Rudd and Burke:

Janet Simpson writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. I think you are really going over the top with yesterday’s editorial. Rudd did not have dinner with Burke. He has given a thoroughly plausible explanation for his withdrawal by diplomatic ruse. It should be apparent that there is no political mileage in this matter. Petty bitching and moralising is beneath contempt. Watch for the big issues. A new PM is not fair game for this old-hat issue and he has acknowledged he should have adopted the same line as Stephen Smith. Give him a break.

Alex Neuman writes: Crikey wrote: “That tells us something more disturbing about the character of our man in the Lodge than any amount of vague recollection over the content of emails.” Do you know for about 10 minutes there it was refreshing to read something that wasn’t a manhunt in pursuit of your favourite topic “all pollies are bad, deceitful, liars… enter chosen adjective here…” Is it any wonder that politicians don’t want to expose themselves to scrutiny when that’s scrutiny is almost always given the worst possibly spin. You are doing exactly what you accuse them of doing – playing fast and loose with the truth in pursuit of your own goals. This from a “disappointed” but still great supporter and daily reader of Crikey.

Lyall Chittleborough writes: Crikey wrote: “…he was prepared to enlist the support of a discredited, convicted felon and whatever numbers he might bring, to the Rudd cause.” This is the kind of absolutist pejoration that I subscribe to Crikey to avoid. As for your Walter Slurry piece purporting to be the real thing (Matemail: Another Burke/Rudd missive revealed, yesterday, item 4), it is cheap populist journalism unworthy of Crikey.

Lynda Hill writes: Re. Rudd and Burke – oh please! Concentrate on something that’s important… how humdrum you get when you sound like the mainstream media!

Sue Hardy writes: Anyone who makes Prime Monster would have been prepared to do anything; it’s the nature of the beast.

Saint Kevin’s mortal sin:

Ivars Avens writes: Re. “Saint Kevin’s mortal sin” (yesterday, item 3). This trivial gossip piece resembles the “Brittney Spears school of pseudo-journalism” one would expect from a Murdoch attack dog not from Crikey. Perhaps Christian Kerr would do well to remember that half of Australia was prepared to do whatever it took to get rid of that “scheming mendacious little man” (to quote Alan Ramsey one last time), KRudd’s predecessor. I for one am overjoyed he did and regard the current “scandal” as trivia unfit even for the pages of The Australian but more appropriate for No Idea. Grow up Mr. Kerr.

Alan Kennedy writes: If as Christian Kerr claims Rudd should have had no dealings with Burke because he was dodgy and tainted etc, then what about the trained poodles in the local media who were happy to be named as being brought to dinner at the behest of the Brian the Hat? Has anyone asked them how they intended to maintain their virginity in the presence of such an evil doer? Does Burkie just have to whistle and they will front for a free feed? And have all these people been sitting on a story for a year? It appears they had the emails from Brian the Hat and yet not a word from them until now.

Joseph Poprzeczny writes: Christian Kerr, you are the only one to have correctly assessed the Rudd-Burke relationship. Well done. There are no flies on you — but swarms of them on so many others, most especially editors of some of our newspapers. Keep up the good work.

Wayne Swan:

John Kotsopoulos writes: Re. “Wayne Swan needs to learn the art of assertiveness” (yesterday, item 9). Christian Kerr wrote: “There is a herd mentality in the finance community. Treasurers have to act as shepherds and drive opinions and interpretations. If treasurers don’t provide information, markets will take it from somewhere else.” And a fat lot of good it did the economy for the previous shepherd to bully and cajole a lower level of interest rates than the prevailing economic conditions required. It will take a lot more than Costello style shepherding to avoid the debt-laden potential train wreck that has been let loose. In my view Swan, with the support of the Prime Minister and the other economic Ministers has a better chance of getting it right than the Press Gallery’s favourite bully boy.

Foreign investment:

Adrian Chan writes: Re. “Swan’s FIRB guidelines ignore the elephant in the room” (yesterday, item 5). I think your White Australia Policy and xenophobic racism is showing. Since its beginning Australia was “owned” by the UK — the Sydney Harbour Bridge took decades to repay, then the USA owned much of Australia as in the car industry. Now that both UK and USA are nearly bankrupt, is it the turn of China and Singapore. Do you think they will let their investments go to the wall? In fact, the only way the US financial market can be saved is to let the Chinese into their equities, say 15% for each failing firms. As Australian companies always need funds to expand, does it matter where that fund comes from? All investors want their investment to get profitable, whether UK, USA of Chinese. I think the Rudd regime is showing signs of that old White Australia Policy and racism. I am sorry to read of you joining that bandwagon.

Rod Metcalfe writes: Haven’t we heard all this before. Back in the 1980s it was fear of the massive investment by Japanese companies and real estate developers in Australia. Then in the 1990s it was US companies buying up all those power assets. Deja Vu all over again.

Inflation and interest rates:

Terry Mills writes: Re. “ANZ catches cold, market sneezes” (yesterday, item 1). As the stated objective of the RBA is to counter inflation by raising interest rates and thus slowing domestic demand and, in particular it seems, to rein in discretionary spending then it seems that they may be the wrong people to do the job. Raising interest rates is a blunt instrument approach and, as it hits essential spending as well as discretionary, it has the characteristics of collective punishment; ask people paying off a mortgage. Pragmatically, the most effective way of dampening discretionary spending is by lifting GST which won’t affect basic food spending and won’t impact on existing home loans repayments. Sure, it’s a political decision and as such unsavoury but it sure beats the current approach adopted by the RBA.

Child abuse:

Matthew Weston writes: “S-x in the Melanesia: the evidence is there” (yesterday, item 14). How is it that we can possibly accept that the s-xual abuse of children, for any reason is acceptable? Cultural sensitivity is not a reasonable nor fair excuse to condone, accept or in any way encourage this, yet what you are offering up is evidence that this practise is ongoing. Does this mean you give implicit approval of the abuse of children, as the culturally sensitive thing to do? The right of a child to develop unencumbered with the memories of abuse at the hand of an adult is fundamental, it’s something that has evolved in society over time, and cannot be allowed to return. Many abuse children under the guise of religious or educational experience, and they have been charged, and in many cases convicted, and the excuse of religious or educational experience has been rightly dismissed. It is not acceptable to tolerate this behaviour, and in fact, the cultural evidence you present provides a justification for closer scrutiny of cultures that practise related rituals.

Dave Liberts writes: Once again, Greg Barns’ wrap-up of a current legal controversy succinctly and accurately outlines the legal issues but forgets all about the real world in the process. Whether or not there is a pattern of behaviour in the Torres Straight which is so established that it has been deemed a cultural practice, it does not make it somehow more acceptable for an adult to engage in blatantly s-xual activity with a minor in the 21st century. Cultural practices of people around the world include any number of violent, psychologically harmful and/or permanently disfiguring activities. We are lucky to live in a country where such activities are (for the most part) prosecuted by authorities or (in the case of some Aboriginal tribal punishments) permitted only on the basis that they have been found to cause more good than harm on balance. In the case of a teacher engaging in oral s-x with an 11-year-old, the judge is perhaps-legally-correct but simply-morally-wrong to accept that arguments about cultural relativism should impact on sentencing. She did the same thing in the case of the little girl in Arakun, when she treated the offenders with a degree of kindness, but sold the victim out in the process. To borrow someone else’s phrase, little children are sacred. End of story.

The Oz and the “culture wars”:

Robert Manne writes: In support of Clive Hamilton’s comment yesterday: Shortly before Chris Mitchell became editor-in-chief of The Australian, the paper re-printed a 7,200 word attack on me originally written by Deborah Cassrels for the paper Mitchell then edited, the Brisbane Courier Mail. Since he has become editor of The Australian in early 2003 there have been more than 200 articles in that paper in which I have been mentioned. The overwhelming majority have been abusive, many extremely so. Particularly in recent times there have been several editorials accusing me of various sins, from sympathy for Islamic terrorism to nostalgia for Communism. Others of whom The Australian disapproves , including David Marr, Guy Rundle and Clive Hamilton himself, have been treated in a similar way. The purpose has been clearly intimidatory. With all of us it has failed. The Australian’s recent call for civility in public debate is the equivalent of Wayne Carey pleading the case for monogamy.

Nick Shimmin writes: Re. “The Australian: ‘We didn’t mean it. Really'” (yesterday, item 16). Gee, aside from the patent absurdity of Clive Hamilton’s desperate attempt to perpetuate the “Culture Wars” he pretends to hate, it’s hard to comprehend how he can describe Robert Manne as “reasoned rather than dogmatic, eloquent rather than rancorous, urbane rather than cruel”. Have you actually read Left Right Left, Clive? Have you read the man’s rantings about Wilfred Burchett, for instance, which he seems happy to reprint and restate? Like all the other culture warriors of your ilk, you have your heroes and you are blind to their faults.

This is an ad:

Sam Roggeveen writes: Re. “Which bank spent $50 million on crappy ads then raised rates?” (7 February, item 4). Could Crikey please let the Commonwealth Bank know that this is how you make a Michael Bay commercial.

Making peace:

Daniel Lewis writes: Steven McKiernan suggests (yesterday, comments) rather than Neil James’ views of how many war veterans there are in Parliament, “a more vital statistic is the number of Members of Parliament who have been active in the Peace movement.” What McKiernan, like many in peacetime seem to forget, is that the “peace movement” shouldn’t be confused with “antiwar” movements. In too many cases to mention, peace came about only because of war. The Nazis and Japanese didn’t suggest peace because they wanted to, but because they had no choice – there is something very persuasive about being flattened. The result today, two vibrant, productive democracies. Contrast this with the Arab World, sponsors of Global Jihad and a favourite cause of the “peace movement” who believe they can “win”. Why would (take your pick) Hamas, Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, ever want to talk about “peace” when not only does their own fundamentalist doctrine says that there cannot be any peace with the “enemy” (us) but they are convinced they are winning against a society with no stomach. War is a terrible thing. However we are being badly let down by naive idealists who claim to promote peace yet don’t realise there are “Bad Men” out there who won’t be persuaded by a hearty round of Kumbaya and free hugs, parliamentary or otherwise.

The new ABC logo:

Mike Walkden-Brown writes: Re. “New logo: taking aim at the ABC’s rebranding” (14 February, item 19). I don’t know if you’re the right person to contact but someone needs to pressure ABC management to acknowledge a majority of their viewers are angry and unhappy about the TV1 & TV2 watermark logos displayed on their television screens. Some changes were made but I fear the management are reluctant to change very much as they will lose face. Channel Seven in NSW have a watermark which occupies the lower right hand corner of the screen, is visible but not nearly as distracting or annoying. Why can’t Aunty? I don’t like watermarks and have registered my complaints and await a reply in a month or so. I understand protection of copy write is one of the reasons for the logo but it’s a bit like chasing the horse that escaped from the stable when it’s possible to source and download anything from the internet. The logo distracts and is irritating. I’ve been a fan of the ABC for many years and never thought I’d turn off. Yes, I’ve turned off. I just don’t relax or enjoy the programs because my eyes are drawn to the logo. Looks like the management will tough it out and turn their backs on the public. Hardly helps the next promotion if they backtrack after all the ho ha. Aunty has provided good programs in spite of budget cuts and unlike SBS is still add free. Three cheers. However I really can’t relax watching the programs now and don’t intend to watch any television. I’ll watch DVD’s and surf the internet.

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Peter Fray

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