ALAEA Federal Secretary Steve Purvinas writes: Re. “Home truths about those Qantas staples” (30 July, item 4). The Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers Association read with some dismay an article written by Crikey journalist Ben Sandilands that claims wiring recently found stapled together was “shoddy work by an Australian worker in a Qantas hangar”. These claims are a stark contrast to an earlier Qantas report from The Australian newspaper on the 18 July where Qantas Executive General Manager of Engineering David Cox explained the stapling error by clearly pointing the finger at the Singaporean facility “Qantas staff had picked up on the practice as it was happening in October and had told Singapore to eliminate it.” The union say that the about face from management was merely an attempt to put doubt in the mind of Channel 7 and other outlets reporting on the current state of the Qantas fleet to deter further bad press. The union claims that the facts of the matter are what really count and they are:

  • 2 Qantas aircraft undertook D-check heavy maintenance in Singapore last year.
  • A D-check is the only level of routine maintenance that removes all floorboards and associated emergency floor path lighting.
  • The floorboards and associated wiring have not been disturbed since returning from Singapore.
  • Both aircraft have now been identified with multiple staples in floor path lighting and other crude unauthorized repairs in the same system.
  • The problems were not identified until emergency lights recently begun failing.
  • Dozens of maintenance errors were identified when the aircraft were being maintained in Singapore by Qantas auditors.
  • Last year Qantas auditors recommended that Qantas management consider whether the risks of continued usage of the same supplier are acceptable to the airline.

The ALAEA said they were shocked to learn that the Civil Aviation Safety Authority allowed the aircraft to continue flying with potential errors in the lighting system as it was only a 12 volt system. “The lights are actually powered by 115v AC and it was in these sections of wiring that the staples were found” Purvinas said.

Melbourne Uni’s Education Resource Centre:

Christina Buckridge, Manager, Corporate Affairs, University of Melbourne, writes: Re. ‘S-xing up Melbourne University” (yesterday, item 7). Indeed, what other explanation could there for the University of Melbourne relocating materials from its Education Resource Centre (ERC)? Perhaps it is just that we shouldn’t expect researchers to work in an environment in desperate need of refurbishment. Perhaps it is to create a precinct-based learning hub providing access to the University’s print and multi-media collections in learning spaces suited to student needs and preferences. Perhaps for the well-being of people and library materials, it is prudent to temporarily close the ERC during building works. Academic faculties and departments have been asked to identify materials housed at the ERC which students would need to access during this period – either on campus or by 24-hour turn-around from off-campus storage. The University has also made a major financial commitment to electronically catalogue all the research collection in the ERC while in storage, significantly improving long-term access to the collection for staff and students. And information on how staff and students can access the ERC materials during the relocation has been posted on the University Library and ERC websites.

What is wrong with debt?

Craig Duckmanton writes: Re. “Playing the interest rate blame game” (yesterday, item 10). Now that the Liberal government is shifting the blame for inflation to the state governments for running up debt (despite having AAA ratings!), can some one smarter than me explain what is wrong with debt? It seems to me that we have enormous infrastructure issues across Australia due to the Federal Governments inability to allow debt to fund major projects. If Australia wanted to finance major public issues (health care, roads, public transport and housing) we could do so by having some debt… just as I do when I want to buy a house/car/overseas holiday. Now, who is paying for this debt free environ… we the people. And who is benefiting from this lack of appropriate infrastructure? Long silence…

Rob White writes: How can John Howard look at himself in the morning? Blaming the state governments for interest-rate rises. So how come he stated before the last election that under Liberal interest rates would be lower. Oh of course he meant state liberal not federal. Well then he can leave. The PM is right, he ain’t that clever.

A piggery scandal:

Paul O’Leary writes: Re. “Crikey readers say “pork me” please!” (Yesterday, item 4). I live in the safe Liberal seat of Petrie so probably won’t receive any Pork but have been trying to get Broadband for the last six months to no avail. Surely their must be pork opportunities out their on Broadband access.

Joy Storie writes: Could this be a piggery scandal in the offing?

Bill O’Connell writes: Tony Kevin (yesterday, comments) opines that Mike Kelly needs to stick his night goggles on as Howard and Nairn may ambush the Colonel by promising “a big new hospital for Bateman’s Bay”. Well, now. I know that Howard and Nairn are having trouble with their guidance systems, but lobbing a poultice of dosh on the Bay would surely earn them the title of the Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight. Bateman’s Bay, Kevvy, no longer resides in Eden Monaro and is now in Gilmore, a seat held for the Libs by the delectable and enticingly named Joanna Gash with a margin of nearly 15 percent. Mind you, the way things are going Ms Gash may welcome some sterilised bag needles and a couple of miles of twine to keep her inherited geriatrics stitched up.

Julia Cohen writes: If John Howard wants to pork-barrel the education sector how about providing free MBA’s. That way he can claim to have funded education and we can all spin the same hogwash that he and Pork-Barrel-Pete have been delighting in for over a decade. Come to think of it – then we could all talk the spin like Tony Abbott, Mal Brough, Julie Bishop (oh how MBA are performance based teaching salaries… ), Joe Hockey… need I go on any further?

Liz Johnston writes: An excellent porking opportunity that offers a bonus score against a state government and some international posturing on behalf of the environment exists here on North Stradbroke Island. Naughty Petey Beattie wants to sell our water to folks on the mainland side of Moreton Bay even though we’re a Ramsar site (that’s all about wetlands and birds of international significance). Nobody has established how much water we’ve got (we’re built like Fraser Island with freshwater lakes and high sand dunes) but they’re taking it anyway and if we run dry and die then tough luck for the birds, bees, assorted species of wallabies, kangaroos, dugong and sundry other rare and beautiful creatures, trees and flowers, not to mention for the indigenous owners. We only add up to about 1000 votes but we are in Andrew Laming’s electorate of Bowman and what with that little Andrew’s awkward accounting mixup with his printing bills every vote’s going to count. So c’mon John, stop Petey in his tracks with those international treaty powers you signed up to with Ramsar and win yourself a few more marginal votes.

Providing a subtle parachute:

Alexandra Penfold writes: Re. “The PM gets a tap on the shoulder” (yesterday, item 3). For over a month some friends have predicted John Howard would stand down in August before the election. Could it be that his old friend, David Barnett, has provided the “subtle” parachute allowing him to bow out?

The Textor poll:

Jim Jacobsen writes: Re. “Textor poll: someone’s last, desperate throw?” (Yesterday, item 2). The question is which of Howard’s “trusted” inner circle is now actively white-anting the PM by leaking this confidential Liberal report? Has Costello finally acquired a partial spine? Sadly I suspect none of Howard’s heir apparents want to be lumbered with credit for the looming landslide defeat. It appears as if Captain Howard will be allowed to go down with his ship.

Solomon has to be a certain win for Labor:

Sandi Keane writes: Re. “The CLP, booze-cruisers and the price of a drink” (yesterday, item 6). Tollner is in more trouble with the electorate than just flaunting Liquor Act restrictions on the Tiwi Island. Tollner’s seat of Solomon is marginal held by just 2.8%. When the Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Bill went through in December, 2006, Peter Garrett spoke against. Dave Tollner was criticised for his dishonesty to the electorate: “Additionally, in June last year, the member for Solomon said: ‘There’s not going to be a national nuclear waste dump in the Northern Territory’. That was a very clear and unambiguous statement by the member for Solomon. My very strong feeling and recollection, having been in Darwin at the time and having spent time with people in the shopping centres and streets of that city, is that members of the public took the member for Solomon at his word. They believed what he said to them as he sought to be elected. They may even have voted for him as a consequence of it.” Solomon has to be a certain win for Labor.

Rudd’s spoils of war:

Mungo MacCallum writes: Re. “If Rudd is victorious, how will he share the spoils?” (Yesterday, item 16). Alex Mitchell is almost certainly right about Bob Carr getting the Washington post under a Rudd government, but only because Kim Beazley no longer wants it. The Bomber is hoping for something rather grander, for which there are plenty of precedents. His Excellency K C Beazley, AC, next (and possibly last) Governor-General of Australia.

Ailie Bruins writes: Great to read Alex Mitchell’s insightful politics again.

Childhood obesity:

Darlene Taylor writes: Surely David Tanner was being mischievous (yesterday, comments) in his response to Rosemary Stanton’s piece about childhood obesity. If Tanner wasn’t just making an ideological statement about over consumption in the West, he failed to take into account that being overweight isn’t confined to those with money. People abuse food for many reasons including picking up bad habits due to negative messages from parents (for example, “eat all your dinner or else”) to self-medication. While it’s now acceptable to argue that drug addiction is a health issue, the lowly status of the obese means that people feel comfortable dismissing the overweight as lazy or making simplistic declarations about how it’s all to do with modern prosperity.

Christopher Ridings writes: I find David Tanner’s comment that childhood obesity is caused only by affluence to be too simplistic. Obesity seems to happen at most economic levels as much among the aspirational workers as among the affluent. Sonja Davie is right to attribute much of it to planned marketing that is deliberate commercial propaganda euphemistically described as advertising. Many of us saw the danger after WW2 when shops started to clutter their counters and place their lollies “conveniently” at a small child’s eye level. This practice should have been banned then. We now have all kinds of parasites highly qualified in marketing psychology allowed to get rich by practising on vulnerable wills. Not only does saturation marketing contribute towards obesity but also towards mental illness. One way to drive people mad is to continually tempt them with what they desire. Only when offending advertising is banned will we see some decent inroads into healthier lifestyles. All the best wills in the world won’t do it if we are expected to do it with one hand tied behind our backs. Maybe banning junk food advertising should go on the agenda for the election.

Piers Akerman is certainly qualified to talk about bias:

Mark Byrne writes: Piers Akerman (yesterday, comments) is certainly qualified to talk about bias. He not only works for the largest news and propaganda machine in the world, he also has a long and cuddly history with the Prime Minister. It is striking that Akerman went back more than four years to a complaint of perceived bias against the ABC in its coverage of the Iraq war. A public broadcaster would surely be failing in its democratic role if it didn’t hold to account a government that took its people to war based on over-stated ‘intelligence’. While one-million Australians marched to stop the impending invasion, Akerman was pushing for war. With more than 600,000 human lives tragically extinguished during the continuing conflict, one might hope that Akerman would look at his own responsibility in this tragedy, rather than pointing at the ABC

Mick Callinan writes: So Piers Akerman reckons it’s OK to be a crappy journalist as long as an ABC website is just as crappy. At least he can admit he’s a lousy journalist.

Does it matter that is is a fake?:

Chris Hunter writes: Re. “Melbourne’s other big fake wasn’t a Rembrandt” (yesterday, item 21). Geoff Maslen writes of Vincent Van Gogh as being one of the world’s best known “impressionists.” Dare I suggest that title would certainly fit Monet or Pissaro but not Vincent. While Van Gogh embraced and was clearly influenced by impressionism when painting in Paris his legacy will remain as a pioneer expressionist, as later witnessed during his Arles, Saint-Remy-de-Provence and Auvers-sur-Oise periods. Crows On The Cornfields being a classic example, or for an obvious early pointer, The Potato-Eaters.

Bruce Armstrong writes: Does it really matter? The “fake” Van Gogh painting from the NGV’s collection was good enough for Edinburgh to want to borrow, so what does this tell us about /their /curatorship? It’s a little sad that we now must look at the painting and say “it’s a fake” instead of “it’s not a very good Van Gogh”. It’s not the market value of a work that determines its quality or meaning to us because, let’s face it, they are not for sale. They are part of our heritage. I’m more interested in the provenance of the work, that is who sold it to us and how did they get away with it? The history of Gallery purchases in this state would be an interesting subject for a book.

Pay-TV piracy:

Simon Rumble writes: Re. “The bad old days of pay-TV piracy make a comeback” (yesterday, item 5). Marcus Westbury reckons tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands were watching Pay TV for free in Australia. What’s his source? Sounds like bollocks to me. Is Marcus on the payroll of a TV encryption company these days?

A hacker writes: I am familiar with the mechanism of the old Ghost Gold Austar Hack. Basically, Irdeto is a very good 1990s encryption system, developed by the Dutch, the South Africans and possibly the Israelis. Three keys are needed to hack it. Given one, it became hackable with 2000 vintage computers, as it was only necessary to break 2 lesghuivels of code, and certain combinations of encrypted data coming down from the bird were such a giveaway, it was like the “All Hail Adolf Hitler, Greatest General in the World” sh-t with which the Nazis began each Enigma transcript- a further key. But the secret to the Irdeto2 Mod in 2003 was the “ChuckyCard”; which meant any attempt to download the first key from an enabled card (sometimes “borrowed” from the local pub), resulted in the embarrassing and difficult to explain nuking of said card. That was the only real advance. It was a matter of time before computer power ramped up enough to hack all three keys in real time, and there is little Irdeto can do about that, except continually roll their code. But hacking is not very challenging, only for newbies. What is really interesting is it was also just a matter of time before the encryption system was reverse engineered. This has interesting possibilities. For a start it is not illegal. Secondly it is utterly terminal, not just for Irdeto, but for SECA, PowerVU and every other technology ultimately based on D2-MAC. Fast Fourier Transforms are getting faster, and WILL soon be able to find break points then reassemble the pieces in Real Time, if they haven’t already. I would not like to be punting a big part of the revenues of the Greatest Media Baron in the World against a load of bored Computer Geeks with too much time, and way too much computer power on their hands.

No coverage except for Bling FC, aka Sydney:

Michael Mullin writes: Jeremy Davis (yesterday, comments) wrote: “Pull your head in Michael Mullin!” This just proves my point. There have been major issues affecting all seven clubs and their recruitment in the past three weeks but we don’t see any reporting except Bling’s. Sydney/Melbourne – what’s the difference?

Come on Glenn:

John Peak writes: Re. “The Losers” (yesterday, item 23). It’s time Glen Dyer owned up to watching the ABC’s “pap” on Sunday night (Midsomer Murders), the program whose plots he is regularly able to detail for lines, while SBS’s brave Circuit gets a mention, but little commentary. Come on Glen, you can admit to using your recorder like the rest of us.

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