Renaming New Zealand:

Crikey: Re. “Rundle’s Friday drive-bys: terrorist/freedom fighters, right decline, renaming New Zealand” (Friday, item 22). On Friday, Guy Rundle asked Crikey readers to rename New Zealand. The best entry, according to Guy, will win a First Dog on the Moon t-shirt. Here’s what you came up with.

Andrew Tanner writes:

North Island: Island What Flight Of The Conchords Came From;
South Island: Island What The Chills Came From.

John Jenkins writes:

North Island: New South East Wales;
South Island: The other one.

Dani Arlow writes:

North Island: land where all the talented entertainment people have left and went to Australia then LA;
South Island: land were all the talented sportsmen left and went to Australia then England.

(May sound better in Maori).

Gavin Robertson writes:

North Island: Fush;
South Island: Chups.

Wayne writes:

North Island: Bro’;
South Island: Cuz.

North Island: League;
South Island: Union.

North Island: Shawn;
South Island: Fleecy.

North Island: Botulism;
South Island: Dags.

North Island: Choise!;
South Island: Eh!

Steve Simmonds writes:

North Island: Up;
South Island: Down.

North Island: Me;
South Island: Ewe.

North Island: Ewe;
South Island: Ram.

North Island: Pacific;
South Island: Solution.

Nick Ryan writes:

North Island: The Main Island;
South Island: Pig Island.

Margaret Bozik writes: Are you guys just trying to stir up the neighbours? Is it part of a drive to get more NZ’s to visit the Crikey site, even if it is only to whinge? There’s more to NZ than sheep. For instance, sporting prowess. The North Island could be renamed Rugby and the South Island Bungy. And don’t forget Lord of the Rings — how about Mordor (North Island) and The Shire (South Island)? Clearly Auckland is Hell’s Gate.

Guy Rundle responds: I’m tempted by “Mordor and the shire”, and “NSEW and the other one”, but in the end I think it’s got to be Wayne for “Choise! Eh!” — on the grounds that it evokes both Anglo-NZ and sounds like a haka. Thanks to all participants for a strong field.

Rudd’s stimulus:

Jan Howard writes: Re. “ATO stuff-up could pull $22 out of your stimulus” (Friday, item 1). Many Australian low-income earners don’t even qualify for the $900 bonus. I earned about $20,000 taxable income last year as a self-employed bookkeeper in Cooktown. My nominal tax of $1300 was offset by tax rebates, including a remote zone allowance, so I did not pay any income tax. I did play GST and fuel excise, but these taxes don’t count.

I lodged my tax return last August. If I had waited until March, I would have claimed less business expenses, paid $1 tax and qualified for the whole $900 bonus. But I was too punctual. I get zilch. I wrote to Kevin Rudd, Wayne Swan, Julia Gillard and Senator Jan McLucas about this matter. None of them bothered to respond. Many small business operators and workers in remote, expensive areas of Australia will not get the $900 bonus.

People on $80,000 get a $900 hand-out, yet lots of people on genuine low incomes get nothing. So much for assisting “those doing it toughest” in Australia.

How to eliminate people smuggling:

David Gothard writes: Re. “Our $18m bid to keep asylum seekers in Indonesia” (Friday, item 2). Step One. Legislate to make it a criminal offence to arrive in Australia other then through an approved Port of Entry with correct documents. Penalty maximum five tears imprisonment.

Step Two. First question on the application for asylum…”Have you been found guilty of an offence under Australian Law with a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment?” Those who answer “yes” (or are found to have been convicted) are not eligible for any consideration for entry to Australia and will have their application automatically rejected.

Means they are defeating their own attempts to gain entry to Australia and their attempts to gain entry through smuggling effectively defeat their attempts. They can then be deported immediately.

Barack Obama:

Zachary King writes: Re. “Obama and Brown: a not so special relationship” (Friday, item 15). Seriously, that was the most petulant article I have read in Crikey in a long, long time — and I read all the grudge matches. Is Karyn McDermott a real person, or just some sort of computer program that repackages the tired old regurgitations of the Republican Party? Obama eats arugula (the horror, the horror), has a half-brother in Kenya (the shifty bastard), never had a real job (which is blatantly untrue, but nevertheless sounds perfect for a politician) and is “making enemies of our friends’” How is he doing that exactly? By giving non appropriate gifts?

Sweet merciful Jesus can we just let this go already? Who gives a flying rat’s turd if the DVD region was not correct for the UK? Like the prime minister has so much bloody time on his hands he can just sit around and watch DVDs all weekend. The only world leader with that type schedule was Bush. Then McDermott takes the Obama administration to task for talking to those leaders who McDermott doesn’t judge in her esteemed opinion to be “friends of Western Civilization”.

McDermott quoted Churchill to justify the petulant stance of the Bush administration, but why not try his “it is better to jaw-jaw than war-war”? Far more appropriate. Come on Crikey, I respect that you are trying to be fair and balanced but there must be something better than this available, surely.

Alan Kennedy writes: Fresh from her breathless reporting on the Right Wing Republican funded “grass roots” tea bagging of America, Karyn McDermott now ventures into a critique of Obama’s presidency especially foreign policy. Karyn please find a way of getting your television off the Fox network so you can get a bit of perspective.

The Brown gift is old news and god Michele groping the Queen? Look at the picture they have their arms around each other. And really the Queen is just a person, something a forelock tugger like you might find hard to grapple with. If Michele wants to give her a hug then she should do so.

And gee Obama has decided to engage with the people who don’t like the US instead of standing up at lecterns shouting out idiotic slogans like “axis of evil” and “war on terror”. Just passing off the rantings of Fox as your own thoughts does you no good at all.

And Crikey is this really the best you can get from the US? I am sure there are any number of unemployed bloggers who could cobble together the highlights of cable news in a more erudite fashion.

Ray D’Cruz writes: It’s not clear why Crikey continues to publish the rantings of Karyn McDermott. McDermott outs her own bitterness when declaring that Obama, former social worker, lawyer and university lecturer never had a “real job” before joining the Illinois Senate. She then goes on to make a series of assertions about world leaders and their relationship with Obama based on an anonymous state department official, gift-giving practices and the opinion of another journalist.

If I want to read such opinionated and hysterical drivel I will subscribe to The Australian. Crikey cannot decry the standard of Australian journalism on one hand while letting through such howlers on the other. Lift your game.

Mingus Drake writes: Started reading Karyn McDermott’s article with high hopes, expecting some interesting insights into the development of the new relationship between the leaders of both countries. What a shame the whole thing was nothing but right wing drivel, and basically unreadable. The suggestion that Britain have been “shrugged off” in favour of Castro et al, seemingly based on nothing more than Obama having met with the men — it’s called diplomacy — is utterly ridiculous, likewise the entire article.

I expect more from Crikey, at the least a checking of facts — the IPod which Obama gifted the Queen contained not his speeches, but images from her trip to the USA in 2007.

Mikey Hughes writes: I read with some interest McDermott’s invective spray at the Obama administration for their supposed undiplomatic treatment of Gordon Brown. Apparently 25 DVDs was a horridly unthoughtful gift because they were coded for the US and not the UK. What, so Number 10 doesn’t have access to a multi region player? They’ve only been around since well nearly last millennium.

I do however take some umbrage with the fact that either due to an error on her part, or Crikey‘s, the standard disclaimer of loyalties was not mentioned. This would be I assume the same McDermott who worked for the Howard administration in Oz and the McCain campaign in the states yes?

Surely such past loyalties need to be disclosed when a rep of one side of the right left divide has a crack at the other. Come on Crikey, you’re better than that.

Crikey: Karyn’s story on Friday should have included in her by-line: “Karyn McDermott worked for the former Howard government and for the Republican Party 2001-2008.” The omission was our fault, not Karen’s.

Rich to be slugged in Robin Hood budget:

John Goldbaum writes: Re. “Budget countdown: Auslink infrastructure planning fail” (Friday, item 9).

Robin’ Rudd, Robin’ Rudd, red ink through the books
Robin’ Rudd, Robin’ Rudd, with his childish looks
Feared by the rich, loved by the poor
Robin’ Rudd, Robin’ Rudd, Robin’ Rudd

With Lindsay Tanner and Wayne Swan he leaned to cook the books,
He did the deeds the others wouldn’t do.
He captured all the money that the evil rich folk took,
But put our credit rating in the poo

Robin’ Rudd, Robin’ Rudd, red ink through the books
Robin’ Rudd, Robin’ Rudd, with his childish looks
Feared by the rich, loved by the poor
Robin’ Rudd, Robin’ Rudd, Robin’ Rudd

The glory days of Howard:

Sean Hosking writes: Re. “Labor’s GFC: The hare, the tortoise and Father Christmas” (23 April, item 15). Is Rowen Cross the lawyer “practising” in private equity, hedge funds and the banking industries looking for a new career or has he just had a bit of spare time on his hands lately. There was something genuinely touching about his wistful desire for a return to the pre-Rudd “glory days of the nation”, when predatory private equity roamed the world freely, banks squandered real money on triple A credit rated junk, and money market bus boys played dress ups as cowboy capitalists.

And there at the gate, while the party raged on were Howard and Costello, reassuring paternal figures —fiscally austere, soundly prudential, hardline and strict progenitors of an economic wonderland. Ah, the “nostalgia” for those times…

And now that the party’s over, in the midst of the greatest economic downturn since the depression, Rowan reckons what we’ll all be soon craving is a touch of Costello style fiscal austerity — that is the universal economic, social, cultural, spiritual (you name it) panacea and totem of advanced human civilisation that is the budget surplus. One more time for the gipper Peter!

I’m not so sure he’s your man Rowen. There’s now a broadening consensus that the Howard and Costello years were the most prolifigate in Australian History. Cashed up with the windfall proceeds of a soaring global economic environment and Chinese resources boom, Howard and Costello managed to squander most of that money on political motivated pork barrelling, and middle class welfare that will take many years, billions of dollars and enormous political capital to wean the Australian people off.

Their budget surplus’s at 1% of GDP, and negligible infrastructure investment was the equivalent of a billionaire squirreling away a few million here and there while his house crumbled around him. The poor economic management of that era is why Rudd has a limited capacity to respond to the current crisis and why, yes, dread, horror, the budget is going to go into a massive deficit.


Dave Liberts writes: VB would have a bunch more credibility about its work with and financial contribution to Legacy if it was not running its opportunistic television ads and seeking to tie itself to the emotions of Anzac Day so extraordinarily desperately. I for one am not in the slightest bit convinced by Paul Donaldson’s letter to Crikey (Friday, comments).

If, as he claims, the campaign is not about selling so much as one extra case of VB, why is VB running so much advertising in prime time in its own name? If it’s all about fundraising for service organisations, why not just shout them the advertising campaign?

I’m happily boycotting VB as a result of this (not hard given it wasn’t a beer I drink regularly anyway) but I will make sure I do chuck a few bob at Legacy and other returned services organisations when the chance arises.

Guy Rundle:

The SMH’s Nick O’Malley writes: Re. “Rundle’s Friday drive-bys: terrorist/freedom fighters, right decline, renaming New Zealand” (Friday, item 22). I suggest you sack Guy Rundle and publish something interesting. At the very least you should stop the sanctimonious press-bashing.

Climate change cage match (now with its own blog):

Emeritus Professor Ian Lowe, School of Science, Griffith University, writes: Re. “Review: Ian Plimer’s Heaven and Earth” (Friday, item 17). I have debated climate change in public with Ian Plimer on two occasions. His position is a mixture of geological science which is sound but essentially irrelevant to the present debate, combined with misrepresentation of recent climate science. His book is being applauded by the usual suspects, desperate for some pseudo-scientific justification for their denial of the harsh reality: the risk of dangerous human interference to the Earth’s climate system is now so great that we need an urgent and concerted global response.

Those still in denial are essentially saying that maintaining the growth of polluting industries is more important to them than the survival of civilisation. While Australia only accounts for about 1.4 per cent of global greenhouse pollution, we have to be part of the global solution. As one recent reputable study found that getting 25 per cent of our electricity from a mix of renewables would cost the average household about $1.25 a week, there is no economic reason for delay.

Indeed, the number of new jobs in a future green economy is at least a factor of ten greater than the total current employment in the coal industry. So a concerted response would be good for the Australian workforce as well as being a responsible approach to an urgent environmental problem.

Geoff Russell writes: I don’t mind Plimer thinking humans can’t influence the climate and I certainly don’t mind him writing a book about it. But I get really annoyed when he says things which are demonstrably false and which he should realise are demonstrably false. For example, from Friday’s piece by Barry Brook: Plimer: “Its [climate science’s] triumph is computer models unrelated to observations in nature.”

The truth: When, for example, James Hansen first began working in the climate area, in the 1970s, he spent the first few years putting together the best set of historical temperature observations he could find (for details, see Thin Ice by Mark Bowen). What does Plimer say about the data collected in ice cores up to 2 miles long or the cores collected at great personal danger from some of the highest mountains on the planet?

I could fill pages with this, and others can fill books. Careful observations on land, in the oceans and via satellites are at the core of good modelling and if Plimer thinks otherwise he is either deliberately ignorant or fundamentally dishonest.