Tony Jones won’t replace Kerry O’Brien:

Alan Sunderland, ABC’s Head of National Programs, writes: Re: “Tips and Rumours” (yesterday, item 8). Crikey published: “Hottest gossip at the Walkleys last week… Tony Jones to replace Kerry O’Brien in The 7.30 Report big chair when it resumes after the summer break. If Centrebet’s holding a book on this, put your house on it.” Australia’s housing affordability crisis is bad enough without advising your readers to “put your house” on that particular rumour. Not a skerrick of truth in it. If anyone’s still silly enough to want that bet, I’ll take any action going…

Don Argus, AFR “Dreamteam” chairman:

Kathy Bail, editor of The AFR Magazine, writes: Re. “Don Argus, AFR “Dreamteam” chairman” (Friday, item 34). The story on the Dream Team (Don Argus) was published in the AFR Magazine, not BOSS.

Politicians abiding by the scouting code:

James Matthews writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. I love the idea of politicians abiding by the scouting code but they generally have such bad memories I thought it might help if I contributed the ditty we used to use 40 years ago to remember the Scouting Code:

Trusty, Loyal, Helpful,
Brotherly, Courteous, Kind,
Obedient, Smiling, Thrifty
And Pure as the whistling pine.

Oh for a politician like that!

Phil Doyle writes: We may be in for quite a ride with this government, but I’m not sure we should be comparing them to scout masters just yet.

Costello’s legacy:

John Kotsopoulos writes: Re. “Do-nothing Costello’s legacy” (yesterday, item 4). Stephen Koukoulas has nailed Peter Costello as the lucky surfer who chanced on a series of monster waves that emanated from parts unknown to him and which finally dumped him when he least expected it because he lacked the skill to truly master them.

Therese Rein:

Brad Ruting writes: Re. “Did the Howard government discriminate against Therese Rein?” (Yesterday, item 3). Regarding item 3 on the Howard Government, in its last days, terminating contracts for Therese Rein’s company Ingeus: perhaps it was poor service quality or a drive to make things difficult for the Rudd family, but it also could have been an attempt to set up future controversy. If the contracts were terminated for no good reason, then it may have been expected that the government would re-instate them later. Regardless of who owns the company at that stage, the Liberal Party could construe this as nepotism on the part of the new Prime Minister. I’d like to hope that cynical personal-attack politics isn’t trumping economic and social efficiency when it comes to government contracts—God forbid, as if that never happened under Howard.

Penny Wong:

Matthew Weston writes: Re. ‘Mungo: Thank you and good night, John Howard” (yesterday, item 1). Who cares about the s-xuality and ethnicity of a representative of the Australian Government being sent to Bali? You might herald this as a huge change, but for a lot of us it is a non issue. She got the job based on competence, which is obvious to whoever listens to her. I’m not even sure that many people knew of her personal life, so proclaiming this as a huge change for Australia is the sort of pointless triumphantisim that the conservative pundits so often indulged in. And as for the intervention, like so many before the election you break it down into such a simple issue, when it’s not, never has been and won’t be. There is an Aboriginal MP in the NT, Alison Anderson, a member of the Labor Party, I believe who to a large extent supports the intervention, as does Marcia Langton a prominent Aboriginal academic, and Galarrwuy Yunupingu, another prominent Indigenous Australian who also supports it, so leaving Noel Pearson out there, as the only Aboriginal who does is once again trying to reduce his point of view to a simple outlier. I refer you to a comment I made often prior to the election, what would you do different Mungo, different to what has been attempted before that has failed, what would you do different now, what brilliant idea does your triumphant largesse allow you to offer to us?

Paul Hampton-Smith writes: I hope that Penny Wong has her garden drippers under control and drives a Prius, because people will be far more puritanical about the environmental footprint aspects of her private life rather than anything else, and I am not looking forward to the petty pontification. I assume that Rudd chose her for her negotiating skills, and what I want Crikey to do is to ignore the trivia and follow her statements and progress on Climate Change very, very closely.

Identity Cards:

Stuart James writes: Re. “Enough to drive Booz Allan Hamilton to drink” (yesterday, item 14). What’s all the fuss about the access card? As far as I’m concerned a whole new approach to all cards should be adopted. I know the technology is out there – someone (perhaps encouraged by Government) should just start applying it. I envisage just one card being created and having coded on it the myriad details that all of us currently hold on individual cards. Such as Centrelink, Medibank, private medical fund data, Amex, Visa, NRMA, and all the rest of them (I personally hold 12 cards all, more or less, saying the same thing. Why? As for the expressed fears of this being a way of slyly introducing an Identity Card, remember that the regime that did the most to prosecute its citizens, the Nazis, had no electronic media at all. Grow up!

Brendan Nelson:

Andrew Lewis writes: Re. “Abjorensen: Has the Liberal brand become political poison?” (Yesterday, item 17). I saw Brendan Nelson being quizzed on Insiders on Sunday morning. Oh Dear! It wasn’t long before my wife was ready to throw her breakfast bowl, cereal, fruit and all, at the screen. I wasn’t far behind her. After a few minutes we were both drowning out his responses with pleas for him to “say something, oh for God’s sake, say something. What, what was that, that doesn’t mean anything. Say something you idiot.” Now I should preface this to say that it is very rare for either of us to talk to the TV. There was a time, many years ago, where I thought he might be a future leader. Those hopes faded long ago with his brilliant idea that every school had to have a flagpole and an Australian flag, and then his last big decision to commit us to buying billions of dollars of planes that the Air Force didn’t want. That decision will haunt him, and us, for years to come. Karen Middleton commented on Insiders that we don’t know what he stands for. The look from Barry Cassidy as he said something to the effect of “we still don’t” was priceless.


Reg Fowler writes: Re. “Too close to call? The count continues” (Friday, item 15). In this weekend’s papers Maxine McKew was quoted as taking the seat, she said she had not heard John Howard conceding it nor had he called her, which is as I understand it is the protocol but I have not read anything since about whether John Howard has conceded the seat. If he has I have missed it and if he hasn’t then that’s pretty poor cricket, to use a phrase he would understand.

GM food:

Paul Morgan writes: Re. “GM food is not the new asbestos (even if there are questions)” (yesterday, item 16). Ben Gilna’s article on GM food is remarkable for its Panglossian “take” on the positive elements in GM food production. One stands in awe of his (subliminally qualified) assurances that we do not need to “panic” about this development, suggesting that it being blessed with the broad brush of science’s approval makes everything OK. But on what basis does he assert that we are not dealing with a new asbestos? Would not a basic risk management approach suggest that where considerable unknowns remain to be clarified before assurances such as those on which Dr Gilna hangs his hat have any credibility, one might – at the very least – hasten very slowly before lifting bans on sowing GM seeds?

John Newton writes: I’d like Ben Gilna to tell me how we know that GM is not the new asbestos? Before the release of GM food in the US, there was no testing. Since the release there has been no follow up. The fact that food related illnesses have doubled in the US dating from the release of GM foods cannot be pinned on GM – because there has been no testing. Let’s move to Australia. Ben has enormous faith in our own regulatory bodies – the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator and Food Standards Australia New Zealand. Neither body has done any testing. They have relied on American – mostly biotech industry – tests. You can’t blame them. They have no funding – FSANZ’s funding was stripped from them by the last administration. And as for asbestos. Well, let’s not forget that the first death from asbestosis was diagnosed in 1924 – and the industry spent the next 80-90 years lying about it. Need I add Thalidomide, DDT, tobacco? Sorry, I’m not so convinced. Let me just say this. The Europeans won’t risk it. Why should we?


Pamela Curr, Campaign Coordinator, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre ASRC, writes: Re. “Rudd must tackle Islamophobia” (yesterday, item 20). Australia is a big box of shiny apples with a few rotten ones hidden at the bottom. Leaving them there will rot the whole box. The New Government must tackle the festering fear, racism and Islamophobia which is Howard’s legacy.

Guy Rundle writes: Tamas Calderwood (yesterday, comments) is incorrect in his assertion that Spain did not participate in the Iraq invasion. Spain did not send combat troops. It did however supply medical support staff, minesweepers, and allow US forces to route through two Spanish airbases, involvement going far beyond the diplomatic. I never suggested that the minor nuisance of radical Islamist terrorism was a threat only to pro-US governments, merely that the incident Carroll quoted would count as proof for the opposite of the argument he was making – the sort of total disregard for evidence we’ve come to expect from the pro-war party, though it’s rarely as ham-fisted as Carroll’s was. Calderwood’s argument that Carroll may have got his facts wrong, but the broad argument right will remind many of the retrospective justification for the Iraq invasions – no WMDs, but it was for ‘human rights’ anyway. A million deaths later, the only good result of this is that people now utterly distrust Western invasions cloaked in humanitarian language. Ultimately, Team War’s cynical elitism served us well.

Don’t buck the Broncos!:

Frustrated Broncos fan Ashley Dunn writes: Re. “Coaches join PMs and shock jocks by staying too long” (yesterday, item 27). I wanted ask the question, where you are getting your statistics from? Jeff Wall wrote: “…the Broncos have played in seven grand finals, winning six.” The Broncos have played in the following grand finals: ’92, ’93, ’97, ’98, ’00 and ’06. And they have won all 6 of them!

Seeking a tone-ment:

David Hughes writes: I second Carol Lockyer’s plea for a new ring-tone (yesterday, comments). The Paul Keating one has served me well and a replacement would be much appreciated.

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