Stacy Farrar, editor Sydney Star Observer, writes: Re. “Justice takes a holiday as Iemma goes into a homophobic panic” (yesterday, item 5). Peter Faris QC, paedophilia is having s-x with underage girls or boys. Homos-xuality is absolutely different. I like to believe that Premier Iemma would have acted in exactly the same way (whether his actions were right or wrong) if Milton Orkopoulos was charged with s-xual offences relating to underage girls.

Andrew Lewis writes: So much knowledge, so little wisdom. Peter Faris today makes some reasonable enough comments about being given the benefit of the presumption of innocence before the courts, but then throws in the howler that “life is tough for public outed gays. Just ask Alan Jones” It really is pathetic. Is life so tough these days for gays? Not in Sydney, buddy. You’d have a hard time trying to argue that they are worse off than women, heteros-xual men, trees, whales and lots of other groups that can claim that life is tough these days. But the final insult, to imply that Alan Jones has been given a hard time because he is gay, is hysterical. I haven’t read one word where Jones’s s-xuality was invoked as a self-evidently derogatory statement, and the obvious tactics of the right-wing clowns is to deflect attention from the real substance of Masters book which is about the inordinate and undemocratic power that Jones wields in Sydney, NSW and Australia. No-one has held Jones up for ridicule ‘because he is gay.” Get over it Peter.

Niall Clugston writes: Re. “Memo Morris Iemma: shut up, create a diversion, disappear” (yesterday, item 4). Richard Farmer seems to be living a parallel universe to me with his comments on ex-NSW minister Milton Orkopolous. Firstly he suggests the public would be more interested in constitutional reform than a s-x and drugs scandal. Then he suggests such reform could be carried out by “suggestion” from a premier rather than successful referendum – which in Australia is akin to a revolution. With advice like this, Premma Iemma must be quietly cashing in his chips.

Brad Pragnell write: So Richard Farmer thinks Iemma can deflect the Orkopoulos situation by pedalling a new vision of Federalism? That this one will blow over by early next week? Ye gods, if this is the type of advice the NSW Premier is getting from his minders – then goodbye Labor come March 2007. For better or worse, this story – with its trifecta of underage s-x, illegal drugs and misuse of public funds – has hit the mortgage belt like a raw nerve being struck. And it taps into deeper dismay about what the hell is going on with the no-hopers who are increasingly populating the Labor frontbench. Remember, Hollingworth got hounded out of office because he had managed child s-xual assault issues poorly in a previous job. Richard needs to take a walk along Pitt Street (or better yet Church Street Mall in Parramatta) or hang around my office’s lunchroom and listen in on today’s conversations – they ain’t talking about Rumsfeld or water or federalism. Orkopoulos is the big story – much, much bigger than Scully or Hickey or Koperberg – and it ain’t going away in a hurry. My memo to the Premier? Forget the handwringing about media beat-ups or bad luck, Morris. And spin or Canberra-bashing won’t get you through this one. This is not a glancing blow – this is the body blow. Channel your frustration and anger at what has happened and, where ever Labor is able to so, work towards getting candidates that are there because of their ability to represent the community – not who they went to school with or slept with or work for. Reinvent yourself and your party – then you might have some chance of saving your political skin five months from now.

Bill C writes: “The Orkopoulos case.” Isn’t that the opera by Janacek?

Ashley Midalia writes: Re. US mid-term elections. There’s no doubting that clinching a Senate majority is a boon for the Democratic Party. That said, party discipline is not in the US what it is in Australia and there is a chasm of policy difference between Southern Democrats and those, for example, from the North East. Commentators should not expect the Democrats to suddenly start consistently voting as a united and coherent block and, consequently, should not make too much of what “Senate control” truly means. Indeed, as Charles Richardson notes (item 2), the Democrats’ slender majority is built on the back of the support of the two independent Senators. Prepare, then, for two years of horse-trading, vote-buying and attempts to “divide and conquer” as President Bush seeks to avoid the lamest of conclusions to a presidency.

Tamas Calderwood writes: Re. John Kotsopoulos’s comment (yesterday) on real interest rates. First, when official rates were at 17% in early 1990, inflation was running at 8.6%, so the real interest rate was 8.4%. Second, Inflation in 2Q 2006 was 4% (annualised) and official rates are now 6.25% for a real interest rate of 2.25%. These facts took about four minutes to look up on the RBA website. Finally, John may think a 17% interest rate in a “14%” inflation economy is better than a “7.5% interest rate when inflation is at 4%”, but I’ll take the low inflation environment any day.

Jason Singh writes: Whilst Diana Simmonds (yesterday, comments) is correct in attributing the lack of high quality Australian-bred stayers to the obsession with the Golden Slipper and two-year-old racing in general, she is incorrect in her assertion that Makybe Diva owed much of her success to the “limestone grasses and salt breezes of Port Lincoln”. Makybe Diva is in fact British bred, which is why she has that “GB” suffix next to her name. She was born and raised in Sussex in England, the product of an Irish Derby winner (Desert King) and Tugela, a cast off from Prince Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms operation. In England, and more broadly Europe, stamina is still an admirable quality. The Japanese, who have been importing the best European and North American bloodstock (both stallions and mares) for almost two decades now have reaped the benefits of this with their high quality stayers the equal of any across the world (remember Delta Blues is well short of the best stayers in Japan). If Australian bred horses are to be competitive in the Melbourne Cup then a change in thinking and importation of more stamina laden bloodlines looks the only hope.

Ros Envall writes: Christian asks (yesterday, item 11). “ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope is a noted media tart – but does anyone give a flying f-ck about his views on Saddam’s sentence?” – I expect there are probably more who are interested in Jon Stanhope’s views as those who care what Kerr thinks!

Lisa Reid writes: Christian Kerr’s alleged aversion to all things green has been raised yet again. As someone who has dined with Christian on a number of occasions, I have seen him enjoy asparagus, avocado, broccoli and a variety of salad vegetables. There was also one incident I vaguely remember involving quantities of absinthe, although those days are now long gone. 

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Peter Fray

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