The Haneef fiasco:

Paul Massarotto writes: Re. “The Haneef fiasco: It’s the law stupid” (Friday, item 9). I fully agree with all Greg Barnes stated. This anti-terror law has made Australia into a nascent Gestapo state. The secret and botched prosecution make the law enforcers look indeed like Keystone Cops.

Greg Angelo writes:  Now that the dust is beginning to settle on the Haneef detention it is abundantly clear that there must be a full disclosure of all materials upon which both the Federal Police, the Attorney General, and the Minister for Immigration relied when forming their opinions. Those readers familiar with Kafka and Koestler understand that not all terrorism involves the use of bombs. Incarceration, interrogation and character assassination without appropriate substantiation can also be classed as acts of “terror” for which the Prime Minister and his government are directly accountable. Allegations of terrorism and the associated infringement of civil liberties are serious matters. Under these circumstances, suspension of normal civil rights is essential provided the authorities have relevant evidence. If they take steps to curtail the civil liberties of anybody they must ultimately be accountable for their actions. If after a magistrate found that there was insufficient evidence to hold Dr Haneef, (an opinion now been substantiated by the dropping of all charges by the DPP), the motives of the Minister for Immigration in cancelling his visa must be viewed with the deepest suspicion. His further comments after Haneef left to see his wife and daughter compound this assertion. Nothing should now preclude the Minister for Immigration disclosing to the public the evidence upon which he has based his decision to cancel Dr Haneef’s visa. Failure to disclose this information will support the assertion that this whole case has been manipulated as a cynical exercise in wedge politics. Further it would support the assertion that state-sponsored “terrorism” in this country is acceptable to the government if it appears to provide some political advantage.

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David Nolan writes: As an avid Crikey subscriber I can appreciate that the comments from your readers are usually sophisticated and witty. However I feel compelled to just say: Kevin Andrews is a complete and utter Twat. He reminds me of the kids that whitewashed Tom Sawyers fence.

Patrick Howard writes: Re. “The Haneef fiasco: Important lessons to be learned” (Friday, item 10). What does Peter Faris mean? Faris wrote: “The AFP should have Haneef coercively interrogated by the ACC but apparently this was not done.” Coercively interrogated? Whatever can he mean? Some thing traditionally Australian perhaps, such as the use of large telephone directories forcibly to the head, the preferred ‘softener’ of the Darlinghurst police. Or perhaps he’d recommend some of the new US-style Abu Ghraib techniques. And this from a QC.

The resignation of Steve Bracks:

David Havyatt writes: Re. “Bracks shows the way to go out” (Friday, item 1). So Steve Bracks has retired/resigned as Premier of Victoria joining Gallop (WA on health grounds), Bacon (TAS on health grounds), and Carr. It was interesting to note that Steve Bracks’ colleagues didn’t want him to resign; as well we know Bob Carr’s didn’t. We also know that Gallop and Bacon’s colleagues didn’t either, though perhaps they accepted it a little more willingly. So while John Howard has clung to Kirribilli House – I mean the Prime Ministership – four Premiers have departed voluntarily. And if any of them had used the standard “I will remain Premier so long as my colleagues want me to and it is in the best interests of the Labor Party” they would still be there. Which just makes you think it is the wrong standard.

John Howard and the Donkey vote:

Jim O’Brien writes: Re. “John Howard and the spirit of 68” (Thursday, item 5). Perhaps John Howard “could have just about made it to victory (in the seat of Drummoyne in the 1968 NSW election) on the preferences of the 1,089 DLP votes” if he, rather than ALP candidate Reg Coady, had benefited from the donkey vote. But it’s unlikely. DLP preferences were distributed in seven seats that election. The Liberal candidate got the DLP donkey vote in four seats, and the ALP’s share of DLP preferences in these seats ranged from 13.5 per cent to 20.3 per cent, averaging 15.9 per cent. Coady only needed 12.4 per cent of DLP preferences to survive in Drummoyne, and would probably have fallen over the line even without the donkey vote.

Double standards and Crown lager:

Maxx Maxted writes: Re. “Dave Tollner, Minister of the Crownie” (Friday, item 4). The double standards displayed in your story merely underlines the basic misunderstandings which result in active racial inequalities. It is basically, “one law for the other, another for us”. As for leaving evidence of their elitism, how arrogant.

Attending the PM’s functions:

Garth Wong writes: Ross Copeland (26 July, comments) should get over the fact he did not receive an invitation to attend the PM’s functions in Stirling Community Centre! Why should anyone other than a member of that community centre be invited to meet the PM? It was not a general walk through a public shopping centre or mall. If he has strong views he would like to convey to the PM, Mr Copeland can write to the PM directly or via his Member of Parliament. His other side of the coin comment! Why on earth would a Liberal MP participate in an ALP and Union organised biased and stacked “Your Rights At Work” forum? By participating, a government MP is not only giving a free kick and hand to the union and ALP campaign, he is dancing to their agenda. I am not surprised there were no Liberal members attending the forum. In any case, it would be a total waste of time for anyone supporting the Coalition to attend, as they would just be heckled down by the usual left wing university student “rent-a-crowd”, ALP members and Union organisers if they tried to speak out in support of the Coalition IR laws.

As shrill as a banshee scream:

Daniel Patman writes: If Senator Milne was hysterical (Thursday, item 12) then Jack Smith’s short rant was as shrill as a banshee scream (Friday, comments). Crikey, how did you let this unhelpful abuse slip through? Better to publish repeats of Barry Chipman’s logger-loving untruths then this hate mail. But, let’s leave out the personal attacks and empty rhetoric – which, incidentally, turns Smith’s comment into a clear-felled lot. It’s easy to understand the hurt the Greens must feel at this negative announcement from Rudd. This is a bad result for the democratic process, with a new precedent stating that governments can get into bed with business to overrule the recommendations of enviro-impact reports. Its bad result for taxpayers who are forced to continue subsidising this unsustainable practice and it’s a terrible result for Tasmania’s natural assets. Traditionally Labour and the Greens have at least walked in the same direction, if not always hand-in-hand. More and more it seems that no matter who is PM at the end of the year, the result will be the same. Perhaps the Greens will soon be the only true opposition.

The “Joe Hockeymobile”:

Cameron Mcloughlin writes: There must be an election coming. you might be interested to know that today I spotted the “Joe Hockeymobile” – his Tarago style van with his slogan ‘Strong Economy, Strong Locally’ emblazoned on the side- prowling the streets of Lane Cove. It’s interesting that he’s out campaigning so early in the relatively safe seat of North Sydney – perhaps he feels a change in the weather coming!

Housing affordability:

Paul Rogers writes: Re. “Housing affordability: it’s your own fault” (Thursday, item 2). Felicity McMahon makes some valid points in her article. However, her argument loses is to some degree undermined by the fact that she has failed to mention the fact that house prices are at all time record highs in Australia, which makes it very difficult for many people, particularly Gen Y’ers, from entering the market. The rental market is also extremely tight making it ever more difficult to find decent, affordable, housing in close proximity to employment centers. Don’t forget that while the Australian economy is booming, much of the economic growth is being driven by the resources boom in WA, and the benefits do not flow through to all segments of the population, in all regions.

Trevor Best writes: I believe I have the answer Ted Lavender asks for (Friday, comments). As a retried long-term bank manager I well remember the cycles when our bank told us to just go out and lend, lend, lend. Interest rates were cheap and money was plentiful (just to mention one period, 1972/73). Any Aussie yobbo who could raise his knuckles from the ground and pick up a hammer became a spec builder, and raped the economy with completely exorbitant prices, and housing quickly became unaffordable. The same thing happened in USA lately when interest rates were 1-2%, but now that rates there have risen toward normal again, guess what? There is a crisis of repossessions and price falls. Anyone having Economics 101 will know that to restore affordability, paradoxically we need higher interest rates. Fewer people will be able to afford flash homes and purchases will be deferred. Demand will fall, prices will fall, costs right across the industry will fall and speculative investors will get burnt. Peter Costello is right, as usual.

Singapore is great:

Graham Hayward writes: Re: “Selling the farm to Singapore. And China. And Dubai” (24 July, item 27). While I assume your facts were correct, I really feel that your opinions were very biased. Have you ever been to Singapore for any length of time? Things are not at all as you claim. I will only make two comments – the first on the assets purchased. These are investments by the Singapore government and Australia should be proud that after surveying the world, Singapore felt so good about prospects for the future in Australia that they decided to invest so much money there. As far as I know, no one has ever said that the Singapore government was/is trying to influence the actions of the countries concerned and they are left to operate on a strict commercial basis. Secondly, why the snide comments about the execution of the drug offender? Singapore has executed quite a few such people – a policy that I and most of the population support – so why should we give this man a break just because he has an Aussie passport? Anyway, my reason for writing is that I and my family have enjoyed a wonderful life here, and I hate to see the world’s media snipe at Singapore’s achievements, usually using half truths and innuendo. The standard of living, the honesty of the government and its bureaucracy, the efficiency of the infrastructure, the low crime rates and the lack of drugs, make it an example for the world. Nowhere is perfect, but Singapore gets as close as almost any other country as a great place in which to live and do business. That’s why so many people are always trying to come to live here.

The SMH and The Age:

George Soropos writes: Re. “The Age‘s new India correspondent is from … The Sydney Morning Herald” (Friday, item 20). Just commenting on your story about the SMH journo getting The Age gig in India. I used to work for the SMH from 1999 to 2003 and there was always a really strange relationship between the two papers. More from The Age than the Herald, it was like a giant newspaper sized inferiority complex. The Age would always be super sensitive and precious about itself to the point of neurosis. We would publish content from The Age all the time, and pay their writers for it, but they would never publish anything from the Herald. It was as if having some Sydney based content in their paper would give them all exploding syphilitic boils. They would rather duplicate what we did if they wanted it rather than just take it, costing them double as reprinted work only required a 50% fee to the author. I remember on one occasion the editor of the equivalent section to the one I worked on (Icon) in The Age nearly held up the printing of that weekend’s edition because she couldn’t find anyone to rewrite a 300 word news piece I had written! Madness. They were honestly so uptight that she nearly risked her job just to keep 300 of the SMHs words out of their paper! It doesn’t surprise me that the company would want to keep those Mexicans as far away from their real operations as possible.

Gerard Henderson – Hall monitor:

Joel Gould writes: Re. David Lenihan (Friday, comments) who asked, “Who is Gerard Henderson?” To answer David (good question mate): Gerard Henderson is Australia’s premier hall monitor.

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Peter Fray
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