Trevor Best writes: Pertinent to the madness of the T3 float, would be the stories – especially from people in the bush – who get no service from Telstra. Personally, it is getting towards a decade since I had the phone connected to my farm property (west of Dalby, which is hardly remote) and I have never been provided with that most essential item, a district phone directory. The local Post Office has been closed down some time ago. There is no indication anywhere in the metropolitan directory of how one could go about obtaining a district directory. I have phoned “customer assistance” and was put onto “directory assistance” who had no idea what could be done. I have written to Telstra, and received a reply a month later (last August) saying that a “consultant” would contact me shortly. (I wonder if this will be before Christmas?). I have written to the Minister for Telecommunications a month ago – no reply at all.

Chris Graham, Editor of the National Indigenous Times, writes: Re. Niall Clugston’s letter (20 October, comments) taking me to task for some “very questionable assertions” in my piece for Crikey last week entitled “White Australia embraces Aboriginal culture (when it suits)”.  I didn’t actually put myself up as the “arbiter” or Aboriginal culture, I expressed an opinion. And if I may say so, a pretty informed one at that. But I’m flattered you think I’m capable of such a heady role. Now on to the “facts”, as outlined by Niall. First, you note: “In claiming a lack of association between Aboriginal woman, Barangaroo, and the locality, he overstates the Aborigines’ territorial exclusiveness.” Niall, you might like to re-read the article – it wasn’t me making that comment, it was Paul Keating. Second, “the traditional Aboriginal caution against calling the dead applies to any dead person, not just Aborigines.” Not sure where you got that one from Niall – a white anthropologist, I suspect. When the custom originated (many thousands of years ago) Aboriginal people had no knowledge of anyone else other than Aboriginal people (and possibly the Macassans). Third, you note: “… he is wrong to add that places have rarely been named after Aboriginal people – take Bennelong Point or the new Sydney suburb of Pemulwuy.” And here’s me thinking I specifically referred to Bennelong Point in the original article? Here’s me also now thinking that of the hundreds, perhaps, thousands of Aboriginal words in use as place names in Australia today, providing just two examples of suburbs named after individuals somewhat supports my statement that it’s “rare”. I’m wondering Niall, if somehow you read a completely different article to the one posted on Crikey? Or if you’re perhaps just an argumentative bugger. In which case, of course, you have my full support.

Chief DIMA spinner, Sandi Logan, writes: Crikey’s unsubstantiated tips and rumours (20 October, item 7) carried a scurrilous reference to Immigration Department staffers’ own self-funded social club activities at the Spring Carnival at the Randwick Racecourse over the weekend, in the context of what Crikey’s source described as DIMA “spending its post-Palmer windfall”. Far from it. The NSW State Office’s social committee regularly organises staff events and quite often associated with them, raises funds for a variety of charities such as Father Riley’s “Youth Off the Street” project, Breast Cancer Day, Daffodil Day, Red Nose Day, and hosting a “biggest morning tea” for the NSW Cancer Council. Likewise, DIMA staff in Canberra recently donated its social committee fundraising monies to the SES in Innisfail, Queensland to help Cyclone Larry mop-up operations, and more recently handed over several thousand dollars of staff donations to help the Starlight Foundation in the ACT. Immigration employees’ social clubs in every state and territory are similarly community-oriented with their fundraising efforts, and are operated in line with departmental policies requiring all recipients of donations to be registered not-for-profit organisations. Next Friday (October 27) for example, the Secretary, his deputy secretaries and many senior executive service members will be cooking up a storm offering a range of meals in a fundraising BBQ breakfast from 8-10am for breast cancer research. Crikey readers are invited to come and munch for a worthy cause at DIMA’s national office, 6 Chan Street, Belconnen! And finally, DIMA is currently surveying its staff about workplace giving arrangements. So far, the causes that have attracted the most support are: cancer, international aid, children’s illnesses & disabilities, conservation & environment, and animal welfare/preservation.

Gary Drewsen writes: As a trial subscriber I agree with your comments regarding media ownership. I would like to add a quotation by an American lawyer, Charles Evans Hughes, which I consider very appropriate for Australia:
“The greater the importance of safeguarding the community from incitements to the over throw of our institutions by force and violence, the more imperative is the need to preserve inviolate the constitutional rights of free speech, free press, and free assembly in order to maintain the opportunity for free political discussion, to the end that the government may be responsive to the will of the people and that changes, if desired may be obtained by peaceful means. Therein lies the security of the Republic, the very foundation of a constitutional government.” (DeJonge v. Oregon,299 U.S. 353,365. 1937)

Markus Stone writes: I think I’ve figured out the Howard Government’s cunning plan. They intend to create media diversity by consolidating all mainstream media into a bunch of homogenous old tosh that no-one will bother reading, thereby forcing people to seek out alternative news sources – if you can’t find the facts in the Financial Review, you’ll start to look elsewhere for them.

John Hayward writes: I think Glenn Dyer may be a bit sanguine in describing a Murdoch takeover of The Age, SMH and AFR as merely a “death blow” to Australian journalism. Having the Fox Network mentality taking over your most vital print journalism while the puppetmaster PM eviscerates the ABC and SBS could well mean carnage on the very nature of life in Oz. It was Mr Howard’s own brother, an academic, who described him as “extremely conservative”. Australians should be freshening up on what that term has historically meant, before shrugging things off once again.

Chris Colenso-Dunne writes: “Can you tell a Catholic from a Protestant?” asks Charles Richardson (19 October, item 11), referring to the unsurprising fact that many of the Yanks who ought to know don’t know the difference between a Sunni and a Shia Muslim. Of course, what Jeff Stein of the NY Times and Richardson should have asked was “Can you tell a Roman Catholic from a Protestant?” This is because many Protestant Christians, eg. members of the Church of England, continue to regard themselves as Catholics whatever the Vatican may insist to the contrary. Interestingly, the WASPish New York Times and the Washington Post do often use the term “Roman Catholic”. In common with The Australian, the ABC and SBS, and most of the Australian media, Crikey rarely does. Are there too many Romanists on the Crikey payroll, or is Crikey just too gutless to risk stirring up the sectarian debates of old?

Wayne Sanderson writes: Last Thursday’s email included an article under my name (item 19) which reported that opinion in Queensland legal circles was “fairly evenly divided” on the decision by former Attorney-General Linda Lavarch not to agree to a proposal to have Jayant “Dr Death” Patel returned voluntarily to face charges. Those were not my words, and those were not my views. A serious effort to find out which way opinion in the profession was running led me to conclude that opinion was divided, but heavily in favour of the Lavarch decision not to do a deal. I am more strongly of that view now.

CRIKEY: Our current Crikey Music selection needs the disclosure that that our music editor Justin Stanford currently manages Vika & Linda and is married to Linda Bull. It was just a one-off and Justin has no intention promoting more of his clients.

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