Zachary King writes: Re. “Kruddiversary: how Latham could have been our Obama” (yesterday, item 17). Latham could have been our Obama? No seriously, I realise that this is obviously a piss take or an inside joke, but I don’t get it. Please explain? One of them ran the most successful campaign in history, inspired the nation (and the world), has already taken steps to act in a bipartisan manner and looks to be the most promising leader in living memory.

The other one, well, he was gifted an unlosable election against sloppy, lazy opponents and failed spectacularly before throwing the greatest tantrum in Australian politics. And Latham as an outsider? What the hell is that based on? Wikipedia tells me he worked at the Green Valley Hotel for a little over six weeks (that’s almost seven!) before entering politics, so that must be it. That you even tried to compare this to racial issues in America beggars belief. So there you have it folks. Obama/Latham. The new twins.

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John Burke writes: Re. “The very right-wing Rev. Rudd” (yesterday, item 16). I had a look at Humphrey McQueen’s website to see just how he was qualified to comment on the “police-state powers of the Australian Building and Construction Commission”. It appears he’s been a teacher and academic and has never dipped his toe into the real world where people actually make things that our society demands. Had Humphrey spent a few years dealing with Norm Gallagher’s BLF and his industrial offspring, the BWIU and the CFMEU, he would be likely to count the ABCC amongst the great pillars of our free society. You have to wonder whether we need an ACTSA (Australian Commission to Silence Academics) to free us from gratuitous ideas from pen-pushers and verbalists who know f*ck-all.

Chris Hunter writes: I don’t quite get McQueen’s angst. Fundamentally Australia is a feel- good society. Any society that funds the arts is feel-good. Rudd is just the do-good doggie that barks from the safety of his kennel (Canberra). He is firmly chained to God. As if “me too” could be anybody different. So why all the huff and puff? And as far as Victor Daley being a radical poet goes — well yeah — about as radical as doggerel is.


Neville Mills writes: Re. “Where is Zimbabwe’s functioning government of national unity?” (11 November, item 15). Two weeks ago The Times reported that an international aid agency froze its donations to Zimbabwe after President Mugabe’s central bank was found to have pilfered 4.5 million pounds from funds meant to help millions of seriously ill Zimbabweans. The money was part of a 65 million pound grant from the Global Fund to fight, Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria. They have now suspended their operation in Zimbabwe and will not make the 2009 payment of 320 million pounds.

There was no comment from our government and little attention paid by the Australian media to yet another atrocity carried out by the Mugabe regime. This emphasises how Australia and the rest of the world is paralytic as thousands of Zimbabweans are starving and dying.

Australia and other nations are well aware that South Africa is the only country with the power to force Mugabe to stand down. Zimbabwe is dependant on South Africa for many goods and services and the majority of its energy. When South Africa threatened sanctions in 1979, Rhodesia’s Ian Smith had no option but to negotiate.

It is astounding that the world has put no pressure on South Africa to act. For eight years President Mbeki pursued “quiet diplomacy” his euphemism for doing nothing. His recent mediation has proved useless. Kgalema Motlanthe, his successor has shown impatience, but he too has not insisted that Mugabe go.

In mid June The Weekend Australian published an article by columnist, Christopher Hitchens. He stated that Nelson Mandella and the Vatican, by their continued silence, were complicit in the pillage and murder of an entire nation, as well as the strangulation of an important African democracy.

Surely Australia, America, Britain and other leading nations must also accept blame for the senseless death and destruction taking place in Zimbabwe. Why has the Australian government not joined with other nations to put pressure on South Africa? Surely they have the power to insist that South Africa take meaningful action. Our previous government did virtually nothing except to periodically express dismay at the situation. Given the current financial turmoil, Prime Minister Rudd and Stephen Smith have much on their hands, but their apathy and inaction on Zimbabwe’s desperate plight, is inexcusable.

The Crikey Pet Register:

Lynne Barrington writes: Re. “The Crikey Pet Register” (yesterday, item 19). Catherine King, the Federal the Member for Ballarat wrote that since she had a baby five months ago her two cocker spaniels are not happy. Catherine may find stuff from Jan Fennell “The dog listener” useful. I have her book, and also found her nicely low-key TV show very helpful. What really made the penny drop with me was the description she gave in her book of how wolf packs work socially, which she studied in some detail, and that what is considered loving in human social situations can actually be causing major stress to a dog.

We unintentionally give wolf signals that it is top dog, and therefore responsible for our well-being (in Catherine’s case perhaps Toby and Tilly are the “top dogs”, she and rest of family coming down the list in wolf/dog pack social arrangements!). However, we constantly put them in positions where they are going to fail at this job of top dog! Excruciating stress for them!

You can see this quite well on the TV programs where she helps families out (not at all off-putting like supernanny etc). So for example after changing my greetings upon arrival at home, things improved. Dogs are supposed to just lie around, eat and run, and enjoy being a dog! Hope this is of use, and congratulations to Catherine on the newish baby

Vivien Kluger writes: Regarding the Federal Member for Herbert Peter Lindsay’s problems of protecting his cat Pumpkin from getting beaten up. KEEP HER INSIDE AT NIGHT. A simple but effective way to protect the puss, protect wildlife and get a good nights sleep. Sadly, I have no experience with dogs and babies. I wish Ms King all the best with that problem.

The Courier Mail:

Anonymous, who works in media liaison in Queensland, writes: Re. “Courier Mail journos can’t get the facts right” (yesterday, item 23). Never were truer words spoken (or typed) than in the response by “a former Queensland Ministerial spinner” to the leaked email by Steven Wardill from The Courier Mail. The non-government organisation I work for in media liaison experiences exactly the same problems with The Courier Mail, including some of its journalists’ complete inability or mulish unwillingness to understand anything but the simplest of sensationalist and preferably hysterically anti-government concepts.

We too have decided to deal with The CM only in writing since it’s just not worth the effort to have any conversation, which will be at best ignored if your position doesn’t suit The CM’s pre-decided position, or entirely misquoted to suit its angle.

Well-done former spinner, you’re not alone. Neither are you paranoid, even though The Courier Mail probably says you are.


Roger Mika writes: Re. “ABARE figures show hints of trouble in resources” (20 November, item 25). I think it is appropriate at this time to congratulate ABARE for its forecast on the price of oil going down to $50.00 per barrel. They were pilloried from post to post for their forecast as oil roses higher and higher; however it did sink below $50.00 and yesterday was $50.05 per barrel. I am sure that ABARE will accept apologies from both the previous government and the then opposition and everybody else who ran them down to the lowest.

Lift your heads up high, lads and lassies, and to those detractors, the Public Service can give good advice. (I am in now way connected with anybody from this organisation, but credit should be given).

The big question is, HOW DID THEY KNOW?


Alan Lander writes: Re. “Victoria to privatise profitable wildlife slaughter” (yesterday, item 5). Thanks for publishing the Victoria ad for hunters. I was about to organise a holiday trip to that state in the new year, but that is now out the window. Please advise me when the state decides to return to the human race.


Mary Sinclair writes: There is no better illustration of the “broadsheets’ descent into tabloidism than their frantic triumphalism over the outcome of the Wood murder trial. On Saturday both the SMH and the Australian had screaming headlines and long articles about the role that each had played in “bringing the killer to justice”. Undoubtedly the consistent and persistent interest of a free press are crucial to the pursuit of public interest matters, including criminal investigations, but we are now seeing our respectable newspapers making themselves the news, and trying to use their own tricks of the trade as selling points.

The SMH actually seemed most proud about its successful use of concealed cameras and toilet transmissions to send photos back of Wood’s extradition. And then again today we have an SMH story about hospital mismanagement with the main subhead “How the Herald broke the story”. Isn’t that what our newspapers are supposed to be doing?

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