Why does Overington persist in writing about Ecuyer:

Dani Ecuyer, independent candidate for Wentworth, writes: Re. “Overington, Ecuyer and a mess of blurring lines” (yesterday, item 24). Dear Crikey, I am writing to go on record that Margaret Simons’ piece on the Ecuyer/Overington complaint, failed to address a few facts and might have been a more factually correct piece had I been contacted. Firstly, with regard to self promotion on this issue. I reported Caroline’s email after the event, on 26 October. Why it took so long for Media Watch to respond is a question you need to ask them. Certainly after Caroline’s attack in The Australian on Monday, Media Watch’s piece turned out to be timely. Thank you for giving me credit for being able to manipulate the media that well, but as you know no one, or particularly an independent candidate has that power. The question you should be asking is why does Ms Overington persist in writing about me? For the record she has been to my house once, on Friday 12 October after my trip to the Tamar Valley. As a good quality rag, surely Crikey should try and get the facts right? Isn’t this at the heart of the ethical debate as well?

Why is Wentworth so important?:

Niall Clugston writes: Re. “Overington, Ecuyer and a mess of blurring lines” (yesterday, item 24). Margaret Simons’ musing on the ethics of the Overington-Ecuyer incident raises the question: why does the electorate of Wentworth command so much attention, in Crikey and elsewhere? The answer’s obvious: because Wentworth is an affluent, inner-city electorate, which journalists and the rest of the intelligentsia can relate to. By a combination of the issues last time and the boundaries this time, it is notionally a marginal seat. Magic arithmetic aside, the chances of Labor snaring Sydney’s eastern suburbs are slim. The chances of an Independent like Ecuyer are nil. Perhaps the commentariat should broaden their horizons.

When it matters, people won’t vote Labor:

Chris Flynn writes: Re. “Mackerras: I tipped this” (yesterday, item 11). How can you run his self congratulatory “I tipped this” piece until after the election? Let me then be the first to tip that Howard will be returned with a reduced majority for the following reasons: The polls have him on roughly 45-47% two-party preferred. He needs to be at about 48.5% on election day, bearing in mind the amount of Labor votes locked in safe Labor seats. Family First and their preferences, who largely do not feature in prompted polls, should be good for about 1%. Therefore, perhaps up to an unexpected 2.5% of the electorate need to walk into the polling booth and vote Liberal, something that is quite foreseeable, given the reluctance of Australians to support conservatives in opinion polls and given the “surprise” strength of the conservative vote in each of Howard’s elections. Agreed the campaign has been particularly unimpressive, but also don’t forget the general browbeating of the left after the last two elections – “Howard won but no-one I know votes for him”. It’s clear how much of Australia operates – they dismiss the Liberals in general conversation, especially public discourse, then quietly vote for them anyway due to the nature of the alternative.

The Liberals know all is lost:

John Taylor writes: Re. “Richardson: The battle for the Liberal Party begins” (yesterday, item 10). I reckon Charles Richardson is right. The Liberals know all is lost. Everything from here on is damage limitation designed to ensure a one term only Labor Government. The $9 billion giveaway in the Coalition launch was intended to suck Rudd into similar levels of promise. When over the next three years he can’t deliver, the Libs can make much of his “lies” in 2010. It would seem from current worldwide circumstances, over which no government will have control, that the next three years might be as good as any to spend in Opposition, with a big chance of convincing the electorate in 2010 what they couldn’t in 2007: that the Libs are better economic managers than those “union thugs”. Of course, that’s bye-bye to Costello, Downer, Abbott, Nelson, Hockey, Bishop and probably Turnbull as potential Prime Ministers. Who’s left? Try Andrew Robb.

The states won’t co-operate with Rudd:

Allan Griffin writes: Re. “Rudd: I can feel economically responsible infrastructure coming on” (yesterday, item 2). Rudd claims he will work and co-operate with the States and commentators swoon. Rudd promises an education revolution but it is in areas the State are primarily responsible and he promises to put in $2b to fix the waiting lists for elective surgery and if the States don’t accept his unspecified reforms he wants to put a referendum proposal for a Federal takeover. Fraser promised co-operative federalism after he won the election in 1975 and many of the States had LNP coalition government. The record was little co-operation and more financial games were played, e.g. the specific purpose payments to the States were cut on prudential budgetary grounds. Given the state of the economy and splurge of cash promised by both parties, watch out for more statements about non-core promises and financial back flips after the election. Rudd is no more a financial conservative than Howard.

The Chaser:

Alan Kerlin writes: Re. “Howard-bothering Chasers detained by Qld police” (yesterday, item 1). Jane Nethercote wrote: “The Chaser’s style of “breaching the peace” is unlikely one anticipated by the legislation…” Are you kidding? Using the legislation to stop public commentators pointing out the farcical behaviour of certain elected representatives would have been a key reason why Sir Joh enacted that law!

The disturbing case of Izhar Ul-Haque:

David Havyatt writes: Re. “The disturbing case of Izhar Ul-Haque: your laws at work” (yesterday, item 5). The Judge made the following statements: “The only reasonable conclusion is that the accused was in fact detained by the officers although they knew that they had no legal right to hinder him. Their language was designed to ensure, if possible, that there would be no need to do so.” (Para 35) And: “Although there is now a statutory offence in New South Wales, namely that constituted by s86 of the Crimes Act 1900, I do not think that the common law has been thereby abrogated. At all events, in this case, it seems to me that, at least officer B15 committed that offence, the elements of which are the taking or detaining of a person without that person’s consent (relevantly) “with the intention of obtaining an advantage” within the meaning of s86″ (Para 59) “It may not matter very much whether the officers committed the crime of false imprisonment or the tort.” (Para 60). The only relevance for the Judge in that matter was the admissibility of evidence. My question is whether the NSW or Federal Attorney-General is going to refer the false imprisonment question to a Director of Public Prosecutions for advice. My other question is whether the Attorney-General has instructed ASIO to implement an appropriate compliance program to ensure officers don’t offend in future.

Spending spree:

Craig Duckmanton writes: Re. “A big price tag for campaign — but not much silver lining” (yesterday, item 16). With $60billion finding its way out of the bottom drawer (or from under the bed at Aunt Mary’s) over the last few weeks, can someone explain the apparent inaction by the government in putting these funding proposals together over the last three years? On what basis does the country (we the people!) have to wait for an election to get some action? The mind is again numbed watching politicians wallow around the shallow end of the pool throwing out lollies to passers by. I still like Eva Cox’s explanation that we do in fact live in a society and not an economy and the sooner the politicians took this on board, the sooner we would all be better off. Clearly, from what I can see over the last few weeks, Going for Growth puts upward pressure on exchange rates, lack of a skilled workforce puts pressure on wages and interest rates… what lever does the government have its hands on… apart from the very obvious?

Steve Robinson writes: To my mind John Howard’s biggest risk is alienating the Liberal party’s core constituency by attempting so desperately to appeal to the so called “Howard battlers”. Never mind the marginals – Howard needs to ensure that rusted on Liberal voters don’t begin to desert him in droves as he increasingly throws money at everyone and everything. Economic conservative? I hardly think so.

Do polls influence votes?:

Stuart James writes: Re. “Government Senate support up: Morgan Poll” (yesterday, item 13). I have often wondered whether polls themselves in some way affect the outcome of elections. If polls favour one party, say, does that, in itself, affect the way people will vote. It’s a bit like quantum physics where, if you measure something, you will affect its properties. Anyone know?

Retiring the “latte sipper” label:

Richard Green writes: Perhaps it’s time we retired the “latte sipper” label, not only for its inanity and the inherent laziness of its commentary, but the fact it is strangely inaccurate for what it wished to describe. By point of illustration we can look at the Macquarie Centre in Sydney’s Macquarie Park. Now, shopping centres are identical across suburban Australia, but this one has the added benefit of being in the Mackerras Pendulum median seat of Bennelong (in the more conservative wing of the seat however), and maybe it can be seen as a microcosm of middle Australia. Sure enough, there are a full 13 outlets selling espresso based beverages. But maybe the label is correct, maybe the PM lost the electorate on issues such as climate change because suburbia is now chock full of latte sippers, the insidious urban elites are now suburban elites. Either way, perhaps Crikey should run a competition to find a new insult, one that remains descriptive only of the minority; so that the commentariat which loves such terms so much can show they are at least remotely acquainted with the world of ordinary Australians.

Interest rates:

John Kotsopoulos writes: Jim Mair (yesterday, comments) misses the point on Howard and interest rates. It’s not the failure to keep rates at record lows that is Howard’s ongoing problem it’s the fact that he and his party made the promise to do so. The Lib ads initially referred to keeping interest rates “at record lows”. Later ads contracted that to “keeping interest rates low”. Howard consistently denied ever giving the first message until he was caught out by a transcript, but he sure as hell happy to leave the impression throughout the campaign that rates would not move up. That wilful deceit misled and damaged many people who had no way of knowing the truth. After being confronted by his own words Howard then tried to leave the impression he was sorry when what he really meant he was sorry the promise is now an albatross around his sorry neck.

Marilyn Shepherd writes: Howard said at the last election that the coalition would keep interest rates lower than the ALP, a proposition that could never be tested. However, the lie was that he had this sort of control which Jim Nair in his spirited defence of Howard’s lunacy seems to have missed. The reserve bank has shown without a shadow of a doubt that Howard has no control beyond making policy to keep inflation low. Howard has thrown out 5 so-called tax cuts that were nothing more than mending bracket creep and for each of those “cuts” interest rates have risen twice.

Some Zen amongst the insanity:

Jina Hardy writes: Re. “Rundle’s morning haiku” (Early Campaign Edition: Day 30, item 6). Perfect. It nearly brought a tear to my eye as I read this morning’s haiku. Thank you for some Zen amongst the insanity.

An April fools joke?:

Shirley Colless writes: Re. “Tough times for ABC Learning” (yesterday, item 31). Fast Eddie Groves should be able to take heart as he sees his share price or more likely his bank balance soaring following the PM’s commitment to pay the promised child care rebate direct to child care ‘operators’ as of 1 April next year. But hang on a tick, 1 April?

John Laws:

John Mair writes: Re. “Glenn Dyer’s comments” (yesterday, item 26). I thought Glenn Dyer’s comments on the Laws/Denton interview disingenuous. Either that or he really doesn’t fully understand the realities of commercial radio. There’s a very big difference between John Laws and Alan Jones in the “cash for comment” saga and it comes down to the word “credibility”. Laws credibility was born out of his understanding of his audience and their plight especially the “Aussie Battler”. Although Jones penned “Struggle Street”, he could never embrace it like Laws did. Laws has soul; Jones does not. Laws never hid his bias for his “favourite” advertisers – in fact his support for them was sometimes so over the top it was painful. But he believed in what he said he believed and he wore it on his shirt sleeves. In commercial radio, John Laws was commercial. And there’s nothing wrong with that because he never deceived his audience. Ultimately they could take or leave his raptures knowing full well his bias. Jones comes from an entirely different angle and stance. He exploits the authority he has by framing his programme as editorial. Bias and opinion is presented as fact. This is a huge difference in public deception and Laws should never have been subjected to the same judicial criteria.

So many disasters that never happened:

Jim Hart writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 6). Last week QF957 at Canberra, now it’s QF73 at San Francisco – so many disasters that never happened. Yes, SFO and many other airports in the world operate parallel runways, and on any day of the week you can watch the 747s and other heavies arrive on their parallel paths in numbers that make Sydney look like a bush strip. Of course they are meant to maintain proper separation at all times but rather than getting alarmed I find it quite reassuring to be reminded that pilots can go to plan B if there is any risk.

Finland:

John McArthur writes: Re. Guy Rundle (yesterday, comments). The more common collective label used to include Finland and Iceland with Sweden, Norway and Denmark plus various attachments such as the Faroe Islands is the Nordic region. There is a Nordic Council of ministers covering all portfolios which has a secretariat and the chair of which changes annually (see www.norden.org for more details). I was corrected on the inappropriateness of using the term Scandinavia by this organization two years ago.

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Peter Fray

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