With the election looming our subscribers letters have turned to
politics and issues of voting, polling and dirty tricks. Plus
Hillary Bray cops it for her comments on the late Premier of Tasmania,
Jim Bacon.

The late Jim Bacon – shame Hillary!

Ooh, you’ve never made my blood boil before – I’m usually nodding in
agreement – but you’ve picked a pearler of an issue to get under my

If you’re not from Tassie then yep, you probably don’t get it. I am, so let me explain.

When Jim Bacon became Premier Tasmania was an economic “basket-case”,
the population (especially the under 30s) were fleeing, and people felt
pretty awful about living in Tasmania.

Jim Bacon gave Tasmanians a pride about living in their state which had
been sorely lacking – if it ever existed. Reading the eulogies
for Reagan a few weeks ago I was struck by the similarities between his
first Presidency, where he made Americans feel good about themselves,
and Bacon. He made Tasmanians feel groovy for the first
time. Bacon had a gift for accentuating the positives about
living in Tasmania – the clean green stuff, and the sense of community
– and making Tasmanians feel they could work in partnership with
government to counteract the negatives.

I got out of Tassie as soon as I could after school because of the
perception that there were no jobs and no prospects. I still
spend a couple of months a year there, and the difference in the
attitudes of Tasmanians AND mainlanders to the state is extraordinary –
the first few years after I left I got constant bagging for coming from
Tas, but in the past couple of years people mention more and more how
beautiful it is and the ridicule has just about stopped.
Typically people mention that they’d move there if it wasn’t for the
cold. Tasmanians know to reply to that they need the cold to stop
the mainlanders from settling in!

I’m also struck by how many people have been to Tassie in the past few
– it’s now a real tourist destination instead of some place everyone
picks on but no one’s been to. It seems every second person I
meet has been on holiday to Tasmania in the past few years and I’d be
hard pressed to find anyone who didn’t comment on how positive and
friendly Tasmanians are.

I never imagined that I could live in Tasmania, but in the last few
years under Bacon’s stewardship her call has been getting stronger and
stronger. Tassie was always going to have problems with isolation
and perceptions about it being a backwater but the internet and
innovation, encouraged by government, is changing all that. There
are many things which the government didn’t have anything to do with –
things like Coles Bay becoming Australia’s first plastic bag free town,
or the focus on Tasmania as the most beautiful example of Australian
natural environment – but Bacon was the unifying force that drew these
positives together. Tasmania is a different place now, and Jim
Bacon was an integral part of that transformation. Tasmanians
mourn the man that gave them pride in themselves and their state, and
you can’t understand that unless you’ve been a part of it. You
can shut up, though, and let people grieve, and I suggest that’s what
Hillary should do.

Hillary on Jim Bacon

I had previously thought that Hillary had a reasonable insight into
Tassie politics, and, to an extent, what makes Tasmania tick. Hillary,
however, is way out of line in the categorisation of the reaction to
Jim Bacon’s death as any sort of over-reaction.

Jim Bacon was deeply respected across a wide spectrum of the Tasmanian
population. He was a Leader in more than name. He will be sorely
missed, as the Hillary piece then goes on to note.

Please don’t criticise the Tasmanian media on this occasion for reflecting a widely and deeply felt sense of loss.

Tony Abbott’s “Rent Rort” website

I’ve just been having a poke around Tony Abbott’s laughable “Rent Rort” website, and I noticed something interesting.

In his interview with Laurie Oakes on Sunday, we heard this little exchange:

“LAURIE OAKES: Now, the John Curtin house – sorry, the Centenary House
affair that you refer to as the rent rort, I notice there’s a new
website up this morning – www.rentrort.com.au , authorised by you, on
this affair. Who’s paying for that? Are tax-payers, or the Liberal

“TONY ABBOTT: No, look, that was put together by volunteers, using my
words in the House, and it’s not being paid for by tax-payers in any
way, shape, or form…”

I can tell you who the volunteers were.

The domain “rentrort.com.au” is being served from
“rentrort.netharbour.com.au”, which is a subdomain on Net Harbour’s
website. One of Net Harbour’s founding directors is Tim Howard — the
Prime Minister’s son.

I wonder how many other negative little websites like this will pop up
between now and the election — and whether these “in kind” donations
will be declared to the AEC if their total value reaches the required

Robert Corr

Ticky the activist’s friend?

I am sure Tickey Fullerton can look after herself, but after seeing
those pictures of battery hens on Four Corners, I must wonder what sort
of civilised society we are. Thanks Ms Fullerton, thanks Four Corners,
thanks ABC. Explain yourselves, RSPCA – you looked bad last night.

Harry Goldsmith

Inaccurate polls

The latest newspoll is interesting for only one reason. It, and the
previous newspoll, demonstrate exactly why we should completely ignore
these ridiculous polls. The errors around their estimates of polling
intentions (although never stated) are obviously much larger than the
changes that they are trying to detect. Shanahan’s pathetic piece in
today’s Oz where he accepts the numbers the two polls came up with as
gospel could only be written by someone who never enrolled for
Statistics 101. His failure to understand sampling errors comes close
to possibly the worst ever example of the mathematical incompetence of
a commentator in the Australian – Janet Albrechtsen’s notion that we
should beware of a rise in socialism because there were more books in
the Sydney Uni library about Marx than about her favourite right-wing

Peter (Blue) Smith

Vickey Voter’s Comments

Vicky Voter’s Whistleblower letter sounds like it could have come out
of Senator Faulkner’s office. It contains the same smoke screen
arguments against requiring ID for enrolment on the Electoral Roll and
for Provisional voting and in similar language, as was used by the said
Senator when interviewed on the topic some time ago.

I have attended one meeting of the H.S. Chapman Society. Most of the
people there appeared to be former or current members of the ALP who
hated the corruption and electoral rorting they knew about from their
involvement with the party. Some said they had been asked to do
“cemetery voting”. They did not appear to be pro-Coalition, only
concerned with cleaning up the threat to Australian democracy presented
by organised electoral fraud.

Victor Voter

CRIKEY: Read Vicky Voter here on John Howard’s electoral fix

Gourmet Traveller’s new recipe

Your article re the recent re-launch and changes there seem to explain
a noteable lack of consistency in recent editions. For example, in the
latest edition a recipe for mussel soup listed a range of ingredients,
but failed to use them all – don’t they test these things? Or perhaps
no-one proofreads.

Clare Thompson

Andrew Bolt and conspiracy theories

It appears that Andrew Bolt, like many once-admirable authors who
outlive their talent, resents sharp evidence-based criticism much more
than he resents generalised ad hominem abuse. This is my tentative
explanation for his outburst in Crikey’s letters pages about my own
remarks. Whereas an anonymous attack in those same pages from someone
identified only as a former Liberal staffer, which was much more
ferocious than anything I said, seems to have inspired no response from
him at all.

For the record, I can assure Andrew Bolt that the conspiracy theory he
mentions – about Rupert Murdoch’s allegedly Jewish original name – was
completely unfamiliar to me before he mentioned it. Therefore I could
not have been alluding to it. My throwaway line about “shekels” merely
reflected the Murdoch press’s apparent refusal to harbour the slightest
doubt about the immaculate conception of the Foxman mindset in general.

I happily accept Bolt’s insistence that I erred, concerning specific
past speaking engagements that he had kept. Mea culpa. This does not,
fortunately, alter my main point: namely, that (from what I had
observed) these organisations’ support bases used to esteem Bolt
greatly, but that after having read his reckless diatribe against THE
PASSION, they regard him as having betrayed everything that they stand
for. While this revelation may well be disagreeable to Bolt’s
amour-propre, it is not something for which I can readily be assigned
any blame.

R. J. Stove

Peter Blunden’s double standards

When Herald Sun supremo Peter Blunden lost his licence for being drunk
at the wheel of his car – which means he could have killed a child or
maimed somebody for life – for some strange his newspaper ignored this.
Bert Newton gets pulled over and is over the limit, and Blunden’s rag
gives this prominence. Andrew Bolt, who underscores his own sense of
fair play with boring and monotonous regularity, must be outraged at
this double standard and no doubt will vent his spleen in his next
column – or will he?

Barry Everingham

Advertising paid for by the people…

I heard this on radio yesterday so it is not my original thought but it is such a good one I wish it was 🙂

“Seeing as the ABC is the official publicity machine for the ALP the
current government advertising blitz is justified to give some balance
to the political debate. The real problem is that we pay for both!”

I must admit I have to agree with the sentiment: the bias in the ABC is
so entrenched, so overt and so blatant that any pretence otherwise is
ludicrous. Conversely the current spending of our tax money on what is
clearly electioneering is just as undesirable.


Latham and the junk food ads

Interesting to see your item 6 in today’s sealed section regarding
Latham’s suggestion of banning junk food ads during children’s TV

A good idea it is, but original it certainly aint. The same issue has been going on in the UK for the last 3 weeks now.

Here’s one article dated 29 May, which a quick search on the BBC webpage revealed: Food firms warned over fat crisis

Naturally the food giants are miffed. Only today they kicked up a fuss
over “being named and shamed” by the government, who then took a rather
impressive backstep over excessive salt in their products: Food firms angry over salt claims

I predict further backsteps from New Labour before this is over, and
also predict the same from Latham if this is taken up by the media in

Taking on corporate bullies may seem like a great idea to gain votes
from the underclass, but try to remember pollies that these bullies
fight back. After all, how does a bully become a bully?

Keep up the good work.


Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey