Back from an Easter hiatus, the following letters are a selection of
the numerous emails which landed in the Letters inbox over the break:

Bracks and the separation of powers

Stephen, I didn’t know you were a communist. Nurses and judges should get paid the same, should they? Give me a break.

I think judges are not paid enough. We will risk only get the dross
from the Bar applying to be judges because the finer minds can earn
squills by staying in private practice. It is not the judges out of
touch with the real world, it is editors.

Another point. When a Government sets up an independent body and then
ignores its recommendations, you know it is vote-hunting. ”Those
wicked, greedy judges! We’ll cut them down to size.” The
politics of envy. A great foundation for a society.

Steve Bracks is no better than former Federal Attorney General Daryl
Williams, who failed on several occasions to protect the nation’s
highest courts (not to mention Justice Michael Kirby) from coarse and
uninformed criticism from people with axes to grind. What this State
needs is leadership from Bracks, stating clearly why this democratic
system relies heavily on the quality and independence of the judiciary.

Bracks has put himself firmly alongside Joh Bjelke Peterson with his
demonstrated understanding (or lack thereof) of the separation of
powers, which is what he is tampering with. He is risking the
politicisation of the judiciary. It has already started. Now, in
certain circumstances, judges will be tempted to ask themselves, which
decision will get the best political result? Just like in the good old
US of A. We all saw the results of the politicisation process in
Florida when that lady (a Republican) decided to stop the recount that
would have favoured the Democrat candidate, Gore.

Far fetched? So was heavier-than-air flight 100 years ago.

Pretty soon we will have the best justice system money can buy.


LT COL Collins and the making of a whistleblowers

The widely reported criticisms by LTCOL Collins of the Joint
Intelligent Organisation (DIO) may or may not be fair and accurate, but
what is really interesting is the media’s understanding of Collins’s
rank and organisational importance.

The Canberra Times describes him as a “Top Spy”. The SMH talks
about him being a “high ranking military analyst”. The ABC refers
to a “senior army intelligence analyst”.

Sorry, but whatever LTCOL Collins’ qualities and attributes may be, he
isn’t high ranking and he isn’t senior. LT COL is a middle management
rank, equivalent to an Executive level 1 in the Australian Public
Service. An officer at that level is unlikely to have had much
input into or understanding of high-level intelligence policy.

It’s also the rank that any army officer with a degree and even modest
capabilities can expect to reach more or less automatically. If
the Bulletin is correct, Collins was gazetted lieutenant in 1980 but is
still a LT COL after 24 years. Hardly a high flier. LT COL also,
of course, the terminal level for many army officers.

I don’t know anything personally about Collins. He may be a person of
high intelligence and ability who was on the cusp of a senior
career. But, given his age and rank profile, it’s also perfectly
possible that, like so many other self styled whistleblowers, he’s
simply another middle manager in the departure lounge who wants to
build a second career as a professional conscience.


Counting the dead

Peter Cave, ABC TV, Monday night, reporting on the disproportionate US
military response said: “The dead civilians included men, women and

That doesn’t leave a lot of other categories of the dead, does it?

NAB and the Catholics

Can we please drop the “it’s the Protestants/Catholics/Masons/Elites/Establishment controlling things” conspiracy crap.

Saw your notes re Cathy Walter and her being a Catholic put forward as
a factor in her unpopularity on NAB board – funny, but my info is that
at least three of the other seven directors are also RC – that would
make half the board RC!

This latest crap is almost as bad as the “Ned Kelly and the Irish RCs
versus the English Protty Squatters” nonsense that resurfaced after the
latest film – Ned’s major crime victim was a squatter who just happened
to be Irish, Catholic and illiterate.

Fall out from the alleged NSW ‘mini-budget’

The removal of negative gearing in the 80s had an interesting effect on
the Sydney property market. People promptly stopped investing in
property and surprisingly quickly there was a severe shortage. As
a renter at the time I vividly recall turning up for an inspection and
finding as many as 30 people handing in tenancy applications.

Capital is a very fluid and volatile substance, and the new taxes on
NSW investment property guarantee that this money will move
elsewhere. The extra returns from Sydney property movements are
now less than the addition costs of NSW property investment.
While there is currently an oversupply of rental accommodation
(particularly home units), this market will inevitably contract leaving
Sydney once again with a rental shortage.

My advice to tenants is to find a place you want to stay in long-term and get a long lease!

Neil Stollznow

The Carr Mini-budget

I’ve just finished reading your latest criticism of the Carr mini-budget.

Since when is property speculation a sacred cow? And do you really
expect anyone to believe your amazing list of spin-off effects from the
increase in taxes on property developers? NSW is only 1 state, and even
if you are right that it will move property investment out of NSW
(which I seriously doubt, for a number of reasons), it won’t have a
major impact in the short term because of the inertia built in to the

You say that this will encourage money to move out of property into the
stock market. Isn’t that a good thing? I understood that investment in
the stock market was conducive to a positive economy, where money that
is invested in equities is available for production of real goods that
can earn export income, whereas investment in real estate is phoney
money that doesn’t help our huge balance of trade deficit. If you need
an example, Japan ten years ago is an ideal one. It has taken Japan
years to recover from its real estate bubble.

So it seems to me that Bob Carr is doing the economy a favour, by producing a negative stimulus to real estate speculation.

And your boosting of Howard’s ‘good economic management’ fails to
give credit to all the good spadework done by years of Labour
governments. It also fails to point out the huge and growing trade
deficit and the run down in education, hospitals and public transport
since Howard came to office.

Is it possible to have some balanced reporting on economic management in this country?

Bob Ross

Tassie woodchip industry sleaze

There is nothing puzzling about the appointment of Scott Gadd as
Tasmania’s tourism honcho. There is a huge and growing conflict between
Tasmanian tourism and its all-devouring woodchip industry. The
government has done everything in its power to subordinate tourism to
forestry, even to the extent of giving forestry the purse strings to
NHT funds designated for eco-tourism.

A hack like Gadd ensures that tourism does not inconvenience Lennon’s sugar daddy in Gunns Ltd.

The Tasmanian

Carlton’s contributor correction for Tet 68

Hi. Your “subscriber” is splitting very small hairs when he writes:

“Carlton is bending facts here in an area he often pompously claims
first-hand knowledge. The US Embassy in Saigon was never ‘captured’
during Tet. The porpery’s [sic] outer ring guards were over-run and a
battle ensued in the grounds until the deaths of the 19 VC but the
embassy itself was never overcome. What was (correctly) captured was
the media’s attention that the US was vulnerable.”

I have never claimed ” first-hand knowledge of Tet 68. I wasn’t
there. But this is what happened, from an account by the US
Marine Embassy Guard Association:

At around 3am on the morning of 31st Jan, 1968, a squad of 19 Viet Cong
blasted its way through the Embassy’s outer wall, armed with AK-47’s
and rocket-propelled grenades. Their leaders were gunned
down by the few US marine guards at the building, but the VC had
control of the compound, including the house of the US Deputy Chief of
Mission, for about 6 hours.”

Mike Carlton

Laws vs Latham correspondent

Your ‘John Laws vs Mark Latham’ correspondent (Yoursay, April 6) fails to inform that Laws revealed on air that, in the week prior to the interview, he and Latham did lunch.

Latham isn’t actively courting the circus performers, is he?

Is the correspondent also critical of Laws’s regular praise for the
‘great job’ being done by NSW Premier Bob Carr and the very gushy
friendships Laws has with Queensland Premier Peter Beattie and former
Tasmanian Premier Jim Bacon?

Triple J Sux

The Guide – error in story “dawn of the dork”

I read with interest your article on David Koch (Dawn of the Dork, 5-11
Apr) this week but must say I was perplexed when the writer referred to
Koch’s co-host “Melanie” Doyle. Though referred to on air
frequently as “Mel” I knew, having grown up in Canberra where Mel Doyle
started her journalism career, that her name was Melissa, not
Melanie. I do hope that The Guide issues an apology to Melissa as
I would have thought it was a fairly elementary fact check to ensure
that all the names of the people/personalities in a story were checked
before going to print.


The SMH’s online Crikey correction

With regard to your story today about the Crikey url error in the SMH.

I too saw the error in the Sauce column the other day, I probably have
the hard copy edition kicking around the house somewhere. I
nearly wrote to them and you but figured someone else would.

I guess they corrected the online version, an interesting aspect of online publishing, as I am sure you know.

Unless people capture the mistake at the time it is near impossible to
cite it later. I have previously sent emails to the SMH and other
papers noting mistakes only to have them reply saying there is no
error, when I have gone back to check they have corrected them.
It is good they correct them, but do they have to deny them too?

I now capture the errors and wait for them to deny their existence
before sending the screen capture. I am yet to get a reply when I
have done this.

I am sure Crikey is not guilty of this sort of thing.

Chris Murray
Surry Hills

The Footy Show Logies

Great to see the new adverts on Channel Big Kerry promoting the fun new
program the “Footy Show Logies”. That seems to be the intention of the
ads which loudly promote Eddie Everywhere as the host – probably the
best exponent of comedic timing since Bert. And the Footy Show theme
doesn’t stop there with the advert displaying a never ending cavalcade
of women’s breasts, which after all, is what the Logies should always
have been about.

Given that I am sure the overwhelming audience for the Logies must be
female, the choice of host and tit theme seems a little absurd. I can’t
wait to see Sam Newman interviewing the winners in that delightfully
understated and witty way he has and Trevor Marmalade cracking jokes at
the bar that Benny Hill rejected 20 years ago as too old. And let’s
hope we get plenty of boofy blokes dressing up in women’s clothing or
“pretending” that they’re gay – priceless.


Steggles failure to reply

For weeks now, Steggles have failed to reply to repeated emails to the
email address on the packet of their product. It indicates to me
that their reply would embarrass them and that they have something to
hide. It is also impolite.

I refer to the 1kg packets of frozen Chicken Wings which state that it is made from imported material.
These mini chicken wings served hot had become a favourite finger food
at functions, barbecues and in families, my own included. I still have
a packet in my freezer.

Following the media revelations about chicken contamination with both
virus and nitrofuran in South East Asian countries, particularly
Thailand, where I suspect their imports come from, my email to Steggles
simply asked what country and what is the nitrfuran content.

I suggest that they be exposed.