Focus and politics:

Martin Gordon writes: Re. “Politics in the 24/7 media cycle: burning through talent” (yesterday, item 10). Parties need to be disciplined when in government or opposition and Tony Abbott has correctly identified some of the Oppositions woes as being part of the political cycle.

The fact that a few opposition MP’s seem to have no political nous at all is becoming obvious with emission trading. The lack of focus on government ineptitude in managing the economy (largely electioneering stunts), the environment, making a hash (and political stunt) on emissions, is doing this country no service. Get focused guys!

The illusory economic recovery, disguises the fact that workforce participation has fallen, unemployment and underemployment has risen, that hours worked and incomes have retreated, higher government debt and debt servicing will be with us, with higher interest rates more people will become homeless. So the new Centrelink officers to help the current (and to be homeless) will be kept really busy.

The fact is the government is doing a bad job and many problems are brewing, just that there is no focus on them!

Murdoch and news:

Les Heimann writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. Crikey‘s editorial does point to a number of quite basic issues:

  • Should the internet remain the last bastion of the absolute free?
  • Gathering news actually costs — who pays for it?

We do not have a right to know without compensating those who would tell us. If I decide to go forth and find out — that will most likely cost me and I now have information and that’s a saleable product that I will put a price on and you — if you want to know — will pay my price.

If I’m competing with others then the “best” news, or the best price usually wins. That’s also fine. If others wish to comment on my news and provide their comments free to anyone that’s also fine. If I use the internet as a news distributor that’s my business and if I charge or don’t charge that’s my decision.

Simply put — long live freedom and no you cannot ultimately get free news. So there.

Moira Smith writes: Murdoch is a very very rich man, and presumably most of his waking (or even dreaming) thoughts relate to how he can become even richer.

All his comments about news and the availability of it should be viewed with this in mind. Personally I think there are other ways you could view the spread of information among the human race. People deserve credit for their intellectual property — true — there’s a basic conflict here with the propensity to share news far and wide (as humans have presumably done to the best of their ability from the year dot, unless they’re actively engaged in suppression of information).

Interesting discussion.

Qantas:

David Epstein, Group Executive Government and Corporate Affairs at Qantas, writes: Re. “Qantas: The chance for answers goes west” (yesterday, item 18). Oh what a tangle Glenn Dyer has got himself in his desperation to have a gratuitous snipe about the Qantas AGM. He’d clearly love to be able to say the Qantas Board conspired to hold an AGM in Perth to avoid scrutiny, but he cannot.

He has had to concede Qantas is meeting in Perth as part of a long-standing policy to be accessible to shareholders across Australia, not just in Melbourne or Sydney. That can hardly be discriminatory. Nor did anyone suggest that when Qantas met in Brisbane last year.

So what is the problem? Did Dyer secretly want to say that West Australians are less equipped than the rest of us to ask questions as Qantas shareholders? Obviously he couldn’t do that without the risk WA Crikey readers might just hold him to account and demonstrate they are just as capable of critical thought as other Australians.

And what will he say when the Qantas AGM is next held in Adelaide?

The Beattie Government:

Chris Johnson writes: Re. “Too many ruined lives in the wake of the Beattie Government” (yesterday, item 2). Ah, yes, the Beattie years that revolutionised staff reunions where survivors and diggers gather occasionally to talk about old war wounds and how they endured toxic workplaces.

There are growing numbers of staffers who’ll attest Scott Patterson’s experience isn’t isolated and who initiated protests of unfair or improper treatment with the Premier’s office and found doors in human resource, parliamentary and union areas also closed.

Free after-work psych sessions to limp through the day or immediate access to holiday or long service leave to refresh or consider alternative employment were offered to cope with the “game” Beattie described as “not for the faint-hearte”’.

Drivers, ministerial and department staff were deployed on green thumb sabbaticals or life in solitary confinement known as “gardening leave” to cool off (it’s a wonder suburban Brisbane doesn’t resemble the Botanic Gardens).

Whether endurance over merit administration is beneficial for a smart state is up to the experts — it’s also up to Anna to call those experts in.

A former staffer writes: Scott Patterson’s experiences are identical to mine. A complaint against an MP made to the Qld Public Sector Union was referred to the office of the Premier and handled by Rob Whiddon. Separate protests to the Parliament’s HR section, the Speaker and The Clerk, Neil Laurie resulted in a referral to a Corporate Psychologist to learn “coping” strategies and how to better immunise oneself against bullying and other bizarre behaviours the parliament had previously managed for the MP in question.The problem remains but the staff are forced to move on.

A Royal Commission is an absolute must. However, given the number of formal complaints against MPs, including the suicide of at least one staffer together with the blanket refusal by key parliamentary and government administrators to rouse themselves into a semblance of human resource responsibility it’s highly unlikely such a Commission would be established.

There is no doubt the “system” is extensively flawed as are the powers of this so-called Crime Authority that admits its hamstrung on how to regulate on MP ethics. Every avenue of complaint leads back to the Premier’s office or a department that investigates itself.

Perhaps the CMC needs to protest it’s limitations or would that also be stifled by the Premier’s office? It is time to pass the parcel — all the way back to the Government!

A worry:

Phil Amos writes: Re. “Political economy: Stop-start fiscal policy still a worry” (yesterday, item 22). I note that Henry failed to attribute the following paragraph from The Economist:

The argument of the “foam spotters” is simple: to support demand, China’s government has created huge quantities of credit. That lending is leading to unsustainable asset-price inflation, while wasteful investment is producing oodles of excess capacity. As a result, China’s stimulus will inevitably be followed by a bust down the road (see article).

He did correctly attribute the paragraph following the above text.

Keep up your standards on attribution.

Crikey loves to point out others’ plagiarism and to do so you need to be clean yourselves.

Dangerous ideas:

Mark Byrne writes: Michael O’Hara (yesterday, comments) asks several interesting questions: for example, is the call for civil dissent over climate inaction “a poor argument cloaked by a call to authority?” (E.g.. is it equivalent to anti immigration racial attacks on a Chinese Restaurant?)

The straight forward answer is; No, the strengths of call for climate action is founded on the strength of evidence. If an anti immigration activists were acting on clear evidence and decency, they could join the efforts for global economic justice (including strong CO2 mitigation by rich nations) equal global access to contraception, empowerment of women, and greater access to education.

Michael asks, is “a single issue cause … sufficient to lead to a call for radical activism”. The answer depends on the issue. The human dependence on the ecosphere means that climate change in itself is not a single issue. The projected effects of climate change over this century are summarised in the IPCC report from working group 2.

I’d add that the current non-response, combined in with the scale of threat we face, also suggests another major issue. It brings into question the ability of semi-democracies to maintain a fair society and play its role for a fair world. We need to critically assess whether the current level of plutocratic displacement of democratic process is optimal for economic efficiency let alone sustainability? With 6 billion people and a shrinking resource base we need to be extra clever and extra sensitive.

Michael also weaves in questions relating to justification of violence (which should be juxtaposed with the military assessments on the “threat multiplier” effect of climate change). I do not wish to justify violence. There are a lot of wonderfully creative people out there, and a lot of wonderfully creative ways of responding and not cooperating with injustice.

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.

Peter Fray

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