David Adler writes:  Re: “Australia steals doctors, nurses from where they’re needed most” (yesterday, item 9). The whole tone of the piece by Gavin Mooney “Australia steals doctors, nurses from where they’re needed most” sets a misleading tone. First, the term stealing is grossly inappropriate as it conjures up some illegal practice.

Most of the South African doctors in Australia have come not because they were induced or “stolen” but because they have participated in immigration programs and are seeking new and better lives for their families and themselves. This has been discussed by the South African Medical Journal in an article in May 2011 titled “Where have all the flowers gone?“. For some very particular reasons the South African medical immigration has been heavily Jewish and is part of a broader Jewish migration from South Africa.

Australia too loses medical graduates, particularly those in research and technology who follow the opportunities and industries which are more developed overseas. These doctors are hardly “stolen”.

Medical practitioners from countries that have high quality medical schools such as South Africa and Australia,  have skills which are generally transferable across national borders and are therefore potentially quite mobile.

The car industry:

Justin Templer writes: Re. “Unions: put your money where your mouths are on cars” (yesterday, item 1). I had assumed that Glenn Dyer and Bernard Keane had their tongues firmly wedged when they cobbled together their “novel idea” that industry super funds should invest in the car industry, rather than the industry calling on taxpayer support. But then I had doubt — you classified this a Top Story and gave it pole position on the Crikey grid. Which does make me wonder whether someone at Crikey thought this might be a nation changer?

To cater for slower readers, the Dire/Keen report suggests an answer: “Could the answer be that the industry funds don’t want to throw good money after bad by investing in the car plan or supporting the car industry in some fashion? Do they know there’s little or no money to be made in investing in the car industry and that the risk is best left to taxpayers …”.

This is a kindergarten attempt to suggest that, because the industry funds will not invest in the car industry, the unions aren’t putting their money where the mouth is. This is so gobsmackingly fallacious that it is difficult to know where to start.

But to keep it succinct, the investment strategies of super funds are signed off by the trustees, who are under legal and moral onus to look after the best interests of their members. This includes seeking an optimum risk/return trade-off.

Why did I have to say that? Please say it was just a joke …


Marcus L’Estrange writes: Re. “Highest unemployment ever? Morgan survey at odds with ABS” (yesterday, item 10). Well done to Ava Hubble, Gary Morgan and co for being on the right tram regarding dodgy unemployment figures. The only difference I have is that I would put the real unemployment figure at 1.8 million or 18% with another 800,000 plus working less hours than they want and need. Why? Simply because of Prime Minister Gillard public comments of  February 1, 2011:

“Friends, we look with particular care and concern on the large number of working-age Australians, possibly as many as two million, who stand outside the full-time labour force, above and beyond those registered as unemployed. Around 800,000 are in part-time jobs but want to work more. Another 800,000 are outside the labour market, including discouraged job seekers. And there are many thousands of individuals on the Disability Support Pension who may have some capacity to work.”

She based her statement on the ABS “Persons not in the labour force” survey which is the only true measure of employment/unemployment, not the nonsensical ABS “Labour Force” survey that is based on a political definition of unemployment, not an actuarial one.

Remember also we only have 181,000 vacancies presently which represents about one vacancy for every 20-25 unemployed, depending on your skill level.

Our task now is to get Bill Shorten to reverse his position on not increasing the dole payment and to stop Bernard Keane and Richard Farmer rabbiting on about the dodgy “Labor Force” monthly unemployment figures. Will the Crikey army help Ava, Gary and myself in this task?


Niall Clugston writes: Re. Yesterday’s Editorial. Your editorial is wishful thinking disguised as analysis.

How can the Arab League stand in judgment on Syria? No member is a functioning liberal democracy. Syria’s bad name is due to bad blood with the US and Israel, not “human rights” issues. Women and religious minorities are definitely better off in Syria than Saudi Arabia.

And the presumption seems to be that the only road from Damascus is towards democracy. But when the Shah and Najibullah were toppled, their countries took quite different routes. Think before you wish.