Kyle and Jackie 0:

Shirley Colless writes: Re. “Kyle and Jackie O’s live lie detector test goes very wrong” (Wednesday, item 3). Sadly, Crikey‘s prediction that 2DayFM will be flogged by the broadcasting authority with a shred of limp lettuce — while the station concerned basks in all the publicity (there is no bad publicity?) — will probably come true.

That Kyle Sandilands appears shocked by the reaction to the event rather than by his own handling of it should not surprise. But I understood that every talk back host has at his or her index finger a seven-second dump button, the purpose of which is to prevent the broadcasting of comment or statements that are offensive or could cause legal challenge.

A post-broadcast apology, such as it was, adds further insult to the injury caused.

Jenny Ejlak writes: The biggest irony about this whole sorry affair is that for two years the girl received no support or investigation into her assault, despite at least one parent knowing about it. It took public humiliation in front of a national audience and the subsequent media sensationalism for her to receive the assistance of counsellors and investigations by the Department of Community Services and the Police.

The statistics tell us that around a quarter of women in Australia are sexually assaulted or abused in some way by the time they reach adulthood, yet only a tiny proportion of these women receive assistance or police investigation of the crimes against them. Is this sort of public sensationalising of intensely personal trauma what it takes for victims to get the support they need?

David Griffin writes: But because I am not a lawyer, and have no idea whether what Kyle Jackie and the girls mother did on national radio was actually illegal under Australian law, here is an article from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Article 12

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his* privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his* honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

For Kyle and Jackie O, based on a history of taking advantage of people through these sorts of stunts, a revision of article 1 is in order:

Article 1

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

That means not hooking people up to lie detectors on air, not getting friends to give their alcoholic friends interventions on air and generally not taking advantage of people for the gratification of listeners or to improve ratings.

Gary Stowe writes: Recently posted a critical complaint on the 2Day FM blog site regarding the well publicised Kyle and Jackie O segment. Strangely, it was full of supportive contributions, and only supportive ones. Got an automatic return message to the effect that my text would be checked for “nasty” comments. My criticism, needless to say, has not appeared.

Paul Gilchrist writes: I agree with Jim Hart (yesterday, comments) about the Kyle and Jackie O disgrace. I was not going to comment on it because I am, literally, speechless. The only thing I would add is what has happened to the broadcast media? There are more and more new channels, with pay TV, digital TV and digital radio, but it feels like there is less and less worth watching or listening to. Why?

We are reduced to watching a cooking competition to see something that is not exploitative. There is the alternative of reading a book, which is fine, but sometime I would like to use my fancy radio and widescreen TV, so will somebody please make something worthwhile.

The only alternative seems to be the internet, where the consumer is more powerful and can make real choices about what to see and hear. Is there a future for broadcast media, or will Rudd’s National Broadband kill it off?

Sharon Thompson writes: I couldn’t agree more with Jim Hart’s comments. Unfortunately, what we watch and listen to says more about the audience than the broadcaster(s).

Pattie Tancred writes: Re. “First Dog on the Moon” (yesterday, item 7). OK, Crikey, I used to think you were just another news/commentary site with the occasional bit of revelatory brilliance dampened, and sometimes clogged, by lots of other stuff, much of it fluff and a lot of it dreary (the Manne/Henderson debates live on uncomfortably in the memory as sort of mental fishhooks to the eyeballs).

BUT, as host of First Dog (in a reversal of the natural order in which dogs often, or normally, host fleas, ticks and internal parasites too horrible to mention), you have in one stroke expunged this tendency to be mundane and struck gold.

I refer to the This-is-so-stupid-i-have-gone-blind-o-meter unveiled by First Dog yesterday. It is a notion of the purest genius. There should be one installed on the floor of every parliament and major city council chamber in Australia (and there are an awful lot of them, aren’t there, so whoever patents this will make a poultice).

All ministerial offices should be issued with one and every federal government department should have one installed on every floor, with DFAT and Defence getting one in every urinal as well.

Oh, hell, for the sake of the survival of civilization and civility, every pub and house in the country should have one, too.

Come to think of it, all babies born in Australia should have one micro-chipped into their brains. First Dog saves the world. Or at least the Antipodes.

Tony Fitzgerald:

Mike Crook writes: Re. “It makes for great headlines, but Fitzgerald’s outburst is over the top” (Wednesday, item 2). How Bernard Keane would have loved the mire of Qld ALP factional politics over the last twenty years. I remember with much sadness a broken and defeated Matt Foley saying “it’s all gone wrong”, at the time of announcing his retirement from politics. And, of course, it has all gone wrong and for reasons which Bernard himself pointed out.

Firstly the appointment of incompetent factional hacks as advisors has meant no government department has been able to work as it should and calls made to impose Quality Assurance certification on government departments have gone unheeded as that would have required oversight and justification for decisions. This throws into doubt the justification for any government decision.

Secondly, it so happened that some of those incompetent advisors went on to become equally incompetent MPs or Ministers, e.g. Gordon Nuttall (gaoled), Terry Mackenroth, Bill Darcy (gaoled), and the current Minister for Community Safety (bit Orwellian), Neil Roberts. These are all members of the infamous Labor Unity Faction, the smallest faction (15%) but because it is small numerically it attracts the opportunists who see it as the best way to get ahead.

This faction has no union support base but does have the balance of power and uses it quite cynically to keep the real nasties in power i.e. The Bill Ludwig directed, AWU (Labor Forum) faction. (40%). Here are the culture warriors who have a right wing cultural agenda that would make Genghis Khan proud. Featured prominently are Cameron Milner, ex state secretary, then via The Property Council to lobbyist. Mike Kaiser, forced to resign his seat as an MP over electoral fraud (its on the public record guys) and now chief of staff for Anna Bligh, was chief of staff for Morris Iemma and rumoured to be the main force behind the NSW privatization push.

Jim Elder also forced to resign his seat over electoral fraud, now runs lobbying company enhance and is one of the most powerful and influential person in Queensland. Stirling Hinchliffe, uranium and nuclear advocate and now Minister for Infrastructure. There are a host of others most of them wannabes like Paul Lucas, Minister for Health but these four seem to be the main players. Some examples of their agenda at work are the refusal of successive ALP governments to introduce abortion law reform in spite of it being a major policy platform plank and the embracing of Police Move on Powers, now used extensively against the homeless, despite it being against ALP policy.

Their push to privatize Government assets which return billions to the states budget every year, is incomprehensible to everyone except them. The attendance of George Pell as keynote speaker for last years AWU conference may be a pointer to their ideological direction.

So, come on up Bernard, and wallow in the mire.

Andreas Berg writes: I don’t think that Mr. Fitzgerald aims “to attack” Mr. Beattie. What would be a benefit of this for him? No, Mr. Fitzgerald is fighting again for the present and future of Queensland, where certain politicians and police officers tend to forget the lessons of Fitzgerald inquiry. Hopefully, the people of Queensland do not want to live once again in a corrupted “police state”.

Anne Henderson:

Nick Shimmin writes: Re. “Kevin Rudd, Depression and the pain of recollection” (yesterday, item 14). One has always liked to think that Anne Henderson was a voice of sanity in the Hendo household, but her contribution to Crikey yesterday really does suggest that she has been spending too much time with Gerard.

One or two minor points… What you like to call the “John Howard surplus” was actually the “Mining Boom surplus”. What Howard and Costello did with it was squander it. The massive government spending in the 1920s which you like to castigate was presided over by Stanley Bruce and the Nationalist Party, the conservative opposition to the ALP. This does in fact equate to the same squandering performed by Howard (the 21st century version involves tax cuts to the rich/Henderson constituency).

You conveniently omit to mention this until a passing mention at the end of your piece about a “conservative government” (coincidentally Bruce was the only incumbent Prime Minister before your beloved John to lose his seat while in office).

The magnificent logic of saying that criticism of the Premiers Plan equates to saying “Jack Lang was greater than Lenin” is a leap of historical fancy of which even David Irving would be proud. I look forward to Anne’s history of Australia in the 1920s, as it will sit comfortably alongside Keith Windschuttle’s “Fabrication of Aboriginal History” (and perhaps “Mutant Message Down Under”).

Rudd’s nuanced attempt to put the Premiers Plan into some perspective hardly succumbs under Anne’s typically ideological nit-picking and patronisation…

Ross Copeland writes: I assume Anne Henderson meant Douglas Copland, not Copeland, with her reference to an eminent Australian economist. If Anne is going to quote him she could at least get the name right, but no it is “Copeland” three times in her piece. I have a personal interest in getting the spelling of this name correct.

Meat and organic veg:

Sharon Hutchings writes: Re. “Does red meat really make you smarter?” (Yesterday, item 17). Thanks to Rosemary Stanton for exposing the boring old spin and untruths that the MLA continues to wheel out to sell its products.

As a long-term vegetarian with a couple of very healthy, energetic, smart children who have never eaten meat or fish, the red meat ads irritate (in the same way those bargain discount store ads do) more than offend me.

I wonder why the MLA can’t find a credible well-known nutritionist or medical expert to do their spruiking, instead of a cattle farming actor? Why don’t any of the expert nutrition or government health organisations state that we need red meat for good health?

And if red meat is as natural for us as the MLA suggests, why is there such a high risk to our health associated with eating or handling raw or undercooked meat (E.coli, Listeria, Salmonella, Campylobacter etc.)?

Greg Samuelson writes: A couple of interesting issues were raised in Rosemary Stanton’s article. Stanton asks: “It’s true that the human brain has grown much faster than that of other animals over the last 2 million years, but if that were due to carnivorous habits, why aren’t the super cats ruling the world?”

The answer might be in the paws. You can’t build stuff with them. The only exception to this universal principle was Skippy, and he ate grass (care to explain that, Meat and Livestock Australia?!) Sam Neill frolicking around with a hapless orang-utan while extolling the virtues of eating red meat also raises the issue of where to draw the line.

Sam Neill needs to gaze into the make-up mirror and start asking himself some hard questions. Like how he could be using his wealth and profile to help ensure orang-utans can continue to eat fruit in their native habitat. That’d really make them happy.

Animal Liberation SA’s Geoff Russell writes: Re. “Richard Farmer’s political bite-sized meaty chunks” (yesterday, item 12). Why would Richard Farmer think that a study showing organic veggies aren’t any better than ordinary veggies was a reason to eat a Big Mac? This is a bit like finding out that a Toyota Prius doesn’t have much less greenhouse impact than a Hyundai Getz and rushing out to buy 3.6 tonnes of Turbo Charged Toyota Kruger.

Obviously, as Rosemary Stanton’s article implied (“Does red meat really make you smarter?”), Richard’s prior consumption of Big Macs hasn’t given him a mental edge.

Jackie French writes: Richard Farmer’s article on organic food is not news. Nor new. Studies since the 1960’s have shown that a tomato grown in cold Hobart will have fewer nutrients than one grown in Darwin, no matter how it was grown. You buy organic for the residues it doesn’t have. Also taste.

Health reform:

Martin Gordon writes: Re. “Medicare De-Select: does allowing an “opt out” mean the end of Medicare?” (Yesterday, item 15). The coverage given over to federal Labor’s alleged health reforms has correctly identified the large additional cost (presumably higher taxes), but ignored the fact that it is a financial takeover, not a service takeover.

There is no need for a referendum at all; the answer is just add money, which can be done now such as for dentistry. If Rudd considers it is only necessary to consult with health providers, it would seem that patients matter very little. Why does this sound familiar?

Perhaps this whole health debate is more “Ruddspin”, which like Climate Change is more about political posturing than results, words not actions, etc etc.

Coles:

David Imber writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 8). I refute the high handed comment in that discussion about stock levels at Coles is whinging, unimportant or “just common sense”.

Coles is one of Australia’s largest retail brands and is half way through a major financial turn around. If it can’t stock stores properly in peak periods it loses sales and risks losing customers. If customers don’t return again Wesfarmers won’t succeed in its mission to grow market share and shareholder value. Anyone who’s worked in retail would know how much it costs to get a customer through the door and how easy it is to lose a customer to the competition. This is especially the case in places like Balaclava, Melbourne, where there is a Coles and Safeway side by side.

Retail in Australia is big business and I have enjoyed articles in Crikey that have covered this area over many years. If anon from St Ives doesn’t realise that anecdotes from the shop floor can actually be important insights into how a major corporation is running then maybe the example of Qantas is instructive.

Crikey frequent flyers bagged Qantas all last year with real life examples of poor service while Qantas denied there were problems.Now we have a major marketing campaign from Qantas aimed squarely at winning back the sort of flyers who probably subscribe to Crikey and an admission that they lost valuable brand equity in 2008.

I hope the editorial staff at Crikey see the importance of reader insights and continue to commission stories that cover the retail and other customer facing sectors.

Cheating:

Steven McKiernan writes: Re. “Crikey clarifier: how do full polyurethane swimsuits work?” (Yesterday, item 20). I would like to hear Lachlan Thompson’s views on the new UCI rules relating to time trial bikes, and the past removal of the superman position adopted by Graeme Obree, which again allowed the athlete to reach their personal potential, but the resulting bike bore very little resemblance to the traditional two triangle bicycle frame.

The removal of this technical improvement resulted in the world time trial records being set with the banned technology being erased by the books.

Does Lachlan hold a perspective on this with regard to the swimming records?

Religion:

Jason Ives writes: I think Alex Fishburn (yesterday, comments) is right to point out that sectarian movements do not have a monopoly on senseless brutality. However, I have to disagree with his assertion that Tony Abbot has come up with “proof” (non-religious v religious missionaries working in the “poorest and most desperate parts of the world”) that religion is a deciding motivating factor in compassionate action.

Irrespective of whether or not non-religious organisations and individuals carry out work in the poorest and most desperate parts of the world, I’ve yet to see any examples where anyone does it out of pure altruism. In the case of religious organisations, the earnest desire to spread the word to disbelievers is a significant motivating factor.

There are plenty of Government, NGO, trade-union, etc organisations that also carry out development work in less developed places — and again, each has a reason beyond the simple desire to help the needy.

This isn’t to say that none of these organisations perform any good in the world, rather that to claim that religious organisations are inherently more compassionate than the non-religious is little more than sectarian spin.

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Peter Fray

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