Be serious, stop the insults:

Douglas Kirsner, chair of the Public Affairs Committee of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission, writes: Re. “Courting the Jewish vote” (25 October, item 19). I write in relation to Antony Loewenstein’s especially vitriolic attack on Jewish Labor candidates in Crikey. He made some quite baseless and outrageous accusations, alleging with no evidence at all, that Mark Dreyfus, George Newhouse and Michael Danby wanted to be in Canberra just to push Jerusalem buttons. I would have to wonder whether Loewenstein himself is more than Antony “one note” on focussing so much on the Zionist conspiracy as the root cause of so many problems. Danby, Dreyfus and Newhouse are all across a wide range of issues, only one of which is Israel. He also alleges that the ALP supports Israel only because they don’t want to offend the Jews– the Zionists, Loewenstein gratuitously alleges, “would eat him or her, with crackling, for dinner”. Isn’t it at least possible that the ALP have independent minds of their own and determine their own policies. Loewenstein should investigate why Doc Evatt and Bob Hawke were such supporters of Israel. Or for that matter Robert McLelland whom Loewenstein also sneers at. If you were running a serious correspondent explaining why Australia’s significant Jewish Community (about 120 000), they would be looking at why in two marginal seats Melbourne Ports (3.6%) and Wentworth (2%) there are apparently very different voting intentions. They would explain why the majority of Jews in Wentworth vote for Turnbull of the Liberal Party while the majority in Melbourne Ports vote for Danby of the ALP. Constituents appreciate a good local MP when they see one! I wrote a serious article in response to Loewenstein’s last effort. I think it is important for you to publish some kind of serious journalism on such issues, not just insults that impugn the integrity of these people and also of those many Jews and non-Jews inside and outside the Labor Party, who have a serious point of view different from a sneering ideological extremist like Lowenstein.

Family First farce:

Gregg Savage writes: Re. “Greens turn their back on a moralising Christ. Greens win” (yesterday, item 7). First and foremost, I read your daily/twice daily newsletter with absolute awe. If I could so much as get paid to do your laundry for you, I would. However, in David MacCormack’s article he writes the following passage: “No wonder ACL likes the Family First Party, which in recent days has taken its obsession with p-rn to new, erm, lengths.” I am not a Family First supporter by any stretch of the mark, but that doesn’t mean that after reading your previous articles on the Andrew Quah matter that I feel he deserves to be ridiculed in this manner. Firstly, it’s not the entire party, it was Mr Quah, and it is clear that he is a man who lacks positive self-esteem and (possibly) needs some form counseling. Secondly, I sincerely feel that Mr MacCormack should have listened to the Angel on his other shoulder saying, “Don’t write this sentence. It sounds like you’re a terrible comedian making d-ck jokes as opposed to a credible journalist who is privileged enough to write for a respectable and well needed media outlet.”

Mark Edmonds writes: David MacCormack writes of the ACL; “demanding…dark mutterings…religious fixations…controlling …devout…monotheistic delusions…nasty agenda”, as well as a healthy dose of sarcasm. Just so I’m clear, Mr MacCormack, you wouldn’t be letting your personal opinions about the character of Christ inform your reportage, would you? Not the most subtle or rational of political reporting, I’m afraid.

Keith Binns writes: I’m a Christian. The ACL does not speak for me. It would have to be the most pretentious and inaccurate name for an organisation I’ve ever heard.

It does rain more under Labor:

Mary Sharah writes: Re. Ross Stuart Whitby (yesterday, comments), who wrote: “Why doesn’t the Labor party counter with the fact ‘Australia receives more rain under a federal Labor government’?” Go to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology National Climate Centre and have a look at their rainfall graph since federation, then compare it to years when Labor was in government. Rainfall generally seemed higher during Labor periods of government – with the very highest rainfall year during Gough Whitlam’s last year of government. Rainfall dropped during Malcolm Fraser’s government — in spite of that nag Van Der Hum winning the Melbourne Cup in a thunderstorm which was so heavy no one saw the race. And of course one of our driest years ever occurred in 2002. Farmers take note.

Detention centres, riots, refugees:

Heather Tyler writes: Re. “Exclusive footage: detention centres, riots, refugees. Remember them?” (Yesterday, item 1). After the Port Hedland riots Ruddock commented that he wasn’t sure “that the policy of detention should be reviewed because detainees aren’t prepared to observe normal standards of behaviour that we would expect in the Australian community.” As I later said in my book (Asylum: Voices Behind the Razor Wire, Lothian Books 2003), Morteza wasn’t living in part of the Australian community. Actually, if I was stuck in one of those detention hell holes, my normal standard of behaviour would be to riot at every possible opportunity.

Dizzy with all the polls:

Paul Gilchrist writes: Re. “Today’s polls” (Early Campaign Edition: Day 16, item 2). Peter Brent very rightly says we are getting dizzy with all the contradictory polls: Liberals campaign well, Labor goes up and vice versa. All this assumes that the pollsters are correct when they say their margin of error is two percentage points. But isn’t it just possible that the margin of error is really four percentage points? That would explain the last poll with Labor ahead by 16 points and the similar poll a couple of months ago which started the “Howard must go” push. When I see these “rogue” polls appearing every now and again, against the pretty constant trend of 55-45 to Labor, I really wonder about the accuracy of the pollsters.

Of cacti and taxes:

Paul Hampton-Smith writes: Re. “Sparrow: Put some kids on the debate panel” (yesterday, item 11). Have we missed the five-year-old Rourke Sheridan’s real question, in much the same vein as the boy who sees his uncle’s burial and remembers the priest intoning “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and into the hole he goes”. Did he really mean “Who made taxes?” And I would have liked to hear Peter Costello’s answer to that one too.

Turnbull knows how to calculate risk:

Simon Hasleton writes: Re. “Mungo: The Libs are all about the individual, ask Malcolm” (Monday, item 8). Why on earth is it suggested that Mr Turnbull would defy his Leader’s opposition to Kyoto so that he might improve his own chances in his green seat of Wentworth? As a banker, he is well accustomed to the calculation of risk, so why would he not follow his decision on Gunn’s mill, loudly espouse the rejection of Kyoto, and ensure – at the least – that he does not have to spend his next three years contemplating a wall-to-wall triumphant ALP government, while surrounded by the wreckage of a greatly diminished, snarling, backstabbing rump? What a downer that would be!

A narrow future vision:

John Sved writes: Re. “Abjorensen: Howard saw the future on climate change” (yesterday, item 13). Abjorensen credits Howard with seeing the future implications of climate change earlier than most people saw them. His past climate change scepticism must have been just an elaborate and benevolent deception. It was all done to save us from the consequences of climate change, by putting off the moment when we needed to admit that something was wrong. The main point about this scenario, if true, is that it shows the way in which Howard’s (and Abjorensen’s?) thinking must have been influenced by coal and other lobby groups. What’s right for Exxon, in seeking to deny climate change, must be right for Australia. The really sad thing is that new initiatives for renewable energy have been discouraged for years by this attitude, to the extent that Australia may already have lost the possibility of playing a leadership role in this field. If this is future vision, it is a very narrow one.

Forget Linley, focus on other things:

Californian Penny Gerbode writes: Re. “Is Linley the man in latest Royal scandal?” (Yesterday, item 20). As an American visiting Melbourne, it was sad to read that Crikey didn’t have more pressing articles to write than the one on David Linley. With all the more negative things going on in this country; your election and water shortage, the sad state of affairs for your schools and Iraq, couldn’t you have reported on something that had to do with things that should be done in your own backyard?

REX and the cock pit jump seat:

Peter Rule writes: Re. “REX does its bit for the war on terror” (yesterday, item 4). I pretty much always enjoy Ben Sandilands contributions to Crikey about things aviation. But his criticism of REX, in allowing a passenger to fly in the cockpit jump seat, seemed to me a bit harsh. In this day and age of insane and completely ridiculous anti-terror motivated policies, and completely inflexible implementers of them, it’s nice to see one organisation that’s smart enough to know that a bit of flexibility serves no harm whatsoever — think about the poor old passenger. The circumstances described were hardly a terrorist risk or a commercial exploitation as suggested.

Simon Brown writes: Stop scaremongering Ben. I assume the passenger had been screened via the normal security (X-ray) checks prior to entering the airside area at Sydney T1 and therefore presented no more risk than any other passenger while on board the aircraft. How could even the most efficient terrorist mastermind the late removal of the original aircraft from service, know that a replacement with a lesser seat configuration would be substituted and then somehow influence his/her seat allocation to be sure they would be placed in the cockpit jump seat from where they could carry out their dastardly deeds? The captain and chief pilot made a sensible operational decision to avoid severely inconveniencing 34 passengers. You seem to forget that REX also operate Beech 1900 aircraft into Sydney. The cockpits of these aircraft are accessible to all passengers who, incidentally, depart from airports like Dubbo where they are NOT screened.

Guy Allen writes: Your response to REX putting a passenger in the jump seat is hysterical. 9/11 involved people who targeted flights and took them over. That’s a long, long, way from a last minute decision by a pilot to pick a passenger at random and sit them up front. What are you suggesting — that a trained terrorist is going to be on every regional flight in Australia on the off chance they get randomly selected to sit in the cabin? Time to take a cold shower, folks…

First Dog on the Moon:

Craig Talbot writes: Re. “First Dog on the Moon” (Early Campaign Edition: Day 16, item 5). Please keep the First Dog On The Moon when the election is over. It is brilliant! Definitely brightens up my mornings and is well done. Makes the “marathon” election much more bearable. Particularly, liked today’s.

Melinda Houston writes: First Dog on the Moon is the highlight of my day. It’s the only thing making this election bearable.

Peter Faris:

Alan Kennedy writes: Re. “Barns: I never thought I’d defend Peter Faris but…” (yesterday, item 22). Like Greg Barns, I never thought I would be on the same song sheet as Peter Faris, but the campaign against him by the Bar association places me firmly in the front row of the choir. Is he being picked on because he spoke out or because he got it right?

The widows’ allowance:

John Molloy writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 8). Re. The widows allowance. I thought there was no such thing, but anyway your correspondent has it backwards. See the Centrelink website. You have to have been widowed at an age over 40, be born prior to 1 July 1955, have no recent workforce experience and pass an income and assets test. At least that’s a better deal than blokes. I met a gentleman many years ago who had been on a carer’s allowance for about 15 years, looking after his invalid wife. She died when he was 64. He was put on the dole.

Aboriginal communities:

Mike Hughes writes: I wonder if Ian Brewster (yesterday, comments) knows why Aboriginal communities tend exist in poor regional areas of Australia. Could it be that it was because that land was, until recently, of little value to settlement Australia and as a consequence Aboriginal communities survived dispossession and disease? As Australians that dwell within the nation’s heart where cultural and family ties dominate it’s reasonable to assume the government will meet their needs is it not? After all, mining communities and stations to size of small Europeans states get that support. Oh, I think I just answered my own question…

Editorial independence:

David Havyatt writes: Re. “Dead diggers and big jets: blurring the line at the SMH” (Monday, item 4). Margaret Simons might be right that the Fairfax Board was given legal advice that the Charter of Editorial Independence only has “moral” force, especially as it is not listed in the list of “charters” on the Fairfax Media website. However, I would have thought that the readership (customers) of the paper rely upon the Charter to some extent in their decision to purchase the papers and to not honour the Charter would constitute misleading and deceptive conduct within the meaning of s52 of the Trade Practices Act. The Fairfax Board could clarify the position by adopting the Charter and publishing it on the website – that would be good corporate governance.


Ben Birchall writes: Re. “Memo Carlton: It wasn’t all Pagan’s fault” (yesterday, item 26). Memo to Charles Happell: While you make some excellent points re: Denis Pagan and Carlton, you glossed over Pagan’s woeful stop-gap recruiting in his first season at Carlton. Sure, he was hampered by a lack of draft picks, but that’s no excuse for recycling underdone or overcooked Roos like Mick Martyn and Digby Morell. Pagan coached for immediate success, with a lack of vision for the future, patching up leaks where he should have been redesigning the ship. Consequently, Carlton have a dearth of good players in their mid twenties now, leaving their talented draft picks like Murphy and Gibbs under protected and unable to learn at the normal rate for rookie players. Thanks for that, Denis. And it’s Andrew Carazzo, not Adrian.

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