Apology to Mr Col Allan

Recently Crikey published an anonymous letter which claimed that New York Post Editor and formerly Sydney¹s Daily Telegraph Editor-in-Chief Col Allan when working at the London bureau of News Limited some years ago was untrustworthy and had attempted to plagiarise other journalists stories. Crikey is now satisfied that the allegations are completely without foundation and unreservedly withdraws them and apologises to Col Allan for their publication.

end of apology

Completely independent of Col’s complaint, Crikey subscriber, PR man and former John Howard press secretary John Wells sent in this letter supporting Col which we are more than happy to publish:


I read with interest your apology to Col Allan re allegations in a letter
that he plagiarised stories from other media. I worked with Col during his
whole time in London in the same bureau and there was no evidence of such

Indeed not only did Col write his own copy – as we all did – both of us
generally went on the hunt for stories which often hadn’t appeared in the
London daily media – a search of clips will demonstrate our success.

For example – we didn’t sit in the office and write stories from the
dailies about the Falklands war we were at the Ministry of Defence daily
and tried to get our own material.

We didn’t sit in the office and cover the story in Zimbabwe about the
abduction of foreign tourists in the early 80s – we went there and covered
the story.

We didn’t sit in the office and write the Londoner’s view of Australia
trying to buy the HMS Invincible. We talked to Ian Sinclair during his
visit and got an exclusives story.

Clearly the dailies provided opportunities for follow up. However, we
always sought to ensure that those stories we did write were ours not
someone elses.

His promotion to the US is clearly a demonstration of his capability both
as a journalist and an editor.

cheers, John Wells

CRIKEY: I’ve always maintained that Col is one of the greatest tabloid editors in the world and deeply regret running this scurrilous and inaccurate letter from an anonymous contributor out of London.

Mike Moore deserves a spray

Hear Hear!

did you guys ever catch the awful truth edition where they were attacking
new york cops on the street, humiliating them about their use of firearms?

It struck this old lefty, now executive recruiter, that the cops are
WORKERS, and if there is an widespread issue with their use of firearms,
it’s a result of poor training and management.

Thought it was a little like blaming Burmese factory workers for the
transgressions of Nike executives.

It’s a strange world out there and the left, to which side i have always
leant, really needs to bring itself up to date. Mike moore gets boring as he
searches for people to poke in the chest, although his ceo challenge is
pretty hilarious. He seems to be showing signs of a messiah complex as his
show progresses. Have you ever noticed the homogeny of his audience? It
appears that you need bad facial hair to get in the front door.

CRIKEY: Mike Moore is one of many lefties caught out by the Taliban and Bin Laden because they have absolutely
no redeeming features and need to be taken out yet people like Mike just hate Bush so much they can’t deal with
the situation rationally.

Suggesting US provocation is bollocks

Thanks for your balanced discussion of the September 11 massacre.

The harping by the left that the US “provoked” these outrages by
supporting Israel and sanctioning Iraq is a bit like saying Jews
provoked Hitler because “they stabbed Germany in the back”. It is
morally irrelevant, takes the aggressor’s propaganda as truth and
represents the shallowest kind of historical analysis.

The UN, not just the US, imposed sanctions on Iraq because Saddam
failed to give up weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) as agreed at the
end of the Gulf War. In general it was the left and the Arab League who
advocated sanctions as a more humane alternative than military action.
They probably got it wrong. The sanctions may be a humanitarian
disaster, but Hussein could end them by giving up his Scuds. As Saddam
has used WMDs against Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iran and his own people,
these sanctions are not just heartless Yankee Imperialism.

Support for Israel? Yes, the US supports Israel. But do the Islamicists
really support Palestine or repressed Muslims as they claim? In the
Arab world rhetorical support for Palestine increases with distance
from the front line. Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran all are heavy on
pro-Palestine words, but have done surprisingly little for them. The
Saudi rulers even signed the deal back in the 1920s that allowed a
Zionist homeland in British Palestine. Muslims under Israeli rule have
more rights than non-Christians in Islamic states. Compared to the
methods Iraq and Syria have used against dissident minorities, Israel’s
tough minded practices seem weak.

The search for historical causes is bit myopic as well. So far it has
only taken the historical focus back only one step. Why not dig deeper?
Why not ‘blame’ Hitler or Arab intransigence for Israel’s hard as nails
policies? The Middle East has been an ethnic and religious mess since
the Allies overthrew the Ottoman Empire in World War 1. It’ll probably
take a new Ottoman Empire to clean it up.

The harping of the right is unfortunately just as bad. American
patriotism is to be expected and is understandable. This is the
greatest death of civilians due to act of war, foreign or deomestic,
the US has ever experienced since 1776. But there is no substitute for
vigorous debate and the airing of diverse opinions.The democratic
decision process requires that. Past and present foreign policies are
not written in stone and are not beyond debate or criticism. George
Bush’s performance has been woeful under the circumstances. There have
been real lapses in aviation, security, intelligence, skyscraper
evacuation policy and even in New York’s rescue response plan. These
failures will not get fixed without debate. Wrapping everything up in
red, white and blue won’t do either.

Regards, Tim Gillin

CRIKEY: Some interesting historical perspectives here in what is clearly a pro-Israel position but a well-argued one at that.

Packer a long-time union-basher

Dear Stephen

I understand and accept some aspects of what you say about unions and
Ansett. One my gripes with you is that you said it to Channel Nine, who love
to bash unions, and always support the Liberal party (since Keating got up
Kerry’s nose). If you have ever watched anyone on Channel Nine
“interviewing” a Liberal Party person (especially the Prime Minister!!!) you
would know that they are not the sattion to watch if you want information…
Why do you think Howard wants the debate on Nine, hosted by Ray Martin??


CRIKEY: Fair point indeed David but this does not mean that union feather-bedding at places like Ansett should not be
discussed anywhere in the media.

Sullivan positively gleeful with the Taliban

Andrew Sullivan refers to the present epoch of sept 11 and post Sept 11 as
“… awful times..”, which of course they are. He then goes on to explain
that he has found a silver lining in it all. After reading his article, I
don’t think he genuinely see’s these times as awful at all – he’s over the
moon with the situation. He’s happy! His article fairly bubbles with glee at
the presently preceived predicament of the left. A person should be able to
criticise the West whilst being squarely oposed to the Taliban. Otherwise
its facisim isn’t it?


CRIKEY: I think he’s enjoying the pain of the left, not the pain of the people of NYC. It’s no different though from Mike Moore
using S11 to re-use all his arguments about Florida and a lack of legitimacy.

Barns should stop playing the woman

I may have missed something in Greg Barn’s reply in Your Say but how on
earth can he grizzle publicly at someone in a major Australian broadsheet
for being “an opportunist and total self promoter ” and then say that those
comments were a “contribution to public policy debate”. (see his reply)
Mr Barns and many others like him should spend less time taking public
swings at each other on personal issues and more time on considered public
policy debate. I wonder if Mr Barns even bothered to find out what issues Ms
Panopoulous was representing in her area!

As Chairman of the ARM , Mr Barns does his movement no favours by personally
attacking all and sundry of his Monarchist rivals. What his personal attacks
display is his predisposition to negative group stereotyping (a psychological phenomena rampant in politics, sport and international
relations) that does little to develop strong local and diverse communities
such as he would like to represent in Tasmania nor does it represent fairly
the forward looking, inclusive and non- elitist values of the ARM.

CRIKEY: I reckon Barns is a good operator who would make a good Tasmanian premier one day but I agree that he’s a media tart
just like Crikey and therefore looks a bit hypocritical taking pot shots at other media tarts.

Subscribers diary from New York

We’ve been told that as a people we are a little stressed today. Gee. If on
Friday you read–as you probably did–that according to the CIA, FBI and the
DIA (between them these clowns received over $40 billion last year) there is
a “100% chance of retaliation if we strike Afghanistan”….well you’d be a
bit stressed. New York is now operating at the level Omega Plus. We are not
venturing south of New Rochelle today, but it appears Omega Plus is some
seriously bad shit and if you look even a teensy-weensy bit sideways as you
go over a bridge, you will be stopped and pulled from your car. Personally
I’m all in favour of that.

I’m amazed to hear George II make glowing reference to the Brits, the
Canadians, etc., (all the big guys) and the Aussies. Quite incredible.
Amazing. Makes me choke up a bit. If you are an expat you will choke up at
these things. You probably are sick of Peter Allen but play him right now in
NY at the Consulate and there will be dozens weeping and yearning for
lamingtons. And wasn’t that sweet that Chirac said that right now all
Frenchmen are unified? Not with anyone mind you. Just in France, all of them
are together. This from the same bloke who offered troops if the French
could participate in the mission planning. The B-2’s were already long in
the air when that goofy offer was made. (B-2’s are from a base in Missouri.
Only one. Want to know if there’s about to be trouble? Park, watch, listen.)
Mmmm, just a bit stressed. And so we’re bombing the poor bastards with food.
The Pentagon call them MRE’s, Meals Ready to Eat. The guys on the ground
during Desert Storm called them Meals Rejected by Ethiopians.
Today is Columbus Day in the USA, sort-of a holiday, which means the private
sector works and the public guys are all off, marching up Fifth Avenue.
Since every Italian and every Irish lad has had it drummed into his head
that to be a fireman or a cop is a great thing, it will be sad day and a
day of great and low feelings. So many of the 300 firemen who died…..whew,
just a bit stressed indeed.
Well, we’ll see what happens. All i know right now is that Osama is a
pro-Liberal strategist, right? Score is going to be Rat 60%, El Grande 40%
if he’s lucky. My guess. El Grande lacks something. He seems to be the
Captain of the Second 18 who looks a bit lost actually being at the MCG.

Well, see you from stressed out, Omega Plus NY!

Geoffrey Batrouney

Crikey Subscriber in New York

CRIKEY: We have a worldwide network of subscribers and readers like Geoff and invite you all to contribute to yoursay in this way.

Is Bin Laden like Ned Kelly?

Dear Stephen and the Gang

I was listening to the repeat episode of Radio National’s Late Night Live
program hosted by Philip Adams on Wednesday afternoon 26 Sep 2001. Philip
had an Islamic commentator on who writes for the largest English language
paper in daily circulation in the Middle East. This very astute man made an
analogy which really made me stop and think. He likened the American
pursuit of bin Laden with that of the police pursuit of Ned Kelly.

I accept that it is a long bow to draw (there are a lot of differences
between Ned Kelly and bin Laden – and also of course similarities), but when
you think about it and how WE now think of, and celebrate, Ned Kelly, what
does this action hold for our future perceptions of bin Laden and the

Makes you pause for thought doesn’t it?

I’m all for those who protest against greed and exploitation but there is no
way I can condone the flying of planes into buildings, suicide bombings, and
in fact most acts of violence. I am by no means a terrorist. But I find it
hard to fully “be with” George dubya on this one.

As to those who would protest against globalisation, my experience is the
best way to protest against something is to get inside the system and change
it from within. Flapping your arms on the outside just gives you sore
muscles. You might as well bury your head in the sand as it ain’t going
away and the alternative (communism – and lets face it, that is the only
alternative) has been jettisoned by the vast majority of those nations that
took it up. Globalisation IS the natural order of capitalism and a protest
against globalisation is a protest against capitalism. Communism is far
worse for the environment, labour relations and human rights than
capitalism – just look at Chernobyl, the poverty of the Cuban’s and the
human rights record of the Chinese. Lets work within our liberal
democracies to protect the environment, human rights and labour rights.
Lets do this in a reasoned compassionate way giving assistance to those who
need it. I subscribe to the “help your brother first for one day you may
need him to help you” approach.

For me from a (recent) historical perspective, it is very interesting to
ponder those demands placed by the Americans on the British at the end of
WWII which led to the end of the British Empire and the weakened financial
position of that nation, and consider they may well now be appropriately
applied in the reverse order. Now faced with virtually the exact same
situation as that which led to WWII (disproportionate distribution of world
wealth) America seems unwilling to even hear the cries let alone swallow its
own medicine. Isn’t there some saying about the circular nature of ultimate
power and corruption?

Those who assisted the perpetration of the offences (for they are offences)
in Washington and New York need to be brought to justice. Nazi war
criminals were tried by a jury – the allied victors didn’t bomb the crap out
of an already defeated and emaciated people. The vengeful response to the
end of WWI in contrast is exactly what led to the situation which gave rise
to WWII. Perhaps George dubya and those who are “with him” could take a
lesson from history.

As to whether bin Laden and the Taliban are to blame, I’d like to see the
evidence, or know that it has been determined by an impartial justice
system, but they sound pretty unsavoury to me from what we’re hearing in the
respectable press (give up on the commercial mass-media).

The other thing which has got up my nose in the last couple of days is
thinking about Pauline Hanson’s maiden speech 5 years ago, which was
resoundingly condemned by both sides of parliament and to now appreciate
that for the most part she has got everything she asked for with the support
of both the Liberal National coalition and the Labor Party opposition.
Whilst the Democrats and Greens are a side issue in Australian politics, who
else is there for a thinking adult to vote for? Working on the philosophy
of fixing things from the inside, its pretty hard to see how you can make a

Thanks for the balanced viewpoint.


CRIKEY: The encouraging thing is that the Americans haven’t bombed anyone yet. And it is hard to argue against toppling the Taliban
given the repression, poverty and fanatacism they promulgate.

More people equals more government services

Dear Crikey,

Re Refo Myth #8 – Refugees and migrants create a demand for goods and
sevices – Very True

But why didn’t they mention that refugees and migrants also create
demand for government services. Gaols, courthouses, aged care beds,
public hospitals, schools, kindergartens, universities, welfare etc?

What the immigration lobby want most is more demand for multicultural
groups, immigration lawyers and others who suckle on the public teat.

I would have thought the success of Luxemberg and Switzerland would be
enough to end the more people = more wealth charade.

yours, dale

CRIKEY: This is true. Huge numbers of refugees would probably cost more than they benefit initially, but if a few of them become the
next Frank Lowy or Dick Pratt it is a different question altogether.

Who can Barns call a self-promoter?

I notice in the Australian today that Republican and media chatter box,
Greg Barns has been having a go at Monarchist, Sophie Panopoulos who is
running for a Victorian rural seat in Federal parliament. Mr B is hopping
from foot to foot ranting that she is a ” opportunist and total self
promoter and has gone up there for one reason, so she can get to Canberra”.

Excuse me? Did I hear that right? While I don’t support the Monarchist
argument and personally find Panopoulos severely irritating I do find
myself choking on my cornflakes this morning at what appears to be a two
faced tantrum from foghorn, Barns.

I understand that this confessed self promoter and media junkie has just put
his hand up for pre selection in Tasmania. I gather his motivation in moving
“down there ” is to make Denison and Tasmania a better community. Another
view of his motivation could be that he is planning a fast track to
Canberra on the left liberal banner so that he can bathe in his reflected
image in the Aus media and ultimately do Paul Keating impersonations from
the Lodge.


CRIKEY: Hmmm, that would be bit like Crikey accusing someone of being a self-promoter. Barns and I often joke about how we
are media tarts so it’s a bit rich him attacking someone else for it. Barns really took the Republican defeat hard and still
gets stuck into anyone who was a visible Monarchist. Anyway, Barns has not sent in this response:


Unlike ms Panopoulos, i have no interest in going to Canberra. I beleive that State government is a very effective form of government that is increasingly relevant to people’s lives in a globalised world. And futhermore, I have never said ‘don’t trust politicians’ the way Ms Panopolous and her cronies did two years ago.

Secondly, because i happen to have an interest in contributing to public policy debates I am suddenly a self-promoter. I assume that this criticism applys to any comenators who have been involved in politics. What a boring world it would be if one feared putting one’s head up on issues just because people like you want to snipe!

Greg Barns

Can I offer my services from Singapore

Dear Crikey,

Have just read with interest Ray Marcelo’s story from India and would like to offer my own humble services from Singapore. There is heaps of juicy stuff that comes out of this place but fails to see the light of day in the domestic media (for obvious and well documented reasons). As you know, Singapore has played an increasingly high profile role in corporate Australia in recent months. Being an Aussie on the ground here, I have often had cause to shake my head in wonder at what the Singaporean public get fed (and gratefully swallow) that is passed off as journalism.

Australia copped an absolute bucketing in the local press over the SingTel takeover of Optus. We were squarely pilloried not only in the (free) morning tabloids, but also by
the major broadsheet – The Straits Times. I think Australia should have fine tuned their argument to make the point that it was myopic organisations plagued with nepotism
such as SingTel that Australia objected to.

Then when the Tampa (en route to Singapore) sailed into the world’s attention, there was a deafening silence on the issue in the media here – except to re-produce the bare
facts off the wire reports. No one dared to raise the question of what the case would have been, supposing the Tampa’s captain had decided to continue his voyage to
Singapore – however hypothetical that might be. The fact is, people who come and stay in Singapore illegally are routinely jailed and caned before being returned to their
place of origin. Singapore, which is not a signatory to either the UNHCR Convention on Refugees or the Protocol, suddenly adopted a very neutral position to Australia.

The other thing that gripes me with regards to the media here is the shameless self-promotion that goes on. The Straits Times regularly features front page stories about
its latest service offering or money spinning venture. It then has the gall to call it NEWS! Where the media is owned and / or controlled in the way that it is here, it is little
wonder that the PAP have such a stranglehold on Singapore. They have today announced that contrary to what they had been promising as recently as two days ago,
Singaporeans living overseas will NOT be able to vote at the soon to be called General Elections. The reason given: Heightened security concerns for their overseas
Missions following the events of Sep 11th in the US! It reeks of a quick count of the possible damage that O/S Singaporeans could have inflicted on the PAP in a
globalised world.

If Crikey evers decides to open an office here in “Swingapore” (and supposing you could avoid a mandatory stay at the Changi Hilton), there would be enough material to
keep you going for a very long time.

Cheers and keep up the good work.

Name Withheld

CRIKEY: This gentleman has been signed up (not that he gets anything) as a new columnist and should be an inspriration to all you other
expats scattered around the world to become Crikey contributors in this globalised world.

Time for Yanks to review Middle East policy

Dear Stephen,

I must add my voice to the growing list of dissidents who must protest at the US response to the massacre in New York.

I am not surprised that the USA has launched into a macho, chest beating exercise to articulate its’ rage. I would, too, if one of my own were killed. But so might a Palestinian who has seen his country stolen inch by inch, and then sees one of his own killed as part of the “collateral damage” inflicted by a belligerent Israel.

Furthermore, I am not surprised that the USA has failed to publicly analyse its Foreign Policy in relation to The Middle East. If it were to undertake such a task, it might
find the truth extremely unpalatable, for the USA has consistently supported Israel, and bowed to influence from American Jews, and in doing so has marginalised the rest
of The Middle East. Much of US Foreign Policy is an act of political and economic terrorism, and the sooner Americans understand this point, the sooner we can move
away from the warmongering insanity that is currently prevailing.

Certainly, root out Bin Laden, for he is a psychopath, and those who follow him are not true Sons of Islam – the Qu’ran does not teach such contempt for life. But let Islam
deal with him in their own way, the world stands a far better chance of emerging from this crisis if we can prevail upon the Arab world to deal with him. And while they are
rooting out Bin Laden, as a show of faith, root out those US Military Leaders who wanted to strike first and ask questions later, for they are simply terrorists with uniforms,

David Burne

CRIKEY: I’m sure this is what the terrorists want to happen and it will be interesting to see if the Americans to buckle.

Let’s name and shame the dud directors

Good Day

I’ve had an idea and thought i would run it by you. Here goes…

Last nite i watched John Singleton on the sbs business show state
that the majority of directors had no idea what they were doing and
were merely on the earn waiting to die. This seemed to me to be a
truthfull statement borne out by plenty of recent corporate failures
in what appeared to be solid companies – pasminco, one tell,-
i could go on.

How do we make them more accountable, prevent the old boy network
sucking more corporate loafers into the system and lastly evict
those no hopers presently on boards?

Perhaps a start would be some kind of Corporate grave yard or
knackery where directors of failed companies could be sent to
account for their sins and recieve the recognition that their
failures deserve.

This could be a web site or even a book or magazine publication,
say once a year that names them, their backgrounds and all their
other Board positions. Anything that links them with their failures.

It appears the majority seem to regard investors with contempt.
Here is an example: This is in a letter from pasminco chairman Mark Rainer dated
23-11-00 after the agm:

“The board is confident of a return to dividend payment in
the current year as the benefits of our investments in Century
and Savage resources are realised”” What a load of crap.

They seem to have the attitude that if their incompetence
results in failure and loss of billions of dollars in shareholders
funds thay can simply wash their hands of it and move on.
They need to be made to understand that their incompetence
will be recorded and their reputations held accountable.

Just a few thoughts….

Regards, anon

CRIKEY: All in all a very interesting suggestion. I’ve long backed a form of skeleton watching and just don’t have the time to do
it separately from Crikey.

Prove the Ansett sick roster

Crikey, I don’t have the paper handy, but didn’t the story in the Oz say
that the bin Laden poster was put up in response to a pro-US poster? Not
that either action is particularly clever, but isn’t it a relevant fact in
the reporting?

And while I’m bitching, it’s easy to run urban myth-sounding items about
the Ansett staff like the Sick Leave Roster. Do you have any substantiated
facts about the comparative staffing costs between Ansett and Qantas? I
haven’t heard any apart from the over-generous redundancy provisions, which
wouldn’t, I’d reckon, have much effect on the day-to-day running costs?

Regards, Bruce H

CRIKEY: The sick leave roster first came from an emailer and then a mate mine confirmed that his flatmate was a hostie
for Ansett and she regularly telegraphed her rostered sick leave days when planning responsibilities around the house.
Agree with your point about the Bin Laden posters.

Don’t follow Michael Moore


I was worried about you for a while there. But thank God you have at last seen thru that fat slob Michael Moore. Take a closer look
at the program you compare Crikey to. He is very selective on who he attacks. One would have expected him to have used the misdeeds
of the Clintons for show after show but he seems to have not noticed. He has never tried to clean up any corporate board as you have
done, his game is shallow. For your own sake don’t compare yourself to him, ten minutes spent in the US would stop you doing that. Keep
up the good work, don’t get sidetracked.

John Delaney

CRIKEY: Some of his stuff is great but he is really too far left and obsessively anti-Bush to be taken that seriously in the month ahead.
That said, the mainstream US media should not blackban him totally and we’ll not censor his opinions from getting out.

How TWU bosses sold out to Virgin Blue

I enjoyed Stephen Maynes television spot about the benefits available to
former Ansett Airlines employees secured n their behalf by their respective

There is a piece of trivia that has not received an airing in this complex
debate which should come out of its closet.

The same Transport Workers Union (TWU) which has been beating its collective
chest over securing workers entitlements, is the same TWU which signed an
agreement with Virgin Blue which allowed that company to start up with wage
rates and benefits far less that those being paid to Ansett or Qantas

The deal the TWU struck allows Virgin to operate at more than $100 per
person per week cheaper than its rivals !

An enquiring mind would have to ask why a Virgin is worker worth so much less
the his or her counter-parts at Ansett and Qantas? This is a little bit hard
to reconcile particularly since all three airlines operate the same aircraft
(737’s) and operate next to each other at the airport.

Perhaps it is because the TWU covers the Virgin operation exclusively
whereas Ansett and Qantas has multi union coverage particularly in the
clerical areas so membership fees have to be shared with the ASU?
Or perhaps it is that all the Virgin Superannuation funds are paid into a
fund managed by the TWU?

It galls me to hear the rhetoric from the TWU about workers entitlements
when they have been party to an agreement which may well have been one nail
in the Ansett coffin which was being assembled by Air New Zealand!
Maybe we don’t need economic rationalism but some sections of the TWU
certainly needs to cultivate some economic reality.

These facts are easily checked and are matter of pulic record. Both the
Qantas and Virgin Enterprise agreements are available throught the AIRC

I apologize for using the anonymity of a hotmail address, but I work in the
industry and wish to do so for a few more years! Keep up the good work.


CRIKEY: Very interesting letter indeed. We’re looking forward to hearing from the TWU bruvvas to explain themselves
over this one.

Justice North was certainly not “picked”

Dear Crikey

I have been a bit distracted of late, and just got around to reading your note from the prolific Anon suggesting that I managed to “pick” Justice North to hear the Tampa refugee case.

I know conspiracy theories are terribly popular: they are a life raft on which the shipwrecked mind can paddle to safety, but the fact is that the matter was listed in front of the duty judge. He was the duty judge. I did not know who we had until he came on the bench.

More to the point, it would not have mattered to me who we got. Like most members of the community, I expect judges to do their job: administer justice according to law. I would be appalled if I thought any judge swayed from the right result because of what they, or Anon, imagines my political views to be. I can not think of any case I have done in my 25 years at the bar where I thought the judge favoured me, or favoured the other side, on account of the imagined political views of counsel in the case.

In Australia, cases are won or lost on the merits, not on the politics of counsel.

Very best wishes
Julian Burnside QC

CRIKEY: Well said Julian. A Liberal subscriber pointed out the coincidence that Justice North heard Burnside present argument on both the docks dispute
and the Tampa, but he’s dealt with that one effectively here.

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

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.

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.

Peter Fray

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