Fixed four year terms:

Jim Hanna writes: Re. Chris O’Mara (yesterday, comments) who bemoans fixed four year terms in NSW as somehow providing an advantage for an incumbent government. The truth is they should benefit oppositions because the date of the next election cannot be politically manipulated by the Government of the day — everybody knows well in advance when the next election will be held and no Government can hope to catch an opposition with its pants down by going early.

The notion that the Labor Government would be gone by now if we didn’t have fixed terms in NSW is also wrong. In Australia, only a Government can call an early election — not the Queen or one of her representatives. If terms weren’t fixed, an unpopular Government is hardly likely to call an early election, are they?

And four years is not too long for a Government. Many experts have said for decades that policies of substance cannot be implemented and completed within a three year term. Along comes a Government that’s been in for 16 years, and people want to blame fixed four-year terms. Nobody said they were a problem until Labor won five elections in a row.

Tony Abbott:

John Kotsopoulos writes: I should point out John Shailer (yesterday, comments) that most of the criticism of Abbott is not about his appalling choice of words in iterating his reaction to the soldier’s death.

What is more disturbing for many of us is his silent one minute and twenty second long quivering imitation of a landed fish in response to the reporter’s questioning.

(According to the Herald Sun, Channel 7 only showed an edited 24 seconds of this excruciating performance which, as in George W Bush’s initial reaction to the news about 9/11, surely calls into question the man’s capacity for higher office.)

Prince Charles’ speech:

Steven McKiernan writes: Re. “Richard Farmer’s chunky bits” (yesterday, item 10). No matter the truth, the sincerity, the appropriateness, the belief and conviction in the message of Charles Windsor (nee Saxe-Coburg-Gotha), and never mind that his wealth is generated by theft and entrenched privilege over generations, Australia should become a Republic at the earliest opportunity. Malcolm Turnbull was right.

The Assange trial:

Guy Rundle writes: Louise Bettison (Wednesday, comments) should read the journalists’ code of practice more carefully before she accuses me of breaching professional ethics. The passage she quotes says that a journalist should: “Identify yourself and your employer before obtaining any interview for publication or broadcast…”

In the case in question, I wasn’t interviewing anyone, I was getting into a public venue — a courtroom — which was applying an arbitrary rule. That’s not a breach of ethics, it’s just due diligence. Like reading a document before you quote it for example


Marcus L’Estrange writes: Re. “Richard Farmer’s chunky bits” (yesterday, item 10). No one in their right mind should take any notice of the monthly unemployment figures.

Currently we have 1.75 million Australians on one of the six dole payments. This automatically makes the headline ABS ‘Labor Force’ monthly figure of 600,000 plus unemployed or 5% as totally silly and irrelevant. It is based on a political definition of unemployment not an actuarial one such at the ABS ‘Persons not in the Labour Force’ survey which shows a real unemployment figure of 2 million chasing around 200,000 vacancies.

Steve Crabb, a former Victorian Employment Minister once remarked:

“There are lies, damn lies and statistics, the monthly employment number is not only misleading, it causes real harm and asked why the ABS produced this old (monthly) cobblers.”

This is why Julia Gillard has admitted last week to a real unemployment figure of 2 million, plus another 800,000 underemployed. Why Richard Farmer doesn’t understand the above is beyond my comprehension but then it’s easier to rewrite a press release than to do some basic research, isn’t it?


Nick Gartrell writes: Re. “Why pot really is making kids sick: the new scientific link” (Tuesday, item 9). The article is interesting as it raises a very relevant issue about the impact of cannabis on mental well being. However it falls into a very common trap that many researchers and commentators either aren’t aware of or choose to ignore.

Just as ‘oils aint oils’, ‘pot isn’t pot’ — at least there is no uniform substance that can be accurately called ‘pot’. There are so many different strains from around the world — including those that have no drug content at all — that the research needs to clearly identify the type and strength of the cannabis in the research.

The garden variety leafy cannabis of past generations is recognised by leading medical authorities to be a very different substance to the newer  indoor hydroponic varieties commonly sold on the street which can range from highly psychoactive to more narcotic. Unfortunately the police success in reducing the amount of regular cannabis crops grown outdoors is creating a bigger market for the more psychoactive or narcotic varieties, and contributing to the negative consequences.

Legalising or at least decriminalising home-grown pot would be an effective first step in reducing the volume of the more troublesome strains being sold by criminal elements.