Voting for Pauline:

Antony Green writes: Re. “Don’t count Pauline out yet” (yesterday, item 8). I should correct Richard Farmer’s story on Pauline Hanson yesterday. Farmer said that to vote for her, electors had to number every square on the ballot paper because she did not have an above-the-line voting square. This is not correct. She did have an above the line box, but because she did not have a registered party, her name did not appear above the line next to the box. Her group received 102,824 votes, 4.54%, without the benefit of her name above the line. She in fact received a total of 37,888 below the line votes, people who gave her a number 1 below the line and managed to number the rest of the ballot paper. That is by far and away the highest vote ever received by a candidate below the line. Given that those voters had to fill in the 50 preference themselves, it’s also one on the eye for those who criticise the intelligence of her supporters.

Queensland Democrat Senator Andrew Bartlett writes: Richard Farmer is right to say “don’t count Pauline Hanson out” from the Senate contest in Queensland – particularly when many other parties and candidates have not ruled out giving her preferences. Family First showed in 2004 that a person can get elected to the Senate with less than 2 per cent of the vote. Hanson polled more than double that in 2004 and the most recent Morgan Queensland Senate poll had her rating 5.5%, effectively equal with the Democrat incumbent (that’s me) and the Greens on 6%. However, Farmer is wrong to say that “When Ms Hanson stood for a Senate seat back in 2004 she did so without the benefit of people being able to vote for her simply by putting a one in a box above the line on the ballot paper. To support her required putting numbers in all the boxes below the line.” Pauline Hanson did have a box above the line, and 64 886 people put their number 1 in it. Another 37 888 filled in the boxes below the line, giving her 102 774, or over 4.5%, of the total vote. After preferences were distributed, this grew to 197,275 votes (or over 0.6 of a quota) before she became the last candidate excluded. The difference this time is that Hanson will have a party name listed above the line – “Pauline’s United Australia Party” or more likely just the abbreviation of “Pauline”.

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Lands of Shame:

Helen Hughes, Senior Fellow, Centre for Independent Studies, writes: Re. “How think tanks are misleading us on Aboriginal children’s health” (yesterday, item 13). David Scrimgeour is correct that there is widespread agreement that the shocking conditions created by treating Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders as different from other Australians and undeserving of the same living standards will no longer be tolerated. Unfortunately he has distorted several points in my book Lands of Shame. The only indicator on which remote Western Australian indigenous children were said to have better outcomes than other indigenous children was “mental health”. I did not use this exception to overall health because “mental health” is a subjective measure and there is much evidence mental health in remote settlements, for example in Queensland, is very poor. Health data are not available from remote communities because most children’s and adults’ health is not known. In some cases, even acute cases of ill health are not treated. Last week a woman in a community that is within easy reach of medical services had an otitis media ear infection that was so badly neglected that an abscess in her ear burst after she suffered agonizing pain. She was in danger of becoming deaf due to neglect by her local health service. In her area (of about 1,000 people) there has been no systematic response to ill health, there has never been an attempt to identify endemic diseases such as diabetes and to introduce self-management to control the disease. There has been no dentistry. The first dental clinic held in one of the settlements in 30 years saw 28 patients in the day and half available in May. There has been no follow up. The public health measures that have been the principal factor in health improvement in mainstream Australia are entirely absent. My aim in Lands of Shame was to analyse the breadth of causes of indigenous deprivation in remote “homeland” communities, and to make some suggestions for changing the policies and bureaucratic landscapes to improve this dire situation. In the introduction I defined “homeland” communities and set the limits of my investigation, I do not claim that only remote indigenous people are disadvantaged. I have made no assertion that small communities or “outstations” should be concentrated. I recommended that services be concentrated so that they are viable, in keeping with a more general local government debate that recommends consolidation of uneconomic units. I certainly did not say that communal land should be converted to leaseholds. I advocated 99 year leases for household blocks and businesses and strongly argued for the reservation of public lands in urban areas and as national parks. Mr. Scrimgeour appears to have misunderstood my work, failing to see the relationship between the plight of poorly educated, unwell and unsafe communities with the entrenched exceptionalist policies that have shaped their existence. Surely a more accurate critique could have been mounted using facts and research rather than Mr Scrimgeour’s assertion that think tanks, the Bennelong Society and the Federal Government are in cahoots over a nefarious plot somehow to secure the oil industry at the Aborigines expense.

David Flint’s forgotten people:

Duncan Beard writes: Re. “Flint: Coalition must remember the “forgotten people”” (yesterday, item 18). According to David Flint, Kevin Rudd not being able to recite the tax scales equates to disinterest in economic governance. Come on, even he must realise how utterly moronic a comment this is. I’m aware that the concept of “objectivity” in political reporting is dead these days, but honestly, if I wanted to read wilfully ignorant government propaganda I’d subscribe to The Australian.

Barry Everingham writes: Poor old David Flint – if it’s not the Speaker (surely the worst in recent times) it’s Rudd daring to bring up the republic issue. The old dear says Rudd revived “the cultural cringe” – the majority of Liberals want a republic but there are some notable exceptions that political tart Brendan Nelson and Australia’s longest serving and most ineffectual foreign minister Alexander Downer. Flint must get used to the fact – both Costello and Rudd, whichever one gets to the Lodge, will revive the debate and there’s a feeling abroad the next referendum will see us with a home grown head of state.

Mike Carlton writes: David Flint wrote yesterday: “Howard, Costello and Abbott demonstrated their dominance, squeezing every advantage out of Kevin Rudd’s Whitlam-like disinterest in the tax scales, and by implication, economic governance.” Could someone take the old dear aside and explain to him the difference between disinterested and uninterested?

Darryl Calderwood writes: Crikey was starting to get a bit boring… but then, hey! … Another fantastic contribution from that great old comedian David Flint. I couldn’t stop the tears running down my face as I read his hilarious article outlining his strategy to save the Coalition from electoral annihilation. Building dams, diverting rivers, digging up Bob Menzies and all with the assistance apparently of those other two wisecracking loonies, Alan Jones and John Stone. Can’t wait to read his next instalment!

Dirt in politics:

David Havyatt writes: Re. “The Crikey guide to dirt in politics: a short history of gossip” (yesterday, item 1). It is clear that most journalists send the purveyors of dirt away. How about a new and novel suggestion – tell us everyone who has ever tried to peddle dirt. Maybe News and Fairfax could agree on “National Dish the Dishers” day and both get all their journos to tell us who all the people are that dish dirt. The story of Jason Koutsoukis is good but it would be better if he told us who was offering the two glasses of red and the file was. Any journalist who doesn’t tell us who was offering really is just waiting for better dirt.

Tony Barrell writes: Perhaps your more erudite contributors and subscribers can recall the reference more accurately, but I distinctly remember during the dying days of the Suharto regime, when our press was feral in its condemnation of the murderousness, corruption, and nepotism to the north, the Indonesia Armed forces daily paper referred to Australia as a “gossip culture.” How could any foreign nation, let alone a third world country with a reputation for sleaze, cruelty and deceit dare make such a claim, or any useful analysis of such an advanced society of ours? Nevertheless, I have never forgotten that comment and ever since have noticed how so much of what goes for public and private discourse here, is shallow, flimsy, ephemeral and based mostly on the mutter and the slur.

Jody Bailey writes: Please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please let the married MP with children who frequents gay bath houses be Bill Heffernan.

Lynda Hopgood writes: Well said, Crikey. The only way a smear campaign can work is if there is a journalist somewhere, anywhere, who is willing to run with it. And as long as Glenn Milne is around, there will always be someone who will. Jason Koutsoukis – take a bow. If only there were more journos like you.

Government advertising:

Virginia Nightingale writes: Re. “The government advertising avalanche continues” (yesterday, item 2). I’m surprised that the coverage of government spending on advertising campaigns usually stops with discussion about how much taxpayers’ money is being wasted. This means that the dependence of the media on the government ad spend is seldom investigated, yet governments in other parts of the world have at times used the placement of their advertising dollar to create media dependence and to drive some industry players out of business. Admittedly the blanket nature of the government campaigns here tends to rule this out, except insofar as the free-to-air industry is failing and it might be interesting to look at what their bottom line might have been if this had not been an election year for federal and several state governments. The other thing I find surprising is that in this form of political advertising there seems to be no campaign management in terms of audience measurement – this would seem to reinforce the idea that it’s not just an intention to waste taxpayers’ money but also to do the industry a favour and to underwrite editorial support from the highest levels. It then becomes a form of payola really, governments have to keep paying to keep the industry on side and the industry has to keep rewarding these windfalls. We should not be blind to the idea that the media might want to “rough up” both state and federal governments from time to time to keep the ad spend up.

Clean energy targets:

John Poppins writes: Re. “Rubbery figures in Howard ‘clean’ energy targets” (yesterday, item 16). Six months ago I crowned my modest suburban workshop with a couple of rows of solar panels. Through the winter they’ve managed to produce 1.4 MWh, saved about 2 tonnes of carbon dioxide. With the days lengthening and output rising steadily I expect to be a net exporter of electricity over the full year. The cost amounted to about that of replacing our oldest car with a modestly comfortable new 4 cylinder wagon. This seems little when I consider our dependence upon electricity for lighting, communication and entertainment. When I think of the hectares of new roofing being built, some of the cost of which could be reduced by using panels as cladding I suspect we are squandering a large opportunity. Three of my friends have already set about ordering systems, another plans to. It seems the population is running well ahead of the government.

Operation Wickenby:

David Beattie writes: Re. “Labor to review Operation Wickenby if elected” (yesterday, item 12). I can’t agree with Chris Seage’s comment. Wickenby should be extended. It’s about the only genuine prosecution of white collar crime in Australia, everything else is swept under the carpet as being too hard — except for social security fraud, which is pursued with utter zeal. The more tax others dodge, the more we have to pay.

Piers Akerman:

Adam Rope writes: Piers Akerman’s claims (yesterday, comments) about his reaction over the “Heiner affair” — “I was extremely disturbed by their views and wrote about it” — are rather a mild understatement, given what he has written since he first aired the story on 18 August. Seven out of his last 14 musings on his blog/column have either been dedicated to the “affair”, or mentioned it during yet another anti-Rudd, sorry, un-biased analysis. So the 17-year-old “l’affair Heiner” is either the grossest miscarriage of justice in Australian legal history, and that heads should roll, or a massive pre-electoral beat up by various interested parties. You decide.

Harold Thornton writes: Is the Piers Akerman brimming with self-described completely apolitical concern about justice in relation to the 17-year-old Heiner affair in any way related to the government toady of the same name whose Telegraph op-eds gloated at the recent unjust 3-year imprisonment and torture of fellow Australian Mamdouh Habib? Surely not…

Carbon friendly aviation:

Roy Milne writes: Re. “Aviation: flying toward a carbon friendly future” (yesterday, item 14). I can’t believe that any researchers can actually believe that aviation is going to increase by 2050. My estimate is that aviation will start to decrease soon after 2010, simply because of the price of fuel. No one who has been following the Peak Oil problem could possibly believe that aviation, which is very inefficient in the use of fuel, can go on increasing indefinitely. If you want to do long trips overseas, go now-in 5 years you won’t be able to afford it!

Desalinated water:

Ben Scheltus writes: Re. “The problem(s) with desalinated water” (yesterday, item 17). It is curious that the Victorian Labor government is planning to turn salt water in to drinking water, when the Western Treatment Plant can’t export more than 2% of its recycled water (for gardens) because of so called salinity problems! We need to recycle more before we start wasting money and energy (and creating greenhouse gases) on a desalination plant. The Government is just afraid of the back lash that occurred in Toowoomba. We need politicians with some courage to make tough decisions!

The strident ignorance of the Australian blogosphere:

David Tiley writes: Re. “The strident ignorance of the Australian blogosphere” (yesterday, item 24). Jeez, that Christian can be a sour old bugger sometimes. “The strident ignorance of the Australian blogosphere.” Forget about us Christian, we are all just dumb. He was complaining that “one of Australia’s better blogs” is complaining about the use of the name “Pumpkin” to describe a child whose name is actually Qian Xun Xue. The name is too hard to pronounce, it seems. However, her father’s name is Nai Yin Xue, and her mother is An An Liu. Both of these names present pronunciation difficulties, but we haven’t made up names for them. Hard to imagine “Police Hunt for Dipsh-t” as a headline. The blog, by the way, has a name too – Larvatus Prodeo.

Adrian Kitchingman writes: Ah Christian, although I think your piece on name PC was just to get a rise out of readers I guess I’ll take a nibble at the bait. You say using someone’s difficult to say name is borne out of PC zealotry. When has simple respect for the individual become so offensive because of pronunciation problems!?! A little effort and maybe saying the name a half a dozen times should cure that tragedy. Just because we all don’t have four letter surnames doesn’t mean that we need ridiculous nicknames. Anyway in line with your argument and to make the news accessible to the wider audience I expect to see these few name substitutions by the media: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad = Flying Carpet Prez; Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono = Batik Boss; Janet Albrechtsen = One-Eyed Jan… etc (ps. the 200,000 people in the Facebook group “People Who Always Have To Spell Their Names For Other People” would no doubt have an opinion on this as well).

Drew Turney writes: So, “Too many Australian bloggers just don’t get the idea of communications. Instead of seeing the net as a tool to spread information, they see it as yet another way of demonstrating their moral and intellectual superiority over the great unwashed, writes Christian Kerr.” And that makes them different from our leading print journalists because?

Bank fees:

Jason King writes: Re. “Banks’ illegal “penalty fees” are tantamount to theft” (yesterday, item 27). Thank you for your ongoing crusade against illegal bank fees. Adam Schwab’s article yesterday reminded me of a recent occasion where I called my bank (the oldest one) to complain about a $35 penalty for breaching my credit card limit. When I pointed out that it isn’t really a limit if they let me breach it and that it was a bit unfair to charge me for it, I was told that it was up to me to keep track of my own position so I knew when I was close to breaching the limit. Clearly a warped view of the world which was made even worse when not long after I was invited to increase my limit to $30,000!

The AFL v ricotta and brown sugar pancakes:

David Sinclair writes: Re. “Nine scheduling holding back NRL” (yesterday, item 25). Channel Nine is not the only one treating viewers shoddily when it comes to scheduling of major sporting events. After battling the traffic to get home on Friday night to sit down and watch the much trumpeted AFL match between Collingwood and Geelong “live” I found to my dismay and disgust a bit of drivel called Better Homes and Gardens in its place. Instead of seeing all the match-ups and listening to a few special comments from Bruce and the crew I found out how to make ricotta and brown sugar pancakes. By the time the match got underway in Sydney and Brisbane on our TV screens it was almost half time in real time. Why couldn’t they let Fox broadcast it direct into NSW and QLD like they have all season when they did not want to broadcast it into these states? I ended up listening to the 3AW crew on the radio and enjoyed it very much. Disappointed however that Seven treated us this way – but then I suppose we have to come to expect this.

Wanganeen?:

Richard Feely writes: Re. “Who will take home the Midfielders’ Medal?” (Yesterday, item 22). Charles Happell’s claim that Carlton’s Gordon Collis was the last defender to win a Brownlow (in 1964) is incorrect. Essendon’s Gavin Wanganeen won the Brownlow in 1993 from, essentially, the back pocket.

The Rugby World Cup:

Rob Moston writes: Re. “Rugby: the north pays for the rising south ” (yesterday, item 23). I know that Michael Pascoe has to talk up the Rugby World Cup, but he’s fooling no-one by describing its content to date as “excellent”. In reality, the vast majority of the matches have been boring, one-sided affairs that have amounted to little more than training runs for the handful of half-decent sides in the tournament. Even the heavily-criticised cricket world cup provided more entertainment than this embarrassing non-event. If this is “the game they play in heaven”, how could hell be any worse?

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.

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