Patrick Fitzgerald ” trouble brewing over Athens velodrome “

You know it really is amazing how some Aussies seem to actively want
the Athens games to fail. The article from Patrick Fitzgerald doesn’t
mention a word about all the really positive feedback so far about
Athens venues – a lot of it from Aussie officials- instead he just
jumps on any new chinks in the armoury he can find. As far as the
crowds go, it’s true it’s been a big shame that there’ve been empty
seats in the first few days, but it’s because the belief in Athens that
we really could do it and pull it off only came 2-3 weeks before the
games. The tickets sales soared, everyone I know in Athens wanted to
get a ticket and support the games, but it all came too late to sell
out all the tickets in time, so only the tickets for the later rounds
got sold out. I hope it’ll be a full house from now on – just give us
a chance!

Alex Sarras

Athens, Greece

CRIKEY: Read Patrick Fitzgerald’s Trouble brewing over Athens velodrome here.

Bagging Bob “The Builder” Carr

You seem to have developed some sort of a fixation for “bagging out”
the Liberals and John Howard. Why not turning the tables and dishing
some dirt out on the Carr Labor Government in NSW. Bob Carr has a
disastrous track record and this Oasis Inquiry may ultimately go all
the way to the top. Worth investigating further. Then there’s the
incompetent Craig Knowles…you could write a book on him.

Brendon Jenkins

CRIKEY: Check out Boilermaker Bill on Bob Carr’s latest building indiscretion with Frank Lowy’s Westfield here.

APA’s stance on James Hardie and tobacco donations

Letter to the Editor,

Senator Meg Lees, Australian Progressive Alliance, commends the ALP for
handing over donations received from the morally bankrupt James Hardie
group of companies to the asbestos victims’ fund.

Further, political parties should pass any donations from tobacco
companies to cancer research foundations. It is ethically indefensible
to accept donations from an industry, which contributes nothing to
Australian society other than the deaths of over 20,000 Australians and
the destruction of the health of hundreds of thousands of other
Australians.

Tobacco company shareholders who dispose of their shares are to be
commended and those still profiting from such investments should also
pass their dividends to research foundations.

For our part we have a clear conscience, as we will not accept donations from such companies.

Chris Grigsby & Charles Williams
Senate Candidates for Victoria
Australian Progressive Alliance

At least someone values News Corp

You just love News Corp don’t you? I remember in the late 1980s when
News nearly tanked – and the shares were under a $2. Now it’s a stellar
performer – and anyone who invested then would have made more than on
any other investment (that I can think of anyway – there must be some
others – but none so big!).

Everyone agrees the shares are undervalued – look at the Bell Potter
article you put up as evidence of the problems of News Corp’s move –
which quoted “real” value of $14.80 versus market value of $11.14 –
market lower now I think. Other broker reports are in line with this.
Ultimately the market is the true arbiter of value – but that is
precisely Rupert’s reason for moving to a bigger more liquid market –
and one where 75% of the revenues are sourced from. It seems good logic
to me.

The problem is that News is too big for Australia – it is a major
American company with a large $US revenue – and does not fit well into
Australia. Shareholders will benefit by having it moved. Even if
relativities between shareholder classes are taken into account – both
will benefit. In addition, the ASX’s choice of index out-sourcing is
creating the major problem for fund managers – and maybe that could be
solved by fund managers all agreeing to adopt a non-ASX endorsed index
– say one produced by a Standard & Poor’s competitor. After all,
the index issue is very artificial – and the current problem shows just
how superficial investment management based on index tracking is.

Rob Hoffman

Canterbury, VIC

Image – John Howard and his clothing ways

Only a small matter but have you noticed how the Prime Minister has
switched from double-breasted suits to single-button suits in recent
months (generally three buttons and undone). Previously I had
never seen him in anything but a double-breasted suit (though I am sure
others probably did). But it does seem to be in keeping with his
‘not ready to retire yet’ attitude. All part of the image I
guess. Also, his US mate (Bush) wears nothing but single-breasted
suits. Just an observation.

Mark

PNG’s problem police force

Once again we are indebted to ABC TV for their must see Foreign Correspondent
program. On Tuesday night we were treated to visions of PNG’s
completely ragtag, corrupt and hopelessly inept Police Force which Lil
Johnnie and Lord Downer of Baghdad want to prop up at a cost to the
Aussie Taxpayer of $1 Billion over 5 years. Why?

This money should be spent improving policing in Australia and raising
the inspection rate of overseas containers entering the country from
the current ludicrous just 3% actually examined. No wonder Australia is
still awash with guns and drugs – they come in by the container load
and stolen luxury cars leave in the empty containers bound for Asian
and Middle Eastern ports. Outgoing containers are rarely, if ever,
opened for inspection.

But back to PNG. On Tuesday nights program, Lord Alexander attended a
Police Graduation ceremony in Port Moresby and was supposed to take the
salute.

Naturally the music from the Brass Band was the highly appropriate
Colonel Bogey March which every soldier knows rhymes with “Bullshite,
that’s all the band could play”, or words to that effect. All the PNG
Pooh Bahs were seated rigidly in uniform or ill fitting suits as befits
such a ceremony. The guest of honour made a fool of himself again.
Reclining slovenly on what appeared to be a Squatters Chair, Lord
Alexander was a picture of Flatulent Pomposity. Looking as if he had
just consumed an entire suckling pig, the great gut almost obscured the
meagre attempt of his acknowledging the many salutes from the uniforms
in his direction.

We really do get the Pollies we so richly deserve.

John X. Berlin
Maclean, NSW


Max Factor ‘The Boss’ rocks the US vote

Must we continually hear people’s ignorance of the Bill of
Rights. Max Factor states “…surely you have to wonder about
threatening the very thing upon which American democracy is founded. A
citizen’s constitutional right to freedom of expression?”

Now lets look at the Bill of Rights.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of
speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to
assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Now where does it prevent people from boycotting a loudmouth musician?

What Max Factor ignores is the important bit about ‘congress shall make
no law’. That’s the whole point about free speech – the
relationship between the state and the people, not the people and the
people. I would expect better from Crikey.

Mike H

CRIKEY: Read Max Factor’s ‘The Boss’ rocks the US vote here.

Max Factor replies:

“The threat to freedom of expression lies not in any amendment to
already well protected rights of all US citizens in the courts, but
with a person’s acceptance that the senatorial Nazi who associates one
person’s right to have a political opinion with a call to arms to harm
that person’s creative works by boycotting them. Nazi Germany
boycotted Jewish artists in all creative fields for being Jewish.
Boycotting an artist for merely opposing a president when taken to a
logical degree is the same thug mentality that says “I not only
disagree only with your right to your opinion, but I shall do
everything I can to damage you for daring to have it”! Extend the
Springsteen boycott across the arts and where do you draw the
line? If you can’t see this as financial or career blackmail
against popular artists or entertainers feeling free to an opinion,
then you probably also agree Kerry voters should refuse to buy Arnold
Schwarzenegger movie tickets or his DVDs because he’s urges people to
vote for Bush? That’s precisely how moronic the Springsteen
boycott becomes. It also makes a mockery of the oft-stated “I disagree
with your point of view but will defend to the death your right to say
it!”

The Dixie Chicks thinking the president dumb was their right, but
should we worry more about a country where they are free to say that,
or an industry believing they should be banned for daring to?

There was a time when the political views of Woody Guthrie would be
seen as anti-American by the politics of the right and would happily
preach the same boycott of his work as this “Boycott of the
Boss”. Yet what American today would dare to suggest “This Land
Is Your Land” isn’t just about the finest song ever written about what
it is to live in and be American.

As for your nomenclature it’s even more infantile than mine – and I am not a misogynist!

Max Factor

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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