Australian troops in Iraq:

Senator Andrew Bartlett writes: Tom Mitchell (yesterday, comments) wrote that “no Australians have been killed in action in Iraq.” This statement is often made, but it is not correct. In 2005, Flight Lieutenant Paul Pardoel was killed, along with nine British personnel, when his C-130 Hercules transport plane crashed near Baghdad. Pardoel was from Melbourne and had dual Australian-British citizenship and had served in the RAAF prior to enlisting with the British Royal Air Force. The fact he was serving with Britain’s Royal Air Force at the time does not negate the fact that he was Australian. Lest we forget (see here.)

The public service:

Craig Beissel writes: Re. “The public service” (yesterday, comments). I am intrigued and dismayed by Kevin Rudd’s public position and practice in driving the public service hard. Whilst such a high level of effort, hours and availability is possible in a crisis or to deal with a short term goal it is entirely unsustainable in the long run. In my mind it is completely inconsistent with his stated concern for “working families” to ask employees (even public servants) to consistently work such long hours. My experience is that working extended hours for any significant period of time is highly detrimental to the wellbeing of a family, particularly a family with young children. Whatever happened to the idea of work-life balance? lists a range of benefits for employers and employees in pursuing a reasonable work-life balance. The Prime Minister may be a driven man, but in pursuit benefits for Australia he is in a very practical way harming the Australians who work directly under him. Reconsider, Prime Minister.

Andrew Wilkie and the Greens:

Patrick Tatam writes: Re. “If a Green fell in Tasmania, would anyone report it?” (Yesterday, item 18). Andrew Wilkie, in my opinion, sits at the same table as the late Peter Andren, in terms of the three essential characteristics of the true Independent: independence, integrity and intelligence. I only wish that some of our leading journalists and politicians could get their act (and courage) together, and start a push for a public apology to Andrew: having sacrificed his career, his marriage and his fiscal security for all of us, simply on the grounds of his belief in honesty and morality, this man deserves a return from those of us who still hanker for a return of similar standards. Read his book Axis of Evil, and you would understand how and why the Greens would be too constraining for a man of his calibre.

Clinton Barnes writes: Greg Barns has got it wrong to think that Brown wants to stay in the top job. The Greens have been head-hunting for a new leader for a while now. Their last great hope was Peter Garret: they haven’t taken kindly to his decision to turn down the offer. So the problem with Wilkie was more absurd than egos. It was about guns. Not the pulp mill, the real things. Wilkie got a hard time in the pacifist Greens because he came from the Department of Defence.

Pat Synge writes: Greg Barns seems obsessed by the Greens. Andrew Wilkie’s resignation from the Green party was barely worthy of national recognition and was hardly as surprising as the fact that he joined the party in the first place. Why does he say that an anonymous Green party member “whined” that Wilkie “was never a tree hugger” when he/she may just as well said it with a laugh for all he knows? His irrelevant comment that Wilkie is in competition in trade with Bob Brown’s partner is a simple error of fact.

Fairfax and windmills:

Tim Le Roy writes: Re. “Fairfax CEO fighting windmills” (yesterday, item 19). Jane Nethercote attempts to vilify Fairfax CEO, David Kirk, for exercising his democratic right to protest against the erection of turbines in New Zealand. Six years ago I became aware of what a useless sop wind turbines were to the problem of emissions from fossil fuel generators and have been actively campaigning, with some 50 opposition groups across Australia. In defence of the Fairfax Press (with the notable exception of Geoff Strong) their journalists have usually happily swallowed and regurgitated the tripe dished out by the wind industry and paid little heed to the genuine concerns of communities, environmentalists and energy experts to these totemic green crucifixes. Fairfax have given little mention to the slaughter of wedge-tailed eagles in Tasmania at Woolnorth wind “farm” the significant grid instability and inefficiency issues being experienced overseas and the massive cost to consumers. If you think 2c a litre on petrol is a vote loser wait until you see what Rudd and Wong’s 20% renewable energy target does to your heating bills.


John Töns writes: Re. “ABARE” (yesterday, comments). I believe that Christine Milne’s attack on ABARE is quite scandalous. Is it really their fault that there is a global shortage in sheep entrails? Are they to be held to blame that Pluto has been downgraded as minor planet and thus upsetting all sound astrology? Can they be held to blame that the world has switched to teabags making it far more difficult to read the dregs at the bottom of tea cups? Lets not neglect the oft repeated fact that if you pay peanuts you get monkeys — let’s up the ante and say if you pay Brazil nuts presumably you will get sloths slow enough to ensure that all their predictions can be retrospective.

Rundle in the US:

Stephen Downes writes: Re. “US08: Hillary set to concede (no, really)” (yesterday, item 4). As always, Guy Rundle’s latest piece on Clinton vs. Obama was “veeeeeeery interesting”, but that particular “Laugh-In” catchphrase was delivered by Arte Johnson as the smoking German soldier, and not by the late Dick Martin.

Hetty Johnston:

Linda Carruthers writes: Re. “Hetty Johnston: Henson debate a healthy sign” (yesterday, item 3). Hetty Johnston wrote: “It is a contest between those defending the historical rights and freedoms of the Arts and those defending today’s rights and freedoms of our young. One can not be achieved without the sacrifice of the other.” While I can agree that the issues raised by the whole Henson debate are far more complicated than the “art vs. wowsers”, Hetty Johnston’s comment above is simply ludicrous. If Hetty thinks that we can’t properly protect children, unless we sacrifice the rights and freedoms of artists, and the role of the arts in developing a thoughtful and creative culture, then she is a danger both to society and to the children she purports to want to “protect”. Hetty is dead wrong. The whole debate will be worthwhile, precisely because the “Arts” and the role and rights of children in the representation and propagation activities of the arts, have been a prominent feature of the more thoughtful contributions to public discussion of this issue. Hetty has just established for a good number of people that she comes to this debate fired up more by her own self importance, than by any genuine attempt to grapple with the complex issues which this folderol has unleashed.

Cover album p-rn:

Dave Horsfall writes: Re. John Mair (yesterday, comments) who wrote: “Never mind the cover of the 1990 Nirvana album Nevermind — how about the self titled Blind Faith (the British supergroup featuring Eric Clapton) 1969 album cover!”. Never mind any of those either; will anyone owning Led Zeppelin’s album Houses of the Holy be convicted for possession of p-rn?

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