Saying sorry:

Chris Hunter writes: Re. “Debunking Windschuttle’s benign interpretation of history” (yesterday, item 12). Dr Naomi Parry’s observation on Keith Windschuttle’s “political agenda” is revealing. She makes clear her understanding of Windschuttle’s mind set — that indigenous people needed to be “rescued” — and that this action of youth removal is still valid in certain cases. The culture that nearly destroyed Australia’s indigenous people has now become its saviour. Before white settlement indigenous culture was highly developed. Any citizen who transgressed was liable to some form of punishment, or re-education. Of course, the subtlety of these “strange” laws escaped the “settlers”, whose own legal system often reduced punishments to solitary confinement in a stone box, or death at the end of a hemp rope. Who do we think we are? As a “refined” culture we continue to invent endless time saving devices but what do we do with the time saved — lecture and attempt to help the extraordinary people we have almost driven from this earth? Non-indigenous Australia inhabits a half-ruined landscape, totally unaware of the true meaning of time. It is us who need to be “rescued”. Our teachers will be patient. They have waited so long.

Stephen Mahoney writes: Re. “Uncle Joe’s hilarious confected outrage” (yesterday, item 8). So the “silent L” Liberals are complaining about not being consulted on the wording of the apology. Their hypocrisy and petulance knows no bounds, but I suppose they were only given a decade of government to come up with some appropriate wording. And we should really admire their “restraint” and “integrity” in not using the Senate majority to put forward their own earnest (but no doubt small “a”) apology and bypass the Labor resistance to such an act. Maybe if the Uber-Liberals can’t hack the desert heat they could take a look at Wikipedia under “Aboriginal massacres” and start doing some homework on the subject. Most primary school children individually have a greater awareness than that held collectively by the once-were-cabinet-members of the now opposition. Maybe the most sincere apology would actually be one in which no words were spoken… a simple but meaningful ceremony in which we all participated with a shared awareness of what actually happened in this country between Aboriginals and colonials.

John Goldbaum writes: David MacCormack wrote: “We know, as Gerard Henderson laboriously details in his SMH column today, that the conservatives don’t cope with Opposition well.” Gerard Henderson has reason to complain. Brendan is a Labor Party mole in deep cover being run by Gough.

John Craig writes: “Kevin wedges Brendan as new term starts. Yaroo!” (Monday, item 1). In your recent Crikey article, you suggested that Mr Rudd’s proposed apology to indigenous Australians “wedged” the leader of the Liberal Party. With respect, I don’t think that the Liberal Party is the main target of this most interesting “wedge”. In saying how sorry the Australian Parliament is for the bad things that have happened to indigenous Australians and proclaiming a new beginning, Mr Rudd will apparently fully endorse the policy position that the previous Government developed for responding to the difficulties indigenous people face. The statement will apparently refer to: closing the gap between people; educational achievement and economic opportunity (not welfare); mutual responsibility; and equality for all (not special identities for indigenous peoples). This envisages a future for Australia as One Nation (not as separate nations). While I personally do not believe that this goes far enough, the groups who are really being “wedged”‘ here are: the (so-called) “aboriginal industry”; and anyone who might have wanted to pursue the implications of the (confused and probably-counterproductive) UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. And as your article said “the wedge … deals with a matter approved of by bien peasants and the chattering classes … so it is not the cause of controversy even though it is working brilliantly”. I am impressed.

Inflation rising:

John Kotsopoulos writes: Re. “With inflation rising, can we afford this year’s tax cuts?” (Yesterday, item 23). It’s all very well for the financial press and now Crikey to get on Rudd’s case about delivering the promised tax cuts. Let us remember that Keating has for years been unfairly and inaccurately pilloried by opportunists such as the former Treasurer for not delivering the second tranche of L-A-W tax cuts when they were in fact paid as superannuation. Perhaps as one journo has suggested Rudd could follow Keating’s lead by legislating to have the tax cuts paid as super while also allowing taxpayers to opt out if they choose. My guess is that there will be enough people who don’t need the extra cash who will choose to leave the money in super and so help keep the Reserve bank‘s finger off the interest rate trigger.

Gary Price writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. Your editorial implies we have to have inflation to not be “stagnant”. One day, far in the future, economists will come to understand that inflation has been a great lie and a great oppressor of the people. It is an economic expression of the fact that we still have space – land, resources – to expand into. As that space disappears, inflation will become a siphon that sucks wealth toward the center. Maybe we are there already.

Sharia law and marriage:

Paul Bullock writes: Re. “That word ‘Sharia'” (yesterday, item 16). By his choice of example Keysar Trad inadvertently demonstrates why the Archbishop’s comments have caused an uproar when he notes in passing the view that “marriage is, by its very nature, a union under God”. This may well be the opinion of particular religious denominations, but at law in both Britain and Australia marriage today is recognised as an essentially civil institution. The courts and Parliaments in both countries have spent decades eliminating the capriciousness and entrenched sexism of a view of marriage founded on (supposedly) Christian values. For example, until 1991 it was good law in Australia that a man could not be held to have raped his own wife, with reference to the Bible often cited in support of this highly offensive proposition. If predominantly Christian countries have recognised the philosophical bankruptcy of Christian religious courts, is it really surprising that the suggestion of Islamic law is equally offensive to modern ears?

David Curtin writes: Keyser Trad’s argument is undone by one simple point. Marriage is not “by its very nature, a union under God.” If you choose not to believe in some fairy-tale god-in-heaven, how is it that is it still possible to legally obtain a valid marriage licence? Marriage is a licence under the State and is governed by the laws of the State… in the same way that drivers’ licences or dog permits are issued.

Peter Costello:

John Poppins writes: Re. “Time for Costello to put up or shut up” (Monday, item 6). Peter is indelibly linked in my memory with his contribution to the Dollar Sweets and Waterfront issues. He has evidently lost interest in representing the constituency which elected him and his record demonstrates his interest in efficiency and cost reduction. He must accordingly be very concerned regarding the labour and material costs of a by-election for the seat of Higgins. This concern could be assuaged by the contribution, from his comfortable superannuation, to the AEC, of at least half the cost of a by-election in Higgins. If he has any sense of democracy he could also add donations to the minor parties who face the heavy costs of a re-run.

A populist government:

Jonathan Matthews writes: While I agree with Victoria Collin’s statements (yesterday, comments) regarding the new Friday sittings and the probable issues this creates for Western Australian (mainly Coalition) MPs, I rather think it was more a half arsed populist attempt by the new government to demonstrate what hard workers they are as opposed to the Howard government, which according to Rudd and his cabinet were “asleep at the wheel” (inflation) and “presided over ten years of neglect” (education). It’s just the same old crap. I hope the WA members boycott en masse.

19th hole view:

John Taylor writes: Re. Monday’s editorial. Jeez mate! When I fired off my Friday night, couple of beers, tongue-in-cheek rant, I felt sure you wouldn’t publish it, let alone in the manner you did – rude words and all. In view of the responses, perhaps I should be more serious for a moment and offer a comment on the comments: Re. Frank Birchall. To start with no-one really thought Ray Martin was dead. It was a joke, Frank, intended to suggest that Ray was not as big a deal as he thought he was; Re. John Spresser. Was I around when interest rates were 17%? Not only around but in the thick of it in a major bank which was writing off millions regularly from poor lending to businesses which could not operate with rates at that level. In those days when interest rates moved no-one cared about the effect on housing loans because the very prudential policies adopted by the banks to housing lending, meant the vast majority of loans were adequately covered by the equity in the loan and ability to repay. Pity the same principles haven’t been adhered to by the kids running banks today; Andrew Millard’s “Phillips Curve” is a bit technical for me but logic suggests that higher business costs will lead to staff reductions; Tell Frank I’m sure we wouldn’t need 118 goes to get rid of the current NSW Government. Unfortunately our Constitution doesn’t provide this opportunity. We got stuck with four-year election cycles when we foolishly elected some independents to a balance of power position in our Upper Hose and I’ll bet we wish we hadn’t; and I thought about it and I won’t say “sorry” for my whaling comments.

Kim Williams and Foxtel:

Mark Wallace writes: Who does Kim Williams (yesterday, comments) think he’s kidding? To compare and contrast the ratings figures of all Foxtel’s channels (okay, so there are maybe five or six worth watching occasionally) with the Seven network’s figures in the major capital cities is surely just a little bit rich? How did Seven do against, say TV1, or UKTV, or Foxsports1 or the Comedy Channel? That would be a fair comparison, but of course, Foxtel wouldn’t come out on top, then, would it Kim? If he wants to compare the results of all of Foxtel’s channels, he should at least have the decency to add all the Free-to-air channel ratings together. And I’m guessing he wouldn’t like those results either.

Ian Scandrett writes: Maybe Kim Williams could actually worry about selling stuff rather than playing rating word game politics. We watch Austar most of the time rather than FTA. In the city we were a survey point until 2005, but then our home couldn’t be surveyed after we bought a plasma! We had called out the survey company to wire the new home theatre with the survey gear but the tech explained the surveys across Australia excluded Plasma and took it out. So all cable viewing was ignored because these homes were not surveyed. We had the Foxtel recorder box also. Our area had lots of plasmas and small LCDs. Media buyers would want to know what has been done to fix this Kim…

Send your comments, corrections, clarifications and c*ck-ups to [email protected]. Preference will be given to comments that are short and succinct: maximum length is 200 words (we reserve the right to edit comments for length). Please include your full name – we won’t publish comments anonymously unless there is a very good reason.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey