Spokesperson for St Vincents & Mater Health David Faktor writes: (Re: claims in the “Tips and rumours” section, Monday 21 February 2011 edition). St Vincent’s Private Hospital (SVPH) is committed to establishing a Mental Health Unit within the St Vincent’s Hospital O’Brien Centre to treat young adults with early onset psychosis.

The tip claims: “This unit is attached to the new unit at the public hospital and was therefore paid by public money. St Vincent’s Private Hospital will now profit from public money.”

The O’Brien Centre – opened last year – houses the Mental Health, Alcohol & Drug and Community Health services of St Vincent’s Hospital (SVH). The Building was funded jointly (and in equal shares) by NSW Health and St Vincents & Mater Health Sydney.

Within the O’Brien Centre is a vacant area that SVPH will lease from SVH at full commercial rates. On top of this, SVPH is spending approximately $4 million to fit-out the new 20-bed Unit. This leasing agreement is not dissimilar to other existing leases the Private has with SVH. The revenue from this lease will be invested in SVH Mental Health services.

The tip also stated: “The question is will staff support be provided from the public mental health unit and will psychiatrists in the public hospital have admission rights? This will be a conflict of interest because they are using a public-funded position to earn money through private patients.”

The Unit will be staffed exclusively by SVPH staff. Existing SVH staff specialists who are interested and are appropriately accredited will have admitting and visitation rights at the new SVPH Unit in the same way as staff specialists do in other specialties across the Darlinghurst Campus.

The tip claims that there is a “fine public/private line at St Vincent’s”. This claim is contradicted by over 100 years of seamless and cooperative co-location between the two facilities – embodied by the fact that the Campus is referenced, visited and replicated the world over – as a shining example of Public-Private co-location.

It seems that there was no attempt to contact the hospital to check facts before publishing the tip which contains errors as to the commercial arrangements at SVH and creates a false suggestion of conflicts of interest which do not exist.

Dog whistle politics:

Andrew Lewis writes: Marcus Vernon (yesterday, comments) makes an impassioned plea, I’m not quite sure what it is, but it is impassioned. He rails heartily against the angry left. Good luck to him. I don’t wish to be mistaken for an apologist for the angry left, but what are the issues Marcus?

I quote you as follows: “But the impact of current-day Islam is a different issue, also for many reasons. It is time the Left recognised the right of ordinary Australians to have these issued debated.”

Mr Vernon complains, angrily I suggest, that the left uses the “dog whistling” term, and then appears to purse his lips and blow, and rather hard at that.

What is it about Muslims that so riles you Mr Vernon? You call for a debate, invoke “the silent majority”, and then refuse to join it. What are the silent majority thinking? I don’t care what the pollies are thinking, what are these unspoken thoughts that I am certainly ignorant of.

It is the abject inability of the right to enunciate rationally what it  is that bothers them about Islam, specifically, that doesn’t apply to every race, religion and nationality on the planet. In that absence of clarity of thought, and the snide innuendo so often used, that the left justifies its use of the term “dog whistling”.

So if you really hate dog whistling, stop pursing your lips and tell us all the problem.

Brett Gaskin writes: So Marcus Vernon thinks the political “dog whistle” is a load of rubbish dreamt up by the left. Fair enough, I’m willing to accept that as true if Marcus can explain a few more things.

What is it called when a political party makes statements that it knows are untrue, with the simply objective of increasing political support? I guess we could call it lying.

What is it called when a political party disingenuously attributes an individual’s actions to an entire ethnic group, with the objective of increasing political support? I guess we could call it racism.

What is it called when a political party consistently seeks to encourage and exploit the more base instincts of human nature, with the objective of increasing political support? I guess we could call it evil.

So Marcus, let’s do away with the term “dog whistle” politics and call it for what is really is.


Jim Hart writes: Re. “Borders and A&R simply got the business model wrong” (yesterday, item 21). There’s something about books. Doesn’t matter if you’re talking about bankrupt booksellers, why kids can’t read, or the glory/evil of the iPad, we still love to honour books. I learned this when I got my first job with a publisher — never mind that I was fixing junior maths texts, I was in publishing so people assumed I was an intellectual.

Politicians love books too, they love the aura of respectability they get by being photographed in front of shelves of bound volumes, even if they are the collected works of Hansard. Then there are all those corporate heavyweights who all love books too and inevitably have a stack of them by the bed — if only they had time to read them, but perhaps they will if insomnia ever coincides with no s-x and no cocoa.

When the over-geared retail chains are gone writers will still write, publishers will still publish, readers will still read. And hopefully independent booksellers will still be there, united perhaps as (wait for it) librairies sans frontières.

David Havyatt writes: Adam Schwab gets the conclusion wrong; the internet isn’t killing the retail bookseller anymore than television killed the cinema. What is wrong is the mega-bookstore model. It has neither the customer service advantages of a traditional bookstore, nor the scale and technical efficiencies of an internet  bookseller.

The “category killer” model was doomed to fail — but we pay the price of the small bookstores killed on the way through.


Phylli Ives writes: So another young man has been killed in Afghanistan. I know our Prime Minister says that we will stay there until we have completed our mission, but what is our mission?

It all began when our former prime minister sent our troops to fight in Iraq without any consultation with the people or the Parliament. And they have been there ever since moving on from Iraq to Afghanistan. And 23 of our young men will never come home again. Bring them all home.

Worst Crikey headline ever:

Niall Clugston writes: Re. “Big Barry lets his inner Che Guevara loose on Penrith” (yesterday, item 3). “Big Barry lets his inner Che Guevara loose on Penrith.” This has to be the most ridiculous headline Crikey has ever produced. Simply because the Electrical Trades Union previously proposed amalgamation of power companies shouldn’t conjure up the spectre of a Liberal-led Communist revolution in NSW.