CDEP and flip-flopping:

Country Liberal Party candidate for Lingiari, Adam Giles, writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (Friday, item 7). I write in response to your anonymous “tip” regarding the CDEP on my personal website. CDEP was to future prosperity as Lord Vestey was to Real Wages. I am more than happy to have a one-on-one debate about CDEP with your anonymous blogger anytime. Let’s remember it was Labor who voted for these changes to CDEP in Parliament to support their small target populist approach. Now the current member for Lingiari is on the ground campaigning against the changes in an effort to keep CDEP, keep Aboriginal people on limited wages with no superannuation and no leave loading keep people on sit down money, sitting down today with nothing for tomorrow. I thought the flip-flop approach went out in 2004 with Mark Latham, but then again the current member is the one who had to leave New York’s Scores nightclub on a mercy dash back to Oz to cast the deciding vote to get Latham up as leader in the first place. What a waste of space.

A tasteless, mean-spirited and ethically appalling editorial:

Julian Riekert writes: Re. Friday’s editorial. I am pretty broad-minded, easy going, subscribe to Crikey and love the Chaser. But your obituary for Luciano Pavarotti was tasteless, mean-spirited and ethically appalling. To write off one of the world’s all-time greatest singers in such a trite and gratuitously spiteful manner was truly revolting. The fact that the bilious little piece was not attributed also smacks of cowardice. Have you not heard any of the many Australians who have acknowledged on radio this week Pavarotti’s special place in their professional development and careers? Yes, he may have sung with Bono (so what?) but what about the big names of opera who readily acknowledge his genius? How are they so easily discounted? Tell us a bit more about the author’s global recognition, brilliant achievements, balanced lifestyle and perfect body image. We will make our own judgment. Yuck! An all time low, even by Crikey standards.

Joy Sotheran writes: Shock horror! So Pavarotti had the temerity to offend the sensibilities of a Crikey hack by consorting with the likes of Bono, and tainting himself with rotundity, hair dye, fake tan and kohl? Not content with such debauchery, he even allowed himself to succumb to cancer. Unforgivable! Let’s not mention the unspeakable joy he brought to millions! Get over it cranky Crikey boy!

Jane Ward writes: Was this really necessary? Doesn’t constant negativity lead people to believe they should be constantly negative? Why not celebrate the life and contribution that some people make to our own lives? Two sides to every coin. 2 weeks of my subscription to go, now seriously thinking of letting it lapse and I am not a fan of Luciano Pavarotti, just really upset with the attitude which I did not expect from you guys.

Jaan Torv writes: Hey Crikey. I don’t know who wrote today’s leader but I thought it was completely off the mark in regard to Luciano Pavarotti. In fact it was outright nasty. Criticizing Pavarotti like that begs the question(s) – what would your writer make of Frederica von Stade and her collaborations with Elvis Costello or Wynton Marsalis or Dave Brubeck? Or Frank Sinatra for wearing a rug or singing with Bono? Or Dame Kiri Te Kanawa singing with John Farnham? (Although it didn’t come off.) Would Franz Schubert come in for a lashing because he died of syphilis (from a male prostitute)? Or Placido Domingo for collaborating with John Denver? Or the frequently obese Mario Lanza for doing Hollywood musicals? Why shouldn’t Pav have sung with anyone he chose (like Sting or Paul McCartney) or avail himself of hair dye, fake tan and kohl (aka mascara). Just how many performers do you think dye their hair? Aristotle Onassis once claimed his best investment ever was a sun lamp and kohl has been used since ancient times by all manner of people for all sorts of reasons including protection from the sun. Really disappointing and objectionable commentary.

John Peak writes: He died at 71 years of age. He gave, to all of us, of his “talent, art and beauty” for most of that lifetime. If “cancer laden”, he was “still sort of singing”, then he was still giving. You made a joke of Ingmar Berman’s death, and now again this strange indictment of great accomplishment. I suppose it would be a clever analogy if it had real basis, but it doesn’t, and it comes across as pseudo-intellectual, misanthropic bile. Says more about you etc.

Ian Slattery writes: Jesus Crikey, that’s a bit harsh. The poor b-stard’s not even cold yet!

Howard’s battlers have finally deserted him:

Geoff Roberson writes: Re. “Janet, conservatism has killed this government” (Friday, item 3). Yes, Christian – if conservatism is being xenophobic, homophobic and rapacious, yes, then perhaps conservatism has contributed to the death of the Howard government. But while the succession of lies and half-truths, the weasel-words and broken promises have weakened the faith of middle Australia who supported this government so strongly in the last election, it is WorkChoices that has been the last straw. No matter what blandishments and qualifications the government came up with, it became clear to Australians that AWAs weaken their job security. WorkChoices and its implied threats of dismissal or reduced wages jeopardizes their jobs, and with it, the very fabric of their lives – the mortgage, the car repayments, the rent, the school fees. WorkChoices diminishes people, makes them more vulnerable, more beholden. John Howard comprehensively betrayed the constituency he so dishonestly claimed to represent, and Howard’s battlers have finally deserted him.

Steve Martin writes: So it’s all the electorates fault eh! The prophet not recognized in his own country. Australia’s greatest Prime Minister? The economic boom in this country has been occurring for the last 16 years, long before the present incumbent took on the job. And as far as character is concerned; naked ambition is the hallmark of this man. Now attempting to buy himself out of probable political annihilation with our money! They say we get what we deserve from politicians we elect. We must have done something terribly wrong.

Michael Latz writes: Interesting couple of pieces from Christian on Friday (let’s not reflect on his recent “feral hippies” dreck). I’d like to ask: while it seems pretty obvious that many voters are increasingly disenchanted with Howard, does anyone really think shifting the emphasis to his “team” is going to make a difference? I mean, we are talking about such “in touch” characters as Abbott, Andrews, Brough, Costello, Downer, Minchin, Nelson and Ruddock, aren’t we? I’d agree that the Howard apple is rotten, but I’m not sure there are better pickings anywhere else in the barrel.

John Kennedy writes: Janet is p-ssed off that she did not get the Senate seat she was secretly negotiating with Liberal party.

Matthew Brennan writes: Gee I thought only latte sipping members of the left intelligentsia got fortune cookies like that! Perhaps Germaine Greer should send the PM a message along the lines of “I can deal with this. So can you.” But seriously may I suggest to the herd at the Government Gazette that the reason why JWH will lead the coalition to the next election might be because Peter Costello doesn’t want to be numbered with Earle Page, Arthur Fadden, Francis Forde and John McKewen on the National Museum of Australia’s Website.

Has Rudd made a rod for himself?

Allan Lehepuu writes: Re. “APEC generates words, words and more words” (Friday, item 14). Has Rudd made a rod for himself by showboating in his meetings with the Chinese President Hu? Will he now converse in Japanese with the Japan’s Abe or Bahasa with Indonesia’s SBY or will these friends of Australia take umbrage? Has he offended every other country by not honouring them as he has China? Is he too close to the Chinese? Where is his balance in Foreign Affairs? Fortunately he won’t need to learn Texan!

The Chaser:

Steve Johnson writes: Re. “The Chaser: laughing at high anxiety” (Friday, item 12). I’m with Irfan Yusuf. I’m currently in China and watched the Chaser escapade on CNN. They certainly didn’t treat it too seriously, giving the story a nice balance of p-sstake and seriousness for the benefit of their domestic audience in the US. There was also a very small mention of George Bush pronouncing APEC as OPEC. Poor old John Howard can’t win a trick this year. What’s the bet he’s shaking his head while packing up his Steve Waugh memorabilia at The Lodge and cancelling the papers and milk at Kirribilli House?

The NetAlert hotline:

Peter Lloyd writes: Re. “The NetAlert hotline: A Liberal waste of money” (Friday, item 16). Your moles working at the NetAlert “hotline” have exposed the lack of custom attracted by the latest Howard Government propaganda effort (and this Luddite operation deserves to have the PM’s name attached to it). In doing so they have also made clear the fact that the electorate are actually not really interested in the obsessions of Bible-hammering fundamentalists. Why are these nutcases being listened to so intently? Could Crikey please compile a list of those parliamentarians most prone to indulging the territorial p-ssings of these idiots who are intent on returning the country to the 14th Century?

Who would survive?

Ross Copeland writes: Re. “Labor leads 60/40: Morgan Poll” (Friday, item 1). We have had a lot of speculation about which Libs would lose their seats if the election results mirror recent polls but just as interesting is who would survive? Wilson Tuckey has the safest seat but who else would make up the Shadow Cabinet? Of those who do retain their seats, who would decide that they might as well take their super now rather than put up with years in Opposition trying to rebuild a conservative party?

John Shailer writes: Kevin Rudd has followed the opinion polls, and decided to cut and run from Iraq by the middle of next year, if not sooner. In doing so, he is effectively thumbing his nose at our American allies. It has become trendy to denigrate the Americans, however during World War II it was the Americans, who suffered the major casualties in repelling a planned Japanese invasion of Australia. Since then they have been our staunchest ally, and have continued to provide security for our underpopulated country. Kevin Rudd is ignoring the lessons of history in chasing cheap votes, and weakening the American Alliance. At least John Howard sticks by his mates when the going gets tough!

Whitlam on Scandrett:

Alison Macky writes: Re. “Nicholas Whitlam: Why do you publish this bile and misinformation?” (Friday, item 30). It is a bit harsh of Nick Whitlam to critisise Ian Scandrett because he runs a “shoe emporium which specialises in cheap imports”. Most shoe shops in Australia only sell imports, cheap or otherwise. But Ian Scandrett’s shoe emporium sells more Australian made shoes than most shoe shops. I bought my son’s Baxters Boots at Ian’s shop. Baxters Footwear must be one of the few Australian manufacturers left. At least Ian is providing his own employment and not relying on handouts from the NSW Labor Party.

Lloyd Jones is certainly a New Zealander:

John Collins writes: Re. “A whisker between Britney and the Booker” (Friday, item 5). It’s OK to be smart, not really OK to be ignorant. Lloyd Jones is certainly a New Zealander. Born in 1955 and not only the author of a number of very well regarded novels – The Book of Fame, Here at the end of the World we learn to Dance and Mister Pip, all of which have won many literary awards – but well enough known to be a special guest at last year’s Melbourne Writers’ Week. C’mon Helen, “I dunno” is no excuse.

Devotees of St George Orwell:

Niall Clugston writes: So there are plenty of devotees of St George Orwell (Friday, comments). If Tony Barrell actually read what Orwell said, instead of arrogantly dismissing Guy Rundle’s research, he would understand that his hero was a windsock – a cross between a weathercock and a windbag. His critiques of the hysterical dishonesty of the intellectual Left of his time apply equally to him. Don’t believe me or Rundle: read the man’s essays of the period.

Harold Thornton writes: Tony Barrell really ought to check his facts if he’s going to quibble about the details of Guy Rundle’s characterisation of George Orwell. Orwell’s affiliation in the Spanish Civil War was not – as Barrell would have us believe – to the anarchists, but to the Trotskyists. The POUM (Partido Obrero de Unificacion Marxista – Workers Party of Marxist Unification) owed its allegiance to the thoughts of out-of-official-favour Bolshevik Leon Trotsky. As such the POUM had a completely different ideological genealogy from the anarchists, whose organisation in Spain was the FAI (Federacion Anarquista Iberica – Federation of Iberian Anarchists). Anarchists fought against Trotsky’s Red Army in the Russian Civil War just over a decade earlier and were massacred when they attempted to defy Trotsky at Kronstadt in 1921. Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia reveals this distinction in numerous passages: to note just one, he tells the amusing story of how FAI-manufactured grenades were known among Republican forces as “impartial” in that they were equally likely to kill the thrower and the target.

Gerard Henderson:

Andrew Bonnell writes: If Gerard Henderson is serious about ethical standards in journalism (Friday, comments), he could start by making a full disclosure of who funds his think-tank. Any journalist who accepts a freebie from an airline or a pub is expected to declare it. Why is Gerard exempt from the most elementary rules of journalistic disclosure? And why does the SMH continually publish Henderson without requiring any such disclosure?

Matthew Brennan writes: I’ve not read Islam In Australia but if according to Gerard Henderson, the purpose of his booklet is to “is to report how Australia has handled national security since the attacks of 9/11 and the Bali homicide/suicide murders of October 2002,” then the title is to say the least misleading and inflammatory. Arguably dear Gerard, that might be why Mr Yusuf was “agitated and aggressive”.

Mark Hardcastle writes: It is an outrage that any Crikey reporter would feint laughter in response to anything said by Gerard Henderson. I join with Dr Henderson in rebuking Crikey staff and their critique of media standards. It is a sad indictment on them that Dr Henderson must write an agitated and aggressive letter to Crikey. Henderson is a leading conservative commentator, and forcing a complaint from him distracts from his important role in generating flack for any who might upset the status quo of Australian’s media hegemony.

Clarification: In APEC watch on Friday it was stated that the Socialist Party bus was held for eight hours. They were held for 2.5 hours, but the police had been waiting for them for eight hours.

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.

Peter Fray

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