Hetty Johnston’s strange bedfellows:

Daniel Saks writes: Re. “Hetty Johnston’s strange bedfellows” (Friday, item 2). Bernard Keane’s cheap shot on Hetty Johnston in Friday’s Crikey was really disappointing. In his piece, Keane tries to imply some moral compromise on Johnston’s part because of the financial support she received from adult industry companies in her tilt at the Senate. This piece epitomises the problem with this debate. It is so easily hijacked by the art-versus-p-rn issue and what gets lost is the thing that is germane to the entire argument: is the use of a n-ked 13-year-old girl as the subject of a publicly displayed photograph acceptable in our society; is it possible for that girl to give consent in such a way that we can be absolutely confident that she is aware of the consequences for her for the rest of her life? If you muddy this question with issues relating to the exploitation of women in the adult industries, then it will get lost. There is undoubtedly a reasonable conversation to be had about exploitation in the adult s-x industry, but the operative term here is “adult”. Issues of informed consent do not pertain to adults. It appears that the art world has prevailed, principally because it has succeeded in making the argument that any restriction on artistic expression is the thin edge of the wedge of political control. This is an extremely sad and frightening direction shift in our society. The art world has now validated the exploitation of young children for its own creative purposes. However lofty it may perceive those purposes to be, we should all weep for what these children will lose.

Leon Miller writes: Listen Crikey, I am sick of you arty farty telling us what’s right and what’s not. As though you know better. Kevin Rudd like many so others has the right to view this as distasteful at best and breaking the law at worst. Bill Henson photographed a n-ked under-aged person. If you want some good analysis read The Australian.

Policing Henson:

WH Watson, author of Police Forces of the World, writes: Re. “Henson free, but police captives of politics” (Friday, item 3). Recent events are proving over and over that Australia’s police are sadly in need of Commonwealth supervision in the form of an independent Inspector-General of Security Services. Forget ICACs and other State internal investigators, let’s have a meaningful supervisory system as exists in the UK and elsewhere – and give an IG’s department the teeth to make sure that the AFP, ASIO, Customs and State Police are fulfilling their proper function in a logical manner. Our entire police and security network needs a total overhaul with more input and oversight from public appointees, ie police authorities in each region.

Andy Tee writes: There are a number of reasons why the news on Friday that police in NSW will receive advice that their case against Bill Henson is pointless should not surprise them. One is that a search of the database of the Office of Film and Literature Classification shows that in 1997 the NSW Police Service referred two books by the photographer David Hamilton. As other correspondents to Crikey have noted, Hamilton’s works are widely available and more explicitly er-ticise n-ked adolescent girls than those by Henson. (Readers can do their own googling to find images from both photographers for the sake of comparison.) Both Hamilton publications were passed as “unrestricted” 11 years ago. Some awareness of corporate history helps the police avoid such a waste of time and resources.

Barack Obama and his VP:

John Taylor writes: Re. “Rundle08: Who rhymes with Obama?” (Friday, item 4). Guy Rundle’s reports continue to be the nation’s best reporting of the US primaries but the mongrel put this thought in my head with his comments in regard to Hillary becoming Vice-President. OK. So on the 5th November a bullet not only passes over his shoulder but simultaneously, one passes over her shoulder, each with the same disastrous result. Result: Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, by order of succession, becomes the first female President of the USA. My God!! What a country that is that we could even contemplate such a result.

Adam Rope writes: In Friday’s Crikey Guy Rundle listed potential VP’s for Barack Obama, including The West Wing‘s Jed Bartlett about whom Rundle wrote, “Wait, don’t be stupid. Already served two terms.” Guy, how about Bartlett’s successor, Matt Santos, he must have some reasonable presidential experience — enough to offset Obama’s inexperience — about now.

Elizabeth Wardrop writes: Where John Howard in the line-up? Dubbya’s deputy sheriff must be nursing some hurt feelings after not being listed… and after everything he did for him!

Martin Gordon writes: Re. “Obama = disaster. Like McGovern” (4 June, item 11). Credit to Bernard Keane for his item. Obama speeches and websites are full of vacuous words, nothing of substance and astonishingly the media and many people just take it in. The media have given Obama a free ride, and Rupert Murdoch’s apparent support must concern a few too. He has no economic, health, social policy, trade or foreign policy positions that are of substance. His Carter-like foreign policy positions are designed for short-term domestic gain, rather than foreign policy reality. His management experience is non existent and his bipartisan experience in working to get things done is also non-existent. Recently The Economist had an item on the US farm bill. The five year $307B protectionist extravagance on all but the wealthiest of farmers is obscene. It will mean higher prices for Americans disrupt trade globally and impoverish farmers elsewhere. More importantly it opens a window on Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats as opportunistic charlatans on economic and trade issues for supporting such legislation. Credit to John McCain for opposing this disgrace. Keep up the critical reporting Bernard.

Same-s-x marriage:

John Goldbaum writes: Re. “Rudd can be very good, when he can be bothered” (Friday, item 8). It seems on the question of s-xuality, Brendan Nelson doesn’t know whether he is Arthur or Martha. On Wednesday evening, he contributed to the debate about public sector same-s-x superannuation legislation by whipping up homophobic prejudice which can lead to violence. Then on Thursday, he recognised same-s-x marriage during his World Environment Day response to the PM’s Ministerial Statement. In case he asks Hansard to doctor the records so he can dive back into the closet, he said proudly: “The government in its budget announced a $100,000 means test of family income for the solar panel rebate. In other words, if you are a teacher and your wife is a nurse, or if you are a policeman and your husband is a truck driver, you will no longer get an $8,000 rebate to put solar panels on your roof”. Maybe it was just a blooper but I suspect it might have been a Freudian slip from the good doctor. I was surprised to see the video evidence on the conservative SkyNews Agenda program that afternoon pass without comment from Kieran Gilbert. It’s good to see such liberal acceptance of same-s-x working families.

Channel Nine and ABARE:

Michael Tunn rites: Re. “Tips and Rumours” (Friday, item 7). I must admit that the rumour of the Nine Newsroom banning its journalists from reading any source, including the oh so “subversive” newsletter Crikey, looks like cutting off Nine’s journalistic nose to spite its face. I’m sure the Nine PR and legal department read over it every day.

Mark Byrne writes: Re. “We need ABARE … or something like it” (5 June, item 8). Thank you for Bernard Keane’s informative reports on ABARE last week. Such issues are little discussed in the “big media”. Given Crikey’s novel reportage, my curiosity was peaked reading in “Tips and Rumours” that access to Crikey is forbidden within Channel Nine networks. I suppose when Nine next report on a release from ABARE, their viewers will remain unaware that ABARE no longer make even a pretence to claims of accuracy; just directing the focus of discussion (like a myriad of other PR operatives).

Neil Mitchell, balancing 3AW, Herald Sun and Fairfax:

Cathy Green writes: Just to clarify a few points raised in the comments section after you published my email exchange with Neil Mitchell on Friday (“Dear Neil Mitchell: questions on conflict of interest”. The email exchange was not fabricated. This can surely be proved wrong by simply asking Neil Mitchell via the 3AW website. I initially contacted him because I thought that, what he later described as cross promotion, was odd. I didn’t contact him with the intention of turning this exchange into a news story. I only later sent the emails to Crikey because I thought it raised what I think are serious questions which weren’t being answered. I wanted to see what they thought. That it’s turned into a story of some prominence on Crikey is not a result of me exerting any influence. Apart from seeing mum’s quip about being pre-menstrual in print, I’ve got no regrets. Tim suggests that my lecturers should use my “actions as an example of unethical behaviour rather those of Neil Mitchell”. I can’t quite see how my actions are unethical. Particularly if compared to Neil Mitchell’s. You don’t have to listen to Mitchell’s program for long to hear how he reacts to interviewees whose responses he finds unsatisfactory. A recent example is the Lance Franklin beat-up which dominated Neil’s program last week. In summary , Mitchell’s story was: “Stop the press – 21 year old male in night club at 1.30 AM asks girl for a f***”…. allegedly! Mitchell then went on to tag AFL player-of-the-moment Lance Franklin as a potential Wayne Carey; accuse Hawthorn Football Club of a cover-up for not returning his calls (they were at the time attending a funeral for one of the club’s stalwarts); the following day a club representative came into the studio to be interviewed face-to-face where Mitchell harangued him mercilessly. Mitchell then wrote a column in last Thursday’s Herald Sun where he continued to fulminate against Franklin and the Hawthorn Football Club listing all of the “important” questions which remained unanswered. If the insincere flattery in my emails to Mitchell was unethical then I plead guilty but I’d written to him a number of times in the past and never received a reply. Having listened to his program, callers who begin with “Long-time listener, first-time caller” always receive a generous reception. I figured that a similar approach would apply to an email. Getting back to the matter of Mitchell’s interview with Vizard. Here’s an excerpt from that interview. Now what could possibly give the impression that Mitchell was soft?

Mitchell: So, were you aware these shares were being bought and sold?

Vizard: Ah. Neil I don’t want to go into it but..

Mitchell: OK

Vizard:…as you know I have evidence that was given over two years. It’s really complex. there’s been two books written about it. There’s been, you know, court cases about it. Um, you know, but… really… I’m happy to hand back my Order of Australia but I don’t want to trawl through..ah..

Mitchell: Ok fair enough

Vizard:..um, what happened several years ago.

Mitchell: Fair enough.

Four Corners:

Ava Hubble writes: What will be the employment and other ramifications for the young inebriates featured on last night’s Four Corners? Surely a competent current affairs program, let alone one with the ethical pretensions of Four Corners, should be capable of tackling the subject of alcohol abuse without exploiting drunks. Certainly those we saw making fools of themselves last night seemed to be in no condition to give informed consent to being filmed by the national broadcaster. I rang the ABC this morning to suggest that Media Watch investigate the Four Corners culture that seems to take advantage of the impaired judgment of young drunks.

Air traffic controllers:

Keith Thomas writes: Re. “Tips and Rumours” (Friday, item 7). Re. Senator McGauran and the air traffic controllers. The real story here is not about the senator: air traffic controllers have for many years played on their undoubted technical skills and vital role in a glamorous industry to bully governments into paying them more than they would otherwise receive. They have a history of rotating interview panels, where mates interview mates who, when promoted, interview more mates for an easy ratcheting up the pay scales. Clearly we need to pay market rates, but market rates in a corrupted market are not on.

Qantas:

David Lenihan writes: Re. “Qantas polices customer service” (Friday, comments). Thanks Qantas, just another reason to never use your non customer service airline. As the days go by, so the service or better, lack of, sinks further into the depths of non existent. If Qantas is the Spirit of Australia, lookout gurgler we’re coming down.

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