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Aug 16, 2011

Forget game theory, Abbott's a boxer

Crikey readers have their say.

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Keane and game theory:

John Kotsopoulos writes: Re. “What game theory says about Labor’s woes” (yesterday, item 9). Bernard Keane wrote: “Labor tried to block the GST even after John Howard had won an election that was in effect a referendum on it.”

It is disappointing that Keane has fallen for the trap of believing that Howard had achieved a mandate for the GST as a result of his win at the 1998 election.  Yes Howard won the majority of seats and hence achieved government, but Beazley in fact won the popular vote 50.98% to 49.02% and gained a swing of 5% taking 19 seats from the Libs.

Only a fluke Senate outcome and the complicity of the late and unlamented Democrats gave Howard the numbers to get the GST legislation passed. I suggest that an even greater swing would have occurred in 1998 ensuring  a Howard defeat if people had thought the GST  was a any real  chance of getting up.

As it was Howard could so easily have been a oncer as this bit from Australianpolitics.com indicates:

“The ALP made the single biggest gain by an Opposition party following an election defeat. The swing was sufficient in all states to deliver government to the party, but the uneven nature of the swing denied Kim Beazley the extra few seats necessary to command a majority in the House.”

Glen Frost writes: Bernard Keane is an intelligent man — and that’s why he should stick to commentary and not try to be “counsel on communications”.

There’s only one way to win the battle against Tony Abbott — and that is to understand that Tony views the world as a boxing match — as soon as the bell rings (or should that be the alarm clock?), he’s out fighting, and fighting hard. Anyone who’s done boxing or karate (or grown up in a rough area) will know that the only way to win against Tony is to attack. Forget game theory, here’s a tip on Boxing 101:

Rule number 1: a good boxer will find the weak point and keep hitting it.

Despite being Welsh, Julia isn’t a street fighter. Maybe Adelaide made her soft? She’s no Keating in the verbal jousting department. Julia needs someone to be her “fight Tony every day” person. Remember Tony’s thinking this; “find the weak spot, keep hitting until opponent falls”.

Robert Crumb:

Dean Ellis writes: Re. “Sunday Tele swipe at Crumb means fans the big losers” (yesterday, item 17). I am outraged that the Sunday Telegraph has single-handedly caused the cancellation of the Australia tour of Robert Crumb.

I’ve been a fan of the work of Crumb since first seeing his work on the cover of the album Cheap Thrills.

One can only wonder at the direction Johnston’s organisation is heading. One baulks at criticising Bravehearts as one does not wish to be labelled “sick and deranged”.

I am sorely tempted to visit Crumb in France and never return, rather enjoy a more sophisticated tolerant society.

I now know what it feels like in small measure to be on the receiving end of media duplicity, and my phone wasn’t even hacked (well, as far as I know).

Superannuation in Australia:

Justin Templer writes: Re. “Kohler: stranded at super’s ground zero” (yesterday, item 3). In his review of the current state of superannuation in Australia, Alan Kohler writes that we should “stand by for the return of defined benefit super”. Disappointingly he does not give any reason as to why this amazing reversion to the 1980s might occur.

In fact, quite the opposite, when he cites the fact that the existing 54 defined benefit super funds, all of listed companies, have blown out their unfunded deficits from $2 billion to “a shocking” $25 billion. Given the recent hyper-volatility in investment markets his assertion is more than baseless — it is extraordinary.

UK riots:

Niall Clugston writes: Given that Britain has a long history of riots, as do comparable countries such as France and the US, why are the recent riots blamed on social media?

Gavin Greenoak (yesterday, comments) thinks that things have changed: “It is almost a truism, that the world has changed more in the past 50 years than in the previous 500.”

Let’s see. In 1511, the European settlement of the Americas had barely begun, vast tracts of the globe (including Australia) were unknown to all but their inhabitants, Asia was under the sway of hereditary despots, Europe was riven by the Catholic-Protestant conflict, and capitalism was merely the gleam in the eye of the occasional merchant. In 1961, Elizabeth II was queen of Britain and Australia, same as now; the dominant political parties in Britain, the US, and Australia were the same as now, the borders of most countries were the same as now, etc.

Can we stop interpreting world history based on the latest trends in consumer merchandise?

Electing prime ministers:

David Hand writes: Joe Boswell (yesterday, comments) makes a technically correct point about how prime ministers are elected but does not give weight to the broad dynamic of modern Australian politics. When the election campaign is called “Kevin 07” and a couple of busloads of media trail the prime minister of the day and leader of the opposition around, breathlessly broadcasting the day’s photo opportunities on the evening news, then the finer points of the constitution don’t really mean much to the average voter.

Voters were in my view, able to parse the issue at the ballot box and know that a vote for their local candidate was a vote for Kevin, or Julia or Tony or whatever.  Therefore many people felt let down, and rightly so, by the ALP’s knifing of Kevin.

Though I absolutely agree that factional bosses had the constitutional right to change the prime minister, the internal backstabbing and manoeuvring has badly hurt the Labor brand.  Retreat to the fine points of the constitution if you like but the electorate is not wrong. They’re not stupid and they know what’s gone down.

Too cool for luggage:

Liz Purdue writes: What is with the current trend of everybody being too cool to check in their luggage?

A recent flight to Melbourne was over half-an-hour late departing while passengers squeezed their luggage onto the plane and into the, already full, overhead lockers. On arrival, we were then further delayed as they then had to wrench-out and juggle their crap back down, without accidentally braining any of their fellow travellers.

I readily admit I’m not averse to using a regulation-sized overnight bag when on an overnight business trip — but this was not just the odd laptop case or small piece of hand luggage — I’m talking large bags, multiple bags, oversized backpacks, a bubble-wrapped, framed painting (seriously!) and much more luggage. Yes, luggage — the stuff that once-upon-a-time would have been checked through and sent into the hold, under the plane.

Whilst the poor, old, hassled, hosties tried as best they could to jigsaw all this junk into place — I couldn’t help but thinking they had brought it on themselves by not enforcing their very own rules relating to size and, most importantly, number of carry-on items per passenger.

We are all busy; none of us like to stand by that wretched carousel and wait for our bags to come out but really, it’s time to re-claim those overhead lockers for genuine overnight bags and briefcases, computers and coats — one item, per passenger, per flight!

Separated at birth:

Doug Clark writes: Re. “The Power Index: Paul Howes … all bark, no bite” (yesterday, item 4). Paul Howes (or is it Peter Pettigrew???). Not only is Paul Howes not powerful enough to make Paul’s list, he may also have links to a creature well-suited for political manoeuvrings

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