Responsibility and the judicial system

I have not seen any coverage yet of what to me is the most significant part of the Jeff Shaw debacle. What did the Chief Judge at Common Law, James Wood, and the Chief Justice, James Spigelman, know about Jeff Shaw’s illness? When did they know it?

If they did know about it, what did they do about it apart from allowing him to keep sitting on cases? If they did not know about the illness, should they have known about it considering that its most obvious symptoms were well known in legal and public service circles?

Assume that Shaw’s supervisors were aware (or should have been aware) of his illness and consider the following analogy: The manager of a large transport company knows one of his drivers has a serious heart problem but continues to let him out on the roads. The driver has a heart attack and has a 20 car pile up on the Newcastle Freeway. Wouldn’t the manager would be in the gun too for letting such a time bomb loose?

The Police Integrity Commission has convened with uncommon speed. I suspect the aim is to provide maximum theatre and distraction followed by a report which keeps all the attention on Shaw and away from the judicial system.

Let’s not start on ‘pre-employment’ screening of judges.


Comparing Arafat and Mandela

Charles Richardson’s comparison of Arafat and Mandela is ludicrous as is his supposition as to what the papers might have said of Mandela if he had died as posited. I am old enough to recollect that 15 years ago, the popular view of Mandela was that he was wrongly imprisoned by an evil regime. That view was not challenged by the popular press, indeed it was reinforced. Our government (Fraser then Hawke) strongly supported the dismantling of apartheid and the release of Mandela. The comparison is simply not there.

What is more pernicious, and I suspect this is the real agenda behind Richardson’s piece, is the unspoken comparison between the Israeli government and the Apartheid era South African Government. There is no doubt that the Israelis have over-reached as a result of their justified fear of their neighbours and the settlements are an example of that, however, Israeli government policy is clearly motivated by the desire to protect Israel, not oppress an ethnic group out of some bizarre racist reasoning.

In the end, Arafat was a killer who had the chance to make good, but never did. Mandela was a rebel and, when the opportunity arose, he was a man of peace. One need only compare him with what Mugabe became to understand the greatness of the man and the lowliness of Arafat by comparison.

Nick Ferrett
Brisbane Qld

Grey bureaucrats and the Labor mess

Over the last few years, the Labor party appears to have completely squashed all differences of opinion – just like the Liberal National parties. This means that those who have ideas and inspiration and vision – who have been frequently found left of the centre, have just given up. To add to this, in many local Labor branches, people who have worked very hard for very long, have just been ignored by Sussex Street, or its equivalent in other states, who have endorsed a famous face which in many cases have not been elected.

Peter Garret is in fact, the exception to this rule. The Labor party has also for a long time, been incapable of understanding its women members – especially those who dare to want a seat in Parliament and, once they get there, wanting a ministry. I am not a member of the party, but if even I can see, it, how come all these things are such a mystery to the men in power. Ah Hah, I think the clue might be that the grey bureaucrats of the party have no imagination, no empathy, and absolutely NO sensitivity as to what might sway the Australian people to come back to them.

Penelope Toltz

Murray: smart or sensible?

Andrew Murray the smartest of all Democrats senators? You have got to be joking! The man might be book smart – he is a Rhodes Scholar, after all – but he certainly isn’t very sensible; take, for example, his ridiculous “Democrat in exile” antics of 2002. Andrew Murray holds a lot of the responsibility for the disintegration of the Democrats. Surely doing yourself out of a job doesn’t demonstrate intelligence!

Anna Hough
Former Democrats member

Misuse of WA ratepayers money

Melville Council in southern Perth are planning to use ratepayers money (around $300,000 I believe) to fund anti-Labor government advertisements before the coming election. The pretext they are using is a disagreement with the government about traffic issues.

I believe that it is completely inappropriate and immoral for a council dominated by Liberal Party hacks like Russell Aubrey and Katherine Jackson to use ratepayers money for party political purposes. After all, around 50% of residents presumably vote for the Labor Party so they are seeing their money, which should be used for legitimate council services like libraries and ovals, being used to promote the chances of a party they don’t support.

You might like to sound out the CEO John McNally about the affair via email as the hopelessly partisan West Australian is hardly likely to make an issue of it.

Peter Scott

On Latham blindsiding the government over Telstra

Let’s hope that Mark Latham is not ‘clever’ enough to follow Christian Kerr’s advice of 14 Nov (“How Latham could blindside the government over Telstra”) to support the full privatization of Telstra. Whilst it is conceivable that such a backflip just might cause some momentary harm to the Howard Government if it were to cause a few ‘agrarian socialist’ Nationals to put up a stronger fight against privatisation, this harm would be insignificant compared to the demoralisation and confusion that would be felt by Labor’s own support base.

Contrary to what Mr Kerr writes, the privatisations of QANTAS and the Commonwealth Bank were not “Keating’s babies” to begin with. They were on John Howard’s hit list of 12 public enterprises to be privatised in 1986. That a Labor Government chose to implement the policies of its political opponents, which were clearly against Labor’s own principles, as well as the public interest, shows just how little real democracy and accountability existed in the Labor Party at the time.

Both of the abovementioned privatisations were undeniable public policy disasters. The privatisation of the Commonwealth bank has led to the effective creation of a cartel, which has been unrestrained in its gouging of inflated bank fees from its customers’ pockets, whilst slashing services and jobs, particularly in rural areas.

The privatisation of QANTAS, in combination with the overall deregulation of the airline industry, has led to the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars of funds of shareholders, the travelling public and taxpayers as Compass Airlines collapsed, not once, but twice, to be followed a few years later by the collapse of Ansett. More recently, QANTAS cabin crews have been forced to give up employment opportunities and work conditions as work has been moved offshore.

The previous elections were not fought and lost by Labor on the issue of privatisation. The Government’s privatisation policy was not scrutinised by the media, and for their part, government candidates (except those opposed to privatisation) barely mentioned the topic during the election campaign. It is therefore unlikely that Telstra would have been foremost in the minds of most electors as they cast their ballots on 9 October.

The full privatisation of Telstra, if it is allowed to proceed, will be no less a pubic policy disaster, than have been all previous privatisations, including those of the Commonwealth Bank and QANTAS.

James Sinnamon,
Convenor of Citizens Against Selling Telstra

Media commentary and global warming

Here we go again: the extremists using global warming to scare people into voting Green aided and abetted by the media. How about some simple but unpalatable facts:

  • The earth is cooler now than it has been for most of its existence: warmer is the natural state
  • Global warming has occurred in the past
  • The last global warming episode was actually about 10 times faster than the current one
  • The oceans do not rise due to melting ice caps but due to thermal expansion

The miniscule amount of CO2 that humans emit (about 3% of the natural CO2) may be contributing some but as history has shown global warming has occurred much more violently in the recent past and humans had nothing to do with it.

Let’s implement all the alternative energy sources we can (solar/wind/wave/thermal etc etc) if for no other reason but to prolong the abundance of fossil fuels but for goodness sake empowering the Greens with their luddite philosophy would be counter productive. In particular the debate over fusion power has to be had.

However just accept that global warming is going to occur regardless of what we do.


Fairfax sleazing Family First

I’m writing to note the biased approach taken by your Fairfax reporter Susan Mitchell in the article about Andrea Mason “First Lady” (Sunday Life magazine in SMH and Age, 14 November).

While I have nothing to do with Family First I object to the line that anyone concerned about values is ignorant cretin, not sophisticated enough to be ‘one of us.’ I note in particular the opening and closing series of questions.

She opens with questions about, yet again, the mantra of gay marriage. This is an issue where the Mainstream Left Media (MLM) have a line way out to the left of Australians, but the journalist proceeds with a series of loaded attacking questions (full of words like ‘discriminates’, ‘mantra’, ‘lied’) to advance her particular political line about sexuality. It’s journalistic push polling.

And then after some questions about major issues the final series of questions about Mason’s personal life culminates in the bald “so you’re a virgin?” I can see the subtext beneath the loaded questions – the attempt to enable the clever ‘sophisticated’ reader of MLM to feel superior to Mason and her stupid virginity the Family First party.

Media commentators have recently exposed the attempt by the left to smear the family-values people as being rednecks. Mitchell’s article is a typical example of this campaign by the MLM.

Mr T

Cross-promotion at Nine (and the ABC)

It wasn’t only Nine that cross promoted the film Panic Room (shown on Nine on Saturday night) – even Alan Saunders on the little listened to Radio National had a shot – The Comfort Zone. Perhaps they thought Mary Queen o’ Scots needed a panic room- aye mayhaps she didth.

Come to think of it ABC x-promos all the time – (I’m a rusted on listener) I doubt that there’s a Monday AM that dioesn’t work on that night’s Four Corners and if there isn’t, then it is only because it’s being saved for the World Today or PM.

More reasons for watching Sex and the City

Further to your assumptions as to why Melbourne people watched the final Sex and the City in greater numbers than Sydney viewers did, I can confirm to you that many of us, such as myself, watched to just make sure the series really was finishing, for good. Sydneysiders avert their eyes from the program as it only highlights the enormous divide between how they think they live that lifestyle, and what their considerably more pathetic reality is by comparison. At least Melbourne has its own identity! Unlike Sydney that has based its style on cities like Paris and New York, but fails miserably as an apprentice wannabe, Melbourne has seasons, style and its own identity, worthy of the pride we hold for it. Good riddance Sex and the City.


GST windfalls everywhere

I admit I am not an accountant, but I am confused about all the GST money falling from the sky:

The GST seems to help the states: “The States and Territories are benefiting from a cumulative GST windfall of $11.8 billion to

As well as the federal govenrnment: “In its latest Budget monitor report, Access Economics expects rising GST and excise revenues will boost this year’s surplus to $6.4 billion, more than $1 billion up on Treasury’s prediction.”

Even though everything goes to the states: “All revenue received from the Goods and Services Tax (GST), applying from 1 July 2000, will go to the States and Territories.”

Isn’t this money being counted twice? Speaking personally, I think the windfall has fallen out of my pocket and is nothing to celebrate.

On a related issue, I have just had to fill in a land tax registration form in NSW. I know everyone has a reason why they shouldn’t pay tax, but I only own one property and for various reasons I have been scooped up in the land tax net for the first time. I thought the GST was supposed to reduce state taxes.

Come on John Brogdon (and other state opposition leaders), jump on this and leave our judges alone!! Or aren’t you interested in reducing state taxes?

Willie Windfall