CORRECTION: In yesterday’s special edition on Howard’s Aboriginal emergency, we incorrectly stated that Professor John Williams is a constitutional expert at the University of SA. He is, in fact, on staff at the University of Adelaide.

Howard’s Aboriginal emergency:

Laurence Rowland writes: Re. “Timeline to a “national emergency” (yesterday’s special edition, item 8). Why enact emergency legislation when the situation at issue has been going on for decades? The answer is simple: terrible, preventable, harm is occurring now. Reacting to the emergency is a good idea. “Why now?” questions make interesting politics, but now is the time to act. Mr Howard’s second target, after alcohol, is “medical examinations” for everyone under sixteen, followed by “follow-up treatment”. Fair enough. What examinations, though? Possibly, urine screening for gonorrhoea and Chlamydia is on the cards: not too expensive or invasive, but what to do with the positive results, and there will be many, once the children have been treated? From experience, police begin by asking for information about who else in the community has had an STI. Informed that half of the sexually active population are known to have had a disease in the past year, detectives’ shoulders start to slump: there is no short-cut. A real investigation is needed with cooperative witnesses volunteering information about family members or respected and feared leaders. This can happen, with patient investigation and sustained social support for the whole community. Since the next stated objective is to ensure welfare payments are spent on children, not alcohol; will there be an assessment of weight-gain over time to screen for children who are failing to thrive? This vital intervention is currently carried out by community nurses who, having identified a problem, may find a lack of parenting support services for any but the most near-death of cases, if then. An emergency response is required to save lives and stop abuse now. Effective intervention will depend on the quality of advice the Government takes. The statement that “law and order will be a central focus” is not encouraging, but we can hope for informed reconsideration. As politically uns-xy as social workers undoubtedly are, a massive and recurrent funding of in-situ social service support may be the best starting point.

Matt Hardin writes: While there is little doubt that there is a problem in the Aboriginal communities I am not sure that going in gangbusters like the PM is proposing will help. As has been raised by many of your correspondents it is a power grab to look like doing something while at the same time trampling over the rule of law, basic precepts of equality (of the number of letters suggesting that white fellas are just as much to blame) and community autonomy. Noel Pearson has suggested far more practical ideas that would seem to be more appropriate for a long-term solution. The thing that really sticks in my craw and should also stick in the craw of all Australians is how long this has gone on and how little has been done at all levels to fix it. Howard stands particularly accused as someone who as known about the problem for a long time, done nothing to help and with the budget surpluses, had the resources necessary to do something.

Bernard Woiwod writes: So we heard that there were no more rabbits in the hat. The Murray-Darling plan! Well, not quite a plan but something on a white board. Then the broadband and ADSL. Now we have suddenly found that there is an Aboriginal population in the country. Where have they been hiding all these years? Did I hear someone say ‘Sorry’? Maybe next week. There is something in the air I think. Smells like an election maybe. Anyhow it all has a very strong odor.

Holger Lubotzki writes: If Johnnie’s latest annexation of the indigenous problem results in “banning the sale, possession, transportation and consumption of alcohol on Aboriginal lands” then why does he need to quarantine 50% of welfare payments to “prevent money being spent on alcohol”? I mean, if the bans are effective then there will not be any alcohol to buy with the other half of the welfare payments, right? Or is it just that there might be a few votes in taking their booze away and a few more votes in cutting their welfare? I guess he had to do something with no children overboard and no Tampa on the horizon …

Bernie McComb writes: Looks like Hominid Howard has really lost his marbles this time. Asking over an over again “Who do you trust?” presumably he’s had such a feeble response that he now needs to ask Aboriginal children in remote communities. Should they trust him? Better warn them to get out of the way if ADF helicopters arrive. The findings of the report are no doubt appalling but entirely predictable, for a long time.

Liz Johnston writes: Re. “Dr Tim Rowse: Why just Aboriginal land?” (Yesterday’s special edition, item 5). Let’s not p-ssy-foot around Prime Minister. Why this outrageous favouritism toward Aborigines and the NT? Let’s have a fair go for all Australians and deal at the same time with drunkenness and child abuse in every town and suburb in Australia and hit the perpetrators with the same laws. I’m happy to nominate a few suburbs based on my personal prejudices.

Justice in Far North Queensland:

Mitchell Holmes writes: Re. “Justice in Deep North perhaps not as colour-blind as it should be” (yesterday, item 1). So Greg Barns is effectively saying that, although there is no direct evidence that Hurley deliberately gave Mulrunji an injury that caused the latter’s death and that an accident cannot be ruled out, Barns still thinks the jury was racially biased. Barns writes, “The images in the media overnight of Mr Hurley alongside his white police union reps looked uncannily like the images one sees in the American Deep South after a white is acquitted of a crime against an African American.” and “It has also reinforced the view that justice in the Deep North is perhaps not as colour-blind as it should be.” I cannot pass comment as I wasn’t at the trial – but the jurors were – and Barns’ comments effectively label the jurors as racist bigots – an insult to them and all involved in the legal system in the so called “Deep North”. Climb back under your rock Mr Barns!!!

Rob Williams writes: I agree with you, Boss. There are a lot of North Queensland white people who are astonished at the verdict as well. We don’t like the attitude of the police union in threatening the Premier they would go on strike if Hurley was convicted. That is black mail and tantamount to anarchy. The police are the ones who come out of this badly. A black policeman committed suicide soon after because it was alleged he had been verballed and threatened by police not to give evidence. The Police Union insulted the Coroner and said she was on a witchhunt. They should have been charged with contempt of court. The inquest found that Hurley was guilty of manslaughter and should be charged. The Crown Prosecutor said no, but the public pressure on the Beattie Government forced Beattie to appoint another independent person. The police even say he was biased. Unfortunately, we have the mentality of a police state in the minds of Police and this will bolster the arrogance. You are right. The Defence Attorney Mulholland, personally attacked the Prosecutor and intimidated him in Court. The Judge was nowhere. I look forward to reading the transcript. Justice has not been done nor served in this case and I hope the Aboriginal people pursue it through the civil court. You can bet that the Police will do everything they can to intimidate the people and try to muddy the waters even further. Warren Mundine has turned out to be an “Uncle Tom”. As for Hurley? Well the thought of “all that trouble” and the several months of agonising about his future should teach Hurley a lesson. The other is that a person, who takes the life of another, never lives in peace. The death of that person lives on in the subconscious. There will be times when Hurley will see the face of Mulrunji and deeply regret his actions and the people who know him will always wonder if he really did kill Mulrunji… (Ask any Viet vet.)

Tom Bergner writes: Totally agree with your writer. Has this country gone backwards? Do we look and feel like the US? What was the jury thinking? People get kneed continually in all Australian football contact sports but don’t end up with “split livers”. Dumb Freddy would know that this was a “black man bashing” and most probably a pre-meditated action by the policeman. One can only wonder what goes through’ these thugs minds when and after they do something like this. Is their conscience and accountability absolved by admitting and stating that “I most probably killed him”? This person has had a hand in killing a person but there is no price to pay. What do the supporters of this policeman think? What does the rest of Australia think? What does the world think? Australia most probably thinks — Oh who gives a rat’s a-se anyway. The thinking of the white man is “We can do these things, the legal system will always favor us, and they’re only n-ggers anyway”. There should be an absolute outcry … As a society we are rotten to the core.

Noel Courtis writes: When I read Greg Barns’s article about Queensland and trials methinks that he backed NSW in the State of Origin and will lash out at anything north of the border! Right from the beginning, the Queensland prosecutor said there wasn’t enough evidence to get a conviction. The coroner seemed to want her 15min of fame and, by her announcement; it appears she thought she was judge and jury. Peter Beattie then decided he would pass the ball to someone who would bring on a trial and for that he chose Sir Laurence Street. It would appear that Sir Laurence had to say there was enough evidence for a trial or his exercise was a waste of time. It now appears that it was a waste of money for Queenslanders. All along, even by the non-legal amongst us, the question was asked: Where is the hard evidence? The speed of the verdict showed there wasn’t enough evidence. Greg has insulted the 12 jury members and implied they were racist by arriving at that decision. We aren’t perfect in Queensland, but we aren’t as bad as Greg implies.

Galaxy n GetUp on gay marriage:

Brett Solomon, Executive Director, GetUp writes:  As for Charles Richardson’s concerns about potential bias in the question about gay marriage (yesterday, item 12 ‘Galaxy does gay marriage, with mixed results’) due to the discrepancy between a 2004 Newspoll and the Galaxy poll GetUp commissioned: The twenty point difference is totally plausible, primarily because the main shift has not been from opposition to support, but from undecided to support. According to Newspoll, the percentage of Australians who opposed gay marriage in 2004 was 44% — 7% more than Galaxy’s 37%. This kind of drop in opposition is to be expected on this issue over the last three years – a result on which the Australian people are to be commended. Why, then, did our poll show such a large increase in support for same-s-x marriage (from 2004’s 38% to 2007’s 57%)? One possible explanation lies in Newspoll’s high percentage of undecideds – 18%. This suggests one of two things: First, the Newspoll question wording (“Thinking now about gay marriages, that is same s-x marriages either between two men, or between two women, are you personally in favour or against same s-x couples being given the same rights to marry as couples consisting of a man and a woman?”) may have been confusing or off-putting to a large number of respondents. Alternatively, these people may have legitimately been undecided three years ago but have since become more comfortable with the idea of same-s-x marriage. Our question wording was intentionally as simple and clear: “Do you agree or disagree that same s-x couples should be able to marry?” There is little room for obfuscation in that expression. Moreover, our two questions about same-s-x rights were the very first questions asked in Galaxy’s poll, coming only after age and voting intention, which means there’s no chance other questions biased the results. Incidentally, the support for same s-x couples having the same rights as de facto heterosexual couples, the result was 71% in support.
GetUp uses a range of pollsters (including Newspoll) to gauge as broad a representation of the views as possible. It is true that GetUp has a vested interest in the results – that’s why we polled on this issue – and it is in our own interests for the results to be legitimate, representative and accurate.

Aviation and global warming:David Hodgkinson and Renee Garner write: In yesterday’s “Crikey,” Andrew Parker makes a number of useful points with regard to aviation and climate change – among them, that the aviation industry is one of the world’s great innovators. But to argue that aviation’s contribution to such emissions is a “dubious distraction” dismisses scientific opinion. Adopting a proactive stance towards the risks and uncertainties presented by climate change makes economic sense. Mr Parker also erroneously states – repeatedly – that aviation accounts for 1.7% of global GHG emissions. The IPCC concluded in its 1999 report on aviation that aircraft CO2 emissions were about 2% of total anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions in 1992 …”. It’s the figure which IATA cites. The IPCC stated that aircraft emissions of CO2 were growing. The more important point, however, is that – as the IPCC noted – “[o]ver the period from 1992 to 2050, the overall radiative forcing by aircraft … is a factor of 2 to 4 larger than the forcing by aircraft carbon dioxide alone.” Any reference to the climate impacts of aviation must take account of GHGs additional to CO2. On all of these matters Mr Parker could refer to papers and reports produced by, amongst others, Marais and a group from MIT (currently in press), CONSAVE and NGATS/ JPDO/ Partner (the June, 2006 MIT workshop), as well as those produced by Oxford University and the Tyndall Centre. Correcting Mr Parker’s misconceptions, however, diverts focus and attention from the essential issue – finding sustainable, long-term global solutions to airline GHG emissions problem. After evaluating possible strategies for airlines on aircraft emissions and climate change, including emissions trading, we suggest in our paper that airlines should seriously consider supporting mandatory participation in an emissions offset market as part of a long-term strategy package (including technological, operational and management elements) and as a global, sustainable solution to deal with the climate impacts of aviation. To use Mr Parker’s term, we do our best not to be “intellectually weak.” And we would be happy to provide Mr Parker with references to the papers and reports we mention above.

Craig Cadby writes: Re. “Blaming aviation for global warming is just plane silly” (yesterday, item 16). The author claims aircraft emissions account for 1.7% of total global Greenhouse but fails to consider that aircraft emissions are placed in the environment at high altitude which is far more damaging than emissions at ground level. The Oxford University Centre for the Environment uses a multiplying factor of 3 to compare aircraft greenhouse emissions to ground level Greenhouse emissions which would put aircraft emissions equivalent to 5.1%. China’s industrial Greenhouse emissions are bigger but efficiencies should be sought everywhere.

Mark Freeman writes: Dear Crikey, there’s more to the problem of aviation and global warming than the headline 1.7% figure. There is a multiplier of about 2.7 applied to aircraft emissions because of where (up high) they emit their carbon. There is also the matter of vapour trails contributing to a cooling effect. Google “global cooling” for details. I agree, aviation isn’t a major player in total, but is on a per person basis. It’s also one of the hardest sectors to treat because of the inherent need for high energy to weight ratio for fuel.

Ronald Watts writes: Aviation industry lobbyist Andrew Parker would do well to look more closely at the warming consequences of unbridled aviation. Credible estimates of the contribution are between 2 and 3%, not 1.7%, a figure set to triple by 2050 (according to Stern). That is only part of the story: because jets release a toxic mix of exhausts in the stratosphere, the effects on warming are believed to be several times this number. The loss of contrails over the US following 9/11 (when flights were banned for a couple of weeks) produced significant temperature changes – experimental proof of their importance to climate. But there is an even better reason to tax aviation fuel right now — it has a free ride, with none of the fuel taxes imposed on other forms of travel. In other words, we’re all subsidising the jet-set.

Geoff Russell writes: More than a few Australian’s have come out recently with the line “we only contribute a tiny percentage to global Greenhouse emissions” followed by an implication or a claim that, therefore, our bit doesn’t matter. And Andrew Parker gives a fine example in a rousing defence of the airline industry yesterday. Of course any province of China, or US state can pull this line, as can all the world’s Humvee drivers. Those people rich enough to have a personal jet can rightly claim that personal jets only contribute 0.1% (I just made that number up, perhaps Andrew Parker could offer an informed estimate of the actual number) to greenhouse gas emissions so go pick on someone else. This sort of junk statistics will only stop when each person is given a climate forcing ration card and you can decide if flying to Perth for a two-hour face-to-face is really that much better than a phone call — especially when it means you won’t have enough on your ration card for that holiday on the Gold Coast.

Chris Davis writes: Again cows are mentioned as Greenhouse contributors (Europe 4%) – can a scientist in the Crikey world please refute this simple hypothesis – grass grows using atmospheric carbon, cow eats grass, expels some CO2, then gets eaten by human – in effect a short carbon cycle that uses then releases the same amount of carbon after maybe two years so is neutral? Cows cannot access anciently sequestered carbon like coal and oil or ancient rainforests and emit into the atmosphere, thus leading to a net increase? I even read that some “green” authorities are against burial or cremation for humans on the same grounds – surely we are all made of carbon taken recently from the atmosphere, so can release ourselves (less 17gms maybe) back into it guilt free?

The CFMEU and … shopping:

Rod Reynolds, CFMEUWA, writes: Re. “Shopping with the CFMEU” (yesterday, item 5). Unions represent a minority of the percentage of people currently in the workforce. The CFMEU in WA represent approximately 10,000 members. Hardly a voting majority! It won’t be unions that hand Howard the election; it’ll be you idiots in the media and your sensationalist and typically conservatively biased reporting. Who will we blame in 10 or 20 years time when Union bashing has achieved it’s desired outcomes, the “boom” is over and the new underclass of working men and women of Australia have lost their hard fought protections against the profit greedy owning-class capitalists. I know who I’ll blame. Get off your union-bashing high horses and start considering the ramifications of your actions on our future generations, including your children and grandchildren. As a postscript, I wonder what would happen if politicians on both sides of the House were to be ejected from their respective parties for so-called obscene behaviour, verbal abuse and use of inappropriate language? The houses would be empty no doubt. Typical hypocrisy.

Humphrey Hollins writes: I worked on the Woodside building in Perth a few years ago when the CMFEU was busily bashing Baulderstone, the builder, at every opportunity. The boys used to say that one could tell if we were going out the gate by the braces that Joe McDonald was wearing on the day. The skull and crossbones braces usually meant an early knockoff and a 24- or 48-hour stoppage.

A fudge too far:

Wes Fabb writes: Re. “Kevin Rudd goes a fudge too far” (Wednesday, item 1). It’s disappointing that you have jumped so enthusiastically on the Dennis Shanahan anti-Rudd bandwagon without thinking more carefully about the issue of the productivity document. You say the behaviour of the Labor leader and his staff was “stupid and sloppy”. Sloppy maybe, but how was it “stupid”? Later you say “Rudd’s first instinct appears to have been to lie – to lie to The Australian that a document he had left behind was ‘stolen’.” As it was titled ‘Leader’s Meeting/Policy Brief, was written by his advisers, and was among Rudd’s papers, it was clearly his. Someone took what was his, read enough of it to see that it was politically significant, then mischievously handed it to newspapers, and somehow it also got to the Government. If taking what is clearly someone else’s property, and giving it to parties, to whom it does not belong, is not stealing, please tell me what is. So if Rudd said that the document had been stolen, why is that a lie? You say “The paper (The Australian) was heavied.” Do you mean that the paper was asked to respect the privacy of the document that had come inadvertently into its hands, and not publish it as it belonged to Rudd? Yet The Australian and other papers went ahead. Is that ethical? Perhaps ethics is an outmoded concept when a ‘scoop’ such as this presents. You predicted this”… could finally spell the end of the honeymoon”, and”…might be the beginning of the end for the Labor leader”, and “…may be a fudge too far.” Quite a prophecy. The ferocity of your language suggests your writings on Rudd and Labor from now on may carry a bias which will damage your reputation as an objective commentator on political issues. May be it heralds the end of your honeymoon as a fearless yet balanced columnist.

The hazard of political campaigning:

Greens Senate candidate Andrew Wilkie writes: Re. “Traffic hazard” (Wednesday, item 16). Thank you Crikey for reporting my campaign efforts. For the record, it should be noted that the police have checked out my orange flashing light and are happy that it poses no danger to drivers. The fact that my campaigning has come to light (excuse the pun) in Crikey in this way suggests that the Liberal and Labor parties are getting increasingly concerned about the effect I might have on the federal election result in Tasmania.


Telstra’s chief technology officer, Hugh Bradlow, writes: Re. IT watcher (yesterday, comments). I normally would not react to some ignoramus calling me a liar, but let me be specific about the state of commercial deployment of products conforming to the mobile WiMAX standard (802.16e-2005). The WiMAX forum says on its website “Please note that the WiMAX Forum Certified Product Registry currently contains products based on IEEE 802.16-2004 (Fixed WiMAX). Please also check back in mid-2007 as Mobile WiMAX (802.16e-2005) products are certified and added to the registry.” In other words, there are no base stations or subscriber equipment yet certified against the mobile WiMAX standard. So perhaps the so-called “IT Watcher” who comments on your site would care to explain to the readers how operators on the Isle of Man or Ireland or elsewhere have succeeded in deploying a network conforming with this standard? And just for Mr IT Watcher’s interest, the network on the Isle of Man is based on the fixed WiMAX standard (802.16-2004) but is not fully compliant because it utilises frequency bands that are not part of the WiMAX certified frequencies.

Drinking water:

John Blakefield writes: Re. “Keep the cr-p out of our drinking water” (Wednesday, item 6). When a shepherd in the back country of NZ in the ’60s, the rule was,” 20 yards downstream from a dead sheep — the water was fit to drink” even if a bit “tasty”. I am sure any poo-tainted water from the ACT will be fine by the time it gets to Adelaide.


David Lodge writes: Re. “Hey APEC revellers, ever heard of technology?” (Wednesday, item 16). It is absolutely typical of wet lefties such as the “Riot Reporter” Cam Smith to wonder whether those attending APEC are travelling carbon-neutral. Well, Cam, do you travel carbon-neutral everywhere you go? Do you drive a car? Have you ever flown in a plane? Do you use power? How hypocritical. Secondly her idea that all APEC meetings should be done via tele-conferencing is I think, one of the dumbest ideas I’ve heard this year. How exactly are leaders supposed to build not just greater trade ties for the good of the people they’re representing let alone developing personal relationships which bring positives to our foreign relations? Me thinks this so called “Riot reporter” doesn’t appreciate what APEC has done for our current prosperity which enables someone to take up such a pseudo-journalistic role.

Rex and 3AW:

Russell Bancroft writes: Re. “Is the fat lady singing for Rex and the 3AW footy team?” (yesterday, item 24). The sooner this un-funny clown is off the air the better. He has made the greatest game in the world into a joke and made it at times unlistenable. I did listen a few weeks ago, as I drove to pick my daughter up. I was tuned in to the Carlton v Adelaide game and as a keen Blues supporter, was to some extent excited by the prospect of a win. The rubbish that poured out of Mr Hunt’s mouth in the 40 or so minutes I was tuned in for was nauseating. Every player had some sort of ridiculous nickname; these names seemed to be the focus of the commentary and not the on-field action. Between all the stupidity we were occasionally treated to a score. Two years ago, during another lapse in judgement, I listened to another Rex broadcast; a Carlton v Richmond game. Carlton had the game well in hand in the last quarter so Messrs Hunt et al decided they had enough and spent the last 20 minutes or so telling lame jokes and making stupid remarks about who knows what. He even makes the MMM commentators sound intelligent and that is saying something.

Geoff Donelly writes: What a “stupid” statement that was made in the article by Charles Happell to state that Rex Hunt’s knowledge of the game was minuscule. I am no fan of Rex Hunt and have never heard him on 3AW and I rarely follow any AFL. But anyone with a minuscule bit of knowledge about Aussie Rules knows that Rex Hunt was a past champion who played over 200 senior games with Richmond and Geelong. If you are going to write articles for subscribers don’t make stupid statements and learn your facts, I would doubt that there are any other football commentators with his football experience.

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.