Michael Moore and
Fahrenheit 9/11

I agree with most of what you say about F9/11. As a piece of rational
journalism it has limits – but what the hell. Moore has very
successfully invaded the populist territory that is usually the
province of the Right, and that’s a great achievement, given the power
that these networks have. Hence their shrill indignation. Intellectual
Lefties can preach through The Age, The ABC, Dissent and the Quarterly
Review, and reach 10% of the population. Moore has gone Downtown – in a
big way. One of Moore’s aims is to galvanise some of the 50% of
Americans who never vote into registering and voting Bush out. Even if
that means ending up with a pissweak Democrat like Kerry, it has to be
an improvement.

Mike Puleston

Investment rules could be liberalised any time, without an FTA

It appears the main benefit of the FTA comes from increased American
investment through liberalised rules, rather than from free
trade. If so, there is no need to sign up to the FTA at all,
because the Australian government can liberalise foreign investment
rules any time it wants. Existing restrictions on foreign
investment are part of Australian (not US) law and are administered by
the Foreign Investment Review Board. So it is disingenuous to
advocate for the FTA on the basis that it will encourage US investment
in Australia. If the government can do that anyway, then it is
not a benefit. This raises the question as to how our politicians
could not have considered something so obvious. The answer is
they probably have, but for whatever reason want to pass the FTA anyway.

Negotiators at world trade talks in Geneva have approved a draft
agreement to open up global trade, including a reduction of billions of
dollars in farm subsidies and the creation of more open industrial
markets. This offers far more benefits to Australia than the US
FTA, and without any of the accompanying costs such as the threat to
the PBS. The more we learn about the FTA, the more of a dud it

Nicola Mason

Free Trade Agreement and Liberal propagandists

Liberal propagandists Michael Josem and Tim Wilson (The Age, 29 Jul 04)
are singing the praises of the Free Trade Agreement and everything
American as usual.

Michael, in the 20th Century the Australian film industry was destroyed
on many occasions just as it got on its feet by American film companies
and distributors. With few exception these US film have predictable
plots, pretty boy/girl actors and are more geared to making money than
culture and art.

Tim, my friend, the US Parliament would not have passed the FTA bill,
in an election year, if there was not MORE in it for them than us.

Speaking of MOORE there are exception in the US film industry.

The Liberals offer prized to members who write the most letter in one
year. Michael Josem has won a prize on at least one occasion but
perhaps Tim Wilson will get it this year.

I think Senator Meg Lees, Australian Progressive Alliance, view that
the FTA should be reviewed by a parliamentary trade committee first and
not just put to a simple vote with little discussion.

Adrian Jackson (ex Liberal)

Financial Management: Howard vs Latham

It is interesting that the Howard Government is trying to criticise
Mark Latham over his financial management at the Liverpool Council,
when the Howard Government itself hasn’t got a very clean record on
financial management.

In 2000 the government stuffed up its $5 billion plan to outsource all
of the government’s IT needs. The tendering process was botched,
and possibly corrupted (according to a report by the auditor-general),
and eventually had to be abandoned.

See the 7.30 Report “Fahey under scrutiny for IT outsourcing” and a more detailed critique by the then Opposition spokesperson on IT, Kate Lundy.

There’s a bit of a difference between a few million dollars worth of
outsourcing gone wrong at the Liverpool Council and $5 billion dollars
worth of bugled outsourcing at the hands of the Howard Government.

And then more recently we have the Defence Department’s disastrous
asset sales program, as directed by Treasurer Peter Costello. In
order to improve the position of last year’s federal budget the defence
department sold off hundreds of millions of dollars worth of defence
assets at rock bottom prices, and is now forced to lease them back at
inflated prices at great expense to the taxpayer in future year.

See this report from ABC Radio’s PM program ” Federal Opposition alleges Defence fire sale to cover costs”.

And what about Peter Costello’s multi-billion dollar foreign currency
swap gambling losses – where’s the media scrutiny over that? See
this strong critique by Kenneth Davidson in The Age.

Mark Dwyer

Costello vs Latham

Twice in the last few weeks I have heard Costello jibe Latham with the
line, “If you can’t run a council, you can’t run the country”.
Maybe Crikey readers could fill in a little gap in my knowledge.
Which councils did Howard, Costello or Fraser run before they went to
Canberra? In fact what is the record of these Lib heavyweights in
managing large public budgets prior to entering federal parliament?


Pots and kettles

Is it true, as Laura Tingle says, that Howard and Costello’s failed
outsourcing and property sell-off experiments have cost Australian
taxpayers billions of dollars? (AFR 28/7 p53)

Can the Treasurer pause from his current pre-occupation with rifling
through the garbage bins at Liverpool Council and provide some answers?

John Kotsopoulos

Daniel Pipes and Sally Loane

Once again Daniel Pipes has been allowed a free run on Australian
media. The guy is an abject apologist for Israel and everything he says
must be passed through the prism of Israel’s own extreme nationalist

A recent interview by Sally Loane contained no counterpoints to
anything Mr Pipes said and in fact Ms Loane made every effort to
facilitate the elucidation of a very dangerous philosophy that
basically amounts to pre-emptive political attacks, with the hint of
even “tougher” measurers, against others operating completely legally
in a democratic and open society.

I don’t see a relationship between Islam’s war with the West in any way
as been similar to the rise of fascism or communism. It is a completely
different war with different histories and different causes.

What is far more frightening is the ease at which people such as Mr
Pipes are offered every opportunity to promote a dangerous attack on
civil liberties for the pursuit of the nationalist agenda of Israel.

Daniel Pipes is not an analyst rather he is a lobbyist.


The Australian’s anti-Latham binge

I’m wondering whether it’s not just The Australian that’s getting
seriously stuck into the Opposition leader. The Hobart Mercury (a
Murdoch paper) has started publishing a column by Piers Akerman, the
first of which was the expected dump on Latham and presumably the same
as appears in The Daily Telegraph. Apart from what I read in
Crikey and see on Media Watch, the only knowledge I have of Akerman is
his boorish efforts on Insiders, his idea of debate seemingly to shout
everyone else down. His journalism, if that is not to debase the
word, bears out that impression. So is it a Murdoch
campaign? Should we complain about another American trying to
influence domestic politics?

Richard Pennycuick

Richard Flanagan: Gasping on Memories

There is no question of insulting the character, person or memory of
Jim Bacon that I can see in the Flanagan article. There was
nothing said to distress his next of kin, mates or hangers on, he was a
public person, a politician.

There was a critical review of party politics during the Bacon era and
their effect on Tasmania in the eyes of the reviewer. The
subsequent name calling by those feeling slighted, reflects badly on
the name callers and Tasmania.

Richard Flanagan’s critique did not mention the plight of many
Tasmanians, whose health is affected or deteriorated as a result of
enforced smoke inhalation over sustained periods, a product of the
Bacon Government’s forest practices, enlarging on those initiated by
the Robin Gray ministry. The art and technique of aerial incineration
of unwanted biomass, reminiscent of the 70s in SE Asia.

The Premier, as well as his Deputy and Forest Minister Paul Lennon,
were aware what damage this greenhouse gas release is doing to the
environment, as well as the respiratory system of Tasmanians, directly
exposed to this menace. (There is the water resource issue
continuing to implicate the same practices.) They cannot expect
to be remembered kindly during a life of gasping for breath in that
clean, new Tasmanian air. Neither can the Hon. Bryan Green,
continuing these practices.

The world’s largest woodchipper, Gunns Ltd’s sponsorship of the
Tasmanian Asthma support group, is somewhat ominous in this context.


NRL TV coverage

I read the article titled, NRL fans shafted by anti-syphoning laws
by Outside Centre and one thing I noticed was that there was no mention
of the crap coverage that Melbourne supporters of Rugby League have to
put up with.

How many matches are shown live in Victoria? One per year and that is
the Grand Final. Even State of Origin isn’t shown live. We get two
games per weekend on Free To Air and they are generally shown after
midnight. Some even as late as 5:30 AM.

Complaints made to Richard Alston, Federall MP, Victorian MP,
Australian Broadcasting Authority and even the ACCC have all fallen on
deaf ears. The ACCC said they could do nothing as it’s the ABA’s
jurisdiction. Richard Alston and the ABA said they could do nothing as
it is a commercial decision by Channel Nein. The Federal &
Victorian MPs didn’t even have the courtesy to reply, both are ALP

Andrew Blair

The Age fails on sporting news

Here’s a new idea for Andrew Jaspan, as he assumes the chair at Fairfax
– include some ‘news’ in the Sport section in Saturday’s Age
‘news’paper. For the last two weeks, Saturday Sport has comprised
pages of pre-prepared material and no reference to the previous night’s
AFL. Is it too much to ask for a report on Friday night’s
football? If the Age can’t find a reporter prepared to attend the
match (or even watch it on Ed-TV) is at least possible to include the
match result? Whilst some of the pre-prepared material is good,
it does not make up for the lack of ‘news’ in the paper and it’s not as
if the AFL runs too late to meet the deadline (or is it?).


James Hardie vs HIH

I read in your email alert – Thursday 29th July – that “HIH was much
worse than this James Hardie situation”. This might be true in
financial terms, but I haven’t heard of any serious long-term health
implications for ‘victims’ of HIH. No one from HIH is slowly
suffocating from the tumours brought on by Mesothelioma. For sure,
there are HIH creditors who have no money now, but they have their
health. Try to be a little more sensitive next time, after all, HIH was
only money – try to keep some perspective on life.


Airport safety and bomb hoaxes

Reader feedback on BOB, airport safety and bomb hoaxes came be found here.