The People’s Question:

John Richardson writes: Re. “The People’s Question: dragging question time into 21st century” (Wednesday, item 3). While I think Crikey‘s project, “The People’s Question”, being run in conjunction with OurSay, is innovative and promises some fun for us all, I have to take issue with OurSay’s use of the banner phrase “democracy is not a spectator sport”.

According to its own site, OurSay has been around since 2009, however, its banner has been in use elsewhere since 2005, when Margot Kingston, a former award-winning journalist with The Sydney Morning Herald, and some like-minded associates, established the website “”, with its primary purpose being:

“To provide a safe, readily accessible space for Australians who care about our democracy — however they vote and whatever political philosophy they support — to actively help preserve and enhance it”.

While I wish Gautam Raju, Eyal Halamish, Matthew Gordon, Linh Do and OurSay and its joint project with Crikey every success, I think OurSay should at least acknowledge the origins of their banner, if they intend to continue using it, in particular as the yourdemocracy website is still alive and kicking.

Keith Thomas writes: Re. “New Murray-Darling Basin draft set to suck out 1000s more gigalitres of groundwater” (Tuesday, item 10). Amber Jamieson’s account  is only part of the water reform agenda that’s costing us $250 million annually for MDBA with at least $1 billion of public money feeding the whole fiasco. They are still focused on how to allocate the 2% of the basin’s rainfall that can be stored in and re-allocated from dams and ignoring that over 85% of the 530,000Gl that falls as rain on the MDB every year is currently largely wasted and lost by evaporation because of our degraded landscape and inappropriate farming practices.

While the 2700Gl of extra groundwater use proposed is only 0.5% of this rainfall the issue should be how to better infiltrate rain into soils to recharge the aquifers, not how to use it up immediately. How much of the extra 2700GL is needed for fracking by the coal seam gas industry — to then pollute surface water and regional communities?

The Official Interest Rat:

Kerri Worthington writes: Re. “Richard Farmer’s chunky bits” (Wednesday, item 12). Richard Farmer wrote: “Only someone insensitive to the suffering of the rising number of unemployed Australians would now be arguing for official interest rat …”

Thank you for your raft of unfinished sentences for it has given us The Official Interest Rat. In capable First Dog paws, this could be a character that makes Jasper look like Hello Kitty.

Crikey: The mistake was not Richard’s but one of those pesky production errors, but we quote like the idea of a First Dog “Official Interest Rat” and will on pass the suggestion.