Blame the blokes of the world

Dear Crikey,

In all the violence in the history of the human race, there is one common
element — the male of the species. Even periods of so-called peace are
bedevilled by fighting somewhere in the world.

At the personal, national and international levels, testosterone is the
culprit. And it is no use trotting out Boadicea, Margaret Thatcher or
Israeli army women again as examples of female warmongering. The female side
of the violence balance sheet is minuscule.


CRIKEY: A very good point. We should declare way on testosterone!

Stop the sweeping generalisations

I quite enjoyed the piece today by “A Special Crikey Correspondent”,
despite a couple of unnecessary personal comments (e.g. can Dubya do
anything about his “close set eyes”? Is the special correspondent an oil
painting him or herself? If not, does it affect their ability to do
their job?).

However, isn’t there more than a little hypocrisy in this comment:

Seventh, the “West” reacted typically in stigmatising the entire one billion
strong Muslim community around the world.

Criticising “the West” for making sweeping generalisations about Muslims
is itself a sweeping generalisation. Or would our special correspondent
have us believe that they are the only person in the entire western
world sufficiently insightful to understand that the actions of an
extreme minority shouldn’t be attributed to an entire culture? I’ve
heard plenty of calls from western leaders for people to make this
distinction and to not take their anger out on Muslims in general, so I
fail to see how “the West” as a whole is guilty of stigmatising the
Muslim community.


CRIKEY: Yes, yes, we must not generalise and we must remain reasonably PC in this environment so as to not fuel
racial hatred.

AFL members screwed whilst Brisbane and Richmond start behind

This year the AFL decided to make Grand Final tickets available to Full AFL Members initially through a ballot. The AFL advised that further ticket sales would then be made to those members with support packages of the competing clubs.

Today, I have been advised by Richmond that to obtain tickets, it will be necessary to obtain a queue ticket outside a Ticketmaster outlet at 10.00pm on Saturday – at this
time our game against Brisbane will be still in progress!!!! In the meantime, Essendon/Hawthorn AFL Members will have been able to queue for 5 hours after their game has
finished!! Richmond (and unlikely Brisbane)fans do not stand a chance of getting tickets!
Are the AFL really that stupid, or, is it just another instance of their lack of consideration for their members?

Irwin Hirsh is to be congratulated for the efforts he and his team are making, however, in my opinion, the AFL will continue to treat us with disdain until such time as the AFLMA publicly threaten to boycott the products of their major sponsors. Irwin, do this and I guarantee within 24 hours you will be heard and action will be taken! With the
demise of Ansett, the protection of sponsors (never members!) will be paramount.


CRIKEY: More good points on the AFL and I’ll keep running these as long as the AFL maintain their ridiculous ban
on all internet journalists from covering their game.

Was Impulse a Qantas conspiracy?

Dear Stephen,

I am not sure how good your investigative powers are, but prior to Impulse and Virgin Blue, there was a rumour in the airline industry
that Qantas, after hearing of the intentions of Richard Branson were going to create a cut price airline with smaller jets to make life
difficult. At the time of Branson’s announcement nothing had been disclosed, and then just prior to the first 737 of Virgin Blue taking off,
suddenly Impulse, a small commuter airline, just making ends meet, jumps the gun and appears with brand new 717’s.

The shock move shook the industry, especially Ansett and Virgin. Short lived as it was, when the decision was made to amalgamate
Impulse with Qantas, it was apparently done over a beer between Gerry McGowan and Geoff Dixon.
I would have thought that in the event of such a large decision, that approval should have come from Qantas’s Board.
Also the decision coincide with the problems Ansett were experiencing due to the grounding of it’s 767’s.
Air New Zealand are expressly responsible for the problems with Ansett’s maintenance as they let all the experience of some of the best
engineers in the world go. Another theory is that Air New Zealand are secretly in cahoots with Qantas, and it was all a ploy to rid the
South Pacific of Ansett. Maybe in the months ahead we will see Air New Zealand degrade to such a stage that Qantas will take them
over. That way they completely block the way for Singapore.
The only way this can be averted is that Singapore or Cathay take on Ansett.

Think about it, Pete

CRIKEY: The world is full of conspiracy theories and there are a couple of good ones here. Can’t believe the Air New Zealand/Qantas
conspiracy but the Impulse one is an interesting theory at least.

CNN footage of Palestinian celebrations

Crikey told its subscribers this:

“Just like the Nostradamus hoax, can people please stop sending in emails
claiming that CNN used 1991 footage of Palestinians celebrating last week.
Does anyone seriously think CNN would be so stupid? It was certainly a
brave call broadcasting it because there has been a wave of anti-Islam
violence around the world but please accept that it did happen.”


I have heard (BBC WS?) that an analysis of the segment only showed 15
people actually involved in the acivity and I do have a recollection
of noticing that a few older people were skirting around the edges of
the shot looking askance at what was going on. In any event it has to
be said that such footage can be obtained by anyone with a
videocamera at a moments notice – people do odd things when a
cameraperson shows up. Also be fair and mention that the Palestinian
Authority did act to prevent further incidents.

Robert Fisk (London Independent) today reported that CNN has
instructed its reporters to refer to the Jewish settlements as
“neighbourhoods” when they are exclusively Jewish colonies that are
quite clearly illegal.

He also mentioned that the meeja has taken to the refering to the
assassination/murder/extra-judicial killing of Palestinians as
“targetted killings” (ie. the Israeli euphemism). This is in the
great tradition of Israeli doublespeak which refers to Israelis who
commit acts of terror (such as the Mosque carnage of a few years ago)
as merely “extremists”.

Roll on 1984.

2) Steve, having reviewed past emails to you, I thought I should
mention on a personal note that I am half Jewish and that my father
left Germany via Switzerland just before the outbreak of WW2. His
family was wealthy enough to buy their way out and his father
educated enough (medical practitioner) to start a new life in the UK.
My father changed his surname on joining the British Army. I put this
on the record to ensure that you don’t think I have an anti-semitic
axe to grind (we lost a client because I told him his views that the
Holocaust was a lie were rubbish). However I am not sure that Zionism
is a good thing.

Cheers, Chris Berkeley

CRIKEY: I’ve got a feeling the attacks on the US will lead to a more open analysis and debate of Middle East politics, including
how Israel fits in. But the mainstream media is more sensitive these days as some of these comments suggest.

Media distorts war claims

Hi Stephen

Once more unto the breech… 🙂

After 25 years or so of profound deafness, and having not so long ago
been granted the luxury of pretty good hearing (courtesy of Professor
Bill Gibson and his cochlear implant team up in Sydney), I have been
paying pretty close attention to the actual words being spoken by the
likes of George W. Bush, Colin Powell and other senior members of the
US Administration in the wake of the World Trade Centre disaster.

I am appalled by the apparently wilful determination of many in the
Australian media to distort every statement by Bush and his people in
an attempt to draw the worst possible conclusions from what has been
said and/or to paint Bush in the worst possible light. Like millions
of people around the world, I have been glued to the television since
this thing started. Like millions around the world, I actually heard
the exact words Bush said when he made the statement that the ABC,
Prime and other Australian news media are interpreting as meaning that
he wants Bin Laden ‘dead or alive’ and that this indicates a
significant change in rhetoric.

What Bush actually said was that in the past in the old West people
used to post signs saying “Wanted Dead or Alive”, or words to that
effect. Then he said, with a big implicit BUT, “All I want, and all
America wants, is him brought to justice”.

Now, I think that most reasonable people would interpret that as
meaning pretty much what he said. In the past, rough justice was the
normal practice, BUT NOW all he wants is that Bin Laden be brought to
justice. For the media to run off with that saying Bush wants him
‘Dead or Alive’ is a gross distortion of what was actually said and,
I’m sure, of what was actually meant.

The only warlike rhetoric that I am actually hearing or reading is
coming from the media, not from actual authoritative sources. Nor has
Howard given Bush a blank cheque as so many reports claim.

The print media, in particular, has been very disappointing thus far,
preferring hysteria to reasoned debate, and grossly offensive
anti-Americanism has been given too free a rein. Any chance of you
doing a dispassionate analysis?


CRIKEY: The rhetoric has certainly been getting stronger from Bush but your point about the media not carrying the full Bush comments on
“dead or alive” is well made

Morgan poll a load of rubbish

Dear Crikey,

The latest Morgan Polls defy logic and raise great suspicion as to the
motivation of ditching what they always trumpeted as your best polling
technique – face-to-face polling.

Their last two poll outcomes (conducted by telephone) remind me of the
ridiculous Liberal Party affiliated Texter polling also conducted for Packer
during the 1998 election and published in the Bulletin. That polling was so
discredited that it was finally totally disregarded by the media dumped by
Packer. Guess who returned to the fold after that – yes you guessed it –
Roy Morgan.

Seems to me Morgan is doing Packer’s bidding and how! Their credibility has
gone down the drain; they’ve sold out and are doing Packer’s bidding. Very
peculiar to conduct two polls within the same week with such divergent
results. Although I’m sure they’ll smarten up just before federal polling
day otherwise their credibility would be smashed to pieces.


CRIKEY: Hillary agrees with you so I’m not going to argue with this.

Socialist Beazley wants to waste our cash


has there ever been a more ludicrous image than Fart Boy Slim demanding the Australian taxpayer cough up hundreds of millions of dollars to rescue Ansett for just a couple of weeks? The owner of Ansett is the New Zealand Government (through Air New Zealand). If he wants to keep the airline going, why doesn’t Fart Boy ask his fellow
socialist Helen (NZ PM) to keep the airline awash with Kiwi taxpayers money rather than Aussie taxpayers money? If Fart Boy loves taxpayer investment in airlines, why did he vote to privatise Qantas? The Ansett saga and the Tampa saga show that Fart Boy really struggles badly when the pressure is on. Have the ALP got anyone to
replace Beasley before the next election?


CRIKEY: Well said, the taxpayer bailout proposal is just pure madness. And why waste all those Sydney Airport proceeds.

Pilger a left-wing hypocrite

Dear Crikey,

People like John Pilger amaze me. If the USA was to turn its back on the world, stop all foreign aid, pull out of the UN, pull out of Kyoto (which they have already done) then John Pilger and his ilk would be jumping up and down saying that America are being bad global citizens.

Now when America does do something, like expel Iraq from Kuwait, help Israel from being completely destroyed, stop Kosovars from being murdered, give billions of dollars to third world countries, then good ol’ John Pilger reckons they’re bad global citizens.

America just can’t win. And you can’t please left-wing hypocrites.

yours, Dale

CRIKEY: Yes, he is a gloom factory and has a 20-year record of beating up on the US.

Rough nut Tom Playford was okay

Bit harsh on Tom Playford Longfella. He was almost a great man. I remember reading after his retirement, that he was living on his cherry orchard making do on the old age pension. No lavish superannuation perks for old Tom.

Also, and this is a true story, my grandfather used to be a legal bigwig in Adelaide while Tom was top dog, and did a lot of advising of the then state Governmentt. One day he went in to see the Premier, who was rolling around the floor and happened to have one of his cabinet ministers in a headlock! They were having a “full and frank” discussion about something.

Go well yaself

CRIKEY: Still reckon Playford was Australia’s only tru socialist Premier and SA is still suffering.

This Green is no greedy double dipper

Dear Stephen and Charles,

No, six years in the Senate does not qualify me for “one of those fat
pensions”. I did use up my own contributions to my superannuation plus
some more from the unretained portion in order to live in the two years
whilst I workerd on my MPhl with no other income. I also spent some of
that money to install a PV power system at my house and purchase an
energy efficent refrigerator, for my modest wood and fibro house in East
Vic Park, but all this may ruin your assumptions about “double dipping”
greedy politicians.

Dee Margetts

CRIKEY: This Green certainly practices as she preaches. Dee is now in the WA Upper House.

Eddington punted whistleblowers

In late 1999 the heads of safety and corporate risk at Ansett had been
ringing the alarm bells internally at the state of the airline. Both had
become quite agitated at what they saw happening. Eddington’s response was
swift – both made sudden resignations.

CRIKEY: Very interesting. There’s no doubt that News Corp must have known how troubled Ansett was before the sale to Air New Zealand.

Howard exploiting WAR and fear

Dear Crikey,

Strangley, I have not heard the popular press express the view that Howard
is using the horrific terrorist attacks on the US to improve the liberals
chances at the next election and to divert attention from the Ansett

War!!!! hardly the solution to this incredably complex idealogical problem –
you would need to kill every Muslim fundamenatlist to a man to have any
change of “success” with this strategy.

Howard is milking the “terrorist threat” for all it is worth and is taking
every opportunity to insist that Australia is under just as much threat as
the US. The the truth is that Osama bin Laden or who ever is responsible
wouldn’t even know where Australia was on the map. On morning TV, I heard
Howard say that Australia is in just as much danger as the US at the moment
– this is absolute rubbish and to say the least , irresponsible.

Yes, being in Washington at the time of the attack and almost witnessing the
carnage first hand must have had a profound effect on him but one can’t help
but be very cynical about his motives.

Unfortunately, as Beazley knows, it would be political suicide for him to
attack Howard on this one. Howard is in a win-win situation – he must be
quietly rubbing his hands together. The connection between the Muslim
illegal immigrants and the Muslin terrorists is an added bonus. Actually
when you think about it, Beazley would be doing the same thing, he has
already elaborated on his “defense” credentials – very handy in times of

Regards, AR
Crikey Subscriber

CRIKEY: Interesting points but I’m not sure there is much more Howard can do. We are one of the closets allies to the US and our troops
could end up in Afghanistan and Bin Laden has talked about a war against the US and its allies. Howard certainly was milking the
refugee issue cynically but the terrorism is something else altogether.

Thanks for the Ansett facts

Thanks for some facts. Or at least opinions that
aren’t confined to cheerleading the bashing of our
smaller and weaker neighbour.

I’m really disappointed with the ABC presenters
including Virginia Trioli and Tonya Roberts. I have
heard both cheerleading anti-New Zealand business.
They might have been only throw-away lines but in my
opinion they were very unprofessional and shallow.

So are we still boycotting Campbell Soups over
Arnotts? Or is all forgiven?

While I have total sympathy with the victims in the
USA, it now brings to my mind Srebrnica, Rwanda,
Burundi, earthquakes in Turkey, Armenia, India and all
the other great tragedies that ruin people’s lives.
Most of us have very comfortable lives in Australia
and a little less hatred and hypocrisy would go a long

Marianne Gardner

CRIKEY: There is certainly an excessive propensity to blame governments for the Ansett debacle but as we explained
there are a lot of contributing factors at work.

Government knew about Ansett problems

At Easter, I had an ‘animated discussion’ with a senior Federal Government
staffer (who shall remain nameless) when I expressed my opinion that I
thought Ansett would go broke within 18 months.

Why? Any airline that can’t get its planes in working order is not taking
care of core business.

Any person who is crying foul over the demise of Ansett has been turning a
blind eye to the problems which have been evident for months. That includes
the unions who will no doubt use this as leverage for Beazley in the Federal

From my point of view, Beazley (former finance minister) and Labor are
responsible for Ansett’s problems. They poured millions into Qantas during
the 1980s and early 1990s before the privatised it. This funding created a
huge and unfair advantage for Qantas, which was released from the shelter of
the government with a newly upgraded, government-funded fleet.

I wonder what’s stopping the govenrment from owning an airline again? It
sounds like a contradiction in dry economics, but if government ownership of
Ansett preserves competition in the airline industry, then such a concept
could sit well with the economic dries.

They can build it up and sell it off.

Before they do that, however, they ought to clean out CASA. I don’t like
Dick Smith, but he’s probably right that CASA is a culturally corrupt

And yes, yes, yes to what you said about that Clark woman and the directors
of Air New Zealand.

Scumbags the lot of them.

Tom Payne

CRIKEY: Good letter Tom. You have to wonder if CASA would have thrown the book at Ansett if Rupert had still been a
50 per cent shareholder.

Too much saturation coverage on terrorism

There is no doubt the events in the US are shocking, but the non-stop
coverage on EVERY channel, bar SBS, is bordering on ludicrous.

Tuesday night’s live footage created a surreal setting, almost like watching
a Holywood action film. However, by Wednesday night every reporter in
America was doing their best to enhance the tabloid tele-reporter cliche –
you could almost confuse yourself into believeing you were watching a repeat
of Die Hard.

We gained no new insight into the catastrophe as every so-called expert
offered their view as they got their 15 minutes worth.

Call me callous but do we need to view this on EVERY channel showing the WTO
towers’ collapse every 10 minutes?

The anger that the networks created by showing celebrating Palestinians was
a great way to increase the xenophobia, but did anyone stop to consider that
these people live with the fear of death every day from an enemy supported
by the US?

Immediately, Osama bin Laden’s name was dropped as the most likely culprit,
but the US needs to do some soul-searching and acknowledge that they,
through the CIA, taught him in the ways of terrorism during the Soviet’s
occupation of Afghanistan.

These actions have a habit of coming back and biting America on the arse.
Saddam and his army was a trained-ally of the US until the invasion of

Host of the Awful Truth, Mike Moore’s website (sorry don’t have the address)
points out that the greatest terrorist act to previously happen on American
soil was done by an American – Timothy McVeigh! Could this have happned here
or is it easier to generate a racist fervour?

Perhaps it’s time for the US to take a good hard look at its foreign policy
and pull its head in or God forbid another fundamentalist group will pick
off the innocent in retaliation. Desperate people do desperate things.

I’ll happily sit back and be overjoyed by the fact I live in a country that
kisses arse instead of kicking it.

Regards, Daron

CRIKEY: I haven’t tired of all the coverage yet but suspect that many will be flagging by now. A few people are starting
to ask questions about US policies in the Middle East and the debate will be healthy although I’m not sure they’ve been
doing that much wrong in recent years.

Why isn’t Rupert’s mate Eddo copping it over Ansett

Dear Crikey

I am rather amused at the current press treatment of where Ansett is at and
how it got there. Whilst all of the journalists concerned seem to have got
the basic elements of the story right (too many different aircraft types,
owners not really interested in the airline industry, Air NZ paying too
much for Ansett, weak balance sheet, loss of market share, etc) they have
laid the blame for Ansett’s state at everyone from Peter Abeles management
in the 80s to the Air NZ board over the past year. This amuses me because
they seem to have studiously avoided blaming the management of Ansett over
the years when Ansett went into the spin – from 1997 to 2000. During this
period Ansett was controlled by News Ltd and in particular managed by Rod
Eddington, now head of British Airways. When Eddington arrived at Ansett
their market share was around 55%, after three years at the helm he had
dropped this down to 42%. He had also introduced an additional aircraft
type to an already ridiculously mixed fleet. “Eddo” took three years to
implement a restructure which was supposed to focus on the business market
– the result of this wonderful effort was that over the three year period
Ansett’s share of the business travel market fell from 60% down to 30%.
Eddo also had Singapore lined up to buy half of Ansett – but Singapore
backed away after they completed due diligence in early 2000. Air NZ
desperately wanted to buy the second half Ansett, but unfortunately for
them Eddo was leading them astray at board meetings – cooking the books to
make it look as if he had turned Ansett around from the small loss it had
made in 1996/97. Of course the turnaround he claimed as his own was the
result of fuel and US$ hedging put in place by his predecessor when the AU$
was at 80cents US in early 1996. When the hedging ran out after two years,
Ansett’s losses began, in 1999/2000. But Ansett declared a profit of $120m
in 1999/2000, didn’t it? Truth is the real result for 199/2000 was close
to zero, which means about $120 million of the 2000/2001 loss for Ansett
belongs to the previous year. Yes, the AirNZ boardmembers should have
knwon better, but News/Eddo had executive control and the casting vote on
the board for all decisions. And now for something really amusing – a
couple of the senior management team involved in the Ansett debacle are now
running the two main airlines in the UK. God help them.

So why hasn’t Eddo copped any bad press? He is a News director?

Rebecca Cooper

CRIKEY: Excellent points Rebecca. Rod should be in Adelaide for the News Corp AGM on October 11 and this is a point that
should be made.

Grand Prix must be urban

Dear Stephen,

I was amused to read in your article titled “Save Albert Park AGM shows they’re as determined as ever to win GP battle” that “SAP is absolutely
right to say that we should build a purpose-built track in a regional centre and hold it there every year.”

There are a few problems with this:
1) As surprising as it is to me as a Sydney resident, Melbourne is part of the attraction – don’t ask me why
2) Limited accommodation availability
3) High track infrastructure costs
4) Strain on public resources sewage, electricity, roads
5) Limited support businesses eg food, cleaning
6) High transport costs for delivery of goods and services
7) High media costs
8) Lack of other local attractions to increase the tourist stay
9) Inadequate airport facilities
10) No port facilities

11) Negative impact on local native flora and fauna
12) Small community overwhelmed by level of visitation
13) Lack of supporting entertainment

I don’t really care whether Melbourne hosts the Grand Prix or not, but the event needs the support of a major urban area. To suggest that it could be successfully held in
regional Victoria is simply wishful thinking by those who have never seriously thought about the implications.

Have you really thought this through?


Neil Stollznow

CRIKEY: There are some reasonable points in here but the SAP proposal is for a venue like Bacchus Marsh which is only about 30 minutes from
Tullamarine airport anyway. Besides, check out the British GP which is out of the way at Silverstone on a purpose built track
and goes very well.

Leave Natasha alone Hillary

Hi Hillary,

Why do you rely on half-accurate gossip and incorrect accounts of student
days to get details on what Natasha (Ah Satan) does?

I’m surprised you didn’t notice that Natasha was the main Parliamentary
voice attacking John Howard’s handling of the Tampa asylum seekers. Given
your correct and scathing insight into the hopeless handling of this
issue, it would have been a good chance to be unbiased, by giving some well
deserved praise to Natasha for following your very own line. After all, her
careful comprehensive condemnation of Howard and Ruddock wasn’t given much
media coverage, giving you the opportunity to fill the gap.

C’mon be fair, Nat is an easy target and why are you always so keen to
have a go at her, how about some support when it’s due.

Regards, Lindy

CRIKEY: And just to show how much Hillary is heeding Lindy’s words of advise, this week’s column reveals that Natasha is now dating Port Power
player Che Cockatoo-Collins.

Adelaide’s battling but I love it

Dear Stephen,

Your vignette in the Sealed Section (07 September) about “Poor Old Adelaide” intrigued and saddened this South Australian subscriber.

What exactly do you suggest we do with this state ? Shut it down ? Sell us off to Victoria ? We could divide and shunt off our population between the thriving metropolises of Moe, Cabramatta, and Inala, perhaps ? Or maybe sell us off as white slaves, if all we are is “one big community service obligation”.

Having been here since 1985, I’ve never seen a state so badly served by its elected representatives as this one.

Our industrial base fell apart from the moment the tariff walls came down (not that they should have been there in the first place) The State Bank ripped the guts out of our finances. Losing the Grand Prix broke our hearts… especially the smarmy, arrogant way Kennett gloated in stealing it. But then we got Buffy via a palace coup, who couldn’t even get a majority of the vote at the only election he actually won !

Having sold off every government asset that wasn’t nailed down, especially the power utility… Olsen’s now lining us up for the killer blow when householders are flung into the privatised electricity market. Pasminco, whose smelter virtually IS the Port Pirie economy, is on the bones of its arse. (Its power bill has just risen by 7 million) And Mitsubishi in Japan still can’t lie straight in bed when it comes to a firm answer on the future of the motor and assembly plants here. And as for the bloody submarines !!!

Incidentally the only thing we’re realistically hoping to get out of a Labor Government is some degree of dislosure about how much of our tax money Buffy has spent setting up phone farms, and other subsidised jobs that he’s pinched from interstate.

But much as we’d love to take your advice Stephen, and move east to fill your slums because we can’t afford your real estate prices… some of us just might stick it out here. Some of us enjoy having world class wineries an hour’s drive to the north and south of the city… beaches to the west, rolling hills to the east… and a city heart you still drive into and out of with relative ease. But please rest assured, it’s not a ghost town yet. As a left-wing journo down here noted recently: “We live in a community, not an economy”

Sorry we’re not contributing to the national wealth like we used to, but as I alluded to earlier… someone put our eggs in the wrong damn baskets. By the way, good luck in Port Augusta… you’ll be wearing your balls as ear-rings once the Mayor, Joy Baluch is through with you !!!


Peter, South Australian subscriber.

CRIKEY: All good points Peter. Make sure you watch Australia Talks this Thursday night to see how the people of
Port Augusta are feeling about life at the moment.

Fending off the union thugs

Dear Stephen,

I’m not sure if you can help me here, I am having a few hassles with unions
at a new factory we’re setting up in Melbourne’s west and we have had them down
there trying to recruit members with some rather interesting methods! I’m
simply wondering if you could point me in the right direction for advice on
the correct procedures, rules etc.?

Briefly, we have a few guys on site who were told a pack of lies about
entitlements, hourly rates, the boss doesn’t care about you, we are the only
ones who will look after you etc. They were given application forms and told
to fill them as well as direct debit forms without being told how much it
costs etc. This is all after the union people were politely requested to
phone the office and make an appointment, yet they still walked in and told
the workers they had to stop and talk to them!

I will be most grateful for any suggestions about who I should talk to for

Best Regards, anon

CRIKEY: Ah yes, aren’t factory tactics by Victoria’s militant unions they just terrific. Can only suggest you try VECCI or someone like that.
Stick to the award, maybe try your local Labor MP but they’ll probably be a former union organiser anyway. Meanwhile, whilst
most employer types are too scared to single out individual unionists, here at Crikey we reckon Martin Kingham, Dean Mighell and Craig
Johnston are industrial thugs who should be turfed out of their unions. Crikey is a very happy member of the moderate journalists union
known as the MEAA but Victoria’s blue collar union leaders are Australia’s most destructive.

BHP knackered by Don’t Argue


Don’t Argue (BHP chairman Don Argus) can add this to his teachings, “How to Knacker Australian Shareholders.”

BHP Billiton MD sold some 877,000 BHP shares to clear A$7.5m. Brian Gilbertson sold shares on August 23 at average price of UK 3.141 pounds each – $A7.5 million, according to media reports.

BHP defended Mr Gilbertson, saying he remains a significant shareholder in the company.

Could? there be a class action against (nearly) all the instos &, (nearly) all the broking houses who so effortlessly encouraged the BHP Billiton carve up & in so doing wiped a fortune from Australian BHP shareholders.

And again we ask, where was ASIC?

We never did get an independent valuation of the merger.


CRIKEY: Couldn’t agree more. First we’re told Billiton have great management then then finance director walks out within weeks of the merger.
Then we’re told Gilbertson is coming to run the show from Australia when he’s used the proceeds from his share sales to buy a house
in London. JB Were estimated the merger transferred $5.5 billion from BHP to Billiton and now Don’t Argue’s great Homeside purchase
has cost NAB $4 billion. Methinks it is time Don’t retired with his $40 million before he does any more damage.

Letter of the week: Howard’s game plan

Dear Crikey

It’s nice to see some passion in a journo, ie the Tampa refugees, but it is
a complicated issue which requires cooler thought and will not be resolved
by ranting (as it was late at night, you hadn’t been having a merlot or two
by any chance?). I don’t have the solution and whatever the outcome, both
short and long-term, will be complicated and not universally acceptable.
Such is life. My own inclination is to let them in, but the underlying
issues are perhaps more interesting and this is where I think Crikey could
have done better.

While it is good for your subscribers to know your editorial policy, you do
not need to overstate it, or make it the centrepiece of the product. You
need to play to your strengths, and Crikey’s is getting some inside goss,
spelling out what the papers won’t say, and providing incisive analysis.

After some temporary discomfort, the refugees will ultimately be looked
after one way or another. They have received enough global publicity for it
not to be otherwise. The real story for Crikey behind the issue is John
Howard’s determination to deliver a third victory to the Coalition, whatever
it takes. It informs everything he says and does. In spite of attempts by
the media and party apparatchats to make the impending election sound like a
contest, until last week the govt can have been in no doubt it was on the
electoral nose, holding too many marginal seats and spurned in the bush.

As ever, Qld remained a problem. And as if One Nation was not enough, the
Qld libs were fighting amongst themselves (as regularly updated by Crikey
and today’s Fairfax press) while the ALP sprung the Macfarlane/GST/Groom
ambush. A very unlovely set of numbers. Then along came the Tampa.

John Howard has always been a three dimensional pollie – and his dimensions
are industrial relations, tax cuts, and immigration/race. His actions over
the past year illustrate it. Abbott the zealot was brought in to kick union
heads, Costello and Howard have played the tax cuts card, and now the
trifecta is complete with immigration (read xenophobia and religious
bigotry), dressed up as national sovereignty. They’ll love it in the bush.
(Wonder if Howard will award SAS diggers with campaign medals for this one.)

CHOGM has now become a nuisance. There isn’t enough time for an election
before HM QE2 comes (don’t forget Hyacinth is so looking forward to hosting
tea and scones) and it would be unseemly to be actively campaigning during
CHOGM, so the earliest they can go to the polls will be 17 November. Let’s
see how they spin the reffos out until then.

Was it Keating or Hawke who said “Always back self-interest, it’s the only
horse with an honest jockey”. Traditionally, the pundits reckon the
hip-pocket nerve is the touchiest one in the electorate, but really it is
only a symptom. The underlying condition is self-interest (aka “wedge
politics”) and, in a conservative electorate exhausted by change and afraid
of the future, self-interest will be nurtured with all available fertiliser.

The stakes are high, the egos rampant, and electoral memories short. I
can already hear the approaching cacophony of non-core soundbites. Howard
is going to play very hard ball for the next 3 months – Beazley (as Peacock
was unable to do) is going to have to ask himself how much he really wants
the job. Paul Kelly was on the money on the “Insiders” last week – Beazley
has to stay focussed and disciplined.

So how does he counter the “Muslims under the bed” campaign? Tough call,
but he has to remember self-interest is the key. He was on-message with
health and services, he has to stay there and remind the electorate not to
let the last week wipe out the memory of the last six years. He has to make
Howard and Costello scarier than Muslims.

Meanwhile, I hope the professed Christians in the Coalition, especially
Kevin Andrews and his mates in the Lyons Group, pray very hard for goodwill
to all men this December. If he is still Prime Minister come December, it
will be Merry Christmas Island, Mr Howard.

signed, Anonymous Subscriber.

PS This was drafted before the Saturday papers, which cover much of the
analysis in similar fashion, and also before the announcement about Nauru.
Talk about a win-win on that one. Honest Howard keeps the Muslims from
under the beds in the bush and Qld, and Nauru, which is broke, gets
Australian dollars pouring in once again. Wait till the taxpayer finds out
how much it is going to cost. And from where will the money come –
Immigration, AusAID, the Govt advertising budget, Sneaky Pete’s surplus?
The charter of Budget honesty, or whatever it is called, that must be
released at the start of the election campaign, is going to be a must-read.

CRIKEY: Very incisive analysis here and fair criticism of Crikey as well. The three dimensional stuff on Howard is very
interesting and rings true. The comments on Asian immigration in the 80s were from the heart it would seem now.

Dee Margetts working on the double dip


Dee Margetts is no longer in the private sector – she’s back as an MLC
in the WA parliament and presumably working on a second parliamentary
super scheme (although admittedly the new WA scheme is significantly
less generous than before – probably the least attractive in Australia).
It seems as if, as Peter Walsh often notes, the general exhortation by
greens for us to lower our living standards does not apply to them. I
for one would rather have had her remain in the private sector as the
greens have the potential to drag the Government here leftwards in a way
we have not seen since Tasmania.

Regards, Charles

CRIKEY: But was she in the Senate long enough to qualify for one of those beautiful pensions. Can anyone help us on this?

The Price of refugee success


I picked up a piece of intelligence yesterday which I find fascinating. We are getting a
large influx of refugees from the Middle East partly because Minister Ruddock’s publicity campaign
highlighting the length of detention and the horrors of the centres has been too successful. The people-
smugglers have had to halve the cost, and we are now the least desirable, but most affordable,
destination, hence the increase in the number coming. Preferred destinations such as Germany
and the UK are twice the cost. The harshness of the system is having precisely the opposite
effect of that intended. While the smugglers get less per head, now, thanks in part to Minister Ruddock,
there are more heads!


CRIKEY: Interesting analysis. I still reckon anyone who makes it all the way to Australia from Afghanistan deserves a medal for
ingenuity. They’ll be the next Frank Lowy, sir Arvi Parbo or Dick Pratt if we just give them a chance.

Meanwhile, Howard advertises for more migrants

Hello there Mr Crikey,

Reeling with depression from the latest Howard/Ruddock/Beazley vom-fest
I thought I’d look at a few international newspapers and see if anyone
out there was giving them the bollocking they deserved. Unfortunately
the Times in London hadn’t updated their website, so they still had last
Saturday’s edition on line, but it did mean I caught an intrigueing
advert they are pitching at the nice, white, C of E home-counties Times
readership. Basically it said, “Do you want to become an Australian
citizen?” followed by a toll free number, authorised by Parliament
House, Capitol Hill, Canberra. No doubt Howard was fed up to the gills
with nasty little beige people with unpronouncable names being too
pro-active on the migrant front, time to redress the balance. Maybe
they’ve had the wit to stop running the ad by now, but if you went to
the Times archive for that day, you’d find it I’m sure.

I think ringing them up and recording the ensuing conversation for
posterity would be a nice idea.

Keep up the (mostly) good work


CRIKEY: Yes, but we only want educated, English speaking migrants from the mother country don’t we. They should love cricket, have
a white picket fence and eat bangers and mash. Isn’t a amusing how the government can’t reach their own targets on
skilled migration.

We’re not detaining them claims the government


Went to the Federal Court today to hear the Tampa case. The government
is arguing that the people on the Tampa are not being detained!

The government argued that the reason the rescuees do not leave the ship
is not because they are being held on the ship and not allowed to leave,
but rather because a) the ship is high in the water; b) the water is
shark infested; and c) they are 4 miles from the shore. The lawyer for
Eric Vodarlis called these reasons “something out of Monty Python”.

The Judge said the question of their detention could be tested by
offering them other transport. The government replied that the issue of
another way off the Tampa hasn’t arisen. This caused laughter in the
gallery, since, as the lawyer for Liberty Vic pointed out, the SAS has
closed the port at Christmas Island and no other ships have been allowed
to approach the Tampa. The question hasn’t arisen because the government
has stopped it from arising.

The other laugh came when the government lawyer tried to claim
diplomatic privilege for the letter from the rescuees to the PM that was
passed on via the Norwegian ambassador. The government lawyer said he
“wished people in court would not gasp in horror whenever I say

If you want to see more of my report look at:

Cheers, Paul Dyson

CRIKEY: Hmmm, armed troops stopping them from getting off at Christmas Island is certainly some form of detention.

Just call yourself an asylum seeker

I had lunch with a fed MP today who suggested that all that was necessary for any of these people to claim refugee status was for any one of them to tap one of the SAS meatheads on the shoulder and say “Hey buddy I seek asylum,” and that was under Australian law. She also said that the dropping of leaflets onto the boat explaining this to the refugees was illegal, funny thing the law, but it might explain why communications between the vessel and the outside world have been cut since the SAS boarded the ship.

CRIKEY: Interesting, I wonder how many knew how to say this in English to gun-toting troops.

Ageing dribbler takes the piss out of Crikey

Hi Crikey,

I am 50+ and still manage not to dribble too much. I am of Anglo-Saxon descent having come from the UK 27 years ago. I enjoy the pokies on rare occasions, dont take ecstasy which I guess you do, if we are putting age groups into pigeon holes or do you snort coke?? (Only joking) Surprise surprise I can think, doh!!!! What a shame you bring divisions into the way people think of different cultures and age groups. We could argue for ever and a day on what sort of ‘person’ supports John Howard, it is irrelevant and just shows your small ‘b’ bigotry. Guess what we can still think once we get past the big 50.

I personally feel ashamed to be Australian at the present moment and wish Kim Beazley had taken a firmer stand. Don’t let us be swayed by all the rhetoric, this is politically staged to get One Nation off the agenda and John Howard will win the next election unless Labour comes up with some smart footwork and brings the real issues back on the political scene. John Howard has orchestrated the ‘us against them’ mentality to a tee. The issue of taking in ‘refugees’ ‘ asylum seekers’ or should we just call them human beings, is a world wide issue and cannot be solved by a small nation wealding the big stick. It is a problem that will face us for at least the next 20 years as more regimes become more introspective, the Teleban are not going to go away. Most religious groups that have embraced fundamentalism have a shocking human rights record and it us up to the rest of the world to embrace the problem rather than confront it with stand over tactics.

Must away to my pokie machine, whilst wiping the dribble from my mouth and butting out my ciggie!! How do you use a mobile phone?????

Have a nice day!!

CRIKEY: Very good letter. Crikey got a bit carried away in an email to subscribers about the typical ageing, pension drawing, smoking, pokie playing
Howard supporter who reckoned we should send the Tampa packing. Okay, I’m now back in my place and shouldn’t stereo-type
like that. Well said.


letter contents goes here