Louise Staley, Research Fellow at The Institute of Public Affairs, writes: Having managed to remain out of Crikey’s eye for some time now I see that little has changed when one of your operatives does turn his eye towards me. In the piece on Steyn’s CD Kemp lecture Stephen Mayne manages to make two errors concerning me within 19 words. Stephen should be well aware that I have never been the Federal MP he says I was, since he was editor when Crikey ran a series of attacks on me to try and ensure I never became one. The second error I am more disturbed by. Stephen suggests I asked Steyn a question about Australia’s capacity to cope with Asian immigration, the undercurrent being that I do not support Asian immigration, a proposition I emphatically reject. What, in fact, I asked Steyn was how he saw the nations within South East Asia and South America fitting into the “end of the world” scenario he was painting since he had not mentioned them up to that point.

Brian Gordon writes: I am intrigued that the Crikey team finds itself ideologically locked in behind Milton Friedman (18 August, editorial) when it comes to the sale of Coles to overseas interests and believes that Australia is run by adolescents if it doesn’t accede to such a bid. This is despite nations, such as the US, Italy, France, China, Spain, Russia et al, in the past year all taking oppositional stances to takeovers by foreign companies of perceived iconic or strategic entities. I use the word “ideologically” as it is suggestive of a hard line assertion that can countenance no alternative view. Such an alternative view might have allowed for social bottom line considerations, and the value of retention of earnings in Australia, etc. The failure of the DOHA round points to the entrenched difficulties that exist internationally when it comes to national interest. We do not play on a level playing field and never have, to pretend otherwise is, dare I say it, ideologically unwise.

  • Pre-European settlement: arrival of Aborigines to the continent of Australia, their way of life, culture and society goes on in relative isolation for thousands of years.
  • 1770-1788: Captain Cook explores the Australian coast, First Fleet arrive and start European settlement.
  • 1850s: The Gold Rush leads to further immigration, prosperity and Australian mining sector.
  • 1902: Australian women get the vote.
  • 1914-1945: 2 World Wars and a depression define the mindset for a hard working, careful generation.
  • 1946: Immigration from war-torn Europe ends White Australia and begins a more multicultural Australia.
  • 1962: Concerns about the environmental effects of increased production and population leads to the start of environmental / conservation thinking.
  • 1970s: Large numbers of Baby Boomers reject the catholic v protestant sectarian ethos / religion in general. Their new values go on to solidify a more individualistic view of Australia, personally and as a nation.
  • 1982-2002: Changes in business practices and the economy bring hardship then lead into a sustained boom. This in conjunction with the rise of computing / the Internet shapes the mindset of Generation X & Y.
  • 2003-present: The growth in asset prices, in particular high property prices, leads to housing affordability problems for Generation Y – who knows where this will lead but I think it will lead to a big defining moment in our history…

Mark Scott writes: In response to John Wilkinson’s comments (18 August, comments) regarding the $2000 LPG rebate: “Surely it would be smarter to give it to people buying a Hybrid?” The answer is no. Hybrids just don’t add up. They are overpriced due to the fact that they carry two engines, chew up considerably more fossil fuels in their production at the factory, carry extremely toxic batteries, run on fossil fuels, and still only return fuel economies slightly better than turbo-diesels. Hybrids do sound cool though, just ask Victorian Premier Steve Bracks. Australia should be looking towards mandating the sale of petrol engines that have the ability to run on any mix of petrol and ethanol (E85 is becoming common in Europe, compared with the E10 we are squabbling over in Australia), and encouraging an indigenous biodiesel industry that sources fuel from crops such as eucalyptus.

Keith Thomas writes: Sean O’Boyle’s lament for the closure of an Air Force band conveniently ignores the point of having an air force. Australia’s defence priorities have for too long been compromised by interests other than national defence. Usually it’s pork-barrelling politicians who push the “job creation” and “regional development” levers. It’s time we left Air Force decisions to those who know about air defence. Unlike Sean O’Boyle, the Chief of the Air Force demonstrates a clear focus on his role. I hope the heads of the other services are bold enough to follow his sensible lead; especially now, when the services are short of recruits, the last thing we need is to divert funding from air defence to rehearsing for “countless, wonderful concerts”.

Rodney Jarman writes: Re. AFL teams placing too much faith in the draft (18 August, item 31). Adam Schwab has Ryley Dunn no longer playing at the top level. This will be a surprise to young Ryley. He has only played one or two games but is still definitely on Freo’s list and is contracted to 2008.

Nick Shimmin writes: Much seems to have been made in Crikey this week about how you have no agenda, how you attack both sides if they deserve it, how you are a beacon of truth. But unfortunately you have only one “National Affairs Editor”, and he has a very particular agenda indeed. A swathe of readers write in to point out how completely wrong Kerr was about Robert Fisk (18 August, comments), but as usual not a word from him admitting his mistakes. Likewise his absurd justification of the stacking of the ABC board, and his regular irrational and error-strewn rants about the Greens. Until you give equal space to another “National Affairs Editor” who gives balance to Kerr’s nutty inaccuracies, or at least insist upon him admitting and apologising for his errors (good lord, you give endless column inches insisting the mainstream media do just that!), your protestations of fair-handedness will cut no ice with most of your readership.

Trevor Kruger writes: When are political commentators going to raise the bar and ditch this farce we call political debate in this country. “Debate” it is not when they stick to the Machiavellian Howard mantra of “never explain, never apologise”. The criticism to Christian Kerr’s attack on Robert Fisk by Peter Dowding and 5 others cries out for some response let alone a retraction. What do we get from Christian? A smartar-e remark about Milton Cockburn. In a responsible media the most junior journalist should be hauled over the editorial coals for not checking the facts and avoiding misrepresentation. Is it enough to be a controversial attack dog of the Stan Zemanek mould? How to explain that commentators get away with that? I guess that the standards of a professional journalist are not required of a political commentator. Come on Christian, admit you didn’t read or deliberately skipped bits of Robert Fisk’s article that were uncomfortable to your world view. Those of us who treasure balanced debate will not think you any the less macho for ditching the dodgy rhetoric. Maybe even more so. But (sigh) that’s not the way of the power game is it? The traditional “school debate” and the party system of “democracy” has a lot to answer for with its reliance on a priori logic.

Niall Clugston writes: While many of us sad hippies might wish he was more Christian and less of a cur, many of Christian Kerr’s political insights – such his recent ones into John Howard – are undoubtably brilliant.

Milton Cockburn writes: I note that Christian Kerr has not denied his s-xual attraction to goats (18 August, comments). Under Crikey’s “rule” of journalism doesn’t that make the story true?

Send your comments, corrections, clarifications and c*ck-ups to [email protected]. Preference will be given to comments that are short and succinct: maximum length is 200 words. Please include your full name – we won’t publish comments anonymously unless there is a very good reason.

Peter Fray

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