Graham Anderson writes: Re. “Stopping the young and the restless from enrolling to vote” (yesterday, item 8). Dear Crikey, You really should check your facts before publishing articles. Lilian McCombs puts out the outrageous untruth that from 16 April, voters will need a valid Australian drivers’ licence exclusive of any other form of ID to register. I simply couldn’t believe that to be true and did what you should have and checked the AEC website. From the website:

HOW DO I ENROL TO VOTE FROM 16 APRIL 2007?

From 16 April 2007, there are three ways to demonstrate your proof of identity when completing the new purple enrolment form.

Either

1. Provide your Australian driver’s licence number.

Or

If you don’t have a driver’s licence you can:

2. Show one identification document – like your passport, birth certificate, Medicare card or Centrelink concession card – to an authorised person who is on the electoral roll, who will then sign a declaration on your enrolment form.

A complete list of authorised persons and identification documents is on the new enrolment form and the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) website.

Or

If you don’t have a driver’s licence or an acceptable identity document you can:

3. Ask two people who are already on the electoral roll, and who have known you for at least a month, to confirm your identity by signing your enrolment form

Lilian McCombs, campaigns director for GetUp, writes: Thank you to Graham Anderson for pointing out there are ways other than providing a valid Australian driver’s licence to prove your identity in the new changes to the Electoral Act. The central point of the article was to highlight the effects of the legislation itself, which will be to make it more difficult for people to get on the roll.  The new proof of identity requirements are part of a package of Government amendments to “improve the integrity” of the roll, despite there being no evidence of significant voter fraud in Australia.  The collective result will be further barriers to voting for a range of eligible citizens, including the elderly, the young, people in rural areas, Indigenous Australians, those who are homeless or itinerant, and of course long-term expats.  There’s no reason the polls need to close so far out from the election, or for there to be tightened proof of identity requirements. The Government was told this by a range of experts during enquiries into the legislation, and their rationale for these amendments just doesn’t hold water. Compare to trends in similar democracies: in Canada, the rolls close on polling day, and in NZ the day before polling day.

David Horkan writes: Re. “Stopping the young and the restless from enrolling to vote” (yesterday, item 8). Lillian McCombs’ nonsensical assertion that holding a valid Australian drivers’ licence will be a requirement for those registering for the electoral roll does little to inspire faith in the arguments with which she follows it. I can understand why the silly Left or elements of the ALP might object to improving the integrity of the roll, but my concern is that the measures are so mild as to be hardly worth the trouble of implementing. I hope that they are just a start.

Sasha Marker writes: I wonder if Labor, the Greens and any other political parties (apart from the Coalition) who places importance on the ability of Australians to vote, are actually going to spend time and money on advertising to remind everyone of the changes to the electoral laws so everyone who has just turned 18 or recently moved is able to vote at the next federal election. If you are as concerned as I am, remind your work colleagues, community acquaintances, friends and family now.

Mike Burke writes: Re. “Alan Jones: questions of incitement, sedition and terminology” (yesterday, item 18). Bravo Charles Richardson. What a breath of fresh air and sanity. After reading Margaret Simons’s article on the subject today, I was choking on my bile and wondering how I could continue to tolerate reading such misguided and ultimately self-contradictory pap until my long-running advance Crikey subscription finally expires. Doesn’t it ever occur to you, Ms Simons, that what is being done to Jones can just as easily be done to you and to every other journalist who dares to step outside of the politically correct constraints du jour? Rather than calling for Jones’s head, you should be defending his rights to express his views. If the ACMA is allowed to get away with this benighted persecution of Jones, yet another spike will be driven into the heart of media freedom of speech and your turn will surely come as political fads change. Won’t you scream then. He cannot reasonably be blamed for what happened at Cronulla any more than the media who publicised the anti-globalisation demonstrations can be blamed for the violent behaviour of a few thugs. There is only one acceptable form of media regulation and that is none whatsoever. Anything else invites the sort of McCarthyism that is now endemic throughout the Australian media and among the chattering classes in general. Sad to say, it has come to thrive even in Crikey where not a day passes without some fool or another trying to censor one or other of Crikey’s contributors.

Ross Copeland writes: Re. This Parrot is no more? (yesterday, item 2). If the Parrot has been debeaked and no one is listening to John Laws anymore, who will Howard use as his megaphone out of Sydney in the lead up to the election?

Pamela Curr writes: Give ACMA a break – they have been frantically measuring Left Wing Bias at the ABC. With such an important task at hand, you can hardly expect a prompt investigation of something as trivial as a Sydney radio station’s prize parrot inciting Australians to violence. Anyway justice has been done – the parrot has been flogged with a feather.

Craig Montgomery writes: Perhaps if the police had done something about the bashing of Cronulla beach lifesavers, by “men of middle eastern appearance” instead of doing nothing then there would have been no comments from Alan Jones or a riot (both of which I do not condone). Lifesavers, nurses, firefighters, ambulance officers, SES personnel are all “protected species” and in the case of lifesavers an Australian icon. The police should be allowed to do the job and not be “politically correct” as directed by vote conscious politicians!

Jenny Morris writes: Re. “Slater & Gordon float not without pitfalls” (yesterday, item 11). The key phrase in the item on the possible float of law firm Slater and Gordon, by Greg Barns was the quote from a UK pundit that “[a] partner joining the equity the following year wouldn’t benefit”. Baby boomer sell-out while the going’s good, anyone?

Michael Brougham writes: David Wood (yesterday, comments) points out Sheikh Hilaly’s error in referring to “those atheists, people of the Book”. He may be interested to know that in classical Rome, the term “atheist” (or its Latin equivalent, I assume) was applied to anyone who challenged the official pagan religion of the state. Chief among such challengers were the members of a pesky little monotheistic sect calling themselves Christians. It was only later, presumably after Christianity’s triumph over paganism as the state religion of Rome, that the term came to refer to those who denied the existence of any god at all. Not that this historical curiosity excuses Hilaly’s error; in either case, his use of the term suggests that the People of the Book believe in the wrong god. By unfortunate coincidence, this happens to be the same god that Hilaly worships, suggesting that he is in fact an atheist himself and is therefore destined for the eternal fires of Hell. That or he just needs a better translator.

Neil James, Executive Director, Australia Defence Association, writes: Michael de Angelos (yesterday, comments) misses the point that international humanitarian law is universal and applies to everyone. There is no exception for Australians. Michael also labours under the mistaken belief (as many do) that declared and undeclared wars still exist in international law. No country has legally declared war since the UN Charter was signed in 1945. More importantly, in international law an international armed conflict (war) exists as a material fact (because it exists) not because any country states it does or does not exist (or whether Michael or anyone else believes it does either). This is so the humanitarian limitations of the Hague Convention and the humanitarian protections of the Geneva Conventions kick in automatically and apply despite any “war deniers” claiming they do not. The US-led coalition invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001 to destroy Al Qa’eda sanctuaries in Taliban-controlled territory was authorised by the UN Security Council and was never ‘illegal”. This particular war still continues and is legally separate to what some call, inappropriately, the “war on terrorism”. Hicks was captured in the Afghanistan war at least, hence the Geneva Conventions apply to him (in varying forms) until it ends – and whether he was, or remains, also an Islamist terrorist or not. Whatever illegality may or may not have applied to the US-led coalition intervention in Iraq in 2003 (expert legal opinions differ), operations since the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime have never been “illegal” because they are authorised by several UN Security Council resolutions.

Justin Templer writes: I would be grateful if one of your many informed and intelligent readers could explain to me in simple terms what we are doing in Afghanistan. Obviously the first response is “because we’re part of the Coalition of the (USA’s) Willing”. The second response would be that Afghanistan was at some time assumed to be the locus of planning for 9/11. But history has moved on, as it does – and so, presumably, has Bin Laden. A third response is that a turmoil in Afghanistan might spill over into Pakistan – which is an obvious danger. But do any of us believe that the presence of an extra heroic 300 troops over a few years will result in a new controlled Afghanistan – an objective which was beyond the reach of colonial Britain and of Russia. There are other damaged countries we could be assisting – Iraq (obviously), Nepal, Eritrea, Chad, Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia. Some of these are even rumoured to be centres for terrorism, making a troop presence a political win-win (if the Americans are interested). Do any of us believe that the presence (and death) of our troops in Afghanistan will result in a lasting stability and an improvement in the lives of Afghanis? Please explain.

Peter Lloyd writes: So Barry Chipman (yesterday, comments) is now reduced to implying that the two major parties taking the lion’s share of the vote at the last state election implies massive support for the single issue of the pulp mill. While the Australian electorate’s addiction to a two-party system certainly makes it easy for his lobby to economise on bribes, er, “donations”, the overall ludicrousness of his latest “arguments” should be obvious enough to Crikey readers. The fact that just after the 2004 state election the Sydney-Devonport ferry was cancelled showed clearly how the addiction to forestry is damaging Tasmania’s other industries- but the pro-mill, Gunns-affiliated yokels have made clear their hatred of ‘outsiders’ who might arrive by this means. Anyway, Gunns won’t share the subsidies with which Paul Lennon repays their ‘donations’. The Chipper knows the new ‘assessment’ is an utter whitewash- with no independent or rigorous scrutiny. He knows the proposal couldn’t survive the RPDC process and this is the only real reason Gunns canned it. Malcolm Turnbull and Peter Garrett will soon have the choice of backing these corrupt, glad-handing parasites, or demanding a proper analysis of all the issues. It would be sad if these individuals, who make such a pretence of their intellectualism and standards, allow their views to be shaped by state party branches that have become puppets of corrupt millionaires.

Michael Harvey writes: In support of Barry Chipman: poor fellow can’t be too sure of his current job if he’s providing so much copy for Crikey as sole pulpmill supporter – for chrissakes give him a permanent column. Maybe you could start a competition – “new job suggestions for Barry Chipman”: eg. Manager Macquarie Island rabbit communities (with Paula Wriedt, secretary), Manager Moustache communities, Manager Spirit of Tasmania advertising campaign communities, Manager Betfair communities, Manager bash-a-greenie communities etc.

John Hayward writes: Though I’d be the last to accuse him of actually writing the recent spate of Timber Communities Australia contributions to Crikey, Barry Chipman is still the signatory. Barry’s translation of the 80% vote enjoyed by the Lab/Libs the last Tas election as the current support for the proposed pulp mill is a typical Tassie lunker. You find these handsome figures when the pulp mill promotion team operates out of Paul Lennon’s office, where former Liberal Premier Robin Gray is a Gunns director, where the Premier’s Chief of Staff is the ex-editor of the Launceston Examiner, etc. ad infinitum. Mind you, such all- out PR support is vital if you are trying to preserve a colossal economic tapeworm which is devouring some $150 million in public subsidies this year, and some $740 million since 1992. One analyst has calculated that close to 80% of Gunns revenue derives from public assistance, including huge MIS tax breaks, and effectively free public forest wood. Though over 50% of forestry jobs have disappeared into mechanical harvesters in the past decade, Barry’s job looks indispensable.

Associate Professor (retired) Randy Rose, School of Zoology, University of Tasmania writes: Re. Charles Richardson (yesterday’s typo’s). “The feral cats and rabbits basically kept each other in check.” How do rabbits keep feral cats in check? Ecology 101… as the cats consume the rabbits, the rabbit number will decrease; subsequently so too will cat numbers. Eventually a balance will result…

Yesterday’s typos (house pedant Charles Richardson casts an eye over the howlers in the last edition of Crikey): Item 17: “Russell Tate is a man Singleton has described as the smartest man he knows in the media and the reasons given, ‘his increased responsibilities as executive chairman of STW Communications Group Ltd’ (the key company in the Singleton media empire) is curious …” – “reason is”, or “reasons are”, but not “reasons is”. Perhaps the writer/sub-editor was led astray by the missing comma after the closing bracket. While you’re at it, I would have put a comma after “in the media” as well, since without it there’s a bit of a tendency to think “the reasons” are reasons for him being the smartest man in the media, rather than reasons for the resignation referred to in the previous sentence.

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.