Eileen Rafter writes: Re. “Professor Flint: Cramping Alan Jones diminishes us all” (yesterday, item 5). I disagree with several elements of Professor Flint’s defence of Alan Jones. 2GB was not “punished” (have they actually had any punishment?) for reading out a few small extracts from e-mails and letters but for opinions and words originating from Alan Jones himself. To compare his inflammatory remarks to a newspaper publishing letters is nonsense. We are not talking about freedom of political speech. Alan Jones has not been reprimanded for expressing political opinions on air but for biased rantings that are racist, bigoted and inflammatory. Professor Flint warns us that “it can work both ways”. I hope he is right. Anyone in a position of public influence who makes bigoted racist remarks should be reprimanded, whether they are Sheikh Hilali, the mufti of Australia, or Alan Jones. Contrary to what Professor Flint asserts, this process will always work in the public interest.

John Goldbaum writes: “To punish 2GB for reading these [emails] would be like making a newspaper responsible for the range of letters it publishes.” Someone ought to tell David Flint that newspapers are very responsible about the letters they publish. They are extremely attentive to defamation, offensive language and incitement.

David Iron writes: Please do not grant the mad Professor David Flint anymore space in your newsletter. He is a pompous ass. A liberal sycophant who is so out of touch with reality that it beggars belief that he can function in our society. You can publish this and my name if you want to… he needs to be aware that there are plenty of people out there who recognise him for the fraud that he is. I read on further in your newsletter and find that long time “politics” tragic and Pauline Hanson booster, John Pasquarelli, has leapt to Alan Jones’s defence by lambasting the ACMA. He must desperate for media attention. If I were Alan Jones I might want to distance myself from the dregs of the earth.

Harry Goldsmith writes: Sir, In today’s Crikey, David Flint writes, concerning the Cronulla riots, “For years, the locals were abandoned to the mercy of thugs by both the police and the politicians. When this culminated in the bashing of livesavers (sic), these years of neglect led large numbers of young men, mainly by texting, to call for vigilante action.” David Flint should review the Executive Summary on the Cronulla riots by Strike Force Neil to get a better picture of what happened, and how the media can distort issues, particularly when those issues are seen through racist eyes. When David realises that there was no “bashing of lifesavers”, that this was a myth developed and inflamed by right-wing shock jocks like the man he is trying to exonerate, then perhaps he will have a different view. I followed the riot stories with some interest because the story that the media was pushing was at odds with the ABC’s PM program, and I thought that PM must have got it badly wrong. No; PM got it pretty right, it would appear. By the way, I always gave Stuart Littlemore the credit for coining the term “Parrot”. Littlemore, as host of Media Watch, had shown Jones to be plagiarising an editorial from a South African newspaper, in other words he was just “parroting”. I get the feeling that a nickname originating from HG and Roy might not have been so repeatable, and certainly not printable without an abundance of asterisks.

Kate McDonald writes: “A fundamental principle is that you should always be able to face your accusers,” says David Flint. Which is exactly what the “thugs … rapist gangs … revenge convoy of cars …” (aka “Lebs”) did when the “locals … young men … our youth … drunken Cronulla boys” (aka “Australians”) told them so politely to eff off back to where they came from, even though most of them were born here, as they were “targeting girls because they were identified as Australians”. See the problem here, Dave? Obviously you and the Parrot don’t. I still find it extremely hard to take anyone seriously when they argue that one of the main causes of the riots was that “Leb” boys were sexually harassing “Aussie” girls and the “Aussie” boys were just standing up for them. I can only stake my experience on the past 34 years, but give me an “Aussie” woman of my age who has not been be called a slut or a dog or a mole (which is how “Aussie” boys think moll is pronounced) by a man of any ethnic background in this country when she rejects his advances and I’ll give you a liar or an idiot. The latter description fits you like a vice-regal glove, Dave.

Steve Johnson writes: I thought Professor David Flint was a law academic, not a philosophy academic! He believes that if a tree falls down in the jungle and no one hears it, then the tree didn’t fall down! Flint’s main hypothesis (yesterday Professor Flint: Cramping Alan Jones diminishes us all) regarding Alan Jones tussle with the ACMA was that the complainants reacted to excerpts and extracts of Jones’s program, rather than actually hearing the comments first hand from the radio. This is a fair enough whinge, but Alan Jones did actually make those comments, and the ACMA made their judgment on those comments. Guilty as charged. The conundrum for Flint and Jones, therefore, is that those who are likely to be offended by Jones’s behaviour are not actually listening to him. You have to have a particular type of softheaded nationalist compliance and to enjoy the warm but transitory feeling of having your pockets p-ssed in to listen to Jones’s rants for any period, so its just possible that people of Middle Eastern descent aren’t listening live. The conclusion is that Professor Flint’s waterproof Broadcasting Code of Conduct sounds like this: It is okay to make irresponsible, crude and racist remarks on air, and it is okay to encourage others to make the same stupid comments, but only if no-one complains. What a wobbly load of old blancmange.

Bob Peterson writes: The Crikey contributors yesterday, many media, and Alan Jones himself do not appear to have actually read the ACMA Report. I refer you to the original ACMA media release of 10 April 2007: “ACMA finds 2GB Sydney breached the code by broadcasting material on Breakfast with Alan Jones that was likely to encourage violence or brutality and to vilify people of Lebanese and Middle-Eastern backgrounds on the basis of ethnicity.” There was no finding of “enticement” but there was a finding of “encouragement”. There was no penalty against Alan Jones or 2GB. There was a finding of “vilification”. Alan Jones’ statement that the ACMA did not even know that Breakfast with Alan Jones was never the name of his program is denied by the “cached” Google search that confirms that this was the program so named on 2GB’s website up until at least 2 April 2007. When I listened to Alan Jones and Brian Wilshire on 2GB from 5-9 December 2005, I stayed tuned because I could not believe such outrageous broadcasting content could ever be allowed.

Judy Bamberger writes: “He is a person who articulates what a lot of people think,” cheers PM Howard about Alan Jones. Sheikh al-Hilali also “articulates what a lot of people think” … but I hear only venom from Howard when speaking about the Sheikh. Howard anoints Jones “an outstanding broadcaster” … How “outstanding” is Jones’s use of extremist language: “grubs,” “thugs,” “cowards,” “raping”; his racist slurs; exhorting listeners to “a rally, a street march … a community show of force”; reading the racist call to “take revenge” again and again; affirming his listeners’ violent, inciteful, racist comments. Howard and his colleagues call for al-Hilali to abdicate his role as mufti; they advocate his leaving Australia. Not Jones … who doesn’t “encourage prejudice in the Australian community, not for one moment.” Humbug! As heinous, repugnant, ignorant, inciteful, and hateful as Sheikh al-Hilali’s remarks are, I find Alan Jones’s equally so. It’s time for Alan Jones to abdicate his role. Perhaps he, too, should consider leaving Australia.

Glenn Coleman writes: Re. “Singo and the Parrot spit it as ACMA spoils a potential pay day” (yesterday, item 4). Dear Stephen, I am amazed at your obvious backing and “bandwagonism” of the ACMA outcome? I am not a fan of the parrot, nor a regular 2GB listener, or any other talkback station for that matter, but I am a fan of free speech. The reasons for the Cronulla riot had little to do with the Parrot, would any of those thugs (of either Australian or Lebanese background) that attended during the day or post, be atypical A Jones listeners? I would think the wrong demographic? I think your article on Alan Jones is more of the same journalistic bashing of Jones / Packer / Singleton etc that is becoming sooooo boring. Is that the best you can do? Did Tate resign due to the ACMA outcome? Is that what you are implying? You seem to have little understanding of the Cronulla riots and the events leading up to it other than what you saw on Channel 9 news. Stick to the MBL AGM and alike Stephen, it’s more interesting. You now force me to hit the delete button when the Crikey email comes through each day and I won’t be renewing my Crikey subscription thanks to your sh-te.

John Kotsopoulos writes: Re. “Fightback: due process and Alan Jones” (yesterday, item 20). John Pasquarelli should be reminded that Alan Jones damned himself out of his own mouth. I have heard the sound bites where he among things he urges bikie gangs to confront the Lebanese youths expected to assembled at Cronulla. If he wants an accuser he need go no further than Jones himself. As for John Howard his support of Jones on the basis that he is mouthing what simpleton rednecks are thinking is beneath contempt. I venture to suggest that this is a prime reason why Howard is on the nose in his own, increasingly multi-cultural, electorate.

Rosemary Swift writes: Where do we start with John Pasquarelli? While it can be diverting to read all kinds of ratbag viewpoints in Crikey, when you give space to someone like John Pasquarelli for his nasty little rant, you should also put his offering in context by noting his past association as an adviser to Pauline Hanson. It gives some perspective to his opinion. As to checking the “authenticity of complainants”, what’s that all about? As I read the reports of ACMA’s decision, it was actual program content on which the conclusions were based. Regardless of who complained, isn’t that the point?

Leigh Barrett writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. You latte-sipping, chardonnay-slurping journos, using the word loosely, Kevin Rudd is on a winner with the Ford Territory, it is one of the most popular vehicles on the market and look at the demographic who drives them. Kevin will romp in and you will all have froth on your face. Get onto the real issues for example forcing carbon emissions into the ground, what happens if they start leaking.

Ivan Matthews writes: The intro on today’s Crikey rather annoyed me. I fail to see how owning a Ford Territory makes Kevin Rudd a hypocrite. I did notice that Crikey’s normal disclosure seems to have been overlooked on this occasion. What do you drive? My disclosure, I happily drive a Subaru Forester XT (11.4/4.5). Let’s see, the Green Vehicle Guide suggests that a Territory does around 12.8l/100k and gives it an air pollution rating of 5. Better than the equivalent Holden Adventra at 13.2/5 or a Mitsubishi Pajero at 13.5/4 At least he is buying an Australian designed and manufactured vehicle and making sure his bucks buys someone a job. His decision to purchase an Australian family car also suggests he is much more closely aligned with Australian family values. Sure he might have been able to buy a hybrid, but did it fit his vehicle requirements? Probably not. Yes hybrids are “greenish”, but are they big enough for his family? Does he do a lot of motoring in the hills, on dirt/gravel roads. Did he want the extra safety of all wheel drive? The list of reasons why we buy the vehicle we do is longer than the options available in the market.

Graham Watts writes: The Ford Territory comes in both 2WD & AWD versions and it is an approved vehicle authorised by the Commonwealth Government for use by Federal politicians etc. Can I suggest that if the vehicle meets the relevant criteria set by the Commonwealth then you should be directing your criticism at the people who set the criteria and assess each vehicle. I doubt whether Kevin Rudd has any input into that approval process. And then there are the pollies of all persuasions who use full size petrol/diesel guzzling 4WDs as electorate vehicles when medium-sized vehicle like the Territory would easily suffice. Some even use them as shopping trollies in the cities. If you are going to point the finger at Kevin Rudd then how about you name and shame all the other members of parliament who are doing the same or much worse in their selection of appropriate transport? For the purpose of this exercise I drive a 4 litre 6 cyl LP gas powered car (Australian Made & Designed) that is more economical and less polluting than a 2.4 litre 4 cyl so-called petrol powered econo-car (Australian Made & Japanese Designed) and, have done so with no subsidy from the Federal Government for seven years.

Tony Thompson writes: You must be joking! Did you get Akerman, Henderson, Jones and, or, Albrechtsen to “write” yesterday’s editorial? I only hope that none of what I paid to subscribe to Crikey was used to pay whoever wrote this rubbish. Next you will be informing us that Kev has a 10-minute shower each morning, or something equally important, as the reason why he can not be believed. Why not focus on something important eg. the Coalition’s machinations over AWB and the single desk; or the lack of meaningful response from Turnbull following the IPCC report on Climate Change or even the COWAG meeting or Julie Bishops proposal to pay teachers based on performance.

Clare McLaughlin writes: Hard to believe that Kevin Rudd hasn’t seen Episode 5 of the 6th Season of the West Wing (“The Hubbert Peak”), in which Deputy White House Chief of Staff, Josh Lyman is in a car dealership initially looking at a Prius hybrid car. The salesman tells him that this car is “…Perfect for D.C…. loves gridlock.” Then Josh learns of the waiting list on the hybrid. And as he glances up, a huge SUV catches his eye. And testosterone kicks in. That’s the vehicle he decides to test drive. And while talking to Donna on his cell phone, Josh’s SUV test drive destroys someone’s new Prius. I know he’s a busy man and doesn’t have much time for TV, but surely some of his top-flight, policy-wonk staff can quote whole episodes of the West Wing and would’ve warned him of the political risks of a big 4WD, even if he hasn’t driven it into anything…

Neil James, Executive Director, Australia Defence Association, writes: Re. “Defence dysfunction: generals aren’t always right” (yesterday, item 9). Your “Defence Insider” must have been inside a long time ago given his 1960s-era view of the defence force and the Department of Defence — and his serious confusion over the differences between command, leadership and management. The recent Proust Review confirmed the obvious again. The Department of Defence is just too big and complex to be successfully overseen by any one Minister. As the biggest government institution in the country by far (and the third biggest employer) it is also saddled, uniquely, with a diarchic structure of two bosses: the Secretary of the department and the Chief of Defence Force (CDF). Imagine running BHP Billiton like this — or the shareholders tolerating the inevitable disastrous results this long. Since this unwieldy managerialist nightmare was introduced in 1974 there have been over a dozen major reviews into why it does not work. Each has promised an accountability and efficiency nirvana, all have just tinkered, most have made things worse. The fundamental question is why such reviews are needed so often (on a 2-3 year average)? The answer is because none of them have been allowed to adopt a first-principles approach to reform. The current structure encourages civilian bureaucratic interference in military professional matters on the one hand and distracts the military from their prime role (deterring and winning wars) on the other. It also frustrates effective ministerial control. The wonder is how well the defence force does on operations despite this bureaucratic millstone. The answer is either to separate the department and the ADF (as NZ has most successfully done), or at least strictly define and delineate the separate roles of the Secretary and CDF (as Proust recommended and the Government inexplicably rejected).

Graham Bell writes: “Defence Insider” was spot-on about senior officers coming from a very shallow gene pool. You bet it’s shallow! Regardless of what courses they may have passed, too many of them are not smart enough to be trusted running the family business but, hell, they are terrific at conformity and not rocking the boat … so it’s tempting to keep them out of everyone’s way in the ADF; great for their families but potentially disastrous for national survival… Trouble is, as the strategic situation gets gloomier and gloomier, do we broaden and deepen that command and management gene pool ourselves pretty briskly? Or… do we just wait for clever and ruthless enemies to make all the necessary adjustments instead?

Greg Poropat writes: Neil James (yesterday, comments), tsk, tsk, tsk. The Afghanistan war is still on foot? James says: “in international law an international armed conflict (war) exists as a material fact”. Well the material fact is that there is no international armed conflict in Afghanistan. Just who are the nations that give the “international” character to the armed conflict? Leaving questions of puppet governments aside, the Americans, as with ourselves and all other coalition forces, are in Afghanistan at the request of the Afghan Government to help it suppress an internal insurrection. They are not at war with Afghanistan nor are they at war in it. If they were at war, they would not need to comply with an Afghan request to leave. And surely they would comply with such a request, wouldn’t they? Call it what you like, Neil, but it is not war as you choose to define it.

Marilyn Shepherd writes: Neil James keeps spouting out his nonsense about David Hicks being “captured” in the Afghan war when he was in reality kidnapped by one faction of Afghans fighting another faction of Afghans and sold to the US, while he was trying very hard to run away. I would strongly advise James to read the book by Joseph Margulies about Guantanamo Bay to have the fallacy of his arguments revealed. Like Nauru, Gitmo Bay was set up by the US deliberately so that the law of war does not apply. James deliberately overstating the case all of the time does not make his story any more accurate. Hicks has not been found guilty of being an islamist terrorist, he “pleaded” guilty to a non-existent crime (which encompasses being in a room with Bin Laden) in an illegal tribunal after his lawyers had been kicked out and he was told in no uncertain terms that he would be locked up for life if he didn’t agree. Now can James be quiet please.

Lynda Hopgood writes: If ever there was an argument for the stupidity of war, Neil James is it. I’ve never read such arrant nonsense in my life and it had me wondering – and not for the first time — about how much better shape the world would be in if it had been run by women instead of men. Only men could invent something as stupid as war — and the reasons to justify it.

Tamas Calderwood writes: I thought I’d have a crack at answering Justin Templer’s question (yesterday, comments) on why we are in Afghanistan. The Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 under a particularly harsh theological dictatorship (homosexuality and female infidelity were punishable by death, music was banned and girls were taken out of schools). The Taliban also supported Al Qaeda and helped train thousands of men in terrorist camps who subsequently carried out many acts of terrorism against the West (US embassy bombings, USS Cole, Sept 11 and Bali). After Sept 11, the US led invasion toppled the Taliban and a democratically elected government now presides, albeit with limited authority outside of the capital, Kabul. But the Taliban are far from defeated and the Karzai government would not be able to function without the military support of the allied nations. The extra 300 Australian soldiers won’t tip the balance of the war on their own, but Australia has an interest in global stability and we can’t free-ride on the security provided by other nations. While there certainly are many other countries in need of our assistance I suppose it is a question of priorities. The Taliban and al-Qaeda have spectacularly proven their ruthlessness and in the end will only be defeated if Afghanistan becomes stable, so as one of the oldest democracies Australia has to play its part.

Brefney Ruhl writes: Re. “Nelson, Peacock and the Boeing connection” (yesterday, item 2). $6B for planes that the RAAF doesn’t even want! They say the US has mothballed 100s of late model, low mileage F-111s, and we could buy them for about 10% of the price of the Super Hornets. No retooling, no retraining, lots of experience. Hello! I live in a town that was promised a bypass 30 years ago, a hospital 15 years ago, that lost its rail link 2 years ago and is burgeoning under the weight of 2 million tourists a year without extra infrastructure support. Frankly, I’m beyond giving a damn who’s fault any of this is, but to see Howard/Nelson p-ssing $6 billion of our money against the wall in some cosy Boeing deal really gives me the sh-ts!

Telstra spinner Rod Bruem writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 7). Your item today on Telstra dividend payments, Telstra has been directly paying dividends into shareholders accounts since 2003. It’s quick, safe, secure and saves shareholder’s money — approx $1 per shareholder per year. When electronic funds transfers cannot be completed (e.g. if we haven’t been given bank account details), Telstra mails out cheques twice a year, in June and December. This accounts for less than 2 percent of shareholders. Shareholders have been well informed of this and are mostly supportive – not surprising given the millions in savings returned to them over the past four years.

Tim Lambert writes: Re. “Picking a fight with a climate sceptic — a how to guide” (yesterday, item 6). It was nice that Sophie Black linked to “How to talk to a Climate Skeptic” yesterday, because one of the links there: “They predicted global cooling in the 1970s” refuted Christian Kerr’s later claims (“The history of the end of the world: Part II” – yesterday, item 14). Lowell Ponte is not an informed source (he claimed gravity was getting weaker), and the full quote from the National Science Board in 1972 is: “Judging from the record of the past interglacial ages, the present time of high temperatures should be drawing to an end … leading into the next glacial age. However, it is possible, or even likely, that human interference has already altered the environment so much that the climatic pattern of the near future will follow a different path.” Climate skeptics alter the meaning by leaving out the second sentence.

Mark Byrne writes: Christian Kerr needs a re-think if he is clinging to the notion that questions in the 1970’s about global cooling in anyway approaches the consensus or evidence for global warming. Christian ought to have taken Sophie Black’s link to the handbook on How to Talk to a Climate Sceptic. The guide helps dispel the myth of any consensus on cooling. Christian’s own quote is taken out of context and mis-represent’s it’s author. Kerr says that in 1974, The US National Science Foundation predicts that declining world temperatures herald the beginning of “the next glacial age”. No Christian, The National Science Foundation did not predict an imminent ice age. On the contrary, they noted the next natural cycle should be an ice age, but that it “is possible, or even likely, than human interference has already altered the environment so much that the climatic pattern of the near future will follow a different path…”

Christian Kerr writes: OK. It’s goodbye to all that. No more spitting in the face of environmental Stalinism. I’m not even going try and offer an alternative voice to the doomsayers any longer. The Henny-Pennies have been so panicked by their fear that the sky is falling that they have stopped believing in free speech, free thought and free will. Indeed, you wonder why they even bother to subscribe to Crikey. They certainly don’t want debate – let alone debate they have to pay for. May I suggest that the eco-weenies just contact the Christadelphian Church, who will be able to supply plenty of free literature offering cheerful reassurance that, yup, the end of the world is nigh.

Barry Chipman, Tasmanian State Manager, Timber Communities Australia, writes: Not sure what Timber Communities Australia’s few critics (Thursday comments) really want. It appears they prefer to just vilify Tasmania’s forest industry and its dependent communities, than engage in meaningful debate. But always looking to move forward just for the record here is some more facts about Tasmania’s proposed pulp mill and Tasmania’s conservation achievements. Tasmania has 1.89 million hectares of high quality wilderness reserved and off limits to any major developments including the harvesting of pulp wood. Tasmania has 1.24 million ha of old growth forest of which the Commonwealth and State have agreed to reserve over 1 million hectares, there will be no old growth logs used in the proposed pulp mill. The Convention of Biological Diversity supported by the IUCN and WWF sets a target of 10% forest reservation, Tasmania’s native forests reserved for conservation values now exceeds 45%, four and half time the international bench mark. Which means the wood resource sustainably harvested for the pulp mill will meet Australia’ obligations to protect biological diversity including threatened species.

David Dolan writes: Graham Anderson’s comments (yesterday, comments) on “stopping the young and restless from enrolling to vote” missed one of the main points, i.e. once calling an election, these people are excluded from enrolling until after the election. I understand that the last election this would have excluded around 400,000 electors. Really Mr Anderson you should check your facts before telling half the story.

Chris Donges writes: Re. Randy Rose (yesterday, comments). “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…” Well, that would depend on what else the cats are eating. If they have access to possums, wombats or other native animals then the decline in rabbit numbers won’t necessarily affect cat numbers.

Yesterday’s typos (house pedant Charles Richardson casts an eye over the howlers in the last edition of Crikey): Item 8: “This follows what could irregularities in the counting process.” What “could be”, perhaps?

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