Polls and political parlance:

Barry Donovan writes: Re. “No recovery for a leader too much like the man she knifed” (Friday, item 1). It is surprising that national political commentary continues to concentrate on newspaper-paid polls in mid-2011 when the next federal election is due in late 2013, more than two years away.

Once papers commissioned real polls in an election year — six months or so out — when voters stopped briefly thinking about their family living costs and the footy etc. and started looking seriously at the actual policies put forward by the different parties. This made sense. Now both Fairfax and News Ltd. are committed to paying for mainly irrelevant polls more than two years out which presumably helps them provide an easy but irrelevant  front page lead when nothing else beckons.

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We hardly need reminding that even in 2004 newspaper  polls had Mark Latham ready to become PM in polls running in  mid-2004. Even the final weeks can provide a major turnabout. To try and determine in mid-2011 how the Australian public will vote in late 2013 promotes nothing but false and misleading information apart from feeding a deceptive 24 hours news cycle.

Julia Gillard and the Labor Government may well lose the next election but it will be decided by their final detailed policies — and Abbot’s — two years hence, not  by what they may say tomorrow morning.

Joe Boswell writes: Crikey Canberra correspondent Bernard Keane wrote, “[Gillard] elaborated this into an obligation to make the most of educational opportunities, by rising early and working hard, preferably via some form of manual labour — famously contrasting the brickie and the socialite in a speech that could have been condensed into the famous graffiti “Work. Consume. Be Silent”.”

Yes, but if Gillard wants a really catchy slogan to summarise her ideas for the next election, she might try, “Work makes you free”. Sounds even better in German.

Climate change:

Tamas Calderwood writes: Re. “A breath of fresh air”: pollster Gary Morgan to host Monckton shindig” (Friday, item 3). Forget all the stupid Nazi slurs on both sides of the debate (and Guy Rundle’s 1300 words of gobbledygook trying to explain it), the most salient points are that Andrew Cook insists “a broad international scientific consensus” suggests the “science is settled” and Rundle equates “denilaism” with the “Right Wing fringe”.

Which is interesting, because the Supreme Court of the United States passed an 8-0 decision on Friday where they noted that the US Environmental Protection Agency has acknowledged “not all scientists agreed on the causes and consequences of the rise in global temperatures” and the Supremes reference a New York Times article about Freeman Dyson and his sceptical views on global warming.

So remind me again, why are we introducing a huge new tax that will have no perceptible affect on the climate even if this unsettled science is true?

Malcolm Cameron writes: Would you please explain to Andrew Crook that it is correct to address Viscount Monckton as Lord Monckton and there is no need for Andrew Crook to be childish and put the word Lord in inverted commas as if Monckton’s title is spurious.

All Viscounts are Lords, without the inverted commas.


James Jeffrey, Strewth columnist, The Australian, writes: I adore reading Guy Rundle, but like everyone, even he is capable of misfiring.

A week ago, he springboarded off a piece on Stephen Romei’s blog, A Ragged Pair of Claws, to attack my friend and colleague, Australian Literary Review editor Luke Slattery, for publicising Clive James’s leukaemia in a way that would have done a vulture proud (or am I overstretching my metaphors here?).

Luke has since set the record straight in your comments section, as has the essay’s author, David Free, in a more detailed way on A Pair of Ragged Claws.

As Free says of Rundle’s accusations, “none of this is so.” I’ve attached more of Free’s post below; I hope it is helpful. In the meantime, I have every confidence that Rundle knows what the true, gentlemanly thing would be to do next:

“… can I also correct a couple of inaccuracies in the Crikey story about Luke Slattery? The Crikey thing implies – or actually flat-out says – that Clive privately revealed the full details of his illnesses to Luke in the course of explaining why he, Clive, couldn’t contribute an article to the ALR. And then Luke, as the Crikey story has it, rather callously revealed those details in a news article.

“None of this is so. What really happened was this. I wrote an essay for Luke about Clive’s recent poetry. As part of my introduction, I mentioned that the poems revealed some pretty startling details about Clive’s recent ill-health – including the fact, revealed in the poem “Vertical Envelopment,” that he had been diagnosed with a slow-moving form of leukemia called CLL. Luke liked the essay (and who can blame him for that?), but was, like me, surprised and alarmed by the poem’s reference to CLL. He had the idea of alerting readers to my essay by running a tie-in news story about Clive’s health a day or two before the ALR appeared. So he emailed Clive to ask if he had anything to say on the record about his health scares. Clive provided some quotes, which then appeared in Luke’s final story. All entirely above board, I think you’d say.

“By the way, I did notice that Luke’s original story acquired some strange distortions as it got taken up by other sources across the web. One frequently repeated error had it that Luke ‘guessed’ Clive was ill because he was late delivering an essay. This piece of total bullshit arose when somebody at a wire service tried to compress the original story, which was rather complicated, into one small paragraph.”


Mick Peel writes“: Re. Niall Clugston (Friday, comments), it would be quite misleading to assume or suggest, on current information and events, that the EC, ECB and IMF (given the IMF’s association with the former two bodies) would consider any break-up of the eurozone by allowing Greece to secede and revert back its sovereign currency.

Aside from an impossibly messy process for Greece, the rhetoric and actions of the main Euro players lately (notwithstanding the incomprehensibility of such) should be a clear indication that they have not so much as a skerrick of regard to allow this.

However, I do agree that seceding the eurozone would be the best of all possible worlds for Greece in this crisis – I have felt so for at least two years now (in fact, it’s always been my view that Greece should never have entered what is effectively a fiscal union with economies like Germany and France). On that, I think, we can agree.

Hedley Thomas:

Guy Rundle writes: National chief correspondent of The Oz Hedley Thomas (Friday, comments), wrote to say that: “Crikey has tried hard to paint another false picture of journalism at The Australian by inferring that reporters at The Oz lack independence from Chris Mitchell.”

No. We did so by implying (suggesting) it, not inferring (i.e. interpreting, coming to the belief) it. Quite possibly we did infer it, but that was not the process by which we communicated it. An elementary error which no journalist should commit.

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Peter Fray
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