Nelson’s Malcolmtent:

Alan Hatfield writes: Re. “Malcolmtents rail against Nelson, the party pooper” (yesterday, item 2). Bernard Keane does very well to analyse the current difficulties of the Federal Liberal Party without once mentioning John Howard. A magnificent effort! Perhaps he’d like to supplement his article with a detailed expose of Howard’s leadership succession plan and Howard’s long term strategy for the Party — whether in Government or Opposition? If nothing else, that might alert Bernard to Howard’s not insignificant contribution to the current sad state of the Party.

A female G-G:

Rosemary Swift writes: Re. “First female Governor-General is Ruddy perfect” (yesterday, item 4). One swallow does not a summer make, Bernard Keane. The Rudd government has certainly taken a positive, if long-overdue; step in appointing Quentin Bryce as our new Governor-General. But gender equity? Maybe after we’ve had 25 consecutive female Governors-General. Doesn’t it beggar belief that, in more than 100 years, only one woman has been found suitable for the office?

Chinese protests:

Greg Angelo writes: Re. “A handy guide for Chinese student protesters” (yesterday, item 14). I refer to the reported organisation of Chinese students by Chinese officials and/or front agencies in relation to potential protests concerning the Olympic torch relay in Sydney. As guests in this country, foreign students should stay out of local politics. Furthermore, they should not be involved in subterfuge organised by foreign governments. The statement that “The Visual Recording Group – will record the words, pronouncements, provocations and malicious actions of Free Tibet campaigners” begs the question as to what these campaigners might do. Presumably these “campaigners” will include Australian citizens demonstrating in their own country about the repressive action of a foreign government towards minorities within its border. Whilst lamentably that is within their control within their country, they should stay out of local politics even if it does it impact on the image of their own country. Perhaps Lu Kewen (aka Kevin 08) who is full of gratuitous advice to the Chinese in their own country could advise the Chinese students, who are guests in this country that they are not here to act as agents of a repressive foreign government, even if it is their own.

Religions, cults and politics:

David Menere writes: Surely Willem Schultink (yesterday, comments) is aware that, like Islam, Buddhism or whatever, Christianity has a wide spectrum of interpretations and beliefs, and adherents to one particular part of each religion’s spectrum will often clash violently with those adhering to another part of the spectrum. If he’s not, then he might try Googling a few terms like “Spanish Inquisition” or “Albigensian Heresy”. As John Bluthal reminded us, “oils ain’t oils” and the same goes for Christians. To lump them all together, in an effort to imply that Senator Fielding’s particular brand of evangelism is embraced by the bulk of Christians who adhere to the large mainstream denominations, is misleading. The only difference between a religion and a cult is that “I have a religion; you have a cult”. Maybe First Dog on the Moon needs to explore this issue.

Mark Hardcastle writes: Re. Willem Schultink. Bernard Keane’s snipe on the “Happy Clappers” version of Christianity is no more an insult to the broader Christian Church than a snipe on Milton Friedman is an insult to the philosophy of economics. Both sub-groups teach a narrow doctrine of prosperity and deliver increasing concentrations of power. Their fundamentalist beliefs are defended by the powerful but not the greater population. I for one am keenly anticipating the second coming of liberation theology.

Ignaz Amrein writes: Being a Catholic (not a practicing one though) and a Christian, I feel not at all insulted by Bernard Keane as Willem Schultink is claiming. I actually completely agree with Bernard, considering the behaviour in the not so distant past (and most likely still now) of a too large a number of clergy in various Christian faiths, there is certainly no difference between a cult and a religion.

Mark Freeman writes: Dear Crikey, Willem Schultink talks of “ignorance of the difference between a cult and a religion.” Could he explain it to me and presumably Bernard Keane too. I was brought up indoctrinated into Australia’s premier monotheistic belief but no-one could explain the cult/religion dichotomy to me as a child either. Really Willem, you sound like you really have at least an explanation, so please elucidate me.

Wayne Robinson writes: Willem Schultink is right. As Tom Wolfe said “a cult is a religion without political power”. Alas, Steve Fielding has far too much political power.

Spying on your employees:

Judith Pugh writes: Re. “Rudd government keeps Howard’s war on terror alive” (yesterday, item 12). Julia Gillard and eavesdropping — isn’t this an administrative issue? Why do we need changes to any Act of Parliament? If people are working in “sensitive” areas then one assumes it would be sensible for their employment contract to have a clause allowing employers to scrutinise contacts, for commercial as much as national security concerns. I’d be surprised if this wasn’t the case already. Otherwise if someone is under suspicion we KNOW that it is easy enough for authorities legally to monitor their email and other activities. What is actually being suggested by this once-was a lawyer? Or has she, too, been sold on security as a funding stream for the Federal Police?

Rudd’s polling:

Walter Hawtin writes: Not sure if David Robinson (yesterday, comments) is a cousin of John Howard’s or Bill Heffernan’s, but he gave me a chortle with his incoherent rant on “the little twerp” Kevin Rudd’s achievements since taking office. Apparently the secret to Rudd’s polling is that “… the Australian people want Rudd to keep skimming … a hundred issues at great speed”? Really? Is that the best that the supporters of the old regime can come up with? It was sullen, unconnected, reactionary twaddle, and I hope not a symbol of decline for Crikey’s Clarifications section. Please keep it to Windschuttle and Henderson if that’s what it takes to keep the conservative end up while they rebuild.

John Kotsopoulos writes: David Robinson’s frustration at Kevin Rudd’s election victory and continuing good polling has spilled over into a childish rave about things that clearly do not resonate with him such as the apology to the stolen generation, climate change, the 2020 Summit, the republic, and human rights in Tibet. My message to Robinson is to get over it because he will only be prolonging your grief given that there is no discernible difference between Rudd and the next Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull on any of these issues.

Ineffective medical treatments:

John Orchard, sports physician, writes: Re. “My 2020 idea: Stop funding ineffective medical treatments” (yesterday, item 5). Excellent article. I agree 100% with both the suggestion and also at the reality that the AMA would froth at the mouth at the idea of ceasing funding the lucrative procedures that generate lots of money but don’t actually work. I wrote a very similar piece in Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport a few years ago.

Robert Manne and Gerard Henderson:

Keith Thomas writes: Re. Robert Manne’s letter on Gerard Henderson and First Dog on the Moon (yesterday, comments). Please, please, don’t publish a response from Henderson to respond to Manne’s contribution yesterday. Manne has given you the perfect opportunity to declare “this correspondence is now closed”.

Nick Evans writes: You should link to the Sydney Institute Quarterly more often — it would, if nothing else, put paid to the notion forever that Gerard Henderson is a figure to be taken seriously. While I have no particular sympathy with Robert Manne’s struggle to prove that he has supported a few less murderous dictators than Henderson through the ages, the sheer bloody minded pettiness of Henderson’s rag is quite something to behold. From the extraordinarily pointless and personal attack on John Mortimer in the early pages of the latest edition, to the five pages of increasingly bizarre exchanges of correspondence with all-and-sundry later on, it’s a cracking little read — although not, perhaps, for the reasons that Henderson might think it is. The words “social cost” by the way, are repeated no less than 17 times through the attack on Manne, as though saying it often enough will deliver him his just deserts and instantly render him penniless and friendless as, no doubt, he should have been when he failed to join the DLP in the sixties. Get over it guys, you were both 20, and 20-year-olds get to say stupid things — preferably without any lasting “social cost”. What is it about Henderson? Is he living in some kind of 60’s version of the Norse Valhalla, condemned forever to repeat the Herculean battles of the era’s campus politics? Only to be resurrected each night, presumably, healed of his wounds and well rested in time to write the next day’s column for The Oz.

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.

Get more Crikey, for less

It’s more than a newsletter. It’s where readers expect more – fearless journalism from a truly independent perspective. We don’t pander to anyone’s party biases. We question everything, explore the uncomfortable and dig deeper.

Join us this week for 50% off a year of Crikey.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
50% off