Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
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Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Home : Politics Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature



When words hit like fists...MATTHEW NEWTON.....

Published in the Melbourne Herald Sun in January 2007

Although I’ve stopped being surprised by the stories of violence women tell me, I continue to be amazed by the way some men respond whenever a women makes such allegations. ‘Ninety people died in Iraq today, most of them kids. This is a very minor matter,’ solicitor Chris Murphy told reporters outside Balmain Court on Wednesday. Murphy was speaking on behalf of entertainer Matthew Newton, who was facing charges of assaulting former girlfriend Brooke Satchell.

While Newton has every right to a presumption of innocence and, of course, an assault isn’t the same as a killing the words still make me bristle. Someone should have asked Murphy when he thought it proper and reasonable for a woman to bring an assault case before the courts. Does he think she has to be dead before it’s a serious matter or that only ‘innocent’ children have a right to our sympathy or to justice? I find it hard to believe Murphy didn’t grasp the prejudice contained in his words. If the assault didn’t happen he should just say so. If it did and Newton wants to apologise then so be it.

As Chris Murphy must surely know, the sad truth is that a woman is rarely treated as ‘innocent’ when she alleges rape or assault at the hands of the man in her life. Even when they are murdered by an estranged husband women are stalked by the myth that they provoked it. That’s why the Bracks government was forced to abolish the law of provocation in 2004, a law that saw my sister’s killer get less than 4 years in gaol in 1989. When announcing its abolition the Attorney General damned the law as misogynist and guilty of treating woman as chattels. The law might be gone but the prejudices linger.

Twenty-four year old Kimberlie Watson, whose story of alleged assault at the hands of ex-boyfriend footballer Andrew Lovett featured on the front page of the Herald Sun on Saturday knows all about these prejudices. Kimberlie had contacted me last September after Lovett was quoted in the sports pages of this paper, saying the circumstances surrounding the intervention order she’d taken out against him were ‘blown out of proportion’. Months earlier, when the intervention order and her allegations of assault first made the news, Geelong warrior Sam Newman told Channel Nine's Footy Show it might have been no more than ‘extended foreplay’. Not one footballer or club official took Newman to task.

Kim had no desire to shame Lovett. A simply apology for those reckless words would have been enough. Unfortunately, when no such apology was forthcoming we agreed that I should publish her side of the story. The article, which appeared on these pages in September 2006, included the allegation, made under oath in court, that Lovett had trapped in her car and assaulted her for 45 minutes. So much for Sam Newman’s idea of foreplay!

What I didn’t write was how I’d contacted Essendon and asked that Kevin Sheedy ring me in order that we might resolve the matter without the allegations being aired in the paper. I never did hear from Sheedy and, as Herald Sun readers would know, this sorry tale had its sequel in the magistrate’s court last Thursday where Lovett was ordered to re-appear, in February 2007, to answer the charge that he breached the intervention order. I genuinely believe that had Essendon advised Lovett to issue a public apology last September the matter would have ended there and then. There’s much to be learned from this story.

I treat the right to a presumption of innocence very seriously. And the sooner Matthew Newton and Brooke Satchell can get on with their lives the better. However, we have an obligation to afford Satchell the same rights we give to a man. That’s why I bristle when solicitor Chris Murphy effectively tells the media - before the case has even been heard - her allegations of assault are minor. If it were not for the deeply held view in male quarters that women who ‘cry rape’ or allege assault can’t be trusted or that such matters are ‘mere domestics’ Murphy’s comments would cause an outcry.

And whilst Melbourne Football Club coach Neale Daniher and the string of prominent men who wore white ribbons on White Ribbon Day - the international day of opposition to violence against women - are to be congratulated there’s clearly a lot more to fighting violence than wearing a ribbon. That Daniher has nailed his colours to the mast is clearly a step forward and a sign that progress is being made. However, as much as I want to congratulate Daniher, we can’t turn a blind eye when women are publicly ridiculed for making an allegation of assault. If Brooke Satchell were my daughter I’d have a few questions for Mr. Murphy. So too should the men who’ll be wearing the white ribbons next November.

Phil Cleary


Hiya Phil,

I have finally got round to writing to you to say...Bravo to you, I just wish  more men would take the matter of violence against women more seriously...I will also be looking forward  to reading what happens in the high profile case that Chris Murphy has to handle in June this the  mean time thanks again for your well written thoughts about the matter.

Kind regards,


p - just read herald article (murphy/newton). v. good. also went to your website and read neil mitchell's review of garrett/ramage book. how interesting! a bit like my surprise when i was interviewed ages ago by john singleton and then derryn hinch re *for richer for poorer* on property rights and divorce,
and also *even in the best of homes* - they did not resist the message which shows that one should not make assumptions on these issues: people can be
surprising ...

Dear Phil
Just a quick note to say I really appreciated your article on domestic violence in the Herald Sun today, as I have all the public comment you've made on domestic violence.

Men should be men and stand up for their women in the way you've 'stood up' for your sister. I'm surprised more men don't get involved when they have a female loved one suffering in this way. Some do, many must not.

As for Kevin Sheedy... As 28 year old girl who nominally supports Essendon FC, when all the rape allegations came out in other teams I felt proud and good about the fact there was no dirt on my club. I felt it must have a more progressive culture - now dissapointed.

Great now that there are ads on TV. I think that is finally because the government has 'costed' domestic violence. Keep up the good work - and encourage more men to be 'manly' about it!

Hi Phil,


Funny thing came up at a Chrissy Lunch about James (RAMAGE). Getting about prison pretty well, in charge of this and that and never looking better. Fairly hard to debate anything about that , however, that gives me  a fairly strange feeling about an early release for this guy.


Dear Phil,

Thank-you for presenting such a measured and intelligent opinion piece on Matthew Newton.It is a rare and wonderful thing that a man should present such a view point.It seems that there is not enough out rage expressed about such matters of domestic violence and the 'footy show mentality seems to dominate public thinking.We need voices like yours to defend women.

Thank -you so much


Well Cleary,

This crap article you wrote nearly had me ripping my head off in disgust!!!! What an idiotic play with words you employ - "a woman is rarely treated as "innocent' when she alleges rape or assault at the hands of the man in her life". It is not her innocence that is in question fool, it is in fact his!!! So do you know the facts of this "media" story? Was she totally innocent in not provoking any part of this "assault"!! Do you know that in the case of rape that there is only a 5% conviction rate? Why is that Cleary? After examining all the evidence the courts cannot come to a guilty verdict!  And do you know why - it is often his word against hers and in 80% of cases alcohol is involved. 

So if some pissed halfwit hooks up with another pissed halfwit and she agrees to go home with him and "do" the act then realises she has made a big mistake in the morning is she entitled to cry rape? If you listen to the degenerates in the ABC they host "wimmins activists" who want to introduce laws that absolve drunken women from taking any responsibility for their actions. In other words if you sleep with a drunken woman she decides if she was raped or not!!! If you follow this idiotic logic through then equally a drunken man should be incapable of making a decision to rape or not be responsible for his actions!! Why can you only slant the cursed law to suit the female activists.

And what about the sucker males who are falsely accused Cleary? Any trendy media activist pouting for their scum sucking rights?? Not a stinking chance. If there is ony a 5% conviction rate then there must be a lot of women making false allegations.

Your statement that " ... we have an obligation to afford Satchwell the same rights we give to a man" is absolutlely disgraceful. As a counter to that you idiot ask the family of the man who was recently shot to death by his wife while she waited for a number of hours in a fox hole. This scum was then released on the premise that she was apparently "abused" after flimsy accounts of their neighbours testimony was heard in court. Or ask the family of the man who was knifed to death with a sword by his murderous wife. She too was released on the accusation that she was abused for 20 years. No account of the stinking abuse that she was responsible for!! Bastard media hypocrites are only too happy to air her side and you have the hypocrisy to say that women don't enjoy the same rights  - you scum!!!!!!

Sounds like you're sister got four years more justice than those two poor bastards above. So how can you rant on you hypocritical filth that women don't enjoy the same rights. How conveniently we forget the facts when it suits us Cleary. You disgust me  - change your attitudes and start valuing mens lives!!

(I've ewithheld the name) 


(I would just like to make a comment and if for any reason you would need to quote please name me as anonymous)

Just a short note to thank you for bringing to attention the comments made by M. Newtown's solicitor (name not worthy of being mentioned) in regard to comparisons between the deaths in the war in Iraq and (the alleged) abuse towards Ms. Satchwell. (Who is he kidding!!!!)

When I first read the comment a few days ago I had to re-read it
because I honestly thought that I had misread what was in print.

But, alas, I was wrong.

How disappointing. I know it  takes so much courage to stand up for what  is right. And in this case, to stand up against such a well known family 'institution' would have taken more than a lot of courage (which just isn't right!!!) Regardless of who the family is, everyone has the right live comfortably and without fear. Good on Brooke for saying something. Women like Brooke bring a 'smile to the dial'. I am so proud of her.

Lately it seems (when reading the local papers and magazines)  if your family has money, is well known, or if you play sport (cricket or football in particular), or any number of other reasons, it is okay to physically, mentally or verbally abuse your
partner/girlfriend/fiance/wife. What is this world coming to?

Many years ago I was in one such situation and (eventually) had the courage to do something - get out. It took a lot of counselling, and belief in myself, but eventually I got my life back on track. It does take a long time, and I certainly hope that Ms. Satchwell keeps her belief in herself, as I think that was one of the reasons I am where I am today.

Thank you again for bringing to attention the absolute stupidity of some of our more 'learned' friends. Keep up your fantastic work!!

Thank you


Dear Phil,

I just want to say thank you so much for speaking out against violence towards women.  I have so much respect for you and am just amazed that you care so much.  You are very inspiring.

Kind regards,


Dear Phil,
I write in response to your article appearing in Mondays Herald-Sun. I've read over the years your other articles supporting woman against men re: intervention orders, violence against women etc. While i understand your arguments and am sorry what happened to your sister, why don't you ever take the man's point of view? In the case of intervention orders taken out by woman against men, I have 1st hand experience on how easy it is for the woman to obtain one against a male - without even an ounce of proof needed. Yet when a male wishes to obtain one against a woman he has to prove beyond doubt he is in fear and
even then he is made to look like a wimp. And believe me some woman could and do cause great harm and even death on males.

An example of my experience is 3years ago i seperated from my wife ( and 2 young daughters). I moved out amicably and then returned a week later to try to speak to her and see my kids, only to be confronted with her and a male locking tongues on the front doorstep. ( I had suspicions she was involved with someone but this moment confirmed that she was having an affair with a

Anyway i was pretty pissed off and told her that i was taking the kids and she could get out. Her male friend tried to stop me entering my own home so we ended up scuffling on the front lawn. Not once did i touch her in fact she dragged me off her lover. To cut a long story short the police advised her to seek an intervention order if she was scared now. I then went to
court where the magistrate issued a 1 year intervention order against me with no admissions and then the police interviewed me and decided there was no charge to answer (after the court hearing).

Just before this order was to expire my ex wife made application to extend the order on the basis i'd sworn at her in an email - yes i used the fword but not directed at her. i was also just responding to an email from her where she called me everything under the sun. Anyway the court did not wish to see her emails to me, just mine to her. Subsequently the order was extended another year.

So the point I'm trying to make to you is please dont make it all one way because it isnt. There are hundreds of orders granted every day so easily without proof needed and  the majority are against the man. I work in a predominantly male work place and hear stories similar all the time.

How about doing a story from a male's point of view.




Dear Mr.Cleary,


I totally agree with your comments in todays Sun and the only pity is that not more people come out and report the abuses against them by their partners, etc…

I see this happening in my daily travels in the streets of St.Kilda and Port Melbourne where females are allegedly bashed by their boy friends and after a cooling off period they take them back again and it all starts again.  Some have had intervention orders against their partners yet for fear of being labeled a “dog” by their peers they have them lifted and once again they are back in the position they were in which made them get the order in the first place. We, the public need more education for both females and males in that bashing (for want of a better word) is not acceptable in todays or any society and that if bashed it should be reported immediately without guilt or shame.

Yours truly,

Outreach worker for Father Bob Maguire Foundation Inc.


dear phil

i wanted to congratulate you on your article today on women's violence today. i think i've been guilty of getting stuck into you in the past on the referendum result and i do apologise for that with the benefit of hindsight. so keep up the great work. someone told me that in spain they have a death toll for battered women like a road toll and it forces the government to take violence against women seriously and see if their initiatives are working. anyway just a thought in case you haven't heard of that already.

best wishes


Good afternoon Mr Cleary

Just keep in mind that some women use an accusation of
male violence as a revenge, pressure or bartering tactic
during family break-up. Indeed some family lawyers actually
suggest women seek unnecessary Intervention Orders for
these purposes; this is a particularly effective tactic
again spouses who hold Firearms Licences.


Ex relationship counsellor and firearms owner.


Well done again.  You are a lone voice in the wilderness.  In our blokey Melbourne world our other male commentators are typically silent on the issue of violence against women.   I am a Senior Sergeant in the Victoria Police and my partner works in  D.V.  I applaud your tireless efforts and your recognition of the power you possess when voicing a considered opinion.  As your article today points out, so many of the most influential  celebreties can only offer an openly hostile, misogynist or unhelpful comment.  

I would like to think they have no idea but I cannot help thinking deep down none of them really believe there is a problem and enjoy minimizing the effect violence against women has on the community.  In my own work I am constantly monitoring the effectiveness of the new Code of Practice but Victoria police is probably a guage and comparible to the wider community when it comes to changing attitudes. I fight a constant battle to have our guys not recommending violent offenders for Diversions. As you are no doubt aware police can consent to having a case diverted without a finding of guilt being recorded.  The effect of this free kick is that the next time the cowardly thug belts a woman he is dealt with as a first time offender. 

I would think in recognition of the seriousness of this type of offending Vic Pol could put a bar on consenting to any diversion.  During the process the aggreed penalties, although seemingly harsh, do not contain a recording of a finding of guilt.   This is a very important part the judicial process and I believe the essence of appropriate sentencing satisfying the statutory guidlines of providing general and specific detterants to crime.    I am very concerned this process is being abused by police with some cases including the player......  

I just reckon it is terrific to have a bloke like you, with your background saying what you say and doing something to tip  the extraordinary imbalance in our conservative community.  It sends a powerful message to the other media people.  Just the fact you and Robyn Riley get space in the Herald Sun in itself is extraordianary testiment to your credability.  The Eddies, Chris' Garys, Sams and Kevins of the world may be silent or say awful, unhelpful and ignorant comment minimising violence against women but combined they do not have the integrity you have in your little finger.  

Keep up the good work.

Glenn Davies



I just wanted to send you a note of support relating to Violence against women. I thankfully have never known firsthand how it comes to be, through my father, grandfathers uncles and brothers all treating women with the respect they deserve, but it still sickens me when Men diminish the seriousness of this crime

My wife and I saw you on the News a short while ago supporting Kimberley Watson, whereupon my wife asked why you were there. I explain how you were fighting the good cause and the injustice that not only happened to your sister but also to your family (May she forever rest in peace and freedom)

She was noticeably touched and now I see your piece today deriding the dismissive and irresponsible comments of Chris Murphy. Ironically of course is that unless you are a Muslim Sheik or Mufti, the country does not want to get outraged at this backward notion.

Anyway, just wanted to say congratulations on fighting the good fight, keep it up, there are those of us out here who appreciate all your great work.



Dear Sir,

I read your article this morning on the Matthew Newton case. I just wanted to thank you for giving some support to those of us who are unable to defend ourselves in cases such as these. It doesn't seem to matter who these men are, what they do or where they live, they all have one thing in

I spent over 20 years under the control of a man , who for most of that time, was cruel, violent, vindictive and selfish. I could go on for days telling of the horrible things he did to me, said to me in private, in front of others including my children. But that wont get me anywhere, just as low as he is. There were some good times, but they are far outweighed by the bad.

I feel for anyone who is battered by their partner, male or female. It is often hard to get help because of the shame we feel, the embarrassment that we have let this happen to ourselves, and despite the laws now in place, the
police are not always a help either. The only time I called the police, they told me that it was clearly my fault because I had let this happen for so many years. How? could I stop it???? I am only 5ft 2 and half he was 6ft one, I weighed 80 kilos he was 180.

Most people dont want to know about this, dont want to get involved. II am familiar with your sisters case many years, as I lived in the area at the time. I often thought about it as I drove past that child care centre, and wondered if I would end up the same way. An intervention Order cannot stop a bullet or a knife.

I have tried to rebuild my life and put the past behind me, its not always easy. I am now with a wonderful man whom I love very much and would never hurt me in any way. He even paid to have my teeth replaced, which for a while looked like it wowuld remain a physical reminder of my former marriage.

The laws that have been introduced are still too little, too late, and are usually archaic laws of the ninteenth century, where we are a mans' chattel.

If you choose to answer this, then I would be happy to know that at least someone has listened to me. If you choose to use any part of this in your column, all I ask is that my name is withheld. And I am always open to constructive critism.

I thank you for taking the time to read this, and I apologise if I have waffled on, but I do support both Kimberlie Watson and Brooke Satchwell.

Yours faithfully,


Hi Phil,


Totally agreed with your article in this mornings herald sun.  I have 2 sons (20 and 17) who love their footy, and a daughter 22, who loves her netball.  I have always gone out of my way to teach them to respect each other and that physical violence is not acceptable.  I believe I have succeeded with 3 wonderful sport loving yet very tolerant kids.  My wife and I pride ourselves on our achievements. Violence in the community of which you described really disappoints me and then to have it  trivialized by Chris Murphy and Sam Newman really does get me angry.  Probably especially Sam Newman as he should be using his role model status to project more positive images in the community.

I cannot begin to imagine what you must have gone through with the tragic loss of your sister.  I have continually read your articles when they appear and always value your forthrightness and honesty in the matter of violence against females, and in fact any vulnerable person in our community.

Keep writing your articles and bringing your message to the community and keep making the Chris Murphys and Sam Newmans of the world look stupid for their foolish insensitive comments.  Pity about Kevin Sheedys lack of response on the Lovett issue.  I would have thought he may have been a bit more sensitive to these matters.

Thanks and regards


Dear Mr Cleary,

Thankgoodness for people like you who bring this violence to the public eye.  Mr Murphy's comments were disgusting.  Would he say this if it was his daughter? Celebrity or not - they should be treated the same as anyone else - but they think they are above the law. As for Matthew Newton - he needs to be taught a lesson now, about life and the treatment of women.

Keep up the good work Phil.


hi Phil,


I could not agree with you more about the appalling comments made by Chris Murphy.  It makes me sick that people like him use their position in this way.IT is only to discredit the allegations made against him and to make them seem less important.

I am sure that Brooke does not need the added strain of this either. It is a pity that this man did not think before he opened his mouth.  It makes me sick that people treat domestic violence so much lesser of a crime than if it were done to an individual that was unknown to the attacker. 

I was in an abusive relationship for more that ten years and I left in 1999.I am still being dragged through the courts by this pathetic excuse of man for any trivial reason he can see fit to take me there.  All because he cannot accept the fact that I left him and can actually survive on my own.  How dare I!!

He is now trying to get access to my children, not because he actually wants a relationship with them, but to get at me.  All the time of course he is legally funded through legal aid as he doesn't work and I have to pay out of my pocket.  The justice system is wrong in that it allows a person to do this. 

Well I have had my whinge now and appreciate that you take the time to listen to me.



 Dear Phil

Congratulations on your article pointing out the pitiful justification from Mathew Newtons Lawyer. It is with interest that the information about the Lovett case shows a culture of its always someone else.

You may wish to listen to SEN Radio from last Friday ( Possibly Thursday) afternoon when Peter Everett was talking to the panel about his sons girlfriends and putting a pool in as he approaches 18 so he could "supervise". This sort of conversation went too long and was nothing more than degrading toward women and shows the object status women have from a section of AFL footballers. So much for the AFL's education programs on these issues.

Thank you

Congratulations Phil,

Your comments regarding the abuse of women in the Herald Sun were well written and very timely. I thought Mr Murphy had taken leave of his senses when he made those comments outside the court.

I'm only a typical aussie battler, but you know people like Sam Newman really make my skin crawl, the way he demeans women, and is continually allowed to get away with it amazes me.  I think channel 9 may live to regret promoting the likes of Sam Newman, and I always say you can judge a person by the company he keeps, in which case channel nine needs to get its morals
out of the gutter. I'd like to think that eventually this will be Sam's undoing, one day he'll meet someone that truly wants their day in court, and there will be no out of court settlements, only the public shaming of Mr Newman, & the ruination
of his career.

Also I should add my praise to you for adding your URL at the end of your article; Not many journalists do that, choosing instead to hide behind the walls of their newspaper.

Thanks for the article, well done, & I'm keeping my eye out for your opinion pieces now<g>.

Dave .....Hobart


G'day Phil,

My name is Peter Manoel and I read your enlightening book regard the tragic death of your sister.   I purchased the book some time ago and I was wondering if it is possible to send the book to you to be signed.   My email address .....

As an ex member of the Victoria Police (29 years) I can understand the frustrations you felt in relation to the justice system.   I also agree with your comments in the Herald Sun today (22/1/07) regarding the disgusting comments made by the headline seeking Chris Murphy.   I wonder if he would have been as flippant if it was his daughter that had been allegedly assaulted.





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