Glenn Dyer writes: Re. “Mirvac downgrade makes Mackenzie’s daily double” (Friday, item 29).  In Friday’s story on Mirvac/Pacific Brands I said Jennifer Hewitt did The Australian‘s feature on Pacific Brands CEO, Sue Morphett. She didn’t, she did a comment piece that went with the feature by Stephen Lunn on Page 1 of the Weekend Australian last Saturday week.


Alex Turnbull writes: Re. “Chinalco shouldn’t be swamped by a tide of protectionism” (Friday, item, 11). You guys really are absolutely positively mentally challenged. The idea that you can compare Shell to a totalitarian state is laughable.

If you guys had any ability to actually analyse these deals you might raise some of the points that Robert Gottliebsen and the like raise in the Business Spectator, or, perhaps, make the not entirely insensible observation that in the case of numerous private investments in China including, but not limited to: Asia Aluminium, FerroChina, Nissin Leasing and ITAT.

That the Chinese system is ignoring any rule of law and basically facilitating local companies seizing foreign capital and assets a la Russia and not prosecuting any white collar crime by their citizens. Do some research for a change — China is not equivalent to its SOE complex and knocking back these deals isn’t racist, in all but those where there is no other choice (OZ) its the right thing to do.

Australia really should draw a bright line between private company acquisitions and SOE acquisitions.

The Opposition:

John Goldbaum writes: Re. “Opposition taking the role just a little too literally” (Friday, item 2). If ever there was proof needed to convince the die-hards in the Right of the Liberal Party that Peter Costello’s leadership capacity is as dead and buried as WorkChoices, it is his failure to vote against the Rudd Government’s new industrial relations policy, Forward With Fairness. Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard voted for their Bill on Friday afternoon in the House of Representatives. Malcolm Turnbull and Michael Keenan voted against the Bill in the Chamber. Peter Costello went missing in action early on Thursday evening.

Having struck the match and set the fire burning in the bellies of his party room hardline supporters, the cowardly corporal Costello fled the battle field for some comfy R and R in Melbourne while those who remained loyal to him and the Liberal Party, were forced to continue the fight in the trenches in Canberra, away from the comforts of home and the bosoms of their loved ones. They fought hard into the night of Thursday and into the early hours of Friday morning, and stayed on the battle field until they were honourably defeated on Friday afternoon.

The cost to the nation was about one million dollars. The cost to the MPs was their good health and sanity. The cost to Costello was absolutely nothing! Costello’s sole aim was to try to undermine Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership, but just like before, the little corporal didn’t succeed. He was never cut out to be the captain. He deserves to be court-marshalled and dishonourably discharged.


Verity Pravda writes: Re “ACMA’s blacklist just got read all over” (Friday, item 4) and “Fake Stephen Conroy: we’re in trouble” (Friday, item 5). At the risk of having twitterers say “just get a room” I can escape my self-imposed limitation because there is new content to the story. Unfortunately, it is all stupid again. The “satirist”, Fake Stephen Conroy” refers to a couple of hundred million dollars as being the bill for the filter. Well, no actually, that number is as fake as the person. All that is being spent so far is money on the trial and that is next to nothing. Most of the money earmarked for protecting children on-line is going, as Stilgherrian and others ask for it to be, on supporting the Federal Police and other investigative and reporting agencies.

As to the list, doing what some enterprising software dude has done and finding a way to strip the filtering list out of someone’s filter software probably just proves that the existing process (home based filters) is an insecure list management strategy while an ISP based filter isn’t. We also know that the filter companies sponsored by the industry under its IIA code have done a shoddy job in accurately reflecting the ACMA list. And we know this action has only occurred because of the unfounded political campaign. The good news is that if we had an effective filter then the list could be more readily available for inspection.

Finally, we all know the existing legislation definition of prohibited is ridiculously wide. But the real Stephen Conroy’s media release yesterday made it abundantly clear that his intention is only to mandate filtering of the RC material. Is it too much to ask to believe the real Minister’s statements than draw inferences from the original coalition legislation?


Marcus Vernon writes: Re. “First Dog On The Moon” (18 March, item 8). Did it not occur to anyone at Crikey, comfortable though you are in your profound atheism, that running a cartoon in which you portray Jesus Christ as a dog capable of dropping the f-word might just be offensive to some of your readers who are also practising Christians? No? Not in the slightest?

Well, perhaps you all might like to prove your editorial integrity, undeniable impartiality and admirable bravery by running a cartoon which portrays the Islamic prophet Mohammed as a canine with a foul mouth. No? I didn’t think so.

Zachary King writes: Re. Mark Jeanes (Friday, comments). As a long time avid devotee to the art of letter writing, I doff my hat to you sir. I couldn’t agree with you more. For far too long religion has been held up to be untouchable to any criticism or accountability, for what reason I have no idea. No other belief system — be it corporal, ethereal, scientific, politic or any other kind is afforded the same luxury.

Superstitious poppycock is peddled to the weak and vulnerable with devastating effect. Proponents of religion have long clamoured for the recognition of the good works done in their name, well the flipside of that coin is the responsibility for the unparalleled amounts of death and destruction inflicted with the same.

This last pathetic effort from the Catholic Church is nothing less than criminal and will more than likely quite literally result in the deaths of thousands. Mugabe was universally (and rightfully) scorned for his equally deluded stance on AIDS and the response should be exactly the same for the Pope.

This week’s Wankley:

Rich Payne, Deputy Editor,, writes: Re. “And the Wankley goes to …the Scottish Sunday Express” (Friday, item 22). Just wanted to congratulate you. Scottish Sunday Express reporter Fiona Murray fully deserves her Wankley gong – it’s just abhorrent journalism. Keep up the good work.

Fruit bats:

Geoff Russell, Animal Liberation SA, writes: Re. “Flying-foxes: the sleeper issue in the Queensland election” (Friday, item 17). Good job by Olly Perkins dissecting the background behind how the fruit bat (some bats eat fruit, but foxes, like pigs, don’t fly) crop damage estimates are arrived at. The dumbest thing about such estimates is always the way they take spot damage and multiply it up.

For an individual grower, bat damage can be a serious issue, but overall, there just aren’t many bats and they don’t eat much. If the damage was spread evenly, nobody would notice. So an insurance fund into which all growers contributed and from which the unlucky few could be compensated would seem a reasonable solution.

What was missing was the background behind why the Queensland Animal Welfare Advisory Committee found the practice inhumane. People shoot fruit bats with shotguns and the task is usually done at night with lights. This means that the wounded crash off into the plantation never to be seen again. It’s the lucky ones who die in a few hours. The young of any females killed during the night will starve.

How many are wounded? Almost all. That’s the way shot guns work, in all animals … including people. A US study of shotgun wounds in people found that even in the worst case (abdomen shot with pellet spread <10cm — i.e., being shot in the guts at close range) only 25% of people died.

Of course criminals who use shotguns probably like it that way. Watch people shooting ducks. They use shotguns and mostly the duck isn’t dead, they have to wring its neck. Which again, is probably how they like it. But you can’t wring a duck’s neck if it flies off. Given the high proportion of ducks with pellets embedded in their bodies from having been shot, this is common.

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