The lunatics in the RBA asylum:

Michael Tunn writes: Re. “Jobs market still buoyant despite slowdowns” (yesterday, item 1). I’m not sure if Glenn Dyers was trying to get a giggle out of me, but when I saw this it had me rolling on the floor in a fit of economic spasms: “The participation rate rose to a near-record 65.4%, meaning there were more people confident enough to be looking for work. The Reserve Bank would prefer to see the participation rate easing as people are discouraged from looking for work by the slowing economy.” While I’m a mere worker who is participating, I have do have a suggestion on how RBA can get this disastrous figure down. A fortnightly payment called “No Start”, equivalent to an actual real fortnightly pay, otherwise of course those looking or even more worrying for the Reserve actually holding a job might not take it up. Don’t worry dear Board members, Centrelink will use its expertise (along with the Job Network, renamed Slob Network) to ensure all receipts have no participation in productive activities what so ever in the fight against… inflation. I suggest a drug test to ensure that those being the most unproductive are given a bonus for their efforts for the Nation, in ensuring extra capacity is leaked into the Black Market and will not showing up in official GDP or inflation numbers. By the way if you find yourself with a “Separation Certificate” from your employer, make sure the reason stated is “The RBA effort to reduce workforce participation”, and fax a copy to the Board, so they can see what a great job they have done… IDIOTS!

Israel’s 60th birthday:

Daniel Lewis writes: Re. “Israel’s 60th birthday — what the media left out” (yesterday, item 11). Antony Loewenstein begins yet another anti-Israel piece (can he write anything else?), by quoting an unnamed Arab as saying “How can I belong to a Jewish state? If they define this as a Jewish state, they deny that I am here.” Hardly. How does Loewenstein reconcile the existence of all the non-Muslims living in definitively Muslim states, who surely do not enjoy the freedoms they might in Israel? For example, the Jews living in Saudi Arabia. Oh. Wait a minute, there aren’t any. Jews are not permitted to enter the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at all, much less slag it off to foreign media. Well what about the Jews still living in Palestinian controlled Gaza? The Jewish population of Gaza in 2003 was 7500, today it is zero (or 1 if you count kidnapped Jewish soldier Gilead Shalit). Ditto the over 800,000 Jews forcibly driven out of Arab countries, about whom you also hear nothing. That’s real ethnic cleansing but because it isn’t perpetrated by America or Israel, but by Muslims like so many other examples around the world, you won’t hear a word about it from the likes of Antony Loewenstein.

David Flint and the Republic:

Adam Rope writes: Re. “Flint: Young Australians kill off Republic” (yesterday, item 16). It was no surprise to see David Flint popping up in yesterday’s Crikey, as I was aware of the Morgan Poll on the Republic via other media. It was also no surprise to read his positive monarchical interpretation of the survey — which is at odds with mine, and, apparently, the facts, or at least the data in the survey. According to Professor Flint “a referendum will be lost on whatever model is put to the people.” Really? And on what basis is such a claim made — that the majority of those surveyed want to retain the monarchy? Err, no, they lose that one 45% to 42% — admittedly the worst for 15 years, but still a majority appear to want the Republic, even one with an elected President. In fact of those surveyed, it is in only two states did the majority want to retain the Monarchy — NSW narrowly, and QLD by a large margin (which simply reinforces my thoughts on the “White Australia” nature of that state, the birthplace of One Nation). In all other states — except Tassie, which was the narrow Republican opposite of NSW — those surveyed want a Republic by a margin of a whopping 10% or more. By party vote, as expected, it is only National/Liberal and Family First voters who want to retain the Monarchy, all others apparently want an elected President version of a Republic. So Professor Flint, let us have that referendum, then we can judge what this survey showed, and what the “people” really want.

Peter Rosier writes: David Flint’s commentary on the lack of public will for a Republic is delusional. He badly misreports the poll on which he relies, because that poll specifically looked at support for a Republic with an elected president NOT whether Australians were in favour of a Republic without a defined head-of-state model. It is misleading for him to say “The latest Morgan Poll also shows a referendum will be lost on whatever model is put to the people.” I suspect that David has found solace in this poll because he hopes that his lot will be able to divide the Republican supporters as John Howard’s earlier referendum was designed to do. The plebiscite which Flint bags before its occurrence will ask a question similar to “Are you in favour of Australia becoming a Republic?” I’m betting that David and his few mates shouldn’t plan a party for the declaration of the vote of the plebiscite unless they want to drown their sorrows.

Jonathan Matthews writes: Maybe David Flint will answer a question for me. He mentioned that the last links (to the British Monarchy) were cut in 1986. This notion has always interested me so I did a bit of reading and thought it represents a bit of a contradiction; I asked my local ACM convenor here in WA for possible clarification on 29 April. I haven’t yet received an answer David but the question is this; seeing that all ties were cut in 1986 (as you consistently state) the Queen would automatically grant the request made by the PM surely? In that case, then the current model (which you so wholeheartedly support) allows the PM the sack the GG without notice and without reason? However if the Queen was not to immediately acquiesce to the request by the PM, then surely she is being politically active, which rather belies the notion that ‘ties were cut in 1986’ doesn’t it?

Party politics in NSW:

Matt Hardin writes: At the risk of dragging out a debate (a quite enjoyable one for me I might add) with James MacDonald (yesterday, comments), I would agree that MPs need the freedom to manipulate policy as circumstances change and that they are there to represent all members of their electorate; this should be within the framework of the party platform. However in the case of Iemma, the policy he wants to enact is against the fundamental party platform of the ALP (not a minor shift but a major ideological conflict), is not wanted by most of the electorate (polls show this) and is even opposed by the opposition (a party pledged to less state ownership). Who then is he governing for? I would argue that he is captured by “hidden interests” and is acting against the wishes of everyone but a few who would benefit greatly from windfall profits from privatisation of the electricity system. Also a correction; I have looked at my party card and it says “pledge” not “swear”.

Mark Hardcastle writes: Re. James McDonald. Imagine we were in a more democratic state, where people had more say in the decisions that affect their lives? Imagine we were in a state where the Premier acted on the wishes of the majority of citizens on the question of privatisation? Imagine that MPs were not influenced by large donations or other promises from unrepresentative concentrations of power? Imagine if the demos had their diverse voices reflected in the media, with less distorting effects of PR and absent the veto power of the self interest of concentrated corporate media? In such a state we might be able to trust our democracy to a few skilful representatives. Until then we need far more participation from the demos.

Mike Carey writes: Before last year’s state election, Iemma and the rest of the gang guaranteed that the electricity utility would not be sold off! It was a prominent part of their platform and it was one of the reasons many voters ticked the ALP box! So they were misspeaking all along! They now tell us the sale is good for us, the only alternative or the sky will fall in! Should I believe or not? Nah!

Dave Horsfall writes: James McDonald writes: “How would you feel about a religious party winning government and then being controlled by their church’s priesthood?” Who does he think Stephen Fielding answers to? Oh, and party allegiance has been ALP policy for the 30 plus years that I’ve been a member, and I imagine the Libs are no different.

Throwing a Burmese prawn on the barbie:

Geoff Russell, Animal Liberation SA, writes: Your “State of the Planet” story on how mangrove destruction along the Burmese coast has worsened the devastation is no surprise to anybody who follows such matters. Earlier this year a paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Srinivasan et al, vol 105 no 5) estimated that the loss of eco-system services (a fancy phrase meaning, among other things, protects you from cyclones) due to mangrove destruction was more than the entire value of the world’s aquaculture between 1980 and 2000. Anybody who laughed when they read that shouldn’t be laughing now. About half the prawns (and 55% of all fish) eaten in Australia are imported, and yes, mainly from countries which knock down their mangroves to sell rich people cheap prawns. All these environmental ignoramus health “experts” who keep touting sea food should understand the huge costs they are incurring on supplying countries.

Staffers:

Ewart Shaw writes: Following on from Mike Freeman (yesterday, comments) about the word “staffer”… I’m now receiving invitations to minister’s “pressers”. I can deduce a possible meaning that doesn’t imply a piece of crease removing, possibly steam driven machinery… though come to think of it… steam driven might be appropriate to some of us our politicians. But… oh… what ever happened to press conference, press release etc…

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