Chris Pearce writes: The Crikey editorials are getting ridiculous. Yes, the change in media ownership laws is not going to be good. Yes the ABC bias issue is bollocks. But let’s stop whingeing. It’s one thing to criticise, but another to harp on for weeks on end. The points have been made, well made. Falling into the traditional trap of complaining without providing alternative options or explaining the point particularly well makes for poor journalism. Yesterday’s gem is the worst of the lot: “But in the government’s war on independent journalism there is simply no option of cutting and running.” Surely the whole debate is about who should be cutting and what should be running!

Brad Ruting writes: Stephen Mayne (yesterday, item 1), discussing Paul Keating’s recommendation for the next Labor government to force a demerger on any media buyouts resulting from Howard’s new laws, argues that, “The smarter move would be to announce an intention to auction off a new free-to-air licence to the highest bidder in 2008. That would instantly wipe many hundreds of millions off the PBL deal – and ensure even more slavishly pro-Howard campaigning from the Packers at next year’s election.” Unfortunately, that recommendation is even worse. Forced demergers would be a legally, politically and economically messy issue, but any remaining TV stations that weren’t affected would be campaigning on Labor’s side, as pulling apart their competitors is in their commercial interest. The threat of a new TV licence – while a good thing for consumers – would probably result in Seven, Nine and Ten ganging up against Labor, and in support of the Coalition in the campaign. Not good for democracy. However, perhaps the best strategy would be to keep quiet until the election, and then if Labor wins, auction off two or three more commercial TV licences. No political points in that, but it would be a great move for consumers and media diversity in Australia, and would give Labor a great legacy in times to come. Oh how I pine for a truly free and diverse media industry, free from political meddling!

Rudi Michelson writes: Isn’t it a little hypocritical for David Marr (yesterday, comments) to blast News Ltd scrutiny of the obviously faulty Media Watch for lacking “diversity”? What do David Marr and Stuart Littlemore, Richard Ackland, Paul Barry, Liz Jackson and Monica Attard have in common: they’re all sanctimonious lefties and they’re the only comperes of ABC TV’s Media Watch. Media Watch and the ABC have chronic diversity shortage and David Marr should hold back on his leftie sermons.

Michael Hughes writes: I was most interested to see Rudi Michelson comment with a long litany of leftist influence at the ABC (yesterday, comments). Would this be the same Rudi who appeared in The Australian moaning about how the ABC was a drag on the taxpayer’s teat and how it wasn’t fair it battled for viewers with poor depressed small business TV stations, and who neglected to mention the fact in his potted bio at the end of the article that he was a three time election loser for the Liberal party in federal elections in the 1980s? I wonder why Rudi chose to leave that last bit off?

Niall Clugston writes: So Rudi Michelson thinks Phillip Adams is the “dominant person” on Radio National?! While RN listeners are subjected to Adams’s burbling blurbs repetitively throughout the day, a live show at ten o’clock at night is hardly prime time. And though Adams is undoubtedly left-wing, his program consists of interviews with a wide range of people, including with such right-wing sweethearts as Christopher Hitchens and Daniel Pipes.

Jody Bailey writes: In response to Rudi Michelson, his diatribe makes Dave Hughes’s point. The left-wing hatred for John Howard is due to his constant intellectual dishonesty. Dave Hughes could justify his statement (well, maybe not the Saddam reference) based on the truth of it. Margaret Simons wouldn’t be able to name right-wing replacements for those Rudi singled out, because those positions require intellectual honesty, not “Fair and Balanced” propaganda, which is what Rudi obviously doesn’t like having pointed out. How about a fair dinkum debate at Crikey in regard to the intellectual honesty of major statements from the right and the left (not irrelevant point scoring aimed at human frailties)? If we could see an “Objective Truth Analysis Including Underlying Motivations and Agendas” performed on all major public statements, we’d have something serious to debate.

John Taylor writes: Jane Nethercote’s item about Bindi and Senator Heffernan yesterday (item 21) does you no credit at all. I would suggest that Bill Heffernan is a parent who has considerable media access who sees, as many of us do, an eight-year-old girl who is really too young to form her own opinions, receiving too much attention at a time when she has not properly digested the death of her father. Let’s revisit Bindi when she is 18 and in a position to make her own decisions and meanwhile, let her be a young girl who has tragically lost her father.

David Hawkes writes: If, as Misha Ketchell stated in Crikey yesterday (item 18), the national broadcaster spends hefty amounts on its program transmission, the question must be asked: how did  Macquarie Bank et al get hold of the transmitters and other equipment? They used to be part of the former PMG department, as I understand it. So the ABC pays up to private enterprise because it HAS to.

Tony Wheeler writes: Terry Maher, on Northern Ireland/Ireland law changes from March 26, 2007 (yesterday, item 16), said that “Henceforth, the six Ulster counties of the north will be run as a co-dominion between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland with people allowed to hold dual citizenship.” I think if he googles dual citizenship he’ll quickly find that being born in Northern Ireland has always been good enough to give you Irish citizenship as well as British.

Michael Jones writes: “East Timor findings show institutional and individual failure” (yesterday, item 13). I am not as sure as Damien Kingsbury that the UN report will settle very many of the allegations flying about concerning this year’s turmoil in East Timor. While it appears to have done a very thorough analysis of the particular incidents it was mandated to enquire into, which were mostly instances of mayhem between East Timor’s confusing array of military and police units, it was not given the task of investigating the gang violence that still has a large proportion of the population of Dili too scared to go home from relocation camps. It does suggest though that the East-West tension was a minor irritant that had been whipped up by unnamed elements. A quick look at the pro- and anti-Fretilin blogs shows that there are still plenty of allegations flying, perhaps more than before.

Ian McHugh writes: I guess I’m no expert on nuclear issues (“Howard’s choice: nuclear energy, or global warming” – 17 October, item 14), and happy to stand corrected – for example as I might well have been on the accessibility of uranium-bearing deposits, as one Crikey reader comprehensively pointed out yesterday (comments). I’ll come clean and say that I’m not in favour of nuclear power because I don’t see the safeguards built into either generation and storage facilities or into the international treaty arrangements (or lack thereof) separating civilian and military nuclear programs (witness Iran) as being adequate given the stakes and time scales involved in risks of, on the one hand, accident and contamination, and on the other, proliferation and terrorism. That debate is endlessly arguable – neither is a matter merely of science, but partly one of how anybody balances risk and consequence. My central point, though, was that given that nuclear power was introduced as one possible antidote to climate change, it should therefore be judged on that basis. There are many ways, as they say, to skin a cat: reducing energy use, increasing efficiency, fuel switching and capturing emissions. All – including, but not emphasising nuclear – should be lined up and compared head to head.

Keith Thomas writes: Re. “We need to face up to the reality of our inhospitable land” (yesterday, item 10). I would question whether “our land” should be seen as “inhospitable”. It certainly can carry fewer humans per square kilometre than selected parts of the northern hemisphere. But it has its own ecosystems for which it is just as “hospitable” as any other part of the world in terms of sustaining its indigenous flora and fauna. Whether the Australian landscape is able to withstand humans overpopulating it and engineering it in the image of northern hemisphere gardens is a different story – as Ian McHugh almost says, it is likely to remain steadfastly inhospitable to all such attempts.

Terry Kidd writes: I have been reading the commentary from various Crikey Army members with a deal of interest. I am not a totally “green” person nor am I revisionist pro-development neophyte and I have to admit that I am not knowledgeable on all the proposed solutions to cutting greenhouse gases. My main environmental concerns for Australia are the drought and water conservation, salinity, the health of rivers and other watercourses, forests and air quality. I also recognise that there must be room for economic development including mining and forestry. Call me a pragmatist but we have an abundance of coal and uranium. I believe that we should use them for power generation but that we should also pursue cleaner technologies for both. I also agree that alternate methods of power generation such as solar, tidal, wind, geothermal and fusion should also be employed (or the technology pursued) where it is feasible, but I also recognise that alternate methods of generation are unlikely to meet our growing demands for power. How will your many contributors label me? Am I a Leftie? Am I a Right Wing Conservative? Or am I simply one of the many who believe in climate change and conservation but also believes in a balance of possible solutions, not dismissing any and looking to employ any that will assist in righting the ship while also giving us more time to research alternatives? 

Dave Liberts writes: Mark Bahnisch’s article on Christians in Iraq (yesterday, item 6) highlighted some interesting domestic political points, but omitted another interesting contrast. Tariq Aziz, the former Iraqi Deputy PM and Foreign Minister in Saddam’s regime, was a Christian, and it’s generally regarded that Christians did not suffer many problems under Saddam (at least, problems relating to religious persecution). I wonder if the silence on the issues facing Christians in Iraq today is related to the discomfort Christians would feel in making the comparison between Iraq in the late 90s and now.

Nahum Ayliffe, youth worker for the Uniting Church, writes: When Tony Blair made comments yesterday supporting Kirklees Council in its suspension of Aishah Azmi, a teaching assistant whose crime was to wear a niqab, (a veil covering the entire face except for the eyes), my response was “What the?” Is the front line of terrorism going to be fought in the classroom? Surely the children in the school deserve to be given a better example of religious and racial tolerance than has been served out by the council in this case.  Personally, I don’t care much for the niqab. In fact, I think that people’s faces, particularly women’s, are much too beautiful to be kept hidden behind such a veil. Having said that, the most beautiful people I know are not necessarily the best dressed or the most physically attractive. But when did it become OK for governments to tell people what they should or should not be wearing? This isn’t the way to deal with the issues that exist in society. It’s political short-sightedness: “If we can make everyone look the same, then perhaps some of the issues we have will disappear”. We deserve better. Societal problems will not be solved by everyone wearing the same clothes. Rather it is a celebration of diversity, and understanding that will lead to a more peaceful and accepting community.

Cam Smith, a campaigner with the anti-racism group Fight Dem Back, writes:  I imagine you would have heard about the Cronulla Monopoly game.  It’s led Seven and SBS news reports, and there have been articles in every major daily. Morris Iemma was outraged, and thought Helen Coonan could do something about it. Helen Coonan was outraged, and thought ACMA could do something about it. Fight Dem Back thought it was a bit dodge, and we thought maybe we would save ACMA a little time and trouble, so we wrote a polite letter to the hosts of the game’s website.  And they said, “Thanks for letting us know,” and zapped it. Since the game has been zapped, it has been uploaded to the website of NSW-based Martin Fletcher. Although this means it cannot be removed by the same means as FDB used, it is now connected to a real person as opposed to an anonymous entity. This should make prosecution by any government agency much simpler.

Tony Sadgrove writes: Tamas Calderwood (yesterday, comments), in response to my comment, quotes straight out of the troglodyte right mantra book. The assumption is that all “radical-left” thinkers (and activists) were apologists for Maoism and Stalinism. I would like to make some quick points here. “Radical-left” was a term invented by the trogs in their propaganda to discredit any views that were (and are ) contrary to their own. We dared to oppose, ergo we were (and still are) communist sympathisers. Nothing could be further from the truth. True, some were Maoists, and some were Trots. Others followed Che. But none to my knowledge wanted to import those forms of so-called leftism to our society. What they wanted was to enlighten the trogs (the majority then, as now) to the destructiveness of the policies being implemented. Nothing has changed. The Soviet Union and China were centralised, state controlled capitalism. The West was (and is) decentralised state-controlled capitalism. Both systems had their excesses and disasters. To make things simpler for the masses on both sides, one was “right”, the other “left”. These terms are meaningless having been coined during the French Revolution. If the world is to progress, both “sides” need to swallow humble pie and admit they were, and are, wrong. We are running out of time. Radical measures need to be brought in and enforced, right now – not in ten years’ time. Howard still procrastinates. Bush does likewise. This sort of leadership we can do without and we do not have much time to waste.

Mark Bahnisch writes: Richard Vella, from Opus Dei’s Information Office, yesterday (comments) advised me to stop looking for conspiracy theories about the organisation’s involvement in politics. Mr Vella should note that my story on Monday referred to “a time when the NSW Young Libs have been taken over by forces allegedly aligned with Opus Dei and other Christian conservatives.” This was not a statement of my opinion, but a reference to many allegations which have been made publicly about Opus Dei’s role and the role of Upper House MP David Clarke in internal Liberal Politics in NSW. I myself expressed no view on the accuracy of these allegations.

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 (we reserve the right to edit comments for length). Please include your full name – we won’t publish comments anonymously unless there is a very good reason.