Response by Scott Balson
to The Age's column by Mark Hawthorne 30th April 2009

At 5pm on the 29th April I received a phone call from Mark Hawthorne of The Age suggesting that the claim on my website that National Australia Bank, News Ltd, QANTAS and Telstra were clients of my company Interactive Presentations Pty Ltd was fraudulent. He could not grasp the simple fact that the web environment is the latest transition of the computer-based marketing industry.

Earlier I had received an email from National Australia Bank, as result of Hawthorne's enquiry, asking me to remove their logo from my home page - which I immediately did.

The article by Hawthorne in The Age is a blatant smear.

Let me explain.

At this link you can download a zip file of the program developed by my company Interactive Presentations for National Australia Bank in the DOS environment . Hawthorn did not have the computer know-how to open the file after I sent it to him and he had confirmed having received it. Go figure!

You see my company, Interactive Presentations Pty Ltd, pioneered computer based marketing and had many of Australia's biggest companies as clients including National Australia Bank, QANTAS, Telstra and News Limited in its early days. That is a fact - indisputable. 

Proof of these facts can be seen at the links below

News Limited


My sin to Hawthorne, it appears, was the omission of the word "past" in an old web page that had not been updated for years. (Aren't we all on the web guilty of failing in this task from time to time?) When the page re-appears I have changed the page to say "No one else boasts our PAST elite client list" . A subtle change but one that apparently was the catalyst for Hawthorne's article.

Image right.. the grubby little Mark Hawthorne

After grilling me and my credibility Hawthorn then took me to task for saying on another old archived page that "Boast some of the top ten Australian companies as past clients." If you go to a brief history of scanned articles and testimonials at this link you will see the size and depth of our clients in those early days.

What he failed to discuss were these other quite remarkable "claims" which demonstrate the age of the page and our pionerering role on the web. Of course they can all be verified:

Since then I have written several other books including "Children of the Mist " (2007) and launched village homestays around the world.

BUT when Hawthorne started challenging my claim to having written several best-selling books I smelt a rat. I know a hatchet job when I see it so I asked him who the source of his information was. Of course he refused to say but said he had "informants".

Well let me take you to a link to a "best-selling" book I published in 1999 that reflects the apalling ethics of many reporters in Australia - and is the probable source of his vendetta. My "best selling" book MURDER BY MEDIA

With regards to the onine newspaper I ran in the 1990s Mr Hawthorn's self-serving and non-sensical assumptions that it was closed "because it promoted racism" have no basis and are totally incorrect. The @notd was known for promoting freedom of speech and not racism and was instrumental in the collape of big businesses' secret international treaty known as the "Multilateral Agreement on Investment". I closed the @notd after being targeted by The Courier-Mail in Brisbane - in fact this is a subject of another "best-selling" book.. "Enemy of the State" - which has now been put into a film....

For the record I closed the @notd in April 2000 not 1999 as suggested by Hawthorne - just another incorrect fact in his pathetic attempt to scandalise my name.

If the @notd was such a blight on Australia as suggested by Hawthorne then the question should be asked why The National Library of Australia have seen fit to keep it in their electronic library as it appeared over a five year period. You can view this right now in their Pandora Library by taking this link: Why such intemperate language, such as claim of racism, is not used against Australia's finest library by Mr Hawthorne defeats me! After all they are today publishing verbatim all the "nasty things" Hawthorne claims appears in that old electronic paper.

By the way Hawthorne thank you for the publicity .. as they say in the classics.. "any publicity... " 

If you think this is the first time the Australian tabloid press has attempted to slander me think again. Just last year the Australian Press Council ruled in my favour over another attempt - this time by The Australian

The Press Council ruling (on their web page) Hawthorne refers to can be read in full here.

The full story on The Australian's deceitful article can be followed here

Trailer for the compelling documentary film about my politicised arrest in 1999

Feel free to email me if you want to discuss any of The Age's claims.

Closing comment Mark Hawthorne phoned me back at 6pm and requested the opportunity to ask further questions - I told him where to go but did immediately email him and offer him the option of emailing his questions. Of course reporters like Hawthorne cannot interview this way because having things in writing leaves no leeway for their spin. He never responded to my offer.

Perhaps the question you should, as a reader of this response, be asking is what is Hawthorne's motive? Especially in light of what the Australian Press Council have already ruled? I see another complaint to that body coming up!


The Hawthorne article