Vale John Button:

Andrew Lewis writes: Re. “Vale John Button” (yesterday, item 5). I am sure you will see so many emails from others such as myself expressing regret at the loss of John Button. I have no connection with him other than as a voter to a politician, not even from the same state, but it ain’t so difficult to tell the best from the rest, and I doubt that there were many better or more intelligent or useful contributors to Australian society than he. Condolences to his family. Thanks to John Button for all he gave this country.

Chris Johnson writes: Re. “Keating’s Button tribute” (yesterday, special edition). Thanks so much to Paul Keating for his words on Senator John Button. For someone at times so prickly and blunt he somehow, in my view, consistently delivers the truth. His tribute to the former Labor senator strikes a fitting chord because John Button was a champion of the electorate, always attuned to social justice and positive change. It’s surprising to hear that Mr Button believed he could have been happier and more productive outside the parliament because he stands a shining light in public administration. In times when politicians seem so ordinary, the passing of this former ALP member of parliament is a reminder that perhaps politics doesn’t always attract the predominantly self or party-focussed. That individuals like John Button come along and well earn prominence in our nation’s political history, for all the right reasons. I think his former colleagues have unanimously endorsed his goodness in many ways, particularly Paul Keating. Again, many thanks to a former PM for his kind and fitting words and to John Button, for his esteemed and valued contributions to Australian life.

Indigenous s-xual abuse:

Kevin Naughton writes: Re. “Speak kids’ language to understand Indigenous s-xual abuse” (yesterday, item 10). Your correspondent is wrong. The 1993 Brother John Hallett child s-x abuse story was not broken by The Age and SMH – it was broken by me and Wendy Carlisle on ABC Radio’s AM program and on the front page of The Australian by David Nason. We were all living in Darwin at the time. The reason the case failed was not because of translation problems, but rather the cross-timing of counselling and taking of witness statements. We will never know the full reason why the case was mishandled because there is no ICAC or equivalent in the NT – something Labor Governments are always wary of.

The Olympic Torch:

Frank Birchall writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Helen Clark, hit the nail on the head when she said that the time for opposition to and demonstrations against China’s hosting of the Olympic Games was years ago when China was competing for the games. What we are seeing now with the Olympic Torch is a hysterical, protest band-wagon whereby everyone with a China grievance, real or imagined, is scrambling to climb on board. It is insulting to the Chinese people as well as their leaders and, if anything, is likely to harden their attitude to Tibet. Who will benefit from this? The traditional Olympic Torch progress from Greece should be abandoned in future years as it will inevitably continue to be a global magnet for disruptive protesters against anything and everything.


David Lenihan writes: Re. “Senator tells: Why the fight is still ahead for Zimbabweans” (yesterday, item 4). If the UN got off its lame duck backside this very minute it would take weeks to organise meetings, more weeks to organise meetings to discuss the outcome of the previous meetings, appoint committees to hold meetings, to report back to a general meeting who will meet to decide what action to take. Meantime Mugabe has had his troops and police terrorise the population, slaughter innocent families, incarcerate and torture the opposition. Nothing changes so the UN calls a meeting to decide why the previous meetings failed to come to a decision. Result… it is agreed next time Mugabe threatens genocide the UN will call a meeting. Never have so many countries gathered together to meet, to collectively accomplish bugger all, at such expense. United Nations? United joke.

Rudd’s 2020 Summit:

Robert Hayward, geologist, writes: Re. “Fancy dancers rule in Rudd’s summit of the elites” (Monday, item 2). I looked at the 2020 Economic Papers and didn’t see anything of particular interest to me. I have an interest in the impact of global energy use on the environment, in particular the restriction of carbon dioxide production. This is a serious economic issue and by 2020 it will be more serious. I would have thought it deserved centre stage. One solution to providing carbon free energy is nuclear power. Quite possibly this is not a solution we want for ourselves in Australia but I like to think that we as a nation respect the rights of other countries to this source of carbon free energy. To this end, there is insanity in the current chaos in the policies of Australian States towards uranium mining. This is 100% an issue that can, could, and should be addressed by the Australian Labor Party. Can we please have a coherent, Australia wide policy in regard to the mining of uranium in this country? For many years we have implemented an appropriately rigorous policy that aims to encourage nuclear non proliferation and now we need to be permitted to mine this material in an environmentally safe and responsible way wherever economic deposits occur.

Glen Frost writes: Re. “2020 Summit: More secret squirrel” (yesterday, item 12). According to the 2020 Summit program overview published in Bernard Keane’s item the delegates will be taking a shuttle bus. Shuttle bus? Canberra better have plans for the extra Lear jets and limos that the incoming billionaires will bring.

Peak oil:

Holger Lubotzki writes: Re. “Peak oil: the world’s dirty secret bubbles up from the ground” (yesterday, item 25). Adam Schwab defines “Peak Oil” as “the point in time where the world begins to consume more oil that it is able to produce”, which is not quite correct. M. King Hubbert coined the term in the fifties and he defined it as the point in time at which the maximum rate of global oil production has been reached after which the period of decline begins. To be clear on the difference, it could be possible that global consumption exceeds supply at a time when global production is still increasing. Hubbert’s concept of peak oil cannot be denied as the amount of hydrocarbon we have is a finite resource and is non-renewable. The oil shock of the seventies followed by the oil price crash of 1986 may have produced a false “peak oil” as exploration and production declined in the ten years after 1986 and it is an empirical fact that global oil production is still increasing today.

Mark Byrne writes: Reading Adam Schwab’s analysis relating to peak oil pundit Matthew Simmons, I smiled when I saw his non-sequitur, “Simmons is no crackpot – he served as George W Bush’s energy adviser”. After enough site trips to sewerage plants I can assure you it’s not just the cream that rises to the top.

Gerard Henderson:

Dave Liberts writes: Bernard Keane’s accusation that Gerard Henderson has no sense of humour (yesterday, comments) seems pretty fair to me. Did anyone else see Henderson’s recent griping about John Clarke and Brian Dawe “bagging” Rudd for “going soft on the authoritarian regime in China in order to advance the cause of Australia’s commercial interests in that country”? Anyone who saw that particular satirical sketch who hadn’t already convinced themselves it must be biased would have seen the pair having some fun about the differences between Rudd’s statements about China and Tibet to the Australian public/western media and what he’d probably actually be saying to the Chinese, but that’s not the same as Henderson’s accusation. It wasn’t a left-wing attack about Rudd ignoring human rights abuses, it was paying Rudd (and other Australian governments) out for being inconsistent. And anyone but Henderson would have found it pretty funny too.

Greg Samuelson writes: Gerard Henderson may or may not be the “pressclipper” he was described as in last Friday’s Crikey. However, his opinion columns over the years in The Sydney Morning Herald, on such genuinely trivial pursuits as the “culture wars”, Robert Manne’s real and alleged activities forty years ago, ABC “bias” etc ad nauseam, do appear to confirm him as a serial pedant. Only the poor pale unfortunates in the liaison departments of media organisations around the country would know for sure whether these public obsessions represent the tip of the mother of all icebergs, but one suspects the worst. Ought not there be a register of such individuals, for the dual purposes of protecting the community from cruel and unusual tedium and marshalling its more insomniac members in the direction of a quick fire, albeit painful, cure? If not, why not?


Liz Purdue writes: Re. “Underbelly DVD on sale in May” (yesterday, item 21). Interesting that the Underbelly DVD set will be on sale in May – not in Victoria. I have just come back from a few days in Melbourne – the friends I stayed with had spent the best part of the Easter break glued to a bootleg set of DVDs of the entire series, apparently the latter episodes came straight from the editing suite! It appears that everyone you speak with has either borrowed or owns a set!

Captain Goodvibes:

Robert Bruinewoud writes: Ahh… Captain Goodvibes! (Yesterday, comments). What wonderful childhood memories! Surely there’s a publisher in Australia that will give this sadly neglected icon the coffee-table book he deserves.

Brendan Nelson:

John Goldbaum writes: Re. “No Coalition polling joy” (yesterday, item 11).

With Brendan 11 heading back towards 7
And Kevin07 on the stairway to heaven,
It can’t be much longer
Before someone much stronger
Plunges the knife
And then brings back to life
The faltering Liberals and vanishing Nationals.
Can’t they all hear the sound of Malcolm’s processional?

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