Piers Akerman

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Piers Akerman
Born (1950-06-01) 1 June 1950 (age 63)
Wewak, Papua New Guinea
Education Year 10 Certificate
Guildford Grammar School
Occupation Columnist / Political Commentator
Spouse(s) Suzanne

Piers Akerman (born 1 June 1950) is an Australian journalist, conservative commentator and columnist for the Sydney newspaper The Daily Telegraph.

Brief biography[edit]

Piers Akerman was born in Wewak, Papua New Guinea, the third son in a family of four children[1] of John, an Australian Government doctor, and Eve Akerman (d. 2003), a newspaper columnist and reviewer.[1] The family left PNG for India in 1951, before returning to Perth, Western Australia,[1] where Piers was raised.

He attended Guildford Grammar School, where he remained until his expulsion, when he was "asked to leave" following a dispute with the headmaster. He spent the last few months of his schooling at Christ Church Grammar School but did not complete his final exams.[2]

In the United States, while covering the 1974 America's Cup at Newport, Rhode Island, Akerman met his wife, Suzanne, a solicitor. They were married in Connecticut several years later and have two children, Tess and Pia. They now live in Sydney.

Career[edit]

Akerman began his media career at Western Australia's only daily, The West Australian. He then moved on to the short-lived Victorian newspaper Newsday and took his first News Limited job at the Daily Mirror in Sydney. He was briefly at The Australian as Foreign Editor in 1983.

He worked for a time at British national newspaper, The Times, and spent ten years as a foreign correspondent in the United States. On returning to Australia, he was editor of The Advertiser, Adelaide (1988) and The Sunday Herald Sun, Melbourne (1990). During 1990-92 he was editor-in-chief of the Herald & Weekly Times group in Melbourne before becoming a vice-president of Fox News, USA in 1993.[3]

Akerman's columns were noted for raising the ire of Mark Latham, former leader of the Australian Labor Party and the Federal Opposition, among others.[citation needed] Latham was known to weave complaints about Akerman's writing into his speeches.[4]

Akerman is a regular panelist on ABC Television's political commentary program Insiders.[citation needed] He has also appeared on the ABC's political program Q&A.[citation needed]

Alleged drug abuse[edit]

On 12 May 1999, at a drug summit being held in the New South Wales parliament, Richard Jones used parliamentary privilege to allege that Akerman had used many illicit substances and invited him to share his experiences.[5] Some commentators and journalists have taken Akerman to task over these allegations, given his role in spearheading a campaign to have the federal parliament of Australia veto a planned scientific heroin trial which was to have been run in the Australian Capital Territory.[6][7]

Controversies[edit]

Climate change skepticism[edit]

Akerman is a climate change sceptic who argues against the Australian Government's price on carbon. He approvingly quotes the work of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), run by Fred Singer.[8]

In a November 2006 article in The Daily Telegraph, Ackerman quoted senior IPCC scientist John T. Houghton saying "Unless we announce disasters, no one will listen", attributing the quotation to his 1994 book Global Warming, The Complete Briefing. The quote became widely used among climate change sceptics to argue that climate change scientists showed a propensity to exaggerate their case. However, the quote does not appear in any edition of the book. Houghton denied saying any such thing and believes the opposite to be true, commenting "I would never say we should hype up the risk of climate disasters in order to get noticed." In February 2010, Ackerman responded by citing a September 1995 article in which Houghton was correctly quoted as saying "If we want a good environmental policy in the future, we'll have to have a disaster", adding that this passage was not much different to the misquotation Houghton had distanced himself from.[9] A subsequent report by Media Watch noted that Houghton's full remark did not carry the same meaning: "If we want a good environmental policy in the future we'll have to have a disaster. It's like safety on public transport. The only way humans will act is if there's been an accident."[10]

Sexual Harassment[edit]

Five former employees, three of whom agreed to be named, have said they witnessed Mr Akerman "sexually harass" female members of his staff, according to a 1991 story in The Sunday Age.[2]

Assault threat[edit]

One of the most controversial episodes in Akerman's life was his alleged threat to assault the literary editor of The Advertiser, Shirley Stott Despoja.[2] The dispute ended before a full bench of the Supreme Court where the newspaper appealed against Stott Despoja's successful worker's compensation claim for stress-related sick leave pay. Stott Despoja alleged: "I was physically threatened by the editor while alone with him in an office in a dispute over my work". The appeal by The Advertiser was dismissed and Stott Despoja won her $4,000 claim.[2]

Defamation[edit]

In 2006, former director of NRMA Richard James Talbot was awarded a $200,000 defamation payout plus costs. In regards to one point the judgment read "The inaccuracies of fact by the defendant [Akerman] on this topic are gross".[11][12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Papua New Guinea Association of Australia - Vale List". 2003. Retrieved 30 August 2007. 
  2. ^ a b c d "The power of a Murdoch man". The Sunday Age. 12 August 1991. Retrieved 28 August 2007. 
  3. ^ "Conference Contributors, 14th Conference of The Samuel Griffith Society". samuelgriffith.org.au. 2002. Retrieved 28 August 2007. 
  4. ^ "Iron Mike Latham Goes Ballistic". crikey.com.au. 2002. Retrieved 14 January 2013. 
  5. ^ "Drug Summit". parliament.nsw.gov.au. Retrieved 30 January 2014. 
  6. ^ "Piers Does Drugs ... Not Feminism". blogspot.com.au. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  7. ^ "Sunday Age Akerman profile and nudist MP attacks". crikey.com.au. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  8. ^ Akerman, Piers (31 July 2008). "Icy reality cools the climate cultists". News Ltd. Archived from the original on 5 August 2008. Retrieved 2013-09-17. "Unlike the hysterical IPCC report, which was riddled with errors and mis-statements, ignored available scientific data, and has already been contradicted in several major areas by more recent research, the [NIPCC] authors don't say that anthropogenic greenhouse gases cannot produce some warming, but they do say that the evidence shows that they are not playing a major role." 
  9. ^ Piers Akerman (18 February 2010). "Malicious bullets fired by the global warmists’ guns". Daily Telegraph (Australia). Archived from the original on 18 June 2010. 
  10. ^ Jonathan Holmes. Malice, misquotes and Media Watch abc.net.au, 24 Feb 2010.
  11. ^ Richard James Talbot v Nationwide News Pty Ltd [2006] NSWDC 59 page 22
  12. ^ "NRMA director awarded $200,000". The Courier-Mail (www.news.com.au). Retrieved 16 February 2010. [dead link]

External links[edit]