Crikey’s NIT apology:

Nathan Morsillo writes: Re. “Apology to National Indigenous Times ” (yesterday, item 7). Crikey has some serious egg on its face over this one. Accusations that NIT was actively protecting p-dophiles?? Falsehoods?? <sigh>. I really, really like Crikey. NIT and Crikey help some of these regional issues get some air time. This is particularly so because we (here in NT) don’t get the mainstream newspapers till later in the afternoon, their reporters fly in and out, and our local media tries hard but is… small. Crikey “Let’s have a brain-freeze” moments like these are more Bolt-esque, and make some of us reconsider our small sole-subscriber contributions. The apology absolutely necessary — perhaps some other info should be forthcoming about actions/repercussions against/regarding the offending journalist should also be distributed. Crikey would demand the same of the Oz etc. Will Crikey dance to its own tune?

James Stuchbery writes: Weak, Crikey. How about an unreserved apology to the 5 (not 3, as your article stated) politicians whose names have been dragged through the mud as a result of your, by your own admission, entirely fabricated article. I enjoy reading Crikey, but if your writers feel the need to dream up controversy in order to increase your readership then you are no better than the trash tabloids you purport to “keep in check”.

Steve Walz writes: I think you owe us a little more… along the lines of “how did this happen?” Surely such a major c-ckup cannot go unspoken about other than to publish the obviously negotiated apology? Getting something so horribly wrong must result in ordinary subscribers like me wondering to what extent other similar misjudgements are made. I’m only a couple of weeks into my subscription and am enjoying it, partly because you seem to get stories I don’t see elsewhere. I hope I don’t have to wonder whether you’re making them up!

Jeremy Scrivener writes: Stephen Mayne’s considerable strengths lie in his understanding of and passion for corporate Australia. His judgement becomes clouded and his journo’s instincts leave him when commenting on many other issues. His “Mutijulu meeting” story is a significant example of this. Crikey’s responsibilities as a leading alternative media source means it can ill afford posting badly researched stories. For a daily email, you should be concentrating on quality over quantity, and avoiding fluff like the bias-o-meter. Many more stories like these and I’m tossing it in.

Land management laws:

Rob Williams writes: Re. “Trees falling in the fight over land management laws” (yesterday, item 2). The rights of Australians with regards to Freehold Title have been eroded for many years. It is the view of many of us that the Laws curtailing or overrunning Freehold Rights are unconstitutional. The enactment of legislation like that pertaining to land clearing makes a farmer a criminal on his own land. Unfortunately, Australians have long been denied the ability to challenge the Governments, both Federal and State to have their grievances heard by a Supreme Court. Yes I know the mechanisms are there, but the cost and hurdles in getting to our day in court are hideous and the road to be threaded through the justice system is guarded by magistrates and others who know the ramifications if we win. Democracy in Australia is a hollow word. Australian farmers are gutted from big business to government. The farmers’ only crime is that they haven’t been aggressive enough to challenge those that would see them disappear. I support the farmers, and if the government(s) sees fit to fine them, then I will be in the group who would cheerfully blockade the road to help my fellow man.

Steven McKiernan writes: Agmates said they are chopping one tree on 1 July, two on 2 July and so on. Yet they have chopped 6,000 on day one and 8,000 on day two. Either they have lost a few fingers and cannot keep count without losing the boots, or fewer cockies are firing up the chainsaws or curriculum values in the bush are plummeting. It’s a national emergency, send in the troops!

Philip Carman writes: If John Howard is serious about protection of the innocent and stopping harm before it becomes entrenched he should call in the ADF and the AFP to round up Steve Truman and his mates and have them detained. Perhaps he could then chop off a finger for every day that their stupid campaign continues to urge people to break the law by clearing land…? These Neanderthals are the worst type of criminals because they, too, see themselves as being right when the reality is that they have not the morals, ethics or scruples – let alone enough intelligence – to understand why they are so wrong. I’ll not stay anonymous. And any farmer who doesn’t like it can shove it. But, my sincere thanks to those farmers who are law abiding, intelligent and green enough to know better than to r-pe and pillage their land because they misguidedly think they have “a right” to do so.

VB lite:

Mike Dwyer writes : Re. “VB Lite: how beer tinkering can fall flat” (yesterday, item 10). This is not the first time that CUB has diluted their beer. In 2002 Carlton Draught was diluted from 4.9% alcohol by volume to 4.7% and a year later to 4.6% — the same strength as Tooheys beers. Melbourne Bitter was also surreptitiously diluted to 4.6% about a year ago. The tax savings from this dilution on an individual can or pot are too low to make any difference in price (a fraction of a cent). About three-quarters of the price paid in a pub for draught beer is publican’s mark-up. I don’t dispute the necessity for the mark-up as there are many costs involved, however the heavy discounting of slabs makes it far cheaper to drink at home without the prospect of being caught by a booze bus. CUB has recently introduced “mid-strength” beer under the Vic Bitter label, at a strength of 3.5%. If these creeping dilutions continue it is likely that full-strength will be mid-strength in a few years’ time. Whilst CUB are doing nothing illegal, there should be a truth in advertising requirement for beer to have a minimum alcohol content to be claimed full strength. Meantime Fosters and Crown remain at 4.9% and Coopers is even stronger. Unfortunately Vic is the only brand regularly discounted. Another disturbing trend is for beer to be sold in non-standard bottles — all containing less than the standard 375ml (either the European measure of 330ml or the American measure of 12 US ounces – 355ml). This was done with spirits a few years ago when the standard 750ml bottle was reduced to 700ml — no alteration to price! Wine is still sold in standard 750ml and 375ml bottles. The standard sizes are a soft conversion of imperial measures that meant six large bottles or a dozen stubbies contained one gallon. Even France sells wine in the same 750ml bottle!

Graham Tappin writes: I’ve long argued that after three, four or more beers most “expert” pub drinkers wouldn’t know what they were drinking. I was, for a time, a member of a wine and food appreciation club. We decided to have a lunch at which all attendees were to determine which beer, of ten, was which. The result was abysmal with no-one but the lone female identifying the non-alcohol beer. That same lady, a non-beer drinker, was the winner of the competition. You could argue that luck played a part; I would argue that the others didn’t have a clue.

Humphrey Hollins writes: We were working in the Kakadu in 1982 building the first tourist accommodation in the park and a beer after work was compulsory. There were men from all over Australia and beer from all over Australia available at the roadhouse bar including XXXX. A young Queenslander mocked those of us not drinking his brew and he was challenged to a taste test. My mate purchased five different beers and with five clean glasses and with a jumper we blindfolded the young fella and commenced. He got every beer wrong and actually spat out one brew claiming that it was that crap Carlton Draught. Of course it was the XXXX.

Howard’s NT plan:

Alexandra Penfold writes: The recent Federal Government’s NT Aboriginal land grab seems to focus around the South Australia to Darwin Federal rail line. The rail line runs adjacent to both the South Australian Olympic Dam uranium mine and Muckaty Station at Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory — the preferred site chosen by the Federal Government to store radioactive waste from Lucas Heights as well as international waste. This geologically unstable area around Tennant Creek recently experienced an earthquake of 2.5 on the Richter scale. The area is laced with underground aquifers, supplying water to indigenous communities and outback towns and numerous stations. Helen Caldicott recently wrote that the rail-line from South Australia to Darwin was constructed by the US Company Halliburton (formerly run by Dick Cheney) and now owned by Serco Asia Pacific, a leader in the management and transport of Britain’s nuclear waste. Uranium mining, nuclear waste dumps and the railway line are all part of a bigger global picture.

Coles and Wesfarmers:

Michael Grant writes: Re. “After Wesfarmers: The future at Coles” (yesterday, item 27). Your retail commentator, Rob Lake comments on Wesfarmers/Bunnings as though they are the “Gods” of retailing. I think I know better than he what is happening on the shop floor, as my partner has worked there since before they acquired BBC/Hardware House. All this talk of Bunnings being customer focused is nonsense. The reality of a visit to Bunnings is that they are understaffed, badly stocked and run by demoralised staff who thinks management stinks. The reasons why Bunnings have done so well are simple: they have a virtual monopoly of the hardware market, and over the past few years building activity has gone through the roof, combined with a strong A$ helping to improve margins. If Wesfarmers succeed in acquiring Coles it will be to detriment of Australia — we need a real competitor to Woolworths such as the UK’s Tesco.

Greg Wood writes: I’ve been watching the current Coles debacle with a great deal of interest due to the current going-ons over here in the country town of McLaren Vale, South Australia, famous for wineries, local business, markets and a gorgeous environment. Right now we have a small shopping centre with a Coles which is affecting the local traders who are also part of the centre. A development has been proposed that will be the magic cure, yes a suburban shopping mall! We go from a Coles currently around 1,000 sqm to a Coles 3,300 sqm and a Target to boot! Not to mention the 16 specialty stores, and food court (ahem, alfresco dining area!). The big question now is, what effect will the Wesfarmers takeover have on the proposed Coles expansions?

Doctors and terrorism:

Timothy Ford writes: Re. “Moments from Dr Mohamed Haneef’s life” (yesterday, item 12). Regarding Pictures from Dr Mohamed Haneef’s life: Perhaps the Japanese Government should be notified that an alleged Terrorist was once in their country — the 7-Eleven pictured, after all, is a Japanese one.

Keith Binns writes: “We will decide who comes into this country”, unless of course they’ve got one of those funny visas where we don’t check too hard. What a gift for Rudd! I hope he has the nous to use it.

John Goldbaum writes: I don’t think you can ever be too careful about terrorists. It seems to me that the solution lies in expelling all doctors from Australia. As for those UK amateurs, I’m glad they weren’t operating on me. They were worse than Dr Patel. Necrologists have a lot to learn before they can be recognised as a specialty.

Affordable housing:

Keith Thomas writes: Re. “Rudd’s next platform: affordable housing” (yesterday, item 9). In my suburb of Canberra there is a brisk turnover of houses at around the $500,000 mark. Some are renovated to a boilerplate (uniform introduced trees, groundcover plants in woodchip mulch) for letting – these are investment properties. Others are demolished and replaced by two or three units on the quarter acre blocks – more investments. Others are lived in by the buyers and gradually renovated as the cash becomes available – these are not primarily investment properties and their diverse gardens are cherished and live through each summer. The tenants overfill their garbage bins and leave them on the street all week, complain about elderly local “characters”, park on the nature strip, party loud and drive to shop at the big supermarkets; the resident owners walk to shop locally and cherish the local eccentrics. My point is that residential property “investment” is the marketing term for land speculators and these absentee speculators destroy local communities. Walter Burley Griffin was attracted to design Canberra by Australia’s radical politics; the ACT planned to constrain land speculation by instituting a tax on land values and Burley Griffin relished the opportunity to be part of this movement. Today politicians bicker about stamp duty and condone “investment” (how many of them have such investments”? Can they be impartial on this issue? Do they declare their interest?). The solution lies neither in tweaking stamp duty or blaming builders nor in pumping more money into the domestic property market, but in diverting the rise in land values from private speculators into the public revenue. This would make housing more affordable by taking the real estate speculators out of the market.

Kids and WorkChoices:

Russell Bancroft writes: Re. “Shrek should listen to the kids on WorkChoices” (yesterday, item 14). Even in the absence of WorkChoices, child employees face a battle to balance the competing pressures of work and school. Sure, many child workers (the current Victorian legislation applies to those under 15) work a few hours here and there for a bit of drinking money. However, many families rely on the extra cash their children bring in, and other children work in family businesses. Five years ago I spoke to group of high school kids in Mildura (many thanks to the former member Russell Savage, for organising this), as part of public consultation over changes to child employment laws. I was surprised by the number of children who were working til or even past 11:00pm on a regular basis. When questioned, most said that they would not miss work even if it was the night before an exam. It is a well known fact that children are more prone to workplace injury, not only because of physical considerations (such as limited peripheral vision) but also because they will not challenge orders, even if they recognise that following the order places them at risk. Studies of injuries in the fast food sector support this contention. WorkChoices, which gives even more power to employers and limits union access to the workplace, has no doubt made this worse, but it was not exactly an ideal situation to begin with.

Howard’s history:

Peter Lloyd writes: Re. “How the PM took the questions out of history” (yesterday, item 1). It is little wonder John Howard has had so many problems with inveigling his version of history into the classroom — even the most hand-picked of consultants are not philistine enough to advocate his reductionist, simplistic “list of dates and events” approach. If this approach is described as old fashioned, make no mistake “old” means 1850s rather than 1950s. Howard hates “issues and moods” but these are what history is built on. The Revolution in America, plus the Industrial Revolution, plus European conflicts and rivalries equalled the colonisation of Australia. The “Industrial Revolution” component could be broken down into a dozen relevant “issues” or more, creating the “mood” that led to the decision of the British Government. To be sending kids away from school remembering “January 26th 1788” but knowing nothing of the reasons the British had urban crime problems, why they needed a new place to dump convicts, and why they chose Australia illustrates just how narrow and torpid is the Howard view. Or possibly he doesn’t want future generations learning just how much neocon “moods and issues” got us into Iraq. While he has made a virtue of his common touch, let loose in the classroom this sort of mentality only deprives bright kids of the right to learn, and cheats them of any chance of being interested in history. Too much time spent with the Parrot and the anti-elite, anti-intellectual David Flint, I feel. Will Gerard Henderson and Geoffrey Blainey lower themselves to the challenge?

Japanese history:

Peter Adams writes: Re. “History wars get serious in Japan” (yesterday, item 19). Who is Charles Richardson kidding when he says: “But the most we have to argue about is the hanging of Ned Kelly or the dismissal of Gough Whitlam.” Hang on Chuck… Have we ever adequately explained to ourselves and our children how European settlement took hold and expanded in this country? At least, the US recognises to some extent the courage of its indigenous inhabitants in battles such as Little Big Horn, and atrocities such as Wounded Knee. Have we as a nation ever adequately discussed how white settlers took possession of land in this country? You can bet they weren’t invited in, and you can bet the locals didn’t give up without a fight. But of course the winners wrote history in this case, and they were so good at it, it doesn’t even manage a blip on the collective radar any more.

David Lobbezoo writes: How can Charles Richardson baldly assert that the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima was arguably, and Nagasaki was certainly, a war crime? However easy it is with the hindsight of 60 years to regret that which subsequently followed from their use let’s remember the alternative — a lengthy, bloody invasion of the Japanese home islands. There was no reason to doubt in 1945, and there is no reason to doubt now, that the casualties on the Japanese side from that hypothetical invasion would have exceeded those from the two atomic bombs. I assume we can ignore the likely casualties on the side of the war criminals — unfortunately those bound to make the decision at the time did not have that luxury which can only be indulged in with the benefit of hindsight.

Fergus Pitt writes: Re. “Don’t give up the day job?” (Yesterday, item 17). Fair suck of the sauce bottle Christian; the website is pretty clearly about three years old: “Maxine is seen regularly on the ABC…” hasn’t been the case for a while, and the email address goes to an after-dinner speakers’ business. A bit more likely to be neglect rather than hedging don’t ya reckon?

Thanks Christian:

Dave Liberts writes: Re. “Mad Mullahs” (yesterday, item 17). Thanks Christian Kerr for running the Covenant Presbyterian Church’s open letter to the Prime Minister in Crikey. I read it in The Oz on the bus yesterday morning and nearly fell out of my seat laughing. I wondered if the Chaser crew was behind it until I remembered they’re on holidays.

In defence of the PM:

Peter Johnson writes: Re. “PM’s Garuda defence flies in the face of the facts” (yesterday, item 4). In defence of the PM, as a long term resident of Indonesia I can say that there is a definite difference between Garuda domestic and international.

The America’s Cup:

Nigel Brunel writes: Re. “So sad: Kiwis lose Auld Mug by a second, the second time” (yesterday, item 23). Let’s get something straight about the Americas Cup. Switzerland did NOT beat New Zealand – New Zealand beat New Zealand – Alinghi is mainly crewed by Kiwis funded by Ernie Grillionaire. Yes – I am bitter and full of sour grapes. Arrrghhhhhhh… woe is me… alas…

Sean Kelly writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. Frank Packer challenged three times for the America’s cup in Gretel, Gretel II and Dame Pattie. Gretel II, skippered by Jock Sturrock was the first yacht to ever take a race off the Americans and led the New York Yacht club to introduce new rules on where equipment on the yachts could originate from and somewhere in an Australian backyard exists as a consequence, the only machine this country has ever possessed for weaving Dacron sail cloth. Kerry Packer never challenged for the America’s Cup. As to Tuesday night’s race, for a change the good burghers at Fox actually broadcast the start of what was a remarkable race, rather than crossing to Spain half way up the first leg. The finals were to some extent a Kiwi vs. Kiwi affair as Brad Butterworth, tactician on Alinghi is a New Zealander. For those of us with some appreciation for the sport of yachting it was a remarkable race in an extremely close series and to the credit of those involved the footage was exceptional.

The Nation:

Robert Milne writes : Re. “Is The Nation being sacrificed?” (Yesterday, item 25). Glenn Dyer has really gone over the top with this one. Whilst I have always been a fan of Mick Molloy’s work he is clearly not capable of carrying off a program by himself, and as host. Just watch it, it is simply not funny and mostly cringeworthy apart from the occasional chuckle. To suggest this is some conspiracy to kill the show is ridiculous. I generally enjoy Glenn’s contributions, maybe he should remember the old adage, “When given two competing explanations for an event — one involving conspiracy and the other incompetence — always choose incompetence.”


Simon Allen writes: Re. “The Oz isn’t alert but wants us to be alarmed” (Tuesday, item 21). It appears that Irfan Yusuf might be suffering from a bit of “Oz Fever” and therefore isn’t too alert either when it comes to sources. Should we be alarmed? Well according to Matt Brown’s comment yesterday some people might start coming up to Irfan with their frustrations because they “have been reading too much of that garbage in Crikey .” Maybe Irfan might want to have a chat to Chris Mitchell and Co. about the dangers of living in a Glasshouse. They have a lot of experience in such matters and I am sure they will advise Irfan that it’s a good idea to ensure that the rock you are throwing is a size your house can withstand. Because repairing the damage when someone is accurate with the return throw is always going to be costly.


Mike Martin writes: Joe Boswell (yesterday, comments) writes that I apparently don’t know that “there are explosions that do not rely on oxidation”. He presumably missed my comment in Crikey on 2 April discussing the explosive triacetone triperoxide (the risk of which caused the prohibition against liquids on board scheduled airline flights). TATP not only requires no oxidiser but it contains no nitrogen, rendering it difficult to detect with standard explosive detection tools. I agree that the effect caused by heating a railway tank car partly filled with propane, as shown in the link he provided, could fairly be described as an explosion, in contrast to my description of a heated domestic LPG cylinder as bursting. (In any case by the time the tank car exploded, most of the PG was no longer L.) If Mr Boswell can find a way of secreting a railway tank car containing 5 tonnes of propane inside a Mercedes Benz saloon, he has a promising career ahead of him as a magician.

Mystery solved:

Geoff Walker writes: Re. Howard’s interest rates. If Chris Hawkshaw (yesterday, comments) downloads the RBA Bulletin’s historical daily interest rates table from here and goes to 8 April 1982, he will find that the 90-day bank-bill rate on that day was 22.00% – mystery solved!  

Targeting the audience:

Doug Melville writes: Interesting juxtaposition. Those advertisers are really targeting the audience aren’t they? This appeared on the “Comments, corrections, clarifications, and c*ckups section” on Crikey’s website yesterday.


Yesterday’s typos (house pedant Charles Richardson casts an eye over the howlers in the last edition of Crikey): Item 6: “The PM was invited to function, but chose not to attend and instead send a message”. Well yes, it wouldn’t do to have a functioning PM, would it? (He probably meant “to the function”.)

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.

Get Crikey for $1 a week.

Lockdowns are over and BBQs are back! At last, we get to talk to people in real life. But conversation topics outside COVID are so thin on the ground.

Join Crikey and we’ll give you something to talk about. Get your first 12 weeks for $12 to get stories, analysis and BBQ stoppers you won’t see anywhere else.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
12 weeks for just $12.