Gerard Henderson (born 10 September 1945) is an Australian author, columnist and political commentator. He is the Executive Director of the Sydney Institute, a privately funded Australian current affairs forum.
As a commentator Henderson is on the conservative side of politics on issues such as industrial relations, national security and the Iraq War. His columns defended the former Howard government policy on Iraq and national security since the 11 September attacks. He has a particular interest in the history of the Catholic Church in Australia and the Communist Party of Australia.
Education and earlier career
Henderson attended the Jesuit Xavier College in Melbourne then studied arts and law at the University of Melbourne before completing a Ph.D. At the University of Melbourne, Henderson was President of the DLP (Democratic Labor Party) Club. Like other political clubs at the University of Melbourne during the 1960s the DLP Club was not affiliated with the political party of the same name, but supported DLP policies and hosted speeches by DLP parliamentarians on campus.
Henderson taught at Tasmania and La Trobe universities before working for four years on the staff of Kevin Newman in Malcolm Fraser's Coalition government. He moved to the Commonwealth Department of Industrial Relations in 1980; from 1984 to 1986 he was Chief-of-Staff to John Howard, during which time Howard was Deputy Leader, then Leader, of the Liberal Party of Australia.
The Keating government appointed Henderson to the board of the Australia Foundation for Culture and the Humanities. Later, the Howard government appointed him to the Foreign Affairs Council. He was one of the people invited to Kevin Rudd’s Australia 2020 Summit held in April 2008.
For several years, Henderson had a weekly column in The Sydney Morning Herald. He also writes Media Watch Dog, a weekly compendium of media criticism, written from the perspective of a blue heeler named Nancy. In December 2013, his column moved to The Weekend Australian, which also carries Media Watch Dog.
He has written several books.
- Mr Santamaria and the Bishops (Hale & Iremonger, 1982; ISBN 9780868060590)
- Australian Answers (Random House Australia, 1990; ISBN 9780091699314)
- Gerard Henderson Scribbles On (Wilkinson Books, 1993; ISBN 9781863501323)
- Menzies' Child: The Liberal Party of Australia (Harper Collins, 1994; second edition 1998: ISBN 9780732259235)
- A Howard Government? Inside the Coalition (Harper Collins, 1995; ISBN 9780732256395)
In 1994, Henderson profiled former prime minister Bob Hawke for the ABC TV program Four Corners. He is a regular political commentator on radio, and appears occasionally on Insiders, another ABC TV program.
In 2006, Henderson declared John Howard had lost the ongoing culture wars, writing, "In my view, there is only one area where the Coalition has failed to have a significant impact - namely, in what some have termed 'the culture wars'."
- Gerard Henderson biography at Sydney Institute website
- Ewin Hannan and Shaun Carney (10 December 2005). "Thinkers of influence". The Age. "While not a think tank, it operates as a forum for debate. It does not commission research or have policies." "The institute is privately funded, with all papers delivered to it published in The Sydney Papers."
- Henderson, Gerald (2006). "The Howard Government and the Culture Wars" (PDF). Sydney Institute Quarterly 27: 11–22.