ever onwards is mainly their anti-Catholicism. 

(The irony is that you would be hard pressed to find anyone more revolted by the actions of paedophile priests and their covering-up protectors in the Church than a faithful Catholic who still goes to Mass and places money on the plate, increasingly with bitter-sweet affection for this same Church and its officials.  We do not need rabid religion-haters to tell us how to feel about paedos.  We also prefer to keep perspective and balance in our views, and do not simply accept that all priests and religious accused of heinous crimes must be guilty).

Yet any journalist worth his or her salt this year would have profited more by asking pertinent, difficult questions in this year of the bizarre.  Less activism and more investigation might have yielded the truth about the two biggest stories of the year – the getting of Pell and the madness of lockdowner governments.  These issues are infinitely target rich, yet more or less totally unexplored by the fourth estate.

Instead, Victorian journalists (especially) like Milligan have gone on strike from doing what they are paid to do.  It took Peta Credlin, a hated conservative who – gulp – once worked for the even more hated Catholic, Pell friend Tony Abbott, to show up what a bunch of incurious buffoons her fellow journalists are.  They are blinded by their own support for Daniel Andrews and numb-brained lockdowns in the same way that they hate George and his Church.  They are activist journalists who simply absorb and repeat the talking points of the political class.  Just like the coppers of VicPol.

This was, indeed, a strange book to be writing post Pell.  The best means of defence, as they say …

Paul Collits

Paul Collits is a freelance writer and independent researcher who lives in Lismore New South Wales.  
He has worked in government, industry and the university sector, and has taught at tertiary level in three different disciplines - politics, geography and planning and business studies.  He spent over 25 years working in economic development and has published widely in Australian and international peer reviewed and other journals.  He has been a keynote speaker internationally on topics such as rural development, regional policy, entrepreneurship and innovation.  Much of his academic writing is available at
His recent writings on ideology, conservatism, politics, religion, culture, education and police corruption have been published in such journals as Quadrant, News Weekly and The Spectator Australia.
He has BA Hons and MA degrees in political science from the Australian National University and a PhD in geography and planning from the University of New England.  He currently has an adjunct Associate Professor position at a New Zealand Polytechnic.