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Breakfast without Barrie

1 The phrase “Back to you Barrie” is synonymous with the ABC Sunday Morning political program Insiders. Last Sunday saw the retirement of its co-founder and long-time host Barrie Cassidy.

Cassidy had a prodigious knowledge of politics and the intrigue that surrounds it.

To say that I will miss Cassidy’s hosting of the program would be an understatement. He had a capacity to involve the viewer in his own emotive take on any particular subject or indeed crisis, of which he saw many over a long career.

My poached eggs on toast will never taste the same again. Nor will the aroma of the freshly ground coffee that always followed.

Wikipedia tells us that:

Cassidy was born in Wangaratta, Victoria, on 4 March 1950, and grew up in the Victorian town of Chiltern, attending Rutherglen High School. He had four brothers and an elder sister, and grew up with a love of football and sports.

Starting his career as a cadet on the Albury Border Morning Mail in 1969, he moved to the Shepparton News about a year later before being hired as a court reporter for the Melbourne Herald. Joining the ABC Network, he initially covered state politics. He moved to Canberra to become the ABC’s federal political correspondent for radio and television in 1979.

In 1986, Cassidy was approached by the then prime minister, Bob Hawke, to become his personal press secretary.

He remained in the job—which he has described as “the most rewarding and interesting period of my life”—until Paul Keating took over the leadership in 1991 following a challenge.

Moving to Washington, Cassidy worked as a correspondent for The Australian before returning to Australia to host the Last Shout and Meet the Press programs on Network Ten. He returned to the ABC to replace Paul Lyneham as host on The 7.30 Report, before he and his wife, Heather Ewart, were sent to Brussels as European correspondents.

In 2010, Cassidy wrote The Party Thieves: The Real Story of the 2010 Election (Melbourne University Press, October 2010, ISBN 978-0-522-85780-1), which one reviewer called “the standard text on precisely what happened in 2010.”

Cassidy has hosted the Sunday morning political discussions show Insiders since its inception in 2001.

He formerly hosted the sports panel show Offsiders, but he stepped down from this role to write The Party Thieves, and at the end of the 2013 season left the program entirely. He has also hosted the morning show ABC News Breakfast.

Cassidy appeared as himself in the first episode of the 1998 Australia television series The Games. He has a keen interest in horse racing, and is a devout fan of Collingwood in the Australian Football League. He is also a keen jogger, running almost every day.

Cassidy was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2018 Quill Awards presented by the Melbourne Press Club on 15 March 2019. In accepting the award, he announced his intention to retire from Insider son 9 June, after the Australian federal election.


What often surprised me about the show was the amount of content they packed into the hour and it often didn’t occur to me until I analysed it later.

Take his last show for example. In addition to all the tributes paid by a lot of people from both sides of the political divide and the normal segments he still managed to give the following a decent going over.

The AFP raids and the corresponding assault on a free press, an interview with deputy Labor leader Richard Marles, tax cuts, scare campaigns, Bill Shorten’s future, further analysis of the election, the cash rate crisis, the difference between Treasury’s assessment of the growth rate and the treasures, our relationship with China, and the downturn in the economy in general.

The journalists for the day were the same three who appeared on the first show all of 18 years ago: Dennis Atkins, Malcolm Farr and Karen Middleton.

The tributes to Cassidy were brilliantly compiled but it was unfortunate that Gerard Henderson couldn’t find a few words for the host who had given him much exposure over the years. But then he may not have been asked too.

All in all the tributes were serious but at times funny if you get my drift and Barrie was left with a few tears running down the indented creeks of his weather worn face.

The head-nodding interview of Tony Abbott with Mark Riley always leaves me looking for further thoughts on psychoanalysis and the total incomprehension of Bob Katter left me in fits of laughter.

The most absorbing bits were the reflections by politicians of being interviewed by Cassidy and the comparisons made with other great political interviewers like Laurie Oakes, David Speers, Kerry O’Brien and others.

He wasn’t a trapper for the gotcha moment, as many confessed. It wasn’t until later that you realised that he had enticed the truth from an unsuspecting spider caught in a casino’s web.

2 Here are some other thoughts in what is quickly turning into a continuance of the style of governance we have become used to now for 6 years, heading for 9:

Despite what you may think of our relationship with China she is responsible for the biggest elimination of human poverty in world history.

The inconsistency is absolutely astonishing. One cannot help but believe that they have one set of rules for one side of politics and another for the other. Talking about the AFP.

Truth has grown beyond tired. It seems to be exhausted.

Freydenberg logic: The worse it gets the better off you are sticking with the government who created the mess in the first place.

Labor deep in the red with its finances having failed to win as many votes as it thought it would.

The embracement of women’s sport in society over the past 5 years has been an outstanding success as has been the support of their male peers at grassroots level.

Scott Morrison gets an $11,000 pay rise, the day workers lose penalty rates. And if the tax cuts pass he doubles his money in 2024 with an $11k annual tax cut 💰💰

Yet in July thousands will lose their penalty rates.

Craig Kelly: How on Earth does this gonzo qualify for a permanent gig on Saturday morning News 24. More importantly why do people vote for idiots with empty heads.

The President of the USA has tweeted that the quality of air in his country has improved since he became president.

There was a time when it was harder to get out of the Australian Cricket team than it was to get in. It would seem that getting out of the CFMEU is of the same degree of difficulty.

3 On Wednesday despite many in both the Labor and Union movements seeking his resignation, John Setka refuses to go. For most people he comes over as nothing more than a union thug who has been a stain on the Union movement for many years.

“I’m elected by CFMEU construction division members, right, every four years,”

“They’re the people that I’m beholden to and they’re the ones that pay my wages and I answer to them.

“I don’t answer to anyone else but them. So when an election comes, if they, for whatever reason, see fit to not have me as their secretary, they won’t vote for me.”

Setka has been facing calls to quit following some outlandish criticism about the much-respected domestic violence advocate and former Australian of the Year, Rosemary Batty.

He is already facing charges to which he plans to plead guilty and if he has a sentence recorded against him then he cannot hold public office.

All that said it is not my intention to waste further words on people of John Setka’s breed.

Well other than to say congratulations Albo for having the guts to be rid of the bastard.

My thought for the day

Something is drastically wrong with the moral compass of a nation when it legislates to make bigotry a right.

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  1. Terence Mills

    ‘Morning John

    David Speers taking over Insiders is quite a risk for the ABC and on the surface a journalist moving from Rupert Murdoch’s SKY to the national broadcaster could signal a lurch to the Right but then again it may not.

    Speers has been a beacon of professional, impartial and probing journalism at SKY and may have been feeling that the sludge permeating from Sky-after-dark was too much to swallow and that both journalism and his own career were being damaged by the business model of Murdoch TV.

    I wish David Speers well and look forward to getting to know him on Sunday mornings as I have Barrie Cassidy over the years.

    In the interim before Speers comes onboard at the ABC I understand that two of my favourites, ABC journalists and presenters Annabel Crabb and Fran Kelly will be stepping in to host the program.

  2. New England Cocky

    Nice career obit for Cassidy JL.

    Yawn ….. today we are told is Trumpery’s birthday …..

    Morriscum gets a bigger pay rise than many Newstart recipients get each year.

    Friedeggburger remains incomprehensible, just the ideal person to drive the economy into the hands of foreign owned multinational corporations.

    The less said about Kelly the better.

  3. Terence Mills

    Just as an aside. It seems clear that there is going to be a barney in the parliament over the coalition’s over the horizon tax cuts, particularly the third tranche due to come into force in 2024.

    Here’s a compromise : Labor agree to wave through these cuts BUT with the caveats that the economy is in robust surplus and that the cuts only take effect if the coalition have reduced net government debt to the level it was when Labor left office in 2013 [ i.e. that means that net debt must be halved on present levels ].

    You can’t say fairer than that, surely ?

  4. RomeoCharlie29

    John, re Setka, yes he is a union thug and his presence, as others have noted, gives the government a rod with which to beat Labor but it is now becoming clearer that Setka didn’t denigrate Batty but rather seems to have been stitched up, possibly by another unionist. There is no doubt that Setka has a problem with women and needs to go but it should be with recognition that he has always fought for his members safety in an industry where worker injuries are prevalent. Paula Matthewson in the New Daily talks about the Setka business being a sideshow diverting attention from the Government’s very real problems of already broken promises and train wreck Ministers.

  5. Harry

    Barrie was great but I think that Insiders has degraded for some time now from a program that enabled discussion at some depth to a program that appeals to those who have a limited attention span. Lots of video grabs and scripted segments. Entertainment has been prioritised.

  6. Jack Hogan

    David Marr wasn’t on Barrie’s final show.

  7. helvityni

    …and over there in NZ, dear Jacinda does not want any pay rises….

    Harry, it’s all fun and games on our ABC…. Still I am pleased to be able to watch Endeavour there on Friday nights…small mercies and all that…

  8. Joseph Carli

    Jeezus! RomeoCharlie…..” There is no doubt that Setka has a problem with women and needs to go..” How would you know this except from what the RWmedia tells us….there are those on this site would say the same about ME!!..and I’d reply that there are enough WOMEN on this site who have a problem with women….The union movement, particularly the building/mining/ maritime ones need a show of brute force…masculine grunt against the bastards on the other side of the picket-line…the “soft-cocking” of the left has made many soft in the brains!

    Barrie is like many of those ABC “celebrity commentators” in that he is cruising along on calm waters with a beeeutiful salary / now pension…and there was very little rocking of the boat….the “cultured left” is getting sleek and oily.

  9. wam

    Selamat pagi, lord,
    Isn’t it refreshing that trump, has ‘cleaned’ the air of America in a couple of years. I wonder when Angus will follow suit?
    Setka certainly fits the look of an ignorant thug but did you hear what he said?
    There are ‘men’s right groups’ whose members would agree with him eg “Parents Without Partners comments that women’s refuges get 15 million dollars a year, for which they are not accountable, whereas men’s groups get no funding.’
    Nevertheless, I am glad the labor party supported albo and revoked his membership.

    Unlike the loonies, ‘Labor deep in the red with its finances having failed to win as many votes as it thought it would’, I believe shorten should do a turnbull style donation.
    You are a cruel man, Joseph, but accurate in your assessment of cassidy he had often been a white hat Hopalong.

  10. Michael Taylor

    You are right, Jack. It was actually Malcolm Farr, not David Marr.

  11. Egalitarian

    The greatest show for the week was on the ABC. “Brush with Fame” with Anh Do. Interviewing and painting a Portrait of Alan Jones. Anh extracted quite a bit information with Jones. Which he revealed that he spread untrue information in the electorate to get Malcolm Fraser over the line in an election. Ahn’s a genius. Jones face looked more abstract than many of his other portraits.Not sure what he captured. Its worth another look though.

  12. Joseph Carli

    Yes..I thought that Ahn “captured” that God-awful mediocrity of the “lost suburban soul” in the bastard!…a person with a vacant personality.

  13. Egalitarian

    And yes Joseph I agree with you in regards to Barry. It’s a little too comfy and cosy on there. Another revelation for the week Barry said he never got involved in politics until his 30s and then went to study it. For some of us; its in the blood from day dot.

  14. David Stakes

    And on Craig Kelly Shire voters put him back in with an increased majority. Lot of empty heads down in the Shire.

  15. totaram

    David Stakes: Those people (who voted for Craig Kelly) do not have empty heads. Their heads are pumped full of bullshit that has been getting pumped in daily for at least the last six years. You cannot survive that kind of onslaught if you have no idea you are being bamboozled.

  16. Joseph Carli

    “The successful con-man will take you down, but leave you with a hope of recovering your lost wealth…”…..That is how the LNP gets re-elected time and again…they cheat the Aust’ public, yet leave them with the hope that by the time of the next election they’ll be smarter..In both cases, the fraudster is practising “sustainable suckerism”.

  17. John Lord

    Yes l did mean Malcolm Farr. Sorry for that.

  18. Uta Hannemann

    I think we were very lucky to have had Barry Cassidy for so many years on Insiders.

    Private Bill is a book about Barry Cassidy’s father and family that Barry published in 2014. Maybe he’ll find some time now to write some more books?

    I presume in tomorrow’s Insiders with Annabel Crabb the recent Memorial Service for Bob Hawke might be mentioned. Among lots of very good contributions I thought the speech of Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese was really worth listening to.

    Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese delivers his speech in memory of former Prime Minister Bob Hawke.

    “He was ambitious, though not just for himself. He was ambitious for our nation. Bob was Labor to the core of his being, but his heart was too big to be contained by party lines,” he said.

  19. Patagonian

    Craig Kelly – everything loathesome in a human being…encased in a giant blob of lard.

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