Canberra’s shallow gene pool:

Declan Kuch writes: Re. “Canberra’s shallow gene pool no mirror to the nation” (yesterday, item 2). Christian Kerr makes a compelling argument that our national Political Elites are an insular profession with narrow work experience. However, it’s notable that he doesn’t compare them to other professions, nor reference any data on intergenerational social mobility. If he were to consult such studies he would certainly find degrees of class immobility pervasive in Australian (and indeed all other modern) society.

Patrick Belton writes: Christian Kerr wrote: “Indeed, if you want to play with statistics, you can say that there are now 200% more former advisers to Peter Costello in his time as Treasurer in Parliament than there were at the start of the Howard years – Smith, Member for Casey since 2001 and Mitch Fifield, who filled a Senate casual vacancy in 2004.” I am confident that I will not be the only one to point this out (and I suspect he does this deliberately to get a rise out of pedants), but if there were no former advisors to Peter Costello in Parliament in 1996 (which I assume to be CK’s point), then the current number of former advisors to Peter Costello in Parliament (overlooking the dissolution of the House) is infinitely greater than that. You can say that there are now 200% more, but you’d be wrong. Had the numbers been 1 in 1996 and 3 now, you could rightly say there were 200% more. Of course, if CK is not suggestion that there were no former advisors to PC in 1996, then I apologise, but would ask to see his calculations nonetheless.

Andrew Lewis writes: I’m yet to hear anyone make the argument as to why people working in politics, policy or the public service are less qualified that those in other professions to become a quality parliamentary representative. I would have thought working in those areas would make you more qualified. Those people have developed an experience in working with policy and an appreciation for how the system works. But then again, politicians and the people who work for them are a pretty easy target.

Mark Edmonds writes: Christian Kerr quotes from Peter Oborne’s book, “The Political Class is distinguished from earlier governing elites by a lack of experience and connection with other ways of life. Its members make government their exclusive study. This means they tend not to have significant knowledge of industry, commerce or civil society… This converts them into a separate, privileged elite…” The same could be increasingly said of journalists and commentators who, with a degree in journalism or communications (as opposed to science, engineering, business, or trade qualifications, etc) spend their entire professional lives trying to shape the public debate and interpret policy, often in complete isolation from the majority of Australians who have to work for a living ‘producing’ services, goods, etc.

Anthony David writes: You’d be hard pressed to find a Federal MP with a Science degree. It is no wonder there is little long-term vision or understanding of the role of science, in particular fundamental research. Appallingly, pseudo science and junk science gets oxygen in such an environment.

Russell Bancroft writes: The other point that should be made is that the term union “boss” implies that the person had some say or even control in the running of the union. Many of the ALP MPs named as “bosses” played no such part in the union. They worked as researchers or legal officers or advocates or administrative staff. To call them bosses is a bit like saying that a person who works as a bank teller is a bank boss.

Labor’s unionists:

Pattie Tancred writes: Re. “Abjorensen: Costello starts a dangerous game” (yesterday, item 3). Yes, indeed, as Norman Abjorensen points out, all this finger pointing about who did what before is a dangerous game, not least because it points to a few glowing little inconsistencies in the government’s thinking. One of which goes like this: the Labor Party is riddled with ex-union hacks. And that’s dangerous because? Oh, yes, that’s right, they have an evil plan to destroy capitalism and civilisation as we know it. But surely they can’t do that on their own? Wouldn’t they need lots of unions with lots of members behind them? But, wait a minute: the government’s industrial relations offensives have been resoundingly successful, haven’t they, especially in gutting the power of the unions? Seems to me that those ex-union hacks will have a job on their hands since, as a result of the government’s already having eviscerated the unions, they must constitute no more than a pretty feeble rump. Get a grip Costello and Co, seems that all that hunting for reds under the beds has resulted in nothing more than dust bunnies on the brain.

Howard Watts writes: On ABC radio in Perth yesterday, Mr Abbott made much of the unrepresentative nature of the previous occupations of the Shadow Ministry, 70% of whom he claims to have union backgrounds, suggesting there should be a diversity of backgrounds in ministerial representation. The current twelve members of the Federal Cabinet include a retired army officer, a previous stock and station agent and the remaining ten have legal training, nine previously practising this profession (The exception, Tony Abbott, was a journalist, plant manager and press secretary/political adviser). I am not sure these occupations are typical of the average Australian. After all, we all know it is only 97% of lawyers who give the legal profession a bad name.

Holger Lubotzki writes: Has everybody forgotten about Mr R.L.J. Hawke? It’s hard too imagine an individual with a longer or stronger Labour Union background and he rose to to the highest political office in the country. I don’t recall that it did any of us much harm at all, unless you were a commercial pilot at the time…

Will the Brethren vote in the one that matters?

Marion Diamond writes: Re. “Exclusive: Brethren get a foot in the doors of power” (yesterday, item 1). Ok, so Exclusive Brethren aren’t allowed to vote in the federal election – but the big question is: are they allowed to vote for Australian Idol?

Tax cuts:

Bernie McComb writes: Re. “MacCormack: Howard aiming to keep aspirationals hostage” (yesterday, item 7). Have you published any analysis about this $34B tax “plan”? How can Howard get away with claiming that $34B is a plan? To be distributed to whom, at what rates, over what period etc, with information to back it up, it might be possible to call it a plan. But, right now, it’s no more of a plan than was the $10B over 10 years to fix Murray Darling. Looking elsewhere and ending up at The Age, Ken Davidson explains it nicely, that good old Mr Howard has this money already because income tax revenue has increased because he hasn’t indexed rates. So he’s just offering to give it back. Maybe. Who do you trust? Surely not an “anything for a quid” friend of the Exclusive Brethren (even when they’re right, they’re wrong). More than anything, when he’s claiming to be a Climate Change Realist, this $34B at this stage, for bribery to get re-elected, compared with $10B over 10 years for Murray Darling, it’s obscene enough to look like outright theft from future generations, when you consider the cost of delaying doing anything about Climate Change and the extreme cost to be paid by our progeny.

Election betting: managing director Mark Cridland writes: Re. “Errington: Time to get over the election betting markets” (yesterday, item 8). Can I congratulate Wayne Errington – it was about time you got over your fascination with election betting markets. The only reason bookies put up these markets is for free publicity. Try placing a decent bet on any election market other than the winner, and you’ll be lucky to get $200 on. And don’t believe everything you read – there are several bookies in Australia with a history of fabricating large bets.


Stuart Fenech writes: Re. “Rundle: Swing seats and social change, Part 2” (yesterday, item 10). Mr JH Scullin was only Member for Corangamite from 1910 to 1913. He is best known for his time as Member for Yarra, from 1922 to 1949. As Mr Scullin died in 1953, I suspect it was in fact Mr Rundle who was hitting the bong in the 1960’s.

Helen Razer:

Darlene Taylor writes: Re. “The productive person’s guide to Google search” (yesterday, item 24). When I pluck up the courage (i.e. sufficient state of drunkenness) to read Ms Razer, I often think to myself while scratching my head wondering what the hell she’s talking about, “…reading Helen is like reading a blogger who has got a degree in postmodernism; a BA in BS if you will”. If I had understood her contribution yesterday, I might’ve agreed that we need to distinguish between quality newspapers and blogs. However, for her to talk about the “ill-formed, liberally punctuated nonsense of blogspot” is like the pot calling the kettle, you know, black. It pains me to say such things because there are so few blonde females in the media.

The AFL, drugs, Brandis, Cousins et al:

Brendan Lewis writes: Re. “But Senator Brandis, Cousins never tested positive” (yesterday, item 4). Adam Schwab writes “The AFL could introduce a one-strike policy and by all accounts it wouldn’t make much difference if ASADA – the government run doping authority, which is presided over by the Brandis himself — can’t even get a positive drugs test out of Ben Cousins.” I think this is a bit rich, ASADA doesn’t arrange the testing regime (they are invited to test by the AFL), its not their choice to only test players on competition days, and they only test for banned substances. My understanding is that for Olympic Sports, WADA (The World AntiDoping Authority) maintains the list of banned substances, which is a list of performance enhancing drugs. For non-olympic sports, the sport itself determines what’s on the banned list. For instance smoking dope is not a performance enhancing drug, no one will test you for it, because its not a sport issue, it’s a community issue. Unless of course you’re someone like Motorcycling whom don’t want stoned people on bikes doing 200km an hour.

Greg Hill writes: It’s not just the AFL drug policy that’s broken; its testing regime is seriously flawed. It’s on record that Ben Cousins passed 14 drug tests, including 4 since last July. All while maintaining a reported $3000 a week drug habit so severe it required specialist treatment in Malibu. Earlier this year, a Hawthorn player refused to provide a sample when randomly selected – so they just picked another player! Earlier, a ” Mr X” provided a 100% accurate leak to Adelaide football identities about upcoming supposedly-random drug testing at Port Adelaide. After a brief inquiry, ASADA cleared itself of leaks and officially labeled the fiasco “a mystery”. Numerous players have come forward about not being tested for years, and with just 500 a year for 650 players, it’s not surprising. On top of that, when you consider that players aren’t tested for six weeks after the finals, fans and sponsors should wonder just how serious the AFL is about detecting and deterring drug use.

Rob Horan writes: With Cousins’ career appearing over the focus has to turn to the club and what the AFL will do to persuade the clubs that they have to not only know what’s going on among their players but take some responsibility and action. While the drug code may need review, the issue in my eyes at the moment is will the AFL have the guts to actually make an example of the Eagles and punish them? Does the AFL hierarchy have the stomach to follow through on the threats from earlier in the year that if anything else of this nature happened the Eagles faced loss of draft picks and fines? Will it take on a power club and the media of WA? Or are they terrified of allowing to happen to the Eagles what happened to Carlton? According to reports the Eagles administration knew of Cousins’ drug “issues” for five years and seemingly did nothing. Carlton knew they breached the salary cap, admitted it and lost everything. Does ignoring a dangerous social problem for so long warrant the same sort of punishment? Fingers crossed…

David Flint:

Alan Kennedy writes: Re. “Flint: Surprised Rudd needs better intelligence” (16 October, item 9). I think it is two days since Flinty, political observer without peer ( can you say that about a monarchist?) has appeared. Where is he? Is he on assignment? Like many of the Crikey mob I love The Flint and even better are the letters the next day. And top of the Flint-0-meter is if Mike Carlton is moved to comment on a particularly egregious outing from the Queen’s Man in Bondi. Bring him back. Let us feel lash of dead sheep and warm lettuce.

Jetstar already fly to the US:

Jackson Harding writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 6). Great rumour this one, not. These are the standard conditions for all air travel to and from US ports. Jetstar has been flying to the US for quite some time, a little place called Hawaii, it’s the 50th state, no doubt some Crikey readers have heard of it. It’s in between no. 49 Alaska and no. 51, Australia. Now if this was on the back of a Tiger ticket, that would be interesting.

Crikey why on earth do you bother?

Michael Fisk writes: Re. “Early Campaign Edition: Day 5.” Crikey why on earth do you bother? This election is just not that interesting. Those who think it is well and truly know what’s in the papers by the time your slim missive arrives. And nobody alive needs a double dose of Christian Kerr’s superficial statements of the bleedin’ obvious. And the goods on offer in your main email are not so overwhelming that they are improved by spreading them as thin as cafeteria jam to create yet another email to clog up our inboxes. If you can’t say it one edition (as everyone else does) you are not trying. Cut the self-indulgence and please, don’t bother.

Major slip:

Stephen Feneley writes: Re. “What the papers say” (Early Campaign Edition: Day 4, item 6). Major slip in What the Papers Say. Thomas Hunter has Michelle Griffin giving her take on the campaign when surely he could only have meant Grattan. There is a Michelle Griffin working inside The Spencer Street Churn Factory – she edits the oh so light magazine for The Sunday Age – but to paraphrase a one-time vice-presidential candidate, Michelle Griffin is no Michelle Grattan.

Reg Saunders:

Humphrey Hollins writes: At last Neil James (yesterday, comments) gives us something worth reading with his summation of the career of Reg Saunders. I have Saunders biography which is called The embarrassing Australian as I remember. Reg comes back from the war and not only can’t have a drink in a pub but his ancestral land is stolen and given to returned white diggers. I wonder if John Howard would make this excellent book required reading in schools as part of his new history curriculum. Somehow I doubt it.

Channel Seven won Brisbane:

Channel Seven Brisbane’s publicity manager, Debbie Turner, writes: Re. “Last night’s TV ratings” (yesterday, item 27). A correction to the News and Current Affairs section of yesterday’s Crikey, where you stated: “Seven News again won nationally but lost Melbourne and Brisbane.” In Brisbane, 7 News again won the 6pm timeslot on Wednesday night with 257,316 average viewers, beating Nine News by 20,354 average viewers.

TV Item Description (grouped) Channel\Market Brisbane Brisbane
1 SEVEN NEWS Network 7 257316 36.7%
2 NATIONAL NINE NEWS Network 9 236962 33.8%

As per my last email on the 11.10.07, 7 News – 7 Days has now won 32 from 33 ratings weeks and this year is on track to be the #1 News in Brisbane, for the first time in 20+ years.

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