Asylum seekers:

Les Heimann writes: Re. “Rundle: Politicians try to patch up a leaky boat of their own making” (yesterday, item 5). Guy Rundle has touched lightly (too lightly) on the nasty “right” side of Australia political low life when pontificating on Labor’s sad and directionless inability to deal with the current refugee matter and the Liberals extremist members and their inability to gain capital.

Guy believes Howard would have handled it with substantially more political aplomb. Yes, he would, but don’t let that fool you. What needs to happen (and urgently) is exactly what Rundle pointed to — a humane and honest approach to refugees.

If they risk their lives — to save their lives — to come to Australia we will process them in Australia — in decent conditions. If we cannot accommodate the “hordes that swarm” we simply close our borders and tow those whom we can’t support back to Indonesia and offload them — forcibly if necessary. If Indonesia is confronted with these incidents — well too bad they haven’t played their part in the first place.

What we don’t do is blame refugees for trying to save their lives. We do however lambast the right wing extremists for what they are — every time they raise their ugly heads.

Our PM may still get to learn that principles are important and tricks can unfold.

John Goldbaum writes: Guy Rundle is only partially correct in asserting the MV Oceanic Viking is “a little floating piece of us.” It is actually owned by the Norwegians but is contracted to the Australian Customs Service through P&O Marine Services. So, apart from carrying asylum seekers which Australia doesn’t want, it has Norway in common with the MV Tampa.

The Pacific Solution was cruel but it stopped the boats coming. The Indonesian Solution is a shambles. The prime minister hasn’t got his heart in it. He told us he’s only acting tough because it’s what we expect of him as PM. The real Kevin Rudd is soft, not at all like that hard bastard John Howard.

I have a proposal to let our weak and phony leader off the hook.

It’s called the Norwegian Solution.

Phylli Ives writes: It’s ridiculous leaving those Sri Lankans on that boat — bring them home to Australia! We adopted many asylum seekers after WW2 without argument and that hasn’t caused us any trouble. In fact Australia benefitted from all those immigrants. Let the Sri Lankans in! They play good cricket too.

Green eggs:

Animal Liberation SA’s Geoff Russell writes: Re. “When is a cage egg green? When it plants trees” (yesterday, item 14). Wattle Ridge eggs and their advertising have highlighted a much underappreciated fact, namely that cruelty and sustainability are totally different concepts.

Tim Flannery’s The Future Eaters describes the long period of warfare and cannibalism that once raged in New Zealand. Was it sustainable? Quite possibly. Was it barbaric? Absolutely. Is shooting millions of kangaroos yearly and leaving hundreds of thousands of joeys to starve sustainable? Absolutely. Is it barbaric? Absolutely. Examples abound. Wattle Ridge may be better on the sustainability quotient, but still a cruel and barbaric operation.

But there is a third concept that needs to be added to the mix when thinking about food production. Efficiency. With 6.7 billion people we can’t afford to ignore efficiency. So think about all the things you can grow in a square meter of soil over the course of a year. Tomatoes, broad beans, spring onions, etc. You can actually get a lot out of a square meter.

Now consider the not so humble egg. Look up how much grain is fed to hens and divide by the number of eggs produced and then factor in the yield from growing the grain (and the additional protein used to fortify chook pellets). How many eggs can you get from a square meter of land over the course of a year?

Pretty close to one! That’s all.

Sharon Hutchings writes: Well done to Aaron Flanagan and Crikey on exposing the disgraceful green-welfare washing by Wattle Ridge Cage Egg producer, owned by corporate giant Pace Farms.

Wattle Ridge also have the audacity to state on their website that the Egg Corp Assured certification means that “consumers can be sure these eggs are chicken friendly” and the on the egg carton they use the term “welfare friendly”. Geez, what more could a caged hen really need or want?

I’ve witnessed first-hand the transformation of fragile terrified ex-caged hens that were “de-stocked” after twelve months in a cage shed environment to our backyard with room to roam and stretch their wings, grass to peck, sunshine to bask in, straw to nest on and dirt to bathe in. It has been a truly heart-warming transformation for our family to watch.

We can only hope that the ACCC will act to put a stop to this kind of shameless misleading deception, and ultimately that supermarkets will continue to reduce stocking these cruel products, and our governments will follow the EU lead and ban intensive production.

Bagging Canberra:

Cathy Bannister writes: Re. “Rundle: We don’t need new fast trains, Albo, we need new cities” (Tuesday, item 2). Yeah, yeah, I know Canberra not everyone’s cup of tea, but Guy Rundle can’t really suggest that Canberra and Elizabeth are quite the same level of fail. I mean, Elizabeth is a pit of suburban dysfunction, and Canberra is, um, a bit boring, especially to the latte-frazzled souls of low attention span from Melbourne and Sydney.

Sydney and Melbourne have had it in for Canberra since the announcement that it would be the site of the capital. That famous criticism, that Canberra was “a waste of a good sheep paddock”, was first made in the 1930s. It doesn’t matter how many public institutions, festivals, events, night clubs and cafes have appeared since then, because bagging Canberra is such a strong tradition.

Anyway, as far as I’m aware, Canberra hasn’t spawned any serial killer groups of breathtaking depravity like the Snowtown killers. Unlike Elizabeth.


Dan Gocher writes: Miranda Vallejos (yesterday, comments) purports that Bernard Keane “should be glad to know someone is being trained to save him”. From what — death by paper cut?

If Miranda seriously believes that the terrorists are coming and that spending on ASIO is the way to stop them, then she is seriously misguided. Perhaps if we weren’t so willing to go to war with our Muslim cousins, then we may be able to take the wind out of the terrorists’ sails. Or here’s another idea, if we spent as much on alleviating poverty as we did on defence, there would be no more terrorist breeding grounds.

Telstra and Crikey:

George Perry writes: Telstra running ads in Crikey? Given the shellacking you give them, they either don’t read Crikey or you have the best advertising sales force going around.

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