Shoebridge not leaving The AFR:

Neil Shoebridge, marketing and media editor at  The AFR , writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 5). I noticed the following item in yesterday’s Crikey: ” AFR defection watch … the next big gun being lured away from the is marketing writer Neil Shoebridge. He wrote today’s story about his boss, Michael Gill, desperately trying to buy Finsia Education (which was reported in Crikey yesterday). Shoebridge is in discussions with…” Jane Nethercote contacted me about this a week or so ago and I told her it wasn’t true. It still isn’t true. No one contacted me in reference to yesterday’s item. A correction would be appreciated.

McLeod’s Daughters and IR:

CLARIFICATION: Re. “Nine exec carpeted after PM dummy spit” (yesterday, item 1). A spokesman for the Prime Minister says the PM’s office did not call Channel Nine about the McLeod’s Daughter’s program.

Andrew Elder writes: Nine also screens programs that depict murder, assault, illegal drug use and other criminal acts. Other media outlets do this, too. If the Prime Minister complained every time illegal activity was depicted, referred to or otherwise portrayed in the media, he’d be doing little else.

Frank Lucy writes: Re. the complaints about the IR segment, in which a guy is informed he must take these conditions or hit the highway. There is something I don’t understand. If unfair dismissals laws are a thing of the past for businesses under a certain number of employees, then surely that’s the end-game. You can sack someone and re-employ them under different conditions. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing. But isn’t that the way it works?

Niall Clugston writes: Glenn Dyer claims that the incident “shows just how paranoid the Prime Minister has become about WorkChoices”. What’s this WorkChoices he’s talking about? The PM doesn’t know anything about WorkChoices! Is Dyer a Labor stooge?

David Hicks:

Harold Thornton writes: Garth Wong (yesterday, comments) reckons Hicks is a “treasonous traitor” — I’m glad he put the qualifier in there, else readers could have thought Hicks was a loyal and patriotic traitor. At any event, one of our quaint Australian customs is this “rule of law” stuff that insists people only be punished according to law, and not according to the highly educated and literate opinions of Garth and his lynch-mob cobbers. Tamas Calderwood (yesterday, comments) continues to worry that Hicks has committed thought crimes and done things he hasn’t been and won’t be charged with, along with his admission of an offence unknown to Australian law. Meanwhile, I read that the Iraq occupation and botched Afghan venture have, as was predicted from the beginning by those Wong and Calderwood would no doubt deride as the Hicks cheer squad, led to the greatest boost to terrorism in history –according to US intelligence agencies. Objectively, who is really supporting terrorism here?

Marilyn Shepherd writes: Tamas Calderwood (yesterday, comments) and others are deluded and deranged. David Hicks was not taking up arms against anyone in September 2001 because there was no one to take up arms against. The US didn’t start to blow up Afghanistan until 7 October, 2001 by which time the country had been cut off from the outside world for three weeks trapping everyone inside. Will Tamas and the others go and take a cold shower now — Hicks guarded a tank for a few days, was arrested at a taxi stand, sold for $1000 to the US and now the head of the Taliban tell us that he was never with them. Not to mention of course the tiny fact that Afghanistan had nothing at all to do with the September 11 attacks, no matter how many ways the deluded and deranged want to spin it. We have a government happy to deport crippled Australians and then cover it up for four years, who will incarcerate Australian citizen children for months on end and cover it up, we have a government who will lobby Iraq to send back a citizen because he had been in jail for two years without charges, but a stupid twit like David Hicks is beat up to be Conan the Barbarian, destroyer of the Western world. Locking him up in Australia with a charge being laid, based on a law invented six years after the “fact”, a charge that is meaningless and in an illegal tribunal is illegal and immoral. Give me a break.

Mick Callinan writes: Well, Garth Wong, you can say it’s treason all you like but if that pathetic bunch of prosecutors over in Gitmo can’t prove it, and Ruddock has nothing to charge him with in Australia, then he did not commit treason under the law. If I had the power to hold stupid people in custody for five years just for stupidity, then the prisons would be full of people who think that to protest at the trashing of our system of justice is the same as to support Hicks, a stupid but appallingly common belief, and you would be in grave danger of having your collar felt. Happily, there is no law against stupidity, and that is why you are free to keep insisting that it was treason.

Ruth O’Neill writes: I cannot help but pick apart the letter by Garth Wong on David Hick. He states “joined al-Qaeda of his own free will and fought with the Taliban, abandoning his family and parents to train and participate in a terrorist organisation intent on destroying Australia and the rest of the Western countries by any means, violent or otherwise”. These are highly presumptuous remarks. The story as I have it is David joined a combat force overseas and unwittingly found himself in a war with the US partially initiated by his superiors. Paint it any way you like, the cold fact is it’s similar in the way Australians is now at war with Iraqis. Have we all committed treason because we have acted against the Crown and invaded Iraq? Then Mr Wong clearly undervalues human life as he implies Hicks could have been shot. Finally he nails Hicks because the Australian government allowed the US to treat one of our citizens as a pawn in their war games which led to expensive security measures being approved and implemented. My opinion is Hicks was incarcerated as a message to any other disillusioned Australians not to challenge “democracy”. You may want to make a moral judgement on him but it would be an unfair thing to do when you haven’t heard his side of the story. The gag order on him suggests his story could be damaging to the Government in an election year.

Cameron Bray writes: Two for the price of one — Garth Wong and Tamas Calderwood both (deliberately?) missing the point about David Hicks and constructing the straw man of opposition to his treatment equating to support for his position. I would agree with Mr Wong that Hicks is almost certainly a “treasonous traitor” (as against some other kind of traitor who doesn’t commit treason I suppose) but he is completely wrong to state that: “he should forfeit his rights to any protection as an Australian citizen.” How many more times do we have to say this — there should be, underpinning our precious ‘Western Civilisation’ a set of universal rights to justice that apply to all, regardless of their alleged crimes. This is the ‘cheerleading’ that we do — not in defence of Hicks and whatever squalid little crimes he has committed but in defence of his inalienable rights to due process in open court. The very fact that we can dispute what it is Hicks has actually done is surely proof that the process has been cloaked in secrecy, the evidence debased and the outcome fundamentally unsound. To take George Bush at face value, he once said words to the effect that if the terrorists change our behaviour they have won. He was talking post-9/11 about a patriotic duty to continue spending as good little consumers but he accidentally spoke the truth. Ridiculous rhetoric about stripping rights from people based ion assumptions about the crimes they have committed undermines what should be our civilisations USP –universal civil rights, the rule of law, habeas corpus and a fair trial.

Noel Pearson:

Julianne Schultz, editor of Griffith Review, writes: Re. “Come here, go away: keeping up with Noel Pearson” (yesterday, item 19). Over the weekend, the surviving Aboriginal elders who drove the campaign for the 1967 referendum are meeting in Canberra. It will be a time of reflection and celebration. Speaking last night at the Sydney Institute Jacqui Huggins, co-chair of Reconciliation Australia, said that the message from these elderly activists was clear. They urged younger indigenous people to pick up the baton and continue the campaign for civil rights and equality, not rest on the laurels of the past. This is a similar message to Noel Pearson’s essay in Griffith Review that has been exciting Crikey commentators over recent days. Pearson argues that the one of the unintended consequences of the referendum was that some indigenous people began to think of themselves as victims entitled handouts, not people fighting against racism and victimhood, as the elders who will be meeting in Canberra at the weekend did. His essay puts the Australian campaign into an American frame, as American politics have long influenced Aboriginal activism in Australia. Jacqui Huggins said she recently read the diaries of one of the Queensland activists who has since died. In it was an excited note that the following year Martin Luther King was planning to visit Australia. Unfortunately he was assassinated a few months later, so this date was not kept. Pearson’s argument is that responsibility needs to be added to the list of R words — reconciliation, referendum, rights — and that the advocacy of rights and responsibility need to be done together, if any real and lasting progress is to be made. Read the full essay here

Peter Faris writes: “An indigenous child born today can expect to die 17 years before a non-indigenous child”, says the Australian Medical Association ( yesterday). The AMA also said that “indigenous life expectancy remained at 1920s levels”. All of this says a number of things to me. First, the tens of billions of taxpayers’ dollars spent on Aboriginals since the Whitlam government has been wasted. Aborigines are worse off than ever. Second, the long experiment in giving Aborigines separate facilities and control over the funds has been an expensive failure. Third, Aborigines are Australians, no more and no less. If these figures and failures related to mainstream citizens in the city, it would be scandalous. Aborigines should get exactly the same care that is available to all other Australians. Finally, the solution is to abolish Aboriginal control and treat all Aborigines equally with all other Australians. They should have access to the same health services and the same welfare system. In hindsight, what we have seen develop has turned out to be little short of apartheid. From the medical aspect, Australian hospitals and health services need to be immediately upgraded so that Aborigines have the same service as all of us. Separate funding and facilities have failed. Aborigines need to become mainstream Australians.

Mark Byrne writes: Guy Rundle misses the elephant in the room. Pearson may have told “left liberals” to “go away”, but that is not the dominant reason for political abstinence on indigenous progress. If Pearson had the power to influence large sections of political players then we’d be much closer to reconciliation. Responsibility predominantly llies where  the power is. And Australians gave the power to John Howard’s Coalition. After two-and-a-half decades of policy, which began to nurture the culture of reconciliation, land rights and self-determination; Howard took his opportunity to retry an old experiment. Howard’s experiment involved main-streaming services and programs. In practice, unfortunately, Howard’s ‘mainstreaming’ often involves ignoring too much of the specific context or disadvantages faced by many Aboriginal Australians. Whatever Pearson says about left-liberals it must be recognised that Pearson’s leadership is consistent with self-determination. Pearson has used his platform to articulate the failure of welfare payments as a substitute for equality of opportunity. It took a while for this message to get to other Australians. This emphasises the importance of self-determination. Yet, Pearson is one leader among a diverse array of Australia’s indigenous nations. It is vital that we reinvest in the projects initiated by other leaders like Pat Dodson and Lowitja O’Donoghue. The reason we don’t is not because of Pearson, it’s because of Howard. Howard’s legislation, his culture of silencing of dissent, his choice of cutting programs and making threats to NGO advocates. This, together with the limits of volunteer resources in the context of housing inaffordability and erosion of public services. In such an environment, how could there be any option for Aboriginal Australians other than attempting to find and sustain a place in our market plutocracy?

Taking the ‘nigger’ out of Toowoomba:

John Horsley writes: Re. “Taking the ‘nigger’ out of Toowoomba” (yesterday, item 4). I know little of Toowoomba, and less of Edward Stanley Brown. Perhaps I am naive and sheltered, but it is not automatic for me to associate the word “nigger” with Australia’s indigenous people. I think Chris Graham is running the risk of establishing that link. And that would be a pity. I don’t think that “ordinary Australians” are fighting for or against anything in this situation. I think “ordinary Australians” would like the description of “ordinary Australians” to be considered inclusive of all Australians, be they male, female, black, white, Christian, Muslim, young, old, ordinary, extraordinary — all shades, stages and aspects of the people of this wonderful nation. Let’s not put the word “nigger” on any sort of semantic or political pedestal. On the base of the statue will do just fine. 

Mike Smith writes: Is nigger a derogatory term for Australian Aborigines? I thought it was an Americanism used derogatorily towards US negroes. Not that that makes it ok, but it seems disconnected from Aussies. Chris is likely correct, and it is juvenile.

Ted O’Brien writes: Now you are being real silly. What of the man Nigger Brown, who inspired his fellow men to name the stand after him? Do you want us all to pretend he was somebody else? Silly boy!

Gunns’ second pulp mill:

John Hayward writes : Re. “Gunns eyes another 150,000 hectares to feed second mill” (yesterday, item 2). John Gay’s plans for a second pulp mill to join the presently planned world’s equal biggest mill in Tasmania may actually provide some hope to Tasmanians. It is Nero stuff. The new plans elevate Mr Gay’s ambitions from the realm of conventional Third World rapacity into the bizarre, particularly in a state where tourism is the largest revenue earner. On top of the proposed mills, The Lennon Government has recently introduced draft planning legislation which will discourage even farmers residing on agricultural land, while prohibiting either local councils, or rural residents themselves, from protecting the one million acres,(one-third of Tasmanian bush) which occurs on private land. Why are Australian journos trekking off to Zimbabwe or Burma when Tassie beckons with scandal from below?

A dopey editorial:

David Murtagh writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. Another dopey editorial. If John Howard gave the Victorian Bar millions of dollars in grants each year based on their compliance with a drugs policy he almost certainly would take a look at their drug code. As he doesn’t, he probably won’t. (For goodness sake, your shrill pseudo-intellectual editorials are getting sillier and sillier. Maybe we should ask to see Crikey’s drug policy –if you have one, it isn’t working.)

Doug Cameron:

Tom McLoughlin, Ecology Action Australia writes: Re. “Doogie Cameron: the ALP’s latest anachronism” (yesterday, item 6). First is it Labour or Labor? Make up your mind. Second, nothing wrong with fair trade over bogus “free” trade. We all know about the “free” market meritocracy eg. “Macquarie Bank boss earns $33m” who themselves are juniors to the whale sharks on Wall Street . We all know what a market failure capitalism has been on global warming courtesy of Sir Nicholas Stern and why the ALP are pioneering economic intervention along with every other logical world leader on the planet. Even Bob Santamaria knew laissez-faire capitalism  was a demon. All you are arguing for is rampant privileged enclavism, ie millionaires over economic justice for the millions. I would say Cameron is worth about 100 Ayn Rand  clones, and all that growth economics claptrap devoid of ecological limits let alone any sense of John Kenneth Galbraith political economy in a civilised society. Indeed the root cause of all these mad ideologies making the world so insecure at the moment is the poverty and misery caused by the so called economic rationalism of psychopathic Corporations. Other than that, good column. I only wish he was running for the Green Party.

Edmond Roy writes: Just a small note for Mr Kerr from yesterday’s Crikey …”Motoring buffs will know all about the Hindustan Ambassador – India’s first car.” Actually no, it was the Premier Autobackmobile (PAL) which produced the first car in India in 1946. Hindustan Motors produced their first ambassador only in 1949.

Political keywords:

Cathy Bannister writes: Re. “Howard and Rudd not s-xy enough for net users” (yesterday, item 12). Let’s see, how many different individuals would have typed in the very words: “Why does Kevin Rudd keep kissing Julia Gillard”. I’m imagining, probably no more than, say, ooh, one. The last entries must have only had a few searches each, unless someone at Crosby Textor is awfully bored. I wonder whether I can get “John Howard and the narcoleptic surgeon”, “John Howard and Kevin Rudd go mudwrestling” and “Kevin Rudd’s brazilian” onto the list next time.

A weathered bias?:

Bob Joyce writes: Re. “Potential turbulence as weatherman eyes Hockey’s seat” (yesterday, item 11). So Mike Bailey is to stand in North Sydney? Thank heavens. At least that should remove the leftist bias from the NSW weather reports.

IR power:

Russell Bancroft writes: In response to David Lodge (yesterday, comments) regarding the coverage of the WorkChoices legislation. The Commonwealth can rely on the Corporations power, the Territories power, and most importantly, the voluntary referral of powers by a state to cover employees under its IR legislation. Victoria has referred most of its IR powers to the Commonwealth already (holding on to long service leave, apprentices, public holidays and child employment). In the event of an ALP victory federally, the other five Labor states could cede their IR powers to the Commonwealth. Victoria could then cede its remaining powers, and bingo, we have a truly unitary IR system. This is, apparently, what employers want.


Matt Hardin writes: Re. “Alcohol II: no government wants to be a wowser” (yesterday, item 3). Alcohol is as old as civilization. Almost the first writing we have describes wine and gods of alcohol have been venerated for thousands of years. Give it a rest, Melissa. Adults realize that everything has a cost and make decisions about the price they will pay for pleasure.

The wild West Australian:

Jeff Ash writes: Re. “Paul Armstrong: the wild  West Australian under attack” (yesterday, item 23). Yes the West is a trashy tabloid. But its all we have to keep the State Government on its toes. The continued demise of the public hospitals is indefensible – particularly when the government is taxing at record levels and sitting on huge surpluses. The West was right in at least part of its last ill conceived attack on the health system – it certainly wouldn’t be out of place in Zimbabwe. Western Australians were quite amusingly told this week, by an assortment of government meat puppets that the dire situations in our emergency departments are the result of the mining boom leading to an increase in recreational drug use. Thats a long bow to pull – even for them.

Kayt Davies, lecturer in journalism, Edith Cowan University, writes: Thanks Margaret Simons for your very nice piece on The West vs the WA Government. The only thing that bugged me a bit about it is your use of the term “one-newspaper town”. Sure there is only one major metro daily newspaper in Perth, but there are many media outlets producing news on a daily basis. As well as the usual outlets, Perth Now  and WA Business News  are among a range on publications now providing daily content online. I look forward to the day when online publications like these, and your good selves, are no longer deemed to be less important than the printed press. What irked me about former West editor Paul Murray’s rant (sorry… column) in The West on Saturday was that he implied that all journalists should be angry with the government for this state of affairs, because The West is being punished for being the only media outlet to be seriously questioning the Government… ummm… Paul are you implying that no one else is doing their job – and that’s why they haven’t been singled out and named by the government like The West has been?

Donald Allison writes: In regards to the stoush between the editor of the West  and the Government, my theory is the paper has taken on the role of defacto opposition in WA. In the absence of any semblance of effective inquiry from the opposition, the paper has sought to fill the vacuum. Mr Armstrong, the editor has virtually said as much in saying his role is to attack the government of the day, whichever party it is. It is certainly not the role one might prefer in the State’s only daily newspaper, but the lack of effective parliamentary opposition does leave the public pretty vulnerable.

Tim Gamage writes: Margaret, I fixed the problem of The West . I stopped buying it. Each page was about 80% advertisement and about 20% bias spin. A fact free zone? Why do advertisers keep paying?


Nathan Campbell writes: Re. “Putting the a-theism back into atheism” (Monday, item 17). I was under the impression that McQueen was not railing against atheism as a philosophical position – his conclusion is staunchly pro-secularism – but against Dawkin’s rabid anti-religious posturing (or proselytising). Dawkins is to atheism what Sheik Hilaly is to Islam. With McQueen and Irfan Yusuf contributing to Crikey it strikes me there’s representation for moderate atheists and Muslims but as yet no voice for the moderate Christian.

Where Are They Now?:

David Hawkes, onetime TV reader in Brisbane, Sydney and Perth, writes: Re. ” Where Are They Now ‘s selective memory” (Monday, item 24). Glenn Dyer’s comments about the omission of Ross Symonds from the ABC newsdesk, in Channel Seven’s Where Are They Now? are spot on. But disappointingly it was (again) a Sydney-centric show. None of the dear old men (and Margaret) were really known outside NSW. Each State and Territory had its own readers, men and women. It is my belief that edition would have been of interest only in NSW, and then mostly in Sydney.

Bull riding:

Trevor Best writes: Talk about laugh out loud, Sharon Hutchings (yesterday, comments) certainly gave me a good one. Bull riding is “cruelty to animals”? As a born and bred bushie please tell her it’s the bulls who are cruel and thoughtless, doing what they enjoy most, bucking the balls off riders and then goring and trampling them. Perhaps it’s time to close your columns to women, or at least to people who can’t be sensible?

An objection:

John Wotherspoon writes: Re. “Give the PM his dinner table, ferchrissakes” (yesterday, item 7). As much as I enjoy Crikey, I must object to the use of “ferchrissakes” in today’s issue. An apology please (not to me, but to many offended readers) or I can’t renew my subscription.


Robyn Murphy writes : Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 5). The story on Nine’s logo read “Truckloads of the old logo stationary were taken away and dumped last year”. Should have been “stationery” unless it wasn’t moving.

Yesterday’s typos (house pedant Charles Richardson casts an eye over the howlers in the last edition of Crikey): Item 1: “… upset the Federal Government, including the Minister responsible, Joe Hockey and Prime Minister John Howard.” If there’s a comma before “Joe Hockey”, there has to be one after as well. I suspect someone’s deleted it on the theory that there should never be a comma before “and”, but this is a good example of why that can’t be a firm rule: as printed, it tells us that “Joe Hockey and Prime Minister John Howard” are the Minister responsible, which is nonsense.

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