David Lovejoy writes: Re. Tony Abbott’s antediluvian beliefs (10 November, item 8). Guy Rundle’s question on Friday about whether Tony Abbott’s religious beliefs might affect his secular duties is a fair one, but the example he gives is not. The Gardasil controversy has arisen because a commercial negotiation has been taken for a moral one. The drug maker wants, I think, $360 per patient treatment, so the PBS turned it down as the first step in negotiating a better deal. Now that this first step has been demonised as an example of government misogyny, and everyone is falling about trying to dispel that impression, the public will end up paying the first, and exorbitant, asking price.

Alex Lubansky writes: While neither Roman Catholic nor a fan of Abbott, I was appalled at Guy Rundle’s Abbott bashing. There are a few issues in his article, but the main contention seems to be that because he is a Catholic, and because Catholic belief includes a certain range of beliefs, that Abbott must declare and justify what he believes. If Rundle’s contention is that ministers, particularly the health minister, must declare all their beliefs in advance, regardless of what the basis is, be it secularism, an organised religion or a set of beliefs they made up themselves, then that is reasonable. However, the article didn’t suggest that in the slightest. It suggested that Abbott, specifically, needs to declare and justify his beliefs because he is Catholic. As to the language used, “traditional Roman Catholics – who have infiltrated key areas…” does this mean that Roman Catholics don’t have as much right to work in these areas as anyone else? Rather, any Catholic working in these areas has infiltrated it? Is Roman Catholic the new Communist to Rundle’s McCarthy? Or are there other beliefs that must be declared before any public action? Do I have to declare myself as Jewish to be allowed to comment on Crikey? Do I have to declare that I am a scientist? My stance on a given issue will be coloured, in part, by both. Rundle also asks if we have a right to know what he believes. That is an interesting question. Surely the job of the media is to find out what every politician believes about every area that could be of relevance. Not just those with a certain set of beliefs the author of a newspaper article doesn’t approve of.

Andrew Rutherford writes: It is strange to read Guy Rundle endorsing the Enlightenment when every single thing he says about the Catholic Church is plainly wrong, or based on legend or surmise, in the cases that it’s possible to work out what he could be referring to. Isn’t that how people conducted debate in the bad old days? I fear for the Enlightenment when such rants are acceptable fare for notionally sceptical audiences.

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Bill Cushing writes: You guys should tell Guy Rundle that his kind of bigoted, sectarian drivel was thoroughly aired and disposed of during the Kennedy campaign in USA, 1960. And thoroughly disposed of in this country’s politics (and public services) during that same period. It doesn’t require a re-run here. Sure, Abbott spouts medieval stuff. He would have studied Aquinas in the Seminary. But, has Rundle ever heard the likes of Fred Nile, that Fielding bloke, Kevin bloody Rudd, those Opus Dei freaks in NSW – and the numerous other sky-pilots infesting our Parliaments these days. Good grief! They are truly antediluvian as compared to Abbott’s Jesuitical casuistry. Some of them even think the world was created in six days in 4004BC and want this taught in science classes!

Darren Holmes writes: Guy Rundle’s comments today on Tony Abbott and how he must be influenced by his Catholicism are reasonable, although it must be said that we are all influenced by our beliefs (or non-beliefs). But, Guy’s utter disdain for, and poorly informed attack on, the intelligence and beliefs of ALL Catholics can illicit only one response from this Catholic – I will pray for him.

Lachlan McLean writes: Crikey Subscription, $100. Gardasil vaccine, $400. Guy Rundle trying to rule a straight line through Catholics, limbo, beatification and cervical cancer… priceless and total bullsh-t!

Michelle Davis writes: Re. “Fathers’ rights denied in the High Court’s Magill decision” (10 November, item 2). It sounds like Peter Faris is slightly over stretching the mark here. In the Magill case the father (as Faris stated) was entitled to get back any child support he had paid on children that weren’t his – and this is clearly fair. Beyond that, is it really the role of parliament to legislate as to what level of truth on what set of subjects partners must maintain inside a marriage or other similar relationship? Would it be a tort to lie about an affair or only about paternity? What if the mother thought she knew the paternity (as in the Magill case) but later discovered she had inadvertently lied? What about a lie about how much one party loves the other, or a lie about where one party spent last Saturday night? What if the parties had agreed to an open marriage – should one then be able to sue the other if they change their mind during the course of the relationship? Would you be able to sue during the relationship or only after the relationship is over? Isn’t this a matter for the individual moralities of the parties involved? Surely if either party felt that some issue was of such importance to them that they feel they should be entitled to damages if it arose during the relationship then a pre-nuptial agreement (or equivalent) clearly laying out the rights and expectations of each party would be the way to go? I wonder how a Family Court judge would react to a clause in a pre-nuptial allowing damages where it could be established that either party told the other a lie during the life of the marriage.

Liz Johnston writes: Oh my Mr Faris, that would open a can of worms allowing marriage partners to sue for damages in relation to infidelity. I think quite a lot more women than men would be eager to pursue that one.

Dianne Lavender, Publicity Manager for the Sydney Theatre Company, writes: I would like to correct a comment made by Jane Nethercote in her article titled “Sydney Theatre Goes to Hollywood” (9 November, item 13). She claims Cate Blanchett is likely to be the “figurehead” of the Company while Andrew Upton would be the “day-to-day operator”. Cate and Andrew will both be engaged under the same conditions as Robyn Nevin and previous Artistic Director’s of STC. They are full-time with the Company but may choose to take one “slot-out” per annum. This slot out would typically be six to ten weeks. Given the continuous pressure involved in running the Company, the Board has always regarded it as important that as a creative artist, the AD be able to step away and refresh their craft. The same applies for other ADs around the country: Simon Phillips of the MTC regularly directs opera and this year has worked on an opera in Hamburg and also directed Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. It is anticipated that Cate may use her slot-out to make one movie role per year and Andrew would use his to have a focused period on his writing projects.

Dave Gaukroger writes: Ashley Midalia (10 November, comments) underestimates the importance of the Democrats’ majority in the US Senate. Although their ability to push through legislation may be limited by their need for support from the two independents, as the majority party the Democrats will assume the Chairmanship of all the Senate committees. Their ability to control the committee system means that the Democrats can keep most legislation that they dislike from ever being voted on in the chamber.

John Kotsopoulos writes: Re. Interest rates. In response to Tamas Calderwood (10 November, comments). I would like to draw his attention to the analysis in Friday’s Australian by Michael Costello that points out that under Howard home interest rates were set by Government and were kept artificially low and that even with a 17% interest rate homeowners were 50% better off than they are now. The RBA website has a spreadsheet of the official interest rates dating as far back as 07/04/1976. This clearly shows that interest rates under Treasurer Howard were the worst that this country has seen in 30 years. In fact, it shows that under Treasurer Howard, the average interest rate was 12.66% and that he left Labor the gift of interest rates of 16.83%.

Patricia Anderson writes: Re. “Robert Hughes’s unreliable memoirs” (10 November, item 16). Of the invariably respectful reviews in the press of Robert Hughes’ memoir Things I Didn’t Know, author Gerard Windsor is the first to sound a cautionary note, suggesting that Hughes “is now allowing fantasy to precede observation”. I would like to sound another cautionary note and add that some members of Hughes’s family are dismayed at the more gratuitous inaccuracies which pepper the text. I am currently writing a book about Robert Hughes’s Australian years – and I would be delighted to hear from any Crikey readers who can contribute anecdotes from the years 1951 – when he boarded at Riverview – to 1964 when he departed for Italy, then England. Email address: triciaanderson@optusnet.com.au or PO Box 1228, Potts Point, NSW 2011.

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