The Queensland election:

Peter Lloyd writes: Re. “The LNP takeover was the root of Liberal woes” (yesterday, item 11). As a Tasmanian it is always interesting to see a Queensland election, and perhaps considering the commentary on Bligh’s win it would be pertinent for Malcolm Turnbull to consider why his whacky, renegade state branches are destroying any chance of his ever being PM. The Liberals in Tasmania are controlled by booze, religion and forestry.

The way the game is played is best seen by the recent career of Michael Ferguson. Ferguson narrowly lost Bass to Labor lightweight Jodie Campbell, his churchgoing supporters running an excellent campaign. Greens preferences saved Campbell, and these could have gone to Ferguson if he’d had the guts to stand up to the grossly unpopular pulp mill, which is a Labor albatross thanks to Paul Lennon’s bulldozing it around the normal processes.

Turnbull’s best asset is he is a big picture man, the first potentially visionary politician since Keating. But he is mired in pettiness and factionalism. The wretched, fundamentalist and brain-dead state branches should be ripe for a clean-out. Each state is desperate to be rid of their stale and dodgy Labor governments but the Liberals have long since lost interest in winning elections, preferring to consolidate interests that are grossly at odds with the values of ordinary Australians.

Darryl Calderwood writes: Re. “Despite what you read, the Qld polls were spot on” (yesterday, item 3). As Possum has pointed out that the polls were correct all along and the outcome of the election therefore was as predicted, I am wondering why — and I am sure I haven’t missed it — where in yesterday’s Crikey, is the follow up story by Andrew Crook? (“Bligh campaign implodes days before poll“, 19 March, item 2) or was he too embarrassed to come out from under his bed, which I am sure he has been hiding under since about 7 o’clock on Saturday night.

After all, down here in Victoria we don’t get a lot of information on politics in Queensland, and reading the stuff that was coming out of Crikey, it looked like poor old Anna Bligh was heading straight for the scrapheap. And Mark Bahnisch (“Pineapple Party Time QLD election wrap“, yesterday, item 13) is still peddling the same bullshit in today’s Crikey.

I thought you blokes at Crikey were supposed to be different, if I want to read distorted crap I’ll buy any of the News Ltd. rags.

Ben Raue writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 9). Crikey published: “If you look at this link, there is something rather Orwellian. Next to several seats — all but two of which are non-Labor — “Incorrect Candidate Selected” appears instead of the results. The two ALP candidates where it appears next to each did something to upset HQ. Kiernan in Mt Isa came out in favour of uranium mining and Pitt in Mulgrave was parachuted in under a factional deal.”

Um, the ECQ makes an educated guess as to which two candidates will come in the top two positions to allow a fast notional distribution of preferences. In some seats this guess is incorrect, and thus it is necessary to go back and do a new notional distribution of preferences.

I think all the seats with “incorrect candidate selected” are seats where they made a mistake. E.g., Dalrymple, where the ON MP for Tablelands came third, and Indooroopilly, where the sitting MP came third.

War in Gaza:

Robert Johnson writes: Re. “IDF testimonials tell frightening version of Gaza war” (yesterday, item 6). Jeff Sparrow’s report yesterday on IDF atrocities in Gaza, and subsequent IDF celebration of such atrocities, raised the issue of Australia’s evident but familiar lone stance with the USA in supporting such an illegal and violent assault on a civilian population with no chance of refuge.

In the early stages of that invasion, I had to travel from Jerusalem to Amman, Jordan (my planned work program in Gaza having obviously been rendered undoable). I’d been assured that I didn’t need a visa to make the crossing. But I was taken off the bus at the Jordanian crossing point, along with one other passenger, who complained that he’d made this crossing regularly without a visa and within incident.

He was a Jordanian on an Australian passport trying to visit his family. I was also using my Australian passport, and we were obviously the only Australians on the bus and no other passengers were taken off. I suggested to him that this may have had something to do with reports the previous day in the Israeli media of the Australian Government’s expressed support, along with the USA, for Israel’s actions; something he’d been unaware of. My UN ID and travel for UN work purposes finally enabled me to continue on my way, but he remained waiting at the roadside, and I doubt he got to visit his family.

In contrast, my subsequent departure from Tel Aviv airport later in January struck a snag when I was required to advise who I’d been working for in Jerusalem: “the UN? Wait for me to get the security supervisor”, followed by the latter’s many questions about what I’d been doing, where I’d been, names of persons I’d met with, etc.

My Australian passport was no bonus in the eyes of the Israelis once the UN was mentioned! Not nice at the time, but I guess something to be grateful for.

Ashley Midalia writes: Jeff Sparrow is at it again. Why he’s so obsessed with Israel — and not interested in commenting on any other conflict, or even the merciless violence committed by Palestinians on their own — remains somewhat of a mystery. Surely Crikey can offer more of a balanced view than commissioning a stream of selective, campus-style socialist alternative rhetoric from Mr Sparrow.

That’s not to deny there are some serious questions that need to be asked about what went on in Gaza — but to always come at it from Mr Sparrow’s perspective is tedious and predictable and to assume the answers before you ask the questions. Still, if you insist on regularly allowing Mr Sparrow to use Crikey as a vehicle to push his barrow, how about alternating Middle East commentary between him and someone else with a less rabidly anti-Israel agenda?

Among other things that he uses to demonstrate Israeli soldiers’ “culture of atrocity”, Mr Sparrow criticises a military commander for saying this to his troops: “If it’s us or them, it’ll be them. If someone approaches us unarmed, shoot in the air. If he keeps going, that man is dead. Nobody will deliberate — let the mistakes be over their lives, not ours.”

Look, if I was an 18-year-old conscript in an army tasked with entering a hostile territory swarming with well-organised Islamic radicals who have little regard for their lives — let alone mine — I’d want that officer in charge of my life.

Vincent Burke writes: I imagine very few of Crikey‘s readers would have experienced the swoop of a fighter jet over their homes prior to being bombed. I was innocently enjoying the “pre-race entertainment” and build-up to the V8 car race in Adelaide this weekend, when the race track was hit by the deafening roar of a RAAF FA-18 Hornet making a swoop across the crowd. It was exhilarating but equally terrifying when you wondered “What if this was for real?”

My imagination was further fed with the potential terror of such a situation, when the fighter-bomber returned several times to bank and hover over us — with bomb doors open — before it swept off triumphantly to return to base.

Xenophon and Fielding:

Rohan Leppert writes: Re. “Mungo: have a nice trip Kevin, see you next fall” (yesterday, item 19). Mungo MacCallum said that “99.9% of the population had never heard of (Xenophon and Fielding) before they emerged, fully armed, in the Senate last year as a result of preference deals”. Oh dear. Fielding was elected in 2004, for a start. Xenophon was elected in 2007, but with a quota in his own right and thus without the assistance of any preferences.

If “99.9% of the population” had never heard of Xenophon before his Senate term began, it’s curious that 15% of South Australians voted for his independent candidacy. But all of this is minor compared to the earlier howler, the statement that “the terrible two, Nick Xenophon and Steve Fielding, are both political outlaws in the worst tradition of Brian Harradine. Each has an obsessive agenda of his own”. It is downright cruel to paint Xenophon and Fielding with the same brush!

Fielding’s agenda is anything but clear (apart from the obvious social conservatism), he was supported by a tiny fraction of Victorian voters, and he is constantly out of his depth and incapable of sensible compromise whenever he enters legislative debates. Xenophon on the other hand does have a clear agenda, but it is hardly democratic to dismiss it as “an obsessive agenda” when more than a Senate-quota’s worth of South Australians — some 150,000 of them — share that agenda (namely, to save the Murray River), and his legislative abilities and willingness to compromise on all bills before the Senate is proven to be far greater than Fielding’s.

Many might not be a fan of his methods, and my political support certainly lies elsewhere, but to claim that Xenophon “[can’t] claim any kind of popular mandate” and also to liken him to Senator Fielding is exceptionally unfair.

Airport security:

Sandy Logie writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. Yesterday you are in good company, with all other major media outlets and politicians, in seeing the fight at Sydney airport as a failure in airport security. The current airport procedures are aimed at preventing planes being hijacked by terrorists, or anyone else; and in this they have been stunningly successful. If you also want to make the actual airport safe from being bashed over the head by a chunk of metal, why stop there; what about supermarkets, movie theatres, hotel lobbies. Your comments are usually much more perspicacious; I am disappointed to see you following the mistakes of the herd here.

Land management:

Philip Dalidakis, CEO, Victorian Association of Forest Industries, writes: Re. “What Royal Commission? DSE keeps on lighting fires” (yesterday, item 15). Lionel Elmore does himself a huge disservice by demeaning Timber workers and the industry in his off hand remark used to support what really is nothing more than a rant.

The Victorian Association of Forest Industries is the peak representative body for the timber industry in Victoria and whilst we are not in the practice of defending any form of Government (Local, State or Federal) or the DSE themselves (they are big enough and ugly enough), I will however weigh into this debate. The timber industry has long called for better land management across all types — public, private, State forest, National Parks and one component of that is definitely prescribed burning.

Let’s be clear, there cannot be a one size fits all approach to land management and burning by itself is not a panacea. But it does help in most situations slow the fire down. We have already received reports of pre-burned areas helping to slow down and in some cases rebuff some of the fire fronts. It is great that Lionel Elmore is a naturalist, if only he was a realist!

Golden handshakes:

Sev Nagalingam writes: Re. “Eddington blasts golden handshakes. What about News Corp?” (Yesterday, item 25). I whole heartily agree with you. I am clueless why the CEOs, CFOs etc, are getting massive payout when they take their company to the wall or to the Laundry.

The government should go one step further, need to put salary cap on senior executives, similar to the salary cap that exists for Footy, Rugby players.

Fruit bats:

Steve Martin writes: Geoff Russell, Animal Liberation SA, (yesterday, comments) writes that fruit bats i.e. flying foxes don’t eat much when spread out across all growers. Perhaps living in South Australia may have given him this perspective — they don’t have them there do they?

My understanding, such as it is, of animal numbers is that their populations increase to take advantage of available food resources. That being the case there will be increasing predation because of increasing fruit production in Queensland and the Northern Territory.

Those clouds of flying foxes we see at sundown are not figments of the imagination.


Mark Newton writes: Verity Pravda’s suggestion (yesterday, comments) that the IIA is somehow involved in the ACMA blacklist leak is poppycock. High-level ACMA management offered testimony about how seriously they regard the security of the list in Senate Estimates last month, yet they’ve spent ten years supplying it to vendors of completely unaudited software.

Now that security has totally collapsed we see ACMA and the Minister (and Verity Pravda) spinning like turbines. Pravda exhorts us all to “believe the real Minister’s statements,” echoing Conroy’s appeals to trust him reported by ZDnet on the same day ACMA issued a link deletion notice on Whirlpool.

Let’s try that for a few seconds: Putting aside the fact that the Minister has already said that bits of anti-abortion sites are “RC – Violence”, if we really do trust the Minister, and he really is going to distribute a blacklist which only contains RC material to 700 ISPs, how long do we think it’ll take until _that_ list is made every bit as public as the current one? Blacklists used by ISPs have been leaked from Finland, Denmark, Thailand and Norway.

Perhaps Pravda believes that the Australian Government possesses some kind of magic pixie dust which can be sprinkled over blacklists to render them secure. If so, maybe they should have used it before last week.

Video of the Day:

Alex Chiddy writes: Re. Video of the Day. Got to say this was a little sub-par. Usually your vid is a winner and brightens my (and workmates) day. Bad acting, drawn out joke, tenuous contextual link. I think you probably already know this. But I love you guys and expect the best from you.

First Dog on the Moon:

Denise Marcos writes: Re. Marcus Vernon (yesterday, comments). Let’s hope First Dog on the Moon doesn’t take creative licence to farcical extremes with deities by portraying the Christian God as, for example, a burning bush. Verily, that would stretch credibility.


Crikey named the journalist involved in the Sunday Express/Dunblane fiasco as “Fiona Murray” — this is incorrect. Her name is actually Paula Murray.

Send your comments, corrections, clarifications and c*ck-ups to [email protected]. 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.

Peter Fray

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