Kevin Rudd:

Alan Kennedy writes: In all the excitement about Julian Assange, Oprah and Hugh Jackman our foreign minister has been flying under the radar more than somewhat. He has gone rogue and is daily presenting PM Gillard with a problem.

First he became a champion of Julian Assange saying he alone had the right to suspend passports, then dipping into the schools’ laptop allocation to send one to Julian in prison. He also gave the US a kicking saying it was its fault all the stuff leaked out and maybe it should be more careful.

Yesterday, as the Assange case raged, Rudd was in Israel embarrassing Israel’s right wing foreign minister by calling for Israel to open up all its nuclear facilities for inspection and for Israel to sign up to  the nuclear non proliferation treaty. Have a look at the press conference — it is hysterical.

Now, as Israel has trouble even owning up to having nuclear weapons, the foreign minister of Israel looked more than a little uncomfortable and p-ssed off about Rudd. No doubt he or Netanyahu were on the phone later to the US to tell them to tell Julia Gillard via Arbib to get Rudd back on the reservation. Afterall, when Downer was foreign minister he didn’t speak until he got his daily riding instructions from Washington.

Of course, Rudd will ignore any such calls. But how long can he go on being an independent foreign minister? One hopes forever. But the US will be increasingly annoyed about this independent behaviour and may ask for action.

Gillard, who has been disgracefully silent in the face of the latest outrage against Assange, will try to comply but it may not be that easy. Arbib and his sycophantic mates of the NSW will want Rudd to shut up but he seems to be Teflon man, untouchable in the current state of play. It’s wonderful to watch. For Kevin revenge is a dish best eaten cold.


Niall Clugston writes: Re. “WikiLeaks: the government’s problem is getting the basics right” (yesterday, item 1). All those who thought our debate a year ago on the Cold War reporter, Wilfred Burchett, was irrelevant, hang your heads over your keyboards in shame!

The central issue — national security versus media freedom — has re-emerged in the WikiLeaks case. There is even talk of Assange being denied an Australian passport, as Burchett was for two decades.

It was clearly the discussion we had to have.

Public media vs. private media:

Martyn Smith writes: Re. Yesterday’s Editorial. I thought Crikey‘s editorial was most apposite. Sadly we can’t afford to take the ABC or its independence for granted.

In modern times, governments of both major political colours have shown they are keen to cut expenditure and privatise public resources, often through the backdoor by outsourcing. The ABC had a close shave during Howard’s time in government, during which it was under constant attack.

The end result of the political appointments to the ABC board and staff is that the ABC is venturing more and more into commercial activities that can compromise its content. In due course it will end up like the private media if we aren’t watchful.

The only organisation dedicated to keeping the ABC strong and independent is the community group Friends of the ABC. If any of Crikey‘s readers want to know more about the FABC and its efforts, go to:


Vernon Brabazon writes: Re. “Clive Palmer’s magnificent flying machines”  (yesterday, item 11). Clive Palmer clearly is not concerned about the global scarcity of helium. Check it out, if a party balloon should cost $100 in real cost terms, then what is it going to cost to fill a zeppelin?

It does not look like  a good business plan to rely on a very rare gas to reinvent a dubious transport option for the 21st century.

A lot of investors are going to get burned on this one…

Tony Blackmore writes: Someone seems to have forgotten the Alan Bond airship that actually flew over a few Australian cities and was expected to be sold to the US Navy for anti-submarine duty.

Australia’s food industry:

Mike Newbold writes: Re. “The real story … we have a surplus of exports over imports” (yesterday, item 20). No Glenn, the Australian Food and Grocery Council and KPMG have got it right, we have exported our food industry overseas.

Commodities does not mean the same thing as food. I don’t eat oil seed but I do use cooking oil, I don’t eat grain but I do eat biscuits made from flour.  We have successfully exported our food manufacturing industry, we don’t value add we just sell commodities and let other economies covert them into higher value products and sell them back to us, or to quote your article, “the substantially and elaborately transformed products with much higher unit values comprise most of food imports.”

Groceries are manufactured foods not commodities, check your pantry, most of it is now imported, only your fridge contains much local produce.

Tips to the tip:

Arley Moulton writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 8). Crikey published:

“There are some red faces at the Victoria government’s Metro Waste Management Group over its latest funding application on recycling and waste reduction for local government. The online form doesn’t allow applicants to save a copy to their own computer. Instead applicants for this EOI are only permitted by the website to print out a paper copy if they wish to keep a record.”

Oh come on Crikey. There are heaps of PDF print drivers that would solve your problem. And if that’s to technical for the PC-n00bs out there then there’s 100’s of other avenues to try resolve your issue before giving up and writing into the Crikey tips section. (Like asking a friend, googling “print to file” “print to PDF” “save file instead of printing” all have relevant results).

This is as much a “tip” as me writing in that I ran out of toilet paper last night or my front door key wouldn’t work when I got home 20mins later from work. I think the only red face is on your tipster who doesn’t think before shooting at the hip.

Yogi Bear:

Keith Binns writes: Re. “Video of the Day: the Assassination of Yogi Bear” (yesterday, item 9). Hey, lay off Yogi. You’re dissing my childhood. We all had a friend called Booboo and rejoiced in the knowledge that we “Smarter than the average bear.” The audacity of naming their abode “Jellystone” (after, of course, the iconic Yellowstone) still amazes me.

Climate change:

Donald Dowell writes: What has happened to The Australian? What’s with all this “we are all Warmists now” nonsense?

One used to be able to read a magnificent article from the likes of Ian Plimer, Bob Carter and Lord “I won the Falklands War” Monckton to confirm that the whole thing is a vast conspiracy by scientists to become mega-rich, while condemning the Earth’s population to a life similar to a disaster movie like The Road.

Now, since editor Chris Mitchell got narky with some blogger, it’s all about “sensible solutions”. I remember when you would start bulk-buying canned food after a Christopher Pearson prediction of the next Ice Age due to the “cooling” not “warming”, and he wasn’t talking thousands of years down the road, he sounded like it was next week.

Now it’s all about falling standards in schooling. Boring. Even “Cut and Paste” has dropped the ball and is now just a “Labor bad ,OK” whimper.

Do you have to read Andrew Bolt in the Herald Sun to get the truth nowadays?