The Parrot for Parliament – what a joke

Hi Stephen

Did you see today’s Daily Telegraph article about the prospect of The Parrot taking a seat in the NSW Parliament.

The seat of Hornsby on Sydney’s northern outskirts held by the Libs by a margin of about 2.3 percent is being vacated by former Sydney broadcaster Stephen O’Doherty, who has been a raging non performer and Jones is rumoured as a likely candidate.

Telegraph is tipping Jones as leadership material. Sounds to me like an own goal for the Libs. Carr’s Government could have wonderful fun with Jones’ meanderings around London’s toilets and the cash for comment material.

Anon

CRIKEY: Well said, The Parrot is an absolute disgrace but we should encourage him to run as this would dramatically improve the collective ethics of Australia’s commercial radio industry.

Collingwood AGM and Eddie McGuire

Some comments on member 3506’s account.

There was only one life membership awarded (to Michael Christian). Two
other members (including the lady mentioned) received Special Service
awards.

The poker machine venue in Lilydale is already in existence. Collingwood
will have their name on the venue which will become a “club” under the
current poker machine legislation. Collingwood would probably pocket the
tax differential (one-twelfth of the gross loss by punters) less the
extra cost of conducting the business as a club. Currently half the
pokies in Victoria must be in clubs. You may have noticed that some pubs
are operating as “clubs” with “membership” and visitor “sign-in”.
Examples that come to mind are Royal Oak in Richmond (Richmond FC) and
Leighoak in Oakleigh (Melbourne FC). Thus Collingwood is not
contributing to any fresh self-inflicted financial misery in Lilydale,
which has plenty of other opportunities for those who don’t know what to
do with what little money they have. Nobody seems to have any enthusiasm
about opening a venue in Balwyn.

The meeting also passed a constitution amendment disqualifying any
member of or candidate for the board who has been convicted of
dishonesty which is punishable by a prison term of three months or more.
Obviously no current member of the board has any trouble with this
amendment.

At previous AGMs Eddie has promoted Brad Cooper’s role as a Sydney
resident and his access to the big boardrooms there. I do not agree with
him, as Cooper has always been associated with the more adventurous end
of the business spectrum, and his board associations would also be a
that end. I have seen no evidence of any real sponsorship money coming
out of Sydney, although I am prepared to be convinced.

CRIKEY: What’s going on here. This bloke is a Collingwood member and makes perfect sense. He appears to have all his teeth and his knuckles aren’t scraping on the ground.

In defence of Nick Xenophon

Stephen,

With regards to Charles Kingston Cameron’s line on the karaoke
disappearing from the SA Premier’s Christmas Party…

I would suggest that the disappearance of the traditional karaoke
from said party has more to do with exorcising the demon that was
Vicki Thomson.

Attendees at previous years events were more than familiar with the
sight of La Thomson being first up to the podium and belting out a
bracket of her favourites … and then playing guard dog with the
microphone, allowing only the “favoured ones” to participate.

The penchant of Buffy’s Chief Of Staff for karaoke was even documented
in the Advertiser on or about the time of her departure, when it was reported
that she got up in midst of the milling throng at the Fel Fella club one night,
and let rip with a heartfelt rendition of the Gloria Gaynor classic, “I Will Survive”.
How prescient!

The sad thing is, despite having the human resources skills of Jack The Ripper,
she can actually carry a tune. Perhaps if it doesn’t work out at Nick Minchin’s
office, she could always try out for “Popstars” !!!

We live in hope…

Now by contrast, I must take issue with your correspondent trying to make dodgy
implications about the lunch between Nick Xenophon and Nick Bolkus.

Nick X is the only man since Guy Fawkes ever to have entered Parliament
with honest intentions. And if your correspondent was at his Christmas Party, he
would have seen the cordial relations Nick enjoys with all sides of the house.

As his uncles slaved away over the hot coals barbecuing 60-odd kilos of octopus
at the now-lengendary Xenophon al-fresco Chistmas Party in East Terrace, your
correspondent would have noticed the attendance of not only Nick Bolkus, but
state Labor MP’s Mike Rann, and Michael Atkinson, as well as Liberal MLC,
Angus Redford, and ex-Liberal-now-independent, Peter Lewis.

As for the pathetic line about Nick suing the Treasurer. Guess what fella?
Nick was defamed, and he’s fought tooth-and-nail to stop we taxpayers footing
the bill everytime a pollie shoots his mouth off and lands themselves a defo writ !!!
But guess who’s stopping him?

(He’ll get no joy out of Labor on that one either. Who could ever forget former
Labor Health Minister, John Cornwall’s classic about “robber barons” – How much did
that one cost us again?)

I’m pleased the fact that they’re both Greek and MP’s was noted, perhaps
they actually might have something in common to chat about – Or perhaps they were
plotting to overthrow civilisation as we know it.

It’s not often I go into bat for a pollie, but Nick is one of the few straight up and down
blokes you’ll meet in the House. And more’s the pity he’s not running for the Upper
House again, because I reckon he’d piss it in!

I’d better stop there, I feel my cynicism running low. Better watch “A Current Affair” and
get a top up.

Regards, name withheld

CRIKEY: I agree that Xenophon is a good man and Australia needs more anti-gambling campaigners.

Alan “knuckles” Jackson has firestorm form

I for one was not at all surprised by Alan Jackson’s extraordinary behaviour as Chairman in punching his MD Greg Beatty last Xmas

Around 1995 I was involved with the Australian Manufacturing Council when Jackson was appointed Chairman in July, replacing John Prescott who had resigned.

The AMC strove for months to get a meeting of the Council but Jacko was always busy in the UK finishing off his involvement with BTR plc.

Eventually someone was able to contact him and got a date for a Councill meeting late in 1995 – about four months overdue.

When I contacted local board members, most of whom were senior execs themselves , of the calibre of Ron Mc Neilly of BHP, they all said the date Jacko had picked coincided with their own monthly board meetings and asked could I contact him to get some alternative dates?

The AMC duly faxed Jacko in London several times and getting no replies, but someone eventually managed to track him down and telephoned him to discuss their quite reasonable requests.

For their pains, this person copped a tirade of abusive bad language and rage the likes of which he had encountered rarely – all along the lines of “I am the chairman and I’ll call the board meetings when I f–ing like and who do those c—ts in Melbourne think they are, and if I have to start off as chairman by thumping an executive director thats allright with me ” etc etc

It went on for about 15 minutes at high speed full shouting volume. We formed the view then that the man was a either a maniac or that he had a serious personality defect that he could not cope with being queried even in the mildest of ways, which caused him to behave like one.

Certainly last years antics seemed to suggest that Beatty by reflecting on the need for changes to Jacko’s business strategy, unsuspectedly triggered off a similar
firestorm.

I am relieved to say I have nothing to do with Jacko now and that furthermore I sold out of Austrim several years ago before this year’s serious share price drop.

Cheers

Name Withheld

CRIKEY: He certainly got very abusive at Crikey when I questioned at the 1998 Austrim AGM for selling $40 million worth of shares at the top of the market.

How many innocent Afghanis are being killed

Stephen,

Thanks for taking up and publishing Robert Fisk who continues his endeavours to provide some balance in the reportage of the “War of Civilisation”. (I emailed you earlier
about a report that he filed that I caught a couple of weeks ago on the tele late (alas for me too late) on a Friday night.)

Robert has restored my faith. For a good while I thought that I was the only one on planet earth who remembered the genesis of the Taliban regime, who remembered who
had resourced and trained them and then deserted them. Everyone decent human being should have been shocked and horrified at the events of September 11 just as
they should be shocked and horrified by what is now happening in Afghanistan, because thousands more innocents are now being killed not by individual acts of
“terrorism” but by one of the most powerful war machines in the world. Sadly we are part of that.

For obvious reasons, there has been a concerted effort to condition us (mostly via the mainstream media) to believe that this is a good thing. Where is the logic in that?
Why don’t average Australian citizens find it equally repugnant that people are being summarily executed, that villages and villagers are being bombed out of existence not
because they are responsible for S11 simply because they happen to live in Afghanistan. And let’s face it how to they leave and where could they go these days?

And I guess part of the ultimate irony of all of this is that one day there may actually be a war crimes tribunal set up to investigate, retrospectively of course, the current
atrocities in this “filthy war”.

If it wasn’t for Robert Fisk and his ilk, we may all become Stepford Wives.

Keep doing ya best Crikey!

ps Given the “declaration of war” I wonder how the Prime Miniature will deal with Afghani’s refugee status? Should they now be considered “genuine”? You’re probably the
only one game enough to ask him!

CRIKEY: The Bin Laden video makes it pretty difficult to seriously oppose the yanks given that the Taliban and the terrorists appear as one but it is important people like Fisk get heard.

2BL spot and 2UE mention

I’m an avid listener to Talkback radio across 2GB, 2UE and 2BL but I do
certainly try and tune into your spot with Sally Loane each Friday. I find it most
interesting so thanks for that.

I like Sally but she gets arty farty often talking about museums,
sculptures etc. She should do more ‘rough & ready’ talkback and you know
what I bet she has never been west of Strathfield in Sydney judging by the
way she pronounces some of the street names which any proper westie would be
familiar with.

I see you got a mention this morning (Wed) on 2UE brekkie with Pricey’s
mate John Stanley. Some reporter was reciting about you being served a writ
by Bolkus’ lawyer with you in your Crikey suit. Was meant to be a funny
segment I think, but I was half asleep so its hazy. It’s not like Stanley to
mention you, in deference to Price.

Seamus

CRIKEY: I’ve never met John Stanley but he sounds like a decent sort of bloke. And Sally is a good broadcaster in my view, but I would say that as she’s put up with me for 2 years now.

Ruddock revelling in misery

To the staff,

Whilst I realise that you don’t have the resources of the big media groups, you do have a growing influence in certain areas. Is it possible to mount some sort of campaign
against P.Ruddock? I know Howard is a lost cause and is now in emperor mode but I watched Ruddock on the news last night and I’d swear blind he is ENJOYING what
he is doing. I don’t know what motivates this man (or this government) but he appears to be revelling in the misery he is helping to cause.

I have no particular brief about refugees one way or the other. There are bound to be be a few bad eggs in there somewhere, but if they are smart enough to get this far in a
boat, then they are absolutely smart enough to put one over numbskulls like Ruddock. I do know that the chap who was going to knock over the building in Melbourne
(yeah, right!) didn’t come here by the route Ruddock’s other terrorists are currently using. More likely up the comfortable end of the plane. None of those pesky kids around!

Is it just me who has a problem with Phil? If so, then I’ll drop off. But I don’t think that it is just me. Why not see what misery you can cause him. I know you are not fans of
his.

Regards, A reader

CRIKEY: Crikey just wishes he’d hand back the Amnesty badge pinned to his lapel.

Cop this you lefties

Campaigning 101

Nick Minchin and Santo Santoro came up with the idea of giving preferences to One Nation in the 1998 Queensland state election. We saw how successful that manoeuvre was. I don’t know how much input Minchin had in the last Queensland state election, but Graham Jaeschke is from South Australia and was mentored by Minchin. From this I conclude that when it comes to campaigning, Minchin isn’t one of the leading lights of the Liberal Party, left or right. (This doesn’t mean he hasn’t got other talents like number-crunching or policy development.)

The correspondent calls themselves a slavering Minchin Groupie and criticises Lynton Crosby, but they should understand some basic ideas of campaigning:

1. You can’t run on just one issue but you can run on one theme.

2. You have to show that the team can do the job.

3. Keep Santo Santoro out of it.

I said this earlier, but you only have to look at the Queensland state election campaign to know that you can’t run on one issue. It might have drawn back the One Nation vote, but it didn’t keep me onboard, nor my parents, nor the people I work with. We all voted Liberal because we didn’t like Simon Crean and we were scared of rollback.

As much as your Slobbering Minchin Groupie – and for that matter, a lot of your readers and Hillary herself – want to believe the election was a single issue campaign with no foundation of validity, it wasn’t.

Yes, border protection was an important issue, but that’s the nature of a small nation in the middle of a region where we don’t look like our neighbours. We’re not racist, we’re paranoid.

And in The Daily Telegraph today, Simon Crean said Howard didn’t win just on Tampa, he won on interest rates and lower taxes.

So there. Raspberry to the Slobberer and raspberry to all you myopic lefties.

Name withheld

CRIKEY: Yes but border protection and the Tampa were the most important contributor to the Howard victory because it won back half the 1 million One Nation voters from 1998.

Smallpox the most worrying bio-terrorist threat

Dear Crikey et al.,

A couple of minor nit picks at Steve Christov’s neat summary, from the perspective of someone who sometimes has to apply rather arcane knowledge for a living: I’m an infectious diseases physician who has spent almost as much time hosing down some “sky is falling” bureaucrats in the last month as I have trying to explain why their sarin attack scenario exercises might not be all that were required prior to the Sydney Olympics.

Smallpox (the disease is one word, the virus is called variola) is the potential biological threat which causes most disquiet. The last natural case was in 1977 (not 1997), though two people died from an accidental lab release in the UK in 1978 (three if you count the senior microbiologist concerned, who suicided). From Ken Alibek’s book Biohazard (Random House) we know that stocks of weaponised smallpox existed, outside the designated Russian stock, in the former Soviet Biopreparat organisation prior to 1992. It is a reasonable bet that some ex-Biopreparat scientists have exported their knowledge, skills and (possibly) seed stock of the virus, and that several states (Iraq included) have the capacity to produce expanded seed stock.

The disease, in respiratory spread, is most infectious in the week prior to the onset of the characteristic rash, which itself occurs 7-17 days after exposure to the virus. The problem is that most of us (other than Frank Fenner, who was instrumental in its elimination as a natural disease, and who remains one of the major international gurus of smallpox) have never seen smallpox, and probably wouldn’t pick it until at least two generations (i.e. one month) after it was seeded, by which time the disease would be beyond control. Vaccination prior to 1972 may provide some protection, but I wouldn’t want to bet my life on it (though I may yet have to). The US holds between 6 and 12 million doses of the vaccine (frozen since 1978) and WHO estimates there are 500,000-50,000,000 doses worldwide, although no-one knows how much still works, or who holds what. There is none in Australia. The US now has a program to re-produce vaccine, but it will not be on line until 2004. If you really want to see just how frightening a bio-threat smallpox could be, look up the Dark Winter bio-terrorism exercise via the Johns Hopkins Centre for Civilian Biodefense Strategies at www.hopkins-biodefense.org.

It is important to note that our knowledge of the actual potential of these agents as terror weapons is very patchy, and is still evolving. Extrapolations from the military models are dodgy. For example, most of our assumptions about weaponised anthrax were based on the Sverdlovsk incident (see Alibek, Meselson et al., Science 1997), but an analysis of the current US cases demonstrates both a much more potent spread (i.e. the outside of machine-processed mail) and a better outcome. By the way, reading between the lines, the US outbreak is domestic terrorism: the anthrax is weaponised (i.e. milled to a very small size, and containing the dispersal agent bentonite), but is not engineered to be resistant to penicillin or tetracyclines so it is not from the Soviet or Iraqi stocks. My guess is that it is ex-US military stock, “liberated” (by some good ol’ boys, given the location of the first two victims) from warheads supposedly destroyed in 1972. This may yet prove embarrassing for the Bush administration, given their stance on the UN Bioweapons Convention (due to be ratified in Geneva today), let alone the association of the GOP with the GOBs.

One final comment: these agents can work almost as well by fear and reputation as they can by actual release. So far the actual attempts to kill people using these agents have been fairly unsuccessful (Aum Shinryko tried twice with anthrax and once with botulinum toxin, failed to kill anyone, and turned to sarin), but the disruption caused by hundreds of anthrax hoaxes prior to the US cases will now be amplified. There has never been a detected bio-terrorist attack in Australia (apart from the rabbits), and I doubt that it will start now. I’m going to Chicago in December. Last month I would have put myself on ciprofloxacin before I went, now I don’t think I’ll bother – I’m more likely to get the shits from the treatment than from the disease.

Regards, Richard Lawrence

CRIKEY: Thanks for that. The original piece by our Gadget man’s brother Steve Christov certainly was excellent and this is adds to the picture.

Police over-reacted in Queensland

I have to agree with David Margan. The amateur video footage referred to clearly shows a Queensland Police officer hitting Simon Paul as he was slumped on the ground. Hardly a threat to anyone at that stage. In addition, it appears that half a dozen other police officers who were standing by waited for the officer with the plank to strike before moving in to subdue and make an arrest. With so many police in attendance and the alleged offender slumped on the ground, striking him with a plank seemed entirely unnecessary and attracted justifiable condemnation. One can only wonder what similar atrocities are committed outside the lucky view of amateur video.

Andrew Quinn

CRIKEY: The ACA yarn on the site has received a lot of traffic but the ACA certainly seem excessively feisty in defending themselves.

Don’t read this if you don’t like bad language

Disclaimer: This item contains naughty words. Readers of a delicate disposition and the editor should not continue.

Dear Hillary,

I read your article on Peter Nutty Knott with amusement, and some outrage. Your use of the expression ‘C*nt in the Cakeshop’ seems to imply that a cunt is a bad thing. Having enjoyed mine for quite a while now (and I’m told I’m not the only one), I think a c*nt is rather a good thing. I assume quite a few of your other subscribers, male and female, would agree that cunts should be celebrated, not denigrated. Why not call him a ‘cock in a cake shop’? Or perhaps a ‘prick in a pickle factory’? Or ‘testicles at a tea party’? What does a cunt in a cakeshop do anyway? I reckon everyone at Crikey is a bit of a c*nt, and I mean that in the best possible sense of the word.

All the best,

L (a cunt and proud)

CRIKEY: Fingers crossed that mum does not get to the bottom of yoursay.

Analyse Bolt’s practices, not just his politics

Dear Crikey,

I would be the last person to spring to the defence of Andrew Bolt. However, I did have one gripe about your recent article regarding him; it contained no conclusion that I wouldn’t have come to, had I actually bothered to read The Daily Meinkampf at any time over the last three years.

This seems to recall the downfall of Media Watch, which was that exposure of serious factual, ethical and technical breaches was gradually replaced by simply critiquing the political content of the media. There was no new angle presented to anyone who had actually seen it, while the likes of Laws, Jones, Zemanek and Sattler were exposed to a national audience. Let’s not forget that these shock jocks also benefited by criticism from the “left-wing” and “politically correct” ABC.

While I agree with your opinion of Bolt’s views, I fear that he is starting to achieve the notoriety that he so obviously craves.

Yours truly, Stuart Coe

CRIKEY: This is a fair point. The analysis of the editorials by Herald Sun editor Peter Blunden over the years is an example of it in action.

Col Allan out for the count

Crikey,

You do not need a short fuse to punch Col Allan. And this incident would put Mr Blunden in good company. Col was Deputy Editor/News Editor under John Hartigan when together they ran Murdoch’s short-lived tabloid experiment in Brisbane, The Daily Sun (before Murdoch bought Queensland Newspapers.) The Empire Hotel was right next door: a dangerous combination, especially for Col, who found himself in a couple of bouts during this time. Perhaps the nickname he picked up, Canvas Back, gives a clue to the outcome. Looking through the Couples List, I see Col and Sharon Bowditch get a mention; Sharon also worked on The Daily Sun and I believe this may have been where they met.

Yours, Crikey subscriber

CRIKEY: Col first met Sharon when she threw a full can of VB at him so she’s also pretty tough.

Costello not flying the rainbow flag

Dear Crikey,

I liked the Democrats article, particularly the bit about removing superannuation reform for same-sex couples from their leaflet. Hypocrites! But what does it say about the current political climate? I thought you might be interested to know that probable future PM and sometime Crikey hero Costello has consistently refused to even speak with any G&L group about same-sex superannuation reform. This is a man described by the media as a moderate! It would do all the parties some good if they realised that, unlike the 50s – when the only people brave enough to be openly gay tended to be flamboyant weirdos who wouldn’t vote for the right in a pink fit – the G&L community today is mostly made up of very ordinary, mainstream types who just happen to be attracted to the same sex. There is an increasingly large number of disgruntled G&L taxpayers who are sick of being under-represented by government. I doubt this will lead to L.A. style riots in the streets, but the world is growing up even if the Big Two don’t want to, and someone is going to miss out on votes if they don’t nail their colours to the mast soon.

Any more thought on the list of Australia’s biggest homophobes? You can put Costello on it for a start.

Keep on keeping on,

Dean G

CRIKEY: Piers Akerman would top the media homophobes list in Australia but he’s just taking after his boss Rupert Murdoch.

ABC antagonists critique the message and the medium

I have always found criticism of the ABC to be lacking in evidence and logic. In particular, certain critics, such as Frank Devine in The Australian and Mike Nahan from the IPA, resort to emotive language (“the ABC is captive to an aging clique of baby boomers”).

The ABC is more than ABC TV. The breadth of programs on Radio National, plus all the regional radio stations, plus JJJ, provide an enormous range of content and opinion. For the first week to ten days after September 11, Late Night Live with Philip Adams on Radio National presented a range of views from around the world which was absolutely astounding in breadth and unrelenting in quality. The information programs that JJJ comperes put to air – on health issues, for example – have been eye-opening for this aging father of two.

Blanket criticism of the ABC must be flawed. It stands to reason that each of these ABC operations work differently.

If, as I believe is the case, criticism is directed at ABC TV, then where is the evidence of bias? Is the ABC news biased compared to the commercial networks? Who defines this bias? Who has measured it? If the claim of bias is just a personal reflection, then there is no debate and it’s just a difference of opinion which need not, and probably cannot, be resolved.

Is The 7.30 Report flawed? Show me some examples. Compare it to A Current Affair or Today Tonight and provide some evidence that the material presented is biased. There is no commercial equivalent to Four Corners or Lateline but the same argument applies. It is not good enough to simply shout loudly that the “Absolutely Biased Corporation” can’t be relied upon.

As far as I can recall, the only independent studies which have been conducted into the ABC have always shown a bias-free presentation.

Let’s take a look at the alternative. Who would suggest that John Laws, Alan Jones or Jeremy Cordeaux present a balanced program compared to the various talkback or other non-music programs on ABC? Did A Current Affair on the day before the poll present an unbiased program?

The anxiety about the ABC may be justified, but those arguing it must prove their case, not simply state it loudly and often.

The debate about the ABC is a subset of the argument about the role of the elites. This undefined group apparently imposes its view on a world which struggles unsuccessfully to resist. The elites are those who argue a case through the avenues which are available to them. These avenues are the media which encourage this form of dialogue: newspapers such as The Age, SMH, The Australian and of course the ABC (as well as new media such as Crikey?). So, the criticism of the elites and of this media is interwoven. What is being railed against is not their content but debate itself; a denial of the right for it to be held.

Joe Hoogland

CRIKEY: And you can never get enough debate in any society. The ABC is the best media outlet in the country for fostering debate but they also need to be careful to do it in a balanced way.

Bad reaction to Bracks Babes list

I write in reference to the subject article published in your politics section, and at risk of appearing ill humoured or precious.

My wife, one of the people named on the list, alerted me to the article. She is very beautiful, very intelligent and eminently deserving of her position. This article (and other such things), despite all the disclaimers and the very poor satire, can only serve to suggest the importance of appearance, which is demeaning. It is very disappointing that an insightful journalist and critical website such as yourself and yours should publish any article which reinforces the vestigial chauvinism within the public service, as it undoubtedly has because by now it would have been accessed by a very large number of public servants.

I have no doubt that all of these women are talented, but I am equally sure that many (if not all) of them have had to fight – and continue to fight – the tendency of a male-dominated environment to patronise their competencies because of their gender. I know that my wife regularly has to overcome the box in which she has been placed by the men around her, and can easily catalogue examples wherein she has been denied opportunities offered to male colleagues.

The following quote from the body of the article should have been sufficient for you to recognise the inappropriateness of this article, or at least consider its capacity to offend and undermine the women concerned as well as all women in the service. “Before I start, the following is cheap, tacky, and an assault on women’s rights and ends up a bit like a racing guide – Joan Kirner please forgive me.” Why would any sensible person want to promote something that confesses to be “cheap, tacky and an assault on women’s rights”? For a few laughs? So somebody can get their perve list off their chest? To giggle with the boys whom you say constitute 85% of your membership?

I expect that crikey.com.au will recognise the inappropriateness of this particular article (even in the name of satire), and take appropriate steps by way of restitution to a lot of legitimately aggrieved women. I am suggesting the following complete course of action:

1. Publish an apology on the website.

2. Conduct an investigation into sexism within the public service, publishing the resultant article online (you should have no trouble with research as you now have a list of women who have something to offer).

3. Extend a direct apology to each person named.

4. And offer each person named a free membership of crikey.com.au.

I look forward to hearing how you have acted to address the damage my wife feels has been done to her.

David Sealey

CRIKEY: We took the Bracks Babes piece off after about 36 hours when one of the babes rang Mrs Crikey and put some moral pressure on. A bunch of blokes in the office have had some pressure about this and they are trying to say it was a few of the blokes in the press gallery who put it together.

Shocking performance from arrogant Qantas

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am a long time customer with QANTAS (frequent flyer number: 152-709), and until recently I planned on continuing to be one. That changed on a recent trip that my girlfriend, Renée Legare, and I took from Melbourne to Heron Island at the end of July. We were
supposed to fly from Melbourne to Brisbane to Gladstone on 24 July, and to fly from Gladstone to Brisbane to Sydney on 27 July. (See the enclosed ticket copies for proof of this.) Thanks to a series of blunders by QANTAS , we were inconvenienced on every leg of this trip, seriously so on the first leg.

We were supposed to leave Melbourne at 12:05 a.m., as the ticket makes clear. We arrived at the airport shortly after 11. When we
arrived at the check-in counter and handed over our tickets, the QANTAS agent frowned: “Sir, your flight left at 11:05 a.m.” I protested
that that’s not what my ticket said, and that short of being psychic, I had little way of divining this. Apparently the 12:05 flight was
cancelled, and we had just been rebooked on the 11:05 flight. He rebooked us again on a 3 o’clock flight to Brisbane, but this arrived too
late to make our connection to Gladstone, which in turn was the last flight to reach Gladstone in time for our helicopter to Heron Island.
In short, it cost us one night of our three night stay at Heron Island.

Our return was a comedy of errors at the hands of QANTAS. You will notice that our flight from Gladstone was supposed to leave at
18:30. We arrived at the airport a couple of hours early, planning to drop off our bags and to do an hour’s sightseeing before our flight. A
good thing that we arrived that early: the check-in agent said that our flight was leaving in ten minutes! We were dumbfounded. He told
us that we’d been rebooked; again, our scheduled flight to Brisbane had either been cancelled or was delayed. So off we went to
Brisbane, unexpectedly early, arriving with plenty of time before our “20:10” departure (again, please consult the ticket) from Brisbane to
Sydney. Soon after 19:30 we ambled to our departure gate. We realized that our names were being called over the P.A. system, and
when we arrived at the gate, the agents were frantically beckoning us to hurry up. “Now what’s going on?”, I thought. It turned out that
the flight on which we were rebooked-that word again!-was leaving at 19:40. We were never informed of this. A pity I forgot my crystal
ball and ouija board.

We flew on to Sydney, but Renée’s luggage did not-not, that is, until the following day.

By my count, that’s four avoidable nuisances. The last three we could deal with; but losing nearly a third of our time on Heron Island
really hurt. Indeed, “nuisance” understates it.

I have not had the opportunity to write sooner than this since I have been travelling around the world, and only now have returned
properly to my home (in California). I don’t know what your policy is on compensating justly aggravated passengers; I don’t even know
if you have one. But without any hysterical invective, I will say that unless I get at least some reward for our troubles (e.g. the
opportunity to upgrade on a future flight), I will have to reconsider my choice of airline.

Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely yours

Alan Hájek
Crikey Philosopher at Large

CRIKEY: We are more than happy to run complaints about Qantas so send them in.

Warby makes some good points

Hey there,

Michael Warby makes some good points. ‘Staff capture’ and poor management at Fairfax has long caused problems at the SMH too.
As Sydney’s population moves westwards, the Telegraph has scooped up the readers the Herald ignores or insults while it writes
for the AB’s in the eastern suburbs and lower north shore. It would be interesting to see where the hacks at Herald live these
days, I’d be backing a strong bais towards the yuppie ghettoes around the city. Weren’t the Olympics an interesting experience –
the first and last time so many of Herald lovelies have been seen so far west of Drummoyne. A newspaper can’t serve a city while
ignoring three-quarters of it.

Warby’s point about the Internet is an excellent one too – while Fairfax pours millions into a seemingly bottomless pit, smart
operators have been making good money selling news on the Internet and wireless platforms for a while. The ABC tried and came
close but ultimately failed for many of the same reasons. But it’s not their aim to make a profit is it? Fairfax hasn’t even tried
partly because it can’t get it’s staff to file short grabs in real time like their colleagues overseas have been doing for years. (Never
let it be said the MEAA helped stand in the way of progress.) Without that, their claim to be a 24-hour news source is pure
hyperbole since for most of the day it’s the same wire copy you can read on just about any major Australian website.

Still, who needs to make money when they’re winning all those lovely awards and producing top quality work like Margo Kingston’s
web diary? They’re not as good as they think they are. Nobody could be that good.

Mind you, New Ltd is similarly clueless in cyberspace, why pay US dollars for an e-copy of the Oz, when you can get an e-copy of
the New York Times for less?

cheers, Grumpy.

CRIKEY: I’m not aware of anyone who is making money selling news on the web in Australia at the moment.

Alan Jones a failed Liberal candidate

Crikey’s media article of December 11 describes Alan Jones as “a failed candidate for Liberal preselection”. This is not
true. In 1978, Mr Jones was the Liberal candidate in a by-election for the NSW state seat of Earlwood, vacated by the
ex-Liberal leader Sir Eric Willis.

The Labor candidate Ken Gabb won the seat easily. This was a genuine turning point in the fortunes of the ALP in
NSW, as before the by-election they had just a one seat majority in the Legislative Assembly. It established beyond
doubt Neville Wran’s authority, and set the stage for the ALP’s landslide win in the general election later that year
and Mr Wran’s long tenure as Premier.

Jerome Fahrer

CRIKEY: He’s still a loser and a goose. The Parrot is a complete disgrace and how he remains on air is beyond Crikey’s comprehension. Southern Cross Broadcasting CEO Tony Bell should grow a spine and sack the man.

Senator Winston Crane sets the record straight

Dear Mr Mayne

I read the following statement in your Website dated 3rd December, 2001
titled ‘Tuckey, Crane, Lightfoot, Campbell, Bishop, travel rorts, warfare
and Federal coppers’:

“The incentive scheme appears to work this way although
Crikey has not put this directly to the Federal coppers or the politicians
involved yet. If a politician charters to Kalgoorlie for instance, he will
be charged $1000, the cost of the charter plus a further 30 percent loading.
The latter figure is credited by the charter company to the
parliamentarian’s account, to which the parliamentarian then has free access
for his future personal use. The department is presented with an invoice for
$1300 shown as the cost of the charter and certified accordingly by the
parliamentarian.”

You then further state:

“As for Senator Crane’s charter arrangements, he is reported
in the Australian Financial Review as saying that “the effect of using the
bonus (points system) was that it increased by 30 per cent my flying hours,
which was to the benefit of my Western Australian constituency and that I
absolutely refute that I’ve used it for personal purposes.””

The first paragraph implies that the Loyalty Bonus scheme was a 30% loading
on top of the commercial rate. In fact, the opposite was the case. I paid
the commercial rate that, let’s say was $1,000. I was then granted a
further 30% flying time at no additional cost.

You further state that the travel incentive scheme offered by the airline
provided travel for personal use. This is not so. Any travel provided was
for official use. Further, a spokesman for the Special Minister of State
has been quoted as stating that the general principle that applied was that
it was permissible when used to defray the cost to the public of additional
travel by the member or senator.

I hope that you will publish this correction.

Yours sincerely

Senator Winston Crane

CRIKEY: Happy to publish Senator.

Crosby living in a fantasy world

I’ve been worried about a friend of mine since the election. He’s spent
some time pondering that parallel universe where September 11 was just
another day, the Tampa rescued no one and Labor’s ‘small target’ strategy,
combined with the unpopularity of a visionless, mean-spirited government,
delivered Prime Minister Beazley a large majority. I’ve worried about my
friend, but his fantasy is still more sensible than Lynton Crosby’s
attempts to re-write history.

Bruce Hogan

CRIKEY: Howard obviously told Crosby to try and undo the huge damage done by the fear campaign so full marks for trying to save a bit of Liberal face but he completely failed.

Age failing to do their own research

Dear Crikey,

A further comment on the Age’s coverage. I am staggered at how often they
simply lift their articles and opinion pieces directly from the Guardian,
New York Times, Washington Post and the Telegraph. I can only assume that
it is cheaper to buy the rights to someone else’s copy than to use some
originality and creativity.

The big disappointment is that no-one is taking a good hard look at these
issues as they pertain to us. That is, our treatment of asylum seekers, our
perception of Islam, and our relationship with our Islamic neighbours. The
very fact that papers like the Age simply present us with the American and
British view means that we don’t get a chance to look at things from our own
perspective.

Brett

CRIKEY: It must be difficult for The Age given the cost-cutting environment being imposed on them from management but at least they do have a couple of people in the war zone, unlike the Herald Sun and Daily Telegraph.

In defence of A Current Affair

Stephen,

Normally i would not defend ACA but on the issue of Scott Paul i will take
exception. A viewing of the video evidence quite clearly shows that the
offender had been subdued by the capsicum spray (cowering on the ground
rubbing his eyes) before being belted with the post. Whilst i agree that
this may be preferable to being shot i would still suggest that it was
totally unnecessary.

Whilst it must be difficult to check all information you receive i would
suggest that given how easily it could have been checked (i.e. by actually
watching the video) and the seriousness of the issue, that perhaps more care
is required in future.

Regards, Name Withheld

CRIKEY: That David Margan bloke does appear to have gone right over the top in his response and this was a questionable family to be doing deals with.

Peter Fray

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