Rudd, reform and poetry:

Les Heimann writes: Re. “Rudd’s no reformer, he’s an economic conservative to the core” (yesterday, item 2). Bernard Keane complains that Kevin Rudd is as he has said he is … an economic conservative. Rudd has also been condemned by Bernard as “just another politician”. Add to all this further accusations that our current PM as dictatorial, obsessed with detail, lacking any narrative, duplicitous and so on. Assuming all this is correct, what’s the point? Initially it was all about getting rid of Howard and now it seems the concentration is all about undermining Rudd. If we really want REFORM such as Keating provided then, by contrast, Rudd is all that he is described.

However, if “reform” is measurable through the level of pain it inflicts on citizens — as most commentators pontificate in such a cavalier fashion — then yes Rudd is, thank goodness, no reformer. Who says we are better of through deregulation? Who says we are better off through embracing the “unfettered free market”? Who says we are better off through embracing “user pays” and globalisation and public/private partnerships and small government and “privatisation”? Just look at the pain and ruin, galloping greed, community dislocation, economic extremes and financial disasters all these so called “reforms” have brought us.

Kevin Rudd may well turn out to be all those negative things Bernard Keane and others accuse him of. On the other hand he may well be driven by a genuine desire to assist and benefit the Australian people without unnecessarily causing pain to any. Commentators should think about constructive criticism as if one simply just criticizes eventually no one listens.

Linden Salter-Duke writes:

In 2007 we listened to Kevin
And we thought he was boring, but probably straight.
He’d put his green garb on and vowed to cut carbon,
So we thought he’d deliver in 2008.

The Murray is drying, the Reef may be dying,
Kakadu’s flooding and farmers face drought.
The evidence clearly says we’ll all pay dearly
For ignoring the facts with inaction and doubt.

Rudd consulted with Garnaut, but then he said, “Ah, no,
Even those feeble targets are out of our range.
It’s too much ambition to cut our emission
To the point where we’d actually stop climate change.”

“It might cause job losses, or so say the bosses
Who make buckets of money from coal and cement.
They can keep on polluting, while I’ll be diluting
My promises down to a mere five per cent.”

“So bugger the science, I’ll propose an alliance
With the Libs — that’ll make ’em break ranks.
In my new coalition, Greens can go to perdition.
I won’t save the rivers, but I might save the banks.”

John Goldbaum writes: On a wing and a parliamentary prayer:

Dear Leader, who we call Kevin,
Heaven help us all;
the boom is dead;
we’re in the red,
same here as it is in China.

Give us this day some hope for the Future.
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive them that predatorily lent us.
And lead us not into recession;
but deliver us from downturns.

For thine is the kingdom,
the power, and the glory,
For at least two more years.


The ETS:

Peter Wood writes: Re. “Crikey Clarifier: Why does the ETS 5-15 % target look good on a per capita basis?” (Yesterday, item 17). Kevin Rudd’s poor attempt to use per-capita arguments to argue that a target of 5-15% for Australia is appropriate reminds me of something that Ross Garnaut said (Targets and Trajectories, page 5):

Australians can think of many reasons why their situation is different from that of other developed countries, and why their emissions reduction targets should be less demanding. So can people from every other country. There will be no progress towards an effective international agreement if each country lays out all of the special reasons why it is different from others, and why it should be given softer targets.

When climate change negotiators from any country list reasons why their country has special reasons to be treated differently, and take them seriously, we should be quick to recognise that the negotiators, and the countries they represent, intentionally or not, are inhibiting effective international agreement.

I wonder if this means that the Professor is one of those “various radical green groups” that the PM was talking about.


Neil Appleby writes: Re. “Time for Collingwood to move on from Eddie McGuire” (yesterday, item 21). Stephen Mayne refers to a Herald Sun article where Eddie McGuire defends his presidency and then calls upon Eddie to resign over the $8 Million loss hotel venture. Did Stephen not read the article he quoted? Eddie made it perfectly clear who he thought was responsible for the hotels disaster, whilst taking full responsibility himself. The men concerned are now working at other AFL clubs.

Stephen also seems to forget that when Eddie took over the Collingwood Football Club it was virtually bankrupt. Within a few years Collingwood had secured Michael Malthouse as coach, Emirates, Adidas, Volvo and later Lexus as key sponsors and had organised social club and tenancy deals with the MCG that were, and still are, the envy of every other AFL club. The club under Eddie also draws significantly more people to games in every state, achieves record membership and (until this year) has made yearly profits in the millions. Hardly a poor performance. Rather than belittling Eddie’s contribution to Collingwood, Mr Mayne should aim to be a little more even-handed in his journalistic practise.

Eddie’s leadership at Collingwood has paid off handsomely; the club is hardly crying poor. How many other AFL clubs could make an $8M write-off and still be well and truly in the black and so well placed for the future?

Won’t somebody think of the children?:

Zachary King writes: Re. “Why walking to school can be unhealthy” (yesterday, item 15). Bridget Kelly and Lesley King wrote: “The current onus on local councils to impose their own planning regulations does not go far enough to protect children from food marketing.” Sweet merciful Jesus that sentence alone would be enough to force a man to drink with the shrieking cries of “Won’t somebody think of the children?” ringing in his ears.

By all things holy do we not have enough inane, nonsensical bureaucratic regulations in this country without having some sort of arcane formula to calculate the allowable amount of junk food advertising around schools? Perhaps the Duckworth-Lewis system could be adapted, factoring in such issues as average weight of the local Grade Seven kids, cost of a Mars Bar and current spot price of sweet crude. Boss can you please not encourage this kind of thinking?


Simon Rumble writes: Re. “Rundle08: Everything goes to cr-p, and just before Christmas” (yesterday, item 7). Please assure me that Rundle08 will continue as Rundle09 in these pages. His coverage of pre, during and post US election has been stellar. Part Gonzo, part Socialist Worker, part smack-yourself-in-the-forehead-and-say “by God he’s right”. Loving it and it makes up for Christian Kerr’s wingnuttery before he moved to a place more suited to his particular brand of Faux News.

Offering an alternative:

John Kotsopoulos writes: Re. “Investing myths busted in 2008 — a Crikey list” (yesterday, item 26). Adam Schwab’s dismissive comments about Rudd’s efforts to ameliorate the effects of the global credit crunch would carry some weight if he could have given us even one, just one, alternative that he feels would have helped to protect us from the carnage unleashed by the ex-merchant banker’s former colleagues.

The intervention:

Marlene Hodder, Intervention Rollback Action Group, Alice Springs, writes: Re. Sidney Watts (Tuesday, comments) on the how well the intervention is working in his community, that is good for him and his people. But the bigger picture is that any policy that has to set aside the Racial Discrimination Act in order to be implemented cannot be supported. And the reality is that around the Northern Territory blatant racism is on the increase.

Mr Watts and others supporting the intervention should look closely at what aspects they like and realise that there didn’t need to be intervention and discrimination in order to improve the lives of Aboriginal Territorians. The intervention is a major waste of money, is flawed policy and is not working.

Taze me, dude:

Wes Pryor writes: Re. “Arming the police” (yesterday, comments). Is anyone else getting a bit fed up with the guns vs. tasers debate? Tasers might be fatal under certain conditions, advises your corrections correspondent (yesterday, comments): too many energy drinks, adrenalin, drugs. Sage counsel, to be sure, but the humble Smith and Wesson revolver’s track record shows that the probability of fatality is — and I’m no expert — higher, even in situations not involving Red Bull.

The debate is nonsense. Tasers have a role; filling the strategic chasm between a stern “no” and/or a baton, and a small piece of lead to the person. For various reasons, people will sometimes drop their bundle and confront the police. There but for the grace of Santa go I, and once the baton fails — taze me please, dude.

A special visa:

Chris Johnson writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. Why bother devising a special visa for Father Christmas? All DIAC had to do was refer to the precedent set by State Victorian Liberal Bernie Finn who used the ordinary old 457 variety to hire a Canadian girl as his electorate officer. I tell you just have a chat with your local MP and they can interpret legislation whichever way you want them. Laws are all discretionary when you’re an MP.

Jermir Punthakey writes: I must say Mr Green, the introductory joke has already been made.

Internet censors:

Stilgherrian writes: Re. “The lies of the internet censors: Your. Filter. Won’t. Work.” (yesterday, item 4). Yesterday I said the government’s Phase 2 trials of internet filters were another closed test, without actual customers, not the promised “live” field test. Not quite right. There’s two tests going one. One is a “scalability test” of ISP filtering technology using a hypothetical test list of 10,000 URLs.

“This part of the pilot does not require customer involvement and will be completed in a closed network environment,” says Senator Conroy’s office. The other is the in-ISP test with customers.

“The Expressions of Interest document makes clear that we intend to trial filtering of the ACMA blacklist on a live network with customers. Customers will also be involved in trials of options to filter a broader range of internet content,” they say.

Whether ISPs take part on the blocking of the “broader range” of material is optional. Optus, for example, will not.

Meanwhile, respected network engineer Glen Turner, who runs the universities’ Australia’s Academic & Research Network (AARNet) suggests the 10,000 URLS is a “useless number”. “What the government are testing *isn’t* what any sane ISP would deploy,” he writes, saying it’s the wrong hardware and the wrong software.