Moving out of Kirribilli:

Deborah Hurst writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. Your editorial must have hit a raw nerve as last night’s evening news bulletins showed images of the Howards moving out of Kirribilli House. Melanie’s wedding reception and a black-tie celebration for the monarchists after the 1999 referendum were just two of the better publicised abuses of his residency at Kirribilli, which won’t be forgotten by the electorate in a hurry.

Brendan’s earring:

Dean Galloway writes: Re. “The quest for Brendan’s earring” (yesterday, item 15). Love your work, but can we drop the constant gratuitous references to Nelson’s failed marriages? It’s 2007 mate, and I’d expect that sort of arch sniping from the Hillsong Church Gazette, not cosmopolitan Crikey.

Christopher Ridings writes: Am I the only one who has never noticed whether Brendan Nelson ever wore an earring, and cared less?

Justice, Tasmanian style:

Peter Lloyd writes: Re. “The Tasmanian Compliance Corporation and justice, island style” (yesterday, item 4). Thanks to Greg Barns for highlighting the latest example of the “interesting” way politics and justice are handled in Tasmania. In isolation, the endless little tales of dubious deals and refusal of public bodies to protect the public interest are sad, but when one realises they are simply individual bricks in a stinking edifice of crony capitalism, then the determination of the federal Labor and Liberal parties to shore up the arrangements becomes impossible to understand or defend. Surely Kevin Rudd is sick to death of Labor’s policy flexibility and straightforward good governance being sacrificed to keep a few fat, dumb bogan millionaires in their comfy seats? How on earth can Liberal powerbrokers like Malcolm Turnbull and Brendan Nelson actually be pleased that Tasmania’s potential contribution to the national economy is stymied by a few liquor retail heavies and a handful of religious extremists? Tasmania needs a wide-ranging royal commission, overseen by a mainlander, if it is to ever move forward as a modern, progressive state with equal opportunity for all businesses and individuals.

Jack Smith writes: This really is a joke and proves yet again that there is one rule for the rich and one for us plebs. As to White’s claim that he would not have signed the agreement had he known that it was illegal, what does that say about his prowess as a lawyer – yet the judge specifically said that to convict him would preclude him from practising the law? Given his blatant ignorance then when it came to the TCC Agreement the judge should have banned him anyway to save any Tasmanian from inadvertently using this lawyer from ever practising again. And this is man who wanted to be Governor of Tasmania, don’t laugh that is true and a known fact around ALP Tasmanian circles.

Europe still doesn’t get Africa:

Paul Bullock writes: Re. “Europe still doesn’t get Africa” (yesterday, item 26). I suggest that it is Guy Rundle who doesn’t “get” Africa. My grandparents and parents lived in Rhodesia, as it then was, and since leaving in the 1970s have looked on in despair at the gradual destruction of roads, hospitals, schools, farms, and virtually all of the ingredients of a functional and modern nation which were largely intact when Zimbabwe briefly became a democracy. Rundle’s piece seems to be based on the notion that democratic nations have no right to interfere with the inner workings of foreign dictatorships, and that the unquestioning injection of funds into Africa by totalitarian China is the model for Europe to follow. The comparison with Germany is apt: Germany has gone from a ruined nation and a brutal, racist dictatorship to a progressive and wealthy democracy, despite significant economic and social challenges. Since its only set of free elections in 1980 Zimbabwe has gone in precisely the other direction. On a recent trip to southern Africa it was interesting to hear the views of ordinary Africans – black or white; they despised Mugabe and deplored the damage he has done to Zimbabwe. It is only the leaders of other African nations, many of whom maintain anachronistic tribal and anti-colonial attitudes, who in any way regard him as a hero. And of course it is scarcely worth pointing out that Europe has little to lose if and when the summit fails, while Africa stands to lose a great deal.

Scott Phillips writes: I think Guy Rundle has taken “spurious” to new depths. Instead of lamenting the horrible conditions in Zimbabwe and either supporting Gordon Brown or proposing a credible alternative solution to halting the suffering, he wants to make a cute suggestion that Angela Merkel shouldn’t comment because of Germany’s past. On that basis, it would be only the (secularly) sinless amongst us who could ever justify criticising others, and Crikey (as well as every other outlet for public opinion the world over) would have to content themselves with running good news stories. I’m sure Europe, and the rest of the world for that matter, could be doing more in Africa to help that continent develop, but please do us a favour and don’t use cheap Nazi references to trivialise the suffering of Zimbabweans and others – the exact people your article seems to suggest you want to help. How about proposing a solution, rather than some cheap ideological points followed by a qualified comment that Africa may benefit most from reverse (vis a vis European Partnership Agreements) protection.

Oprah backs Obama:

Mary Cunnane writes: Re. “US08: The Big O backs Obama” (yesterday, item 17). Why does Jane Nethercote in her article on Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama, describe Winfrey’s airing advertisements on her television program for “everything from cars to fridges” as “pimping” — a word with offensive connotations? Should its readers now conclude that Crikey – in accepting advertising for Big Pond, Media Monitors, Live Layers, Huntley’s 2008 Forecasts, and other businesses — is itself in the pimping business? Further, given that the definition of pimping is to procure customers for a prost-tute, I do hope that Ms. Nethercote is not implying that Ms Winfrey is pimping for Senator Obama by endorsing him.


Andrew Elder writes: Re. “John Howard – decline and fall: Part 1” (yesterday, item 1). That excerpt from Mungo was pathetic, the sort of flatulence you’d expect from a minor character in an early draft of Don’s Party. What Mungo should have done was use his experience to tell us why the Liberal Party throws the switch to vaudeville after an election loss. In 1972 it was the lite-brite-and-trite Snedden; in 1983, Peacock; now Nelson. What is it about the party that thinks it can throw the baby out with the bathwater, and then parade an empty vessel as a source of pride? Give the old boy a strong coffee and a berocca and set him to work on that. Until then, no more lame anecdotes about Gough nor any pretense that Rudd is another Whitlam.

The nanny state:

Dave Liberts writes: Re. “Australia: #1 nanny state in the OECD” (yesterday, item 22). Matt Marks is pushing it if he thinks that the nanny state is restricted to Labor governments and universities. Conservative institutions try to nanny people as much as progressives do – just look at Family First’s website if you want to find dozens of nanny state policies (and other examples such as their recent bid to end Maslin Beach’s nudist status copped so much flak they don’t even mention it on their site). I’m all in favour of less nannying, as long as consumers have access to truthful information on which to base their decisions, and it applies to the right as much as the left.

Selling state assets:

David Hand writes: Re. “Abjorensen: Iemma fakes Labor values because he can” (yesterday, item 23). I was amused by Norman Abjorensen’s hand-wringing tale of woe about the selling off of state assets by an ALP government. I was particularly taken by his view that privatisation moves the focus of these enterprises “from the provision of service to the pursuit of profit”. If only. Though I have reservations regarding the privatisation of power distribution due to the natural monopoly of the network, competition between privatised companies that can go under if they don’t satisfy their customers is a good model for customer service. It’s a far cry from the taxpayer owned ships of fools that grace the front pages of our newspapers almost daily. Hospitals, railways, CYPS etc. etc. Paragons of good service? Yeah, right. “Take a number and wait over there” “More Taxpayer Funding, More Taxpayer Funding, MTF, MTF, MTF(yawn)”. It is only in government enterprises that we see the signs, “Please do not abuse our staff”. Do any of them pause to wonder why this is? If the government owned coffee shops we’d all be drinking tea.

Don’t blame DFAT:

Philip Woods writes: Re. “Don’t blame DFAT — they don’t have a brief” (yesterday, item 3). In yesterday’s item, your lick spittle insider attempts to sing the praises of his glorious leader Jan Adams’ negotiating skills. This of course would be the same Ms Adams who aided the very one sided US-AUS trade agreement. Under this agreement Australia has almost doubled its trade deficit to the US going from $US591 to $US1,049. Your correspondent incorrectly suggests that, unlike PM Rudd, John Howard would have had a brief for Ms Adams to pursue. It would have been very brief indeed, for the previous Howard Government would not have been given a seat at the table because they would not support (and still don’t) ratification of Kyoto version 1. The “insider” goes on to suggest that it was a good thing that the Australian Greenhouse Office (AGO) was out of the reach of Turnbull. Unfortunately it was also out of touch with reality. Surely there is not the suggestion that Turnbull would have dared subvert Howard’s stated position of disbelief of any climate change crisis.

Stealing Christmas:

David Havyatt writes: Re. “The HR manager who stole Christmas” (yesterday, item 7). These are not HR managers stealing Christmas, but the s-xual harassment (and other workplace laws) equivalent of all those obvious instructions like the ones that come with clothes irons – “Do not iron clothes while wearing them”. The company is exposed if employees behave in inappropriate ways when it is seen to be “sanctioned” by the company. The warning messages are not about not having fun, but are about the company having a record of having told their staff how to behave before the disaster hit. The best Christmas story of all that I’ve heard was when the head of HR at a top twenty firm – the one whose job it is to send the memo – got sacked after getting p-ssed at the Christmas do and sexually harassing staff.


Ian Lowe, President, Australian Conservation Foundation, writes: The representative of the Australian Defence Association, Neil James (yesterday, comments), modestly described it as a “public-interest guardian organisation” that is “community-based, non-partisan” and has “wider functions but may do some lobbying on behalf of all Australians equally”, while claiming that “the Australian Conservation Foundation and many larger, ostensibly humanitarian or charitable, NGOs” are “political lobbyists who seek to further a more general cause but on politically partisan grounds”. How can he seriously claim that it is “non-partisan…lobbying on behalf of all Australians equally” to lobby for more funds to go to the military, but “politically partisan” to work on behalf of Australia’s natural values? The ACF’s charitable status explicitly precludes it from supporting or opposing particular political parties or individual candidates.

Cricket, where’s the state-riotism?:

Philip Roberts writes: Re. “Australia: very much the cricketing sub continent” (yesterday, item 5). In response to Charles Happell’s piece about the 5 week break in the Cricket Australia schedule I have been thinking that that CA should have been innovative in its marketing by staging the Ford Ranger Cup as a “mini world Cup” over the last 3 weeks complete with Australian players and a glittering final. We always carry on about how strong Australian cricket is so let’s see Hussey take on the NSW attack etc etc. There must be some other ideas around rather than running dead space and not promoting the state cricket as far as I can detect. To make it interesting you could have played the most successful players in the mini world cup according to statistical performance against the NZ team, otherwise that series will be of little interest anyway.

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