Honesty and the Queensland election

What’s the difference between political activity and legitimate
government function?   Don’t ask Labor, its Ministers have
for several weeks been issuing media releases (through the Government
media site) promising all sorts of capital works “if elected”.

We can only hope the Labor Party machine will ask for an accurate
costing of the preparation, approval and dissemination of these
election carrots so it can properly reimburse the people of Queensland
for the expense incurred.

And please, no rhetoric on “responsibility to inform the people”!

NAB: Keep the whistle blowing

The looseness of the NAB’s systems do not end with currency trading,
but also affect smaller investors.  In an administrative bungle
the NAB stopped charging interest on two loans for a period of 18
months, until I highlighted the problem.  Not surprisingly the
same thing had happened to a colleague with the NAB.  When I
requested to know why did this happen, who was responsible for the
error and why wasn’t it picked up earlier, a senior manager at the NAB
put it down to human error without a name and inadequate systems.

 A poor excuse, given the information rich environment.  I
remarked to the senior banker that this type of activity does not
inspire confidence in one of Australia’s largest companies.  He
disagreed and highlighted the record $5B plus profit they made last
year and left me to ponder how good that result might be if they got
their systems right.  How good indeed!  Yes it was remiss of
me not pick this up earlier and every statement now gets rigorously
checked.  I would urge all readers to do the same.  Frank-ly
it’s either time for a pay cut or time for someone to quietly leave the
building without a large bag of money.


Dumbing down The Australian

As a reader of The Australian, I’d like to bring your attention to the
extraordinary dumbing down of the nation’s once proud daily newspaper.
What on earth do the editors think they are doing running stories like
the following on page 3 today, complete with paprazzi shot:

Crowes shape up for parenting role, by Sophie Tedmanson

“Parenthood has done wonders for Russell Crowe and Danielle Spencer,
who are looking trim and terrific just weeks after the birth of their
first child, Charlie.”

News story or mindless New Idea-style crap? It goes on…

“Spencer, 33, has lost her post-baby bump just a fortnight after giving birth prematurely to her 2.8kg boy. “

Just lost her post-baby bump? That’s because the f*cken baby just came
out, and it took the f*cken bump with it.  What sort of market do
Michael Stutchbury and Chris Mitchell think they are
aiming the paper at?

Of the people I know who read The Oz, each and
every one of them cringes at the pathetic tabloid garbage being run on
a regular basis, particularly on pages 3 and 5. What the editors deem
to be worthy colour stories are mere fodder for the glossy mags read by
brainless morons with little else to do.

It’s a sad day, the day one of Australia’s bravest, most unique and
intelligent newspapers sells out to the PR merchants and wankers who
dominate most of the mainstream media. As a long-time reader, I expect
a much higher standard from The Oz.

Pick up your act, editors, or you’ll lose yet another reader.


What sort of an ignorant twit is Greg Barns

The Danish monarchy are no more responsible for the policies of the
Danish Government than the Australian monarchy are responsible for what
goes on in Canberra.

They are a symbol of national unity and obviously a pretty good one, as
we’ve heard more about Denmark in the past few months on the telly,
than probably the past 10 years put together – good for their tourism
industry, I’m sure.

The Danish monarchy bravely remained behind when the Nazis took over
their country during WWII, a quiet symbol of resistance to
tyranny.  Denmark saved practically all its Jews from the
holocaust, by smuggling them over to Sweden.  Meanwhile, in
neutral republican Switzerland, refugees claiming persecution on the
basis of race were prohibited from crossing its borders, and Swiss
nationals who smuggled them sent to prison.

As for his statement “all monarchies are evil”.  If I’m not
mistaken, the majority of the world’s longstanding (ie. more than 60
years old) liberal democracies are monarchies.

So Denmark defies the EU thought police!   Good for them.

As for Australia, Give me the iron boot of the Mountbatten-Windsor
tyranny any day, rather than have to abide by the decisions of the
European Court of Human Rights, or whatever UN committee, Barns would
install in its place here.

Alan Dungey

Nothing’s rotten about the state of Denmark

I have just read failed republican campaigner, sacked Liberal candidate
and now failed member of the failing Australian Democrats, Greg Barn’s,
raving about the visit to Tasmania by the young Danish royals. I have
just had a Danish couple at my Bed & Breakfast business and we
discussed this fine young couple and the popularity of the Danish royal
family in Denmark. I fail to see what his snipe concerning Muslims and
against a current Danish MP (if true off cause because you can never
trust a republican) has to do with the royal family.

During WW2 neutral Denmark was occupied by the Germany’s and the Danes
resisted using civil disobedience and strikes (the whole population).
Also the Jews in Denmark were successfully hidden in Danish homes and
then secretly evacuated at night to a third country (Sweden I think)
under the noses of the Germany. My B&B guest, as a 7-year-old, had
a Jew in his house and he was told to say he was an Uncle. I rest my
case Mr Greg Barns – so get a life !!

Adrian Jackson, Progressive Liberalism Organisation
Middle Park, VIC

The value of researching before writing

In what can only be described as an incoherent ramble, in a letter to Crikey – Yoursay, Jan 13
– Adrian Jackson of the Progressive Liberalism Organisation criticises
Helen Shardey, Ian Carson, Lee Pervis  and an Equal Opportunity
Commissioner for themselves failing to criticise the actions of an
animal liberationist who tainted live sheep exports with pork.

Jackson’s reasoning seemed to be (and I use the word ‘seem’ because the
letter was so appallingly written) was that because pork was offensive
to Muslims – equal criticism should have been made of the animal
liberatarian as was made of Mr Jackson himself (when he compared Ariel
Sharon to Robert
Mugabe and Slobadan Millosovic). However, Mr Jackson should consider
doing some research before attacking people in such a manner, as pork
is just as offensive to Jews and even certain Hindus as it is to

Adam Schwab

Telstra outsourcing outside Australia

I’m a Telstra shareholder and a Telstra client (business).  If
they choose to outsource IT or other support services to foreign
countries I intend to sell my shares and move my accounts to another
provider.  I’ve stayed with Telstra because it’s Australian owned
and the assumption for me is that the benefits come back to
Australians.  I suggest I’m not the only shareholder/client who
feels this way and there would be many of us who are prepared to “walk”
if you don’t support this country and our workers.

Di Cook

Unemployment Figures

To the anonymous letter writer of 14/01, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, not Centrelink, collate the
unemployment figures.

Going on memory from first year economics, the ABS surveys only one per cent of the population who
are actively seeking work. Economists acknowledge that the official unemployment rate is not a true
reflection of the true rate because, amongst other reasons, some people have given up looking for work
and therefore not counted as unemployed.

The author outlines various situations in regard to Centrelink and unemployment benefits and these
situations could well be true, Centrelink does produce the official unemployment figures.

I might add studying economics helps you to become an informed citizen – thanks Uni of SA

Robert Henderson
Redfern NSW

Re the letter on the official and unofficial unemployment rates

What I find amazing is that the figures are not compiled by simply
counting the number of dole forms handed in.  The figures are
compiled by a phone survey of 1000 or so people who are asked if they
worked for more than 2 hours over the past week.

What a great way to be able to distort the figures, simply change your
sample (as happened last year) and bingo a lovely new lower
figure.  Why not simply count the number of forms?

Would this show that the real unemployment rate is actually closer to 15% than 5%?

Hobart TAS

Heigh-ho from the watermelon patch!

While it may be interesting to many – including my good self – to point
out all the various internal hatchings and matchings that go to make up
our media sector, could you explain why exactly all these relationships
merit so much time and space on your website.

One presumes that Crikey assumes a role as watchdog over the nefarious,
spicy, sometimes just plain titillating comings and goings in your
chosen areas of concern – politics, media, etc. Just listing who is
whose whom seems to me to be little more than padding, unless there is
some suggestion that /all/ such relationships are more than potential
conflicts of interest or examples of nepotism.

Am I being ingenuous in believing that it seems natural that such
relationships should exist? For example, I don’t find it surprising or
unnatural that Will Hagon’s son should have similar inclinations to his
dad’s. And I’m not just picking on them. By the way, I didn’t see the
names of Mr & Ms Crikey in the list, and you both seem to be pretty
involved in keeping this website going that some of us love to

By the way, is the latest weather presenter on Nine, Nuala (I think)
Hafner, any relation to a certain celebrity cook of the same last name,
who seems to get a lot of media time. Not that there’s anything wrong
with that!

‘Til next time,

The problem with “funded” super

May I suggest that your concern over unfunded government super is crap?
And that the real concern should be over the “funded” super of the rest
of us?
Judges, pollies, older public servants and soldiers are essentially on
pension schemes – “defined benefit” funds.  Typically, on
retirement they get a percentage of final average salary to live on for
life – or they can take a lump sum if they think they are about to die
of some nasty disease.  So the government has to fund that pension
for some years to come.  Some similar schemes exist in “private”
enterprise, and legislation requires that the employer has given enough
money to the trustees to meet the actuarial estimate of the workers’
entitlements ie that the schemes be fully funded.  You seem to
want government to meet the same funding standards.
But there is a huge difference between government and business. 
Companies can become insolvent, in a way government can’t (or only
rarely can).

Contrast the position of the majority of us, on accumulation
schemes.  We know the statutory 9% employer contribution is not
enough to provide a decent retirement income.  Most employees have
to join the super scheme determined by their employer.  The
investment of the moneys is decided by funds managers, good, bad and
indifferent.  Self-employed earners get to choose the scheme they
will invest in but unless they are unusually wealthy, still have no
control of the investments.  No one guarantees the final result:
there is no guaranteed pension, lump sum, or other amount on
retirement.  Government forces us to invest in superannuation, but
refuses to back the outcome.  If the markets are kind and the
managers have been good punters, we may be ok; if not, there is always
selling the Big Issue to fall back on.
The real debate is not over whether government pension schemes are
fully funded.  Judges, senior bureaucrats and our semi-armed
services generally deserve the decent benefits they get, and are not
(legally) able to line their pockets other than with their statutory
salaries.  There is a small fight to be had over the extent of the
benefits given to our politicians.  The real problems are first,
to provide a reasonable hope of a decent retirement for the rest of us;
and second, how to change this system in which most of us are forced to
invest in huge funds, which can and do horribly distort the markets,
but are given no voice in their operation.
The pink eagle

Peter Fray

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