Politics, the media and more…

The Shaw Shambles

In a 17 November letter, ‘Responsibility and the judicial system’, Anonymous raises the issue of pre-employment screening for judges in the context of the Jeff Shaw enquiry. They actually already have them, in part to qualify for a pension (which Shaw has missed out on because he hasn’t served 5 years). Of course we don’t know the results, and we could argue till the pubs close about the extent to which ‘alcoholism’ is a medical problem.

The media seems to have missed the collapse of RPA Hospital’s evidence and concentrated on the fairly ludicrous suggestion that Shaw ‘stole’ the missing vial. RPA was adamant that they had followed procedure and now look. As someone with acquaintance with this hospital, I am so not surprised. The grimy police box produced at the enquiry speaks for itself.

If Shaw was trying to cover up, surely he would have destroyed both vials at once. Whatever the purpose of his bizarre trip to his Supreme Court chambers, the presence of a criminal mind is surely absent. There’s no doubt that the saga of the missing vial has damaged his standing more than a relatively harmless drink-driving accident would have done.

Jack Upland

Saved from Bronwyn

After the battering the respect for Parliament has suffered under Howard, at least we have a reprieve with the defeat of Ms Bishop in the role of Speaker. I couldn’t imagine anyone less fair minded after thinking back to her contribution to the TV program Liberals in Power which went to air some years back. In it we were treated to denials of any spread of views within the party itself. An attempt to deny factions exist. Everything was rosy while labor was (according to Ms Bishop) racked by pressure groups.

Roll forward to when she was “asleep at the wheel” as a Minister. Every defence was prefaced with “Under Labor …” rather than answer the tough questions. No evidence of the even handed approach we should hope for from a Speaker.

Would she have made a good Speaker? Hell no. But she’d make a great door bitch.

Peter McCarthy

Edward Glanville “Red Ted” Theodore

With respect to the piece on Red Ted, some further points can be made.

Firstly the man was lucky – he won preselection for the Queensland State seat of Mt Isa aged 24 after tossing 6 double-headers in a row.

Secondly he was bright. Australian historian Manning Clark asked the retiring Clerk of Parliament who had sat in the Chamber listening to speeches for 50 odd years who was the brightest person to pass through the House. The response was unambivalent. “Theodore, Second Reading Speech to the Fiducary Notes Bill, 1931 – easily the finest speech I ever heard in this place” (Parliament) (regrettably the speech is only available in hard-copy Hansard).

Thirdly, as Queensland Premier Theodore abolished an obstructionist Upper House. He used to great effect the argument that if the Upper House ratified the decision of the Lower House it was superfluous, and should be abolished. Whereas on the other hand if it frustrated by opposing the will of the Lower House it was by definition, antidemocratic and should be abolished. Either way it should not exist. Acting with characteristic ruthlessness, giving undertakings at the election not to move without a referendum, he ignored the undertakings, delayed the appointment of a new government, had his own ALP Speaker appointed Lieutenant Governor. He then had the Lieutenant Governor appoint fourteen new members to the Upper House, who subsequently voted with their Legislative Council colleagues to abolish Queensland’s Upper House.

Fourthly he and his AWU governments of Queensland made one of that state’s most significant achievements – the building of the free hospital system.

Fifthly as Federal Treasurer he fought the proposed abolition of Section 121(c) of the Tax Act. It and related sections provided for co-operative enterprises two very generous provisions. The refund of loans are tax-deductible for co-operatives and the distribution of dividends – profits to co-operative members, shareholders if you like are tax deductible. Those generous pieces of legislation have enabled three of Australia’s dairy co-operatives to grow to over billion dollar size.

Sixthly as regards Theodore’s embracing Keynsian pump priming, Dame Enid Lyons was asked many years after her husband’s death why Joe had eschewed the economic advice of Theodore and embraced that of the Bank of England’s Dr Otto Niemeyer, and consequently imposed upon Australia a depression probably far worse than that of any other country on earth. Dame Enid replied: “Well you must understand that we did not know at the time that Mr Theodore was right.”.

Seventhly Theodore was forced to resign Parliament in July 1930 following the so-called Mungana mining scandal in Queensland, nothing to do with his uncontested preselection to Dalley.

Peter Rout

More on Red Ted

Yes Red Ted took on being the boss of the wartime Civil Construction Corps as a patriotic gesture for no pay. Course he got a tax free allowance of 20,000 pounds which was tax free. Now even Peter Costello couldn’t better that. One thing about being overseas with the Emperor Mine, he didn’t have to face a Royal Commission as he did with the Mungana Queensland one which put him out of politics.

Clive Morton

Just who is honourable in parliament these days?

I thought honourable was used to identify all members in the house but only ministers, former ministers and those who had served a certain number of years could use it outside the chamber.

There are books on this in the library that the Labor staffer could perhaps read. Alternatively, they could just keep on embarrassing themselves like their leader.

Happy trails.

Qld Liberal Chick

Political donations

A couple of days ago you ran an item “Are Howard’s ministers out of control?” in which Howard was quoted as saying to Laurie Oakes “The old idea that big companies only gave to the Liberal Party is no longer the case. Many of them don’t give at all now, which I think is a shame because they are affected by government policy.”

Not the focus of your article, but was I the only person that statement set off alarm bells for? Many of them don’t give, which is a shame because they are affected by government policy? What is Howard saying exactly? That if they give money the policy may not affect them so much? Isn’t that tantamount to saying government policy is for sale?

Rebekka Power

Where has all the good journalism gone?

The organisers of the “Best Australian Journalism Conference” promise to focus on HOW good journalism is done. Forget that. Just tell me WHERE good journalism is done.

I see none in the papers or on TV (‘cept Crikey & Media watch, of course!)

Desmond Murphy

The difference between apartheid and Zionism

Nick Ferrett’s letter (Yoursay, 17/11) has really smacked my gob. Blindness to glaringly obvious similarities of the two cultures – apartheid and Zionism – and the activities and histories of their chief antagonists is one thing. Denial of them altogether is arrogant, revisionist propaganda. I have nothing against the Jewish people or white South Africans – or Palestinian people or non-white South Africans, or Zimbabweans of any hue, since you mentioned Mugabe, Nick.

However, any culture that feels the need to rely on oppression, displacement and isolation of another culture for their perceived safety must raise questions of their validity and probity. One could hypothesise that South African apartheid only lasted as long as the western political powerhouses needed a friendly watchdog on a critical tactical bastion against the spread of the “Red Menace”. If or when the same forces can completely co-opt Middle Eastern Islam or see it founder, Israel may well be in jeopardy of being cast adrift too. Especially with the rise of radical fundamental Christianity in American politics.

Watermelon Patch

The slowest Wheels around

It’s no great surprise that the ACP is going from disaster to disaster with their magazine distribution. Two years ago my wife gave me a gift subscription to an ACP publication (Wheels).

It was absurd the number of times I would see the latest issue in the Newsagent while still waiting for my subscription to arrive. Silly me thought it came by mail, but on enquiring from the newsagent it transpired that the newsagent did the subscription deliveries – when he got around to it.

Needless to say I did not renew the subscription.

No great loss to ACP perhaps but symptomatic of where they are going wrong.

CRIKEY: Read the full story here: First Fleet swamped by millions of mags

Idol no temptation for this kid

Anybody who watches Australian Idol or buys a Guy Sebastian CD and who is over 8 years old only has themselves to blame. Australian Idol is like a reverse IQ test for the nation and we are failing (well not me anyway). Australian Temptation Island will remain the only “true” reality program in my books – treachery, deceit, Penthouse Pets and illicit blow jobs. Now that is reality.

Square Eyes

CRIKEY: See the rest of our Australin Idol feedback on the site here: All that’s wrong with Australian Idol

Ruining the cricket

I just spent a little while with the pre-match hype on Nine for the first cricket test in Brisbane and was disappointed to find that they’ve exhumed that embarrassingly bad, bloody awful C’mon, Aussie song, which was just a crass piece of marketing the first time around anyway. Add to that Tony Greig’s unique capacity for stating the blindingly obvious, eg “Ooh, he’s hit that one!”, Bill Lawry’s threadbare collection of dreadful clichés, and interminable ads for ghostwritten cricket books and ridiculously overpriced photos and paintings, and it makes sense to watch the cricket with the sound turned down yet again or perhaps listen to it on the ABC while you do something else. Or am I in a minority?

Richard Pennycuick

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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