Peter Garrett embraces the dark side:

Louise Crossley writes: Re. “Out of his Garrett: Labor spokesman speaks. Shock” (Friday, item 4). For God’s sake, someone ask Garrett what he means by “world’s best practice pulp mill”. He keeps on parroting this as his gold standard for assessment so he must know what he means by it. What levels of dioxin in the effluent? What levels of particulates in the smokestack emissions? To take just the most obvious standards. On both of these he has the current standards set by Turnbull in the conditions published two weeks ago (which are, incidentally, taken directly from Gunns’ own documents, so they hardly represent arduous standards!) So it is a simple arithmetical problem which Garrett can answer immediately – I presume he can add/subtract. Are these levels, agreed by both Malcolm Turnbull and John Gay, higher or lower that the levels he knows are world’s best practice? Simple question, easy answer – just tell us Peter!

Robert Bromwich writes: The article you published on Friday about Peter Garrett proves one thing – that his conversion to the dark side is now complete.

Brough’s takeover targets:

Andrew Brown writes: Re. “Brough’s takeover targets: a shopping mall, a car yard, a pipeline …” (Friday, item 2). A concern of mine from the time I heard about this proposal was that while Brough and Howard were storming in the front door saving the children from being shafted quite literally, their cronies would be coming in the back door shafting them for their inheritance. Given what has been said in Crikey over the last week, that concern would seem to have been well founded, just a shame that the mainstream media seems unwilling to pursue the government over this. It’s one thing for the federal government to save these kids from being shafted but who is going to protect their inheritance from the grubby fingers of our nation’s leaders.

Steve Wolff writes: One wonders whether bringing indigenous people into the mainstream so that they can enjoy the prosperity of Australia is in fact not so good for the prosperity of Australia in the longer term. There are definite benefits in having culturally diverse peoples. For example, Australian art and world art have benefited from the culturally unique art of the Aboriginals. The Australian army and police force have benefited from the unique tracking abilities of the Aboriginal tracker. And in Simon Singh’s The Code Book it is noted that the only US secret code the Japanese could not crack in WWII was a code that made use of an American Navajo Indian language. No doubt this would also be true of many Aboriginal languages.

Paul Lucas writes: Firstly, I must be ill informed, but where is this “Black Australia” Chris Hunter speaks of (Friday, comments)? I couldn’t find its locale in Google Earth. I found Australia, but no “Black Australia”. Secondly, where is the final destination he wants this new body of his to take “Black Australia”? If we, the rest of Australia, the ones footing the bill for this little expedition, can’t have some sort of timeline in getting “Black Australia” there, how can we tell if the trip was a success? Are emotional, feel good memories of the trip our only gauge? If Chris Hunter is truly representative of the thoughts of “Left Australia”, then god help us all, especially our most vulnerable.

Horse flu et al:

Horse trainer Anthony Cummings writes: Re. “Valuable resources shouldn’t be devoted to sick horses” (Friday, item 21). Would the Australian Lawyers Alliance prefer that AQIS protocols failed to the extent that mad cow disease or foot and mouth disease made its way into the bovine population or bird flu into the general population? The statement attributed to them is extraordinary from a body of supposedly educated people. Do they also support the idea that any government body (or any other body for that matter) can walk away from their responsibilities because it doesn’t suit the Australian Lawyers Alliance’s sense of social responsibility? The racing industry is the fourth largest industry in the country. Its participants’ pay their taxes as any other group within the community and are therefore entitled to the same protections as any other member of it. It is an industry that is preyed upon by the taxman, not recognised in the main part as a business. The greater portion of GST paid is not offset against any costs and as such is one of the greatest providers to the preferred objects of charity of the Australian Lawyers Alliance, something that seems to have gone unnoticed to these educated people. Rather than be blinded by their own prejudices they would be seen in a better light by looking at the plight of those less fortunate who make their honest, hard working living from noble animals that give of their all for those that care for them. Feelings and sentiments that are obviously at odds to the lives of the members of the Australian Lawyers Alliance.

Stephen Rix writes: I have not heard that anyone is considering undertaking what could be a significant piece of research during the absence of a significant number of horse races. That is, will anyone be looking at the number of people seeking financial assistance during this period of absence? If they did we might actually be able to answer quite an important question: how much does the racing industry and its major sponsors (TABS) actually contribute to financial stress/distress as it preys on people who gamble? Could it be that a decline in the horse racing industry would actually have a net social benefit?

Keith Thomas writes: Re. “Will the horsey crowd punish a Government?” (Friday, item 9). Talk about wilful inefficiency! Now we know that the high-risk practice of shuttling stallions around the globe is a choice made by the international thoroughbred industry to preserve their monopoly advantages, and is not a biological imperative, perhaps it’s the thoroughbred industry that should be compensating the owners of all the affected working horses (drovers, trail riders, riding schools etc.) and even the pony club mums – not the taxpayer. At the very least, the Australian industry should begin lobbying vigorously and seriously for a change in the rules they set themselves for their industry.

Steve Martin writes: Re. “Japanese have the last laugh in war with Singo” (Friday, item 5). The escape of the equine flu virus from the quarantine station reminds me of the similarity with the escape of foot and mouth from the British quarantine station. It seems likely that staff are becoming careless at both establishments due to the onerous nature of the staff restrictions on movement in and out of these places. Familiarity starts to breed contempt. Maybe they need more snap inspections on practices and procedures.

John Taylor writes: Stephen has finally gone totally loopy with his Singleton/Harvey conspiracy theories on the equine flu. Or am I losing my sense of satirical humour? In any case I think he’s lost track of the McGauran’s. Isn’t it Peter, not Julian, who’s the Agriculture Minister?

Iraq is the new Vietnam:

Neil Smith writes: Re. “Iraq: it’s Vietnam without the communists” (Friday, item 11). Charles Richardson wrote: “But in Iraq… There is no opposing army waiting to take over when the Americans leave”. International relations abhor political vacuums, especially in the Middle East! Charles, who is supporting the Shiite portion of the insurgency in Iraq? It is not unrealistic to anticipate a coalition withdrawal from Iraq leading to a collapse of the fragile central government in Baghdad, swept away by a marionette firmly controlled in Tehran. Would the Saudis and Kuwaitis allow a pro-Iranian regime in Baghdad to establish “jump off points” of Iranian regular military units three hours drive from their economic future? Continued coalition presence in Iraq is also preventing a massive cross border operation by the Turkish military keen to eradicate any future power base for Kurdish nationalism. There are four countries for starters…

Humphrey Hollins writes from Nga Trang, Vietnam: Charles Richardson is a goose if he really believes the rubbish he wrote about Vietnamese history on Friday. I am in Vietnam at the moment touring the battlefields and re-reading Vietnamese history. Two days ago I was at Cu Chi where the local people resisted the occupiers both French and American for generations. Tomorrow I visit the old DMZ where local people tormented both the French and the Americans around Highway One which was christened street without joy by the French historian Bernard Fall in the 1950s. I suggest that Charles read more and maybe visit Vietnam himself before making pronouncements about a country of which he knows little.

The surge:

Greg Wood writes: Re. “Surge working well? Let’s look at the facts…” (Friday, item 10). To add further to Jeff Sparrow’s piece on the effectiveness of the current “surge” in Iraq, one just has to look at the reported civillian death toll of 1809 for August and the current cholera epidmic amongst the hundreds of other indicators of failure of the occupation. One’s mind reels with utter disbelief when a White House official confronted with the fact that a Labor government would withdraw troops from Iraq, questions how a wise a decision that would be, given the “progress being made” in Iraq. Progress? Sickening Orwellian double speak that would have old Eric Arthur Blair rolling in his grave, his nightmarish 1984 scenarios well and truly coming to life. Howard, Downer, Nelson and cabinet must be made accountable for their involvement in the destruction of a sovereign nation, the subsequent deaths of up to a million of it’s people and the current misery the reamining populace live under. For this reason alone, not to mention the ongoing genocidal assimilation policies towards Indigenous Australians, it is time for these heartless bunch of b-stards to go.

Derek Barry writes: Great article from Jeff Sparrow in Friday’s edition about The Australian’s over-optimistic reporting about the success of Gen Petraeus’s “surge”. However his equine metaphor was mistimed. Surely he must know that even if wishes were horses, they would be strictly banned from galloping around Randwick right at the minute!

Andrew Johns:

Rodger Davies writes: Re. “The Andrew Johns’ revelations raise serious questions – for others” (Friday, item 19). How has testing for performance enhancing drugs to catch cheats morphed into policing recreational drug taking? If drug taking is not cheating then it is a health issue for the players and their clubs. The media, government, NRL & AFL have no more right to demand testing for recreational drugs for professional sportsmen than for everyone else in the community. 

Alan Kerlin writes: NRL CEO Geoff Gallop’s focus on the revelation that Johns was a drug cheat was symptomatic of the NRL’s problem. Instead of focusing on the need to get serious about testing, he was going on about the pressures of celebrity. A high-profile politician would have just as much pressure or more, but would a Kevin Rudd or Peter Costello drug revelation have received the same sort of response? I think not. Meanwhile this Queenslander is proud that the Cowboys and Broncos have plugged the NRL’s testing failures, and I can’t help wondering how many more State of Origin titles the Blues would have handed over had they not been led by a drug cheat?

Georgia Donovan writes: Congratulations to Andrew Johns for coming forward and confessing to Australia his story. To acknowledge he’s depressed and has played around with recreational drugs and alcohol takes courage, and on live television – you don’t get much better than that. By doing so he’s shown himself as like every other person in Australia – normal. It doesn’t matter who you are, how much money you make, where you live and what car you drive there are still the ups and downs in life. Ok, yes, unfortunately yes Johns found his escape through drugs and alcohol, but who hasn’t had moments of weakness? I hope he with all the support of his family and friends he’ll get through this. We need some “real” celebrities/sports players etc in this world and Andrew Johns came through. Stay true to yourself and be positive.

Pirates beware:

Brian Mitchell writes: Re. “Pirates beware – AFACT is after you” (Friday, item 15). Without wanting to sound like a guy who wears an aluminum foil hat, is it going too far to suggest that the latest anti-piracy warnings regarding the internet are the thin end of the wedge? Dictionary glutton Helen Razer reveals ISPs are being asked to warn their customers not to download movies, etc. How soon before the Government “instructs” ISPs, before taking the next step of forcibly monitoring customers’ internet accounts? I’m only surprised it’s being done under the cover of combating piracy, rather than the much more exciting excuse of combating terrorism.

ATM fees:

Matthew Iustini writes: Re. “RBA and banks talk turkey on ATM fees” (Friday, item 28). I recently lived in the UK and there is no fee over there for using another bank’s ATM. In fact according to the BBC website: “At present, (only) between 3 and 4% of ATM withdrawals incur a charge.” How can Australian banks justify the fees that they are charging? It does not cost them $2 to process the transaction, it is all automated, simply blips on a computer screen. This is just another way that they can gouge their profits out of our pockets.

Good Crikey, bad Crikey:

Tom McLoughlin writes: You might be quisling capitalists at heart, refugees from the Liberal Party, and pro business, but when it really counts your Friday edition hit the spot with Alex Mitchell ripping into vested interests, and ALP lead singer Peter Garrett copping it. And that’s only up to item 4. Truly democracy needs strong internet media. And yes, I don’t know if I’m on that protester black list: 6 arrests, no convictions, one charge was for malicious damage … red paint on Newcastle woodchip pile back in 1999. Yet good enough to be re-admitted to practice by the Law Society after character checks re. any dishonesty or violence (none). An interesting test case perchance? I want to boo GW Bush in the land of free speech. It’s my birthright.

Liz Johnston writes: I subscribed to Crikey because I like my online information to be pithy, informative, factual and brief. Suddenly I’m getting w-nk words from escapees from creative writing courses. Memo Editor: Please restore brevity and wit ASAP.

The truth of the free market touched a nerve:

Mark Hardcastle writes: Sorry to disappoint Bruce Graham (Friday, comments). It sounds like the truth of the free market touched a nerve. Possibly Messer’s Graham and Hughes (Friday, comments) and their type suffer from market envy? Perhaps they should spend a little less time spreading their unprofitable message on Crikey? Idle hands are the Devil’s tools. Shouldn’t they be working? Or are they (and their chardonnay set) above the housing affordability crisis? Even so, think about one’s children; who is going to pay for a quality education, and quality friends? Do they have private healthcare? One cannot choose one’s surgeon within the public system. If the whingers spent more time earning, they wouldn’t be whining: “save the reef”, “don’t pollute the water”, “keep the old forests”, “the sky is falling”… blah… blah… “Aborigines are sick”, “Africans are starving”, “Asians are desperate”, “South Americans are angry”, “The West exploited them, and the West supported oppressive dictators”, on and on… All this noise is evidence of the need for further economic reforms; most of these problems are invented by long haired layabouts with nothing better to do. They will diminish with increasing incentives for real work. To continue this path we must cut all subsides to not-for-profit organisations, and make socialized health and public schools a last resort. The Mums and Dads of Australia only have to read the papers to know that we are in a titanic battle with good and evil. In these circumstances it is inevitable that there will be some casualties along the way. But this is for the greater good. And whilst the battlers are working slavishly for the good of all, they need not be exposed to seditious propaganda which serves to undermine our current structures of power. After all the market is better than democracy, it is perfectly weighted in favour of those with merit.


Gavin Robertson writes: Re. Bruce Graham. “A satirist to rival the subtlety of Garrison Keelor…” But sadly not one that can spell Keillor.

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