Kindle winners:

Crikey writes: As if a subscription to Crikey isn’t inherently valuable enough, there was a reasonable chance you could have picked up your very own Amazon Kindle 3G+Wi-Fi, too. We gave away 10 over 10 days. Friday’s lucky last winner was Angela Smith.


Bill Williams writes: Re. “Rundle: Greece should leave the EU and turn Europe on its ear” (Friday, item 1). The most interesting part of Guy Rundle’s essay was the comments section in which Guy’s failure to grasp the importance of the EU “experiment” is so well exposed by contributors like Michael R. James.

Guy’s own,  somewhat petulant, replies further expose this inability to see that the formation of the EU was one of the best demonstrations, to the rest of the world, of nations being able to see past their own nationalistic interests for the greater good of the union members. Guy’s advice that “Greece should fight for its independence” or at least threaten to, reveals the narrowness of his analysis.

Independence (from the nation we now call the United Kingdom) that the United States celebrates as one of its most important national achievements, sits beside the uniting of the American states itself as foundations that helped the US become, for a while, the strongest economy in the world.

Perhaps the EU should be called United Europe so that people such as Guy can understand the far sightedness of the attempt?

One of the reasons the EU was such a good idea for Europe was because it enabled the Europeans to collaborate with each other more effectively in order to compete more effectively in the global marketplace against the biggest player in the global market at the time … the US. And the US surely knew it … almost destroying it before it began and insisting on the right to be involved in the process at every step. (The UK’s own role in the formation of the EU is another case study in national independence. I imagine Rundle sees the UK’s decision to not join the monetary union as wise and can’t see that a European crisis will hurt them too … and that the UK should be applying its shoulder to the wheel as well?)

Another commentator on the Rundle essay (@Jackol) points out, without recommending it, a much better direction than Guy’s: that the EU could press ahead with full fiscal union.  Strengthening the interdependence of the EU would at least enable the EU to ensure that Greece’s tax system actually works (a tactic Michael R. James intelligently recommends). Strengthening the EU’s independence through fiscal union is a much better direction than GR’s revert to independence “take your bat and ball and go home” strategy.

Rundle’s essay, in calling for a weak state suich as Greece, to fight against  or withdraw from the EU as group completely overlooks the US’s role in the global financial crisis. (Pity poor Angela Merkel, who foresaw that admitting Greece to the EU would be a mistake and now has to oversee paying for that mistake!)

The EU is not Greek’s enemy, Guy. The US , who imposed the neo-liberal “free market” on the world and not only abandoned the need for the orderly supervision of financial markets is the culprit. The US, who imposed this market model on the rest of the OECD nations and made the whole situation worse by being the worst offender in consuming more than they earned then printing money to address the symptoms of their broken systems. Quantitative easing even sounds strategically responsible way of managing the books. It also ignores the “off the books, war footing” accounting model applied to military expenditure.

The world can be thankful that at least the EU is engaging with the problems of paying for what it’s member states consume … which is more than can be said for the Americans.

And we subscribers can be thankful that Crikey journalists such as Rundle can’t get away with writing such shallow analysis without getting called out by his readers. Many of us share Rundle’s natural inclination to rebel from authority, even good authority such as the EU is trying to offer its immature daughter, Greece. Clamouring for independence for “united states” is clearly a step backwards. The US themselves thought it to be such a step backwards they fought a civil war over it (1861-1865), shortly after the war they fought for independence (1775-1783).

The Europeans set the whole world an example of the importance of interdependent nations. What do you think the UN, The G20, the G12, ASEAN, the Asia Pacific Forum etc, etc, are all about, Guy? The world is confronting a raft of problems that can only be solved by an interdependent, international approach. Why do you think the United States united? Angela Merkel and the EU are fighting the good fight … even if you can’t see it. Until humans can sort out their own economic systems interdependence, what chance do we have of ever tackling the problems of species and ecosystem interdependence?

Katherine Stuart writes: Guy Rundle’s arguments about what Greece should do express a kind of “power to the people” rhetoric which, while perhaps admirable in itself, presents a rather black-and-white view of the current euro crisis. European commentators seem divided along two main lines: the need for even greater ties and economic union through more controls, and the unfairness of it all for those smart and efficient northern European states doing the bailing out of those lazy, inefficient southern Europeans (also, one would have to agree, a rather black-and-white view).

The first group are rightly terrified of the threat of the disintegration of the EU project, of which the euro is an integral part. Given Europe’s bloody history of warring, and considering that as recently as in 2010 figures, Europol’s terrorism watch found that regional separatism is actually responsible for the vast majority of acts of terrorism in little old Europe (around 280) — not Islamic terrorism (4) — I know which lot I’m supporting.


Sandi Logan, national communications manager at Immigration (DIAC), writes:  Re. “Looks to be service as normal, despite Qantas, TWU predictions” (Friday, item 8). Ben Sandilands mistakenly accused Immigration staff of  participating in work stoppages at international airports around Australia.

It’s a shame Ben didn’t check with us first because our workforce supported a new enterprise agreement (EA) more than a week ago (at least 95% of those voting said “yes”), and better still, Fair Work Australia (FWA) approved the new EA on September 29 — a day before Ben’s post.

The new deal takes effect seven days after FWA’s approval, which means Immigration staff will see their pay packets increase — in plenty of time for Christmas and the summer holidays. For the record, no Immigration staff were involved in any work stoppages at any time during the EA negotiations.

Andrew Bolt:

Geoff Russell writes: Re. “Rundle: Bolt decision represents an ideological bind” (Friday, item 15). I can’t quite agree with Guy Rundle that the “Bolt decision represents an ideological bind”.

I haven’t read the entire 149 pages of Justice Bromberg’s decision but enough to know that had Bolt not been so sloppy with facts, and what’s worse, selectively used facts to thoroughly mislead, then he may have gotten away with being offensive. I’m also guessing the extent of the offence was entirely proportional to the misleading nature of the attacks. People really should read the judgment itself to understand just how it was that Bolt could use things that weren’t strictly speaking false to thoroughly mislead. I hope we never see the day when offence, per se, is illegal. The Bolt judgment doesn’t tell us how a judge might view an article that was scrupulously accurate but offensive.

Calling a liar a liar should be protected when it can be shown that they are, regardless of how offensive it is. If a group of people is cruel and nasty, then calling them so should be allowed. Saying they are cruel because they are Negro or Aryan or Jewish should be prohibited for the simple reason that it is factually false. For me, that is the justification of the Racial Discrimination Act. Horrid people deserve no legal protection from being offended by the truth about themselves.


Matt Davis writes: Niall Clugston (Friday, comments) asked “But why is it [engagement in Asia] the responsibility of [Australia’s] government?” He then wrote: “Society as a whole is uninterested in Asia …” One wonders exactly which society Clugston lives in.

Even if one ignores the large percentage of Australians with ancestors — and living relatives — right across the region, there are plenty of issues that are currently vexing policy makers that could be made simple through better regional co-operation.

Indonesia is the real elephant in the Asia policy room. The very source of those inhumane boats that are causing the drownings that our leaders pretend to be so concerned about.  Talk of Asia and people always think automatically China and Japan.

Better relations with our immediate neighbourhood is the real key to economic prosperity and stability over the next century. The big Asian trading partnerships will take care of themselves. Helping Indonesia into the 21st century should be a priority.

Occupy Wall Street:

Ellen O’Gallagher writes: I have not seen much commentary in the general media about the sit-in in Wall Street. Why are the media outlets not reporting this event, now in its 14th day, complete with police brutality, etc.? Is this not considered newsworthy?  Has Wall Street bought off the media somehow? An analysis of why it is not reported might make interesting reading.

Young Labor:

A well-informed Young Labor insider writes: Re. “Young Labor backs gays on Richo’s advice” (September 27, item 5). A slightly different perspective on your story last week.

Last weekend’s Australian Young Labor Conference marked a new shift in the Young Labor Right — from conservative to libertarian. At the national Right caucus on Friday night Graham Richardson didn’t quiz Maxfield directly on Feeney’s view on gay marriage, Richo was well aware of what Feeney and the SDA’s position was.

The exchange occurred due to Queensland Young Labor president Chaiy Donati quizzing Richo as to whether AYL should seek to debate contentious issues at their annual conference such as gay marriage, onshore processing and a bill of rights. Donati explained there were two schools of thought in the Right, one was to delegate that responsibility of debate to national conference (a view Donati disagreed with) and the other was that as the youth wing of the party we should impress upon the senior party the progressive vision of a younger generation.

After explaining the two schools of thought Donati asked:

“So the question to you is are these issues we should tackle head on and actually contribute our own ideas to this debate, or should we say ‘our role is to pass the buck up to national conference?'”

Richo responded: “If your role is that you shouldn’t be here.”

The majority of the 100 plus Right caucus members broke out in applause. Richo continued:

“If you had to sum up what is wrong with the modern Labor party, I’d just use these words ‘we don’t stand for anything’; we don’t know what we stand for. And I’m hoping you as young people in our party know what you stand for, and for God’s sake, if you’re against gay marriage I don’t understand you at all.”

He told the Right caucus that it was up to them to represent the change the Labor Party needed in these areas for the future, noting: “It is very much harder for those who are senior in the Labor party to change”.

In addition to gay marriage, Richo then lamented the fact we can’t even win a ballot on euthanasia. He told Victorian and David Feeney staffer Ben Maxfield to “Get hold of Feeney and tell him to wake up” (on both gay marriage and euthanasia) Richo continued:

“If Young Labor can’t get up and make a stand on that (gay marriage) or asylum seekers or whatever, then Young Labor is a waste of time. It’s not worth being here unless you have a view. If you view is going to be dictated by those who sit in the Parliament and you’re not allowed to have a go and challenge them, you’re mad.”

He continued to answer Donati’s question and finished with the statement that “federal conference has become a farce … don’t pass the buck to the federal conference. Who’d pass the buck to that lot?”

On Sunday, the motion to support gay marriage was then moved during conference debate on Sunday after the election of Ben Maxfield. It was Donati who officially moved the motion that Australian Young Labor remove discrimination and support same-s-x marriage. It was therefore a motion moved by the Right faction on the ALP. The motion moved by Donati was seconded by Victorian (Left factions) Sarah Cole. The motion was also endorsed by the NSW President David Latham and all other state and territory Young Labor Presidents with the exception of Victorian president Michael de Bruyn.

As touched on in your story, the election of arch social conservative Maxfield to the AYL presidency was a result of factional deals that had been made years prior to the 2011 conference — factional deals stitched up by many whom were no longer in AYL. Maxfield’s presidency therefore doesn’t reflect a dominance of conservatism, or conservative thought within the Young Right or AYL. The guard is changing, and though it becoming more progressive. All other state branch presidents are more progressive than their new national president.

Alliances are shifting in the Young Right to a more progressive leadership team for 2012 and beyond. It is tipped that  Chaiy Donati will be the Right’s next candidate for AYL president with the assistance of the NSW Right and the Victorian ShortCons. In stark contrast to Maxfield, Donati adopts a socially progressive, civil-libertarian view on almost all-social policy. The young ALP Right is becoming less socially conservative and more libertarian.

The National Right caucus on Friday night also had Graham Richardson delivering praise on another Queenslander. This time Anna Bligh. In the National Right caucus on Friday Night, Richardson when addressing the Young Right was asked about the Queensland state election campaign.  While acknowledging the tough situation she was in, he had nothing but praise for Anna Bligh.

Graham Richardson said the following:

  • “I actually wouldn’t mind fighting the Queensland election.”
  • “God I hate saying this, I wish I was a Queenslander.”
  • “I think Anna Bligh is worth powder and shot. I think she has been a good premier.”
  • “She hasn’t been a failure. During those floods and cyclones she was just extraordinary. She showed leadership beyond which I have seen in this country since Hawke. It was extraordinary, and I’d love to be able to get up there and manage a campaign for her, were I still doing that sort of stuff, I’d love to because she has so much to give and we have so much to say about her and I think we are all walking around with our heads too low in Queensland. The right campaign and if we really really pushed it, we might not win, but we would give it a hell of a shake, and we wouldn’t get whipped out.”
  • “Given how hopeless that mob you are opposed to are, were it not for Newman she (Bligh) would romp it in, that’s the stupid part about this.”
  • “I’m an admirer of hers and I would like to be up there fighting for her.”