Not a good election to win?:

Gary Hawthorne writes: Re. “Not a good election to win?” (Yesterday, item 2). Christian Kerr’s article sounds like a chastened Liberal who just lost an election they thought they would never lose. The electorate are not that stupid that they believe economic factors reverse overnight. If the economy has suddenly turned into a disaster after the ALP was elected and now a recession is in the wind (not mentioned in the Costello era), does Christian believe that the Labor party will not make hay over the 11 years of economic neglect. No one will really believe that we had wonderful years of economic sunshine that suddenly changed when Rudd was elected. Just as Peter Costello did in 1996 the Spin doctors will be out to tell the Public of the economic mess left for the Labor party to repair. Any policy change will be blamed on this factor. They will be reminded of a Prime Minister who lost his position and his seat through crazy policy mistakes. A treasurer not game to hang around to face the music. A group of gutless ministers not game to challenge the old leader even when disaster threatened. A backbench who had no new ideas. The Liberals will wear the recession if it occurs in this term and their economic credentials will go the way of their party. I do not believe that any politician on either side would be happy to go into opposition, even if the predictions of economic gloom were true the Liberals still would have preferred to win the election. I usually enjoy Christian’s articles but I think he may be off the mark with this one.

Cameron Sharrock writes: Christian said Rudd would not be as “lucky” as Howard. Rudd would inherit an underlying inflation rate of about 4% from “an exemplary economic manager,” and kah-loo kah-lay with any luck we’ll get a Howard-Costello generated recession in the first term of their replacements and go back to a non-Labor government in three years (he did say a recession would sink a second term). Here’s a different take on it – Rudd is the new Hewson, not the new Howard. Rudd will inherit trouble just close enough to its cause to be able to deny making it but also crucially take full credit for “fixing” it when it does fix itself (as it will). And if he never gets control of the Senate and enacts BossChoices (opposite to WorkChoices – bosses can choose which union they submit to) or some other ridiculous ideological insult we could be looking at the political equivalent of a Ricky Ponting. Taking captaincy after “the best” – and immediately proving himself superior.

Penny Wong:

Despina Anagnostou writes: Re. “Mungo: Thank you and goodnight, John Howard”, (Monday, item 1). I would like to defend Mungo McCallum in his celebration of the fact that we now have a federal minister in Penny Wong who is of Chinese background and who is openly gay. I do however agree with both Matthew Weston and Paul Hampton Smith (yesterday, comments) that Penny won her position on merit. What I don’t agree with is that this is not a big deal, given these aspects of her background. In years past (and perhaps in the 11 years past), a person with Penny’s talent and who was likewise obviously well qualified for her position, would have been overlooked because of her ethnic background and because of her s-xuality. In at least Penny’s case, these in some way defining but nonetheless irrelevant factors are no longer prohibitive to full participation in political life. Once we see more women, and more men and women of non-English speaking backgrounds in parliament and holding ministerial portfolios than we already have, we’ll know that these factors are no longer prohibitive or even obstacles, to anyone’s life in politics at all.

Rainfall, drought and Kyoto:

Steven McKiernan, Water Policy Officer, Conservation Council of WA, writes: Re. “Drought update: Positive outlook for summer rainfall” (yesterday, item 12). Richard Farmer has done a very brief synopsis of Bureau of Meteorology analysis – yes it does seem that there is an above average chance that median summer rainfall will be exceeded this year. And doesn’t the large patch of green extending over the Pilbara, Murchison, Gascoyne and Goldfields of WA look encouraging? It might be pertinent to note at this moment that the delivery method of all that above average summer rainfall is from the five cyclones expected to cross the WA coast over the next four months as we move into a La Nina cycle. The chance that even one of the cyclones moving down the coast and testing the construction efficiency of Perth’s hastily built Tuscan suburban fungus does seem a little frightening. CSIRO acknowledge that emergency services will have to engage in more risk planning and potential disruption to essential services as a result of climate change. The BoM maps just confirm that risk one more time. Signing Kyoto won’t make climate change go away, turning off a few coal powered power plants might. Also, summer rain isn’t much good for wheat farmers, just a little too early to say the drought has lifted.

GM food:

Julie Newman, National Spokesperson, Network of Concerned Farmers, writes: GM is about encouraging corporate investment into research. It is about making money out of farmers, not for farmers. Lies, corruption and vested interest are driving this debate. What of the non-GM grower? We will be asked to sign to guarantee our harvested GM-free seed has less than 0.9% contamination and we accept liability for any recall of the product if our statement is incorrect. The test for Bayer-Cropsciences variety is only accurate if it is almost 10% contaminated, well over the limit we are signing for. We could even have a user fee deducted from our payments for using Monsanto’s Roundup Ready gene if over 0.5% is detected. It is too difficult and too expensive to avoid contamination or accept liability if the contaminated product is recalled and farmers will be forced to market as GM. There is clear evidence that there is a price penalty of between $60-120/tonne less for selling as GM. We are told to believe there is not a problem but we are to pay if our concerns are right and we have no legal recourse. Farmers will not get a choice to market as GM-free and consumers will not get a choice to avoid GM.

Jim Hart writes: To all those scaredy-cats getting their nether bits in a twist over GM food: get over it. We’ve had GM cars for years; their food can’t be all that bad. Bland perhaps but hardly like eating asbestos. And think of the synergies – soon we’ll be proudly driving Australia’s Own Car the biodiesel Holden Canola.

The Turner prize:

Ian Swan writes: Re. “The Turner Prize: Art your kid could have done” (yesterday, item 23). Someone (possibly Helen Razer) has erred in suggesting that the Turner Prize was awarded to Mark Wallinger for his piece “Sleeper” (yes, 154 minutes of footage of the artist wandering around a deserted German gallery disguised as a bear). As explained in the Guardian article to which Crikey’s email linked – but which it appears Crikey failed to comprehend – the prize was officially given, in fact, not for Sleeper, but for “State Britain”, Wallinger’s meticulous re-creation of peace campaigner Brian Haw’s anti-war protest in Parliament Square. The work was praised by the judges for its “immediacy, visceral intensity and historic importance” combining “a bold political statement with art’s ability to articulate fundamental human truths”. I’ll also disagree with Helen’s assessment of Turner, but let’s save that for another day.

BRW and gender representation:

Grahame Lynch, Publisher and Director, CommsDay, writes: Re. “BRW: You’ve got male” (yesterday, item 24). You measure the potential of a magazine design revamp by the gender representation of its editorial coverage? How novel. I know Crikey counts many students amongst its readership to boost the ad numbers but this is seriously adolescent. I’m no great fan of the pomposity and righteousness of much about Fairfax these days but to my eyes, BRW has become a seriously interesting and useful magazine of late. Counting up the female vs. male photo ratio in one issue does the title an injustice. Sure Australian corporate life is a boys club. BRW is not seriously a cause of that problem though. Here’s a suggestion to Ms Nethercote. Start your own business, score a BRW article and be part of the solution. And while you’re at it, Ms Nethercote’s editors and publishers should do something about the quite notable gender imbalance in their own glass house while they’re at it.

ABC board 2008:

Tan Lee Lin writes: Re. “Who should join the ABC board in 2008?” (Yesterday, item 5). Margaret Simons’ musings about the composition of the ABC Board are well made, particularly those about “obvious conflicts of interest.” Surprising then, given her lofty tone, that she didn’t declare her own associations with two of her suggested board members, Julieanne Shultz of the Griffith Review and Patrick Gallagher of Allen and Unwin. A scan through Simon’s website reveals that she has had four recent articles published in the Shultz-edited Griffith Review. Allen and Unwin published and still promotes a book written by Simons. Simons ‘blushed’ in proposing Eric Beecher to the ABC board but, to paraphrase her, Crikey readers being what they are, it would ill behove us not to float Simons’ other connections when she doesn’t.

Doug Clark writes: ANZ must be delighted with ABC’s new thingy-whatever-it-is called “ABC NOW”. The “ANZ NOW” retail campaign has been running for about a year…

A pious Prius:

Paul D’Agostino writes: Re. “Bali: Saving the planet one unused bicycle at a time” (yesterday, item 6). Khalil Hegarty wrote: “…has anyone noticed that “Prius” rhymes with ‘pious’?” Perhaps he recalls the South Park episode where they did this. Further – in the episode “Pius”s emit mug not Smog. The smug eventually becomes a problem with a big smug bank engulfing the U.S.


Philip Woods writes: Re. “Abjorensen: “Working families”, a brilliant political strategy” (yesterday, item 19). I had to laugh at Norman Abjorensen in his item describing “…homos-xuality, contagion from refugees, moral decay, drugs, and general permissiveness” as “progressive”. These things have been around since man first learned to walk upright (or if you prefer “since Adam was a boy”) and they always will. I understood what he meant though.

The Nats:

Louise Crossley writes: Re. “Nationals gaze into the abyss” (yesterday, item 16). Could Charles Richardson please elucidate: if “the Greens beat the Nationals into fourth place” which party was in third place?


David Lodge writes: Re. “Rudd must tackle Islamophobia” (Monday, item 20).This article is one of the best reasons of why the left is still kept on the fringes of Australian politics, and it’s influence on public policy is at it’s lowest in a long time. In describing events such as the Tampa and children overboard, Haneef, and claims that African refugees cannot integrate as fuelling the non existent racial tension towards muslims and other groups, Julie Posetti, and indeed the wider left fail to understand why both conservative politics have dominated the political landscape and why John Howard was in power for so long. If the left could see through its blinding hate for both John Howard and anything to the right of centre, it would easily see that in all the so called racial issues of the last 11 years the intent has been more about influencing small blocks of backward voters, rather than any sort of long term vilifcation of minority or racial groups. Howard and the Liberals were the masters at political opportunism, and like Keating’s Labor before them, will say and do anything to stay in power. I don’t argue for a second that there isn’t a minority in Australia that wants to see only the migration of those of only Anglo-Celtic decent, but the idea that a large chunk of Australians have been swayed by a few opportunistic incidents is not only proposterous but insulting and denigrating to a country of people that have seen nothing but large increases of immigrants from an ever growing number of different ethnic and racial backgrounds. If we were truly a nation of bigoted, racist and backward people as Julie suggests, surely we would see more widespread demonstrations against a government policy that has been supported by both major parties, and has been in place for over 20 years. Furthermore, why does the left continually seek to repress Australia’s natural cultural identity of anglo-celtic settlement and the important democratic and social instituions that gave rise to the great nation we have today? Multi-culturalism deems that Australia doesn’t have it’s own identity or culture and must “tolerate” other ethnicities and simply not allow integration of different peoples or appreciation for our history. How is it healthy for any nation to so openly lack any sense of national pride, or dare I say it patriotism? Certainly, diversity keeps us grounded, outward looking and appreciative of the wider world but why the left must see the need to obliterate a collective sense of identity is beyond me.

Jonathan Matthews writes: I’m sorry, but the urge to blame John Howard for everything wrong in Australia is getting ridiculous. These conditions (fear, racism and Islamophobia) are not uniquely Australian; if you conducted an analysis of these conditions throughout the Western world I’d suggest you could argue that these have sharpened and increased across the board and are in response to a number of factors, both domestic and international – from the 9/11 attacks, the Madrid train bombings, the London bombings to the murder of Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam, rioting among Muslim youth in France and the outrage across the Muslim world in reaction to the Danish cartoons. I’m not saying its right, and not I’m trying to say that Howard is blameless and didn’t have some influence but we need to get some perspective here. These things existed prior to 1996; despite what some people on the Left appear to think.

Tamas Calderwood writes: Guy Rundle’s argument (yesterday, comments) is rather slippery. He admits that Spain did not send combat troops for the Iraq invasion but says nothing of his previous inaccurate statement that Spain was “the only European (country) to participate in the actual invasion of Iraq”. In any case, Spain’s logistical support does not equal combat troops on the ground, just as the Japanese navy’s logistical support for the Afghan operation hardly qualifies it as a belligerent in that war. Rundle then ignores his error and claims that radical Islamist terrorism is a “minor nuisance – which is not how I remember it when I was in New York on 11 September, 2001 or London on 7 July, 2005. He also misrepresents my argument – I didn’t say that Carroll’s argument was right despite the evidence, simply that one minor error does not negate all the other facts that support his argument of Islamofascism being a threat to us all. As for his assertion that Carroll’s error counts as “proof for the opposite of the argument he was making”, well, I’m still trying to figure that bit out…

We heart everything:

Megan Yarrow writes: Click here for an embarrassing ripoff of the I “heart” New York logo, which represents Brisbane City Council’s cynical campaign to encourage residents to reduce their carbon footprint, while at the same time cannibalising the city’s public transport system and fostering a car-centric culture with the North South Bypass Tunnel.

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