John Hayward writes: How can the Bomber expect foreign tourists to respect Australian values when the natives have distinguished themselves as the only democracy in the developed world without a bill of rights? His demand that the furriners respect Aussie institutions leaves them with missions impossible. Respect the Tasmanian Government? The Immigration Dept? It appears that the values the Beazer adheres to are the ones that he thinks will finally get him into the Lodge – John Howard’s.

John Walters writes: As you say, Kim Beazley’s support for this bizarre loyalty pledge is “so silly (is) to be beyond parody” (yesterday, item 5).  Kim’s desperate attempts to ape John Howard and be populist have now reached rock bottom.  Who will rid the Labor party of this meddling pest?

Ashley Midalia writes: Kim Beazley’s plan to require visitors to our country to acknowledge and accept “Australian values” is an excellent one. That way, anyone who enters the country to blow things up is not only a terrorist but a liar too.

Suzanne Kealy writes: My father asked me a very sensible question and I thought I’d ask the Crikey readers what they thought. What do we think about bringing in some skilled politicians on working visas? There does seem to be a shortage of talented people out there (regardless of pay and conditions). We could install them into the various opposition parties around the country.

Zachary King writes: In response to Eric Beecher (yesterday, item 18), I think you might be looking at the situation backwards. Your contention is that free papers will lead to a loss in advertising revenue which in turn will lead to a loss in the quality of journalism. Newspapers spawning websites will only “weaken their core business” was the quote you provided. This sounds awfully reminiscent of the arguments made by record companies against downloading music. Wake up and smell the future. It’s already here. How about if newspapers concentrate on their webpage and offer the printed version as an offshoot? You may have noticed a new company recently making quite a bit of money from online advertising. It’s called Google. You can err, Google it.

Chris Ray writes: Your academic correspondent Damien Kingsbury must be extraordinarily well informed about East Timor. Take his attack yesterday (item 11) on The Australian‘s reporting of the latest piece of evidence connecting the army deserter and jail escapee Alfredo Reinado with President Xanana Gusmao in a plot against the democratically elected Fretilin government. The Australian reported claims that Gusmao paid the bills of Reinado and his fellow mutineers while they campaigned against the government. Gusmao’s office issued a half-hearted denial. Yet Kingsbury not only confirms that the President did indeed pay Reinado’s bill – he is also able to tell us Gusmao’s motive for doing so. Reinado keeps saying he takes orders only from the President. So could Kingsbury now explain why Gusmao has so far failed to direct Reinado to surrender?

Colin Ross writes: Barry Everingham’s story (yesterday, comments) reminds me of another, probably apocryphal, regarding the late King of Tonga. On the first night at sea, during a trip to the UK, he was shown the dinner menu by the captain’s steward.  After a short perusal, he turned to the startled steward and said “this is no good to me, bring me the passenger list”.

Kevin Brady writes: Tony Ryan (yesterday, comments) asks which Aboriginal language should be taught in our schools. In Western Australia, those schools that choose to teach Aboriginal languages select local languages that have speakers available (there are more of these than you think). This includes Noongar speakers in the Perth metropolitan area and the South West. The Department of Education supports these local speakers with training and support materials. Many Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students find these languages – and the implicit cultural immersion that occurs along with the program – stimulating, interesting and relevant. As for parents “guffawing” over the idea, most parents I speak to (and that is many) understand that education provides a lot more than just a functional basis for a career, and value broader cultural, social and personal benefits that learning an indigenous language can provide.  My children learned Bunaba language in Fitzroy Crossing when we lived there, and still fondly remember the interactions with Aboriginal elders and the activities they participated in. In my view, they have a much clearer sense of both the positive and negative aspects of Aboriginal culture than many adults who have not been so privileged. Without making such study compulsory, providing an opportunity for students to engage with Aboriginal people in a teaching role may go a long way to addressing the very sad cultural divisions in this country.

Kate Whiteing writes: Re: “Stuff the tennis, watch the player” (yesterday, item 29). Why is it that no commentator on tennis can acknowledge Anna Kournikova’s ranking as high as No. 1 in world doubles and 13 titles (including two Australian Opens)? No one divides up Martina Navratilova’s 59 majors into singles, doubles and mixed (not that, for a moment, am I putting Kournikova in the same league as Navratilova). The girl was gorgeous, but she also had talent. While she chose to enhance her income with sponsorship deals that incorporated her looks, her achievements on the court were impressive, too. She was often in the top 10 for singles, and made quarter-final and semi-final appearances in slams as well as coming runner-up in other tournaments. I saw her play doubles at the Sydney International a few years back, and it was some of the most exciting tennis I’ve seen live. I prefer substance to style on the tennis court, but to say that until Maria Sharapova combined them they were mutually exclusive is incorrect.

Scott Warren writes: Couldn’t help but stall, shocked, when I saw your correspondent had referred to the Wallabies having “Steve Rogers” as a fly-half back-up for Stephen Larkham (yesterday, item 27). Surely he was referring to Mat Rogers, and not his father Steve, the 1970s rugby league legend who died early this year. I admit the Wallabies need a gift from heaven to be a force in the 2007 RWC, but I’m not sure a reincarnated Steve Rogers is the answer.

Nahum Ayliffe writes: I’m a fan, both of Crikey and of your political voice. As you may remember, I attended the PP launch for Gaby Byrne in Lilydale some weeks ago. However, I’m really disappointed with these campaign diaries. They are a blatant conflict of interest. What is Crikey? Is it a serious media organization (as you have claimed on occasions when you have been precluded from attending a media lock in) or is it the propaganda arm of a political party? (And I am sympathetic to the party’s values, however that is irrelevant.) Regardless of the fact that you no longer own Crikey, your name is synonymous with the brand. Now when I read a news item about politics, particularly one written by yourself (as you did yesterday commenting on Family First), then look below to see a “news item” branded “Campaign diary,” it makes me quite angry. I can’t read any commentary without thinking “why is this being written?” And when Crikey lays the boot into another party, as it has done on numerous occasions, then I end up thinking that it was done in the interest of, and to the advantage of the party that you represent. I have been a candidate for a party (the Australian Democrats) whilst in the employ of the Uniting Church. At the last election, I was attending and working at the same congregation as the incumbent candidate in my electorate, Chris Pearce MP. It would have been a gross abuse of my position to openly campaign, just as it would have been a conflict of interest for Chris to do so. And we both would have lost credibility had either of us done so. It’s all very well to stand up for accountability, both in business and in government, but it is another thing all together to fail to apply the same scrutiny in one’s own affairs. That is known as hypocrisy.

Stephen Mayne responds: You make several good points. However, I’ve been running for elections and writing about the experience non-stop for the past seven years. Also, it’s important to note that I have absolutely no editorial control over Crikey as I’m just one of 15-plus regular contributors. The idea is that the content is interesting and insightful for Crikey readers – not a vote-gathering or propaganda tool for PP. It won’t be shoving policies down the throats of readers and calling for volunteers or donations – but rather a real-time insider’s perspective on running a political campaign. As long as there is full disclosure of my role, I don’t see what the problem is – provided the content is interesting and that is what governs whether diary items appear or not.

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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