Citizenship tests:

Petro Georgiou, Liberal Member for Kooyong, writes: What I have seen of the content and operation of the new citizenship test confirms the fears I expressed before it was introduced – it’s an unreasonable and unfair barrier for prospective citizens. The number of people applying has plummeted to lower levels than we’ve had for a decade, which indicates that its impact has been social exclusion rather than inclusion. I am pleased the review committee’s terms of reference are broad and the members known to me — Richard Woolcott, Paula Masselos and Professor Kim Rubinstein — are of high calibre. At the very least, I anticipate the committee will pinpoint the harshest and most arbitrary features that need to be changed, and recommend more assistance for those most seriously disadvantaged by the new regime. I would like to see the restoration of the previous test, which served us well for decades and was scrapped without sound reasons.

World Youth Day:

Joanna Nash writes: Re. “NSW spending too much on World Youth Day? Pope a Catholic?” (Monday, item 8). I am a practicing Catholic so for me World Youth Day is very important and I believe a great event for Sydney. I understand that many people may be upset with the amount of money being spent on the event and I believe that they have a right to voice their opinions. However, I found the article by Bernard Keane to be offensive. Calling the Catholic Church “the world’s’ premier institution of misogyny and pedophilia” is (apart from being incorrect) a facile and cliché ‘analysis. To then use this article to go on to a diatribe of how much the Catholic Church earns and the fact that it does not pay tax, besides having no logical sting to his argument, leaves the reader wondering what the purpose of the article was about — was it to talk about World Youth Day or simply to take lazy pot-shots at the Catholic Church? The churches and religious organisations (of all dominations) are provided a number of concessions by the governments, this is not done simply so that they can amass a larger mountain of wealth as Keane would make you believe. I could go on with the inaccuracies of the article written by Keane however my main complaint is that such an inaccurate and offensive article could be written and published by this media outlet. If you want the tag line — “telling you what they won’t”, you should at least strive to make sure what you are going to tell people accurate is not just grandstanding masquerading as “facts”.

Benjamin Teale writes: I’m all for taxing a religious institution’s income, with appropriate deductions to their tax bill for charitable activities — equal treatment for all companies. Am I the only one who thinks World Youth Day be the perfect opportunity to push for equal treatment for all organisations and individuals that engage in charitable activities, religious or not? Perhaps a member of the Crikey army can knock-up some t-shirts to be worn come the middle of August…

Ignaz Amrein writes: As a Catholic I demand the return of the Spanish Inquisition to deal with Bernard Keane and his consistent criticism of the Catholic faith. John Dougall (yesterday, comments) could be leading the charge, with Paul Gilchrist (yesterday, comments) as his assistant and by the way, I heard from a reliable source that Bernard Keane doesn’t believe that the Earth is flat and most ridiculously, that it is not the centre of the universe.

Religion and politics:

David Lenihan writes: Re. “US08: On to Indiana, on the wings of prayer” (yesterday, item 5). It’s time the finger was well and truly pointed at the monsters that are at the head of these “phoney religions”. They have only one purpose in their deadly game, money, lots and lots of it. Of course there are the few acceptions, but spreading from the American bible belt like a multi headed snake, every imaginable hand clapping, praise the Lord, Jesus loves you religious cell invades the American populace. Anyone with an ability to scream at the top of their lungs, make Satan enemy no 1, and convince the faithful to hand over their greenbacks qualifies as a preacher. Forget about years of study (at least the mainstream Christian outfits do insist on education before spreading the word), buy yourself a flowing neck to toe robe, hire a hall till the mullah rolls in and hallelujah a new flock to fleece. These criminals preach such nonsense and fear; it is no wonder once normal thinking parents deny the use of modern medicine for their kids. The law is an ass but so to the law makers for allowing the multitudes to be sucked in by depraved loonies posing as men of God. America may be the land of the free; unfortunately it’s the interpretation of the word “free” that causes many of their problems.

Jim Hart writes: Guy Rundle is the brightest star in the Crikey firmament so I’d like to think he’s making an erudite joke when he says the principle of in loco parentis means “the right to raise your kids how you want”. A multilingual play on loco equals “loony” perhaps? If so he’s trying too hard. Or possibly he just doesn’t know the Latin phrase literally means “in the place of parents” and typically refers to teachers so the sense is quite the opposite of this situation.

The last days of broadcast:

Dan Barrett writes: Re. “More time on-line and no time for TV, says ACMA” (yesterday, item 3). There still seems to be a luddites approach to this issue in the manner by which Internet and television are considered as two mutually exclusive modes of delivery. Is material traditionally broadcast on television, but being distributed online, counting towards ones Internet or their television quota? Hook your PC up to a TV to watch Newstopia being streamed off the SBS website and the lines are blurred radically. US drama series Lost is being pushed to a late night timeslot by Channel Seven. The viewers aren’t leaving the show; they’re just going online and leaving Channel Seven behind. The days of broadcast television are certainly near their end.

The Australian Film Television and Radio School:

Mark Freeman writes: Re. “Our old-school film school is a waste of $20m” (yesterday, item 18). I thought the “Canberra arts watcher” doth protest a little much over the $20 million for AFTRS for supposedly only 50 new students a year. A quick look at their website suggested a wide range of long and short courses. It probably could do with a new broom but at least it produces a genuine educational service. Better off saving $40 million a year abolishing the Aust Institute of Sport whose website proudly boasts “leads the development of elite sport”. Elite sport can look after itself very nicely without public largesse. So while we’re at it — get the AFL snouts out of the trough too.

Tibet and China:

George Farley, chairman of the Australia Tibet Council, writes: H Richard Brinkman (yesterday, comments) says “Tibet would not return … to the equitable, prosperous, enlightened form of democracy that many of its supporters imagine”. Unlike Brinkman, I actually know several hundred Tibetans and Tibetan activists and not one of them labours under any delusion about the many things that were wrong inside Tibet in the late 1940s. It’s a red herring Brinkman, a very red herring. Please try to focus on a couple of simple but pertinent points. The Chinese “liberated” Tibet almost 60 years ago. Do you, does anyone, really believe that the Tibetans are happy with their liberators? Forget about the 1940s Brinkman, focus on today. The vast majority of Han Chinese treat Tibetans as inferior and ungrateful. Given a choice the Tibetans would overwhelmingly vote for total independence from China. That is not an option, so they have followed a non-violent path hoping to achieve meaningful autonomy within the PRC. What could be more deserving of our support than a peace-loving people asking for a say in how their lives are run?

Matthew Weston writes: H. Richard Brinkman, how about freeing Tibet to make its own choices, as its neighbour, Bhutan has just done? Or how about a Tibet that doesn’t have to suffer ethnic dilution through being forced to accept tens of thousands of Han migrants? This peddling of Tibet in the 50’s as somehow a justification for the continued Chinese occupation is a little tedious. Give the occupants of Tibet some credit, and support their right to choose.

Communications Ministers:

John Worcester writes: In response to Ian Farquhar’s list (Monday, comments) of recent Communications Ministers of the stuffing-up variety, we should keep working backward into the previous Labor Government’s ministers. I seem to recall there was a succession of six of them, mostly for short terms. The worst was Michael Lee whose attitude to community broadcasting was generally thought by those of us in the sector as being “hostile”. He refused to attend one annual conference. At least Richard Alston attended regularly over his long period as shadow minister and actively participated, e.g. in role plays. I recall Kim Beazley as being OK and Bob Collins as being the best of the ALP ones. The others were eminently forgettable.

The Republic:

Thomas Flynn, executive director of Australians For Constitutional Monarchy, writes: Re. Jeremy Davis (yesterday, comments) who wrote: “Can anyone please tell me where it is stated, whether it be the Constitution or elsewhere but excluding the contributions of Flint and like-minded Crikey brethren, that the Governor-General is Australia’s head of state? …excluding the contributions of Flint and like-minded…” Does this mean that anyone who can prove the GG is head of state is ipso facto excluded from giving that proof? In return one might ask, where does it say the Queen is “Head of State”? A term that occurs nowhere in the Constitution. The only certain application of the term is in diplomacy. Diplomatically the Governor General is held out as Head of State by Australia. When Indonesia refused to accord Sir Ninian Stephen the dignities due him as Head of State on a visit to Indonesia in 1986 the Hawke government cancelled the visit. And then who received the resignation of John Howard and commissioned Kevin Rudd as PM? (Hint it wasn’t the Queen). For full arguments see Head of State by David Smith. In 1907 the High Court of Australia declared the Governors of the States to be Head of the State and the GG to be “Constitutional Head of the Commonwealth”. That sounds like “Governor General is Head of State” to me… (R v Governor of South Australia [1907] HCA 31; (1907) 4 CLR 1497 (8 August 1907) unfortunately I got that information from Professor Flint, so it must be tainted.

Walt Hawtin writes: Not sure what Jeremy Davis (yesterday, comments) is getting at with his comment that the Governor-General is not mentioned in the Constitution as Head of State. It’s pretty well known even to non-Constitutional specialists that the Queen is Australia’s Head of State, and the G-G is her representative. Perhaps Davis could make a serious contribution by articulating what’s on his mind, rather asking a rhetorical question? And Adam Rope (yesterday, comments) is spot-on. The premise is simple: Do you want an Australian, resident in Australia, for Head of State? No monarchista with a sound mind could argue that this question posed in a referendum is likely to be carried, especially if the affirmative is supported by the PM and Government, and the Opposition leader and his team, plus State Premiers, and their respective Oppositions. Which is perhaps why the monarchistas don’t want this simple question posed.

Sublimely stupid:

Dave Horsfall writes: Re. “Conroy dropping the ball on media policy” (yesterday, item 1). Bernard Keane writes: “We’ve also yet to see the bill implementing the Government’s sublimely stupid commitment to restore the position of staff-elected director to that Board.” Instead of channeling the unlamented Christian Kerr perhaps he could explain just why he thinks the decision to be “sublimely stupid”?

Bernie Riordan:

Stephen Mayne writes: Re. “Conflicts aplenty in NSW power privatisation debate” (yesterday, item 8). Apologies to NSW ALP President and ETU state secretary Bernie Riordan for calling him a lefty yesterday. Bernie comes from a family with a long history in the Catholic ALP Right. They hail from Caringbah on the Sutherland Shire, schooled by the Brothers at de la Salle College. Bernie’s father, Joe, was very hardline Catholic on social issues but won fans among the feminists when he was on the AIRC for a historic decision on award pay and condition for clothing outworkers. Bernie’s brother ran the Commonwealth Bank branch of the Finance Sector Union for quite a while.

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 Crikey for $1 a week.

Lockdowns are over and BBQs are back! At last, we get to talk to people in real life. But conversation topics outside COVID are so thin on the ground.

Join Crikey and we’ll give you something to talk about. Get your first 12 weeks for $12 to get stories, analysis and BBQ stoppers you won’t see anywhere else.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
12 weeks for just $12.