NSW Brothels:

Policy and Media Officer for Sylvia Hale MLC, Christopher Holley writes: Re. “Message to NSW councils: Close down illegal brothels or go to ICA” (yesterday, item 30). I’m surprised that Crikey has allowed itself to be used so blatantly by Chris Seage to tout for business. His article attacks NSW Greens MP Sylvia Hale for moving some amendments to the NSW Brothels Bill. Those amendments were aimed at ensuring that, before a s-x worker who is operating in a residential premise can have their power and water cut off, there should be some evidence that their neighbours (rather than their competitors) have a problem with their activities. It is not illegal in NSW to be a s-x worker. It might suit Mr Seage’s new business to be able to promise that he can bully local councils into shutting down his clients’ competition but there were genuine issues relating to health and safety, anti-competitive behaviour by the owners of large brothels and the likelihood of corruption as well as local amenity that needed to be considered when this Bill was debated. I guess that is why similar amendments to some of those moved by the Greens were moved by the Christian Democrats and accepted by the government. The Greens recognise the importance of regulating the s-x industry for public and occupational health and safety, local amenity and anti-corruption reasons which is why the NSW Greens MPs supported the Brothels Bill in its final form, a fact omitted by Mr Seage. As for Mr Seage’s argument that the Scarlet Alliance should not be allowed to express a view about the legislation, it shows a pretty distorted understanding of the democratic process coming from an industry lobbyist who is now making money out of the legislative changes for which he lobbied so hard.

Switching off:

Steve Martin writes: Re. “Rundle: Never mind the narrative, feel the vamp” (yesterday, item 7). So at last the election has been called by the Prime Minister. Well much as I enjoy the argy-bargy of political debate I’ve had enough, more than enough, it’s been going on unofficially for what? Six weeks already. More core and non-core promises from both sides, using our money to bribe us. The thought of another six weeks of this nonsense leaves me cold. I made up my mind long ago, and now I am switching off.

Right leadership:

Bernard Freedman writes: John Howard is campaigning on the need for “the right leadership”. The question is how far right and how much further right if he wins?

Crikey on the money:

Ivars Avens writes: Back in August a Crikey tipster recommended 24 November as the election date. Based on that tip and for want of any better reason, I put $10 on that date with Centrebet. Half my subscription paid for! Crikey on the money as usual. Thanks!

The Daily Verdict:

Lloyd Lacey writes: Re. “The Daily Verdict” (yesterday, item 17). Just read your piece that mentioned the 60 Minutes interviews of Howard and Rudd – and it evoked the following bizarre impression that struck me as I also watched it. Howard’s 60 Minutes interview seemed to be shot in the studio. The camera took him slightly angled from above, catching the bare skull. It seems on reflection (no pun intended, but it would be a good one if it were) that Howard had a particularly golden glow – almost an Andrew Peacock grade of tan. Not bad for coming out of winter – and for a person who always wears a hat in the sun. Whereas Rudd, whose interview seemed to be on his veranda at home, appeared considerably paler – and in his earlier reply to the election launch on Sky News Rudd was almost paper white. Could it be that Howard’s minders are working on an Okker image for him – fine-tuned to the extent, perhaps, of using a fake tan to convey virility, contrasting the paler shadow that is Kevin07? Could there be an invocation of a subliminal political Crocodile Dundee – or even a Steve Irwin persona? Well, given the care taken to select the colour and pattern of ties, it’s not so far beyond the bounds of possibility is it?

The first internet election:

Luke Miller writes: If this really is the first internet election, then Crikey has certainly already missed the point. In all its talk of political parties using YouTube and Facebook, it has almost completely glossed over the most interesting facet of the internet revolution – citizen created commentary and media. It’s not just the parties using YouTube and blogs for their official videos and announcements, but thousands of concerned citizens, lower-order candidates and general party members. As well as the official videos from parties, I would be impressed if Crikey also drew attention to some of the more interesting un-official videos.

The beauty of the pendulum:

Tim Warner writes: Re. “Bahnisch: Galaxy Poll shows things will be close in Queensland” (yesterday, item 16). I’m afraid Poll Bludger simply doesn’t understand political polling, or the beauty of the pendulum. The sample across Queensland showed a swing of 5%. The pendulum says that this should result in two seats – not which two seats. You can claim a 7% error on any particular seat with a sample of 200- but it doesn’t mean you can’t make a prediction across the state. Malcolm dealt with this in his master work on the General Election of 1969 in which he explained why the pendulum worked on aggregate seats not on individual results.

The military in indigenous lands:

Executive Director of the Australia Defence Association, Neil James, writes: Pamela Curr (yesterday, comments) wants “the military out of indigenous lands” and wants the Howard Government to “commit to a program of building houses by aboriginal workers who are trained and mentored to do so”. There is a major factual mistake and an obvious but no doubt un-intended contradiction in what Pamela wants. And perhaps a mistaken belief or inference that the defence force is somehow unknown and unwelcome in indigenous communities or is somehow insensitive or inexperienced in indigenous culture and its interface with wider Australian society. Now whether you believe the current intervention in NT Aboriginal communities is justified or not (and the ADA is necessarily politically neutral in this regard), nothing could be further from the truth. First, the Army had its first Aboriginal officer over 20 years before the first indigenous university graduate in civilian Australia. Numerous other indigenous diggers have long been promoted on merit alone. Second, our defence force has been involved in outback Aboriginal communities for over three generations and has hundreds of indigenous members in Army Reserve and Navy coastwatcher units. Third, Army Reserve medical units have conducted free medical-care operations in outback indigenous communities since the early 1950s (long before Fred Hollows for example). Fourth, ADF support to the current intervention involves logistic support only – often by indigenous diggers. Finally, in answer to Pamela’s specific concern, Army engineers have been building houses and environmental health infrastructure in outback indigenous communities under the Army Aboriginal Community Assistance Program (AACAP) since 1996 – and an integral aspect of this program involves the training of community members in construction and maintenance skills. Despite some initial cynicism in far away urban Australia, AACAP has been very effective and very popular among indigenous Australians from the start. By all means criticise the current NT intervention if you oppose it politically but please do so from a factual basis where the defence force and its overall longstanding good relations with indigenous Australians are concerned.

Dick Pratt:

Chris May writes: Re. “Dick Pratt takes money from ordinary Aussies – so where is the uproar?” (Yesterday, item 6). What were his parents thinking when they named him, but anyway what you say may be true, but what you are really talking about is giant corporations gouging each other. By the time it got down to me the extra whatever on the price of a box would generally have been well spread around in the case of Cadbury’s chocolate you mention, and in the case of a slab of beer would, I am sure, account for only a small fraction of the difference in price between two different bottle shops. Sure there are victims, but it’s all theoretical.

Princess Mary:

Katherine Stuart writes: Re. “Princess Mary: Diana with a Dane” (yesterday, item 5). Dunno where you got your information from, but as an ex-pat who resided in Sweden for more than 20 years, I can assure you that that was a Swedish sentence, not Danish… The Swedes (and presumably the Danes) enjoy more than their fair share of the most lurid gossip magazines – they leave even the British gutter press for dead – and they are all the most consummate nonsense designed to feed the imaginations of bored commuters on public transport to and from work, or patients in doctors’ and dentists’ waiting rooms. They are followed closely in the nonsense stakes by the evening newspapers such as Kvällsposten which you cite incorrectly as from Denmark – it is a Swedish newspaper. This sentence in Swedish sounds 100% typical of the Swedish gossip press. And yes, it means that “Mary broke down and cried from jealousy in front of all the guests.” Really. And that bit about Fredrik not wanting to be king? Read on in the article and apparently it’s something he said to his nanny as a small child… Whatever Mary’s actual situation is, you can bet your bottom krona that it has nothing whatsoever to do with what’s described here. Really Crikey – this is way beneath you.

Bob and Adolf:

Guy Rundle writes: In response to my passing remark that our Sir Robert had endorsed Hitler in 1938, Australian Prime Ministers Centre librarian Campbell Rhodes (yesterday, comments) says that Menzies merely said that Hitler had “many good” ideas. Public record shows that after a visit to Germany in 1938, Menzies was praising the “spiritual quality” of Nazi youth, that he suggested in 1939 that Neville Chamberlain invite Hitler to London so that Hitler could “demonstrate reality of his own peaceful desires”. In 1940 Menzies wrote to the Australian High Commissioner Stanley Bruce suggesting that Hitler be appeased with the whole of the middle of Europe, and a Labor MHR told the House of Reps that Menzies had told him in 1939, “we must not destroy Hitlerism.” Perhaps these and other remarks all fell down behind a shelf somewhere? Menzies’ praise of Hitler is a matter of public record and attempts to deny it are pathetically tiresome.

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