Rudd’s salute at NATO:

Phillipa Hanrick writes: This is a message to all Australian big media types who I know read Crikey, even though they hate it. Why the endless focus on the most facile and trivial aspects of Kevin Rudd’s overseas trip? I would like some acknowledgment that his trip is having some success in engaging Australia and our new government – which by the way, was elected by the people in a democratic vote – with the rest of world. But no, apparently the most interesting thing that happened was when in a crowded room the PM focused on and “saluted” or waved depending on your point of view, towards US President Bush who he recognized and claimed as friend. President Bush responded to the PM wave in a positive and friendly manner. But not the Australian media. Instead of constantly looking for ways to undermine, belittle, criticize, shame and generally humiliate our Prime Minister in his first public engagements on the world stage a little reflection and analysis of issues and events he is attending would be greatly appreciated. The current anti-Rudd tone in media make me wonder if any of our big media leadership group have actually come to terms with the change of government. It seems they choose to treat us all as complete idiots who watch the news for light comic relief rather than find out what is going on in the real world.

Geoff Medley writes: There he was, our new Prime Minister in amongst several hundred other delegates at the NATO Summit… and obviously not knowing anybody, until in the distance he saw a familiar face… one that Prime Minister Howard was often seen with. So what does he do? Acts like the new kid on the block and salutes in the hope he might be noticed. He was, and once again K Rudd was in the media spotlight. Pity he’s not back home helping solve the problems we have here instead of strutting the world stage trying to get noticed by other world leaders!

Heather Bailey writes: I’m not necessarily a fan of Kevin Rudd, but he looked lonely as a cloud at that gathering and saw a familiar face in the crowd. His so called “salute” was nothing more than a sign of relief at being in the company of someone whom he had recently met. My only concern is that he referred to it as “a joke” – it clearly wasn’t that at all, and he should be man enough to admit to the reality of the situation. While I don’t occupy a high position, I have on more than one occasion “saluted” work colleagues – I believe it to be nothing more than an Aussie tradition to be accepted as either intended self-deprecation or humour. In Rudd’s instance, I feel we should read nothing more into it than the sighting of an acquaintance at a party where one felt uncomfortable in attendance. Had he waved, the media would have skinned him alive.

ABC complaints:

A former ABC employee writes: Re. “Henderson lost on ABC complaints process” (Friday, item 15). I have worked processing complaints at the ABC. Considering the number of hours broadcast live on radio around Australia, I was astonished how few complaints actually came in. I was also impressed how seriously all the journalists (and their superiors) took the complaints. Gerard Henderson is wrong about program-makers not receiving the complaints – although complaints go through the Audience and Current Affairs process, they all go the program-makers to defend/explain. That number also includes a large number of serial complainers, and the sports fans who write in each Monday accusing commentators of bias against their team. My big tip – if you really want a response and it is a serious complaint, say so. If you just want to log your opinion, say – “not a formal complaint/no response needed” – it will still be read by the ABC, but you will save your taxpayer funds being spent on time-consuming responses, and will speed up the process for more serious complaints.

Rudd’s 2020 Summit:

Tony Kevin writes: Re. “Rudd’s 2020 Summit: Who will fart in church?” (Friday, item 6). Here is a case study. In the group on “Australia’s future security and prosperity in a rapidly changing region and world”, chaired by Michael Wesley, in a field I thought I was reasonably familiar with (foreign policy and national security); I think I recognized only about 28 from the 90 names, and I know personally about half of those. I feel a bit uncomfortable not recognizing the names of over 60 people – I must be really out of touch. (I thought perhaps I had failed to recognize international trade specialists – not my field – but then I saw that is part of an economics-oriented committee). Here are some of the names not on the list for the ‘foreign affairs and security’ committee -commentators and writers Bruce Haigh, Peter Mares, Dick Woolcott, Allan Behm, Nic Stuart, activists Helen Caldicott, Sue Wareham, Margo Kingston, controversial persons Andrew Wilkie, Lance Collins, Richard Butler and yours truly, academics Owen Harries, Coral Bell, Alison Broinowski, Stuart Harris, Tony Milner, Desmond Ball. Of course some of these – myself included – may not have applied. And most of my names here are over 55s. I wish the summit well.

Geoff Russell, Animal Liberation SA, writes: Margaret Simons has missed one interest group which appears to be totally missing from the 2020 summit attendees list. There seems to be nobody sticking up for animals. This is despite us living in a country with 5 times as many sheep as people, despite Australia’s animal based diet creating more climate warming than all our coal fired power stations, despite 400 million chickens being slaughtered annually with possibly 100 million being in significant pain for the last week or two of their miserable 6 week life and despite Australia’s heavy use of dairy products being the single biggest source of water use from the ailing Murray Darling Basin. The methane from the animals used to feed the delegates will surpass anything that could be produced by an army of sparrows.

The AMA:

An anonymous health industry insider writes: Re. “The AMA doesn’t need a seat at the 2020 Summit” (2 April, item 13). The influence and power of the AMA as Australia’s most powerful union is legend in the health world. The AMA dress themselves up in public health clothes (always have a comment on the public health issue of the day – from smoking to Aboriginal health), so as to allow themselves the cover to pursue their ravenous appetites for more money and more power for their officers and members. No one else can touch their turf, and anyone who tries to expand their sphere of service delivery – whether it’s nurse practitioners giving pap smears or pharmacists giving sickies, is quickly quashed. Who will point out the AMA is perhaps a big part of the problem rather than the solution when it comes to health service delivery in Australia? No one. Why? Cos they’d get crushed too… How? AMA reps sit around any serious decision making table in the health world. Boards, committees you name it. They also get their way by relentlessly and efficiently propagating their views in the daily health discourse of the country with their effective PR machines in every state capital.

Lobbyists and pork:

Philip Dalidakis, CEO of Victorian Association of Forest Industries, writes: Re. “Lots more names for Crikey’s Real Register of Lobbyists” (Friday, item 11). I am somewhat surprised to see my name added to your “list”. As the Chief Executive for a major Victorian industry association I have very little to do with the Federal Government and in fact we have a national association which funnily enough deals with our National Government. And whilst I have worked for the Victorian Government previously (which is no secret as any Google search will find) I also have a strong commercial and financial background and was wondering whether that should preclude me from dealing with the private sector too as the CEO of the Victorian Association of Forest Industries? I can only presume that if you are to add my name to your list, then every Industry Association CEO (obviously both State and Federal) along with the names of Australia’s top 200 company CEOs will be added as well. All of a sudden, your list is looking more like the white pages than any document of public importance. My role requires me to undertake numerous tasks, only one of which requires me to deal with the political environment. Maybe I should inform my board, that you have effectively rewritten my position description.

Michael Cox writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (Friday, item 8). Crikey published: “The pig industry is in the sh-t, excuse the pun, and we’re considering employing a lobbyist. Any suggestions?” May I suggest Captain Goodvibes the Wonder Pig, of Tracks surfing magazine fame? (Don’t razz up his stick though). If he’s not available, try Paul Keating.

James Walker writes: I’ve got your man and it has to be Graham “Richo” Richardson – he has very strong Labor connections, he gave Morrie Iemma his first job and is known as a bit of a fixer who in recent years has had some spare time. It’s not about snouts in troughs that makes him the man. It’s more that he was chased through the streets of Gympie by irate pig farmers in years past.

Ignaz Amrein writes: Perfect timing for the pig industry, they want to employ a lobbyist, there is one ready for them: Peter McGauran, soon to be ex-member of parliament and National party member, he’s just bloody perfect, the Nationals know all about pork!

Carbon caps and gas emissions:

Mark Freeman writes: Re. “A market not a tax” (Friday, item 10). Richard Farmer and (as usual) the IMF are way off the mark about carbon caps versus taxes. It’s all about the intended outcome which in this case is definitely about capping emissions not raising taxes. A cap is just that and provides some sort of certainty about emissions levels. Taxes don’t. No-one can say how much price of any sort will act to reduce emissions – and over what time frame. Look at the situation with cars here. People grumble about fuel prices but the sales growth segment is 4WD’s and the like. In reality, energy is still astonishingly cheap and our usage and related goods purchases reflect that. We need to keep our eye on the ball here – it’s about lowering fossil based carbon emissions. It’s not about transport mix, or total energy usage or any other side issues. We can all have big cars, overheated houses and energy intensive gadgets – but the energy has to come from another source and will likely be dearer at least in the medium term. Even then I rather doubt that price will be a problem for too long. The world is awash with energy, we’ve just been rather lazy about tapping into its various forms.

Adam Welch writes: Re. Kevin McCready (Friday, comments) who wrote: “And did he (Ben Sandilands) deliberately leave out petrol when he said “most of the man made greenhouse gas emissions that are derived from fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas”? Uhm, the last time I checked, petrol was derived from oil.

NAB branch closures:

Diana Simmonds writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (Friday, item 8). Crikey published: I have just been informed from a VERY reliable source that the National Australia Bank is about to announce branch closures Australia-wide and outsource at least 100 jobs to India. Watch it happen!” They don’t have to announce it: they’ve been doing it! Quietly closing branches when leases run out. Banking with NAB now means going online or going elsewhere, unless you want to get in the car, get on a bus or whatever and take a hike to the next suburb. They’ve turned their customers into online tellers – and that’s even cheaper than going to India.

Guy Rundle:

Erin Vine writes: Re. “US08: Homeschooling a lesson in post-modernity” (3 March, item 5). Some of Guy Rundle’s rhetorical flourishes bring to mind a certain yellow duck/private detective/family man (whose timeslot was mercilessly abused in the mid 1990s). Tell us Guy, you’re a fan of Duckman, aren’t you?

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