The Fitzgibbon affair:

Stephen Magee writes: Re. “Fitzgibbon affair points to bureaucrats out of control” (yesterday, item 1). When public servants leaked damaging info about the Howard Government, they were inevitably hailed as national heroes by the left and the commentariat. How things have changed now that Labor’s in power.

Incidentally, I’m surprised that no-one has commented on the remarkable coincidence of the Fitzgibbon leak’s having occurred on the same day that John Faulkner attempted to cement his bid for left-wing sainthood by proposing a massive liberalisation of the FOI laws.

All information is free, but some is free

Kerry Seebohm writes: It’s a disturbing event with real ramifications, when sections of the Australian military spy on their own elected government minister, apparently without authorisation. This is the sort of thing that happens in some third world countries, where even military coups are common.

It is unacceptable in Australia for some military personnel to disregard our system of government and feel they can apparently act above the law. Whatever the minister has done or not done, is not the point. It is the breach of protocol that creates a precedent we Australians should just not tolerate.


A mid-level employment bureaucrat: Re. “Gillard’s employment outsourcing will cost local jobs” (yesterday, item 9). Bernard Keane has an infuriating tendency to swing wildly between sharp insight and naivety — alas his take on the new employment services tendering is in the latter category. First, he should do a little background research — companies like A4E have been very successful in the UK in developing the place-based strategies to assist the most disadvantaged get jobs, which is exactly what was proposed by the 2007 Labour election policy.

That welfare organisations such as the Salvos or Mission Australia had so much business under Job Network was largely due to the underfunding and misdirection of Job Network under Howard — they were prepared to put in the hard yards supporting underclass Howard was happy to see working for the dole for the rest of their lives if they wouldn’t or couldn’t be supported to take up minimum wage jobs. The big welfare organisations won’t close, they can return to doing what they do best — providing welfare services. The new model does provide ample scope as Bernard notes, to join in partnerships or subcontract to provide specialist services and so the local not-for-profits still have opportunities.

I can understand the not-for-profits kicking up a big fuss as it will both reduce their leverage with the government and their outreach and this exercise does definitely represent a jump into the unknown But c’mon, think about it for a moment. The new providers are going to have to employ the experienced Australian employment consultants and social workers let go by those losing the business — what this is mainly about is engaging proven management expertise for the prescribed task of assisting more disadvantaged job seekers to get new skills and into jobs.

That’s not the say the not-for-profits couldn’t do that, but they were hampered by the constraints of the old Job Network system which didn’t provide incentives for providers to train people. Bernard is wide of the mark on the issue of training — providers seldom actually did the training, which is provided by the discreet network or Registered Training Organisations.

So yes, it’s risky, but if the local not-for-profits couldn’t convince a probity — assured process they could provide the service being purchased better than the overseas competitors, then they will have to look asked to provide.

And what’s this offshoring costs jobs nonsense? Sounds like protectionism. Not the thinking we need in the current economic environment.


Eric Lundberg writes: Re. “Rundle: Israel’s de facto apartheid” (yesterday, item 5). I realise there is plenty of room for legitimate comment about Israel, and loads of room for criticism. Rundle’s piece yesterday has claims about Israel’s immigration policy and supposed changes to broaden it, that are simply made up. Israel’s Law of Return has always, rightly or wrongly, used the same definition as the Nazis used when they chose who to slaughter.

If you have a Jewish grandparent on either side, then you are entitled to Israeli citizenship, whether you are Jewish or not. For those with bad memories, this is to avoid kind of situation where the “civilised” west turned Jews and those of Jewish descent back to be murdered by the Nazis. This is not a comment. This is a request for editorial responsibility that at least requires “correspondents” to attempt to find out if what they are claiming is true.

Perhaps if you asked Rundle to apologise in writing it might make him more likely to check his facts.

School spending:

Glen Frost writes: Re. “The fastest school spending spree in history doesn’t add up” (Wednesday, item 2). Did Crikey call any schools in NSW for your article yesterday? My two kids go to a public primary school in North West Sydney. Recently we’ve had four large new water tanks (in addition to one we won from a BlueScope Steel competition), a new demountable, new paintwork, new pavements and we (i.e. Principal and P&C Association) are planning much more urgently needed work; a new kitchen for starters.

Other work in the pipeline includes a vegetable garden and lots of other, badly needed, renovations. It does take time and forms need to be filled in but please do not bag the process as the cash is being spent on worthwhile projects and the work is getting done.

In addition, ALL of the work is done by local tradespeople using mostly Australian made products, which means, for those economically orientated policy wonk people, that there is a low leakage rate, thereby assisting Aussie jobs etc etc. Oh, and I’m not related to Mr Rudd, Mr Rees or in the Labor party.

Internet filtering:

David Gothard writes: Re. “Two thirds of ACMA blacklist out of date” (yesterday, item 3). Why are we going back over old ground? Memory seems to show that John Howard produced and passed out for free some kind of programme that deleted p-rn from sites. Maybe it wasn’t much good and just Honest John spending up big. He seems to have been fond of that.

The economy:

Tom Richman writes: Re. “Gottliebsen: Corporate bosses have let us all down” (yesterday, item 23). When American historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr asked JFK what surprised him the most during his first 1,000 days in office, Kennedy’s response was “the utter mediocrity of so many captains of industry.” The more things change and all that.

Gavin Greenoak writes: It has not I am sure passed your notice that the extraordinary euphemism for printing money is now seen on doors and signs which used to say “Toilet”, or “Lavatory”. Now it just says QEF. Or “Quantitative Easement Facility”.

The Freudian slippage here is surely revealing, of an unfortunate and unconscionable reality of repressed retention.

John Goldbaum writes:

What good is sitting alone in your state?
Come here, let Kevin pay.
Debt is all Triple-A, you bums,
Come get your Triple-A.

Put down some roadworks,
Then back to the boom.
Time for Election Day.
Debt is all Triple-A, you bums,
Come get your Triple-A.

Come taste the swine,
Come hear the bland.
Come blow your horn,
Start celebrating;
Right this way,
Your Triple-A’s waiting.

No use permitting
The Liberals of doom
To wipe every smile away.
Debt is all Triple-A, you bums,
Come get your Triple-A!

I used to have a banker
known as Swannie
With whom I shared
A balance sheet and money

He wasn’t what you’d call
A man of power…
As a matter of fact
He rented by the hour.

One day he cried and lenders
came to snicker:
“Well, that’s what comes
when piles of bills get thicker.”

And when I saw him turfed out by the mob
He was the shabbiest … corpse…
I’d ever robbed.

I think of Swannie to this very day.
I remember how he’d turn to me and say:
“What good is sitting alone in your state?
Come here, let Kevin pay.
Debt is all Triple-A, you bums,
Come get your Triple-A.”

And as for me, as for me,
I made my mind up I’m taking his money,
And when I go, I’m going like Swannie.

Smart guys pile debt on
From bottom to boom
It isn’t that long a stay.
Debt is all Triple-A, you bums,
Always rates Triple-A, you bums,
Until we lose our Triple-A!

John Farnham:

Keith Searle writes: Re. “John Farnham Cadbury’s gorilla remix gets the thumbs-down” (Wednesday, item 19). Sorry – ad or no ad – I just love it. Had me in stitches the first time I saw it and it just improved with viewing. Never saw the original with Phil Collins’ music so this John Farnham one was brand new to me.

Doesn’t matter whether the drumming is in synch or not, the expressions and movements of the gorilla are what made it for me. Would it make me buy Cadbury’s? Probably not — but then I eat it anyway!


Robin Wingrove writes: Re. “AFL on television: a nation divided” (yesterday, item 18). Living in Canberra, I have to agree entirely with Ross Stapleton’s comments about the appalling nature of AFL free to air telecasts. What I think we are all forgetting is that Demetriou is on record as stating that he thinks that all viewing of AFL should be paid for by the viewer, whether they are at the game or at home watching it on TV.

Therefore it makes sense that pay TV will be able to broadcast all the games at some time or other while free to air can only broadcast one game once. This really means that free to air is only regarded by the AFL as an interim solution, a teaser if you like to induce fans to ultimately switch to pay.

As a long time AFL supporter (I watched my first game of Aussie Rules aged five in the member’s stand at Norwood Oval), I am getting more and more disgusted by the disenfranchisement I am experiencing, so much so that if it gets any worse, I’ll stop supporting AFL completely. I too am getting sick and tired of being forced to watch good games in the early morning instead of at the times they are being played.

For example, those on Thursday and Friday should be rippers but will I be allowed to share in the excitement as it unfolds? Not on your Nellie mate, unless of course I pay for it and quite frankly it’s not worth it; I object to supporting News Ltd and the rest of their offering is crap anyway. And as for watching any non Victorian/Swans game here, then it is truly in the lap of the gods as the mindset seems to be that I should only be interested in only the Swans or a Victorian team.

I have already been in contact with my club over the years about this but all the clubs seem powerless to stop this trend.

Arley Moulton writes: Re. “Media briefs: S-xing up beef jerky, Studying the natives at the BBC, Obama’s 2nd presser” (yesterday, item 20). I was trolling the Ten forums last night and there is quite a lot of anger and disbelief that the night channel Ten are to launch their groundbreaking 24hr sport channel they delay the Carlton v Richmond game, with all the drama and build that the AFL could have dreamed for that Cousins v Judd has created, till midnight in Sydney and Brisbane. The two markets that the AFL is trying to move into.

Instead they give us the “skins” Really shows how serious the AFL is about cracking Rugby League up here. I’m sure they’ll blame contracts, anti-siphoning yadda yadda yadda. The punters don’t care about that. You say 24hr live sport and you turn around and shoot yourself in the foot.

They do have form though, remember the recent capital raising… One HD’s credibility as a serious sport channel has taken a massive hit even before the launch!

Justin Templer:

Frank Birchall writes: Justin Templer (yesterday, comments) thinks First Dog is “boring and obscure” and provides “nibbles for try-hard intellectuals”. Thank goodness for an “achieve-easily” intellectual like Justin who can superciliously point out the poor judgment of those of us who admire First Dog’s work.

Sometimes FD can be obscure (so what?) but boring, hardly ever, and, much of the time he is downright brilliant and much too good for The Huffington Post.

Kim Serca writes: Um Justin Templer, from the fact that you think the fart joke was the only piece of (attempted) humour in the Princess Mary article, it is clear you believe the rest was in deadly earnest.

It is therefore my melancholy duty to inform you that there was no truffle bomb (bombetrussel — bomb threat) plot against the royal parrot (kronsprinsparret — royal princely couple). Denmark has no parrots for the royal family. Crikey, however, has at least one galah for a reader.

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.

Get more Crikey, for less

It’s more than a newsletter. It’s where readers expect more – fearless journalism from a truly independent perspective. We don’t pander to anyone’s party biases. We question everything, explore the uncomfortable and dig deeper.

Join us this week for 50% off a year of Crikey.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
50% off