Greg Wodd writes: “The Opposition still has to stir up voters over Australia’s participation in a war that has not inflicted one fatality” (yesterday, editorial)… on Australians that is, not forgetting Mr Kovco of course. Yet we would hope (?!) that Australians are “stirred up” enough by the carnage and never ceasing fatalities of Iraqi citizens. Sorry Crikeyers but that off the cuff statement was a little too flippant for my likings.

Dale Godfrey writes: “The Opposition still has to stir up voters over Australia’s participation in a war that has not inflicted one fatality.” Obviously the intended meaning is “Australian” fatality. However, the suggestion that Australian voters would not be concerned about Australia’s participation in a war that causes fatalities of non-Australians is hopefully incorrect.

Lesley McGrath writes: Re your comments about Workchoices (yesterday, editorial) – “The Opposition still has to generate wide anxiety over WorkChoices without any clear-cut evidence that it’s caused anxiety.” I could give you plenty of clear cut evidence! I know of people anxious and seriously affected by the work choice legislation. One tried to take his story (serious pay cut and loss of conditions at a major employer) to the press but they weren’t interested. Trouble is no paper publishes the bad news about it. Why doesn’t Crikey? And what about the Welfare to Work legislation? No one talks about that either. This government has created plenty of misery, but it’s rarely mentioned in the media. Why not?

John Kotsopoulos writes: Re. “Our experienced new Labor team” (yesterday, item 11). Christian Kerr sagely notes that Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard have “just ten years experience outside politics and the public sector”. And here’s me thinking that they were running for public office where an intimate knowledge of the process of Government might be an advantage. What’s the comparison with Dollar Sweetie and the rapidly rusting man of steel, eh Christian?

John Walters writes: What’s the point you are making Christian? And which callow kids have had more than ten years experience? How old were they when they started? And since when has juggling figures on a computer screen been experience of the real world? Perhaps you should have checked up the Dream Team’s biographies first. Howard a solicitor for about 12 years during all of which he was actively engaged in and held positions in Liberal Party politics and Costello 12 years as uni tutor – hardly experience of the real world. Perhaps you should be suggesting that all politicians have to have at least ten years work experience outside of politics, the public sector and academe before they are eligible for election. Would sure cut down the number of useless no-hopers in parliament, though I suspect the homeless shelters would have more clients.

Matt Hardin writes: According to the Federal government budget papers, 16% of Australians are employed in the public sector. That is one person in six of the working population. If these people are not in the real world, could Christian Kerr please explain where they are?

Moira Smith writes: Christian Kerr writes: “There are callow kids behind screens at various financial institutions balancing billions who have more experience of the real world” than Rudd and Gillard. What a ridiculous statement. You reckon said callow youths who trade shares for a living should instead be running Australia’s social policy [education, health, pensions, workplace ethics etc]? “Politics and the public sector” are the real world. Real people live/work there and do real things for other people.

Victoria Collins writes: I have just three words to say to all the naysayers, such as Brad Ruting (yesterday, comments), who are already beginning to carp about Kevin Rudd’s lack of “experience”, which in some weird logic inspired by our tired, old Prime Minister and his minions and echo chamber is supposed to automatically disqualify him from any sort of decent shot at grasping the ring of government and leadership of this nation. And those three words are: Alexander the Great. Or for all the fuddy duddy, old monarchists out there: Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen Victoria, etc. etc. and I could go on and on and on. I mean, since when have we become a gerontocracy in Australia, or the world for that matter? Is not Kevin Rudd a contemporary of Tony Blair, who has already been leader of a much larger nation than our own ? So could I just advise such shallow carpers to find a more substantial criticism of Kevin Rudd if they want to be taken seriously in the debate on who should lead our country after the next election? He has more life experience, outside of Parliament, than John Howard, who has only ever been a creature of Parliament and politics in his life, and, as such, I believe, strongly, that Kevin Rudd will wipe the floor with him at the next election. Who do you trust to be ridgy didge and an honest broker for Australia? Our new Labor Party leader.

Ken Lambert writes: There are critical moments in a politician’s public utterances when all is lost and cannot be retrieved. Doc Evatt’s came in checking with Moscow, Slick Willie’s came with “that woman”, GHW Bush’s with “read my lips” and Richard M. Nixon’s “I am not a crook”. Kim’s was the Rove mixup. Too nice a man to do much of the ruthless and sometimes dirty spadework of national office, Kim should be given a dignified and sympathetic send-off befitting a good man a bit out of his depth. At least he didn’t need to stand on a box to get into camera view. Good night and good luck, Kim.

Bob Lawrence writes: Re. “National Party clings to life, but for how long?” (yesterday, item 7). Charles Richardson should not feel embarrassed about wrongly predicting the imminent demise of the National Party. I have heard it so many times before. From memory the first time it hit my ears was when I was an ABC political reporter in Adelaide and the prediction was aired in about 1972 by Four Corners (in the Country Party days). Invariably, such media predictions are made by persons who live within 50 kms of any capital city GPO and have no idea of the resilience of country women (especially) and men who know only too well that any city based political party without a strong country section (or at least an articulate country Vice President and Rural Committee) will not give them first preference when handing out resources. As with all of us, country people stick up for themselves, but they have stronger, tighter communities.

Democrats Senator Andrew Bartlett writes: Amongst his commentary yesterday, Christian Kerr made the statement that “Labor won in 1990 when it took the fight to the Greens – while winning their preferences.” It is true that Labor won in 1990 and their low primary vote of 39.4 per cent only translated into victory because of their successful pitch for preferences from those who voted for the environment. (The Coalition polled 43.2 per cent) However, the fact is that, apart from in WA, the Greens were barely existent as a party in 1990. Parliamentary Library statistics record candidates in House of Representatives seats standing as Greens polling just 1.4 per cent. The vast bulk of pro-environment voters in 1990 voted Democrat, who polled 11.3 per cent nationally in the House of Representatives. The 1990 election saw the very unusual event of Labor running television advertisements seeking the second preference of pro-environment voters and it is doubtful Labor would have won without pitching directly to voters for preferences, as most Democrat how to vote cards did not favour either major party.

John Tinney writes: Re. “Coonan right to refute the disgrace slur on broadband” (yesterday, item 24). Grahame Lynch defends Australia’s broadband standards. But he does not mention that Australia is right at the bottom of the list of developed countries when it comes to the SPEED of our ADSL. There is a striking table here (page 7).

Kristian Harper writes: I don’t know why people are surprised at the News Ltd reaction to Milne’s “lapse in judgement”. When liberal MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann received death threats in the mail, The New York Post not only thought it hilarious, they then set about impeding the investigation by blabbing about it! Perhaps he and Stephen should start a club. I’d happily join, as soon as I can find a Murdoch employee that deems me worthy of a beating.

Anthony Stewart writes: I don’t mind commentary on the Milne/Mayne event but I thought Crikey was independent rather than a mouthpiece for Mayne’s vitriol on the incident. I read Crikey for news not the next round of a very public mud sling match!

Julian Cram writes: Quit your whinging, Stephen. I’ve had harsher injuries play-wrestling with girls. News Corp owes you no apology. If I see you somewhere, I’d go you too (it’s a natural reaction of those who have studied media have to journalists – it’ll be worse than WrestleMania if I ever attend the Walklies!) and my company won’t have to apologise, and rightly so. I am a man of my own actions, as are you, as is Milne. But thanks to both you and Milne for reinforcing what most people think – journalists are drunk, uncouth cowards, most of whom should be in prison.

An SBS employee writes: Re. “Ratings round-up for 2006” (yesterday, item 18). Glenn Dyer mentions in passing in his Ratings Round-Up for 2006 that SBS “lost viewers” during the course of the year. Those of us at the station would welcome more on this, because the decline of SBS under Shaun Brown is one of the great recent tragedies of Australian television. The hell-for-leather pursuit of ratings in the quest for the advertising dollar has dumbed the station down to a competitor for the mindless commercial channels. Foreign language broadcasting, the whole raison d’etre of the station, has been marginalised to the fringes of the TV schedule, well away from prime time. Brown attempts to justify this by saying he is complying with the strict terms of the charter, and his Howard-stacked board back him all the way. But there is a spirit to the charter too, and he has destroyed that completely. Those who had some pride in working at the station know this. His recent comment to a meeting of staff at the station that “What SBS needs to do now is turn our audiences into cash” sums up the appalling philistinism of the man. And what to do have to show for it? Through all this cultural ransacking, we’ve still lost viewers.

R. Banks writes: Re. “Why are Test batsmen’s averages so high?” (yesterday, item 27). Easy – each summer that rope’s getting closer to the pitch! Comparing cricket averages across the eras is like comparing government employment statistics.

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.

Peter Fray

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