The brothers Fitzgibbon:

Alan Kennedy writes: Re. “The brothers Fitzgibbon: the ALP writ small” (Friday, item 1). As a NIB member I tried for sometime to find out what prompted the proposal to demutualise. The hotline was fruitless just call centre people trying to mouth generalities written for them. If you got them off script you were told they couldn’t answer the question Mine was simple where is the “No” case? It was impossible to find out how to mount a challenge to demutualising.

As I suspected the only beneficiaries were the directors recommending the deal. They have since been helping themselves to the members’ money. As your figures on the obscene rise in the salary of Mark Fitzgibbon demonstrate the members are the last to get any consideration although our annual fee has just risen 7 per cent. Nice to see brother Mark thought he could use NIB members’ money to drop largesse on his brother.

This brazen trough snuffling seems to be a family problem Joel just can’t understand what he has done wrong and runs the Judas defence. That meeting in the minister’s office with his staff in attendance didn’t ring any bells? It shows how little Joel understood about the responsibilities of public office… Of course there was a precedent; PM Howard had a meting in his office with brother Stan when National Textiles went belly up. They concocted a smelly deal over workers’ entitlements so perhaps Joel thought he was just following the play book.

He should have gone after the Lieu revelations which if they did nothing else showed he was a dope who should never have been near public office. He should lose his pre-selection not just a ministry. As one who voted for this mob, I am having second thoughts when I see this and the other little smelly deal around used car dealers and the Treasurer’s nod and wink to a mate seeking government money.

Don’t any of these people understand that in the real world people find this sort of seemingly behaviour abhorrent? I assume your editorial was laced with irony. If not, then I think maybe you still believe in the tooth fairy.

Michael James writes: Although I suppose the whole thing will eventually blow over and have little ultimate political impact, the Fitzgibbon sacking is wrong on all counts that I can think of.

First, it is giving importance to trivia and more weighting to these trivial oversights than the sins of Downer, Ruddock, Andrews et al. Especially given that Rudd earned his parliamentary chops by relentlessly pursuing Downer on AWB. Apparently now he cannot distinguish those important issues from the trivia involved here.

Second, it is giving a totally undeserved “victory” to the military bastards who hate civilian political masters (no matter which party or epoch). This is extraordinarily bad policy and might actually have some worse sequel in the future because these types will now feel emboldened (and with a $100 billion hardware budget in play!).

Third, it has rewarded the opposition’s worst tendencies — to fight on the most minor and dirtiest grounds, and to allow this to take more prominence than important matters of state and policy. (The reaction of Turnbull and Bishop is unbearably off-putting except to rusted on Liberals.)

Fourth, Rudd has given license to the opposition and media to pursue and escalate the whole morality and holier-than-thou game; witness within hours the personal and absurd attacks on Rudd himself over the car. Rudd has now set up further falls from grace by lowering the bar so much. None of this reflects well on anyone, not Rudd who does not look Prime Ministerial (imagine how Keating would have swatted away this nonsense in the way it deserved).

He does not look decisive. He looks petty, wowserish and all about populist calculation and damage control.  Not Turnbull whom some might have expected better but are regularly having their worst fears confirmed — allowing himself to be dragged down to the gutter by the dregs of his own party Not the media for the absurd beat-up and lack of perspective.

Shirley Colless writes: Given the continued problems that a string of failed Ministers of Defence, both conservative and socialist, have had with the Defence Department over the past twenty years, I welcome the Prime Minister’s decision to appoint Senator John Faulkner as the new Minister. Senator Faulkner has shown over many years that he does not gladly suffer fools, obstructionists or the Colonel Blimps or Sergeant Bilkos of the civil and military services.

Faced with Senator Faulkner, Sir Humphrey would not have stood a chance. It seems obvious to me that it was Joel Fitzgibbon’s conviction that the Augean stables of Defence needed a thorough cleanout that fuelled the concerted attack on him. It is to the shame of the Opposition that its members failed to acknowledge, particularly in the light of the failure of a string of LNP Ministers of Defence, that such a cleanout was necessary.

The men and women of the Australian armed services on the front line, whether in Afghanistan or East Timor or wherever and whenever they are now or will be deployed, deserve and desperately need an efficient and effective backroom operation.

Colonel Blimps and Sergeant Bilkos should have no place in today’s Australian armed services.

The Chaser:

Niall Clugston writes: Re. “Making a wish can spoil a dying child … with love” (Friday, item 3). Sorry, I don’t get it. Sure, making jokes about dying kids is insensitive. But so is making jokes about the September 11 terrorist attack, the death of Princess Diana, child sexual abuse (alleged or proven) etc, etc. But there wasn’t such an outcry about previous skits.

Obviously all the other victims deserved it. Or their plight just doesn’t press the right button for sanctimonious sentimentality.

Michael Durrant writes: Have just watched the first two episodes of the latest series. The dying children segment is no worse than the rest … I did not manage a smile during either episode. However, I noticed a sketch that asked where “Mexican swine flu” had come from … and showed a picture of Sol Trujillo.

That old incorrect joke about Sol being Mexican, again! I expect bad taste … but I expect it to be accurate!

Paul Gilchrist writes: I am sure Keith Thomas (Friday, comments) is not heartless, but I am afraid he demonstrates the attitude in some circles that ideology trumps human beings. Let’s do the “hard stuff” he says, and attend meetings, join up with our comrades and picket polluters, stop the pollution that causes illness. This will “promote health and well being” more efficiently than giving in to simple emotion and wasting our time comforting the victims.

In my opinion, the facts are otherwise. Individual people matter. They are not just cogs in the collective to be helped only if it is economically efficient. And by the way, most of the illnesses in the children’s ward are not caused by polluting capitalists, they are just part of life, as are the “sympathy, generosity and compassion” Keith seems to undervalue.

In the history of the world, individuals have always trumped the collective.

The ALP’s origins:

Noel Muller writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (Friday, item 8). Crikey published:

Oh no! Somebody should tell Kevin Rudd and his speechwriters that the Labor Party was not formed in Queensland, as he said to the ACTU Congress this week, but in NSW. Shouldn’t he know this?

The Australian Labour Party was founded in 1891 in Barcaldine, Queensland, by a mob of errant Shearers whom reckoned they were not getting a fair deal on their “Per Head Price” for shearing Sheep.

The Balmain Labour Party was formed upon a basis of similar footings but different enough not to be the same party, neither were they National. Later, they saw the light and merged with the “Greater Party”.

They were formed in the same year (1891 but were in no way related) and they were not the beginnings of what we now know as the ALP, I will take it under advisement but I am sticking by Barcaldine, it is as I was taught in History at School and what I have followed along life’s road ever since.

An anonymous tipster writes: The Labor Party was formed in QLD in Barcaldine by striking shearers (remember the Tree of Knowledge!!!) and expanded to other states from there. Turmoil in Conservative ranks in Queensland after the 1899 State elections saw the commissioning of the world’s first Labor Government — in Queensland — led by Anderson Dawson.

The Conservatives reunited within a week, and the Dawson Government was defeated on the floor of the House So Rudd is right of course.

Aboriginal housing:

Graham Ring, National Indigenous Times, writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (Friday, item 8). Crikey published:

According to the majority of Aborigines (90%) and Aboriginal organisations in Alice Springs who support Minister Macklin in her battle with Tangentyere over town camp leases and the mismanagement of town camps, the Council in the last financial year received funding of over $25 Million to manage 200 homes.

That’s $125,000 per house (to manage not build); or $21,000 per person (population 1200 persons); or over 10 years, a million dollars per house to manage! And they still live in poverty! Enough is enough — act now Minister.

If only Tangentyere Council did receive $125,000 per house to maintain their stock they would be able to make a dint in the years of criminal neglect by governments of all political persuasions. Sadly the actual figure is $2,200 per house per year.

The answer to the problem at Tangentyere may well be to explore community housing partnership models between Tangentyere and agencies who have demonstrated expertise in this field. But Minister Macklin appears to be pursuing a narrow political agenda rather than genuinely searching for innovative solutions.

Ned Kelly:

Trevor Pike writes: Re. “Lessons in history: What we can learn from… bushrangers” (4 June, item 20). Mike Stuchbery’s comments on Ned Kelly reveal both his ignorance and bias. Ned Kelly had to become a man at the age of thirteen at the untimely death of his father. With his mother, sisters and younger brothers facing starvation he stole and butchered a calf to feed his family. The result was his youthful teenage years in gaol.

On release he was arrested, bashed senseless by brutal thugs in police uniforms, falsely charged with stealing a horse, (in reality it was stolen by Wild Wright), and unjustly gaoled for more years. On release, in response to the lecherous s-xual attack on his 14 year old sister, by a drunken serial offending police officer, both Ned and his mother were charged with attempted murder of that police officer.

In reality defending his sister from s-xual attack by a criminal employed in the service of the British crown, his mother hit the criminal police officer over the head with coal shovel and was charged with attempted murder. With a baby at breast she was thrown into a cold nineteenth century colonial goal. Ned was also charged with attempted murder, and in the face of the corrupt administration of “justice” in the Victorian colony had no choice but to try to defend his right to freedom and life.

The police assassins pursuing him boasted that they would kill him. Some of them suffered instant karma as a result. He referred to himself as a freeborn “native man”, he was not interested in an Irish republic as claimed by Stuchbery. He wanted a republic for freeborn native Australians, not colonial vassals.

Chk chk boom:

Guy Rundle writes: If Dave Long (4 June, comments) is going to give me a kicking re the decay of Detroit, he better put on some boots first.

  1. Yes, there’s an ice hotel in Kiruna, Sweden; there is now also one in northern Finland.
  2. “Laplanders” wouldn’t inform me of that fact; “Lapplanders” might, if they hadn’t been called “Sami” by all and sundry for the last 30 years.
  3. Yeah, Baltimore and other cities are in pretty bad shape — but none are as striking in their ruination as Detroit.
  4. I don’t doubt that there’s a lot of ruined East European and Russian cities, but I wasn’t defending torpid Sovietism, but western social democracy.
  5. Seoul may have been once ruined — it rose again using a mix of state and corporate investment which, like the social democracies, saw the social base as something worth investing in. From the Hyundai for example, getting started on the world market just as GM etc were falling away from it.

Funny old world.

The Red Highway:

James Jeffrey, The Australian, writes: Re. “Nicolas Rothwell, The Red Highway launch and ‘implausible nonsense’” (The Northern Myth, 4 June). I was interested to see your correspondent Bob Gosford using his Crikey blog to tip a bucket on Nicolas Rothwell’s book The Red Highway, despite the minor obstacle of never having read the book. Gosford strides on undaunted, using Peter Cochrane’s review cum hunting expedition that appeared in the Australian Literary Review.

I’ve read Rothwell’s book and Cochrane’s piece, and often found myself wondering if Cochrane had read the same book. Gosford insists “Cochrane’s review is an exemplar of its type — fair but unstintingly and cruelly accurate”.

But how can you know it’s “unstintingly and cruelly accurate” when you haven’t even read the book, Bob? And that’s not a rhetorical question; I’m genuinely curious.

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

John Watt writes: Re. “Plimer’s Heaven and Earth: a conservative coup?” (20 April, item 3). Not to sure where you guys stand on the ETS debate but I got the impression from Andrew Dodd’s April comment that anyone who wanted to see the Plimer book was a conservative and somewhat inferior to your well-informed selves.

The task that the supporters of the AGW theory have as yet left undone is the explanation in terms of how more atmospheric CO2 causes climate change/global warming, using basic laws of physics /chemistry. I have sought this explanation from Liberals, ALP, Greens, ABC, WWF, Griffith Uni, BoM etc. All of these opinion makers/scientists decline my request. A reasonable conclusion on my part is that they do not have such an explanation and are therefore making/debating/supporting ETS policy that is largely based on IPCC statistical hypothesizing. A pretty sad state of affairs! Or perhaps it is a script for a Monty Python revival!

So my request for you guys is to find out why such an explanation is not available and therefore why we are in the risky business of developing policy of the basis of mathematical hypothesis rather than scientifically based fact.