Whatever happened to reconciliation?:

David Lodge writes: Re. “Pat Dodson: whatever happened to reconciliation?” (Yesterday, item 1). Perhaps Pat Dodson or indeed anyone else could explain how living off welfare, drinking copious amounts of alcohol and s-xually abusing children is related to a “traditional indigenous society”. I have seen nothing but blindingly emotional responses from such aboriginal leaders as well as this publication on this issue, and personally I’m sick of it. Forget the pleasantries, Howard’s intervention, as we have seen is hardly political and has given him no poll bump whatsoever, and being the realist that I am, I actually see this intervention in all its nakedness — an attempt to end a reliance on welfare, alcohol and unlawlessness. I don’t think anyone is actually arguing that this intervention is going to solve all the problems that have stemmed from the garbage policy of self determination for the last 30 odd years, but it cannot be argued that a new approach is not needed. Pat Dodson’s ilk are arguing for the best of both worlds on this issue and anyone with half a brain should see that such expectations are simply not possible. As a taxpayer, why on earth should I subsidise remote communities who have no desire to be held responsible for their own lifestyles and indeed personal choices? How does self determination give these people purpose and meaning when they choose to get easy welfare and abuse each other? I look forward to the abuse I will cop from other subscribers.

Bob Cole writes: Whilst I agree that the Howard government is dismantling the fabric of society of Aboriginal people, it is also true that the fabric of what has been the Australian society is also under threat and is also being dismantled. I have been a supporter of conservative politics all my life but today or at the next election I will not be. Governments lose elections oppositions don’t win them. That is true today in Australia. The society of today demands full time employment the ads currently being run on employment are false and in fact an outright lie, as they apply to an ever reducing percentage of the population. I.e. – Those employed under previous employment conditions. Ask anyone who wants to gain a new job, or renegotiate an EBA, whether the conditions for the future are those that pre existed, of course they are not! I know Pat Dodson and I know how he feels — the trust he put into Australian governments and politicians to achieve the words they were espousing -– all to have many millions of dollars wasted. Mr Howard is blaming the people – the only people to blame are the government and those who were responsible. Of course mistakes are made. We are trying to take people in one generation through steps it has taken other Australians four generations.

Abdel Bari Atwan:

Derek Barry writes: Re. “Guilt by association: Kevin Andrews has learnt nothing” (yesterday, item 17). I attended the Brisbane Writers Festival event that Abdel Bari Atwan was supposed to speak at. Until I got there, I was totally unaware of the visa issue. Festival director Michael Campbell introduced the session by saying why he invited Atwan to the festival and then spoke of the runaround he got from DIMIA and how he was stonewalled by Kevin Andrews’ office. Atwan put his visa request in at least three weeks ago and was told “it was in progress” and then “it was not on file” and finally “it was in progress” again. He finally ran out of time before a decision was made. David Marr, who was to share the session with Atwan, said it was a bad day for democracy in Australia. He also learnt yesterday that Atwan’s file was referred to ASIO by the Character Section of DIMIA. There someone sat on the file until it was too late for him to attend the festival. According to Marr the reason for the visa delay (i.e. refusal) was political not security related. The government simply did not want an anti-Iraq war Palestinian journalist in the country prior to an election. He wasn’t just going to appear at the BWF. Atwan was also due to speak to ABC Radio National, the Today Show and Alan Jones. Marr said there was a political dividend to the government to keep Atwan out of the country. He finished by saying he was disgusted to be a witness to it and said “these people are scum”.

Rivers of grog:

Stephen Martin writes: Re. “NT grog special: a bottle short of a Brough” (yesterday, item 3). To stem the alleged “rivers of grog” flowing to some Aboriginal communities, Mal Brough’s advisors devised the impractical scheme of mandatory reports for all alcohol purchases of the equivalent of more than two cartons of beer. Now that has been recognized as being impractical, the amount of absolute alcohol being reportable will be replaced by a dollar value. I.e. a value of more than two cartons of beer or $100. As with most schemes that are imposed without any consultation, this will also lead to unintended consequences. Far from capturing the intended persons, who can still make excessive purchases through accomplices, it will also capture the “big end” of town. Imagine Judges, barristers, and other well paid professionals buying a couple of good bottles of red, or some good imported Scotch for a dinner party being reported to, and interviewed by the police for their “excessive” alcohol purchase!

The Tabcorp credit bet prosecution:

Warwick Sauer writes: Re. “DPP takes over Tabcorp credit bet prosecution, then drops it” (yesterday, item 2). Whilst I have no issue with the primary thrust of this item, I do have a problem with Andrew Scott giving Chris Fitzsimons a sympathetic treatment. One of the biggest complaints about our legal system is that it assists people avoiding responsibility for their own mistakes. There is only one person responsible for Fitzsimons’ debt: Fitzsimons himself. Saying that Fitzsimons has been “devastated” by the DPP’s decision and that he is now “out in the cold” adds a sheen of innocence to Fitzsimons which is entirely unwarranted. Fitzsimons wouldn’t have been “devastated” if he had stopped gambling, plain and simple.

Law of the gun at work in Burringurrah:

James Duffield writes: Re. “Law of the gun at work in Burringurrah” (yesterday, item 19). Not very clever. Is it true that the entry level education required for WA police officers is still “completed” year 10, not qualified, completed! I suggest it is about time that we raised it to “graduated year 12”?

Liberal Party leadership:

Cameron Sharrock writes: Re. “MacCormack: John Howard and the power of non-conviction” (yesterday, item 13). Dear Liberals, since you guys are too incompetent to run your own party much less a whole country I’ve gone and solved your Howard problem for you so you can get on with losing the election properly. Are you ready? — Don’t preselect the clown for Bennelong. You still decide who stands where don’t you? That seat is McKew territory now anyway. It’s gone. In doing so you remove the stigma of a sitting PM losing his seat, you don’t necessarily have to decide among yourselves who will drink the poisoned leadership chalice prior to the rollout, and you stop a cantankerous old grandpa from totally wrecking your campaign by insisting its his way or the highway (which is a cr-p highway anyhow since you’ve spent diddly on infrastructure). No need to thank me now – an ABC board posting next time you get to pick jobs for your mates will suffice in 15-20 yrs when I’m ready for a career change.

Virginia Laugesen writes: APEC was a political failure for Howard and this “leadership challenge” hot on its heels is a distraction set up to stop us thinking about that failure and its huge cost. As long as the “challenge” headlines the news, tricky topics of real importance like WorkChoices and housing affordability are buried instead of debated. How many times can the media fall for this farce? It’s genius politics but crap management of society and the economy. APEC cost us millions and achieved little, while the pseudo-election advertising campaign the public has funded for at least 12 months is at the expense of people in real need. Meanwhile, my phone rings day and night with charities seeking donations.

Don Wilson writes: Is it just me who feels this leadership thread has become tiresome?

Terry Hicks on David Hicks:

Brenda Rawlins writes: Re. “Terry Hicks speaks: my son was a wreck” (yesterday, item 4). I don’t care about David Hicks. He took himself there, he got caught. He should have to live with the results of his own stupid actions. No doubt his long-suffering father tried to talk some sense into him. I object to my taxes paying for his Degree. He hasn’t got the brains he was born with.

Bill Scott writes: Terry Hicks says his son is focused on getting a “high school degree”. At this stage of his life, maybe focusing on getting a job and earning a living might be a better option. After all, the options he has chosen up to now don’t look to be very rewarding to me.

The rationalists are extremely irrational:

Chris Dodds writes: Re. “It’s not easy being green when you’re flogging power stations” (yesterday, item 18). That’s right Stephen sell off all the government owned power assets because government ownership in its very nature is inefficient. This is why the inefficient Singapore government is in like Flynn buying those very same assets. Safe as houses, extremely profitable energy business’ obvious better owned by foreign governments rather than our own. As always the rationalists are extremely irrational.

Is the biofuel industry killing African children?:

Sreenivas Ghatty writes: Re. “Is the biofuel industry killing African children?” (Yesterday, item 30). I refer to the captioned story and would like to know whether it is on account of lesser grain production to feed or lack of purchasing power to buy, the worlds most impoverished are starving. It need not be an issue of food vs. fuel, but could be a solution for food and fuel. If we use tree based oils and wild perennial grasses for feedstock of biofuels and grow the food crops in between them that would offer the best possible solution. The worlds impoverished will grow food and will have money to buy the food.

The Wallabies:

Andrew Bell writes: Re. “The Australian rugby team mysteriously finds itself in Cardiff, France” (yesterday, item 24). Charles Happell’s whine about a rugby fixture arranged months ago is bad enough, but the Ctrl-F4 writing that targets the Welsh language is juvenile, ignorant and too easy by far. If in doubt use a few words with “ll” in them and move onto leeks. Easy laughs. “Why the hell are we playing in Cardiff on Saturday?” O’Neill asked this week. Asked this week? Mr Happell please asks why this wasn’t being asked last month, last year. Bit more difficult than a touch of Anglo smugness.

Useless Housemartins trivia:

Sacha Delfosse writes: On the topic of the Housemartins. A bit of useless trivia. Did you know Norman Cook was their bass player … he is now much more famously known as Fat Boy Slim.

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