The NT intervention:

Marlene Hodder writes: Re. “Revealed: NT intervention checks only 10% of children” (yesterday, item 1). Last week I was present at a 3-day meeting of Aboriginal people from all states and territories who met to discuss the implications of the federal government’s “emergency intervention” in Northern Territory communities. This action is now viewed as an invasion and will be dealt with as such. Key concerns were: (1) the invasion has happened due to lack of powerful black political voice since ATSIC was abolished; (2) nowhere in the hundreds of pages of legislation are the words “child” and “protection” mentioned; (3) millions of dollars allocated to this invasion are being spent on funding over 700 new public service positions and on income management. A new National Aboriginal Alliance has been formed and affirms its profound commitment to protecting children from harm. It deplores successive Australian governments who have ignored cries for help on this matter. The Alliance rejects outright the discriminatory and coercive elements of the invasion and demands that the Commonwealth immediately restores integrity to the Racial Discrimination Act. They have called for the removal of business managers in Aboriginal communities in the NT, seeing them as missionaries and police protectors and have urged people and communities to actively resist in a peaceful way the so-called intervention. The Alliance has also called for restoration of the permit system and provision of equitable services delivery and infrastructure in NT communities. A fighting fund is being established to aid the actions against the invasion as the Alliance will be completely independent of governments.

Beverley Prescott writes: It wouldn’t matter what anyone did to try to fix a situation – you mob would find the negatives especially if it is the Coalition you are trying to get rid of. When I first heard of your existence, I had not realised you were a left wing mob.

David Lodge writes: Re. Debra Russell (yesterday, comments). That’s precisely my point. We need socially and economically sustainable communities. Problem is no one; absolutely no one who has criticised the intervention has any idea how to achieve such things. Should the government simply keep subsidising these communities? What other western country openly gives free money to one race or group of people based on their location? How can such communities be self-sufficient with no industry or possible jobs growth? Better still how do remote communities anywhere in the world exist autonomously with decent living standards? These are all questions that the left has absolutely no response to and that’s what irks me.

A Google election:

Google’s head of corporate communications & public affairs in Australia, Rob Shilkin, writes: We’ve been thrilled with the reviews for the Google Australia’s election site, from the New York Times to the UK Telegraph, and heaps of blogs in between, but most gratifying has been the positive response from our Australian users. I wanted to share a bit about the site’s development, and the motivation behind it, with Crikey’s readers, as I think they may find it useful as the election nears. The site employs the best of Google technology and products – including search, Google Maps, Google Earth, Google news, YouTube, Trends and gadgets – to provide easy-to-use, up to date and accessible Australian election information to voters, politicians and the media. It’s designed to help Australians to stay on top of news, electorate information and candidates, read and hear different perspectives, have their say, research MPs and track issues. Our site features:

  • a special Federal Election layer for Google Maps and Google Earth that gives users information about electorate boundaries, sitting members, candidates and margins, all in spectacular detail;
  • links to the official YouTube channels of all six political parties that are represented in Federal Parliament (Australian Democrats, Family First, Greens, Labor, Liberal and Nationals);
  • Google Australia’s own YouTube channel, entitled “Australia Votes”, a forum for discussing Australian politics and the election;
  • the Australian MPs “On the Record” gadget, which allows users to research all 226 Federal MPs’ past statements on any given political issue, by searching Hansard and their personal web pages;
  • the Google News gadget, which enables users to search Google News for the latest Australian political news (including Crikey!), for all 150 Federal seats;
  • The Google Trends gadget, allowing users to compare the Australian Google search volume of political issues, parties or candidates.

The tools were all built by Google’s Australian engineers, in Sydney, and represent the first time that Google has created a dedicated election site anywhere in the world. Our local team wanted to show that the Internet can make a meaningful and substantive contribution to the democratic process, by synthesising masses of information about politicians and issues at the click of a mouse. We’ll continue to input further information and content to the site as they become available. It’s designed for political junkies, as well as those who want to find basic information (like what seat they live in). Crikey’s readers are clearly well informed about political matters and we hope that they find the tools a fun and easy way to dive deeper into election issues, have their say and stay up to date. Feedback is of course very welcome!

Turning off the election:

Ian Swan writes: Re. “Libs back the duumvirate: Morgan Reactor” (yesterday, item 2). How did you let Christian Kerr slip this one past you? An opener that says “they can’t stand the ALP” followed by an image of Julia Gillard and then an image of a falling graph. Frankly, all too suggestive of the “worm” used in television debates. It matters not that the graph illustrates a LNP average against an (absent) ALP average – the impression is created that the punters “turn off” when Julia Gillard is on television, or that Morgan Reactor has somehow measured a “turn off” factor relating to Julia Gillard.
Christian Kerr responds: Er … yes. When you report Liberal voters’ reactions, you find they tend to respond like Liberal voters.

Noel Courtis writes: I wonder if anyone else is sick of election rubbish. We used to make fun of the Americans because their election warm-ups go for a couple of years. If you take the present situation we are being just as stupid. There is an elected government which is supposed to be running the country, but for three or more months all we have heard from the media is spin. Why doesn’t Crikey take a lead and have an “Election Free Week”? I bought Crikey to read the things that I don’t see in the regular media. Yesterday, and every other day, you have about a dozen election items. Surely there is a lost dog story or a koala stuck up a light pole to break the monotony.

Weddings, elections, anything:

Peter Finnegan writes: The suggestion by Sandra Reynolds (yesterday, comments) that a check should be made with the local school hall booking availability to sus out the election date won’t wash. My Committee that runs a local hall used for elections has already booked out some dates in November and December for weddings, birthday parties and other private functions, with further enquiries for other dates in between. Bearing in mind the election requirements, I approached the AEC asking could they give me a span of dates so that I could reserve the hall for their needs. Guess what – a scream of silence has ensued. There’s going to be hell to pay when they want the hall and find that the bride and groom tell ’em to rack off.

Kirribilli house – yours for $15:

Alan Kerlin writes: Re. “Kirribilli house: yours for $15” (yesterday, item 17). I look forward to seeing the Chaser gang taking the $15 tour of Kirribilli House. I can just see them setting up their banana lounges, esky and barby in the back yard soaking up the Harbour views… It would only be fair for the rest of us (and particularly those of us in Canberra) to see what it is that led Howard to such disdain for the nation’s capital and the Lodge.

The One-Two-Go crash:

Robert Ward writes: Re. “The One-Two-Go crash: Who’s to blame?” (Yesterday, item 3). I was talking with my son yesterday who is a pilot with Qantas and regularly visits international airports. As a pilot he is concerned with two things; 1) the command of English by flight crews is a worry as often he advises that it was obvious the foreign crew had not understood air traffic control and it had to be repeated. 2) Particularly in Asia it is always taught to respect your elders, when the pilot is usually the elder and always the senior person it appears that junior officers are very reluctant to correct the captain and suggest things like a touch and go or go around landing. International air traffic authorities have a lot of work to do to educate crews that they are a team and should listen to each other.

Oliver Lamb writes: The Brazilian carrier TAM is NOT a budget carrier. In fact, following the demise (and subsequent reappearance) of Varig, TAM is arguably Brazil’s flag carrier. Which takes the number of budget carriers’ crashes this year to two.

Alan Greenspan:

Mark Freeman writes: Re. “Greenspan reveals: 1.2 million lives traded for oil” (yesterday, item 20). Alan Greenspan’s recent comments should remind us of the emptiness of conservative rhetoric on their once core value – financial rectitude. Under Reagan the US went from being the world’s largest net lender to the largest net borrower – in eight short years. Bush the first did nothing to rein this in. Congress then saddled Clinton with a balanced budget requirement only to see Bush 2 blow it out to ridiculous levels with tax cuts and the War of Fear. None of them have made any effort to reduce US current account deficits and foreign debt. Things are little different here. Tax and spend and a government surplus – for now. Meanwhile foreign debt blows out ever more during Australia’s longest continuous boom and best trade terms in 50 years. Conservatives and good economic management – bah humbug!

David Flint:

Holger Lubotzki writes: Re. “Flint: Has Labor peaked too early?” (Yesterday, item 19). I thought David Flint might have finally had an epiphany! I had read nearly all of his latest wishful thinking in yesterday’s Crikey without seeing a reference to the “elites”. But alas, there, in the last sentence, David invokes the dreaded “chattering classes” instead. Yeah, we know, David. John Howard is a decent man and Alan Jones is a relentless hero, and anybody who disagrees is a chattering elitist anti-monarchist communist… sigh…

Andrew Whiley writes: The only joy in David Flint’s ongoing Crikey contributions rest on counting the paragraphs in each piece before the dreaded “union bosses” emerge. Congratulations on his heroic restraint in yesterday’s edition, getting all the way to paragraph six before they leap out, ever ready to wreak havoc on Her Majesty’s loyal antipodean subjects. As a lifelong lackey of a foreign monarch his distaste for any leaders who aren’t born to rule is understandable and expected. Is it a hereditary fixation David?

Jeremy Apps writes: Thank you so much, once again, for the Flint Piñata. I can already hear the urgent trample of feet weighed down by their respective weapons of choice anxious to belt the stuffing out of it. Fortunately for me, there are some amongst us with the intestinal fortitude to stomach a full course of Flintish stew (unlike Flemish stew, it seems to mostly consist of spittle and bile with perhaps a dash of gin) otherwise I might be bereft of one of my most relished forms of entertainment. I am not made for such things as I favour my brain fluids to remain in place rather than cascading from my ears. I would opt for popcorn but dietary considerations restrain me.

Ross Copeland writes: Can Crikey book David Flint to provide a post election report to explain how the voters got it all wrong.

Simon Casey writes: Is David Flint looking at the same election foreplay as the rest of us? I hear a gig at Crosby-Textor calling, the spin is dizzying!

What the?:

Anjanette Parker writes: Re. “Rove calls it for the kids: John Howard is like herpes” (yesterday, item 9). I found Rove McManus totally out of line with the comments on John Howard. Will never watch his show again.

They’re not really the PM’s friends:

Ione Jolly writes: Re. “The PM has 16,050 MySpace friends, actually, make that 9” (Friday, item 19). In your article about MySpace you state that John Howard has 9 friends – he doesn’t really. One of the “friends” is the How to Vote page and another is Tom, who acts as a MySpace moderator. Tom has 201,261,298 friends! Tom comes up automatically as a friend when you first register your MySpace site so he’s not a real friend. In reality John Howard has either 7 or 8 (if you’re counting the How to Vote page) friends.

Do not call:

Margaret Vinciguerra writes: Winifred Lambert (yesterday, comments)needs to know that Howard’s Do Not Call Register actually excludes charities, political parties and social researchers. Thankfully I have rid myself of the countless annoying calls from Mumbai residents (pretending to be dinki di Aussies) but I now seem to have a plethora of extremely annoying calls from charities and social researchers. Thankfully I haven’t yet had a pre-recorded message from little Johnny.

Back to Law for TV Producers:

Peter Rosier writes: Phillipe Charluet (yesterday, comments) would do well to remember that no-one from the Chaser has been convicted of anything yet. Back to Law for TV Producers 1.1, Phillipe.

Crikey ME07 T-shirts:

Barry Blackman writes: Couldn’t help but notice Kevin Rudd’s man boobs in the ME07 T-shirt. Perhaps the navy could help him out with a taxpayer funded boob job?

Sean McConnell writes: I don’t know if you guys have mentioned this yet, but wouldn’t Rudd look a tad silly with his Kevin07 slogan if Howard called the election for sometime in early 2008?

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