It’s all politics as we head into the final straight of the election campaign:

Family First paranoia

As a long time subscriber to Crikey and former Assemblies of God pastor (from 1995 to 1997 and no longer affiliated with the church), can I proffer that I feel you are being somewhat paranoid about the motives of Family First and the involvement of the AOG with them. I suspect that their motives are much more straightforward and innocent than you imply.

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Firstly, please understand that (unless it has changed in the last few years) the AOG is, from a legal perspective, a confederation of independent churches that subscribe to a common constitution. Their organisation has relatively little infrastructure ‘above’ each church. Certainly each church contributes to the cost of running their ‘Head Office’ but other than that each church is fully responsible for their own business affairs, including employing directly their own pastors. And, unlike the Catholics and Anglicans, each AOG church that I was familiar with gets the vast majority of its revenue from passing the plate each Sunday – not from vast property portfolios that have been accumulated over hundreds of years. My church was run on the smell of an oily rag, with me being the only (very poorly paid) employee.

Similarly, although each pastor subscribes to a set of doctrines (which are actually theologically quite conservative) it is by and large left to the individuals how this theology is interpreted. Thus, like many denominations (although as mentioned above the AOG is more a confederation rather than a denomination) there can be a wide variety of views on any one issue.

This is not to be an apologist for them – like any group or organisation there are many flaws – but I believe they are motivated by their desire to make a practical and constructive difference to people’s lives, in much the way that Andrew Evans did in his missionary work. Certainly there was never any svengali at work that I saw, though individual pastors certainly enjoyed a ‘cult of personality’ – albeit one that usually did not extend beyond their own congregation.

Whether you agree with their interpretation of what ‘constructive difference’ is another thing altogether, but that’s what you vote is all about! Would but more people play such an active role in our society.

Thanks for reading, keep up the good work.


Almost got to vote

On the postal vote fiasco. My girlfriend is currently employed by Centrelink which is being used by the AEC to help in electoral enquires from the public. She is currently receiving approximately 4 calls an hour from voters worried that their PVs have not arrived (that’s on a 8 hour day, 6 day week, & 1 person in a 100 or so person staffed call centre). She also happens to be going to sunny Melbourne this weekend, & has thus applied for a PV. Being the studious & organised person I am not she lodged her application as soon as possible (3 weeks ago). But alas, last night, the last Tuesday before the election (the Tuesday everyone was supposed to have received their PVs by according to the AEC), the adventurous PV has still not arrived. It should also be noted that we live in Brisbane, 1 of the Queensland marginals. Can I here a bi-election coming around the corner, or a Florida style farce. I just hope that our democracy does prove to be as strong as Howard & Co. would have us believe. Or could we have our election decided in the courts? Just a question, but who knows?

Concerned Realist

Disenfranchised voters

You note in one of your articles today to statement about “potential disenfranchisement of a large and unknown number of postal voters”.

The AEC has already gone a long way to disenfranchise voters who wish to pre-poll. Here in Queensland, during State and Local elections, the Electoral Commission of Queensland make voting far more accessible to the electorate by facilitating Electoral visitor voting and after hours pre-polling.

Electoral Visitor Voting occurs when an Authorised Electoral Officer/visitor attends the residence of the voter (who has difficulty getting out or requires assistance with voting) to ensure the ballot is lodged.

Additionally pre-polling is more accessible to the workers by having pre-polling available after hours on regular days. During the last State election, pre-poll was open from 4-6 every afternoon during the week, and at other times by appointment with the Returning Officer. Pre-polling during this election is only available at the AEC office during business hours… oh, and to 6pm on the Friday before election day. I have attempted to lodge a ballot after hours by arrangement and have been denied, with the suggestion that I apply for a postal vote. (in hindsight, what a laugh!!)

Just think of the types of people that can and do utilise these options at election time. The general worker does not have the flexibility to attend during business hours, particularly if they were outside the major towns and cities. With the debacle in postal vote handling may in fact mean that some do not get the opportunity to have their say on election day. Also the aged and infirmed living in environments that are not recognised special facilities are disadvantaged.

Perhaps it is time for the AEC to be inclusive of all electors, spend a bit more time effort and money on ensuring that the least able are given the opportunity to vote easily.

The more cynical among us might suggest that it is yet another strategy to ensure that the outcomes are skewed, particularly in seats that have margins of only a few votes.

Keep doin’ it the way you do.

Bob H

McCrann’s a front seat man

Saw your mate (sic) Terry McCrann get in a cab at Brisbane Airport last night (Tues5th)? He got in the front seat ?

Would have taken him for a backseat passenger ? (Personally can’t stand tosser’s who get in backseat by themselves & caught up in their own self-importance, treating cabbies like shit…….. sorry, Latho’s got me all fired up).

Also picked up senior TV journo from 10 network the day of Labor’s launch last week and was quiet surprised at his hatred for Little Johnnie? and vice-versa (luv) for Biff Latham ?

Crikey luvin’ cabbie
Bris Vegas

Who’s the drunken sailor now?

John Howard has rightly been labelled during this election campaign as spending like a “drunken sailor” to win votes. But he’s not the only one. Check out today’s AFR Spendometer. Net spend, John Howard, $13.4b; Mark Latham $14.2b. So who’s the drunken sailor?

And that assumes that Labor’s “savings” can be realised. The gross spend is an equally interesting statistic: John Howard, $15.0b; Mark Latham, $42.1b. Labor wins(!) here by a ratio of almost 3 to 1.

The difference is the claimed savings. My memory is that some of Labor’s are distinctly dodgy, along the lines of “reducing government waste”. After 8 years of Liberal cost cutting?

Interestingly, a search of the ALP web site for “savings” yielded absolutely no hits of relevance to reviewing ALP’s claimed savings. I couldn’t quickly get much of relevance from the Liberal site either, but then they’re only claiming about 6% of Labor’s savings.

An admission: I’m a committed Liberal voter, but no Liberal stooge. I haven’t been a member of the Liberal Party for over 15 years, and haven’t been involved in any campaign (including the current one) for about 20 years. I’ll be voting for my sitting member, Tony Abbott, but only with considerable reluctance (again) as the lesser of 2 evils.

Fell free to publish this if you wish (and use my name – this is being sent from a Yahoo address only to protect my employer as this is a private communication, and is in no way is meant to reflect the views of my employer – & I don’t presently have access to my home e-mail).

Peter Day
Mosman NSW

The Rodent’s interest rates

I’m getting a case of cabin fever from The Rodent’s interest rate mantra -‘Who do you trust to keep interest rates low?’. The fact is there’s NO CHOICE but to keep a stranglehold on interest rates. We all know the economy would suffer a meltdown and there would be social chaos if rates pushed through 10% with the current level of household debt. The fact that that households are so susceptible to relatively small rate rises is itself poor economic management yet this hasn’t been put forward by any commentator. How and why are families in this precarious situation and how will it end – in 2020 when they’ve paid off a large chunk off their mortgage?

According to Howard – Costello’s economic management is a ‘miracle’ – Hallelujah!

Tim Begley
North Sydney

Howard’s international spam

Just received my prime ministerial spam message. Caller ID identified the call as coming from overseas. Seems the liberal party does not believe in jobs for Australians…

Varuni W

Chaser and adolescent sense of humour

I don’t have much sympathy for any of the Howards, so sonny Tim getting spammed hardly worries me. However, I cannot understand why those snotty squirts from the Chaser continue to get such an uncritical run by the likes of you, and a taxpayer-funded show Any bunch of undergraduate smart-arses with the resources of the ABC and that much time on their hands would be able to produce a show that is twice as funny as the unfunny tosh that they dish up.

Given that revealing personal contact details seems to be all the rage at the moment, perhaps you would like to reveal the following address in the Lodge Rd. Glebe. This is the headquarters of the Chaser operation, which also happens to be a beautiful Victorian terrace house that Charles Firth’s daddy kindly supplied to them for nix, and from where they have run their newspaper for the past few years. Anyone who wants to see how idiot sons and the idle rich indulge their adolescent senses of humour should drop by and say hello.


Hypocritical Crikey

How hypocritical can you be? First you complain about spam and Tim Howard and yet often encourage your own spamming campaigns. THEN you say the Chaser boys have been “naughty” and yet at the very same time publish Tim Howard’s personal email address, then you claim that it was a bad thing and give out the Chaser phone number and encourage people to “scream down the phone” at someone who is probably just a paid production assistant and give out another email address? Try and work out what you position is on spamming and be consistent and stop trying to score, in your own terms, “undergraduate” points versus whoever.

Melissa McEwen

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