The Medicine Man

Latest article published in Good Weekend about Marcus Blackmore, Chairman of the largest nutraceutical empire in the Southern Hemisphere. How is it that The Medicine Man attracts so much hostility from orthodox practitioners? It didn’t take me long to discover why. There are still doctors in this world – perhaps well-meaning – who believe that orthodox medicine holds the answer to everything and are, therefore, scornful of anything that might be labelled `New Age.’ Read full article here: Blackmore

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Alan Jones

Alan Jones, the Grand Inquisitor of Radio Talkback, is now in a firestorm of his own making. His loathsome comments about the death of the Prime Minister’s father, John Gillard, have blown up in his face with a number of key advertisers now deserting his top-rating breakfast show and a growing social media backlash showing no signs of abating. Jones has been here before: the infamous London toilet incident in 1988, the Cash for Comments scandal a decade later, his inflammatory remarks during the Cronulla riots, in fact a lifetime of controversy and divisiveness. In 1998 I wrote an article for Good Weekend on the broadcaster called, appropriately: `Who’s Afraid of Alan Jones?’ The answer: A lot of people. This article was later re-published in my book “The Whites of their Eyes.”

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Serge Benhayon and Universal Medicine

“I know more than any scientist in my inner heart … I know everything about the universe and how it works. I can answer any question about any mystery in the world, any mystery in the universe.”

– Serge Benhayon’s message for the “New Era”, January 1, 2012.

A few years before Serge Benhayon realised he was the reincarnation of Leonardo da Vinci, he was a junior tennis coach on the north coast of NSW. What prompted Italy’s greatest Renaissance painter and polymath to reappear in the lush hills of Alstonville to teach tennis 480 years after his death is a mystery, even to Benhayon.

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Paul Kelly’s “Stories of Me” – a new documentary

Paul KellyA three year project documenting the life and musical career of Paul Kelly has now been completed. On Saturday, August 4, the film had its premier at the Melbourne International Film Festival. It will have one-off screenings in all Australian capital cities during October/November (for tickets, dates and to view the trailer click here )

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The Biggest Hit

Twelve years ago, in the rapture of the 2000 Olympics Closing Ceremony, you could almost feel the elation sweeping the globe when Men at Work’s Greg Ham offered up his immortal flute riff on Down Under to a television audience of nearly 4 billion, and a capacity crowd of 110,000 mostly dancing souls inside Sydney’s Olympic Stadium.

On that golden millenial night, Ham had stood centre stage, a bright pixie of a man with silken blonde hair, raybands and black dinner jacket, bending to the wind and giving us the melody we’d all come to regard – without suspicion – as part of our unofficial national anthem.

Men At WorkAs singer/songwriter, Colin Hay, laid a gentle hand on his friend’s shoulder, Ham cut loose with the sequence of notes he’d once dreamed up – or thought he had – in a haze of marijuana smoke 21 years earlier.

It was his tongue-in-cheek tilt at an Irish Australian-style tune that went: A A A A B B B A F# A F#  followed by a descending scale, and then another 11-note flourish: F# F# F# F# G G G F# D F# D.

For all the world, it looked like the flautist was on top of the world, as he and Hay were eventually joined on stage by a rollcall of Australian icons. But the unravellening of Ham’s life had already begun, though nothing like it would in the period leading up to his death in April this year …

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Mark Carnegie “Bear In The Boardroom.”

Mark Carnegie is not your normal investment banker. Call him a capitalist with a conscience. Read about him in tomorrow’s Good Weekend.

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Gina and Rose: A Battle of Wills

Gina Rinehart is on her way to becoming the richest person on the planet and gaining control of the highly influential Fairfax Media, publishers of the Sydney Morning Herald, Melbourne Age and Australian Financial Review. A new book has just been published on Rinehart and an ABC Four Corners profile aired this week. Rinehart’s looming presence is everywhere.
Fourteen years ago David Leser interviewed Rinehart at the height of her poisonous decade-long struggle with her former step-mother, Rose Porteous. She hated the story, and has since declined almost every interview request.
The story that follows is a Shakespearean drama of the highest order – a family feud to end them all, the lonely rich girl daughter versus the garrulous, Filipino widow, claims of deathbed bullying, stolen wills, adulterous plottings and an endless trail of litigation. At stake, then and now? The vast minerals empire of the late Lang Hancock, so-called “King of the Pilbara.”

Gina_Rinehart_and_Rose_Hancock_by_David_Leser

NO-ONE DESERVES TO DIE LIKE Lang Hancock died. Put aside
the cystic kidneys and renal failure, his near-gangrenous legs, and the heart disease and pulmonary congestion that eventually caused him to drown in his own fluids on the morning of March 27, 1992. It was the psychological anguish more than the physical disintegration that so tormented the old man in his last days; the knowledge that whatever control he might have exercised over people and minerals during a ‘rogue bull’s’ lifetime was about to be extinguished in the most perverse of ways.

This was Lang Hancock’s worst nightmare: a fight for the spoils between the two women in his life; in this case, his only daughter, Gina Rinehart, and his third wife, Rose Hancock. They had been limbering up for battle almost from the day Gina hired Rose as the family housekeeper. Now, in his death throes, the fog was lifting and old Lang could see the grotesque outlines of war. He could also see the lawyers dancing on his grave. That’s why – according to Rose-he let out a scream that reverberated through the guesthouse of his Perth mansion in the seconds before his heart stopped. He realised he’d been betrayed by his daughter into depriving his estate of any assets, and that Rose, his love object, his china doll, his youth drug for nine-and-a-half years, had been disinherited, along with the other beneficiaries of his last will and testament.
On the other hand, if you listen to Gina, Lang Hancock might have experienced a different epiphany. If he screamed at all-which she seriously doubts-it would have been because he’d finally twigged to the fact that his wife never loved him. It had been a confidence trick from day one.
The animal cry from the bedroom was, therefore, the howl of a man who’d taken out a restraining order against his wife too late.

To download this chapter from David’s book ‘In the Whites of their Eyes‘, click here.

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Lady Mary Fairfax

Lady Mary FairfaxThere’s been blood on the floor of the Fairfax newsrooms this week with the announcement of nearly 2000 job losses amongst journalists and printers over the next three years, and the scaling down of the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Age from broadsheets to tabloids. Many blame Fairfax’s sliding fortunes on the internet revolution and the slowness by the Fairfax board to respond to changing technology. But as David Leser writes, the rot set in during the late 1980s when young Warwick Fairfax returned from America brandishing an MBA from Harvard University and strong Christian convictions to take over John Fairfax Ltd, the company his father, Sir Warwick had run in one position or another for the better part of 50 years. Young Warwick’s ambitions were aided and abetted by his mother (Lady) Mary Fairfax in what became both tragedy and farce for the House of Fairfax.

THE TEARS HAVE DRIED AND Lady (Mary) Fairfax is leaning forward
on the sofa clutching her letters and photographs. The butler is
hovering just beyond the reception room and her PR man is looking
anxiously at the floor. ‘Now, do I seem like a person who is interested in
revenge?’ she asks in a deep whisper. The question comes tumbling out
at the end of a two-hour talk-fest brimming with gushy memories and
savage recriminations. Later, serving a lunch of braised chicken and apricot
souffle, she pursues her defence: ‘What sort of character do you think I
am? You tell me.’

What can one say? After 32 years in the public eye; after a rumoured
love affair that scandalised society; after a harrowing divorce trial, a cele-
brated remarriage; after a welter of extraordinary parties with an endless
array of famous guests; and, now, with an Australian media empire in ruin
and a family filled with bad blood, it is no simple question to answer.

Is she one of the most monstrously misunderstood Women in Australian
history, or is she as deceptive as she is clever? Is she the instigator of a
company takeover gone disastrously wrong or the victim of markets, rnale
chauvinism, banks, bad advice, bad luck-and a son, Warwick, who was
always hopelessly out of his depth?

Is she a manipulative, scheming woman, hungry for power, wealth and
status? Or a tireless worker for the arts and charity, as well as a generous,
fun-loving hostess and friend? Is she a family maker or an empire breaker?
A proud matriarch who frequently owns up to only three children or a
tormented mother of four? Is she a Jewess or a Christian? Does she sit
atop staggering wealth or horrendous losses? Is she a figure of romance or
of vengeance?

And is it Mary or Marie?

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How To Live In The Now: Eckhart Tolle

Okay, I’ve joined the new social media. My Facebook is up and running. Twitter is tweeting. My blog is blogging. My smart phone is smarting. The old telephone keeps ringing. The fax has stopped working but the email inbox is a tidal wave that King Canute can’t stop. It reminds me of why I was drawn to Eckhart Tolle, and why I should come back to him.

How To Live In The Now - Eckhart Tolle by David LeserHere’s an admission. I take Eckhart Tolle to bed with me every night. I share him with others, of course, but he’s the constant companion. He’s the one that’s always there. Sometimes when I don’t sleep I turn to him for comfort or advice. At other times, deep in the grip of some dreamstate, I feel him guarding the night like my own personal shepherd.

We’ve never met in person – although that’s about to change – but I can honestly say I love him. I love what he has to say and how he says it in those German-laced dulcet tones of his. Yes, he’s even on my ipod favourites playlist! And I’m happy to say my wife fully understands our relationship. She’s an admirer too, although hers is not as deep a bond as mine. Call it a case of “each according to their needs.”

A few years ago I foisted him on my unsuspecting, but surprisingly receptive, 80 year-old father, then onto my brother and sister who’d actually seen the light months earlier. Last year my 19 year-old daughter took him with her all through Europe. She says he’s now become her friend too.

I know what you might be thinking. That we’ve all stumbled badly, lost our moorings and joined some wild-eyed religious cult. In fact the opposite is true. We’ve found … let me speak for myself  … I’ve found something deep inside myself that has always been there. It just needed a perfect stranger, a pixie of a man with shining eyes, to point the way.

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Ethics in Journalism

Here’s my recent chat with George Negus on ABC North Coast radio with Joanne Shoebridge. We discussed media ethics in the wake of the Craig Thompson affair, and the collapse of the old business model in funding investigative journalism.

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