McLeod’s Daughters:

Kellie Cunningham, WIN’s Network Marketing Director, writes: Re. “WIN holding out on McLeod’s Daughters swansong” (yesterday, item 22). This is an incorrect statement. The WIN National Network will be running the entire McLeod’s Daughters series in 2008.

The politics of water:

Grant Butler writes: Re. “Waterwall to wall Labor and Howard’s backflip with pike” (yesterday, item 2). I am a little bothered by the political football that the Murray-Darling has become and the future of water policy in Australia. Your story on the way Howard manipulated his 10 billion dollar water “plan” is one thing. I just hope that Penny Wong is well advised, because I doubt that she’d be able to name more than five inland rivers, lakes or whatever before she acquired the portfolio. I think that this responsibility needs some pretty deep understanding of Australia drainage, geology, climate and other factors and I just don’t get the feeling that she would have that. I’m sure she’s smart – but I hope she’s smart enough to do a lot of listening, because this is not an area that a city-oriented person will deal with adequately unless they are very open-minded. I dread what might happen to some basins or areas at the stroke of a ministerial pen.

Adam Schwab writes: Ernie Biscan (yesterday, comments) claimed that “restrictions have worked really well in Melbourne. Consumption has been reduced by around 28% compared with water use in the mid-1990s. That’s a great effort. And guess what! Councils have finally been forced to use recycled water to keep our sporting fields and parks green. It took a crisis but we finally got there.” Sadly, the reality is quite different from Ernie’s suggested Garden of Eden. The Age noted in September that “officials from various sports warned that 2008 loomed as a potential disaster if stage 4 water restrictions were introduced. Football Federation Victoria’s George Angelopoulos said soccer may not be played at all next year” while “the Victorian Government [as been asked] for $80 million to regrow drought-damaged fields”. Meanwhile, Glen Eira Council has taken to fining children $250 for running on a field. If this is the result of restrictions working “really well”, one hastens to think what would happen if restrictions were failing.

Russell Bancroft writes: In response to Ernie Biscan, my water company is now providing us with bills that detail the average water use per person in our house, benchmarked against the average for a 4-person household with an average garden. The problem I have with Adam Schwab’s suggestion is that it assumes that there is a constant number of water users at the premises. In other words, a household that has a lot of visitors would be penalised. And what happens when Mum and Dad go away and dump the kids at Grandma’s house? Households with workers would have an advantage. Both I and my partner work full time, so we are using water at work, not at home, for a large part of the year. We would be able to splurge in the shower and on our garden, unlike the poor unemployed sods next door.

David Donohue writes: Just an uninformed comment. Most of Australia receives its significant rain in a relatively short period each year. To have the capacity of harvesting and storing this water to see out the rest of the year surely requires massive tanks? As an example, much of North Queensland receives an annual average of 1100mm over four months. To allow an average family even 200 litres of water per day, allowing for the 120 days of “free” water would seem to require storage of about 55,000 litres – which is a pretty big tank in anyone’s vocabulary. My maths may be off, but I think the concept is worth considering.

Greg Cameron, Urban Rainwater Systems Pty Ltd, writes: The Victorian Government has just paid $12 million in rainwater tank rebates to 186,000 households to collect 1.5 billion litres of rainwater each year costing $2.60 per kilolitre. The Queensland Government has just paid $100 million in rebates to 100,000 households under its Home Water Wise Rebate Scheme (QON page 3033). Neither Government will consider new technology that makes rainwater lower cost than mains water for all households without a subsidy.

Brendan Nelson on drugs:

Jay Walker, former Australian correspondent for High Times magazine writes: Re. “Brendan Nelson on drugs …” (yesterday, item 5). Although one should never assume since more often than not it can make an “ass” out of “u” and “me”, I assume that the point of the comments above new Opposition leader Dr Brendan “Horatio” Nelson’s letter of 16 May, 1997 to a constituent was to highlight the fact that “harm minimisation” had already been the official illicit drugs policy since 1985. Of more interest is the apparent typographical error, which passed unnoticed by Dr Nelson when signing the letter, in the second paragraph: “I agree entirely with your remark about the move toward harm minimisation and a way for criminal sanctions for those who are using as distinct from those growing and trafficking” Surely he meant to say “away from” rather than “a way for” otherwise the sentence would be, in fact is as written, internally contradictory? Having said that, his patronising comment accompanying the demotion of Tony Abbott: “I think this will be the making of him …” and his appointment, given his opposition to an apology to the Stolen Generation, as shadow minister for indigenous affairs suggests that ambiguity is his stock-in-trade. The ability of Horatio Nelson to inspire and bring out the best in his charges was famously known as “The Nelson Touch” but for Tony Abbott it might be a touch-up-too-far which precipitates a similar fate for Dr Nelson in political terms as that of Vice Admiral Nelson during the Battle of Trafalgar.

How the West was won:

Andrew Owens writes: Re. “AWAs: How the West was won?” (Wednesday, item 10). I think it’s a drastic oversimplification to look at the net swings. In Cowan – where the near-complete absence of the candidate until final week of the campaign was definitely a factor – and Hasluck and Canning it is valid to make such an observation as the swing was fairly uniform across the electorate, but several marginal electorates in WA (Stirling and Swan in particular) are actually two opposite safe half-seats merged uncomfortably together in a way one doesn’t often see in other states (pre-2007 Greenway, Wakefield and La Trobe are the only interstate examples I can recall). Stirling is the oddest one – a swing to Labor but not enough to take the seat, but when one looks at the figures one sees a disproportionate swing to the Libs in Scarborough-Trigg, Osborne Park and the area near the Reid Highway/Alexander Drive intersection which counter pro-Labor swings in every other section of the electorate. Another interesting development was in O’Connor, where had the Nationals outpaced Labor with another 2-3%, Tuckey would have been in serious risk of losing the seat to a National with Labor and Green preferences – note the Nationals have not held a WA seat since 1974.

Frank Bonaccorso writes: Is it just me or are the endless editorials, front page banners and sniping commentariat in The West Australian about fears of a Labor Government, the abolition of AWAs and a return to militant unionism, an agenda to maintain the indefensible. It transpires that the monopoly paper’s parent company is insisting its staff sign mandatory AWAs as a non-negotiable employment condition. Indeed, Wednesday’s West editorial inferred employers were “obliged” to use AWAs. The West’s conservative agenda is well documented and established. But its penchant for glory days past is a little over the top. We like the news told, not rammed down our throats. And as for its working conditions, well, where’s the choice?

Belgians’ most brilliant:

Chris Tunnock writes: Re. “Belgians move closer to a split” (yesterday, item 16). Tell Guy, no way, no how, never! The Walloon’s have their own Gary Ablett, named Frank Vandenbroucke (sounds better with a Flemish or French bent). Frank is the enfant terrible of the national sport, cycling. And the Flemish love him almost as much as the current wunderkind Tom Boonen, aka Tommeke. I think Frank manages to trump Gary Ablett. He has set off a shot gun in his house with his wife and daughter, he has attempted to commit suicide, and he has been found with copious amounts of performance enhancing drugs that his dog needed for a peculiar reason. He has been called the most talented cyclist of his generation, on a par with Jan Ullrich, and superior to Lance Armstrong.

Graeme Philipson writes: The two most famous Belgians are fictional, much as Belgium itself is – Tin Tin and Hercule Poirot.

Ian Smith writes: How could you have forgotten Audrey Hepburn!

Adrian Bradley writes: Well, if you have Plastic Bertrand there you also need to include that other towering talent, Jean-Claude Van Damme (aka “muscles from Brussels”). (Side note: It seems very little of interest comes out of Belgium, apart from chocolate and beer. Imagine my dismay when I discovered my Belgian ancestors did neither, but were in fact engaged in that other great Belgian past time… lace making)

David Liberts writes: For Guy Rundle’s list, the only additions I can think of are Eddy Merckx (probably the best in the history of competitive road cycling, every cyclist who started riding before the Lance Armstrong era will know of him) and 2007 ARIA-winning muso Wouter “Wally” DeBacker aka Gotye (who’s probably an Australian citizen these days anyway).

John Molloy writes: Jackie Ickx, racing car driver. Here’s a relevant quote “Everything was magnificent so far, even if I knew my part of dramas.”

Rosemary Swift writes: You could add King Leopold II (perhaps more infamous than famous).

Roger Dunscombe writes: Gee whiz – it’s a bit rich describing Patrice Lumumba as Belgian – claiming a local because he was born under a colonizing power, even though he fought against it all his life and even snubbed and insulted King Baudoin at the independence day of the Congo – by these rules the Poms can claim Henry Lawson, Arthur Stretton, Marcus Clarke etc

Patrick Miles writes: Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin (tennis).

Peter Brookes writes: Mannequin Piste – Grand Plaza, Brussels.

Prostitutes love Fred Nile:

Geoff Robinson writes: Re. “Why prostitutes love Reverend Fred Nile” (yesterday, item 14). So “prostitutes love Fred Nile”? The fact is they are people like all of us. Apparently Chris Seage believes that self-employment should be made illegal because self-employed might evade tax. My partner is setting up an on-line bookshop run from a spare bedroom should Dymocks be able to shut her down? What utter rubbish. I can respect even if disagree with the principled arguments that Christian conservatives and radical feminists have made against s-x work but Chris Seage is pushing a barrow of pure self-interest. Marx was right, capitalism requires the forcible separation of workers from the means of production, s-xual capitalism prevents workers using their bedrooms. Don’t brothels insist that their staff are not employees but self-employed renting bedrooms at the equivalent of $20,000 a week?

Michael Kroger:

Christopher Ward writes: Re. “Michael Kroger, your nation needs you” (yesterday, item 8). Kroger for Federal Parliament? You’ve got to be joking – he’s about as popular as Costello without the smirk. And there is still a strain of anti-semitism running though Liberal veins, even in Victoria.

Switching off the 6pm news:

Russell Boyd writes: Re. “Switching off the 6pm news” (yesterday, item 20). Not sure about Glen Dyer’s opinion the ABC is the beneficiary of a drop in commercial TV’s viewer numbers. Many, many ABC viewers who just happen to fall in to the 41% or 42% of voters who did not vote Rudd in, have walked with their feet and switched off the ABC, both at 7pm and 7:30pm. You could say we have conceded defeat at the hands of Kerry and the rest of the ABC news teams, who must be congratulated for using their privileged positions to oust the Howard government. The ABC will almost certainly will be the beneficiary of a new, sympathetic government, and one can hardly wait to see just how much gratitude the Rudd government shows in the May Budget.

Brian Crooks writes: People are turning to the ABC because the get the news, not the biased opinions of the bosses of the commercial channels, it’s the same with the newspapers, people do not like the articles written by the yes men and woman like Piers Ackerman, Andrew Bolt, and Miranda Devine; they want facts and balance.

Steve Martin writes: A Current Affair and Today Tonight seem equally puerile with the emphasis on the sensational, and a form of vigilante attack on unwary assorted villains. Maybe they do some good in drawing people’s attention to the corrupt and unsavoury practices of these people. I occasionally watch one or other of the shows until it becomes too awful and change channels to the other show. What I find amazing is the number of times the two shows appear to be showing the same story; this from channels supposedly in competition with each other. Surely this can’t be coincidence!


Gabriel McGrath writes: Re. “Media briefs and TV ratings” (yesterday, item 22). This is the first time I recall Glenn mentioning Foxtel in his “ratings comments”, so I was intrigued… and disappointed Glenn didn’t say anything about WHAT was on Foxtel last night. I don’t have pay TV. Old movies and sport don’t float my boat. But I was wondering what was on. So I asked about “pay TV last night” around the office, and was told a new Aussie show Satisfaction started. I’d seen the Satisfaction ads in Who Weekly, which didn’t tell you anything about the show. My co-workers said it’s a flashy drama about high-class hookers in Melbourne. Apparently it’s Sex in the City, plus a better plot, plus a good Aussie cast, plus Australia’s funkiest city, plus full-frontal male and female nudity. I wonder how many VHS tapes / DVDs / torrents will be swapped around Aussie offices this week….?


Trevor Best writes: Shirley Colless is quite right (yesterday, comments). To be a member of the Holy Catholic (universal) apostolic church you don’t have to recognise the Pope as being above all other bishops or archbishops. You simply have to be part of the continuing Catholic Church which shares uninterrupted apostolic succession since the time of the apostles, which includes the Eastern Orthodox and Anglicans. Others who have separated (for reasons they saw as good) but just hijacked the Catholic Church’s book, the Bible, and “ordained” their own priests(pastors), would more properly counted simply as Christian (if they are prepared to give worship to Christ). This excludes Jehovah’s Witnesses and some others.

No shinboning for North:

Terry Costello writes: Re. “Kangaroos supporters: time to face reality” (yesterday, item 19). As a Fitzroy supporter who has moved on from the tragic events of 1996 and have embraced the Brisbane Fitzroy Lions I would advise Kangaroos supporters that it is more important that their team survives and thrives rather than insisting their team is based in Melbourne. I’m sure that the AFL can rig the draw so that despite being based in Queensland the Gold Coast Kangaroos can still play something like 8-10 matches a year in Melbourne anyway. So the supporters can have their cake and eat it so to speak. As a Lions supporter it is probably not in our interests for the Kangaroos to move there, however in looking at it from a kangaroos supporters position history has shown that whilst the AFL have embraced socialism with an unbridled passion, they have also demonstrated their ability to be totally ruthless in order to get their way. If the AFL wants another interstate team and none of the current Melbourne want to relocate the AFL are going to get one without adding to the number of teams which is already too high. If the Kangaroos don’t relocate and another team is started up in the Gold Coast from scratch, the AFL competition will still have 16 teams. Something will have to give I’m sure the AFL can easily engineer a similar crisis down at Arden Street as to what Fitzroy endured back in 1996. If this occurs then the once mighty Kangaroos will be something that only exists in the minds of its supporters.

Mark Perica writes: Don’t let the death of your football team make you cynical. The balance sheet is not the sole measure of worthwhile values. Even on the AFL’s business case they are not to be trusted. It is based on the assumption that the white shoe brigade will embrace an AFL club, that retirees from Melbourne will give up a life long allegiance to their Melbourne club and take up membership with the Gold Coast Sharkaroos and that we can have faith in a stadium deal which does not yet exist. The much vaunted “$100 Million dollar deal” is a mirage. The Gold Coast is death valley for sporting franchises. The simple fact is the Gold Coast Roos will not be the North Melbourne Football Club, and you, as an old Roy boy, should know that Melbourne Game commitments are not worth the paper they are written on. We will resist in order to exist.

A correction:

In the 4 December article “Kookaburra in a new flap”, Nicholas Pickard wrote that Kookaburra “sacked” their previous publicist. We have been advised that this is an error and that the previous publicist and Kookaburra parted ways amicably.

Calling all Women’s Weekly fans:

Christian Kerr writes: If any Crikey readers have copies of Women’s Weekly from the first part of the 1990s lying about, could they please drop me a line on [email protected]

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