Della Bosca and NSW:

David Havyatt writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. Your leader writer has joined the chorus of those seaming to believe there ever was some mechanism to “remove” a Government like the current NSW one. There never has been. The problem we face is not so much to do with fixed terms but the lunacy of making those terms four years — a lunacy some wish to inflict on us for our national parliament as well.

Annual parliamentary election remains the only one of the Chartists six demands not to be achieved. The objection to it usually is that Government “could never get anything done”, which is code for governments have to act in a cynical cycle of promising one thing, spending the first half of a term doing something completely different, then sucking up with truckloads of cash or extra policeman. We need to treat the electorate with more respect or just give up and settle on some cosy dictatorship of the media and business interests.

Meanwhile Bernard Keane (“Della-gate: since when were ‘poor personal decisions’ a reason to quit politics?“. yesterday, item 1) is wrong to say the departure of Bob Carr simply demonstrated how bereft of talent the ALP is, the correct description is how bereft of talent the NSW Right is. An excellent candidate in John Watkins was available but unsuitable to the muck of the NSW Right that passes as a political grouping but is little more than an upmarket club of patronage and entitlement.

Keane however correctly notes the poor people of NSW are only offered as an alternative Barry O’Farrell, who increasingly presents as Peter Debnam with clothes on.

John Taylor writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 7). OK. Let’s tie up yesterday’s editorial and the final item in your “Tips and rumours”. Firstly, everyone in NSW probably agrees with you that we can’t wait another 19 months to be rid of this incompetent government. But then, as Bernard tells us, there is no way, constitutionally to ditch them, other than them losing a vote of no confidence in the Legislative Assembly; and Bernard ‘s suggestion of bringing on such a vote and abstaining to lose it, won’t happen.

Which brings us to your tip from June, which would now seem to be about Della. If you’re right and the vengeful woman at the centre of yesterday’s headlines is, in fact, “a stripper”, I have another take on the whole subject.

If Della has gone from the group “politician with serial killer wife”, to “politician punching above his weight with stripper”, the Labor party should immediately find him a safe seat, anywhere and by any means, to get him onto the Assembly, anoint him as Leader and let him rip. March 2011 — he would bolt it in.

Zachary King writes: Re. “Richard Farmer’s political bite-sized meaty chunks” (yesterday, item 14). OK, OK, time out here, time out. Now I love a good political conspiracy as much as the next tinfoil hat wearing bloke, but this has really got me stumped.

Why exactly is the article about Ricky Ponting wanting to retain his position and the captaincy included in the Richard Farmer’s Rees timeline of sniping (August 26th)? Is this a breaking exclusive that the Punter will retire and enter state politics with a shocking defection from Tasmania to NSW? Or is it an allusion to another captain who leads a rubbish team and failed dismally?

What does it all mean? Help us Obi-Wan.

Sharon Hutchings writes: It is inconceivable that the NSW Labor Government could even consider for a nanosecond scratching the backs of the gun-totin’ thrill-kill Shooters Party, to allow the hunting of feral animals in our treasured national parks and the creation of a game park shooting gallery in NSW as covered by Richard Farmer.

Not only would this be monolithic step back into the dark ages, it will send a message to peace-loving tourists around the world that Australia is the place to go for those seeking blood-thirsty sick entertainment.

Let us hope that moral courage and sanity prevail to prevent the NSW Labor Party from shooting itself, and the whole country, in the foot!

Denise Marcos writes: My philosophy is to assume the worst of our major party politicians, state and federal. Such cynicism prevents disappointment and occasionally offers a pleasant surprise. It’s a tack I firmly adopted once domiciled in Queensland.

Brendan Nelson’s disorder:

Bruce Graham writes: Re. “Rundle: Getting personal when it comes to disorders” (yesterday, item 3). It is unlikely that any successful party politician has a personality disorder (PD) per se. A generic characteristic being a lack of insight ( or interest) in one’s effect on others. This is traditionally reflected in a lack of long term friendships, and an unstable personal life. If you are looking for successful people who also have a PD, look for those who have left a trail of bitter former friends or partners in their wake.

Turnbull, of course, has enemies, but no enemies spring to mind who were ever genuinely personal friends. There are a few actors famous actors (such as Peter Sellers) who seemed to have personality disorders, and the odd dictator (Stalin, for instance) but most of the truly nasty people of the world have quite ordered personalities.

Neurosis, however are a different story.

Kevin McCready writes: Guy Rundle’s on the couch with Brendan Nelson was spot on, but Guy veers towards the loony anti-psychiatry fringe. The sooner we recognise that Bipolar, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Schizophrenia and other conditions have an inescapable genetic link, the sooner we build a more accepting society.

Don Morton writes: Would it be correct do you think to suppose that Brendan suffers from post traumatic embitterment syndrome. Or is that why company directors get such large retirement/retrenchment compensation when they have to move on.

Broadcast politics:

Michael James writes: Re. “Broadcast politics part 2: after the interview” (yesterday, item 10). I am grateful for Bernard Keane’s analysis because I was beginning to worry that it was just me passing through a terrible phase of ennui, a tiredness with all current affairs. It may well be the endless spin and numbing repetition (BK is correct again, Penny Wong wins this hands down) but I am building up a visceral dislike of some of these broadcasts.

Q&A is a waste of Tony Jones. Insiders is becoming superfluous — aren’t there better quality right-wingers out there? Is this the best debate Australia can muster? It has got to mean something when I only look forward to The Lehrer News Hour, France2 Journal, The Daily Show and — gawdhelpus — Letterman! (dross, but loved last week’s interview with Nuclear Winter aka Anna Wintour?).

Now I have a terrible secret to admit. I am turning into Chauncey Gardiner with the remote. Most of these shows are set to be recorded automatically with my digital PVR and it kind of distorts “live” television in a way VCR never did. Not only does this allow fast-forwarding the tedious bits (or any with the Bolter., Piers A., Henders et al.) but, worse: my machine has a feature that allows a 1.3x speed in which the sound remains comprehensible (regrettably, higher speeds automatically kill the sound), even if it is like putting the pollies on helium.

It reduces a 60 minute broadcast to 40 minutes without missing anything and somehow makes it more tolerable. And if it really turns tedious there is a strange satisfaction from deleting the whole show from the machine! Somehow it is much more therapeutic than merely changing channels. Zap, take that Penny Wong! Ping, get lost Bolt. I admit it barely relieves darker intentions.

Dr Nelson or Dr Rundle, what is the diagnosis of my malaise?

Tim Holding:

Greg Angelo writes: Re. “Crikey Clarifier: how to do a Holding and survive on a freezing mountaintop” (yesterday, item 4). The arcane farce of Minister Holding’s bushwalking escapade has developed further improbable twists. Not only do we have an ex-Minister for Police and emergency services taking an ill-advised bushwalk in defiance of all rational bushwalking codes, we have highly secret thermal imaging surveillance equipment brought in and used at night, the presence of which was stupidly announced by the Victoria Police.

We then have a special helicopter ride to the Alfred Hospital and the subsequent utterances of Premier Brumby that Minister Holding had received the same treatment as any other lost hiker would have received.

Monty Python-would have been proud, “the lunatics are running the asylum”.

Bradfield and by-elections:

Neil Hunt writes: Re. “Bradfield will be a test for the Liberals, mark my words” (yesterday, item 12). While two of the three state by-elections this year may well have been caused by “greed-driven resignations”, the same cannot be said of Jim McGinty’s resignation which led to the Fremantle by-election.

Besides being won by the Greens, the interesting thing about the Fremantle by-election was that the Liberal Party did not stand a candidate.


Margaret Bozik writes: Re. “Survey puts Israel and Zionism under scrutiny” (yesterday, item 13). Methinks it is Antony Loewenstein that protests too much. There has never been any time in history when 100% of the Jewish community would have described themselves as Zionists and 80% doing so in Australia today is a remarkably high figure especially given the less than glowing media coverage and incredibly complex nature, history and reality of the Middle East today.

From a historical perspective there have always been Jewish detractors of the concept of a Jewish State – from the Yiddish-speaking Eastern European Jewish socialists who sought Jewish autonomy within Eastern Europe to assimilated Western European Jews who sought acceptance as German, British or French citizens. Then there are ultra-Orthodox Jews who believe that only the Messiah should re-establish Jewish rule in Israel.

I am willing to bet that a significant portion of the 10 per cent of respondents who did not answer the Zionist question were ultra Orthodox Jews who may be waiting for the Messiah to come but in the meantime are praying to God to keep safe their relatives and friends who are currently living in Israel. They may not call themselves Zionists but they care deeply and personally about the safety of their extended community!

And some respondents who said they were or were not a Zionist may have held identical views but had a completely different understanding of what the word “Zionist” means. Both Lowenstein and representatives of the organized Jewish community agree that there is no clear definition of what a Zionist is.

The survey throws up many fascinating issues about the Australian Jewish community, particularly in regards to the acceptance and participation of those who migrated from the former Soviet Union. But 20% of respondents not specifically identifying as a Zionist is not one of them.


Gavin Moodie writes: Re. “Uh oh. Could Australia be headed for negative growth?” (yesterday, item 2). Would Crikey please stop using that neologistic oxymoron “negative growth” and use instead the perfectly good English word: contraction.

Global warming:

Tamas Calderwood writes: Re. “Hottest winter ever: how Sprummer and Sprinter could change society” (yesterday, item 17). It sure has been a lovely winter but can we really extrapolate it out to predict a “Middle-Eastern style of living, where social activity is conducted at night”, changes in “consumption” and our “export markets”, crime-waves, arson and alcohol related violence, blah, blah, blah?

Well, I’ve done some analysis on the UAH satellite data since 1979 again. I looked at the average winter temperatures (June, July, August) for the Southern Hemisphere since 1979. Turns out we’ve seen about 0.18C of trend warming in winter over that period. Keep in mind the world cooled from 1945 until the mid 1970’s, so it’s really more like 0.18C of warming since 1945.

Australia certainly has changed in 64 years — triple the population, different crime patterns and the pubs shut later so we’ve definitely got more “social activity conducted at night”, although the booze doesn’t make it particularly Middle-Eastern.

Still, I’m just not sure home much of this was caused by the 0.18C of winter warming.