Saying sorry:

Alan Lander writes: Re. “Mythbusters: ten sorry excuses exploded” (Friday, item 4). Chris Graham, brilliantly said. Can we tag this to the back of the constitutional preamble? Come to think of it, can we make this the preamble?

Steve Martin writes: Chris Graham is spot on with his remarks. I might add that the Australian Government is a continuum, certainly the members change as elections occur, but the Parliament and Government continue. It is therefore quite appropriate that the current government acknowledges the mistakes of earlier administrations, in this case with an apology.

Jody Bailey writes: After being encouraged for a decade to pretend that our greed and indifference had no adverse effect on humanity, the denial of genuine human suffering enshrined in the relaxed-and-comfortable-armband view of civilisation is set to end on February 13, 2008. Thank you, Prime Minister Rudd and the Australian Federal Government, for returning our collective conscience. Next comes the real work.

Andrew Owens writes: I agree with John Hewson, Fred Chaney, Andrew Peacock, Malcolm Turnbull and a whole heap of other people who’ve spoken up – this should have been done about 10 years ago when the report came out. The fact it wasn’t means Rudd has to do it now – the tone of what’s coming out of Canberra isn’t a radical idealism or a leftish squeamishness but more just a “let’s get it done and over with so we can move on”, which I think is fair enough. The statement from Rudd that compensation is not part of the package is entirely correct – blood money is not what’s needed here, and many Aborigines I’ve talked to would be genuinely offended at the government trying to put a monetary value on broken lives if it were to try to do so. Changing the attitude, dropping the antagonism, making a genuine apology for the mistakes of the past and determining (in cooperation) a better way to move forward is not only sensible, but it’s the right thing to do.

Barbara Hilliard writes: Re. “The Liberals choke on a “sorry” response” (Friday, item 3). I stood chatting with Brendan Nelson among the throng waiting to get on to the Harbour Bridge years ago asking him how he’d managed to defeat the wishes of his boss by doing “The Walk”. He said it wasn’t a problem. I was also curious that having done an efficient social justice job with the AMA that he had then joined the conservatives instead of the ALP. He laughed. It is clear to me now that policy means nothing at all to Brendan Nelson. He will follow whatever keeps him out there in the public eye.

Guy Rundle in the US:

Matt Cowgill writes: Re. “US08: Bitter jousting in the library by p-rn central” (Friday, item 6). I’m just reiterating the compliments that have flowed for Guy Rundle’s coverage of the US primaries. Rundle’s work is engrossing and informative, both about the day-to-day campaign minutiae and the broader social context. I mostly read American media to follow the campaign, and find Australian coverage to be day old, warmed up talking points. Rundle is the exception.

Perry Gretton writes: And a round of applause from me, too, for Guy Rundle’s informative and entertaining articles. It’s heartening to know there are many more still to come.

Political donations and big tobacco:

Chris Albone writes: Re. “Political donations: Gems aplenty in the annual deluge” (Friday, item 1). Stephen Mayne failed to highlight the donations to the Liberal Party from the Tobacco industry: British American Tobacco (Donation $50,000); British American Tobacco (Other Receipt $16,500); Phillip Morris Limited (Donation $35,000). It’s good to see that the Liberals are not constrained by nasty things like “ethics” or “morality” when it comes to accepting donations from companies that are responsible for so many deaths and illnesses worldwide. Personally, I don’t find it surprising – ethics didn’t get much of a look-in over the last 11 years. One wonders how Dr Nelson would defend accepting these donations, especially in the light of his experiences as a GP.

Offensive advertising:

Sharon Segler writes: Re. “Get your peen1s out of my supermarket trolley” (Friday, item 15). I am delighted to see there are others equally as disturbed as I regarding AMI’s insatiable demand for unwanted attention. I filed a formal complaint to the ASB (Advertising Standards Board) about these offensive ads on FM radio, usually playing at about the time I collect my daughter from school. The ASB dismissed my complaint (together with an earlier complaint by someone else) on the grounds that the “longer lasting s-x” ads, while a bit risque, were definitely not offensive to children. Also in their response, AMI, who was given a right of reply to my complaint, described the ad as “educational and helpful” and that “young teenage children 8-12 years received s-x instruction in primary schools”. That’s cute: firstly, since when are 8-12 year olds teenagers? Secondly, as far as I’m aware s-x ed in primary schools is about where babies come from and does not include the finer points of male s-xual dysfunction. To my mind, the biggest dysfunction in both organisations is their reasoning.

Domestic violence:

Jocelynne Scutt writes: Julie Posetti wrote: “One of my problems with the coverage of violence against women is the media’s insistence on describing assaults committed within relationships as ‘domestic incidents’ or ‘domestic disputes.'” In 1982, Dawn Rowan (then a South Australian activist against violence against women) and I coined “criminal assault at home” which I used in my book published in 1983 by Pelican/Penguin, Even in the Best of Homes – Violence in the Family. The Victorian Government adopted it in Criminal Assault in the Home – a report published in 1984. Having used “criminal assault at home” ever since 1982, I can assure Julie Posetti that this terminology acknowledges that crimes of violence against women, whether at home or outside it, are criminal and are properly acknowledged as crimes.

Interest rates:

Peter Lloyd writes: Re. “Wall St endgame? S&P drops a $265b bombshell” (31 January, item 1). I would be grateful if someone could explain to me why, in this age of competitive international markets, falling trade barriers and a US-Australia FTA, there are not US banks kicking my door down to offer me a mortgage rollover so I can dump the 8.5-odd per cent of my local lender, and take advantage of minuscule US interest rates? I know it couldn’t be that all this international trade malarkey was simply a ruse to kick me out of a succession of jobs and kill the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, while society’s upper classes enjoy world-class tax avoidance mechanisms. No, it couldn’t be that.

ABC logo:

Penelope Toltz writes: Re. “Crikey competition: design a new logo for the ABC” (30 January, item 17). No no no no no no no no. No change to the ABC Logo, not now, not ever. It is a great logo. Leave it where it is. Stop moving the deck chairs on the Titanic. Instead, push for more creativity and more money for the ABC.

Channel deepening:

Vincent Gannon writes: Re. “Channel Deepening: Reasons to fear it” (31 January, item 10). Just thought I would let you know that it also puts at risk the annual production of abalone harvested within Port Phillip Bay and along the ocean beaches from Point Nepean to Cap Schank. If the industry was to lose this area because the algae died or stopped growing because of sediment this would cause the loss of sustainable production of abalone annually at five to seven million dollars.

The price of defeat:

Shirley Colless writes: Simon Wilkins (Friday, comments) has only hit half the point: while John Howard’s salary may have moved to $0, he is still entitled to all of the perks that apply to former Prime Ministers and that little lot costs we taxpayers a lot. And will certainly pay the North Sydney Council rate. And of course there is also the super and the parliamentary pension. Anyone want to calculate it the largesse to how many is it, five former Prime Ministers?

The Frank Lowy Library:

Peter Keenan, librarian, Business Intelligence Centre, New South Wales Business Chamber, writes: Far be it from me to explain Librarianship 1.01 to David Havyatt (Friday, comments). Nevertheless there is rather more to special libraries (corporate, legal, academic) than books. Some of my main concerns are for those who worked there, information specialists in their own right, and for the fact that yet one more brilliant information resource is now defunct. This one did not require researchers to “hover from library to library” but was particularly set up just for them. This is not to say other libraries did not borrow from it, of course they did – its collections were unique. Make no mistake, the Frank Lowy Library is no more, and MBA students there will be the poorer for it.

It’s just not cricket:

Paul Gilchrist writes: Re. “Rugby woes offer a timely warning for Cricket Australia” (Friday, item 19). Charles Happell rightly points out that rugby and cricket are only played seriously by a few countries and these sports might find life difficult soon. But isn’t this just one example of the fool’s paradise of sports-mad Australia. Like the USA, we are only good at sports played by a few countries (NFL, baseball, NRL, AFL, rugby, cricket, golf, swimming). When we dive into the big pond of sports played by most of the world (athletics, soccer, tennis) we get embarrassed by the real sports powerhouses of Serbia, Russia, Ethiopia, Argentina etc. Maybe one day we will jump out of our little backwater pond and join the big league of sports.

Olivia Harwood writes: I read Josephine Kneipp (Friday, comments) with regard to the whole Monkey fiasco and agree with her assessment. In stark contrast to Ponting et al, on Thursday night I watched the documentary Beyond the Backyard on the ABC. By the end, my face was sore from smiling. It was one of the most delightful, heart-warming and uplifting stories I have watched for quite some time. The lads of “The Guild Cricket Club” exemplified: all that is noble in the art of cricket; all the charming larrikinism of the Australian character at its best; a sense of adventure and wonder; and, a lesson on how to set and achieve goals. All professional cricketers should be made to sit and watch this lesson on how to win hearts and minds (and one match) and embrace The Guild’s simple mantra of “graciousness responds to graciousness” (I think I’ve remembered that right).

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Peter Fray

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