Cam Smith, self-styled “Nazi-hunter superhero and debonair gent-about-town” from anti-racist group FightDemBack writes: Re. “Cam Smith – poseur or van Tongeren?” (yesterday, item 15). Crikey made an error of judgement yesterday in publishing an incredibly poorly researched piece about FDB by self-styled “national affairs editor” Christian Kerr, since Kerr clearly had no clue what he was talking about. I’m not sure how things work in the high end of town, but in the real world it is actually possible to be successful as political activists without resorting to violence. Christian, let me set your mind at ease: Fight Dem Back! neither participates in or condones violence of any kind. I know we have the word ‘fight’ in our name (it comes from an anti-fascist dub poem by Linton Kwesi Johnson) but if you really find the word that disturbing in a political context you might want to have a whisper in John Hewson’s ear. FDB operates primarily as an information gathering and dispersal service. We monitor the activity of white supremacist/neo-Nazi groups online and via a network of infiltrators and informants and then pass that information on to interested parties: affected community groups and businesses, law enforcement, and where necessary, the media. We also conduct such nefarious activities as assisting young people who have gotten too deep into the far right with extricating themselves from that scene safely without suffering the brutal consequences one usually encounters when attempting to leave a gang. We do this because we believe that shining a light on political cockroaches curtails their activities, and that this makes the community a safer place. So far we have enjoyed a reasonable level of success in this endeavour. If all we were interested in was “media notoriety” I’m sure it wouldn’t be difficult to attain it in a manner which didn’t involve the slight annoyances of regular death threats and having our work and home addresses sent around to people with histories of violence. What’s the pay like as a Liberal spin doctor anyway? The question that needs to be asked is: Was Christian too lazy to find out the truth about the manner in which we conduct our affairs when he set off on his wee rant, or did he deliberately decide not to? We’re really not that difficult to get in touch with. Either way, Crikey should be embarrassed for giving a platform to such poorly researched bullsh-t.

Darryl Rosin writes: Christian Kerr once again proves his inestimable worth by with his remarkable analysis of a hitherto unknown aspect of the 1993 federal election. If I recall correctly, Christian was working for the Federal Liberal Party at the time they were explicitly mixing politics with violence in their “Fightback” policy platform. Did it also in its activities? When did Christian and the Liberals publicly apologise to the Australian people for their disgusting attempt to mix politics and violence? It may be that Kerr and his fellow travellers do little more than write on a website and occasionally offer opinions to hard-pressed, naïve or gullible editors. If this is so, then they are nothing but puerile political poseurs who exploit decent minded people’s interest in public affairs to gain themselves media notoriety. Should not Crikey also be embarrassed for giving people like him a platform?

Andrew Lewis writes: Re. “Greens go Labor’s way in NSW” (Monday, item 13). I read of “preference deals” between the Greens and Labor, and stories of skulduggery, and again I am left to wonder “What are they talking about?” I thought it was the voter who distributed preferences by allocating numbers on their ballot paper. Does anyone honestly believe that voting tickets printed by parties beforehand actually affect preference distribution? Is there any science behind this myth, any studies to support the argument? I am doubly flummoxed by the fact that in NSW you don’t have to number all the boxes for a valid vote, so preference allocations by the parties seem even more tenuous. The major parties are so unelectable that I intend to vote only for a minor party, with no preferences. That’ll learn ’em. There must be someone who can shed some light. I don’t know which is more of a worry, that this self-perpetuating myth continues to hold sway among the politically savvy, or that they may actually be right, leading one to think that the average voter may be so bovine to follow the party line.

Jan Forrester writes: Re. “Muslim cleric tax cheats put taxpayer grants under a cloud” (yesterday, item 13). I’m all for exposing tax cheats – from big business to individuals. Unfortunately, Australia is not short of them as even recent history will attest. Neither am I comfortable with the privileged position among Sydney Muslims of the Lebanese Muslim Association in attracting NSW government grants in the Premier’s electorate. However, I have to tell you that if a group defined by religion in my suburb was attacked by rumour and unproven claims for tax-dodging that meant ALL people in my suburb undergoing an ATO data invasion (transparently or otherwise), I’d feel a mite outraged. From his article Mr Seage seems to presume that every single household in Lakemba contains practising Muslims and/or Wahabists who take tax advice from clerics. The Canterbury local government area website does not give us an ethnic-religious demographic breakdown of Lakemba, although a stroll down Haldon Street will show it includes a fair sprinkling of East Asians, Islanders and a Korean Baptist Church. The Canterbury LGA demographic breakdown indicates mainland Chinese are the predominant group in the municipality, followed by Lebanese and Greeks. I would like to suggest the ATO employ a more forensic approach to tax cheating than the religion/race-based ATO sweep suggested by Mr Seage.

Terry Kidd writes: Re. “Is it time to call the Qantas takeover bid a failure?” (yesterday, item 1). An immediate disclaimer… I own no Qantas shares and I am not a financial whiz. Purely from an individual’s view I an concerned about the possible sale of Qantas because it is a successful airline and it doesn’t need to be saddled with enormous debt so that a select few may make enormous sums of money from the deal. From the beginning I have had the feeling that the whole affair smells like Gordon Gekko in a new suit. The current directors and CEO are now compromised and marginalised by their involvement and should resign immediately. Their fingers are in the pie. How can they put their hands on their heart and say that they will act in the best interests of the airline and its shareholders at all times? Where do they see their duty and responsibility lying? What about their employees? Do they see no need for loyalty at all? When are director’s fees, salaries and incentives not enough? All I see in this deal is avarice and self interest.

Bruce Graham writes: Re. “How to cheat Macquarie Bank, as taught by Macquarie University” (yesterday, item 27). To cheat at psychometric testing, one must know what the tester wants to read. In an average psychopathic workplace, this would be an even greater asset than the reality. It’s all about sincerity. If you can fake sincerity, you can do anything. Is it any wonder that merchant bankers and major law firms are the most prominent enthusiasts for psychometric testing?

Steve Elliott writes: Re. “Perhaps the time has come to demand that Howard formally request the return of Hicks or be exposed as a fraud on this issue.” (Monday, item 12). Surely Hicks won the right to go to the full Federal Court on precisely this issue. See this ABC report from last week: “The Federal Court in Sydney has ruled that a case being brought against the Commonwealth by lawyers for Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks can proceed to hearing. Lawyers representing Hicks are asking the Federal Court to rule that the Government should have asked United States authorities to repatriate the Adelaide man.”

Tim Le Roy, Rabid anti-wind turbine campaigner, climate denier, greenhouse sceptic and general anti-green rabble rouser, writes: Re.”Renewable energy: we have the technology, so why aren’t we using it?” (yesterday, item 9). Sophie Black is very incorrect in relation to Vestas (the Danish windmill maker) pulling out of Australia and blaming the Federal Government. Curiously, in the same week it shut its Tasmanian plant it also shut its Scottish plant. I think it may have had more to do with its P&L statements that show a history of losses that make Enron look good. Vestas has been the beneficiaries of Federal tax credits estimated to be in the millions of dollars; perhaps it will give these back because the nasty Fed government won’t subsidise its industry. To further rub salt into the wounds, a number of Vestas turbines are being built on Victoria’s second most treasured landscape, Cape Bridgewater. Are the blades coming from the nearby Vestas Portland blade factory? In your dreams. A nicely timed media release on 22 December said the blades are to be imported. And just in case anyone cites Denmark as a model for wind energy it is important to note that 84% of Danish wind energy is exported to Norway AT A COMMERCIAL LOSS! Wake up, it is just a green con.

MK Harvey writes: I think the issue neatly sidestepped by Barry Chipman is his outrageous claim that Tasmanians have the lowest greenhouse emissions in Australia. With Launceston invisible during winter due to smoke from unmonitored fires and no water-metering in Tasmania, how the hell does he find any statistics to compare with the rest of Australia? The recent surge in wealth has resulted in increased numbers of larger not smaller vehicles on the roads, especially American pickups, and my casual observation notes the large numbers of grossly overweight Tasmanians unconcerned with their impact on anything, least of all other people’s aesthetic sense. The worst offenders appear to be in parliament and the logging and mining industries, and throwing up around Salamanca on the weekends.

Les Heimann writes: Re. Japanese treaty. Deafening silence and no cautions from anywhere…. Such is the reaction from mainstream Australia to reports of the PM commencing the process that ultimately see Japanese soldiers training in Australia. Well I’m not one for political correctness, nor is my wife; we were astounded when we heard a radio report on the matter – and neither of us is shy about admitting we abhor the idea. Sufficient time has not passed since Japanese “animals” (one wouldn’t dignify them as soldiers) behaved as only base barbarians could. They captured Australian soldiers as well as slavering over the bodies of captured women, raping them daily – the so called comfort women for whom the current Japanese PM refuses to apologise. Perhaps in another 60 years we may begin to forget. I am equally astounded at the current leadership of the RSL not seeing a problem with this – “lest we forget” is now forgotten so it seems. How “forgiving” are we? How forgetful we have become. Do we not owe something to those men and women who suffered so terribly so we could enjoy our espresso and white wine. As to the media – not a word, not even Crikey. It seems quite obvious that our esteemed Prime Minister has now totally lost it – he certainly has alienated every Australian who understands what these barbarous people did to Australian men and women in embarking on a totally unnecessary Treaty trip. Mr Howard no doubt has also given China cause for pause (oh well, we were getting tired of our economic prosperity anyway). Probably you will regard our attitude as somewhat old fashioned and rednecked and it might upset your equilibrium a little to publish this. People who ignore the lessons of history are condemned to repeat the mistakes of the past. Perhaps John Howard’s lasting legacy will be that he establishes the nickname Tojo John. Remember, Pig Iron Bob Menzies also fancied himself as a statesman – and he also was a grand failure at that.

Alan Kerlin writes: Re. “Look at Bazza, not the budgie smugglers” (yesterday, item 11). “Another Liberal big knob.” Ho ho Christian – nothing like a little schoolboy humour to lower the Crikey bar a little further… Keep up the great work mate.

Today’s errors (house pedant Charles Richardson casts an eye over the howlers in the last edition of Crikey): In Item 12 yesterday, “Storm clouds looming for the Coalition in the Sunshine State”, Michael Johnson is the Member for Ryan, not Michael Thompson.

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