Terence Hogan writes: What a disappointment it is for someone who wishes the Rudd/Gillard alliance well, as I surely do, to hear Mr Rudd’s first public comments as leader of the Australian Labor Party. To allow one of the most important short speeches of his career to be so burdened with tired cliches about forks in the road and bridges too far (several of them!) is exactly the wrong message to give if you’re promoting yourself as a fresh new voice. More soggy rhetoric and creaky metaphors? Wasn’t that one of the problems with the previous guy? You’ve had a long time to work up a decent opening salvo for your leadership, Kevin, and if that’s the best we can expect then my advice is to get a better speechwriter, or if you wrote this one yourself, please get some help.

Wal Jay writes: “Send your suggestions for a Rudd-Gillard nickname” (yesterday, item 5). Come on, do we really need to get into this childish behaviour? Gosh, is that all we can come up with? I wish there was more substance in your reports and less infantile style, unless you’re trying to appease sixteen-year-olds.

Brian Mitchell, editor of the Fremantle Herald, writes: Re. Rudd/Gillard. I find the smirking innuendo a bit troubling and wonder whether we’ve actually regressed in recent years. A man is leader and a woman is deputy of a major party and journalists go all giggly. Christ Almighty. That said, if we must persist with the silliness the nickname clearly has to be Kevulia … as in Brangelina et al.

Penelope Toltz writes: Oh for heaven’s sake, do you want John Howard to be Prime Minister FOREVER! Having contests over ever more stupid names for Gillard and Rudd (in alphabet order note), is one way to hold them to ridicule and keep holding them there. Rudd being leader is the first opportunity there has been to weaken the stranglehold that the factions have on the Labor Party which is killing it! Leave off the ridicule a bit and let them get on with the job. Putting our small forest fires of ridicule makes it almost impossible for any politician to get on with it. And don’t say if they can’t stand the heat. They can more than stand it, but they need a fair chance to get into the kitchen and cook up something acceptable free of the rubbish that comes from gossip and innuendo.

Di Lyons writes: So what if Ms Gillard really is having that voice coaching. She certainly isn’t the only one to be trotting off to elocution lessons. Haven’t you noticed that our beloved Prime Minister’s vowels have become distinctly fruitier of late? For example, he now says “circumstahnces” instead of the good old Aussie pronunciation he used in that famous “circumstances in which they come” speech.

M. Gordon writes: Re. “Rudd gets on with manufacturing policy” (yesterday, item 4). The apparent Rudd obsession with manufacturing, was repeated too often to be comfortable with. Similarly with “forks in the road”, “new style of leadership” etc as Laurie Oakes noted. This worrying restatement is either an appeal to the ALP base in the unions, or if serious a revisit to protection which means higher prices for consumers. The ALP grip on economics is sometimes worrying, it’s not that long ago they wanted to keep the wholesale sales tax (WST) which is basically a tax on manufacturing! What are to we make of this new fondness for manufacturing, it better not be “new protectionism”?

John Richardson writes: Re. “Ruddock in charge of AWB prosecutions – no trial in sight” (yesterday, item 12). Michael Pascoe’s observations regarding likely delays in any future criminal proceedings arising from the Cole Inquiry would have raised no eyebrows amongst those familiar with the glacial speed at which the Howard government moves, when it comes to its pursuit of any issue that could potentially tarnish its reputation. Protracted delays in mounting recommended legal action against AWB & its executives will render John Howard’s proud boast that Australia is the only country to have commissioned an inquiry into allegations of rorting of the UN oil-for-food program as empty & cynical as the continuous claims by the ADF & the Department of Defence, that allegations of torture & murder made against members of the SAS serving in East Timor, dating back 7 years to 1999, are still “being investigated”.

Jack Woodforde writes: Lesley McGrath asked (yesterday, comments): “This government has created plenty of misery, but it’s rarely mentioned in the media. Why not?” Because they’re in on the bloody act, Lesley. They love profitable misery, but not to cause any political or financial discomfort of the people who count at prime time or on page one. Can you imagine the chief ethicist of News Ltd’s Milne claque covering the Welfare to Work of a mentally ill, substance-affected bloke? Unless he was on “migraine medication.”

John Parkes writes: Re. Australian casualties in Iraq. With all the fuss about a misinterpretation of a comment about the lack of Australian casualties in the Iraq war the one question which comes to mind is this: “Why haven’t there been any casualties?” A number of possible answers comes to mind: 1) Our army is incredibly well trained and equipped and have have tremendous wins in all the fights they have been in. Problem is there is not much doubt that the Americans are better equipped, and it is at least arguable that the British are as well trained as our troops so that’s probably not the reason as both these have had tremendous losses. 2) Our army is better led than the Americans or British or even the Dutch. Well that’s doubtful as they haven’t managed to lose a soldier in questionable circumstances, then lose his body, then lose the report about the loss of the body so that’s probably not it either. 3) Our army hasn’t been given any difficult work to do. That has the ring of possibility. Our Government was first and loudest to support the US plans, so perhaps that is our reward — being given the softest role to play. But of course we all have to get medals for going there anyway. I don’t have a problem with supporting and rewarding our soldiers but the fuss made about medals is almost indecent. There was a time when medals were awarded for exceptional service, not just being there.

Linda Carruthers writes: Re. “Policing the police in the Fourth Estate” (yesterday, item 6). Margaret Simons has nearly saved me the trouble, but not quite. If you want to know, Christian and Stephen, your personal and professional spats with the egregious Milne are not only not newsworthy, they illustrate very well the old maxim, that when you become the news instead of reporting it, you have failed. Behaviour that would get anyone else in most ‘ordinary’ workplaces the sack is celebrated, petty personal feuds are treated as matters of public interest, and the countless failures of the “fourth estate” to hold any kind of power to account is a matter that passes without comment, let alone regret . The sheer self importance of it all, is more than grating, it is insulting. Accountability? That’s for the low life that the fourth estate reports on, not for the denizens of club bubble it seems. Grow up.

Lucille Martin writes: Would someone really, truly sock it to Mayne and quick?! I’m sick to death of his victim, superior, righteous attitude. He was not “pushed off the stage” as quoted in The Age. He was pushed but it was very mild, the man was two foot shorter than him and couldn’t even walk straight. Mayne was a complete wimp, scurrying away. It was extremely obvious that Milne was under the weather, to put it mildly, and instead of seeking mass sympathy Mayne could have gracefully shrugged it off. Instead he’s extensively dramatised an unfortunate incident that was simply his own doing. Continually criticising and targeting someone will eventually bring a result Stephen, what did you expect?! You sure can give it but can’t take it, can you?! Get over yourself and stop grand standing, it’s pathetic and sad.

Robin Brett writes: So emails etc have been urging Stephen Mayne to sue Glenn Milne and News Ltd, have they? Well, here’s another suggestion for him. Get over it. What Stephen Mayne and Crikey do is annoy the mainstream media.
That’s their job, and they do it well. That’s why we subscribe, and why I’ll continue to do so. An occupational hazard for gadflies is that sometimes someone takes a swipe at them. On this occasion it was Glenn Milne, who has been a particular target of Crikey. He shouldn’t have done it, and he’s apologised. End of story. I am not the slightest bit interested in the precise bit of annoyance served to provoke Milne on the night, I’m not interested in whether he should have hit someone else at Crikey rather than Stephen Mayne, and I’m not in the least surprised that News Ltd did not even think of sacking Milne for what he did or that they are defending him through their outlets. Just go on annoying whoever you like, and don’t be surprised if you occasionally get attacked, at least in print or on the airwaves, and maybe once in a while physically by a drunk and/or medicated one of your victims. 

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