Jillian Skinner not stepping aside:

Jillian Skinner, the State Member for North Shore in NSW, writes: Re. “Roll out the O’Barrell, or, anyone for Hockey?” (Yesterday, item 3). She will contest the next election, working hard to put the Coalition ahead in health (a real breakthrough in the last poll), act as supportive deputy to Barry O’Farrell and hell will freeze over before she steps aside for anyone as her first obligation is to the people who elected her. From the horses mouth – if you need further convincing give me a call.

Ned Kelly:

Chris Davis writes: Re. “Ned O’Sama: the resonance of transgenerational anxiety” (yesterday, item 4). An interesting comparison but surely flawed – comparing heroes of the left like Che and Ned with out and out criminals, and one from the most fundamentalist of religious aspects? For me Ned is the poster boy of Australian republicanism, although he is too divisive to fulfil that role. If you want to know how progressive or conservative someone is in Australia, just ask what they think of Ned Kelly? This has proven to be a very reliable indicator for me – common horse thief, criminal, bushranger equals conservative – anything including misunderstood, underdog etc generally implies progressive, leftish. I do get the demonising bit of his article though.

Brendan Nelson:

John Goldbaum writes: Re. “Dr Nelson: Last ever leader of the Liberal Party?” (Yesterday, item 9). The good doctor has made lots of progress, having moved from Brendan the Brief to Brendan the Last. I reckon he’s also progressed from embattled to besieged, but he’s not as hapless as yesterday’s disgraced newspaper website sub-editor whose headline was “Lay off Brendan”. As in WorkChoices or fair crack of the whip?

Furore over carers and aged payments:

Martin Gordon writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. The media have reported plans by the new federal ALP government to cut carers and aged payments, also “reform” political financing rules, whilst the PM is raising the odd moral issue such as binge drinking and pokie machines. Is there any surprise in any of this, if there is there should not be? The ALP rarely does much that will harm it in any way. Firstly older voters and carers are more likely to be Coalition supporters and their views can be ignored, “reform” to donation and disclosure rules will advantage the ALP relative to the Coalition parties, and the moral concerns play well with the new religious voters that the PM has connected well with (ignore the fact the ALP benefits from the current pokie rules in its clubs and as governments, and the fact the current drinking regimes is largely a result of ALP governments). The total effect of all these things underlines the fact that socialism (yes the ALP is a member of Socialist International with many disturbing bedfellows) is about power rather than fairness.

Garth Wong writes: It might surprise Geoff Russell (yesterday, comments) that most carers will not rush off and use their measly $1600 bonus payment to compete with the BMW driving yuppies and drive up the price of housing and actually use the payment to relieve the monotony and daily grind 24 hours caring for their invalid or disabled loved one. I am sorry if Geoff is concerned he will not be able to afford his second or third investment property, due to the selfishness of the carers in trying to compete with him in the auction place.

Barry Welch writes: I was amused on Friday to see the banner boards at newsagents screaming “Fury at Attack on Carers”. That morning on AM the CEO of Carers Australia had said she knew nothing of the proposed cuts until she was contacted at 6.30am by those who had seen it in the paper. What was it that the reporter in Havana was told by his newspaper proprietor when the USS Maine went down?

Carl Mather writes: I wonder if this particular “razor gang” are going to discontinue the farcical and deceptive “drug war”. The Australian Drug Law Reform site shows that $2 billion is thrown away each year on this. How’s that for a quick saving!

Cathy Bannister writes: A couple of days after the November election last year, I asked my 87-year-old grandmother what she thought of the results. “I bet HE won’t give me my $500,” she snorted. She pointed at her new orthopaedic shoes: “I call these my gift from the Prime Minister.” Nan has crippling arthritis which she controls with Celebrex, and recurrent little strokes called prolonged ischemic episodes, which she controls with Warfarin. The Warfarin stops her blood clotting, which is great for preventing strokes but also means that the slightest bump leaves a massive bruise and a scratch to her tissue-paper skin won’t heal for weeks, even after her doctor patches her up with whatever trendy artificial skin is in that week. In addition, she is on mini-aspirins for her heart and also has osteoporosis (for which she takes calcium). At some stage in the last decade she fell over and apparently cracked a vertebra, the pain from which just blended in with the rest and we didn’t discover it until an x-ray years afterwards. Her ability to keep upright is incredibly important for her health, and hence those shoes have been literally life-saving. You can imagine that $500 would go a long way with most independent pensioners. I have to give Howard credit for such an efficient, well-targeted bribe.

Morris Iemma:

Charles Shavitz writes: Re. “Iemma farce will hurt Kevin in 2010” (yesterday, item 13). I believe that the latest date that the next Federal election can be held is 16 April 2011, meaning that the New South Wales election will be out of the way, and Morris Iemma and the NSW Labor government may not be the problem for Kevin Rudd that Peter Brent currently expects them to be.

Subsidised dental services:

Harley Dennett, journalist at the Sydney Star Observer, writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 8). I beg to disagree with your “tips and rumours” yesterday section claiming no media coverage of the scrapping of Medicare subsidised dental services for chronically ill people. The gay media has been all over this in recent months with headlines like “Labor digs teeth into HIV dental help” and “Roxon pulls HIV dental scheme” in the Sydney Star Observer. It’s not a very sexy story for the mainstream media when the government keeps its election commitments like this, but not all media outlets shut down critical thought during the mandatory honeymoon period.

Where’s the decency?:

Keith Perkins writes: Lyall Chittleborough (yesterday, comments) claims that “Australia needs to recognize all the decency, merit and human nobility that we have.” Good God Lyall! How long have you been out of the country?

David Flint:

Steve Martin writes: Andrew Lewis (yesterday, comments) wrote: “Crikey purged their right-leaning columnists a very long time ago.” David Flint is a left winger! Now that is what I call a surprise.

First Dog on the Moon:

KT writes: Re. “First Dog on the Moon” (6 March, item 6). First Dog on the Moon thinks Julie Bishop looks a bit like a bunny rabbit. My dad has an aquarium and has named various fish after major Australian pollies. The fish named Julie Bishop has just died. OMOmen or not? Brendan and Malcolm fight a lot, naturally. There are also fish named after Kevin Rudd, Wayne Swan and Julia Gillard. Julia likes to hide in the corner and has a nice red tail.

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