L M McIntire writes: Re. Yesterday’s Editorial. Crikey quotes The Guardian:

“The job of the media is not to protect power from embarrassment.”

No it isn’t.  But when it comes to other peoples’ secrets The Guardian feels itself quite competent and justified in making decisions about what shouldn’t kept confidential because doing so just protects someone from embarrassment and what (if anything in The Guardian‘s judgement) should reasonably be kept confidential in order to protect the life of someone.

When it comes to the protection of its own sources The Guardian, like all media organisations, argues that not even judges are competent to determine if what is being protected is just The Guardian‘s embarrassment or if protection is really required. It, like all media organisations, demands absolute and total protection of its sources.

I imagine that The Guardian‘s response to say a News of the World story detailing the names of public servants who provided information to The Guardian would not be “The job of the media is not to protect power from embarrassment” but rather one decrying the non-protection of confidential sources. Geese and ganders!

Steven Campbell writes: Re. “Rundle: the world changed this week. And it’s only Monday” (yesterday, item 1). I just read Guy Rundle’s article about WikiLeaks and was nodding all of the way through until I got to the last paragraph. Unless I am mistaken you express that you wouldn’t want anyone to reveal all of the secrets of “the socialist government of Bolivia”.

Further along you want the whistleblower incarcerated. What sort of mongrel would that make you? I’m of the opinion that all information should be made available for inspection to concerned parties, not concealed and use to promote corruption in government and commerce and civil affairs.

Satire sets my teeth agrind when I fail to grasp the inference clearly.

Ken Lambert writes: Wow — the Afghan govt is corrupt — who would have thought?  We all know that the rabble of unemployed called the Afghan National Army we are dying to train will cut and run the minute we go home and the Taliban rides into town.

Was it Winston who said that in war the truth is so important that it has to be protected by an elaborate tissue of lies?

If the US security agencies were half smart they would ensure that another leaker kept “our little Aussie leaker” well furnished with plausible information sufficient to keep him publishing the latest sensational revelations for a bit longer.

Only one such sensational revelation need be proven “a sting”  for all the world to see; and WikiLeaks would suffer its own version of the exploding rat. Lost credibility and never being sure they were not being stung again would be a fitting end to our “Aussie anarchist exhibitionist”.

Justin Templer writes: In his comment on the latest WikiLeaks release Guy Rundle writes:

“The US and other governments have repeatedly petitioned WikiLeaks not to release the cables, and argued that it would put ‘countless’ lies at risk.” (my italics).

Rundle’s serendipitous typo says it all. There is another great irony here — after a long history of the US being unwilling to share secrets with supposedly unreliable allies it now seems that the boot is on the other foot.

David Hardie writes: You draw the analogy between WikiLeaks latest revelations and the Spy vs. Spy cartoon. I’d suggest a better analogy: Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. See here for a description.

Victoria election:

Jim Hart writes: More power to voices like Laura Daniel’s (yesterday, comments). The major parties have been able to hijack preferential voting in upper-house elections thanks to the mindless simplicity of the above-the-line vote and the mindless disinterest of much of the populace. But while Ms Daniel is right that it is “a bit of bother” to fill out the whole form, it’s no bother at all with the limited option such as in last week’s Victorian upper-house election where you could stop numbering after 5 if you wish and still be valid. Unlike the senate where you have to number the lot.

Australians should be proud of our preferential system and yet we allow our political parties to engineer the preferences so much that we are effectively steered towards a tick-one-box vote. I’d bet a decent sum that very few voters above the line know where their upper-house preferences are going. It’s not easy to find out and most parties aren’t interested in telling you. Don’t you worry about that seems to be their mantra.

Instead let’s bring back a greater degree of involvement. If numbering every candidate is too difficult (and yes it takes longer and may lead to more informals), then the alternative should be to number every box above the line. That would allow voters to show their order of preference for the parties (which is what most of us go by) rather than the individual candidates

The logical alternative is to simplify all lower-house ballots – just write 1 beside one name and let the party machine do the rest. I hope that would never be adopted but sadly I fear it would be an easy sell.

John Watters writes: Re. “Victorian Labor prepares for a post-Brumby world” (yesterday, item 4).  The main reason that governments in Australia do not last more than a decade is because of the Australian trait of believing in a fair go. In most elections  slightly more than 50% of voters elect a government which means that almost half of voters do not get the government of their choice. For democracy to work it is important that everyone should have representation of their wishes for some time so it is essential to give the other side a go at government.

Electricity privatisation:

Niall Clugston writes: Re. “Electricity privatisation: Keneally piloting death star that is Labor” (yesterday, item 16). While I agree with Candace Sutton’s opposition to electricity privatisation, her article (Monday, item 16) is mostly an amalgam of invective and make-believe.

It’s obviously untenable for Bernie Riordan to be President of NSW Labor and support non-Labor candidates.  In Sutton’s Star Wars-themed universe, this isn’t even an issue.  No, it doesn’t undermine Riordan’s position: it’s “a body blow of incalculable proportions to Keneally.”  Keneally, you see, not Labor as a whole.

In this fantasy world, “the party has dumped the NSW Right”, there’s a “powerful NSW union movement”, and the “winner” is Transport Minister John Robertson – as if foisting yet another Labor leader on the state’s voters is some kind of solution!

And, by the way, the Star Wars reference is wrong.  The Death Star didn’t get its name because it was “dying”.

Peter Fray

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