Our new Yoursay looks at the popularity of the Grand Prix, our GG
missing in action as Australia’s Head of State, freeway tolling, Andrew
Bolt on The Passion and some datable on whether or not the RPK is a
light or heavy machine gun.

The vanishing Grand Prix

Interesting to see the National Nine News last night in Brisbane
carried absolutely no mention of the Australian Formula One Grand Prix
in either news or sport. Even women’s golf and the soccer
Elimination Final got a mention, but not a whisper from Bernie and
Ron’s Circus.

Isn’t it amazing how events simply disappear from your news list when you no longer own the rights to them.

Jack Pitt
(A Queensland motor racing and media fanatic)

PM as Head of State and our missing G-G

I read the piece “Dude, where’s our Governor-General?” with
interest. Couldn’t agree more! I wrote a letter to the editor at
the Herald Sun last year and, as a result, got a spot “Shouting” on the
ABC TV Insiders.

To top it all off I see that our G-G has finally carried out a
legitimate Head of State type task (pinning a medal on Nancy Wake) but
he did it IN LONDON! What’s his actual status in London? Does he
represent the Queen when he’s there? (don’t think so). Given that no
one in his home country recognises him I doubt he’d be mobbed for his
autograph in London.

Also begs the question – who was acting as representative of the Queen
while Mike was over there and did that stand-in actually do anything?
Did they stop the charade and actually appoint Little Johnny as acting
G-G? Might be hard to get it back off him when Mike gets back. Though
Peter Costello may have taken over as PM so JH can continue as G-G.
Gets complex doesn’t it?

Another point you might like to look into… the ‘Australians For
Constitutional Monarchy’ website – www.norepublic.com.au – has two items
in its ‘Hot News’ section which state that Paul Keating would have
titled an Australian republic the “Federal Republic of Australia”. This
is simply untrue. Paul Keating said in his speech to the House of
Representatives on 7 June 1995, “‘Commonwealth’ is a word of ancient
lineage which reflects both our popular tradition and our Federal
system, and we propose that the Australian republic retain the name
‘Commonwealth of Australia'”.

The author of the two items is the National Convenor of the ACM, Prof.
David Flint. Since he’s also Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting
Authority, should not Prof. Flint ensure that his words published on
the medium of the Internet reflect the truth?

Mike O’Shaughnessy

Why the present Government is not so good

Wonderful how one of your recent letters contributors can complain to
you about bias in reporting on the Howard Government while at the same
time declaring his own one-eyed support.

Just a few points opposing Regkat’s ideas. Top of the list
must be his complaint regarding Kevin Rudd and what a clown he would be
as our Foreign Minister. Regkat, I could declare that Kevin
Rudd excites me not at all as a Foreign Minister, EXCEPT when you
consider that the current Foreign Minister is Alexander
Downer. That’s right Regkat, Lex Downer. Even
Billy McMahon would have a chance of looking good against
Lex. Give me Kevin Rudd and a hatful of arseholes in
preference to Lex, Kevin Rudd and the plague instead of
Lex. Anyway, you get the point.

In terms of economic managers, Regkat still labours (sorry) under the
impression that the Libs are the better economic managers.
I know this is the accepted truth for many in the electorate, but it
doesn’t stand up so well on reflection. While Whitlam was
an economic joke, every western democracy went to hell and back at the
same time due to the oil price shock and the emergence of
stagflation. Whitlam wasn’t able to do anything about it,
and some more knowledgeable than I would be able to tell you how much
he contributed to it, but every other western democracy got screwed so
how were we going to avoid it? In economic terms, Whitlam
appeared at the wrong time.

As for the Fraser/Howard Liberal Government, don’t tell me they were
great economic managers. There wasn’t one thing they did to
restore order. Honest John left us with 11+% unemployed, 10+%
inflation and an $8billion black hole.

Then there was 13 years of Labour in which the country finally got
moving again and was restructured to take on this New World
order. The Liberals inherited from Labour the most
fundamentally sound economy in the western world where the benefits
were going to flow through no matter who was in government. The
liberals have done one thing of significance economically, a GST, which
rates as a 10th order economic reform compared to Labour’s efforts.

Just because the general public may consider the Liberals to be the
better economic managers doesn’t make it so. An accurate reading
of history will tell you that the 13 years of Labour was when all the
big moves were made. We’re back to taking fairy steps again with
the archconservative as boss.

Anyone can be biased. It’s a bit ironic to complain about
others faults while displaying your own so vividly.
Regardless of which side you support, the Howard government is in
terminal decline because they have no agenda other than staying in
power. That is why Crikey should continue to harass this
high-taxing third-term disaster we call Johnny Howard.

Thanks for reading.

Andrew Lewis

CRIKEY: See what Regkat had to say in our last Yoursay

One lousy bottle of wine

There is no doubt about the trouble female cabinet ministers cause in
Queensland – Liddy Clarke, Judy Spence and Merri Close to name three
recent examples.

However, the fuss made over one lousy bottle of wine is out of all
proportion to its importance in Queensland politics. The bottle, in
question didn’t hit the ground. so what offence was committed?

It seems everyone on the plane knew about it so is Premier Beatemup
going to sack the pilots as well as they were the people in charge of
the plane.

Do Qantas staff throw bottles of alcohol out the windows or pour
bottles of wine down the gurgler every-time their plane lands in a
Muslim country where alcohol is prohibited? I don’t think so.

If I had to travel to the remote Lockhart River and spend time
there I would certainly appreciate a glass of booze on the way home. By
the way who consumed the wine anyway?

Surely there are more important things like health, welfare and
education to debate and make news headlines than this relatively
unimportant matter.

Queensland the smart state – I don’t think so.

ER White
South Brisbane

Freeway tolling and travel demand

I saw Robert Corr’s letter, Yoursay 5 March, regarding Peter Costello’s attack on Bracks
over freeway tolling. There were some good definitions there but I
would like to expand on the issue of tolling.

Unfortunately (though I suppose there is some economic benefit) there
is a phenomenon known as “induced travel demand” whereby the
construction of an attractive new highway results in an increased
number of trips between destinations. This results in a new freeway
running at full capacity years before the projected estimate.

Apparently the M5 ring road in London achieved its 5 year projected
traffic volumes 12 months after opening and its 10 year volume a few
years after that. The stretch of Pacific Highway between Brisbane and
the Gold Coast has had a similar effect of increasing traffic between
the 2 cities.

Tolling is an effective means of managing travel demand and is equitable so long as cheap and efficient
alternative modes of transport are available.

Brian Marshall

Freeway question for Peter Costello

Funny that NSW and Qld are building ‘motorways’ these days.
Funnier still that some of these ‘motorways’ have tolls, and some
don’t. A useful neutral term, ‘motorway’.

Even funnier is that some of those with tolls (eg outer Sydney) are part-funded by Canberra.

Perhaps Pete Costello could favour us with an explanation, sometime, of
why Canberra’s cash goes to support of these other tolled places but
not to those in his hometown? Or is this a joke on Melburnians?

He might also usefully explain why the National (federally-funded)
Highway access routes to Melbourne (Hume Highway, Western Highway) are
traffic-light-ridden, truck-jammed nightmares while the State-funded
access roads (Calder Highway, Princes Highway East & West) are
traffic-light-free and free-flowing (at least, out of peak hours).

He might also like to tell Victorians why so much of the (federally
funded) National Highway to Sydney is still a nightmare goat track that
would be a disgrace to many a third world country.

Finally, as a proponent of capitalism, could he please tell us what is wrong with highway tolls, anyway?

Bill C

PS Declaration: the writer has shares in Macquarie Infrastructure Group.

Bolt on The Passion

Thanks for your positive piece on Andrew Bolt’s review of ‘The Passion
of the Christ’. Unfortunately however, Bolt yet again gets major facts
wrong (although he does make some good points).

Firstly, in relation to Jesus being flogged, Bolt says that “not one of
the gospels mentions this horrific beating or Pilate’s motivation for
it”. I’m not sure what Bible he has read but my Bible, in Matthew
27:26, Mark 15:15 and Luke 22:63 all mention Jesus being beaten and/or
flogged. There is Bolt’s answer – Jesus was flogged, and he was flogged
because Pilate was only concerned with satisfying the crowd. Sure, we
don’t have all the gory detail in the gospels, but we don’t need it –
the people to whom the gospels were written were familiar with what
flogging was like – they lived in the same culture.

Secondly, Bolt makes the astonishing claim that “the Christian writers
of the gospels did decades later push the blame for Christ’s death from
their paranoid Roman masters to their Jewish religious rivals. It was
wise to flatter the Romans who could protect or join their church, and
distance themselves from the Jews who were giving the Romans so much
strife”. Has Bolt never heard of Christians being persecuted? They were
persecuted just as much as the Jews. Not only that, but they were not
seen as distinct from the Jews at that stage. The idea that they tried
to suck up to the Romans in the hope of being protected is simply not
true. The Christians were a threat to the Romans because they refused
to say that Caesar is Lord – hardly a sign of flattery.

Then Bolt makes the claim that “Never mind that three of the gospels
dispute that he said such a thing [claiming to be the Son of God], or
fail to mention it. Never mind that even if he had, this was no
blasphemy or capital crime under Jewish law, anyway”. Once again, Bolt
is completely wrong. Matthew 26:62-65, Mark 15:2-4 and Luke 22:67-71
all explicitly say that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God at his
trial and that this claim was seen as a blasphemy. John 19:7 then says
“The Jews answered him, ‘We have a law, and according to that law he
ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God’.” – an
explicit claim that it was in fact a capital crime under Jewish law.
The reason the Sanhedrin handed him over to the Romans to kill him is
because the Romans did not allow them to exercise that law as it would
mean that the Sanhedrin could execute Jewish followers of Rome, which
of course would not please the Romans. So for Bolt to say that “the
gospels (and Gibson) tell an untruth when they claim Pilate killed
Christ only because the Sanhedrin had no authority to kill him itself”
is also wrong. Pilate had Christ flogged and crucified because he caved
in to the demands of the crowd, even though he saw Jesus as innocent.
Bolt’s ‘proof’ of this ‘untruth’ is by pointing out that in Acts, the
Sanhedrin put St Stephen to death. True, they did – in violation of a
Roman decree. The fact was that the Romans did allow them to exercise
their law at times, especially in a case like St Stephen who was a
threat to Rome.

Finally, for Bolt to claim that the film says that the Romans were
innocent little lambs in all this is just nonsense. The fact is that
Jesus’ death was part of a conspiracy between the high priests and the
Romans, as is clearly shown in the gospels.

Sure it is good to see Bolt defending minorities rather than attacking
them. Instead though, he attacks someone else, and does it by once
again getting major facts simply wrong.

Nils von Kalm

Contributor correction

In my comment on ‘Defence reporters and their sources’, Yoursay 5
, inadvertently I transposed the terms ‘light’ and ‘heavy’ machine

The RPK is a LMG, not a HMG, as Sasha Uzunov claims.

The point, of course, remains unchanged.

WA Reid

Response to WA Reid – Defence Reporters and their sources

You criticised me for calling an RPK “a light machine gun.” Mate, if
you re-read my story you’ll find that I wrote a Soviet-styled heavy
machine gun!

As I have no ego, I’ll make sure I bring you with me when I next visit
Iraq or Afghanistan as my chemical weapons expert. Unlike, the
so-called expert war journalists who try to bluff their way through a
story, I like to consult people who know what’s going on. That includes
talking to a lot of people.

And my name is spelt Uzunov not Uzonov!


Sasha Uzunov

RPK is a Light Machine Gun (LMG)

WA Reid (Yoursay 5 March) is wrong. The Soviet era RPK is a Light
Machine Gun (LMG) and fires a 7.62 mm round. It is a derivative of the
AK assault rifle and is an infantry rifle section (10 man squad)
weapon. It can be carried by one man. Its role is like the Vietnam era,
M60 General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG), our rifle sections used, except
the GPMG is belt fed while the RPK is magazine fed.

Reid is correct in saying Heavy Machine Gun’s (HMG) has a different
role however they fire 12 to 14 mm rounds and need a small team to
operate the weapon. HMG’s are often seen today mounted in the back of
utes and used but “rambo” revolutionary groups in places like Africa
and Afghanistan.

Source: “Military small arms of the twentieth century” by Ian Hogg and John Weeks

Adrian Jackson
Australian Regular Army (ARA) Infantry Officer from 1973-1995

Final response to the gun issue – I promise no more!

I thank Adrian Jackson’s letter in response to WA Reid’s letter.
It’s nice to hear from an acutal warrior on the issue of defence.

This will be my final reponse to the issue of RPK maching gun. The RPK
machine gun was initially a Soviet manufactured light Machine gun which
fires a 7.62 mm round.

However, the reason why I labelled it a “Soviet styled heavy machine
gun” was that in some third world countries, the weapon is used as a
Heavy Machine gun because some guerilla forces don’t have access to
real heavy machine guns. In my travels in the Balkans and the
Middle-east, I found some, not all, guerilla forces and militia units
were using this weapon as a Heavy Machine Gun.

I know it’s a technicality but I thought I should explain in some detail. I hope I don’t bore crikey readers on the issue.

Further to WA Reid, mate, Id be giving away my sources and tricks of
the trade if I revealed to you my knowledge of chemical weapons, and
WMD. I don’t want my competitors, the established defence writers and
war correspondents, to know!!!

Sasha Uzunov

Anyone interested in defence issues can email me direct on
email: [email protected]