Gillard:

Les Heimann writes: Re. “Essential: voters warm to Labor under ‘capable’ new management” (yesterday, item 1). Now Julia Gillard is fixing the leaky pipes of Labor. We can but pray she is not too pragmatic when it comes to asylum seekers — leaky boat sinking is not the real issue here. Leaky policing is.

This country allows thousands of visitors to overstay their visas; allows thousands more to pretend they are “students” and then remain in Australia after they “qualify” and allows thousands more to come in to Australia as “guest workers” and then stay. Julia says she will listen. Julia, you should listen to all Australians, not just those from Queensland and WA because you need the votes. You will lose the votes of others if you are not careful.

What’s needed, Prime Minister, is an holistic approach — throw out the exploited guest workers, the bodgy students and the overstayers and be strict about it. Allow in those who dare to risk their lives to escape oppression — we need gutsy people like them and be much stricter concerning penalties.

If you are an “illegal” it will mean a fine and a prison term. If you are not a genuine refugee on a leaky boat, and you are found out, it will mean a prison term and extradition. Get tough with governments who dodge the issue and don’t blame those who are genuinely escaping.

Elizabeth Thornton writes: Re. “Fully Sic: Gillard’s ‘strine could be a political plus” (yesterday, item 16). Crikey always manages to provide answers to questions that I have mulled over endlessly. Julia’s accent for example.

When we emigrated from UK my daughter developed a strong STRINE accent pronto. She was six and I think that it was imperative that they not refer to her as a “Pom”.

I give Julia the benefit of the doubt and suggest that she spends some time in a French colony until a smidgeon of respectability presents.

Deconstructing Kevin:

Tony Kevin writes: Re. “Deconstructing Kevin: the battle over the meaning of Rudd” (yesterday, item 9). Thanks for Bernard Keane’s piece. This needed to be said,  and he said it well.

For me, Rudd’s failure was almost entirely of policy mishandling — primarily CRPS, followed by RSPT — and of due process — his Gang of Four sidelining Cabinet. It was not a personality or character failure. I agree that there is something quite distasteful in reconstructing the story thus in retrospect.

We have known since Bagehot that British Cabinet government really operates as a discreetly hidden prime ministerial autocracy. Westminster model PMs can always become dictators, but somehow voter checks and balances always safely click into gear in time to stop them – usually as elections, but sometimes as internal party coups.

Alan Kohler might be right though that in times of terrorism-bred public panic, those safety circuits could fail. This could have happened under Howard if the 2001/02 terrorism threat had been sustained at that same high level for years. I can’t see it ever having happened under Rudd.

Peter Primrose:

Satisfied Crikey subscriber Peter Primrose writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 7). Crikey published:

“Primrose backed by left and right. Amused ALP NSW right-wingers are enjoying the left’s most recent debacle. At a left meeting on the weekend leaders were so keen to ensure its upper house minister Peter Primrose would be re-elected at next year’s state election that they permitted a right-winger known to be associated with the Transport Workers Union to have a vote, because he could be relied on to back Primrose.

Crikey understands they also banned left wingers who couldn’t be trusted to vote for Anthony Albanese’s ticket, including a loyal supporter from Newcastle and an unpredictable left-winger from Gosford. One insider said: “I can understand why they’d be wary of him, but knocking back her and challenging others from further north makes you think they don’t trust anyone north of the harbour.” Questions have now been raised about why Primrose, who is believed to be on the point of retiring anyway, is so keen to be re-endorsed. Anyone out there know the answer to that?”

Anyone out there know the answer to that? I think it’s because he’s going to serve for the full term if he’s re-elected

Spelling Bees and the Courier Mail:

Samantha Clark of the Courier Mail writes: Re. “News Ltd spelling bee sting: how do you spell ripped off?” (1 July, item 17). Andrew Crook’s assertion that the Courier Mail has “stolen” the idea of an online spelling bee is completely false.

Firstly, it is not at all surprising that more than one person would come up with the idea of putting the very popular concept of a spelling bee online and secondly, there is nothing to suggest News has copied Creig Adams’s site.  Both sites have a cartoon bee (and that’s a pretty obvious angle), but otherwise bear no resemblance to each other.

You seem to conclude that work was not started on the site until 2010 when we contacted the sites sponsors and the Government and we did this in response to Adams’s site.

If only we could get a project from concept to market that quickly!  Developing a concept, securing sponsors, building a site and marketing it certainly takes us longer than a few weeks.

News first picked up the idea in early 2009 we spent most of 2009 developing it.  In November 2009 we secured a major sponsor and in January 2010 the site was presented to the Government we started building that actual website.   Unfortunately we lost the sponsor in late January and we had to start again.

I would also like to point out that Adams’s accusation that News plans to harvest children’s email addresses and sell them is also completely incorrect.  News does not ask for the email addresses of the children involved and does not in fact have them.

Gay marriage:

Marcus Vernon writes:  Justin Templer (yesterday, comments) isn’t likely to get a response from PM Gillard to his “please explain” request of yesterday, so perhaps he and Crikey will let me explain it.

In a stable and democratic society, based on widely-accepted values, traditions, history, law and cultural institutions, governments of all persuasions make lots of subjective judgements about things they will change, or leave unchanged. One of these issues in Australia is gay marriage.

In the modern era, Labor prime ministers Whitlam, Hawke and Keating all had the chance to do something if they’d thought it was important, and instead decided to avoid it. Likewise, Liberal PM John Howard. Now, again, two distinctly unique Labor prime ministers — Rudd and Gillard — have come to the same conclusion, despite their different lifestyles, ideological leanings and religious backgrounds.

Are you getting the hint, Justin? It isn’t going to happen — not because these people want to offend you or even hurt you, they just don’t think gay marriage is the correct thing to do. It’s just another subjective decision affecting our society that governments make every day.

You can put the boot into churchgoers like me, if it makes you feel better, but don’t the official ABS surveys show church attendance falling over many years? So exactly where would your “religious vote” come from to influence so many independently minded prime ministers, including our bright new atheist PM?

And the list of prime ministers above is so diverse that you must concede that the recurring, consistent decision on this issue over many years is based on more than religious thought or even zealotry. Indeed, most of the PMs listed above would go in for a good old stoush with the churches if they thought your cause was just and appropriate, or even if there were genuine votes in it; rather, they just didn’t see things your way.

To them, it is “self-evident” (i.e. no proof required): gay marriage just doesn’t fit in Australian society. It was Labor man Keating, not Howard, who declared: “Two men and a cocker spaniel do not make a family.” He really did.

Full same-sex marriage just isn’t going to happen this side of a radical, probably frightening, overhaul of the system of democratic government in this country. And would you really want to pay such a high price for the right to introduce your partner as, well, your partner?

The population debate in haiku:

Tim Deyzel writes: Here’s my response summarizing the arguments over the last few weeks for an increased population. Warning: It’s bad haiku:

people of autumn age
dare ask below for support
ponzi pyramid policy

The specious argument is that the population is ageing due to the changing shape of the demographic pyramid and this will require massive tax increases. But rather than being smart about this and using the wisdom and skills of the older generation still able and willing to work, it’s proposed that we increase the tax base by reflating the base of the pyramid.

This is of course the biggest pyramid/ponzi scheme possible, illegal in this country under the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Section 65AAD).

The other vacuous argument that we should increase the population because we have space and can, didn’t warrant even a bad haiku.

A wonton destruction:

Mark Duffett writes: Re. “A King’s ransom for Wal, even as Leighton’s fortunes fall” (yesterday, item 23).  In his piece, Adam Schwab mentioned “wonton government stimulus spending”.  Is that in the same way that a gloomy Budget bottom line is a dim sum?

Peter Fray

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