Bomber’s seat is Brand, not Swan:

Phil Amos, former intern and staffer in Kim Wilkie’s office, writes: Re. “What’s Howard doing in the golden West?” (Yesterday, item 2). In your story yesterday, Christian Kerr writes that the Libs might “pick up the seat the Bomber is leaving behind, Swan?” In fact, Bomber Beazley is the Member for Brand, and the ALP isn’t going to lose this seat (why else would Gary Grey give up the $$$ at Woodside to run?). The Member for Swan is Kim Wilkie – and having retained the seat during the Latham disaster of ’04 by only 104 votes will be harder to dislodge than Christian Kerr (and Howard) believes.

Jeff Beaton writes: Christian, “The ‘Bomber’ left Swan over 10 years ago…” For your info, Western Australia is that big slice of Australia that makes up a third of the continent to the west of South Australia and the Northern Territory!

Haneef and a capital O opportunist politician:

Alan Hatfield writes: Re. “Haneef and the ugly silence of opportunity knocking” (yesterday, item 9). It’s just beautiful to see Greg Barns criticising Kevin Rudd as being a “capital O opportunist politician”. At last we have a clear choice – Rudd as an opportunist politician and Howard presumably as the complete opposite – someone who is obviously not an opportunist at all! The saddest aspect of where we are now is that John Howard has changed the very nature of Australia (just think children overboard, detention centres in the desert, David Hicks, repressive “anti-terrorist” legislation, Dr Haneef, etc, etc). I suspect it would be next to impossible to beat him by taking a clear stand on principle as the value and worth of principle doesn’t seem to strike a chord with the majority any more.

Des Carroll writes: In the 1960s Gough Whitlam copped heaps for declaring that Arthur Augustus Calwell had “prostituted the Vietnam debate”. In the context of the thinking of the party faithful, he may well have. Despite the honest passion of Calwell, the electorate was not listening and our mob experienced an average anti-Labor swing of 10% in the subsequent election. On November 2, 1972, Australia got its first Labor prime minister since 1949. Presumably Gough was a capital O opportunist politician.

Anthea Parry writes: Greg Barns is, I believe, a former Howard Government senior adviser and a member of the Democrats? What happened to Crikey’s disclose, disclose, disclose mantra? There was no mention of his former employment or political allegiances on “Haneef and the ugly silence of opportunity knocking”. Of course Barns is going to claim that Kevin Rudd is an opportunist, that he and his party are displaying “cowardliness” (I think he may mean cowardice), and that it’s all “political point scoring”. One might be tempted to say Pot; kettle, Mr Barns.


Murray Masters writes: Re. “Maningrida: watching the intervention roll into town” (yesterday, item 1). Hamish Townsend writes an interesting tale about the Howard intervention. He is wrong to state “The nature of tribalism is such that people are resentful of anyone outside the tribe”. I challenge this assertion! The nature of poverty is the real source of the disquiet. Rightly, Hamish goes on to observe that the school is inadequately resourced. Oh … and by beginning his story with a detailed account of an incidence of abuse just reinforces the stereotype of dysfunctional community. Just like here in Perth, we all struggle with issues! Poverty and dispossession is the enemy here. Not just some victims of one traumatised group.

Noel Courtis writes: I have watched closely the “Aboriginal problem” for 50 years. During that time many “cures” have been tried but most have failed. Crikey seems to have taken on the task of ridiculing anything that is put forward. I don’t know the answer, but, by the way Crikey has been carrying on lately, you do so could you please lay out the blueprint for us all to see.

Wireless and broadband:

Brian Mitchell writes: Re. “Crikey Policy Comparison Pt 1: Broadband, schools, forests” (yesterday, item 13). The big big big difference between the Labor and Coalition plans for broadband is that Labor is promising fibre-optic cable to 98% of the population whereas the Coalition will provide a wireless-only service to millions of Australians and fibre-optics only to the capital city centres and big regional centres. Millions of Australians – including nearly all of Tasmania – will ONLY be guaranteed wireless service under the Coalition. Now, wireless is a great add-on for laptop portability (although to use the Coalition signal you’ll need to buy an expensive hardware upgrade for your laptop) but wireless shouldn’t be the standard for home and business broadband. The more people who use a wireless signal, the slower it gets (unlike cable) and signal interruption is a real problem. The Coalition will condemn millions of Australians to a second-rate broadband system at a time when real broadband is getting faster, not slower. We’ve seen what a mess the Government has made with regional telephony – now it wants to repeat the mistake with regional wireless broadband.

Suzanne Baker writes: Your new regular item on policy comparison is a great idea. But I think it would be “fairer” if the first party to declare a policy is mentioned first.

(Re)inventing unions:

Tom McLoughlin, ASU member, writes: Re. “Cobber cans Kev’s compromises” (yesterday, item 8). Unions are like doctors – you hope they put themselves out of work because everyone is healthy. In the unions’ case the parallel is everyone reasonably satisfied with their workplace. The falling membership numbers might well be problems of service provision or it might just be because, relatively speaking, things aren’t nearly as bad as they used to be … thanks to unions. Rodney Cavalier is fooling himself, or has been overpaid way too long, to think unions don’t have a future, even as I hate the logger union for what they are doing to the public’s forests. But I still respect the purpose of unions. Just one word captures their importance and that word is “asbestos”. When the NSW ALP Premier Carr waved through a highly dubious corporate restructure via an application to the NSW Supreme Court by Hardies, the ACTU breathed fire on any side of business and politics that didn’t support a $4B compensation fund for the future. We have a reformed defamation law as a legacy too. Says it all really. Sure lots of people are squatting on union achievements of the past. Are Kerr and Cavalier comfortable with lazy management incomes 400x the shopfloor worker? Take the unions out of the picture completely and all you have are lots of dead people due to laissez faire capitalism… If unions didn’t exist it would be necessary to (re)invent them.

Perry Gretton writes: Presenting a small target when you’re in opposition and way behind in the polls doesn’t make a great deal of sense. Who’s going to be interested in a pale copy of the real thing? On the other hand, when you’re miles in front… Maybe Kevlar Kev knows what he’s doing.

The other half of all our histories:

Penelope Toltz writes: Re. “The sad sidelining of indigenous history” (yesterday, item 18). Surely the history of what happened to the first settlers (i.e.) the indigenous peoples of Australia is part of Australia’s history. Too often, the rest of Australia simply ignores anything which happens concerning indigenous Australians. Their history is part of our history — part of the whole of what makes Australia what it is today. There has been much in the way of conserving nature, what to eat, how to behave which we should have learned from our indigenous members of society. Yet, we pretend they do not exist in so many areas. We will never feel totally whole as a nation, until we stop addressing indigenous history as an alternate history; it is the other half of all our histories.

Tampering with the Tampa:

Neil James, executive director, Australia Defence Association, writes: Re. “Tampering with the Tampa – inconvenient truths revisited” (yesterday, item 14). More by what she omits than includes, Dr Rachael Baird unfortunately adds to general Tampa mythology and to specific confusion about the international law applying. Whether you support or decry Australia’s stance in this incident, several key facts need to be considered. The “vessel in distress” rescued by MV Tampa was an Indonesian fishing boat that had departed that country contrary to Indonesian law and was involved in the internationally illegal activity of people smuggling. The vessel’s inevitable distress was the callous and perhaps even deliberate result of gross overloading by Indonesian people smugglers. The rescue occurred in international waters off south-western Java, well within Indonesia’s internationally designated zone of search and rescue responsibility (and over 2000 kilometres from the Australian mainland). As per longstanding international maritime custom, after the rescue the Tampa headed for the nearest proper port (Cilacap in Indonesia) to put those rescued ashore. Some of those rescued then threatened and employed force (Dr Baird uses the euphemism “some pressure [was] brought to bear”) to divert the Tampa to the Australian island territory of Christmas Island. This aspect, an unequivocal act of piracy, is too often ignored in discussion of the incident. Because of the overall humanitarian tragedy involved no-one was tried for this offence. In retrospect this was a mistake. First, a trial would have acted as a deterrent to future acts of piracy and people smuggling. Second, the fundamental role of the people smugglers (and corrupt Indonesian officialdom) behind the whole incident would have been properly aired rather than ignored in much popular outrage internationally. Third, the international law applying would have been clearly established and various imperfect understandings or conspiracy theories surrounding the Tampa properly dealt with.

How on earth is Julian Burnside “self-serving”?

Martin Wesley-Smith writes: Ken Lambert (yesterday, comments) should realise that without courageous and principled legal experts like Julian Burnside, he would have lost most of his rights years ago. How on earth is Burnside “self-serving”? He has sacrificed a large part of his income by standing up against a government prepared, for political gain, to sacrifice the rights of ordinary citizens. Thank you, Mr Burnside. Smug and small-minded critics like Mr Lambert should not deter you in your quest for justice for all.

Duncan Beard writes: Re. Ken Lambert. Nobody is arguing that Mr Haneef shouldn’t have been investigated (and, let’s not be stupid here, his investigation was hardly subtle). But there’s a very big difference between “erring on the side of caution” and evicting an innocent Indian doctor from the country after character assassination, verballing and threatening his legal counsel have taken place.

Works of art and the country’s psyche:

Bruce Armstrong writes: Re. “Clifford Possum’s masterpiece can’t leave the country” (yesterday, item 3). While I found most of what Geoff Maslen had to say about the non-granting of an export permit for the Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri painting was pertinent and correct, I feel there is a point which is not being made. That is, put simply, we should be celebrating the fact that at long last there is some kind of official acknowledgment of the significance that works of art can have in the country’s psyche, not complaining that there is potentially more money to be made elsewhere. The linking of art to money is, in my mind, a distraction from the real significance of any work, particularly Clifford Possum’s. The world he opened for us would be better not polluted by the vulgarity of numbers.

It’s Amore, The Australian:

Craig McCarthy writes: Re. “Hey true blue, that’s doggerel” (yesterday, item 22). As soon as I read it, I thought that The Australian’s ode sounded suspiciously like the song made famous by Dean Martin the 1960s and entitled That’s Amore. Judge for yourself – watch him singing it here on YouTube.

Graham Ring from National Indigenous Times takes a cheap shot at the Oz’s latest tummy-turner, as inspired by Margaret Simons’ piece yesterday:

When you spurn your demographic
Seeking advertising traffic
That’s Australian

And when you’re dumbing down your paper
Because marketing’s your caper
That’s Australian

When you’re trying to turn a dollar
With a patriotic holler’
That’s Australian

When you patronise the nation
To improve your circulation
That’s Australian

If you see life through the prism
Of unthinking jingoism
That’s Australian

If this humbug makes you queasy
Coz it’s tacky, base and cheesy
That’s Australian

And if this ‘heart of the nation’ bunch
Makes you want to lose your lunch
That’s Australian

To ward off imminent conniption
Phone and cancel your subscription
That’s Australian

Exhibiting Gallic phlegm? WHAT?:

Kathleen Hughes writes: Re. “AFL coaching and the lost art of patience” (yesterday, item 24). I’m usually a phlegmatic type myself and phlegm’s a yucky word, but Frank Costa (who is of Italian extraction) exhibiting Gallic phlegm? WHAT? Shrug, I would accept, imperturbability; sangfroid, better given the context, but Crikey darlin’ sorry but the folk famous for their ‘phlegm’ (yuck again) are not the French but the English: maybe you think Napoleon called then that, he was French wasn’t he guys, is Corsica in France? Along with Albion perfide and ‘a nation of shopkeepers’, jeez Louise, how ignorant…

It’s not just Territorians who love their holidays!:

Paul Butler in Tokyo, writes: The answer to Darwin insider Henri Ivrey’s question in Monday’s Crikey “what other capital city gets two long weekends in a row?” is Tokyo: Weekends of 15-17 September and 22-24 September. Also weekends 30 December- 1 January and 6-8 January this year. It’s not just Territorians who love their holidays!

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