It’s all politics and the media in this week’s lively Yoursay, as readers chew over the naming of Abbott’s son, Howard’s decision to send additional troops to Iraq, the death of Hunter S Thompson and much more.

Abbott’s adoption media stunt

I was shocked to read about Tony Abbott’s adopted son on the front of The Sydney Morning Herald (21/2/05). I felt it was a blatant attempt to show Mr Abbott as a more “caring and sharing” type of person. What a twisted value system we see in the newspapers these days! Is there no thought for this young man and his adoptive parents, who surely didn’t ask to be pushed into the limelight? They are not public figures, even if Mr Abbott is, and to see this family used in this way is a really bad form of intrusion into the privacy of people who have not moved into the public eye willingly.

I hope that everyone sees this for the public relations exercise it is and realise that, in order to make Mr Abbott look better, that a private family have been trampled upon.

Penelope Toltz

Abbott’s adoption football

Mr Abbott was asking everyone very nicely to not use his biological son as a political football. This seems a bit rich, considering he, as the biological father has already kicked the game off. Asking everyone else to not to join in at this very carefully stage managed moment doesn’t seem very fair. And if the situation was truly being handled compassionately one would think the son involved wouldn’t have felt the need to leave the country. Mr Abbott just gets worse and worse.


Abbott and collective adoption relief

Apparently ‘there was a lot of swearing’ when Abbott’s son found out who his biological father was. But can’t you hear the collective sigh of relief from vast numbers of other adopted 27-year-olds?

Polly List

Ruddock and Abbott: When is family out of bounds?

So Andrew Bartlett is siding with the Rodent and his cabinet. Seems to me that when a member of the parliamentary Liberal party is in trouble (eg Ruddock) that his family is out of bounds. But when the Liberal spin doctors want the hapless voters to forget all the Liberals woes, they rush a good news story (eg Abbott’s love child) onto the front page. Rather than being out of bound, Abbott’s family life then and now pretty much becomes a free for all. To make matters worse they drag in the decent, honest, caring and loving adoptive parents.

And while everyone’s feeling warm and comfortable about that nice lad Abbott, the PM drops his bombshell about sending more troops to Iraq. Does he honestly think that we’ll believe that the whole business of the Netherlands pulling out only came up last week! No wonder Brendan Nelson rails against school students learning critical thinking skills. They think we’re all idiots and they treat us like that.

There are some questions about the decision to commit more troops that no one has asked, especially Crikey. It’s all pretty disappointing.


CRIKEY: Read Andres Bartlett’s comments here: Bartlett on the spy and Ruddock’s daughter

Who on earth are Tenix?

In the lead up to the WA election the hot issue appears to still be the canal, apparently costed by Tenix. In my 20 years of civil infrastructure experience I have never heard of Tenix. As far as I can tell from their website,, they are a defence firm who have never delivered a civil infrastructure project of any scale. Unless they have engaged one of the big consultants (GHD, Connell Wagner, SKM etc) I seriously doubt their capability to cost (let alone build) such a large project, and I am surprised that no-one in the mainstream press has followed this up.

Ginger Beer

Dot com dot hey you

I noted your frustration today at both the “blundering” Fin and ABC getting Crikey’s URL wrong. I find it annoying, too, since much has been made of your stand-off with Hallier. This may be a piddling observation, but you can hardly whine when your own writers get your URL wrong – and you publish their mistakes.

Like today when Outside Centre wrote that “… more than one reader agrees with me.” This was in the very same edition in which you complained about others stuffing it up! Also, in the past I’ve often heard 702 ABC Sydney’s Sally Loane promo and introduce you as “ publisher Stephen Mayne.” Either you haven’t heard her or chosen not to correct her on air, which I guess could be a little embarrassing and not the best way to kick off an interview. Having said that, I think is a vital feature on the Australian media landscape and I’m glad for the work you do. Keep it up.

Craig, a loyal subscriber

The Rodent’s website

For the latest on the Rodent, go to Here you will learn how to vote Liberal in the 2004 election, download a 2004 John Howard calendar, read the Rodent’s latest newsletter (March 2004), view photos of ‘recent electorate events’ (the most recent being “Assorted 2003 pictures with captions”) and so on. There’s absolutely nothing of value to the constituents of Bennelong. If your majority was reduced at the last election, wouldn’t you be doing something positive to rectify that?

Perhaps he really doesn’t care as he has faced the electorate for the last time? But then ought we to be surprised by the attitude of a troglodyte?


The Iraq deployment

You published some anticipated justifications by right wing journos for the government’s deployment of further troops to Iraq. Much as I detest these opinion makers, your implicit denigration of them is deeply hypocritical. The primary reason I have always baulked at becoming a Crikey subscriber is because of your unequivocal support for the Iraq war in the first instance. For you to now turn around and sound the dog whistle to those who have always opposed the war is a joke.

Curiously, despite being deeply opposed to the war from its outset, I now think that since we made the mess, we should clean it up. I wish upon John Howard a hasty journey to the rubbish heap of history, but I which upon the people of Iraq an even hastier relief from poverty, pain and misery.

If you expect people to subscribe to your ‘independent’ news service, please be consistent.

Tim Pye

Paying for Howard’s mistake

Listening to John Howard you could be forgiven for forgetting we are sending more troops to cover his stuff up in the original decision to join Bush in Iraq.

Now a man with any principals would have admitted he got it wrong and would have resigned and walked away in total embarrassment. But not our leader of the Bush fan club. He still seems to think the US can bomb cities where they don’t have control and still come to a glorious democratic outcome.

It’s time for Beazley and the press to bring him into the spotlight and focus on just what a wacky idea is operating in the background.

Peter McCarthy

Henderson doesn’t speak for us all

No doubt you caught this little Gerard Henderson gem on Insiders:

I mean I think what sections of the media misunderstand is that since 9/11, since the attack on the United States, a large majority of the populations in Australia, Britain and the United States regard their nations as being at war. We know historically, going back, that when citizens of a democratic nation think that their nation is war, they accept that certain things will happen or might be said to happen that wouldn’t otherwise happen.

I wish people like Gerard wouldn’t presume to speak for me. I most certainly do not regard our nation as ‘being at war’, and nor does anyone I know. I find this sort of assumption, by apologists for the government, of the right to speak on behalf of the nation thoroughly offensive, but it is more than that, it is scary.

What, for instance, does he mean by “they accept that certain things will happen or might be said to happen that wouldn’t otherwise happen”? What is he softening us up for? The erosion of liberties and freedoms that we’re used to, and that are our right, on the pretext that we are on a war footing? Is he telling us that unacceptable behaviour towards or by citizens of this nation is justifiable?

This is the sort of thing that makes me wonder how far the government will go before people start to wake up to what it’s doing. I suppose there were many, many people in pre-Nazi Germany who didn’t really notice what was going on until it was far too late.

Oh, and did I really hear Andrew Bolt end his Insiders contribution by commenting on Cornelia Rau “who escaped from a mental hospital and ended up in a detention centre which she didn’t want to leave”? (I may not have it word perfect but, from what I recall, that’s a pretty fair replica of what he said)


Hunter S Thompson dominates ABC homepage

I don’t know what astute media watchers can make of it but news of Hunter S Thompson’s demise featured under no less than six headers on the ABC news homepage – Headline – Top Stories – Just In – World – Arts – Media Sections. Is the ABC website the place where old gonzos go to sup electric cool aid in their declining years ? I don’t know why it didn’t also feature in the offbeat section.


Hugo Kelly on red tape reduction

Hugo Kelly can scoff at the Governments $50 million red tape reduction fund but as someone who runs a small business – and deals with red tape – it sounds like a good idea to me. Last time I checked there were over 16,000 separate licenses and permits imposed by councils across

Australia – and bugger all reason for any of them to maim these cash cows. Many local governments are yet to catch up to the rise of the self employed professional who might have an office address at home but whose business is not even carried out in the area. Why should they have to pay for parking permits for clients who never visit or higher rates (up to 3 times as much) just because they are doing the books in the garage at night (as I am about to!).

Clarrie the Consultant

C’mon Aussie!

A recent road trip to western Queensland was enjoyable but it seems part of the deal when Aussies drive on outback roads is to throw anything, especially bottles, out of the window. There would not be a metre on many outback roads without a bottle or two, broken glass, plastic or other rubbish. Can’t we do a bit better than that?

A. Andersen

Royal revelations

What everyone seems to have forgotten in the debate about the forthcoming marriage of Prince Charles to Camilla Parker-Bowles is the motive. What do they gain by getting married?

Some crass critics have suggested the reason behind the nuptials it is to put Camilla on the Royal stipend. Not so. We have all really underestimated the intrigue and manipulative power of the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla, her hold over Charles and her intent to rise above her commoner status.

Way down on the Royal pecking order at the moment she seeks to assert her authority now and her destiny. Never underestimate the ways and workings of a woman’s mind.

Camilla plans to have a child. Yes you read it here first, Camilla is embarked upon a fertility enhancing program which will not only prime her reproductive organs for motherhood but Charles himself is on a course of Viagra. (Haven’t you noticed the increased rosy red cheeks of his countenance lately? A sure indication Viagra is coursing through his bloodstream!)

The offspring of any union will be, by virtue of the parents forthcoming marriage be legitimately entitled to lay a claim to the throne of England after Charles assumes the title of King following the departure of Elisabeth.

Incredible? Not to Camilla’s mind, the Royal wedding is just the first step in putting the plan into action. Charles wouldn’t be the first royal duped by a divorcee, would he?

Watch this space a year hence, meantime take the best odds your bookie will offer and have a lazy hundred on the outcome. (I reckon another boy)

This I Believe

Howard J. Powers