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A Fawkes in opinion:
L M McIntire writes: Where did Alan Kennedy (yesterday, comments) grow up? In outer suburban Melbourne in the 1950s and certainly the early 1960s there were always two “cracker nights”: Empire Day and Guy Fawkes Night, with the latter probably being the more important.
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Sectarianism had nothing to do with it and this product of a Catholic primary school joined in with protestant neighbours in burning a Guy atop the largest bonfire we could make in a vacant paddock. The bonfire would often include such noxious contents as old car tyres and almost always required a splash of petrol to get going. (And tell that to kids these days …)
In our area however, we were, unfortunately, never aware that we could have gone begging for pennies.
Michael Kennedy writes: I suspect that the good Alan Kennedy has given away why he never had the joy of Guy Fawkes Night, “And who can forget in Sydney …”.
In the Melbourne of my youth, Guy Fawkes night was eagerly anticipated. There were large bonfires, with a Guy, and a small war’s worth of fireworks. From sunset until the bonfire died, the sound of fireworks was punctuated by the delighted squeals of countless small children (“proddies” and the others) augmented by the terrified squeals of countless dogs and cats.
In fact, I can recall that cracker night, as we also called it, was much talked about at school and the masters having to confiscate the occasional bunger. I suspect that the issue relates to climate and society, early November in Melbourne can call for bonfires and we’ve never had the disdain for established order as our northern rum soaked convict cousins.
Geoff Coyne writes: Alan Kennedy wrote: “Remember the fifth of November? Err no I can’t …” Well, I can and so do many of my friends who grew up in the late 1940s and 1950s in Melbourne.
It was a bonfire night for us, replete with all the joys of fireworks that Alan Kennedy describes, with the added attraction of being much warmer on November 5 in Melbourne than Empire night was on May 24.
And even though we were Catholic kids at Catholic schools, no one — including the nuns and parish priest — ever protested about the underlying basis of anti-Catholicism. Kids just want to have fun.
John Thompson writes: Perhaps Alan Kennedy could ponder the fact that Australia doesn’t start and finish in metropolitan Sydney. As I understand it, Richard Farmer grew up in Tasmania. I grew up in the Adelaide Hills, and my experience parallels that of Farmer, including large gatherings on the Stirling Oval every Guy Fawkes night. We saved like mad to get as large a collection of fireworks as we could for “cracker night”.
I find Alan’s “humorous” story about blowing up a bag of fireworks hard to laugh at, given that my sister did the same thing to our biggest ever cache of crackers by standing over it with a lit sparkler. It was spectacular for a very short period of time, and it still rankles.
Guy Fawkes night was an important (light-hearted) occasion, until the do-gooders banned fireworks for the general public.
Martin Gordon writes: Re. “Rundle: Assange denounces publication of ‘unauthorised bio‘” (yesterday, item 2). The irony and hypocrisy are the two things that jumped out when I read this.
The man that believes in openness does not believe that it applies to him (umm!). The man who is happy to skewer other people, nations’ security and cause collateral damage to public servants (but only in democracies) seems to a bit sensitive when the heat is on him. Reminds me of the duplicity of the like of Ralph Nader, who was happy for others to be exposed but not the affairs of his organisations or like-minded associates.
It merely shows that people such as Assange are probably more cynical, manipulative and hypocritical than those who they criticise.
Shorten and super:
Paul Hampton-Smith writes: Re. “Shorten crafts a major reform on compulsory super” (yesterday, item 3). I find the planned removal of commissions for super funds bizarre. Have I read this right — that the incentive for the funds to outperform will be removed?
Yes, financial adviser commissions for simply on-selling the fund should be outlawed, but I would be happy with higher fund manager commissions if they were sensibly linked to fund performance. It seems to come from a naive idea that investments will grow at the same rate regardless of the quality of the investing.
Also, if it causes smaller funds to be bought out, then that will be a negative too. There is opportunity risk associated with very large funds, simply because the value of assets that they can buy or sell at any one time must be kept to a small percentage to avoid moving the market.
So large funds are forced towards a dumber buy and hold (and hope) strategy, whereas a boutique fund manager can have a nimble approach if necessary.