Rudd, Cameron and leadership rumours:

James Burke writes: Re. “Labor Senator brands Daily Tele’s Rudd front page a red herring” (yesterday, item 2). Doug Cameron for PM!

How about it? Someone capable of speaking honestly about reality? Someone capable of pointing out how things actually are and suggesting they should change for the better? Someone capable of suggesting that those who oppose such change aren’t just innocent citizens with legitimate “concerns”, which politicians should “hear” and “understand”, but corrupt wormtongues bought and directed by immoral parasitic gangster warlords?

I won’t hold my breath. The rats have the run of the place these days. But when the next split happens, its pattern is clear. The genuine Labor Party will regroup around the likes of Cameron. The Right will cringe behind the gnomes, the amoralists such as Arbib and Thistlethwaite, the pseudo-Christian godfathers such as De Bruyn and Feeney. Maybe they’ll form a new DLP-style party, and when it is revealed that they have no actual constituency, retire comfortably with their taxpayer-feathered nest eggs.

And in the meantime, the axes shall be bundled, the reeds bound together, and the defeatists and degenerates shall be put in their place. Hail Caligula!

Niall Clugston writes: Before dismissing percolating speculation about a possible Kevin Rudd challenge, it’s important to realise that members of the parliamentary press gallery produce the most accurate reportage of any journalists. They are so close to their sources and absorb so much observations, off-the-record briefings, rumours, and tip-offs that they are often more aware of the real situation than the main players.

After all, they were right about the highly unlikely, highly unorthodox, and highly ill-advised installation of Julia Gillard. Why should we doubt that the Kevin the Happy Little Vegemite will return to the Lodge? Menzies was PM twice. And if a first-time PM can be removed by his own party, anything can happen.

Qantas:

Dave Sag writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 7). I read Virginia Lee’s email response to the Qantas email and my main thought was hey, I’m a Gold frequent flyer and have been for at least seven years (the past three were Platinum in fact) so how come I never got an email from Qantas? Clearly not all Gold frequent flyers were being contacted. Perhaps it’s because I actually booked a flight next week on Qantas and so they assumed I had no need of mollification.

I share Lee’s sentiments mostly, and if Virgin was even close to the same price as Qantas (or if it actually offered direct flights from Canberra to Adelaide) I’d have used them out of protest. But convenience and price won out alas. And Alan Joyce is certainly right that I can at least be guaranteed a flight without industrial action due to the intervention of the FWA people.

I understand that the management wants progress and that progress may come at the expense of Australian jobs. I am wary of the unions playing the race-card and implying that work done offshore is necessarily shoddy; I have no reason to believe that is true. But I am scandalised that a CEO can demand such extravagant pay while his company’s stock price is sliding, and the company claims to be unprofitable.  Bonuses ought to reward performance. And I found the timing of the shutdown deeply cynical.

That said, to be honest I have always been very loyal to Qantas, (despite having doubts about the veracity of its offset scheme.) When I injured myself on a work trip to the US, the Qantas team was super helpful in getting me home safe and sound and I have always been grateful for that. They went above and beyond for me. But I know friends who have been treated so badly by Qantas they will never fly it again. So I guess I am lucky.

I was also lucky to have returned from my holiday the day before the shutdown. A day later and I’d have been stranded in Bangkok and facing immanent deluge. I doubt I would feel so charitable towards the airline in that case.

Bernard Keane writes: Michael Moy (yesterday, comments) invites me to correct my statement that the protected industrial campaign by three unions was not a significant threat to Qantas. As grateful as I am for his concern, I have to decline.

As Moy himself concedes, Fair Work Australia clearly stated that the industrial actions did not threaten “significant damage” to the air transport industry. Last I checked — and as Moy should know given he’s an IR lawyer who has represented an airline in a case against its employees — Qantas is 65% of the domestic air transport industry.

Perhaps Moy has an update on how successful Qantas has been at losing market share lately?

Julian Assange:

Ken Lambert writes: Re. “Rundle: Assange needs to turn his predicament into a wider cause” (yesterday, item 4). Guy Rundle is seemingly obsessed with the Assange case and all its delicious twists and contradictions.

The erstwhile cool Swedes who used to be liberated and leftist are now run by a feminazi fatale cabal capable of jailing the hapless carriers of Y chromosomes who fail to copulate in the approved Swedish way. Clearly WH&S forms were not filled out before Assange assignations; which breached multiple EU laws.

Assange plays the victim with trappings like nice suit with Remembrance Day poppy instead of his usual kit of cords and a work-shined suede jacket. Plummy voiced Aussie Geoff Robertson turns celebrity hypothetical into street theatre — bringing the best of British justice for the well connected into full view. Thank God Gaddafi did not live to have Geoffrey harangue us all for years in the Hague about due process for the mop-topped murderer.

And above it all sails Assange — serene, silver haired and about to serve a Swede imposed sentence.

The Hamster Wheel:

Megan Stoyles writes: Re. “Last night’s TV ratings” (yesterday, item 16). Your  TV correspondent Glenn Dyer writes  under “The Losers” that The Hamster Wheel is “fading”. Wednesday night’s episode showed the Chaser boys were getting back to top form with the satire and laughs coming continuously, especially the “Turkey Slap” send up of the much promoted Slap on the ABC.

However, their sharpest comments came on the Qantas dispute where they referenced the management shutdown to the planned removal of staff and operations to cheaper offshore locations. This was a much more nuanced analysis than that on Gruen Planet, where the well-off hucksters discussed how Qantas should be using staff at risk of losing their jobs offshore, to win back the flying customers in thought, word and deed. Puhlease. Go The Wheel!

Peter Fray

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