Peter Garrett’s CV:

Media adviser to Peter Garrett MP, Ryan Heath, writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 7). We’re not sure what was being suggested by the Crikey reference to Peter’s CV yesterday. Unfortunately there isn’t room to list all of Peter’s positions and achievements on the CV, and as you can see from the extract below he’s not exactly glossing over the more interesting elements… “The band’s protest and benefit shows, notably the anti-Exxon performance on a truck-top in the streets of New York and, of course, the ‘sorry suits’ performance at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games closing ceremony were hallmarks of a thirteen-album career culminating in the ARIA lifetime achievement award in 2006.”

Dick Pratt:

John Tinney writes: Re. “Pratt spins it well, but remains in disgrace” (yesterday, item 1). As you say, not a very heavy penalty! But then Australia is not exactly tough on corporate crime. The European Union has fined Microsoft and several other violators of its equivalent competition law hundreds of millions of dollars per offence. Australian laws and the ACCC are not in the same league. And consider Australia’s maximum fines under our anti-bribery laws – $66,000 for an individual and $330,000 for a company! That’s the penalty for the offence of bribing a foreign public official, contained in section 70.2 of the Criminal Code Act 1995. Come to think of it, but has anyone yet been charged yet with bribing a foreign official since that law came into force? Maybe the AWB case will be a first – if that oil-for-food government task force formed last year ever does make the recommendations it is required to make on possible prosecutions arising from the scandal. Of course, prison is another possible penalty under the law – but does anyone want to bet on the likelihood of that being the outcome?

David Flint and voter fraud:

David Havyatt writes: Re. “Flint: Potential for vote fraud remains” (yesterday, item 12). Can someone please tell David Flint that the multiple rolls marked off in all the polling booths in an electorate are cross matched (electronically) after polling day and that were there ever to be enough instances of multiple voting so identified that it could have effected the result that the ballot would/could be declared invalid and a reballot held. Could you also tell him that the magical card with a photo on it he suggests voters present could simply be called an identity card (let’s give it a name “Australia Card” which I know his mate Alan Jones campaigned against vigorously. Note of course that he is only worried about fraud in elections he thinks the conservatives might lose!

Nathan Jones writes: David Flint, in proposing linking polling places by computer, needs to be very clear that he’s only referring to the step where a voter is marked off the roll, and that he’s not proposing using computers for voting. Electronic voting machines carry significant security concerns (relating to secrecy, accuracy, reliability and fraud), and their introduction would require voter-verifiable paper trails, careful planning, and independent security evaluation. There will always be a margin of error in a ballot. What’s important is that we keep this as low as possible, and not blindly throw technology at the problem without certainty that there will be an improvement.

Phil Garratt writes: Congratulations David, you managed to write an article without mentioning Alan Jones. Apropos election fraud, maybe that is Howard’s one remaining hope for success.

Rosemary Swift writes: Another dispatch from the parallel universe of David Flint. Perhaps he’s finally resigned himself to Howard losing the election – and coming up with excuses for the loss. Pity he can’t do any better than “we wuz robbed!”

Barry Everingham writes: David Flint’s hilarious contributions to Crikey are to be encouraged, not disparaged, as some readers have been doing of late. Many of us would be appalled by not having the opportunity to imagine the old darling sitting at his desk, bewigged, powdered and pouting, dipping his quill into the ink pot as he transfers from his mind his ramblings to the parchment before despatching his messenger to Crikey’s esteemed editor for inclusion in the day’s missive. This scenario is far too precious to be denied his adoring public of which I am proud to admit I belong.

Brian Mitchell writes: You’ve had your fun, you sick sado-masochistic Crikey perverts, but enough is enough. You’ve foisted David Flint upon us again and again and again, despite many pleas from your long-suffering subscribers for you to stop. I would rather you send me slivers of bamboo in the post and instructions on how to slide them under my fingernails, rather than have to read Flint again. These days, I just see “Flint” and try to scroll to the next story but due to my poor mouse skills I can’t help but be exposed to at least some of his words, resulting in the secretion of pus and blood from my eyes. Stop it. Please, for the love of God, stop it.

Water allocation:

John Clements writes: Re. “Making hay in the dry: farmers turn water into profit” (yesterday, item 6). Lionel Elmore is onto something – so you have invested in water have you Lionel? With all those good old rorts a clever guy like you could make a mint. The truth is, as usual, a little different from the rhetoric, the irrigation schemes (Lionel’s canals) are privately owned and paid for by farmers. City dwellers interested in being offended by subsidies need look no further than public transport (rail, bus, ferry) and public subsidies to housing markets. These subsidies focus on population dense markets, providing negative gearing ($2 billion per annum subsidy), first home owners grant (billions to date) and a bigger share of public capital expenditure budgets when compared to population percentages. It’s easy to bash rural communities; in return we get a laugh when we read letters to the editor suggesting Australia import all its food requirements. We actually experience and interact with international markets on a daily basis. The thought of a population remote to agriculture dependent on corrupted world markets is actually quite frightening. A little free advice to the pundits, agriculture is a tough business, completely exposed to corrupted world markets and local politics aimed at keeping population-dense centers sleepy through subsidy. Leave the real world to us guys. We enjoy it. Stick with subsidized transport, $billions per annum in public assistance for your hot housing market and the unfair share on government capital expenditure- you deserve it, city subsidies should not be discussed. It’s offensive of course.

Pamela Curr writes: Thanks for demystifying the water business. My concern is if we hand over food production to agribusiness and the great freedom of the market- will we have anything to eat other than almonds, olives and blue gum trees? Don’t get me wrong I like almonds and olives but as a steady diet of available local produce, they are a bit limited. Reading the TimberCorp site, it would seem that the aim is more to minimise tax than actually produce a crop of anything. Should we trust this mob with our diminishing water allocations?

Principle and politics:

Kay Fisher writes: Re. “Mungo: Garrett abandons utopia for results” (yesterday, item 13). Hear, hear Mungo. Someone needs to tell these starry-eyed political idealists how childish they’re being objecting to some practices on “principle” and choosing to stand on the sidelines of real grown-up politics and thus condemning themselves to being forever politically impotent. If only Aung San Suu Kyi had listened to your advice then she wouldn’t still be in the pathetic position she is after decades under house arrest and still no results! Nothing – zilch – to show for her much-lauded democratic principles. If she’d only woken up to real politics she would’ve recognised the legitimacy of the military Junta, joined up with them and right now be working effectively from the inside to have a real influence in policy-making – I mean she could’ve softened some of the Junta’s torture practices by now. But no, instead she is standing uselessly on the sidelines and refusing to engage with them on their terms. So Mungo’s dead right, all those men and women who find party power politics repugnant are just a bunch of childish, impotent sissies who’re probably innumerate since everyone knows that the only results that really count are those you can – well – count; not those things you can’t see (let alone count) like self-respect.

Youthful indiscretions:

Michael Fisk writes: Re. “I was a teenage Trotskyite and other youthful indiscretions” (yesterday, item 14). In a packed and classy field, this may be Christian Kerr’s most idiotic moment, ever. According to Kerr: “You’ve got to worry about the political judgment of people who didn’t realise that Gorbachev, last seen flogging Louis Vuitton bags in ads in the glossies, was anything other than an opportunistic, hypocritical Communist attempting to delay the inevitable.” Seems Western leaders at the time, namely Thatcher, Reagan and Kohl, all had appalling political judgment since they all supported and worked closely with Gorbachev. It was Thatcher who famously said: “I like Mr Gorbachev – we can do business together”. For someone supposedly intent on merely delaying the inevitable for Soviet Communism, Gorbachev sure introduced a lot of initiatives that undermined not only communism, but also the power of the party. As for what Gorby is doing now, and where he was last seen – he heads Green Cross International and in that role visited New Orleans three days ago (Associated Press report here).

Florence Howarth writes: We really need to be aware of what I have recently heard and is probably true, is that Julia also believed in the Tooth Fairy and Santa. How can we trust anyone who has such faulty beliefs?

Migration and crime:

Steve Milburn writes: Re. “Migration has always skirted close to the underbelly” (yesterday, item 18). If you add the ‘Bra Boys et al to the list of gangs in Glenn Dyer’s article then the Sudanese appear to be the only ethnic group in Australia not to have formed criminal gangs. Maybe that’s what Andrews means when he says they don’t fit in?

Peter Wein writes: You might find out that Tony Mokbel is of Lebanese (Christian) descent, not Greek.

Post-natal depression:

Ron Tishler writes: Re. “Heavie Kevvie: putting the labour into Labor” (yesterday, item 11). Guy Rundle’s attack of Kevin Rudd’s proposal to screen for post-natal depression is absurd and demonstrates little understanding of contemporary thinking on public health practice or policy. There is bipartisan support for primary health care services that optimise early intervention in chronic illness by screening at risk groups and it is estimated that ten to fifteen percent of women suffer post-natal depression. Rundle should confine his musings to topics he knows something about refrain from being an advocate of Scientologist anti psychiatry theology.

Leeanne Bland writes: As someone who suffered with undiagnosed pre natal and post natal depression, I found Guy Rundle’s flippant take on the subject deeply offensive. To bandy around the comment: ”Some people may have told you that birth is an occasion for joy and happiness. We’re going to assume that post-natal depression is the norm, and check you weekly.’, shows an incredible amount of insensitivity. Yes, giving birth is an occasion for joy and happiness for the majority of people, but not for all. I would much rather see everyone being checked – rather than waiting for (the unlikely event) of women coming forward for help themselves. Many don’t even realise that it is post natal depression that they are suffering from. It is a difficult time and being continually told that it is “normal” to feel joy and happiness, only compounds the problem suffered by many women who have given birth. Feeling that you have failed as a mother, in some way, because you don’t feel instant “joy and happiness” is a common response. Either Guy has been very lucky that his partner never suffered depression, or he hasn’t actually become a father himself. Either way, I found his article disappointing.

Matt Hardin writes: Just to point out to Guy Rundle that the PM is not the Commander-in-Chief of the Australian Army (or Navy or Air Force for that matter). That power vests in the Governor General and through him the Queen.

Kevin Andrews and Sudan:

Steve Martin writes: Re. “Kevin Andrews and Africans: in his own words” (yesterday, item 5). Re. The bullet points of Andrews remarks; it seems to me that you could apply these criticisms to many young Australian males, or any other group for that matter. There may well be reasons to limit the intake of Africans if there are more urgent cases of refugees needing resettlement, though that would be hard to believe. I can’t help thinking that this is an attempt to placate the Hansonites of this world, particularly when the polls are so bad. Garnering any votes when you are down about 12% is the imperative. It is not surprising that used car salesmen are trusted more than politicians.

Tom McLoughlin writes: Race is alive and well in the mind’s eye of Australians: Did my 6 hours waste separating as “a bin butler” at a local community market last Sunday. By about 12 noon the compost and recyclables have to be squashed down to make room for more so there I was standing in an a green otto rollie bin stamping and grovelling (the kids get a laugh at that) and sure enough a silver haired Anglo wit strolls by, “what a waste of a good white man”. It’s a very harmonious diverse area too. That’s Australian heritage for yer. Was he being ironic about current politics, a sincere view, or what?

Marion Jones:

Andrew Dempster writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. Crikey wrote: “…an athlete who admits to drug use which harms no-one else ends up in jail.” Marion Jones has plenty of people to whom she should apologise and conspicuously didn’t the other day, including: i) the athletes who didn’t cheat yet have been denied their rightful Olympic gold medals (and all that those victories would have meant in terms of earnings etc) for 7 years, ii) her relay team mates who may (and should) also lose their gold medals through no fault of their own. I was also amazed when listening to that speech to hear her apologise for lying to federal agents, but not for using drugs!

Light my fire:

Peter Walters writes: For the record, Peter McDonell (yesterday, comments), I thought the imagery of JWH lying naked and sweaty pondering his fate accompanied by a Doors’ soundtrack was the funniest thing I had read all week. It’s exactly why I read Crikey. If you want pompous and self-important, stick to The Australian.

World Youth Day:

Michael Ciesielski writes: Jim Hanna (yesterday, comments) nitpicks over the World Youth Day numbers, but ignores the real issue: why should the Government impose a religious test to determine how much to charge visitors for visas? Presumably the cost of applying for a visa has been set at a level which covers all the costs incurred to the Immigration Department, so how will the shortfall created by the lack of fees for “more visitors than the Olympics in 2000” be covered? (Perhaps they’ll give back some of the “$20 million in funding to the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney to contribute to the cost of hosting World Youth Day … Prime Minister John Howard has announced.”)

Matt Wilson writes: As a Catholic, I was embarrassed to read the graceless and patronising tone of Jim Hanna, World Youth Day Sydney 2008’s director of communications, writing in yesterday’s Crikey. Hanna has a valid point, but this sort of approach is just going to alienate people. I would expect a lot better from the “director of communications”. And offering to “say a prayer” for someone whose report has upset you is particularly poor stuff.

The Rugby World Cup:

Brendon Gill writes: Re. “Australians get ugly over the Rugby World Cup” (yesterday, item 4). Charles Happell’s astuteness at the Aussie media’s total parochialism and shameless jingoism is to be lauded! We weren’t only conned by the playing unit into believing that they were something they clearly aren’t – but by our sports journalists’ pathetic lack of insight into the reality of the rugby status quo in this country. It simply isn’t possible to “pretend” your way through a tournament like the World Cup – at least not for very long – before you are totally found out! And we were! What really irks me is the question of the $20 million dollars or so cash pool that the ARU ended up with after the last World Cup held in Australia. All the hyped up rhetoric at the time about developing the game – only to be followed by disastrous recruitment upon disastrous recruitment of rugby league “stars” (at tremendous and unrealistic cost per individual) – whist in the meanwhile our clubs have continued to struggle and standards are drifting. The only bright light at present is the Australian Rugby Championship – a long, long overdue necessity to incubate the talent that is going unnoticed. Our rugby is in danger of heading for the doldrums internationally if the power and self-interest of the Sydney club mafia isn’t broken, and the long term interests of everybody who loves the game are authentically addressed.

John Mair writes: The reason we lost to England is clear – no-one played their natural game except for Dunning who collapsed the scrum. Drew Mitchell did, but he wasn’t brought on until the 66th minute. As one commentator said, “Why buy a Ferrari and keep it in the garage?” I can’t even look at a Pom, I’m so embarrassed.

Carn’ the Blues:

Rob McKay writes: Re. Judd and Carlton (yesterday, comments). I’ve no doubt John Taylor has sacrificed his cheating former “friend” to the powers that be at his golf club. We all must pay for our sins, as surely Carlton has done many times over in the past five years. As for Carlton’s on-field performance in the last 11 games, there was, wait for it, a huge improvement after former coach Denis Pagan was sacked. It didn’t stop them losing but, except for a blow-out against the Kangaroos, one of the youngest squads in the competition and one beset by injuries to its most experienced and talented players took high achievers Port Adelaide (grand final) and Collingwood (within spitting distance of the grand final and a win over the runaway premiership winner) very close indeed. Nor was the coaching substandard. In fact, it must have been inspired for the “winners” of three of the last four wooden spoons to have run so many better teams as close as it did. The fact is, even if certain supporters wanted the club to “tank” games, it made no difference to the outcome. The team wasn’t good enough. Next year, with all players fit, younger ones maturing and, hopefully, Chris Judd increasingly influential a he gets fitter, the finals will beckon.

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