Xenophobia and photography:

Matthew Weston writes: Re. “No asylum from the Opposition’s xenophobia” (yesterday, item 1). Bernard, not withstanding your love of creating a racist link under every bed and every issue, there is the broader issue of attracting investment into Australia by sovereign wealth funds from the Middle East. These organisations are opaque, and are controlled by governments that are not democratic, nor are these funds obligated to provide even the most basic of statements of guiding principals as to what guides where there money ends up.

To blithely dismiss there involvement in large, nationally significant projects is to downplay the idea that money spent in our name should be done so in a accountable manner, and that money borrowed in our name should be done so from organisations that we can at least understand. Rather than descending to the level that the opposition seems quite comfortable descending to, why not dig a little deeper, provide a little more depth, and a little less invective.

We look to Crikey for broad analysis, not a replay of the juvenile behaviour of our erstwhile leaders and leaders in waiting.

Christian Kent writes: Re. “Bidding for Bidgood: no shame for the buyers?” (Yesterday, item 2). Why is this photographer so controversial? There is no focus at all on the safety hazard of the protestor, or on the risks of deporting his parents, or even on the editors who pay for and publish photos like this. In fact, if a professional photographer had taken the same photo, would there be any comment on him? This is confected outrage because someone is an MP.

Spoiling the Egyptians:

John Goldbaum writes: Re. “Schools Assistance Bill is a victory for Gillard” (yesterday, item 10). Not only is a national curriculum a good idea, so is public disclosure of private schools’ funding. Some of our elusive brothers have been rorting the system for years. There is one school in Meadowbank which has campuses in country towns in order to grandfather a better deal than new schools can garner. The rich business men that control them have structured their affairs so as to pay bugger-all tax and then send their women folk to Centrelink to bludge on the Australian taxpayer.

With their devilish gains, they are then able to fund private schools in other countries whose governments are less accommodating of their rorts. They even have an Old Testament name for it which makes them think it is their God-given right. They call it “spoiling the Egyptians”. Fortunately, the Liberal Party has learned from bitter experience that they are electoral poison. Amen!

Melbourne’s Mayor:

Gary Morgan, unsuccessful candidate for the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, writes: Re. “Perth has a full time mayor — why can’t Melbourne?” (Yesterday, item 6). Why write this now when everyone (except your staff) knew that Robert Doyle was to be a part-time Lord Mayor at least four weeks before the recent election. Everyone also knew Doyle wanted to open Swanston Street and use empty MCC buildings for more police stations— except me, nobody mentioned Melbourne’s real problem — too many “syringes”/drugs in night spots!

The Age and you are on a par — you both showed little if any interest in the election of Melbourne’s Lord Mayor. Melbourne needs an independent active unbiased media plus a full time Lord Mayor, and Crikey needs to make the news not follow it! Regards and Merry Xmas

Steven McKiernan writes: Dear Boss, thanks for the item regarding the part-time Melbourne Lord Mayor. Perth has a full-time Mayor is Lisa Scaffidi and surprisingly is doing a good job, a big improvement on the gynaecologist the City had before, Dr Peter Nattrass. But dear Lisa, or She-Ra, as she is also known, needs to be full-time. She was assisted by the Deputy Lord Mayor, one Michael Sutherland, who was able to bring his full intelligence to bear on the demands of the City of Perth, but alas he has new intense distractions elsewhere.

He was surprisingly elected to the Legislative Assembly seat of Mount Lawley as the local Member. Surprisingly as the seat was notionally Labor 5% prior to the election and the ALP ran a strong candidate in Karen Brown. Surprisingly as Michael doesn’t live or work in the electorate, though he has been known to swing a racquet at Mt Lawley Tennis Club, he lives in the Morley electorate and his solicitor’s office is in Maylands electorate.

So while She-Ra works full-time, Michael acts as her deputy in the Council, when he isn’t representing my electorate of Mount Lawley. We pay $130k for a part-time member? And he has the gall as a very junior and inexperienced back bencher to be Deputy Speaker and to put his hand up for Parl Sec and Ministerial positions!

John Bevan writes: It’s hardly correct to state that the Lord Mayor of Melbourne runs Australia’s second largest city. Like Sydney the Lord Mayor only gets to run the council that runs a small proportion of the greater city. I know Clover Moore likes to talk as if she is in charge of all of Sydney and puts forward grand plans which on close examination actually only impact on a few thousand people not all 4 million but most of the real activity in running the Sydney metropolis is not in her hands.  It’s the same in Melbourne — Brisbane is the only exception. Being Lord Mayor of Sydney and I suspect Melbourne is only a part time job.

Jeremy Bath writes: Seriously, who cares whether the Melbourne Lord Mayor is fulltime or part-time? Probably not Victorians, certainly not the rest of Australia. If Sydney can survive with a Lord Mayor who is also a member of the NSW parliament then I think Melbourne will do just fine with a part-time Lord Mayor. Move on Crikey, the election was almost a week ago and Crikey is still going on about Doyle’s election.

Downloading Question Time:

Andrew Maiden, Telstra’s Director of Media Communications, writes: Re. “Will ABC Online charge taxpayers to download Question Time?” (Yesterday, item 17). I nearly fell off my chair reading Crikey on Thursday. Joshua Gans notes that iiNet does not charge its customers download fees to watch Question Time in Parliament. He also points out that BigPond does not, but offers its own unmetered sites which “have been far less popular in the market-place”. It might be unfortunate for our democracy, but the truth is that BigPond’s content (which spans sport, movies, music, games and news) is more popular amongst Australians by a very considerable degree. That’s why Neilson NetRatings recently ranked Telstra as one of the largest and most-watched online broadcasters and publishers in the country.

Kirk Broadhurst writes: Joshua Gans wrote: “Isn’t it extraordinary that despite taxpayers paying for ABC content, licenses and ABC’s development and web-hosting costs, they have to pay again because for all other ISPs, ABC content is metered.” No, it is not extraordinary. Paying for data depends on the contract that a user has with an ISP, and the ABC is not receiving any of this money. In fact purchasing a data quota is akin to paying for electricity. Isn’t it extraordinary that despite paying for ABC content, they have to pay again because they need to purchase and maintain a television or a radio?

Stephen Harrington writes: While Joshua Gans rightly points out that iiNet does not meter access to ABC’s iView, the same actually applies across the entire ABC website. I know this because I am an iiNet customer, and have recently had my download speed shaped (to around dial-up speed) for the rest of the month, yet just the other day was able to download a Good Game Vodcast (circa 90MB) in only a matter of minutes. In fact, pretty much everything offered via the abc.net.au domain is still speedy as hell. Bonus!

The West:

Ross Copeland writes: Re. “Shake-up at The West” (yesterday, item 18). I don’t hold any great expectation that Kerry Stoke’s takeover of The West Australian will be for the better. Earlier in the year Stokes was suggesting the WA Sunday Times was a model to aspire to. The Sunday Times is one of the most pathetic newspapers I have ever come across. It makes the term tabloid sound good. Unfortunately it is the only newspaper many residents of Perth get to read. Just for the record I get The West and The Australian daily but no longer bother with the Sunday Times.

Unfair on the AFR:

Mitchell Holmes writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. Yesterday’s jibe at the Australian Financial Review was a little unkind. After all, the headlines covered a period of two months. With regular new economic data, revelations of deterioration in different economies and companies, government bailouts and spending plans, two months is a very long time in uncertain times like this. Or perhaps Crikey was being more reflective. There but for the grace of God goes any media outlet, including Crikey!


Niall Clugston writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 9). A tip in Crikey yesterday that Rudd’s running dead on the ABCC is “perhaps Labor’s payback for the sight of CFMEU members cheering John Howard back before the 2004 election”. Well, really, it’s of a piece with Rudd’s jellyback rollback of WorkChoices, Ruddock’s jackboot “border security”, the Iraq debacle etc, etc. But the connection with 2004 is tenuous. Those cheering Howard represented the FU segment of the CFMEU – by which, of course, I mean the Forestry Union. I think I can safely say that the People’s Republic of Construction has never felt the slightest twinge towards conservatism, and it is building workers that are in the ABCC’s cross-hairs.


Stephen Hall, Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation, writes: Re. “Australia‘s not the bomb they’d have you believe” (Tuesday, item 19). I have read a number of reviews of this movie from US critics and overall they have panned it. So I went along the other night wondering if producer Baz Luhrmann had really got it so wrong. While not a particular fan of “epic style” movies; I think the US critics got it wrong — not Baz — as they did not understand the story! Sure it had the usual elements of a great saga: family, war, action, along with cattle, horses, a corrupt business rival and romance. Nevertheless, it was essentially a story about how Australia treated its Indigenous people for most of the last century.

It told the story of “drovers boys”, it showed that the “Stolen Generation” was essentially about the abuse of Aboriginal women by white men, it showed the role of the police in child removal, it showed the role of the churches in running the institutions, it showed some of the ways mothers tried to stop the removal, it displayed an element of the authorities dismissal of the feelings those mothers had for their children, it demonstrated the disregard some white fathers had for their children. It also had some very strong symbolism and the roles played by two Aboriginal men — especially the grandfather figure, who gave it a real edginess. In my view this film is a worthy successor to Rabbit Proof Fence; as it takes the story, to the next level.

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