Dr Andrew Leigh writes: Re. “Education and schooling: not the same thing” (6 October, item 10). On Friday, Charles Richardson criticised Craig Emerson’s proposal to raise the compulsory school leaving age in Australia, opining that “rising school leaving ages do not seem to have been correlated with higher educational achievement”. I’m not sure what evidence Charles has in mind. In a paper last year, Chris Ryan and I

John Goldbaum, Vice-President of the Secular Party of Australia, writes: Richard Farmer (“The anomaly of the Liberals” – 6 October, item 5) and Misha Ketchell (“Is there really room for a party for ‘liberal Liberals’?” – 6 October, item 6) both thought Australia would benefit from a new political party that was intellectually consistent on both economic and social questions. There is such a party and it made its debut in Christian Kerr’s column in Crikey.com.au on 30 January, 2006. The Secular Party of Australia is both economically liberal and socially liberal and is the only party which believes in a true separation of church and state, which can be defined simply as non-intervention by government in the expressions and activities of religious or anti-religious organisations and vice versa. Greg Barns, Petro Georgiou, Malcolm Fraser, Patricia Forsyth, John Valder and anyone else looking for a comfortable home can find us at www.secular.org.au or just Google us. Join us today!

Tony Kevin writes: Crikey still has difficulty in coming to terms with the fact of the Greens’ significance as the growing third force in Australian politics. On Friday 6 October, Richard Farmer speculated (item 5): “Perhaps what the country would really benefit from is a new party that was intellectually consistent and liberal on both economic and social questions”. But the same Farmer wrote (item 14): “However much the Greens try and present themselves as a broadly based party of great social justice and concern, their electoral success or failure ends up getting back to trees… The Greens are already a significant force in Australian politics…”. It’s hard to see where Farmer comes out on the Greens. Crikey’s editor Misha Ketchell compounds the confusion. In item 6, he seems sublimely unaware that the Greens exist and have clear ideas about the future. Where does Crikey’s blind spot about the Greens come from? I wonder why Crikey finds it hard to see that the Greens are already a broadly based “liberal” party, e.g. in terms of their policies on social justice and civil liberties issues which are all robustly liberal? Maybe Crikey should invite Bob Brown to write something on the question of the liberalism of the Greens, before it prattles on about the possible need for a new party?

Allan Carey writes: I personally would like to encourage Petro Georgiou and other “liberal liberals” to form a new party. Being a life long Liberal voter and student of economics I feel that the current polices are extending far beyond the original centre right politics that attracted me to the liberal party in the 1st place. Over the last year I have witnessed a series of policy’s from employment, immigration and education that have there foundation in an unabashed ideological basis that is more akin to right wing America politics then they have to what I consider the Australian tradition arriving at the centre. I strongly feel that if there is a CLEAR moderate alternative with a party that has a CLEAR vision and stood for a CLEAR set of principles, voters will vote for them as I don’t believe that this country is far to the left or right. The 1st party that does this will gain the sort of support that the Democrats once enjoyed, maybe more.

Adam Lyons writes: Being a swinging voter with a more than slight preference for the coalition, the latest actions of Howard and Ruddock have convinced me that the most important task for every Australian voter is to see that every member of the coalition is swept from office at the next election. I wasn’t particularly bothered by the Workplace agreement, the lies and broken promises, core and non-core. I was not upset by the waste of defense budgets on poor quality submarines and helicopters. Monumental blunders within the Immigration and other federal departments caused me no concern. Government assistance to Howard’s brother’s company was also of no concern to me. The Telstra fiasco was a non event for me, as was numerous other mistakes such as the one sided Free trade agreement with the U.S.A. Even the illegal invasion of Iraq and the kowtowing to George Bush could not make me vote for a party with Beasley and Rudd as its leaders. What has changed me for ever is the acceptance, by the members of the coalition, of torture and the training of the butchers of Burma to be more efficient in the suppression of the people of that unfortunate country. I urge every elector to work for the defeat of this most un-Australian coalition.

Auditor Glen writes: Mr Pascoe is a little off the mark in his comments regarding Qantas and the compensation payment (6 October, Item 2). Of course recognition does not mean payment. It is accrual accounting. You know, Accounting 101 in any first year uni course. It matches the revenues and expenses to the period in which they occur. The real issue is matching a compensation payment and the rules now in place regarding what can be brought to account. A compensation payment can only be brought to account if it is more than likely to be received ie for an insurance payout or court case. You really need the matter resolved in your favour to bring it to account. That does not mean received, just resolved in you favour. If this does not occur you cannot bring it to account. Lodging a claim does not give you the right to bring it to account. So that is the issue. I would assume Qantas would not have received all of their debtors by now, should we bring those to account?? Of course. And to suggest the cost of the planes should be brought to account is nonsense. If you are going to comment on the accounting standards, at least read them first.

Michael de Angelos writes: When many people questioned the circumstances surrounding the arrest of the Bali Nine they were told by Mick Kelty of the AFP, Chris Ellison, Alexander Downer , the PM and a host of others to respect the sovereignty of the Indonesian courts although it seems the same doesn’t apply to Vanutatu in the Case of The Solomons A-G Julian Mori where he was found to have no case to answer on the charges he is alleged to face here. But why is this matter being led so fervently by Alexander Downer as Foreign Minister when surely it is a policing matter? It is Downer who is constantly holding press briefings about this matter and claiming it is not political in one breath and then bringing up the matter of the banishing of the Australian Ambassador to The Solomons at the same time. Rightly or wrongly, this is being perceived by everyone in the Pacific Rim-you cross the Australian government at your peril. Is this the image we want?

David Tiley writes: Re. Film funding. Instructive tale from Gordon Wakelin-King (6 October, comments), who tried to ask funding agencies for advice about investing in films. I am more than willing to credit the idea that most agency staff don’t know much about commercial investment. But on top of that, I imagine they go in terror of providing anything that can look like investment advice. Who wants to run the risk of pointing someone towards a financial dog? We should also remember two basic facts about this debate: 1) all the players from the FFC to SPAA to hungry independent filmmakers are pushing for a better tax regime and 2) it’s all government money whether it comes from an FFC investment, a presale from SBS or forgone tax revenue. As I am sure the tax mavens in Treasury are fond of shouting at lobbyists from the film sector.

Ross Copeland writes: Kevin Ford (6 October, comments) takes exception to Irfan Yusuf comparing 1% of non-integrating Muslims with 100% of non-integrating Exclusive Brethren. However the point is that Muslims can choose the extent that they integrate with the mainstream from fully to zero. Any member of the Exclusive Brethren who tried to fully, or even partially, integrate with the rest of the community would be expelled and treated as an outcast.

Mike Burke writes: Gee, it’s such fun being patronised by our children. Gary Price (6 October, comments) probably wouldn’t know it, and even if he did he wouldn’t admit it, but what he sees as older people believing what Bolt writes is more likely the fact that older people are just a tad less gullible than their children. From the advantage of our greater experience, we are less likely to believe the hysterical hype from the Greens and other zealots with axes to grind. There are plenty of us out here who would never have heard of Andrew Bolt if it weren’t for Crikey (and Stephen Mayne’s) obsession with him and certainly don’t need him to tell us how to think. We’ve seen it all before, mate. If it looks like bullsh-t, feels like bullsh-t and smells like bullsh-t, it’s not a rose. Even Young Gary will learn this in time, but until he does he would be wise to listen to his elders.

Terry Maher writes: You reported on Friday (item 25) that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. had bought the Crazy Frog ringtone business but you didn’t tell us what the Frog said to Rupert to seal the deal. I have spoken to Mr Frog and he says he told him: “A ding ding ding ding dididing ding bing bing pscht, Dorhrm bom bom bedom bem bom bedom bom bum ba ba bom bom, Bouuuuum bom bom bedahm, Bom be barbedarm bedabedabedabeda Bbrrrrrimm bbrrrrramm bbbrrrrrrrrraammmmm ddddddraammm, Bah bah baah baah ba wheeeeeee-eeeee-eeeee!” Shouldn’t this statement be put on the record? It makes more sense than most of the long boring letters to Crikey Daily.

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