Immigration and population:

Deirdre Ryan writes: Re. Friday’s editorial. I was a Crikey reader until it became a subscription sheet, and recently your server contacted mine and here we are again for a trial.

Based on your editorial of 13 November 2009 I would NOT subscribe. WHO says that it is “an extremely rare and commendable example of pollies putting the WELFARE OF THE COUNTRY ahead of the ballot box” — I would very much appreciate if would tell me how a blanket on discussion of Immigration helps the welfare of Australia? The full meaning of this statement eludes me and I am not short on grey matter that works.

The content of your publication has improved and the diversity of information, BUT the reason that I would NOT subscribe is not due to immigration issues but the extremely important issue of that I and many other citizens of Australia are looking for and to support an Australian online news sheet that has the courage to go where other journalists/publications won’t AND SHOULD.

I have found journalists in Australia a rather sad bunch for quite some years and this continues — in all forms, even the dear old ABC watching Barry Cassidy and friends as I ironed this am — only watched as nothing else and ironing is a bore, but I had to turn the TV off as I was bored — totally, and it was not even the sports section.

Amongst many areas of Australian life that journalists really need to address one area is that of immigration, a policy that has been foisted in all its various ways upon the Australian public.

Yes, there are many and I repeat many Australians who are, have been, and are fed up with immigration, it is not a cure all for the progression of Australia. And yet it has been foisted upon the long suffering (high tax paying by world standards) citizens of Australia who did help to make this country what it WAS many many years ago. To see true citizens of this country doing without when their hard work and taxes paid for welfare that is thrown at migrants. And many of these migrants know exactly what they are about and how to obtain the benefits from Australia, and they laugh about it, to boot! Why not write about how this affects citizens who are now indifferent to the country they were born, raised and worked in, and did love but because of migration and the follow non effects turn their backs on?

And I am not a Hanson-ite — even remotely.

The only paper I subscribed to for x years after dropping the Sydney Morning Herald that I was brought up on as a child was The Australian — this is also full of journo’s and Rupert’s opinions, not fact and avoids so many important issues but does provide much pulp for the worms, that the only paper I will pay for is the Weekend Financial Review for good value for $3, and obtain all other information per the Internet /International News services. I hope that Rupert NEVER gets his hands on the New York Times and instead departs this Planet to play with a Gutenberg below.

Do a few journo’s, political hacks, newspaper owners and vested interests and politicians opinions therefore make the directions that Australia moves towards/ backwards? You know as well as I do that Australia has never had such a mediocre bunch of nepotistic politicians i.e. State and Federal Labor and yes, the Liberal Party is no longer the Liberal Party — mediocrity rules there also and has in all party’s for 20 years plus.

WHY DO YOU NOT HAVE THE COURAGE TO START THE BALL ROLLING re the IMMIGRATION problem (non)debate? Why do you think so many of our top people and others leave Australia to live overseas? Could one of many reasons be the fact that Sydney makes one feel like a foreigner when visiting there due to the large numbers of so many true foreigners?

P.S. Don’t usually spend time writing to public bodies in Oz these days but this is a most quickly written — do excuse the grammatical errors have not even re-read — but as a last appeal to hopefully journalists who still have “fire in the belly”. I have always been able to face my family and tell them that I did try to do my bit re Australia in whatever I felt needed to addressed — privately and publicly.

Sean Hosking writes: Your editorial is easily the most ill informed and unctuous load of tosh that I have read since I started subscribing to Crikey — and I’d include anything written by David Flint in that.

So population growth is a moral issue is it, and as such should be quarantined from open democratic debate. In some kind of dystopian future we and all our multiple heaving compatriots can take satisfaction in how righteous we are when the waters running out, the land is completely degraded, the effects of climate change are besieging us on multiple and catastrophic levels and our pathetically under resourced infrastructure is crumbling around us. And this from a publication that routinely spouts on about climate change denialism.

Really what you’re lazily invoking is a form of political correctness that has managed to conflate the whole issue of debate in regard to Australia’s (world leading) levels of population growth with notions of racism. That’s as far as your appreciation or consideration of this complex and important issue goes and it leads straight to a dead end of insipid and elitist moralising.

The great unwashed hordes can’t think straight about this because they’re ignorant and racist rednecks so let’s all be very polite and good and just not talk about it. The irony is that you’re guilty of the exactly the same thing as you accuse your less morally sound compatriots of – you don’t seem to be able to view the issue outside of the prism of racism.

At the risk of being called a racist there are multiple reasons why Australia cannot sustain the current levels of population growth. These are argued cogently and by people respectable to even the good and righteous editorial folk at Crikey. The one Tanner argument that you cite — that Australia must heroically absorb our share of third world population growth — has been discredited repeatedly.

This awe inspiring concern for the Third World (which as we all know is so typical of our caring and selfless politicians) would, aside from constituting a p-ss in the ocean in terms of accounting for overall world population growth, convert a very small and select band of third world subconsumers whose C20 emissions currently amount to a bag of beans into first world hyper consumers. The kind that eat at McDonalds, drive four wheel drives and get people in to wash their pets.

But that’s really the point isn’t it. The growth fetish is so ingrained, the obsession with GDP, the endless churning of bargain priced junk through the system so integral to our western system that it can only really be guaranteed by feeding ever more units into the system. The business bottom line is screaming for it, politicians want it to get their Macro numbers up, the system demands it. If Tanner was being “moral” he would have just been honest about it.

As Crikey‘s editorial proves, all this “concern for the planet”, all the handwringing about sustainability, carbon footprints and the “great moral issue of our time” etc is really nothing more than what Joyce and Minchin are saying — just more fashionable window dressing from the superficial, trendy, soft left. In relation to this, if nothing else, they’re spot on.

Glen Fergus writes: The most ill-judged editorial in the history of your publication? You really think it “extremely commendable” to maintain a “sensible silence” on Australia’s population policy. And that to do otherwise is somehow “fingers over the race … button”. In the 21st century?

We can take as given, then, that you’ll now become sensibly silent on the likes of: climate change, peak oil, endangered ecosystems, water availability, global food security, pandemic disease, failed states, basic sustainability. Because over-population lies at the core of each. That’s before we get to housing affordability, groaning infrastructure, and the ballooning foreign debt that any effective responses must incur.

Tanner is nuts and needs to be called to account. Unfortunately it seems we won’t be getting that from Crikey.

Melbourne University:

Christina Buckridge, Manager, Corporate Affairs, University of Melbourne, writes: Re. “Melbourne Muddle: elite students turning away from law in droves” (Friday, item 3). Adam Schwab’s article mixes apples and oranges in talking about “law” at Melbourne and at Monash; his muddled result ignores the fact that not one size fits all.

He dismisses ‘generalist’ degrees as “unnecessary to [students] future vocation” — overlooking the fact that substantial numbers of undergraduate law graduates have their careers outside the practice of the law.

He arrogantly asserts that “few take [a ‘generalist’ degree] up unless they fail to obtain a high enough entry score to make it into law or medicine in the first instance”.

He ignores the fact not everyone wants to study law at undergraduate level and that high-achieving students have always been attracted to Arts courses.

He seems unaware that the Melbourne JD is not just an undergraduate degree at graduate level but an especially-developed graduate program actively seeking to increase diversity in law by recruiting students with a broad range of academic and life experiences — and give them a unique graduate experience.

Students in the 2009 JD cohort have undergraduate degrees in Arts, Commerce, Engineering, Medicine, Music, Pharmacy and Science. Some also have g MBAs and PhDs. More than half are recent graduates, others come with professional experience as an engineer, musician, teacher, customs officer, academic, business owner, policy adviser, computer programmer.

They are from Australian universities — Monash, RMIT, Sydney University, University of Western Australia, LaTrobe, Australian Catholic University, Deakin, Swinburne and Curtin University and from some of the world’s best universities including Harvard, London School of Economics, Bryn Mawr, Notre Dame and McGill.

For many it is a second chance at law, as a high-achieving graduate, in a tailored graduate program. And from 2010, students in the Melbourne JD will be able to earn an additional degree from leading international law schools, Oxford University, New York University and Chinese University Hong Kong — a first in Australia in terms of quality, variety and opportunity.

The University of Melbourne has NEVER claimed that the Melbourne Model is right for all students. It’s about choice. Some students want to do an undergraduate law degree. Others will choose broad undergraduate study before specialising, as is the case in North America and, increasingly, in parts of Europe and Asia, and even in Australia.

And in disparaging the Melbourne Model, he ignores the strength of demand for the 6 Melbourne Model undergraduate courses which account for 13 per cent of all CSPs in the VTAC system where there are around 3500 courses. These are tracking well considering that the careful transition the Melbourne Model is still only midway through.

The ABC:

Mark Scott, ABC Managing Director, writes: Last week I delivered the Bruce Allen Memorial Lecture at Macquarie University on the changing nature of international broadcasting. The speech has generated considerable debate, which the ABC welcomes.

I have attached a copy of A Global ABC: Soft Diplomacy and the World of International Broadcasting. The ABC has been in the business of “soft diplomacy” for 70 years, through Radio Australia and has been operating an international television network for nearly all this decade. Our international broadcasting responsibilities are in the ABC Charter.

Like the BBC and a number of other global public broadcasters, it is through our international operations that we put the nation on show. It is part of our core business. What we offer is not state broadcasting or government propaganda: the ABC’s international broadcasting operates to the same standards for independence as the ABC’s domestic service. While other G20 nations are spending 15 or 20 times Australia’s international broadcasting budget and expanding rapidly, the ABC has never indicated we are seeking to match these ambitions or expenditure.

A doubling of the current $35m would allow an expansion of international bureaux, deliver new content that engages more directly with our target audiences and tailored in local languages, double the FM radio transmission in the Pacific, increase the audience penetration of television by nearly 200 per cent and make services available in the Middle East and Africa. There are strong reasons why the ABC should offer the strongest, most credible independent news service available in the region. And there are doubtlessly opportunities for a seamless integration in Australia’s international services using television, radio, online and mobile.

The speech fundamentally rejects the notion that Australia is too small and distant to be a significant global force and that international broadcasting should be reserved for bigger nations. Australia has an enviable image abroad for its economic performance, its diverse and unique environment and a widely -admired multicultural society. We have played pivotal roles in multi-national forums including the G20, and are a leader in the debate about climate change.

Unlike other Western nations, Australia is intrinsically linked geographically, politically and economically to our region. We need to present ourselves to our neighbours in our terms — not through the media filter of London, Atlanta — or even Beijing.

I should also stress that is ultimately up to the Government to determine the pace and nature of any expansion. Rest assured that, whatever the outcome, the ABC will continue to deliver on all its charter obligations — domestic and international.

Democracy and NSW:

Tim Mackay writes: Re. “‘Stronger democracy’ gives way to strong-arm democracy in NSW” (Friday, item 10). Australia does not have compulsory voting. We have compulsory attendance at a voting booth each election where you must have your name crossed off a register.

For those who conscientiously object to “voting”, they have the individual freedom to write whatever they so wish on the voting slip ensuring they effectively do not “vote”. The current system ensures such people consciously make this decision each election rather than apathetically opting out of the democratic process.

The ancient Greeks knew that democracy gives individuals rights but that it also brings them obligations. Attendance at each election and making an active decision whether to vote or not is one such obligation in a healthy democracy.

Another important obligation is buying a sausage sizzle at your local public school every election.

Kevin McCready writes: I don’t think Bernard Keane has thought through his opposition to compulsory voting. There are lots of examples where society impinges on our rights for the greater good — taxation, compulsory education, etc. And for Keane to conflate his opposition with the ALP’s silly Law and Order policies and promotion of the catholic church is simply sloppy thinking.

I hate the cliché, but with rights come responsibilities. I’m all in favour of compulsory voting.

Matthew Watts, Secretary, Australian Privacy Foundation, writes: In response to your article regarding the NSW Government’s latest heinous act, please note our media release regarding the Australian Privacy Foundation’s 2009 “Big Brother Awards“.

This novel back door data-matching scheme has not gone unrecognised; it was a late entrant from the floor at Wednesday night’s Big Brother Awards, where it won the People’s Choice Orwell Award by unanimous popular acclaim. Not only is the action draconian in policing terms (suddenly and secretly exposing more people to fines), it also represents another attack on the core international privacy principle of only using personal information for the purpose for which it was collected, not to throw it into one giant national dossier of all data on each individual, accessible to anyone in government who wants it.

Note also the link to the Commonwealth Electoral roll — this is a back door way of sharing the output of such intrusive data-matching with the Feds.

Crikey, Murdoch and Google:

Paul Hampton-Smith writes: Re. “Shock! Why Murdoch may be more right than wrong about Google” (Friday, item 2). Crikey can be thought of as the news world’s equivalent of shareware: you get free but “crippled” news with tantalising extra headlines that you need to subscribe to read. It’s a clever and presumably successful model.

The shareware concept began life as software developers the size of Crikey eking out an existence with their pet programs, and its online distribution is one the oldest uses of the internet, in fact pre-dating it by a decade or so in the bulletin board network. Assisted by the ubiquity of the internet, the shareware business model has now grown in popularity to the extent that the try-before-you-buy philosophy is now embraced by Microsoft.

Conversely, the amount of software that people physically buy from a shop is in major decline, just like newspapers and magazines.

So what I don’t get, with all this pooh-poohing from Crikey and others about Murdoch proposing to charge for News Ltd content, is that he is planning to do exactly what Microsoft has done, and that Crikey is a living example of a company that is making money out of charging for online news. Providing Murdoch’s news is worth reading, (which is, I’ll grant, not a given) I think it’ll work, and I get a strong feeling that serious online news competition scares you guys at Crikey?

Incidentally, two other forms of software continue to reinforce its similarity with news publishing: The GNU General Public License approach with its Linux and Mozilla flagships is just like the blogosphere; even software viruses can be likened to those inane distribute-to-ten-of-your-friends-to-avoid-bad-luck emails.

The choreograph of the commentariat:

David Hand writes: Re. “Beecher: the choreograph of the commentariat” (Friday, item 18). It was heart-warming to read Eric Beecher’s angst regarding commentators aligning to a choreographed party line. Eric, I am puzzled however that you felt the need to trawl the conservative wing when there are perfect examples to illustrate your point published virtually every day in your own organ. As you are in a position to do something about it, I hope you follow up your words with action.

At last, we long suffering Crikey subscribers might get some relief from the tiresomely lefty set you employ, with their contempt for middle Australia. They are at times interesting but most of the time utterly predictable and painfully un-objective.

Surely there is one writer somewhere with more central views than your current stable of refugees from the soviet era who might be persuaded to make the odd contribution?


Luke Miller writes: Re. “Where’s the book buyer’s voice in this PIR debate?” (Friday, item 4). Australian authors! Get ready for ebooks. As sure as the combustion engine replaced the horse and carriage, digital books are coming. Forget this minor, pointless parallel importation nonsense.

Of bigger concern should be that authors cannot sell their books on Amazon unless they have a US bank account. Writers and the government should be teaming up to fix this sort of thing. Please don’t get left behind. As a profession you have got to get on top of this stuff.

Climate change:

Bruce Hore writes: Hi Tamas Calderwood (and Climate Change skeptics et al.), Bruce here again. I’m from Adelaide — you know — the dry end of the Murray! You might remember me from my four to seven letter word tirade last year about the 15 or so days over 35 degrees (in a row) we had or that unfortunately period where it was over 42 … or a whole fricking week.

Well its [email protected] hot here again, except my whinge isn’t being sent in February, or January or even in December really — its November. THAT’S SPRING DAMN IT! Last Thursday Adelaide had our 5th day of over 35 degrees (officially a heat wave) with Friday, Saturday and Sunday all over 35 degrees. Wow, that beats the record for November since … well … FOREVER really.

The most days above 35 we have had in a row in November up to now on RECORD (because that’s all I have) is 4 days! We are about to double it, enough for me to curse just a little more and make ponderous, yet skeptical thoughts about the genetics of climate change denialists in general. (think: gene pool needs lifeguard).

Adelaide’s average November 2009 temp (according to WeatherZone — bless them) is only +7.3 degrees above historical average. Blips I get, weeklong statistical irregularities I could be argued into, but what motivated me to write this gem is that Adelaide appears to be lining up a duplicate weather pattern like this again, STARTING this WEEK. BRILLIANT! Oh and the 2 day’s worth of relief between these spells is still 3-5 degrees above the long term average.

I am sure you guys denialist blokes are locked in to the whole science thing that I could never-ever understand, but really, you don’t need to look globally or add in the bits of the atmosphere that are could enough the bring your global temp averages down to just .5 degree per decade. All you need to do is look at the southern end of your own country and figure the rest out!

And that’s Adelaide. Grab a map and draw a line running east/west centered on Adelaide. Anyone above that line in South Australia is really doing it much tougher than us city folk!

Climate Change Analysis: Bloke, you’re doing it wrong!

Megan Stoyles writes: Re. “Richard Farmer’s chunky bits” (Friday, item 11). Richard Farmer regularly reports on climate change and water flows and temperatures, but along with much else that is written on this subject, is so confusing that I feel like Pooh Bear and need a little rest after reading.

However my unscientific observations, Viz, the water temperature at Aireys Inlet in Victoria, which is refreshed and influenced by the bracing effects of the Antarctic via the Great Southern Ocean, indicate that THE OCEAN WATER IS GETTING WARMER.

For the first time ever, I was able to have “my first October swim” ( much beloved of Melbourne open water aficionados) without wetsuit. Since then I have swum regularly and pleasurably in the ocean, and on Friday I even basked in the water between waves instead of standing and being warmed by the air temperature. It felt like the normal January water temperature not freezing November.

What is happening? Someone, please explain.

Meanwhile I will bodysurf on.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey