Mike Rann and Lance Armstrong:

Martin Gordon writes: Re. “Armstrong and Rann, the Tour Down Under funder” (yesterday, item 2). Well done Bob Gosford. Rann’s cute evasiveness about how much he is paying Lance Armstrong is appalling. Is he embarrassed about how much taxpayer money he is spending for his re-election? If he is, that is precisely why the public has a right to know how its money is being spent.

Public money comes with a level of public exposure and accountability, for example federally senior public servants pay can be deduced from annual reports (and they are apparently paid less for a year than Armstrong is for his few days).

The key is to keep asking and every day Rann does not answer, proves something about Rann’s reluctance to have an ICAC, have parliament sit or all those other inconvenient things we have in a democracy.

Susan Saunders writes: Keep asking the questions of the government about where South Australian tax payers’ money is being spent.  This smacks of being a tax payer funded Labor election advertisement broadcast via an overseas cyclist who, of course, thinks Randy is wonderful.  I think I would too if he paid me $2M plus for appearing on my bike.

The likes of Armstrong and McEnroe must view South Australians as being totally gullible and delightfully naïve.  Where else would one see a premier and two ministers turning up to meet a has-been tennis player – I thought they were paid to work for us.

Tony Abbott:

Alister Air writes: Re. “Mungo: Abbott’s cunning stunt is just a distraction” (yesterday, item 10). It looks like either Mungo MacCallum’s joined the IPA, or someone’s doing a not-very-good impersonation of him.  I can’t think of any other reason why he’d uncritically parrot the Pearsons’ line on Queensland’s Wild Rivers legislation.

As has been covered often enough, Abbott’s “credibility” on indigenous issues includes not spending large amounts of money allocated to indigenous health while he was Health Minister. This might be worth mentioning when talking about what Abbott might actually do in the nightmare scenario of his becoming Prime Minister.

And speaking of things worth mentioning, when proposing that the Greens contemptuously dismissed Rudd’s CPRS, checking what Bob Brown and Christine Milne have had to say might be worth doing as well.

You may disagree, but when Senator Milne says, “The Greens have attempted to negotiate with the Government on multiple occasions, and have been rebuffed each time”, that might be relevant.  Mungo’s usually more insightful than yesterday’s effort suggests, and almost always wittier.

Charlie Wilson writes: Although I enjoyed the self-indulgence that was Lewis Luxton’s letter (yesterday, comments) about Tony Abbott’s Oxford education as much as the next person, it’s worth correcting the record.

It was and continues to be common for Rhodes scholars to undertake second undergrad degrees at Oxford — which is what Mr Abbott did. His BA was then converted to an MA in the way that Luxton describes.  Your correspondent was right. Mr Luxton was wrong.

A Green Army:

David Lodge writes: Actually John Hunwick (yesterday, comments), forget your call for the most needed responses to go with the green army. I have but a few pertinent questions for your own responses:

  1. What would the transition costs from coal to renewables;
  2. How would you fund such a massive and inefficient investment into renewable energy (more taxes or budget cuts);
  3. How would you explain to the Australian people such an opportunity (not to mention wealth) loss that would come with a stop in burning coal?

I hear lots of fire and brimstone from the green lobby yet nothing more than a feigned attempt to explain the massive costs such a radical change would bring to every day people who would simply like to put food on the table and maybe, just maybe, one day own their own home.

Until these two angles can be reconciled, the environmental lobby will continue to be utterly irrelevant when it comes to policy making

China:

Tom Osborn writes: Re. “The bottom line is that China simply won’t crash” (yesterday, item 16). At some point the Yuan will have to float, and an awful lot of trade disruption (at China’s cost) will follow that. That is likely to happen a little after the US recovery has a jerky surge (but probably not the first jerky surge).

ASIO:

Neil James, Executive Director, Australia Defence Association, writes:Jeff Sparrow (yesterday, comments) dishonestly claimed that I implied ASIO “did good” by inadequate screening of World War II refugees with fascist records and that I “glossed over” abuses of international humanitarian law by the Sri Lankan government. In both cases I noted the exact opposite.

Instead of further deliberate misquotation (or an inability to comprehend plain English), straw-man attacks and evasive waffle, could Jeff please get around to moving objective public debate forward appropriately by answering the following four in-principle questions with a clear yes or no answer:

  • Does he really believe that Australia’s assessment of claims for asylum from foreign citizens does not need to involve any form of security screening?
  • Does he really believe that every aspect of security screening, in every circumstance, can or should be made fully public?
  • Does he accept, or not, that some intelligence and security intelligence tasks necessarily involve a degree of secrecy to ensure operational success, community security, the privacy and physical safety of individuals generally (both here and overseas) and, in the case of asylum seeking, Australia’s legal responsibilities to protect the safety of individuals under the 1951 Refugee Convention?
  • Is he aware that our security and intelligence agencies are independently supervised on behalf of the public by a statutory all-party parliamentary committee and by a statutory, independent, Inspector-General with effectively the powers of a standing Royal Commission?

The Republican movement:

Thomas Flynn, Executive Director, Australians For Constitutional Monarchy, writes: Can I, on behalf of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy, disclaim any responsibility for the Google description of the Australian Republican Movement as shown in the attached screen grab? It reads:

20100118 ARM on google2

My sympathies to them as getting Google to change those descriptions seems to be impossible. With the widespread public support for the visit of a handsome Prince this might seem to the denizens of Republic Towers as calculated to rub salt in the wounds. Not guilty, your honour.

Eating animals:

Patrick Cross writes: I worked in an abattoir for a while and what I witnessed doesn’t match the comments (observations ?) of Geoff Russell, Jenny Morris or Sharon Hutchings (yesterday, comments).

The people involved in the process worked very hard to keep the animals calm as stress spoils the meat.

Slaughtering always happened in the early morning, the coolest part of the day.  I don’t miss the 5am winter starts.

The animals were trucked in from the farms and penned prior to slaughter.  The pens were always clean, the animals never wallowing in shit. The animals were sprayed with water to both clean them and also to keep them cool. Abattoir workers, like everyone else, don’t like to get covered in shit and the risk of contamination of the meat in higher if there is too much shit flying about.

The only time I felt the animals were distressed was in their final minute when they were separated from the herd into the knocking box.  They were stunned as quickly as possible and then killed.

I never witnessed anyone harming an animal before it was stunned and no work was done on a animal until well after it was dead.

The people I met in the meat production business appeared to me to get a great deal of “enjoyment and satisfaction in the nurturing and harvesting process” of meat.

I can safely say that, as I line up in an air-conditioned butchers shop for a $40/kg scotch fillet having witnessed and participated in the slaughter of many a beast, I am not a hypocrite.

Peter Fray

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