El Gibbs writes:



In your Special Budget edition,
Christian Kerr said: “Sole parents and disability pensioners get
whacked this Budget – but not so hard that their squeals will disturb
the rest of us.” You are joking, aren’t you? Believe it or not, there
are those among your readers who are not in the AB demographic. Some of
us, isolated by illness, choose to spend $80 per year on information,
such as the Crikey Daily edition, to somewhat alleviate the sense of
disconnection from the wider world. But that comment is deeply
offensive. I know that Crikey focuses on business interests, but surely
you could be more compassionate about the impact that this Budget will
have on the most vulnerable people in Australia. How many of the
companies you spend hours writing about will be willing to employ
people with a disability or young children? What about the other
concessions that come with a pension and can often make the difference
between eating and not? What impact will the loss of these have on
those chucked off the pension? Come down out of your ivory tower and
give some attention to those whose voices are so often not heard.

And, because Stephen Mayne has been copping plenty of flak in this
section in the past few days, here’s a compliment from Martin Royal:

As
an ABC national newsreader with 36 years experience on radio and
television I would like to congratulate Stephen Mayne on his
entertaining approach to last Friday’s Morning Show on 774 ABC
Melbourne. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for newsreader Kate
Draper who continues to frustrate with her tendency to gabble and fade
even the most straightforward stories. Please Kate, spare a thought for
your elderly audience and ease up on the aural modulation! As for
Stephen, I look forward to catching up with your latest experiments in
toddler rearing sometime soon.

Peter Wesley-Smith writes:
Guy
Rundle said yesterday that Stephen Mayne’s argument that Shirley
Shackleton has taken – or been given – the limelight at the expense of
Greg Shackleton’s real widow was a bit rich. He wrote: “Shirley
Shackleton gets the media attention because she became a campaigner
around both the cover-up of the Balibo killings and the invasion of
East Timor more generally in the wake of Greg Shackleton’s murder. The
suggestion that the Balibo five died because of their “naivete” is
offensive. They died reporting a war, knowing the risks. It takes a lot
more guts than annoying Rupert Murdoch at AGMs.”

I’m with Guy
Rundle on this. I read the comment about Shirley Shackleton last year
and found it objectionable, though I didn’t write in to complain.
Stephen appears to have invented a new fundamental right, of public
grieving, but what does it mean and why should it exist? In what way
has Shirley deprived anyone else of their ability to express grief? Are
only current partners entitled to air time or space in the newspapers?
Surely as Greg’s wife – whether the relationship was over or not –
Shirley was and is entitled to mount a political campaign seeking the
truth about the demise of the Balibo five, and for a journalist to be
critical of colleagues who bravely endeavoured to get the news and died
in the process is unconscionable.

Clive Morton writes:
Your
nicknames “Mad Monk” and “Rodent” were pungent, your “Dollar Sweetie,”
like your petulant childish behaviour over the Budget lockout, is
pathetic. And pigs will be airborne if you publish this.

A subscriber asks:
Can
someone explain to me why vote fraud would not be a piece of cake in
the UK? The UK has voluntary voting, and now, postal voting. That means
if party hacks work out which voters never vote, they can forge
signatures and do mass postal vote fraud. Whereas in Australia, 95%
plus turn up to vote. If someone turns up and discover they have been
registered as a postal voter by persons unknown, then the alarm bells
ring and we can have a nice big police investigation. The strongest
argument for compulsory attendance on election day has to be stopping
vote fraud.

And another (unnamed) subscriber thinks the conservatives didn’t do terribly well in the UK election:
So
much for conservative cheer in the UK! The Conservatives were so
successful (against a prime minister who has lost all respect) that
after the election the first thing that happened was that their leader
resigned. The Conservatives were so successful that their share of the
popular vote climbed from 31% in 1997 and 32% in 2001 (the first two
Blair wins) to a dizzying 33% in 2005. At no other time in the last
hundred years have the Conservatives polled under 35%. The
Conservatives were so successful that their number of seats rose to the
same number they achieved in the Labour landslide of 1945. Pre-Blair,
they haven’t won fewer seats since 1906! Given the situation they were
in and the amazing decline in the popularity of Blair, what’s really
amazing is how the Conservatives managed to do as badly as they did.

And a subscriber updates us on insurance law:
Crikey’s
item about the possible beneficiaries of David Hookes’ insurance relied
on imaginary laws. Life insurance companies don’t have discretion about
the payment of death benefits. If a policy owner has nominated a
beneficiary, the nominee must get the money. If the owner has not
nominated a beneficiary, the money must be paid to the owner. If the
owner happens to be the deceased, that means that the money must go to
the estate. There is an exception for small benefits up to $50,000.

Crikey’s
description of the powers of superannuation trustees is a decade out of
date. If a super fund member nominates a dependent or the member’s
estate as the death benefit beneficiary, the trustees must do as they
are told by the member. The trustees of Cricket Victoria’s
superannuation fund would only be able to choose David Hookes’
beneficiaries if he did not make a nomination.

If you want to check this in the federal government’s legal data base on the net, the laws are in:
(1) Section 48A of the Insurance Contracts Act 1984
(2) Sections 211 and 212 of the Life Insurance Act 1995
(3) Section 59(1A) of the Superannuation Industry Supervision Act 1993

Peter Fray

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Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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