Correction and Apology:

Crikey: Yesterday, 17 June, in our item titled “Midwinter Ball red carpet special: fashions on the hill” by Mel Campbell, we reproduced photographers from Fairfax Media and News Limited without obtaining consent and without acknowledging the source of the photographs. We acknowledge our wrongdoing, and sincerely apologise to Fairfax Media and photographer Andrew Meares, along with News Limited and its (uncredited) photographer, for reproducing those photographs without consent. The photos were removed from the website immediately after publication.


Crikey: A quote attributed to Karen Middleton in Wednesday’s sealed section may have indicated she found the Prime Minister’s comments at a press conference offensive. Middleton was speculating on the reasons behind the prime minister’s response and did not find the comments personally offensive.

Tony Abbott:

Andrew Elder writes: Re. “Can the Liberals win? And win with Tony Abbott?” (yesterday, item 1). Bernard Keane wrote: “diehard Abbott-haters were never likely to be Liberal voters anyway”. Yes we were. I was an active member of the Liberal Party from 1987 to 2000 and thought then that Tony Abbott was an overrated loudmouth (I don’t really hate him, but who am I to stand in the way of journalistic shorthand?).

Since then, Howard and Abbott have been busy shunning moderate liberal voters, a painful process for those of us who believe that party needs such voters to win elections. Abbott is an effective opposition leader, and I will vote so as to keep him in opposition — he’d be disastrous in government, worse than the incumbents.

After I’m vindicated in my opinion of Abbott, and the Liberal Party undergoes a sea-change of strategy and personnel — then they can have my vote back, not before.


Geoff Russell writes: Re. “Possum: mining profitability (part II) … size does matter” (yesterday, item 12). The Government should sack whoever designed it’s dull-as-a-lump-of-pig-iron (but still vacuous) pro-mining tax advertisements and just hire TV time to display the two tables featured in Possum’s piece yesterday … the two tables are each worth far more than a thousand words, and taken together carry more weight than Clive Palmer.

Kate Haycock writes: Re. “Business as Usual: BP seen as co-operative … Rumours of RSPT deal and Rio, BHP shares jump …” (yesterday, item 23). Couple of booboos in Glenn Dyer’s piece yesterday. The new Poseidon Nickel is NOT the same company which boomed and busted in the 1970s – same project, same name, but completely different company. And Atlas Iron is not partnered with Chinese company Ansteel. That’s Gindalbie Metals.

Rio Tinto:

Steven McKiernan writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 7). Crikey published:

There’s 350 million tonnes of high-grade iron ore below the water table at the Marandoo mine site in the Pilbara. Presently at $90 profit per tonne of iron ore. Rio isn’t planning to extract the iron ore under the water table, so why have they done the drilling and geological research to map out this 350 million tonnes?

Not sure how true the rumour is regarding Rio and Marandoo.

Well for a start the project expansion only got Environment Assessment Approval last month. The WA Environmental Protection Authority gave its approval to Stage 2 Marandoo. Appeals closed early May 2010. The EPA report states:

The key environmental assets to be protected during the implementation of this proposal include:

  • the Priority Ecological Community (PEC) Coolibah Woodlands within the Karijini National Park; and
  • springs, pools and gorges within the Karijini National Park.

The longer term concern for the Pilbara is the quantity and quality of the water that will need to be extracted and disposed to expose the ore-body. Some can be used in mine process, but a lot still has to be disposed of. Rio have been discharging directly into sacred Weeli Wolli Springs from their Hope Downs Project.

Peak dewatering will be as much as 100 megalitres a day and this will continue at an average higher than 80 megalitres a day while it is still economically viable to follow the ore body. Conceivably the dewater volume of very potable water will be comparable to the output of the billion dollar desalination plant being built south of Perth.

The project has an expected mine life of twenty years. Some of the water will be piped to Tom Price, some to the Fortescue borefield. A lot will go into aquifer re-injection at the Fortescue borefield.

And at the end of the twenty year dewater and mine we’ll have a huge steep sided open water body, presumably for cashed up bogans to water-ski on.

Rio Tinto employee Matthew Saxon writes: Re. “Iron ore’s raging thirst could consume an entire industry” (Tuesday, item 1). Umm, it’s not a secret that the Marandoo project involves mining below the water table. That’s why it’s called “Marandoo Phase 2 — Below Water Table”. Bernard Keane talks about it in yesterdays issue and even links to EPA reports explicitly discuss the environmental impacts of doing so. This tip looks a bit silly.

Chifley vs. Menzies:

David Lodge writes: I guess there is still one thing I can depend on in this fast changing world of ours — successive Crikey readers viewing past Labor administrations with incredibly rose tinted glasses.

This time it’s Keith Bedford (yesterday, comments) and his nostalgia for good ol’ Chifley. Either Keith is a dyed in the wool socialist, or he is completely ignoring Chifley’s (and that of the wider Labor Party) desire to turn ours into a centrally planned economy.

Ben was quite happy to keep war time rations and austerity measures in place in the post war period in order to control output and therefore job growth. So, we would have continued shortages of demanded goods and a lifestyle not much better than the war years, but hey, at least the Government would retain control, and what true believer doesn’t advocate control over the mindless masses?

Menzies brought back private enterprise and a much needed sense of freedom and individualism which the country was crying out for. Any claims that the Banking industry were obfuscating the real wishes of the people or that nationalisation would actually help a small and closed economy reliant on intra-commonwealth trade and local small business is nothing more than baseless class warfare (which I see is making a comeback).

Again, after a time of stifled private supply and most production going towards the war effort, the transition period back to the private economy would always be inflationary. But I guess this opposition to the private economy again shows the disdain of private ownership and production that true believers like Keith Bedford still harbour.

Misleading headline:

Neil James, Executive Director, Australia Defence Association, writes: Re. “Ill-informed pollies and journalists undermine our war efforts” (yesterday, item 14). My article yesterday on problematic public debate about the wars we fight was submitted with the title “Deciding causes worth winning and dying for?”.

Unfortunately it was published by Crikey under the quite misleading headline “Ill-informed pollies and journalists undermine our war efforts”.

The headline did not reflect the thrust, intention and substance of the article which, in summary, was about improving our decisions on the causes for which we ask young Australians to risk dying in combat on our behalf.

Australia’s problem with inexperience about war and defence matters generally leading to much ill-informed public debate is a problem that involves Australian society in its entirety.

It is not just a problem affecting the politicians we elect or the journalists who try and report our doings to us.

Indeed the editorial choice of such a mistaken, misleading and even sensationalist headline aptly demonstrates the depth and extent of our national problem with debating war intelligently and responsibly.


Martin Gordon writes: Incoming arrows seem oddly to be part of a principled position of opposing totalitarianism, terrorism and civil unrest. I agree with Jackie French’s observations about things being worse if we did not resist all the Taliban (oppression of women, lack of education for all and girls in total etc). I suppose I will never make Brett Gaskin (Wednesday, comments) happy.

I am happy to say I have served, and am interested in human rights and civil liberties etc, and I am not interested in the old anti US and west tirades etc. Orwell and Hitchens have noted the odd alliances in effect, pacifists and critics in effect help the aggressor and undermine the forces opposed to them i.e. “us”.

Robert Buick a Vietnam veteran noted that …”our Australian government has committed our military to support and assist those threatened with communism, terrorism and civil unrest as in Rwanda, to help people to determine their own destiny as we do.”

I think Robert’s and my position provides a lot more positive future than the alternative, even if it’s not apparently popular.

Bad Crikey:

An anonymous tipster writes: I challenge you to run this in the interests of transparency.

What’s going on at Crikey?

Andrew Crook continues to misquote people — first refugee advocate Marion Le, then senior press gallery journos such as Karen Middleton, who protested their words had been twisted. And what relevance did the fact that Latika Bourke is an orphan have to this piece?

More concerning was Mel Campbell’s fluff piece on Thursday which badly exposed a lack of depth in contributors. Mel, make some phone calls. That’s what journalists do (but clearly bloggers don’t). The “flame haired vixen” is Kevin Rudd’s press secretary, Kate Sieper, very well known to journalists, lobbyists, politicos, activists and other Canberra types. Surely Bernard Keane could have told you that?

The “fashions on the hill’”, with pictures, ideas and lines clearly pinched from media websites was terrible. The entire piece was amateur hour rubbish and a total waste of space.

Pull your socks up Crikey or I won’t be re-subscribing.

Peter Fray

Save 50% on a year of Crikey and The Atlantic.

The US election is in a little over a month. It seems that there’s a ridiculous twist in the story, almost every day.

Luckily for new Crikey subscribers, we’ve teamed up with one of America’s best publications, The Atlantic for the election race. Subscribe now to make sense of it all, and you’ll get a year of Crikey (usually $199) and a year’s digital subscription to The Atlantic (usually $70AUD), BOTH for just $129.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey