Monkey business:

Maria Taylor writes: Re. “The PM, YouTube and the monkey shot” (yesterday, item 2). By all accounts the plight of the Indonesian orangutan is indeed desperate and any helpful gesture by an Australian government (however cynically motivated according to Crikey) should be welcome. It’s also encouraging to hear of young people with generous hearts. However, a better question is: whatever happened to the millions or was it billions already promised by the Howard government to help governments like Indonesia resist the wholesale leveling of rainforest for timber and cash crop agriculture (e.g. palm oil, soybeans). Both endangered species and atmospheric CO2 balance stand to benefit. Another one of those non-core promises?

Justin Mansfield writes: A small correction to a Jeff Sparrow’s orangutan article. Orangutans aren’t monkeys, they’re apes. To be even more specific, they’re Great Apes, a select group which also includes humans and our near-relatives the chimpanzees, gorillas and bonobos. Orangutans are worth saving (as a financial supporter of the Australian Orangutan Project I applaud any effort towards their conservation), but it’s a shame that the red apes — along with the Clarke family — have been exploited so cynically by the Prime Minister.

Kate Woodford writes: You’ve got to be kidding: “Gee if somebody is asking me to save the orangutans in the Wallabies dressing room, he’s pretty resourceful. I was really quite affected by it so I said to my staff we’ve got to do something about it,” said the PM. If that’s what it takes to affect the PM then heaven help us all.

Allen Young writes: What on earth were the orangutans doing in the Wallabies dressing room?

Flint on the unions:

Michael Hughes writes: Re. “Flint: The ALP’s great (foreign bought) con job” (yesterday, item 10). Flint attacks Labor for using “working families” at every opportunity yet ignores the fact his preferred option, the Libs, have been bleating “70 per cent former union officials on Rudd’s front bench” every two seconds for the last six months. But then, given he ends with a flourish by raising the spectre of union control, as per the rest of the pet Howard Hugging commentariat, hands up who’s surprised?

Jason King writes: I have generally seen David Flint’s contributions to Crikey as a bit of a humorous side show in the tradition of Comical Ali. I wish I could say the same about yesterday’s contribution but I have to admit I had no idea what the hell he was talking about.

Martyn Smith writes: In Monday’s Crikey the always entertaining Professor Flint’s article, was sandwiched between “A world class exhibition of weaselling” and “Reading from the Karl Rove playbook”. Flint is of course in a class of his own (I’m not sure which class) but the placement of his article seemed rather appropriate.

Steve Johnson writes: I am sure David Flint doesn’t stoop to read the many little jibes made about him in the “comments” section, but with today’s sublime masterpiece of puffery, he really does justify every criticism made to date. But what joy he brings! The Chaser boys just can’t touch him for pure effrontery.

Steve Lambert writes: Thank you so much for keeping Professor Flint occupied during the campaign – his regular contributions are, as others have suggested, hilarious, and today’s is no different. There is so much gold to mine, but I have only one comment to make: If the Labor party’s approach to winning government is as transparent, obvious, and shameless as Flinty reckons, what does it say about the Coalition, with the all of trappings and advantages of incumbency, that they can’t muster the energy or the intellect to demolish this off-the-shelf banality without raising a sweat?

Interest rates and weasel words:

Jim Mair writes: Re. “Mungo: A world class exhibition of weaselling” (yesterday, item 9). Re Mungo’s nonsensical interest rate rises piece, the whole left-wing media BS mantra is a little tiring. a) Howard never said or promised that interest rates would not rise; b) Howard did promise his government would keep interest rates low, and it has, c) He has not been Treasurer during the past 11 years. Any reference to this old position is irrelevant, c) Interest rates rose six times in six years, a total increase of 1.5%, d) Howard promised workers his government would offset those rate rises with tax breaks. It did, e) the six rate rises of total 1.5% cost workers an extra $50 per week, and f) the tax breaks promised have increased take home pay by $130 per week in the same period. Howard-bashing is good sport, but the truth might be a novel ingredient for Crikey journos. Try it.

Jenny Morris writes: As always, a delight to read Mungo on the election, summing up the moral bankruptcy of the PM, his abuse of the language, the electorate, his position – you name it, he’s debased it. I’ve thought before that surely people cannot be so mindless (or selfish) to re-elect John Howard. But they can, they are, and they have. A beautician told me last week that she’s sure interest rates will stay lower with Howard than Rudd. I didn’t like to ask for her economic credentials for such a pronouncement. I can only hope she’s in a minority, or I might have to consider secession from the Commonwealth.

David Menere writes: “Opportunity Nation”? Can this really be the Coalition’s new catch-phrase? I vaguely recall that many of the Keating Government policy statement titles for the 1996 election had the format “###### Nation”, so the Agriculture statement was called “Sustainable Rural Nation” etc. Can anyone confirm this? Would it be supremely ironic if John Howard has been reduced to recycling Paul Keating’s election material titles?

Howard’s batting average:

Greg Bradford writes: Re. Gavin Findlay (yesterday, comments). I’m not sure why Gavin thinks that Howard, should his government be elected to office for a fifth time on 24 November (thereby winning 1996, 1998, 2001, 2004 and 2007), would improve his “batting average” by equaling Bob Hawke’s second place mark of four election wins. I suppose he counts 2004 as “Out – hit wicket” by Latham. However, with Howard being the cricket tragic he is, surely he wants to avoid even getting a “batting average” by remaining not out (presumably until Costello calls stumps).

The Mark Vaile/Poochie parallel:

Michael Frost writes: I would like to congratulate Janet Keniger (yesterday, comments) on the Mark Vaile/Poochie parallels. I only hope the parallels continue with Mr Vaile informing us, soon hopefully, that: “I have to go now. My planet needs me.” Then shoots off into the sky! If it happens, I expect it would win Crikey’s Election Awards’ Suspend-Your-Cynicism Cup.

Melbourne Uni reponds:

Manager of corporate affairs at the University of Melbourne, Christina Buckridge, writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 6). I am puzzled by Crikey’s description of the most significant higher educational reform in Australia as a “messy restructuring”. The University of Melbourne’s introduction of the Melbourne Model follows more than two years of discussion, consultation, and review to develop six brand-new undergraduate degrees and a suite of graduate professional programs in line with emerging global trends in higher education. This move is being closely watched from Western Australia to the United Kingdom; it has drawn praise from University leaders from Virginia to Glasgow, from educators around the world, from business and community leaders. It has also captured the imagination of prospective students with the recent VTAC Pop Polls showing that with 5300 first preferences Melbourne’s six New Generation degrees – less that one per cent of the 690 courses in the VTAC system – have taken almost 10 per cent of the total first preferences. And from a simple inquiry Crikey would have learned that Professor Glyn Davis has a five-year contract with the University of Melbourne from January 2005, is honoured to hold the position of Vice-Chancellor, and on appointment committed to completing his term. Professor Davis has recently assured the University Council that commitment will be fulfilled. This rumour has been floated – and rejected – several times already in the national media.

Doctors’ wives:

Dr Bruce Graham writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 6). Until I read your “tips” today, I had no idea that doctors’ wives are all under 49. My mum will be pleased…. But wait. She was actually a doctor herself, so maybe that does not count. Any contributor whose stereotypes are so hackneyed as to need the literary crutch of the “doctors wives” phrase does not deserve to be published.

What’s with “Hyacinth”?:

Tim Thomson writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 6). What’s with this “Hyacinth” bit regarding the PM’s wife? If it’s intended to be ongoing then surely one can find a name for Mrs Rudd that is equally insulting.

Pilots are only human:

Stan van de Wiel writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 6). Re. Qantas flight 957. Your anonymous tipster wrote: “Let me assure your reader, as a Qantas pilot, that no aircraft will enter the active runway without a clearance from the control tower”. Brave statement considering “runway incursions” are still the number one problem in the industry and the night take-off without runway lighting by a Qantas B737 at Launceston is still before the courts. Pilots are only human and can make mistakes.


Gabriel McGrath writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 6). The Parliamentary Education Office is innocent! A quick look at the page’s source code shows there’s nothing shady in the “PEO” webpage to make the ALP logo appear as “Liberal Party Logo” in Google image search. So, this is happening due to… (a) A goof by Google, taking the “previous” Liberal logo description as being about the “next” logo, the ALP one. Or (b) it’s a Google bomb. (Not sure if Google image search is susceptible to that?). Crikey geek No. 1,387.

Patronising and lazy:

Sean Payne writes: Re. “Lazy ABC dropping the ball with early holidays” (yesterday, item 27). Could Crikey please eradicate the use of the words “luvvies” to describe the ABC, and “bruvvers” to denote anyone with any connection to a trade union? Glenn Dyer and Christian Kerr are particularly frequent offenders. The descriptions are patronising and lazy.


Guy Rundle writes: Andrew Dempster (yesterday, comments) is correct to say that Finland is not culturally, by origin, part of Scandinavia. The collective term used to be Fenno-Scandi(navi)a, which seems to have fallen into abeyance, and ‘Scandinavian Europe’ is now preferred, and which I should have used. But the countries are so bound together by commerce, etc that the idea of Finnish separateness is a little romantic now. It occurred to me that this matter was too small to warrant a reply, but given that the PM is now funding monkeys on an individual basis, I thought it had a fair chance of getting above the fold.


Mike Smith writes: David Liberts (yesterday, comments), I did not say that Cricket Australia owned the IP rights to cricket. They do not own the IP rights of all cricket played. Just cricket that they present. If you want to play cricket, they don’t own that. If anyone wants to set up their own team organisation, they don’t own that. But what goes on with what they present, they own. This includes broadcast rights, still images and other guff, as you blithely describe it. What form do you suppose this backlash might take? Not watching? I doubt if fans would actually do that.

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