Comments from Crikey readers:

Not enough reward for Liberals in state parliament

Have you wondered why the Libs are doing so poorly on state politics?
Well certainly one reason is very well put in Bob Carr’s recent book
when a prominent solicitor was asked to run for the Libs and simply
replied that the MP salary wouldn’t even keep his kids in private

Many of the Libs traditionally came from the professions, law, medicine
but particularly business and finance. However the average Sydney mid
age salary for these professions would be in excess of $300,000 and
more than $500,000 if you are half decent. Why would someone step back
to $102,000? For an ex train driver like Costa this might look pretty
good but for a professional it is a paltry sum.

I think the oft-quoted phrase is very apt: pay peanuts get monkeys!

As to retirement and super keep in mind that you have to be in
parliament for two sessions to get the goodies. For an independent like
me that is very difficult now the upper house has changed rules thereby
making it less attractive for any independent to consider running. It
all has the effect of concentrating power in the big parties which is
what they want I suppose.


Is the US-Aus FTA really like US-Canada FTA?

Meanwhile, a new contributor makes comparisons between Canada’s embrace
of a GST and a free trade deal with the US and the fate of John
Howard:  Conservative Canada’s NAFTA

Well, there are some major differences:

Firstly, Howard didn’t sneak in a worthless 3% GST which only made for
paperwork. He brought in a useful 10% which allowed tax cuts elsewhere.

Most importantly is that unlike Mulroney, Howard put the GST to the
electorate, and they voted for it. A first anywhere. All complaints
about GST as a policy (and some of them were mine) were null and void
thereafter. End of discussion.

I think Howard would be delighted if the next election became an FTA
referendum, notwithstanding your correspondent’s obvious and ardent
affection for Labour. If Latham is wise, he won’t paint himself into a
corner on this issue just to coddle the loonies.


Socialist farmers can’t negotiate a trade agreement

Why would we ever put the farmers party in charge of negotiating an
international trade deal. Seriously when has the National Party and the
farmers they represent been a hot bed of trade negotiators. They work
behind protected single desk sales houses that do all the hard yards
doing the actual trading. Most of the failed farmers who end up as NP
MPs have never been involved in real business negotiations outside of a
saleyard, and it’s quite clear that Vaile, Truss and Anderson are way
out of their depth when it comes to doing business with the Americans
and simply cut the best deal on offer knowing that’s really all the
short man wanted in the first place.

To call this a Free Trade Agreement is an insult to the English language. It’s a managed trade agreement.

The biggest joke for me, is that I own two companies in the US and I’m
quite happily doing business in the US and have faced no restrictions
or obstacles. So listening to Costello ramble on about how this gives
us access to the world’s biggest market is laughable. I’m already there
and so are thousands of other businesses.

Meanwhile, I await for the full agreement details to be releases and
hope that they do address critical issues in the area of taxation and
residency. Though I doubt the failed farmers ever thought of those

The Space Cadet

In defence of Andrew Bolt

If you’re going to continue with your cheer squad in favour of David
Marr and against Andrew Bolt with regard to the reasons for going to
war with Iraq and the Hutton Report, then better mention today’s
editorial in The Australian which doesn’t support David Marr and brings
some of what you consider to be Andrew Bolt’s “rant” into mainstream
polite conversation.

By the way, re Kevin Rudd’s “pack of cards” reference, what on earth
does a pack of a cards do except sit there waiting to be dealt?  A
“house of cards” is probably the metaphor towards which he was
customarily groping.


Train driver shortage or silks driving suburban trains

Before Christmas the Premier was rather cold blooded about the loss of
legal jobs due to his tort “reform”.  “Let them retrain!” he
cried.  I say, “Let them entrain!!”  Costa should approach
the jobless personal injury lawyers and implore them to put their years
of uni and legal experience to work as train drivers.  However I
am confident that we can count on plenty of claims as Carr & Costa
seem bent on making our public transport and health systems the most
hazardous on the planet.

Terence O’Riain

Who was it who left students in charge of $12 million?

As a Melbourne University student for the last 7 years now (no not
doing an arts degree) I read your column on the winding up of the
student union with interest. Whatever the responsibility of those
involved -the University administration must surely wear some of the
blame. It is the only University to allow a single entity, run by
students, to control a $12 million budget. It was apparent all those
years ago when I started at the university that the union was
non-functional. The facilities are clearly 5th rate for a university of
its size and budget. Yet the university sat back while the amenities
fee was evidently not being used to provide services or bring buildings
up to scratch. It is wholly consistent with the University’s attitude
to students generally -give us the money and don’t bother us.


CRIKEY: The death of a $12m Student Union

Intra campus smear campaign

Arthur the Undergrad’s article ‘The death of a $12m Student Union’ (11
February 2004) brings back distant memories: I spent several months in
a La Trobe University share flat in late 1993 with Dean Sherriff, and
future LTU SRC president and Glencairn Ward councillor Robert
Larocca.  The 1993 editors of LTU student newspaper ‘Rabelais’ had
published a ‘Ballad of Dean Sherriff’ that pilloried his political
scheming and quasi-grifter style.  The smear campaign against
Graham Cornish is reminiscent of the tactics that hardline right
politicians used on LTU’s campus in the early 1990s (Sherriff had a
1902 message service for the 1993 election).  Finally, it’s not
surprising that Sherriff left MUSU with his files: he was just as
cautious in his flat, always keeping his room and filing cabinet
locked.  His easygoing flat-mates thought this was over-paranoid,
so one evening they broke into his room and trashed it.

Alex Burns

An Open Letter to Frank Hough

So Frank, you’re fed up with Aboriginal people being treated as
special?   OK then, in the next sitting of parliament you

1. Call for the legal recognition of inherent indigenous sovereign status.
2.  Demand that indigenous people are free to exercise the
territorial rights, and self-determining and self-governing powers that
typically flow from this, and
3. Call for the amending of the Australian constitution accordingly.
If that happens, they will no longer be special.

Stephen Hall
West Perth WA

CRIKEY: Ravings of a One Nation racist – Frank Hough

How the bank made those big profits. Which bank?

Steve Murdoch would have been proud as terrorism again visited Mount
Isa earlier this week, although instead of a big-time supplier gouging
the small-time local mining concern, this time it was the big-time bank
attempting some rough trade with a small-time local football
team.  Not content with the record billion dollar half-year
profit, the bank tried to pick $500 out of the club’s pocket as a
‘cash-handling’ charge.  The only thing missing from the bank
clerk was a balaclava and imitation firearm as she attempted to
highjack the Waitangi Day takings, but she didn’t reckon upon the
response from one of the few genuine tough men still left. 
There’s a reason why he only shaves once a week – mirrors are
expensive.  The intimidation worked, however you can bet your ass
he’s checking the statement every day, and God help the bank if the
charge comes through…

Hillary Bray on Murdoch and Blair

Thanks Hillary Bray for the Murdoch Blair Media Watch comments. 
Perhaps we could get the conspiracy theorists (lets use contheo’s to
save keyboard time) really salivating by getting the linkages all
tidied up.

George W gets an honorary Murdoch guernsey because of Fox reporting his
victory in Florida 2000 before the event, and subsequent lack of
interest in anything even remotely contentious to do with Dubya’s
history getting airtime on Murdoch media.

In turn this will link with the Downer “anti American” outburst
directed at Mark Latham in Parliament on Feb 11th.  Have we heard
“anti American” somewhere before?    Could it be
O’Reilly on FOX?  Intriguing that in the USA “anti American”
accusations are trotted out by the neo cons every time a Democrat says
anything left of Murdoch.  But here apparently only Mark was
guilty of plagiarism for his “ladder of opportunity” comment.  So
are we to assume Alexander is a Murdoch sympathiser and by default a
neo con?  Could it be that he and other Liberals believe George W
Bush was legitimately elected?  This is becoming quite serious.

This all tidies up perfectly if you bother to do a google search
containing the words Bush Nazi Blair Carlyle Bin Laden and find
yourself in a world of real contheos.  The end game is belief by
mantra repetition, innuendo and association.  The old “have you
stopped beating your partner yet?”    Four of the
aforementioned have strong historical connections.   Only one
has current relevance with no historical links.

It is true the Bush family sold German War bonds during WW2, it is true
the CIA whitewashed many Nazis into the USA after WW2 (Operation
Paperclip) It is true the Carlyle Group includes George Bush senior,
John Major and James Baker. It is true they had Bin Laden money in
their portfolio up to and briefly beyond 9/11, it is true the Carlyle
Group has massive income from rebuilding Iraq.  So daddy Bush with
his families historical Nazi connections gets rich on Dubyas war
against bin Laden sympathisers and American and Australian taxpayers
pick up the bill..

All of this is so much waffle of course, however true. The real picture
is much more definable.     Australia can and
should continue to be active supporters of a strong and continuing USA
/ Australia alliance.  What needs to be questioned is should that
alliance continue at a “damn the consequences” level during the
incumbency of a President who many believe less than firmly
grounded.  How much confidence can Australians have in Australian
politicians who follow the Bush and Rumsfeld agenda blindly?  By
contrast, search Australia CIA Whitlam and 1974.  Of course now we
have an FTA this justifies all doesn’t it?

CRIKEY: Read Hillary Bray here Murdoch and Blair vs the rest