Paul Keating:

Phil Doyle writes: “Get a job! Therapy for Paul Keating” (Friday, item 1). Paul Keating’s spray on Lateline is great news for Rudd. Keating might be popular with the likes of Phil Adams (who has certainly changed his tune from his Late Night Live days in the early 90s when Keating reigned supreme), but out here in Mortgageville he’s never been popular. And these $3-400,000 mortgagees are going to make or break Rudd. They’re struggling, despite the rhetoric about the boom, and they’re a bit over Howard, but the idea that Rudd is another Keating would scare the bejeesus out of people here. Keating getting stuck into Rudd means we can take Rudd seriously as a decent alternative. I can’t believe Henry Thornton worked it out (Friday, item 23), but even a stopped clock is right twice a day I guess.

John Taylor writes: Christian’s suggestion for a future career for PK is a good one. But not yet. As a scenario for the next 12 months, try this: The ALP find a Senator prepared to give up his spot for 12 months. They nominate Paul Keating as his replacement and appoint him Officer in Charge of kicking Liberal heads. It would make for a much more entertaining election and as Tony Jones said last night, “you know you’ve just set the cat among the pigeons”. He wouldn’t even have to stand for re-election and could stand down (in favour of the original Senator, if desired) any time up to when the new senators took their spots in July 2008. Certainly after his performance on Lateline it’s obvious we need him for the fun of it if nothing else.

Deborah Hurst writes: Christian Kerr suggests that Paul Keating should fashion a job for himself, like Bill Clinton has. Why? Keating has nothing to prove, unlike Clinton, who will be forever trying to disassociate himself with cigars and stained dresses. In any case, Keating had a valid point to make in his Lateline appearance; particularly that Kevin Rudd has surrounded himself with people with a track record of failure who are scared of their own shadows. Just look at the way Barack Obama completely and immediately shut down John Howard when in February this year Howard said that a Democrat government would be a boon for terrorists. It took an outsider one statement to show Rudd how to take on the Coalition on a range of issues, yet we never see it.

Niall Clugston writes: Christian Kerr is being a bit disingenuous on PJK. The Redfern Park Speech – which Kerr describes as “the other great thing you did” – was a rainbow bridge too far for the man he derides as “Captain Whacky”. Rather than the “Big Picture Man” – to use Four Corners’ phrase – the Australian body politic opted for the Great Pedestrian, John Wincing Howard. This was not a matter of vision or policy, but the opposite. We all have to live with this dismal mundanity. Instead of telling Keating to “shut up”, we should be glad of this colourful diversion and say – to misquote the poet Robinson Jeffers – “shine, perishing republican!”

Lou Moretti writes: To Christian Kerr, stop and analyse what Paul did say and we might just realise he has a valid point worth consideration, in a positive way. Let’s face it on some issues the ALP has not got it quite right yet and is falling into the same trap as they did in the previous Latham campaign on the economic issues. They, and I mean the advisers, are defeatists, lack vision and ingenuity.

Sandra Thomson writes: No tips just endorsement of your suggestion. Yes, yes and yes again. Please Mr Keating go to bat for indigenous Australians. There are plenty of us out here who need a leader. We sympathise and want to get some grass roots interaction going between all Australian citizens where we can help one another. I for one would love an exchange program – I would love to learn more of Aboriginal culture and heritage and hope there would be something I could offer in return.

Bryan Francis writes:  Why oh why does Christian Kerr feel it necessary to tout his views as though people have no intelligence? You are not spruiking for a circus act, Christian. State your opinions lucidly and succinctly without the theatrics, dropping of the f word and a constant effort to appear hip, cool and in possession of information that we ignorant ‘plebs’ will never hear let alone comprehend or understand. Journalists are notorious for their hubris and you are an excellent example of this failing. 

Alan Lander writes: Oh happy day. Finally I get to agree with Christian Kerr on something. His motivational speech to Paul Keating is spot on. Maybe now our greatest ex-PM and national treasure can find a Clinton-like role in this nation. He actually makes politics exciting. Come on back out of the cold, Paul – this country needs you, one way or the other.

Peter White writes: To Christian Kerr … An outstanding piece on PJK. Congratulations.

Iraq and oil:

Former WA premier Peter Dowding writes: How Alice in Wonderland can George Bush and his allies (including loyal friend John Howard) become than having invaded Iraq because of weapons that were never there (despite their best efforts to invent them), and now forcing the Iraqi Cabinet and Parliament to pass the US drafted Oil Law which gives over the Nationalised Oil to foreign oil companies (for “foreign” read US) on the basis that it will be good for Iraq and reduce sectarian violence (Per Robert Gates US Defence secretary in Iraq on Thursday). Through a most odd circumstance I met the present President of Iraq, Jalal Talibani, in Rome in August 2005 and talked to him and some of his Kurdish Cabinet about the Kurdish attitude to developing oil resources in the North of Iraq. He was adamant that the Kurdish people’s preference was for assistance to develop the oil from any one other than the US. Senator Ross Lightfoot may very likely have been told the same thing on his far more memorable meetings with Kurdish leaders – mine was at the Rome Hilton with the equivalent of a $100 US in my wallet, his seems to have been quite different. The US has made the passage of the “oil law” one of the benchmarks for whatever the US really intends to do in Iraq, which some suspect will be to use it as a base to launch an attack on Iran. It would be fascinating to hear from Bush’s Australian friends what advice they are giving to the US about this issue. Iraqi oil workers have gone out on strike against the proposed law and Iraqi parliamentarians have been lobbying members of the US Congress to remove its passage from the list of benchmarks. Odd really that it is hardly mentioned in the Australian press, or is it accepted that we would not get a look in for oil development despite the Australian expertise in the industry. And , oh yes I forgot, John Howard had so little influence with the US that having abandoned any demands for his return he couldn’t get David Hicks to trial in over 5 years in US custody. Some relationship!

Politics, polls et al:

Terry Barnes writes: Re. “Labor’s lead widens – just: Morgan” (Friday, item 7). I sort of get the drift about which way Crikey might be leaning on matters electoral and psephological, and I might indeed be leaning the other way. That’s life. But Christian Kerr’s commentary on the latest Morgan findings was a bit of a giveaway. When he said “The figures will be welcome after Monday’s Galaxy poll, and jumped on by analysts and spin-doctors”, to whom is it welcome? Presumably anyone who didn’t like what the Galaxy poll had to say on Monday. Again that’s life. I don’t know whether the latest Galaxy poll is in fact the first swallow of (northern) summer for the Government, but the Crikey commentary bent over backwards to dismiss it and even trash it. Didn’t notice you doing the same with last month’s Galaxy, which must have been more, er, “welcome”.

Jacinta Arnold writes: I was telephoned last night and took part in a Galaxy Poll. They seemed to be asking the same questions as were asked in the last Galaxy Poll.

Thomas Richman writes: Re. “Happy, happy talk: What to think about the economy?” (Friday, item 4). Are Australia’s Labor-run states and territories no more than the proverbial potted plants? Or have they each made significant contributions to our buoyant national economy? If the former let’s get rid of the lot. If the latter, as I suspect, let’s see Howard and Costello give credit where it’s due… a concession that would inevitably beg one additional question: is all this success because of Coalition policies, or is it in spite of them?

Stuart Mackenzie writes: Re. “Boris on drugs” (Friday, item 13). Christian Kerr wrote: “Crikey subscribers, we want you to nominate the world’s most s-xually enticing political partners. Send your suggestions to [email protected].” For goodness sake, Crikey, climb out of the gutter. If that’s where Christian Kerr prefers to practice his trade, leave him there.

Carbon trading and consumers:

Gerard Brody, senior policy officer, Consumer Action Law Centre, writes: Re. “Carbon trading: hardly a householder’s ruin” (Friday, item 3). Thomas Hunter is right that the PM is overstating the fact when he says a carbon trading scheme will “do enormous damage to households”. However, the impact of the cost increases will be significantly more drastic for households on fixed incomes. Those on low-incomes already spend more on electricity as a percentage of their household budget, compared to average consumers. And there are many out there who struggle to pay for bills currently. So an emissions trading scheme could hurt these households. But it is not the fact of an emissions trading scheme itself that is the problem, rather the design of the scheme. One solution is for some of the revenue from auctioning emission permits to be directed to adjustment assistance for low-income households. This, of course, was not at all considered by the PM’s Taskforce – as has been pointed out by Professor Warwick McKibbin, consumers weren’t even invited to the table.

Erika Haber writes: You forgot to include internet connection costs in your weekly budget. Mine is $12.50/w and without it I could not receive your news. That would be a bummer.

Pell was right?:

Peter Mansour writes: Re. “Pell was right: Labor MP” (Friday, item 5). Tom Kenyon should see the difference between a churchman reminding his members of their church’s doctrine, and threatening church consequences to those members if they exercise a civil duty in ways other than the church expects. Kenyon is right that no priest can tell whether a person is in “the state of grace” – so that is the end of the issue. Given the Catholic doctrine of primacy of conscience, Kenyon is wrong to assert that the public act is evidence of sin. To refuse communion would be a political act, not a spiritual act. While I am deeply concerned about embryonic stem cell collection methods, I would like to see Cardinal Pell a bit more strident about children who were held on ships and in detention centres, boat people who drowned because of government policy, torture carried out in the name of a war on terror, and laws that deny redress to workers unfairly dismissed. These too are ethical issues which can be measured up against Catholic doctrine.

Brian English writes: What absolute rubbish! No child, indoctrinated to the church’s Iron Age mythology can be considered able to make an informed choice about confirmation. If you get told from day one the Middle Eastern sky fairy exists, and he wants you to act a certain way or he’ll eternally punish you, you can’t be said to be making a choice. Most likely you’ll have swallowed at least part of the mythology. And be worried about hell and all that. On top of this many young teenagers are pressured into making confirmation. I got the guilt stories about how my forebears had sacrificed so much so that I could get taught in a Catholic school and basically told that if I didn’t get confirmed I’d be punished until I was 18 by her and by god in the thereafter. My mum wasn’t joking either and I wasn’t the only one. And if Mr Kenyon seriously believes in transubstantiation I have shares in an invisible unicorn concer he may be interested in.

John Jeffreys writes: I would like to take issue with Tom Kenyon’s statements, particularly “You don’t get born a Catholic…”. I would humbly suggest that this is exactly how the high majority of Catholics come to the faith as is the case with most religions. Most would not be old enough to make a clear choice and by the time they are, they have been so indoctrinated in to the fear of “hell-fire and damnation”, that change is not an option. The next highest source of Catholics is through marriage. In simple terms, religion is a s-xually transmitted virus of the mind… if you don’t catch it from your parents, and then the next most likely source is your s-xual partner. Very few people have the strength to recover from this.

Chris Colenso-Dunne writes: Kenyon ignores the history of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland whose Cardinal apologised some years back for the suffering caused by the Church’s practise of forcing non-Roman Catholics to convert if the couple wanted to marry in a RC Church. Canon 1124 continues to prohibit marriage between a RC and a non-RC “without the express permission of the competent authority“. Canons 1125, 1125.1, 1125.2 and 1125.3 require that the Roman Catholic parent do “all in his or her power in order that all the children be baptised and brought up in the catholic Church“. Kenyon admits the parent makes the choice for the child: ie. no choice. Later the child can choose to be confirmed – or what, go against their parent’s wishes? These are not choices – they are indoctrination.

David Hughes writes: Just a brief rhetorical question on the religiously-motivated comments on dress, scientific research and the like… Are the comments made by peddlers of belief in sky-gods and old texts really relevant in a 21st century western society? These people get too much air time.

Prostate cancer:

Keith Thomas writes: Like Jenny Morris (Friday, comments), my father died of prostate cancer. He was a veteran who suffered stoically through Changi and after, but I knew he was in severe debilitating pain. I was worried when, in my mid-40s, I began to feel slow pulsating prostate pains at night, approaching agony at their peak, pains I could not diminish. It happened that at this time I switched my diet from a vegetarian one with processed foods to a diet of very fresh salads, fruit and lots of organic red meat (no bread, other grains, legumes, sugar or any other groceries) and took up regular intense weight exercise with heavy weights. The pulsating pains disappeared in a few weeks and seven years on have not returned. I’m now 57. As well as hearing about the very important treatments, do we have any other stories of lifestyle changes which are correlated with improvements in the condition?

Stuart Godden writes: Being 59 I have been hearing for at least nine years that men should be checked for prostate cancer. I finally requested my GP to have me tested last December. She advised that there was the PSA blood test and DRE (Digital Rectal Examination). I had the PSA test done and she said she would do the DRE next time I was in. I didn’t remind her next time as the PSA result was “only” 1. In late January I had four episodes in a row of blood in my urine, which has not reoccurred since. Thankfully for the persistence of my GP after a number of tests such as blood and urine tests and ultrasounds which showed nothing she suggested I go to an urologist. He suggested he should have a look inside my bladder in day surgery to be on the safe side but that he would probably not find the cause. He prodded my lower abdomen to see if there were any tender spots and then suggested that he check my prostate “while I was there”. When he had finished poking around he told me that there was a small nodule but that it was probably nothing to worry about. He then suggested that I have a biopsy of the prostate whilst having my bladder checked. I think he was more surprised than me when the result was prostate cancer with a Gleason score (aggressiveness) of 7 in a range of 1 to 10. Several times since he has told me that he only found it accidentally!! Having now had a radical prostatectomy I count myself extremely lucky as it could have been too late once any symptoms showed. My plea to all men over 50 – have regular PSA and DRE checks, even if the PSA check is low like mine was.


Amy Winstead writes: Re. “Meanjin row a clash of the righteous” (Friday, item 2). Has everyone else noticed the remarkable point that Ken Gelder made in his article about Meanjin? According to Gelder: “MUP has not said what it has “planned” for Meanjin because I imagine that it doesn’t have any (plans, that is), at least not in terms of editorial role and content.” Really! MUP doesn’t know of any plans, Ken Gelder doesn’t “imagine” there are any plans. So why has there been such protracted wrangling? I’m imagining all kinds of plans for Meanjin now. Call me cynical, but it sounds like an imaginary non-core promise to me.

Jo Rostan writes: Ken Gelder seems rather snide about Meanjin readers. Well, he has made me want to put up my hand as one of its cheer squad: I have really enjoyed Meanjin these last years, it’s a great magazine. Memo: Meanjin board: Whatever is to be done with or to it, please let it alone to carry on its work. By all means make it financially secure or whatever it is you are upset about, but don’t mess with a good thing.

Meanjin staffer Marguerita Wu writes: What does MUP offer Meanjin? There has been no criticism of Meanjin’s literary or production qualities in the current debate. Ian Britain’s performance as editor, and on a meagre budget, has been remarkable. A key to Britain’s success as editor has been the operation of an “open-house” with space for both privacy and public interaction. There is a high level of face-to-face contact and ongoing discussions with writers, copy editors, proof-readers, designer and marketing consultant who are able to work in-house as needed; and with the volunteers who register, read and make initial comment on the considerable volume of submissions. A busy corporate office with many other demands would probably not be able to accommodate this style of operation. From my observation while working on archives and with other volunteers it is difficult to see how Meanjin could maintain its character and standards if it is absorbed into the daily organization of MUP. The resources of MUP’s marketing and distribution departments could effect an increase in level of sales and place Meanjin on a firmer financial base but as Francis Zemljak (Thursday, comments) points out, we do not have a clear statement of MUP’s vision for Meanjin.

Ian Haig writes: Really, apart from a very small minority of ex-Melb Uni people, who want’s to read about Meanjin for 5 days straight, get real and get back to what you are good at, exposing sh-t before the run of the mill media does, and another comment, ditch half the cr-p you do with TV ratings etc, that way it will only take me half as long to scroll through it.

Forgetting Paris:

Tim Mildenhall writes: Re. “Shock: jail rejects Paris Hilton” (Friday, item 6). At last. Someone who promises not to write about Paris Hilton (Helen Razer)! Unfortunately, I’m still waiting for the promise to be fulfilled. When are you going to get the message: ignoring narcissists pops their [mirror-coated] balloons. Writing about ignoring them doesn’t. Please Helen, please keep your promise. In return I promise to read every word of every other article you write. Thanks for injecting hope into my day.

Peter Lloyd writes: No more Helen Razer please. If I want to know what’s going on in cultural studies, I can read Dolly or get my conversation from the McDonald’s car park. Is there a name for a parasite that lives off parasites?


Alister Air writes: Re. “Vintage Keating’s right: they’re idiots” (Friday, item 8). Richard Farmer writes: “So, instead, there was just a slap in passing for deputy Labor leader Julia Gillard for not giving sufficient credit to the man once described as the “world’s greatest Treasurer” for the changes he made to the industrial relations system back in 1993.” 1993? Keating? Treasurer? Oops.

Richard Barratt writes: Re. “The week that was — in words and numbers” (Friday, item 11). Crikey wrote: “99121: current number of Barack Osama’s MySpace friends”. Looks like that nasty Republican subliminal persuasion is working.

Yesterday’s typos (house pedant Charles Richardson casts an eye over the howlers in the last edition of Crikey): Item 10: “Croome says Entsch has paired down his demands from marriage equality to civil unions to thoroughgoing interdependency recognition to such recognition in just a handful of key areas.” OK, he’s talking about gay couples, so it might be a deliberate pun, but I think he means “pared down” (Thanks to a helpful reader for drawing my attention to that one.). Item 14: “… designed – at a cost of £400,000 (or $A1.28 million) to represent …”. For a start, that dash needs a matching one somewhere, presumably before “to represent”. But more interestingly, where did you get that exchange rate? If Guy thinks his UK earnings are accruing him that sort of purchasing power in Australia, he’s going to be disappointed: £400,000 is about $A938,000, not 1.28 million. Item 15: “‘Group of Eight’ continues the university privitisation push”. That’s “privatisation”, not “privitisation”.

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