The election:

Ken Lambert writes: Re. “Abbott copied the Howard template, and reaped the rewards” (Crikey’s Sunday morning hung parliament edition, item 2). Tony Abbott has produced an amazing passage of play in Australian political history.

From Opposition Mad Monk last October, Tony Abbott has challenged and defeated Malcolm Turnbull, routed Kevin07 from the battle of carbon taxes; caused the political slaying of same Kevin07 by his own party and destroyed the majority and legitimacy of the Gillard Labor Government. Not bad for an unsmooth man with punchy ears and knock knees.

So what has Tony got which his two Prime Ministerial victims don’t have?

How about being a bad liar? — that embarrassing honesty which the confessional has grooved into his character. How about the lack of slickness? — lack of the rehearsed hyperbolic fakery of the privately foul-mouthed Rudd; lack of the clever verbal slyness of Gillard massaging her message with more front that Myer. How about political courage? — authenticity? — that gut feeling that when the chips are down; Abbott will do the right thing.

Democracy has worked in Australia — the people have seen-through and dispatched a gutless, deceitful, incompetent, hypocritical Labor government of careerists run by Trade Unionist puppeteers.

Niall Clugston writes: Re. “Keane: it’s just a jump to the Left” (Crikey’s Sunday morning hung parliament edition, item 1). A two-party-preferred swing of over 2% to the conservatives is hardly a “jump to the left”!

And while a vote of 12% is a good result for the Greens, it is hardly indicative of broad public support, especially in a preferential system. Nor is a vote for the Greens necessarily a lurch leftwards.  For many it is a protest vote, with a significant number going on to preference the Coalition.  For others it expresses general support for conservation, which is not exclusively a leftwing issue, as Malcolm Fraser would attest.

The real polarisation of this election is not between left and right, but between NSW and Queensland and the rest of Australia.  Action Abbott did well in those two states, but Labor held the line elsewhere.  This is probably due to state regimes that have outworn their welcome, and hometown sympathy for Rudd in Queensland.

While a potential Labor/Green/populist government might be marginally more leftwing than the preceding Labor one, this wouldn’t indicate a change in the electorate but merely a change in parliamentary circumstances.

(Which is all a bit of a pity.)

Virginia Gordon writes: Re. “With grandma in charge, the Liberals were celebrating” (Crikey’s Sunday morning hung parliament edition, item 6). A truly delightful report from the room from Margot Saville, I felt as though I was back at Syd Uni colleges in the late 70s.

Her turns of phrase (or turn of phrases?) so refreshing after all the political blah blah foisted upon us through the campaign by well meaning, less entertaining journalists.   “this must be the election-night equivalent of a dry cleaners, where you pick up a suit”. Margot’s mother would be very proud of her.

Nicholas Way writes: Re. “Simons: the writes and wrongs of election coverage” (Friday, item 5).  I found it curious, to say the least, to read this comment in Margaret Simons’ piece that this campaign has been “the worst election campaign since the 1960s”.

Now, I’m too young to remember the 1961/63 campaigns, but if a fading memory serves me well the other two elections of the 1960s (1966 and 1969) were far from being bad campaigns. Real issues on matters of principle were debated and debated hotly. The Vietnam War was front and centre in 1966 with the Labor leader Arthur Calwell arguing strongly against our involvement in this civil war (and the conscription that was a by-product of it).

In doing so he went against public opinion (remember when politicians did that?) that was, at this time, still strongly in favour of our involvement. It cost him seats, although history proved him right. In 1969, with Gough Whitlam at the helm for the first time, Labor was projecting a radically different agenda to the Coalition in areas such as health, education, Vietnam (now less popular), urban development. The list could go on.

Right now Australia is deeply involved in a conflict in Afghanistan in which lives are being lost and there is no end in sight, and never will be, and yet hardly a word spoken by either party. So 2010 hardly bears comparison with 1966 and 1969.

Michael Gunter writes: Re. “Victorious Bandt takes the stage to a ‘making history’ mantra” (Crikey’s Sunday morning hung parliament edition, item 6). Being a strong Greens supporter and non-member volunteer, I was at the Victoria Hotel last night caught up in the raw emotion, getting a hoarse voice, but I object to Crikey‘s Andrew Crook’s characterization of my/our jubilation as coming from a “nest of screaming acolytes”.

A nest is where brainless birds sit in their own sh-t. That sounds a bit like industrialists bathed in excess CO2 pollution of their own making.

Acolytes are junior priests in a religious order. Crook is trying to portray Greens as a quasi-religious belief system?

Richard Di Natale is not an “Otway farmer” primarily. Rather he is a Geelong primary health care practitioner, at least in terms of dollars, not hours worked.

Altogether a jaundiced report from Crikey — is this his usual style? If so it sucks.

Harold Levien writes: If we don’t recognise the principal cause of the electoral swing from the Government and don’t take action as a nation to restrict this cause our democracy will continue to be seriously stunted. The Coalition’s mantra of “we will stop the boats, we will repay the Government’s huge debt and deficit, we will stop the big new taxes” resonated with the swinging voters. The SBS Insight programs over several weeks, which carefully recruited swinging voters to determine their reaction to the election campaign, showed this to be the case.

Yet less than 3% of immigrants arrived in leaky boats last year,  Australia has the lowest public debt and budget deficit of all the developed economies and is the envy of these economies for the way in which the Government staved off the GFC and recession, and the mining tax (to which the Coalition was referring and which it has refused to proceed with) is accepted by the vast majority of economists and the three largest mining companies as a fair return to the nation for the exploitation of its resources.

Thus the electoral swing appears to have been achieved through slogans based on falsehoods and falsely implied damage to the economy. There are two ways to deal with this in future elections. First, to establish an election commission to vet the truthfulness of party election material; and secondly, as a longer term policy, to introduce into all schools a compulsory course in Government so that students are taught the structure, functions and processes of government and the economy especially the basics of  macroeconomic policy.

These are our future voters and their electoral decisions will determine the nature of the society in which they will live. At present far too many voters fail to understand the issues they confront at the polling booths and the consequences of their decisions. They can therefore be easily misled by those with a vested interest in misleading them.

Neil James, Executive Director, Australia Defence Association, writes: Re. “Rundle: Gillard versus Abbott — the culture war is personified” (Friday, item 3). In some commentary rather than reporting, Guy Rundle describes what he terms the “Australian Defence Association” as part of the National Civic Council (NCC).

Just in case any reader should incorrectly think this refers to the Australia Defence Association (please note the different spelling of the first word in our title), the ADA is not and never has been formally or informally affiliated with the NCC or indeed any other political party or movement.

Indeed we have not seen this ancient (circa late 1970s) and long discredited fact-free political smear from the so-called “Campaign for International Co-operation and Disarmament” — ironically itself a Communist Party of Australia front group — of that era for some time. Which certainly shows Guy’s political bias and ideological antecedents, and perhaps shows the depths to which he trawls his revolutionary despair (to paraphrase Lenin and Trotsky).

As a fiercely independent, staunchly non-partisan, and deliberately community-based, public-interest watchdog organisation we are proud of our hard-won reputation for offering informed advice and considered criticism to both sides of politics on its merits, not because of any party-political or other ideological imperatives — nor indeed any commercial, bureaucratic or other sectional interest.

As it always has, the ADA membership continues to include many former senators and MPs from both sides of politics, including former Ministers for Defence and Attorney-Generals from both Labor and Coalition governments.

Like many Australian public  organisations we also probably have reformed members who belonged to the various communist parties or the NCC in their misspent or misguided youth. Indeed I can think of at least one retired judge among our members who was a CPA member for many years.

We take great care to preserve such balances between the two main parties because they are important to our impartiality, institutional integrity and public credibility. We also take great care with the transparency of our constitution, processes and activities, and 20 minutes research on the Web would quickly have educated Guy in the facts. He might start off with a visit to the FAQ page of our website at

Kate Mathews Hunt writes: After what can only be described as a dismal and disturbing five weeks, it is surprising to me that the media has so far failed to engage in a little self-analysis, to explore its role in what I call, the first media-corrupted federal election campaign.

Two things:

1) Isn’t it time someone took a look at:

  • The persistent media focus on silly single issues which both shaped and generated public opinion, in what became a frenzy of self-righteous hypocrisy. This pertained to the Labor leaks, Rudd and the boat-people issue. NEVER has a PM been so beset by repetitive and persistent haranguing over an issue, which ultimately, had nothing to do with the future government, its policies, its record or the election.
  • The virtual media silence over Abbot’s refusal to debate (which in itself perpetuated the “no-information” nature of the campaign);
  • The media’s failure to look at WHY Gillard’s attempts to make POLICY an issue were so constantly overturned by persistent media focus upon Kevin Rudd/leaks/boat people and positive spin about Abbot despite his miniscule target policy.

The media has a HUGE if not determinative responsibility for the fact that so few Australians knew what the policies really were or how significant either party’s backflips/ hypocrisies were OR how good the Government’s economic performance had been — it was as if it was not significant on the world stage (much less the Australian one)… with the result that people were confused. The vote sure reflects that.

2) Secondly, why is there shades of the media-led loathing for women politicians like Ros Kelly… Joan Kirner… Cheryl Kernot … (I’ll even include Bronwyn Bishop who was elevated ridiculously — only to be taken out viciously).

Could it be that the MEDIA (Murdoch or not) suffers from what seems to me to be a loathing of women and SEXISM that ultimately says no female-style of leader (with red hair and ear lobes and a Woman’s Weekly cover) can ever be good enough? That she must be taken down as a threat to their overblown, self-important boys-club view of Australian politics?

Must women all function as a steel-undied man like Michelle Grattan or be a subordinate lapdog like Julie Bishop?

Take a look Crikey — you may not like what you see about the media in Australia. It has everything to answer for in this debacle of an election campaign and ultimately, result.

Andrew Haughton writes: Australia badly needs a longer fixed term Federal Government of at least four and preferably five years. Then Education, Health, Communications and Business can plan for the country’s future. The Independents can push this. Otherwise we are simply lurching to and from contradictory policies every two and a half years at best.

The Church of Scientology:

Cyrus Brooks, Church of Scientology Australia, writes: Re. “Aussie Scientology journos on the hunt” “Media briefs: Aussie Scientology journos on the hunt … seeking men with 7mate … a race to enter …” (19 August, item 21).  It is ironic that Crikey intern, Jasmin Pfefferkorn, discusses “the integrity of journalists” in her highly misleading and unbalanced report on Freedom magazine’s advertisement seeking investigative journalists to concentrate on the Australian East Coast and South Australia.

Had Ms Pfefferkorn acted with integrity, she would have contacted the Church of Scientology Australia and asked for an explanation. She did not.

The Church would have told Ms Pfefferkorn that the desire for reporters in SA had nothing to do with Senator Xenophon and everything to do with the magazine’s (and the Church’s) desire to investigate major human rights issues in that State following the passing of the Mental Health Act.

The law recognised minors aged 14 and above as adults who can be treated without parental consent. and there is high rater of over-drugging of children which needs to be investigated across the country.

The Church’s Citizens’ Commission on Human Rights has a long track record investigating and exposing the excesses of mental health systems in Australia and internationally.

As an example, for more than a decade CCHR Australia spearheaded a campaign for justice for Deep Sleep Treatment victims at Chelmsford Private Psychiatric Hospital in Sydney.

Intel and McAfee:

Michael Virant writes: Re. “Why Intel bought McAfee” “Media briefs: election? What election? … Chatroulette spins … ads in books …” (Friday, item 24). “…as the tech world tries to understand how a company synonymous with processors and computer chip technology will make use of a major security software and services organization.”

The answer is available in Scientific American (Aug 2010, p68). I had just finished reading the article before attending to my Crikey fix. The article’s key concepts:

  • Integrated circuits are increasingly complex and capable but also increasingly vulnerable to attack
  • The circuits typically include designs from many sources around the world.  A Trojan attack hidden in one of these designs could surface long after the circuit has left the factory
  • A few relatively simple measures could go a long way toward protecting hardware from malicious attackers

Solutions include the introduction of memory gatekeepers, securing the system bus, input/output monitors (to question unusual block behaviour), and allowing a circuit to quarantine a compromised block and replicate its function.

So I suspect Intel is working with the US Defence Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to add extra logic to the circuits to pre-empt a hardware attack.  In light of this, it is logical that Intel acquired McAfee patents, hacker knowledge and valued expertise.  A secured circuit will differentiate their product, be in high demand and command a premium in the market.