Bougainville:

Axel G. Sturm, Bougainville Copper, writes: Re. “How the ‘resource curse’ eats at the heart of Bougainville” (Friday, item 8). Unfortunately Antony Loewenstein missed a good chance to unmask the situation in Bougainville’s central region.

Unfortunately he seems to be more interested in describing people’s clothing than analysing their real problems: No word about the money paid in the past by BCL  that vanished in the pockets of dubious PNG businessmen and greedy politicians. No word about multiple criminal groups that — until today — try to enrich themselves and kill even children for that.

Only a few days ago PNG attitude published an article on that.

Our company, Bougainville Copper Limited, has been more or less a victim of local greed and brutality. But Loewenstein pretends to be an “independent journalist”. But in reality his work is superficial and extremely poor — unfortunately! His allegations that China could be a better adviser in independence than Australia is absolute nonsense.

I know very well that it is not easy to get a good overview on the complex situation on the ground. Therefore the European shareholders of Bougainville Copper provide the world’s biggest source for research on Bougainville  www.bougainville-copper.eu .

A theatre spat:

Diana Simmonds from Stage Noise, writes: Re. “My Cup of Tea: shit on theatre and bloggers fire back” (Friday, item 14). It wasn’t a spat. It was a surprisingly lousy bit of journalism. Surprising in that it’s in The Global Mail — supposedly the new standard bearer of good journalism. I was really amazed that so much could be made of such a weird puff piece. (Puff for the hitherto anonymous blogger, that is.) If it weren’t for the title of the blog I can’t imagine it getting much oxygen; she’s a thoughtless critic.

And it ticks me off that because I got a mention in the story and there is a similarity between our names a number of dopey people have mixed me up with Jane Simmons. I am not a blogger, by the way, I have a website that’s now four years old and I’ve been writing for more than 25 years as a critic and commentator.

Anyway — it wasn’t a spat, it was great publicity for The Global Mail.

Kerrie Piper writes: I thought Crittenden article was right on the money.

I am a long- term subscriber to both the Sydney theatre company and Belvoir St Theatre and agree pretty much with Simmons’ points. Each year, the number of plays that I subscribe to at the Sydney Theatre Company has been going down (only five this year) and each year I leave more often at interval. At some plays there has been a queue to get out of the car park, there have been so many people leaving at interval!

Audiences still need to identify with characters and feel involved in what is going on on the stage, spectacle is not enough (even if Cate Blanchett is in it!)

Belvoir has generally been much better, though my first trip there this year (for Urban City) was a tedious experience and exactly an example of what Simmons would describe as a young boy’s club (apart from a token black woman) having a good time among themselves, with a totally alienated audience just wanting to leave! It reminded me of a bunch of HSC drama students having a read-through of the first draft!

I agree entirely that going to the theatre in Sydney is generally expecting a bad night and occasionally being pleasantly surprised when it delights and entertains. Despite this, I continue to subscribe and live in hope … sometimes a night like Summer of the Seventeenth Doll or August: Osage County makes it all worthwhile!

The Republican movement:

John Poppins writes: Re. “Guilty confessions of an Australian republican”  Friday, item 9). David Ritter’s article was timely for me.

A few weeks ago I noticed a book, Harmony — a new way of looking at our world (Harper Collins), which had been remaindered at our local bookshop. It is authored by HRH the Prince of Wales and two others.

I too had been influenced by my own republican sympathies and by media portrayals of Prince Charles. So I skimmed the book quickly to see if it might be a little soft or even away with the fairies at the bottom of the garden. It was not. It appeared to be good solid material, well written and beautifully illustrated. So I bought it.

Getting into it I was further impressed, so hastened back to get another copy as gift. It is a thoughtful and erudite book, clearly setting out the major challenges facing mankind as we consider carefully the mass of information we now have on our impact on our environment. It provides much food for thought, ranging through science, artistic and cultural fields.

Prince Charles has risen greatly in my esteem as a result. Prince Charles’ image problem may be that common to others who challenge our thinking and the status quo by raising good questions regarding the current economic paradigm and its probable ultimate result if we do not face up to facts.

Scottish Independence:

Neil Hunt  writes: Re. “Scottish independence: Salmond still swimming upstream” (yesterday, item 11). While it’s true that the Acts of Union was passed by the parliament of Scotland in 1707, there were a lot more reasons behind it than just the Spanish War of Succession.

In 1701, the English parliament passed the Act of Settlement, which decided that Sophia, Electress of Hanover and her descendants were going to inherit the thrones of England and Scotland. This was done without recourse to the Scottish parliament, and as a result, the Scottish Parliament, in 1703, passed the Act of Security, which stated that if Queen Anne died without further issue (her only child to survive infancy William, the Duke of Gloucester, had died in 1700 at the age of 11), then the Scottish throne would pass to a Protestant descendant of the previous Kings of Scotland, as long as it wasn’t the same person as inherited the English crown unless various political, economic and military concessions were made.

The Royal Assent was never granted for this act, but the Scottish parliament acted as though it had and the next year refused to raise taxes and tried to withdraw troops from the War of Spanish Succession campaign of the Duke of Marlborough.  The English parliament retaliated via the Alien Act which sought to restrict trade and movement between the two countries unless the Act of Security was repealed. This was duly done, and in 1706 the English parliament passed the Act of Union followed by the Scottish parliament in 1707, forming the Kingdom of Great Britain.

Ultimately, in 1714, the last Stuart monarch Anne died without further issue, and, as Sophia had died only months before at a much more advanced age, George I ascended to the throne of Great Britain, the first of the Hanover kings.

It’s time that Scotland was independent once again. Alba gu brath.

Cyclists:

H S Mackenzie writes: Glen Fergus (Friday, comments) in his comments on cyclists cherry-picked those road rules that seemed to justify cyclists’ feelings of being put upon by motorists and pedestrians. He self-righteously linked to NSW Road Rule 236, which says that a pedestrian cannot move into the path of or obstruct a driver or a pedestrian.

I can cherry-pick as self-righteously as he can.

NSW Road Rule 252(2) says that the rider of a bicycle riding on a footpath or shared path must give way to any pedestrian on the footpath or shared path. Road Rule 253 says that the rider of a bicycle must not move into the path of a driver or pedestrian.

Niall Clugston writes: As a frequent cyclist, I would like to put my penny-farthing into the discussion.

I cycle to work because it is convenient and pleasant and healthy, not because I expect the polar bears to thank me, though I’m glad when they do. Unfortunately, I have to contend with gung-ho motorists who zoom towards me, tooting their horns and forcing me out of the way, in disregard of any road rules, common decency, or commonsense.

But they’re not motorists, but cyclists, and I’m a pedestrian.

I think there are two old principles that apply: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and “Steam gives way to sail”. Cyclists should show the same regard to pedestrians as they expect motorists to show to them — and get off their high horse.

Peter Fray

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