Greens Senator Christine Milne writes: Re. “The Greens v the Brethren: The Battle of the Cults” (yesterday, item 5). Christian Kerr is not prepared, it seems, to take the advice of a consensus of scientists who all agree that climate change is real and urgent. It seems that only Christian Kerr and Prime Minister John Howard remain climate sceptics. It does not reflect well on journalism to suggest that the views of the world’s leading scientists on climate change are in any way comparable to an apocalyptic vision of a sect. Christian Kerr seems to have missed the point that this sect does not vote and does not allow its members to stand for public office but it seeks to influence the outcome of elections in a secretive way. The point is not what they believe but the issue of transparency. Upholding the principles of open and transparent government, and free and fair elections is something that all elected representatives should regard as important. The matter has been taken up by the electoral commission.

Ebony Bennett, Media Adviser to Greens Senator Bob Brown writes: When even the Murdoch empire has admitted the threat of climate change is real, perhaps it’s time to ask yourself Christian — just how far from the pack have you strayed?

James Norman writes: Christin Kerr shows his ignorance of the Greens when he attributes Flannery’s comments about climate change to the Greens — they are not in the same party and hold divergent views on quite a few issues. Also, it is the Brethren who have brought the issue to the Greens, not the other way around. The Greens would be negligent in their duty if they didn’t fend off the Exclusive Brethren’s attacks on the party, as they have caused serious damage at the polling booth in the past. Kerr ought to be careful who he is siding with here. Agree with their policies or not, the Greens are a legitimate democratically elected political organisation. The brethren are a shadowy business/religious sect who have torn apart families, demand their followers break the law (by not voting), while at the same time enjoying tax breaks and seeking to influence the political process by underhanded cashed up manipulations. Its just another case of Kerr taking any opportunity to attack the Greens, and a transparent display of his propensity for simple headed sensationalism. PS — Andrew Bolt is on holiday — might be an opening for you there Christian — in your dreams!

Ken McAlpine, Victorian Greens member, writes: Christian Kerr’s piece likening the Greens to the Exclusive Brethren in my Crikey today was pretty cheap. That he had to use a quote from Tim Flannery — someone who has never been a member of the Greens, to support his “Cult-against-Cult” theory, rather demonstrates how superficial his comparison is. He suggests that Greens Senator Christine Milne should not have the right to criticise an organisation which has spent millions of dollars campaigning in elections because it is “religious”. One of the few things John Howard is right about is that when churches intervene in politics, they have to expect to be criticised like politicians. Kerr thinks that the Greens are a cult simply because they have very different views to his. However, the Greens do not separate their children from all contact with others, do not break-up families, do not believe all truth lies in an “elect vessel”, nor do they control the lifestyle of their members. Greens include smokers, 4WD owners, hunters and fishers, evangelical Christians and police officers, as well as vegetarians, bushwalkers and atheists. I suppose a fundamentalist or “ratbag” Green would be one who thought all coal-fired power stations should be closed tomorrow or that all cars should be taken off the roads, or that meat-eating should be banned. In four years in the Greens, I have never met such a person. If Christian Kerr cannot tell the difference between a fundamentalist cult like the Exclusive Brethren, and a mainstream democratic political party like the Greens, he should get a bit more life experience. Cameron Edge writes: What is with Christian Kerr? Does this really pass as journalism? Or even comment? Does anyone really think the Greens would care about a fundamentalist religious organisation if that organisation wasn’t involved in politics. Considering that more and more people are coming around to a similar point of view to the greens on issues form global warming and the war in Iraq to public transport and the protection of our water catchment areas, why would the Greens go out of there way to pick a fight right wing nutters. And since when is Tim Flannery a spokesperson for The Greens? if you want to have ago at The Greens then get comment from the Greens not an independent scientist. Lucy Sussex writes: Um, Christian Kerr reads Trollope, so he’s got good reading taste. But the matter of Perth running out of water to support its population (just like the state of Israel) is a possibility that should not be dismissed out of hand as ratbaggery. Take a good hard look at the science, the size of the dams, and the costs of desalination. I recommend he also read the late George Turner’s The Sea and Summer, about Melbourne in the greenhouse future. It was published in 1897, well before climate change became fash, and won the Arthur C Clarke award for science fiction. Turner also won a Miles Franklin, so he knew his literature and he knew his science. Meika Loofs Samorzewski writes: Christian Kerr wrote, “This looks like a war between two fundamentalist sects to me – two groups that most Australians regard as raving ratbags.” Takes one to know one. Alan Lander writes: Re. The Rapture – a time when all of those who are Christian and alive at a particular time will be swept up into the next life, and left behind will be those who are not pure. Does that include “Christian” Kerr? Bring it on.

Iain Lygo writes: If a 20,000 strong secretive Muslim sect refused to vote, refused to integrate, weren’t allowed basic freedoms, and secretly campaigned against the conservative parties, Howard and Co would be screaming “un-Australian” and banging on about “Aussie values”. There would no doubt be strong support for a full-Senate inquiry into their financial dealings and favourable tax-exempt status. Shock jocks would invoke a full moral panic and the word “deportation” would become very popular. But since the Exclusive Brethren are “Christians” and demonise the Greens, the rules are completely different. Despite being deeply homophobic, and engaging in some of the ugliest and un-democratic campaigning the country has ever seen, John Howard condones their behaviour and condemns the critics of this dangerous religious cult for one very simple reason. The Exclusive Brethren cheer for the conservatives. They campaigned for Howard in 2004 and the PM and his state colleagues would gladly accept further assistance from these extremists if it was in their political best interest.

Henrie Ellis writes: Christian Kerr’s lambasting of the Brethren and the Greens as entertaining and risible as it was, failed to mention another issue in the election funding mess we have in this nation. Interest groups and organisations channel funding to political parties through associated entities. In Victoria the major political parties receive massive amounts of money through the associated entities and that money is virtually untraceable and masks the donors. As it stands the Brethren or any other interest group or individual can channel funds through associated entities and on numerous occasions in the Victorian State Parliament attempts to change the disclosure and accountability mechanisms for political parties by Independents have seen the major parties gang up and torpedo these proposals. The current disclosure laws are a joke and all the talk from the major parties about “transparency”, “honesty” and “accountability” is just empty rhetoric. Some excellent models regarding disclosure exist in other countries and issues such as “continuous disclosure of donors to associated entities” have to be looked at before the situation becomes even murkier.

Anthea Parry writes: Vivien Kluger (yesterday, comments) and Ruth Davies want to know why childless people should subsidise people who choose to have children? It’s because our children will be your doctors and nurses when you’re old and sick. And our children will be the ones keeping essential services going, growing your food, and paying taxes so society can afford to keep you alive. Think of your minute percentage of the $3,000 as an investment so we don’t have to turn you into soylent green once you’re too old to contribute.

Andrew Smith writes: Re. Why should childless singles/couples subsidise people who choose to have children? Because today’s children are tomorrow’s taxpayers. Without them, there will be no money to pay for the pensions and subsidise the health care of tomorrow’s childless elderly. Alternatively it follows that if today’s childless need not subsidise today’s children, those same children ought not be made to subsidise any retirees other than their own parents. Of course that would lead to cruel outcomes for those unfortunate childless retirees who fail to accumulate enough wealth. A depressing exercise in unenlightened self-interest.

Richard Lawson writes: Willem Schultnick claims in yesterday’s comments, “Raising the next generation of Australians is both time consuming and expensive”. Haven’t you been listening to Christian & Co. — in these globalised, economically rational times you don’t do it yourself. Wait till some other country has done the expensive and risky raising, educating, training bit, then poach them. How can there be a downside to that?

Steven McKiernan writes: Re. Mark Fletcher’s Aussie Post rant (yesterday, item 13). If I could add to it. Not only do Aussie Post feel they can expand into the small business area of newsagency rather than core business of mail delivery, they reckon they have the right to ignore the obvious “NO JUNK MAIL” sticker on my letterbox as well. Every week they shove unsolicited, unaddressed brochures, pamphlets and marketing surveys into it, apparently with some form of reflected government authority to do so. I thought the ability to read road maps, addresses could easily transfer to the “No Junk Mail” sticker as well. Perhaps some form of management directive that allows residents requests to be ignored.

Martyn Smith writes: I do not wish to directly join the debate between Mssrs Thornton and McLoughin (yesterday, comments) as to whether the USSR or USA were primarily responsible for winning the Second World War. To me it was a group effort and the argument is a stale one. I would point out that if it wasn’t for a small island off Europe called Britain, which stood alone against the Axis until the USSR and USA were attacked and thereby became involved, the outcome of that war could well have been different. I agree that both the USA and USSR, along with every allied country can be said to have won. Britain in a sense lost, because she was much weaker at the end than the beginning. Every ounce of gold Britain possessed was taken by “the Arsenal of Democracy” (the Brits paid dearly for American largess) and Britain finished “broke”, there were more British troops than American fighting the Axis until after D-Day and the RAF occupied many German divisions defending German cities from bombing, divisions which otherwise have might have made a crucial difference to German fortunes on the Russian front. There is no doubt that Britain lost the peace, unlike Germany which received huge amounts of aid. I make these remarks for the benefit of Crikey’s younger readers who may be unaware that anyone other than the modest Americans and gallant Russians were involved in defeating Hitler’s young men. There were some Australians, South Africans and New Zealanders heavily involved too.

James Harper writes: Poor Terry Maher (yesterday, comments), he really should have checked a dictionary before complaining at the use of “enquiry”. He would soon have discovered that while both “inquiry” and “enquiry” are correct, “enquiry” is more correct as “inquiry” is a variant of it and not vice versa.

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