The Aurukun case:

Vern Hughes, director, Centre for Civil Society, writes: Re. “Where was the outrage over the Teen Kings of Werribee sentencing?” (Friday, item 11). Guy Rundle asks where the voices of protest were about the lenient sentencing of the Werribee Teen Kings who mockingly abused an intellectually disabled girl. Guess what, Guy, many parent groups protested loudly about that outrage. Guy’s comrades in the trendy left, however, had more fashionable causes to prosecute. The mix of disability issues, sentencing controversy, and the breakdown of decency in youth cultures presented a cocktail of issues that the progressivists do not find appealing. In particular, the fashionistas hate disability issues because that involves people who are not young and s-xy, and, well, where do they fit into the trendoid worldview? Rundle’s argument that the sentencing issues in Cape York are being pushed because of latent racism is totally in keeping with his disavowal of the Noel Pearson thesis that 30 years of progressive thinking in Aboriginal affairs has been a social disaster. Guy’s response to this is to search for anything that might discredit the current debate about the failure of progressive indigenous policy. Keep searching, Guy. Sometimes, you just have to swallow your pride and say “I’ve been wrong on black issues for the last 30 years, blinded by the noble savage image and a rights-based ideology. Sorry”.

Hannah McGlade writes: I have read the accounts you are publishing about the Queensland r-pe case, all by white men so far and quite misinformed, biased, and ignorant. Aboriginal women and children have had to put up with this kind of rubbish for too long. Aboriginal women are outraged by Judge Sarah Bradley, the prosecutor and the failure of the Queensland child protection system. As the articles you published are very misinformed, biased, and ignorant and obviously coming from the mouths of white men it would take me some time to address each and every ignorant and harmful statement/claim made. How about Crikey showing a little more consideration of the seriousness of the issue of Aboriginal child s-xual assault and not to publish such rubbish so freely?

Mark Freeman writes: It is now definite that Crikey also attracts its share of harrumphing, indignant, self-righteous, instant-experts-from-afar as witnessed over the 10 year old girl from Aurukun case. Should I ever end up in court I’ll thank my lucky stars for a professional judiciary trying me rather than the court of uninformed and easily manipulated public opinion. Get a grip you howling mob.

A new party in the ACT:

Roland Manderson writes: Re. “Time could be ripe for a new party in the ACT” (Friday, item 16). As a one time Liberal staffer at Parliament House, and later here at the ACT Assembly, Norman Abjorenson is well placed to comment on the Canberra Liberal Party’s incoherence. However, in talking up the potential for a new community based party, Mr Abjorenson fails to mention the Greens who are community based in the ACT, have been in the Assembly since 1995, and received 21% of the ACT Senate vote (and more than 12% in the lower house) at last month’s federal election. As someone who works for Greens MLA Deb Foskey, and who was campaign coordinator for Greens Senate Candidate Kerrie Tucker, it seems clear to me that the ACT Greens are best placed to make a real difference to the ACT Assembly after the 2008 election, while new parties and old independents are likely to struggle.

NSW public transport:

Niall Clugston writes: Re. “Iemma’s NSW: at least the trains, ah, well you know …” (Friday, item 13). Critics like Ben Sandilands always blame Sydney’s public transport shortfalls on the State Government. Sure they’re responsible, but so are other people. He mentions the railway to Bondi Beach being sunk by an armada of celebrities. Similarly the Parramatta-Epping link was indefinitely postponed after community protests led by Tom Uren. The problematic tunnel under the Lane Cove River, which Sandilands mentioned, wouldn’t have been constructed without a supposed environmentalist campaign against a bridge. The proposed North-West Rail Link has been drastically revised after public consultation and will probably never go ahead. Bad as they might be, the government should not be damned when they ignore community pressure and damned when they respond to it. If Sandilands really cares about the issue, he should address the public attitude that wants long-term transport issues fixed at the stamp of a foot without any impact on the existing suburban landscape. There is no advantage for governments in embarking on long-term infrastructure projects that are beset at every turn by community tantrums.

World Youth Day:

Justin Templer writes: Re. “Catholics profit as Sydney pays for World Youth Day” (Friday, item 14). $40m of taxpayers’ money and further restrictions on civil liberties to support the activities of a religious organisation which believes in a deity who produced a son called Jesus and is represented on earth by the Pope. Many taxpayers believe this to be hokum, others are more strongly opposed. Yet, in this supposedly secular society, where our constitution forbids the Commonwealth from making law establishing any religion or imposing religious observance, our tax dollars are being added to the pork that supposedly wins the Catholic vote.

John Goldbaum writes: David MacCormack is right in claiming that the Catholic Church always claims ignorance when enriching itself at the expense of mainly secular taxpayers. These rorts will only stop when Australia becomes a secular republic with a new constitution which incorporates a true separation of church and state, which now means both freedom of religion and freedom from religion. While taxpayers who don’t belong to any religion are forced to pay for prayers and retreats, grants for social programs are partially siphoned off for proselytising and hoarding assets.

The elephant in the room:

Dave Liberts writes: Re. Tim Warner (Friday, comments) on “the elephant in the room”. He is absolutely right and completely wrong at the same time. Of course the Libs would improve their relationship with the voting public if they (a) had a genuine “broad church” of members and (b) took direction from this membership base. But it will never happen – in practice, it’s too tricky for a major party to accept membership-derived policy without then offending the membership when it waters down their ideas on the urging of other stakeholders (business, lobby groups, other layers of government etc). I’ve attended dozens of ALP branch meetings and the occasional state conference, and I can tell Tim the ALP pays little more than lip service to its membership when it comes to its policy directions. Where Labor has done much better than the Liberals in the last ten years is in listening to the broader community, or at least being seen to be listening. The Libs’ top-down approach to policy (best exemplified by WorkChoices, any US-related foreign policy and some of the harsher welfare-to-work measures) is indicative of a culture which can’t fix the party. Forget navel gazing and waiting for a messiah, any Liberal MP wanting to help rebuild their party needs to get out into the front bars, coffee joints and shopping centres and start listening to what voters reckon. All around the country, the various state Libs have failed to do this following their electoral defeats and they’ve suffered for it at subsequent elections.


Patrick Gallagher writes: Re. “Richardson: How I made money on the election” (Friday, item 17). Charles Richardson would seem to have an awful lot to learn about betting. My five grand on Labor at $1.23 forty eight hours ahead of the election was infinitely simpler and considerably safer, for the same return as his convoluted series of wagers. Maybe he had more fun….but I doubt if he had more satisfaction, in heart as in head.

Howard’s achievement:

Anthony Leith writes: Re. “John Howard: the achievement ” (Friday, item 3). Just to clarify the chart in Friday’s letter, 1995 saw Wayne Goss’s government returned in an election in July of that year but the court of disputed returns challenged the Mundinburra results, causing a by-election in early 1996. The Goss government thereby lost the by-election and control of the house about a month before Howard won in February 1996. The government was a Coalition one, but QLD being different in everyway, politics especially, it was a National Party dominated government led by Rob Borbidge.

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