Les Heimann writes: Re. “Price spikes, but Fairfax sackings won’t change a thing” (Friday, item 1). Regarding Fairfax, Crikey’s edition on Friday touched on what are really fundamental issues in any democracy: communication and good business. No democracy can flourish without an abundance of skill in both these areas. A now discredited US “management guru” Tom Peters postulated that one could manage anything without knowing anything about the product provided you knew how to manage. Some idiots still believe and even teach this! Whatever the product — you have to know what it is, how it works and what could happen if you manipulated, or changed it. This is Peter Senge’s “puddle theory”. If you keep lobbing grains of sand into a puddle it will eventually disappear. Ultimately only those few who have both a deep knowledge of their product and a proper understanding of business will succeed. The unfortunate truth is that wherever one looks, profit over product rules.

In most boardrooms the talk is not about innovation — more about diversification, consolidation etc. Lateral thinkers like the famous Howard Hughes recognised that aviation could be used to carry people. That’s innovation and that’s made literally trillions of dollars — that’s good business. Hughes knew aircraft, he flew them and he built them. He knew his product. So did Ford. These people are considered standouts. Frankly they were not so much stand outs. They were people with skills and knowledge of a product who thought laterally and innovated.

In communication as in industry generally it’s about product development — at a profit. That’s good business. Not profit over product but product at a profit. Then we can all benefit – then our democracy flourishes. Seems clear that the Fairfax board and many other public company boards are not approaching their tasks as directors with the appropriate focus — product at a profit — because they lack the requisite skills.

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Alan Lander writes: I used to look forward to buying my one hard copy of the SMH — the potentially profitable Saturday edition — up here on the Sunshine Coast, and I used to plug it to my fellow Coasters as a quality alternative national read to The Australian, despite the self-preening Sydney set featuring in the early pages.

Then I saw Mike Seccombe “depart”; then I saw Mike Carlton get the boot. Now I see Alan Ramsey has “retired”; not only that, Miranda Devine is now his page replacement, which is like your favourite restaurant telling you your much-loved barramundi dish has been permanently replaced with tripe. Captain Kirk has gone, with a likely regime of McCarthyism about to commence. I only hope Kirk’s phaser wasn’t handed in, and is set well beyond “stun”.

Rudd and the end of Parliament:

Martin Gordon writes: Re. “ALP and Liberal backflips in the final hour of parliament” (Friday, item 12). With our new PM we are now blessed with a whole new range of issues and clichés. Our war on terror has mutated into a war on everything, inflation into recession, restraint into spending surges. Parliament has risen and Kevin heads off on a well deserved break. Remember the long suffering public servants who may now have a brief reprieve from the relentless demands of Kevin 24/7 (or the technically correct but sounding clipped “737”). Our grateful hordes of working families having chosen the righteous (or lefteous?) fork in the road before the bridge too far will enter the new era of Kevin 09(?) in a mere 24 days! (I can hardly wait!)

Niall Clugston writes: Bernard Keane concludes his piece on the Friday morning follies in Canberra, saying, “Politicians are not at their best late at night in December.” Yes, but when are we going to wake up and smell the twenty first century? When will we draw the curtain on this elaborate and obsolete masquerade? Or will we just be smug that our system is 100 years out of date, not 200 years like the Americans’?

Santa Kev:

John Goldbaum writes:

Oh! You better dine out,
You mustn’t be shy,
You better spend big,
I’m telling you why:

Santa Kev is coming to town!

He knows that you’re a pensioner,
He knows that you’ve got kids.
He knows that you are hard up,
So he’s giving you lots of quids!

Spend it on booze,
Spend it on smokes.
Gamble it all
or visit your folks.

Santa Kev is coming to town.

General Motors:

Julian Gillespie writes: Re. “Detroit demands new $US34 billion bailout” (3 December, item 21). Well you have to hand it to those high flying execs from General Motors. While asking for yet another multi-billion dollar lifeline to sustain one of the most inefficient car making companies on the face of the planet, GM at least had the smarts to go directly to the American people, if not the world, with the release of their YouTube video over the weekend:

Not pretending to understand how much of a basket case this form of corporate social security really is, I still can’t help but give them points for trying to explain directly to US taxpayers what they plan to do with the dough if they get it. A far cry from the shadowy world of US bankers and their addiction to bonus preservation.

Rural hospitals:

“Annie”, who works in a small rural hospital, writes: Re. “Stop blaming doctors for the health system” (4 December, item 14). “Dr Graham”, don’t make assumptions about rural doctors. And don’t make assumptions about rural health services. I work in a small rural hospital with the most dedicated and hard working doctors that Melbourne hospitals would die for. They deliver babies with competent midwives as a team effort, and only send off those high risk mothers to Melbourne or large regional hospitals. They do emergency L.U.S.C. when required and safe to do so. The can intubate patients needing to fly out, they can fix hernias, remove fish hooks, will travel to Melbourne in choppers on a Sunday with unstable patients to be told when they arrive and deliver their precious cargo that they have to make their own way home, in a pair of shorts and shirt and no wallet, because they hadn’t thought past saving the persons life. In fact last Sunday our on-call GP did just that and caught the V-Line train home (and didn’t whinge about it).

We have many students and junior registrars on placement. They love it. They learn a great deal. Some of them we hope will return to the country later to practice. They will be able to have a good life and will be well supported by their communities.

The two nurse practitioner candidates in our service are encouraged, supported and thoroughly mentored by the senior doctors. The only way rural doctors can keep practicing is to have nurses who will be nurse practitioners and senior nurses supporting their on call roster. These well trained nurses are generalists, with amazing capacity to deliver a baby, hold the hand of a dying elder, remove a plaster cast from a four year old and recover the total hysterectomy.

Of the 312 patients seen in October in our out of hour’s clinic or non funded emergency department 225 of them were not seen by a doctor. This is not a new phenomenon, and not peculiar to us. In fact most of what happens here happens in other small rural centres. Often the needs are easily dealt with, but none the less are the same issues that send people to doctors’ clinics in suburban Melbourne. The practice nurses also have a huge role. It takes a group effort and we have a great group. We are gearing up for the summer where we will have to deal with large volumes of tourists. And we do, and they say, I would give anything for a service like this in Melbourne, Sydney, New York wherever they come from.

The reason we don’t have enough proceduralist GP’s and nurse practitioners in Australia, has nothing to do with overseas. GPs and nurses have families that live in these towns; their kids go to the same school, play soccer and basketball on the same teams. The real truth is that the nurse practitioners have barriers around this ill informed rhetoric that come from people including the AMA and others who have no real understanding of what the issues are.


Ian Neering writes: I’m a little surprised at Stephen Hall’s comments (Friday, comments) affirming the role of Luhrmann’s movie in “setting the record straight” on our shameful dealings with Indigenous Australians. While it may well be argued that the film dealt with many of the contentious issues Hall mentions, Luhrmann subverts his own purpose by perpetuating the “Noble Savage” mythology. He bestows his Aboriginal characters with magical powers and even has the temerity to virtually reproduce, albeit magnified by the size of massive CGI herd, the scene from Crocodile Dundee wherein a maddened bovine is tamed by a gesture and a fixed stare. In terms of honesty, I rate Australia way, way below Rabbit Proof Fence and Ten Canoes.

Leave Rex alone:

Brian Baxter writes: Re. “Last night’s TV ratings” (Friday, item 23). Inspector Rex is my favourite TV program — I enjoy the repeats. I love Rex and am very distressed by Glenn Dyer’s rude comments about him. But I am puzzled that a German Shephard can now understand Italian! Please explain!

Crikey, you win:

Mike Crook writes: I thought I was through with Crikey, when I went to the UK for three months this year, I let it lapse. No longer the wait for the days email, no longer the dry mouth and the heavy anticipatory breathing, waiting for the days email, no more, I was through with that. I was proud of myself, kicked that habit I said, got that monkey off my back, ha ha, ha ha. I want to be an activist, I said, involved in the political process, not a voyeur, ingesting the musings of others, I wanna be a player not an observer. I had won. But I spoke too soon, when I got home there was the squatters email, whats this, said I, I didn’t ask for this. I have things to do, run against Neil Roberts over the ambos new rosters and construction safety, or lack of it, in Queensland. I wanna go to Venezuela, I want to launch a community campaign attacking Murdoch, I wanna save the planet.

There is no time for Crikey emails. But then the pernicious offers came, resubscribe and we will give you everything your heart desires, we will satisfy your every gratuitous need. I held out for months, even went to Venezuela for the elections and to see the socialist revolution, but in the end I was lost, and yesterday I succumbed to the bait and resubscribed. So now I can go back to sleep and let others be players, while I sit quietly at my computer and watch others create my world. Crikey, you win.

Name c*ck-up

Alex Mitchell writes: Re “NSW Nat in spectacular flame-out” (Friday, item 13) Wrote “Two years ago, Stoner famously attempted to throttle then Roads Minister Joe Tripodi during a late night exchange in the house which turned physical. Tripodi had been baiting the Coffs Harbour MP in a debate over road fatalities on the Pacific Highway and Fraser’s patience snapped.” It was Fraser who famously attempted to throttle Tripodi, not Stoner.

Send your comments, corrections, clarifications and c*ck-ups to boss@crikey.com.au. Preference will be given to comments that are short and succinct: maximum length is 200 words (we reserve the right to edit comments for length). Please include your full name — we won’t publish comments anonymously unless there is a very good reason.