Labor, Bob Carr and Julia Gillard:

Brian Mitchell writes: Re. Yesterday’s Editorial. Crikey wrote:

“Julia Gillard’s failure to get her way on bringing Bob Carr to Canberra has been reported and analysed as another Gillard failure, this time against the very party machine that gave her such a strong victory on Monday.”

Stop it. Stop it. Stop it. Gillard has described The Australian’s report yesterday — another lazy piece relying on “unnamed senior Labor figures close to the PMO” — as untrue.

An “unnamed senior Labor figure close to the PMO” could simply be an octogenarian Labor Party member wandering by the prime ministerial wing for all we know. What, you don’t think Murdoch minions know how to stretch a truth or three? What independent evidence do you have  to assert as fact “Julia Gillard’s failure to get her way on bringing Bob Carr to Canberra”? Have your own reporters spoken to actual Labor figures and received this information first-hand (or, at best, second-hand)? Or have you based your assumptions on what The Australian reported?

Stop it. Please. Just stop it. I would much prefer your journalists interview The Australian‘s reporters and discover how it is they manage to speak to so many “unnamed Labor sources” but in some 18 months of quoting them, none has ever, ever, ever gone on the record nor been close to having been outed by any other reporter. Do they exist? I truly do wonder.

Alan Kennedy writes: Another odd assertion about the rejection of Bob Carr. You are based in Victoria so  you can be forgiven for not knowing the low opinion most have of the ex-premier north of your border. He left NSW worse off. He is a fearful bore on the subject of arcane bits of American history. His only qualification for being foreign minister is that, in that self-entitled way so redolent of Sussex Street, he wanted it. Obama and other world leaders have dodged a big bullet.

But my take on this is what was Gillard thinking?

Instead of announcing she had the team to win the next election, she wants to parachute some old hack in to bolster the ranks. How long would it have taken Bernard Keane and the groupthink express that is the gallery to nominate Carr as (gasp) the third man? But there is also a problem with your assertion that the rejection of Carr was a triumph for the faceless men when on the evidence it was the faceless men in NSW pushing Carr’s barrow.

The discord came from the members of caucus who were aware of how it would look if they had a Sussex Street man foisted on them in Canberra. It would leave them open to the taunt, which  was heard in Parliament yesterday, that there was no one good enough to do the job in Canberra.

The people who pushed back were right. It was not going to be a good look in a whole lot of ways.

James Burke writes: Judging by the comments in Crikey over the past few days, Julia Gillard’s supporters have failed (again) to learn the most important lesson of contemporary history.

No, not “never get involved in a land war in Asia”, but: “anyone who embraces the tactics of NSW Labor circa 2007 will end up defeated, lonely and despised by all.”

Yelling “misogyny!” at reasoned criticism of Gillard is just an adaptation of Michael Costa’s attempt to evade his own critics by accusing them of “wog bashing“.

Grow up, people. It won’t be O Week for much longer.

James Packer:

John Falconer writes: Re. “Mayne: after 20 year attempt, Packer launches another Sydney casino push” (yesterday, item 3). Stephen Mayne like many commentators refers to James Packer as the “third” generation of the powerful media family. In fact he is the fourth generation.

The media group was founded by James’ great grandfather, Robert Clyde Packer who died in 1934 aged 54 (the Packer men do not live for very long it seems!!). He founded Smith’s Weekly and the Daily Guardian and became a large shareholder in the owners of the Telegraph and Sunday Sun (according to Wikipedia). When he died from a heart attack, he left an estate of nearly $5 million in today’s currency.

I remember from a long, long time ago a black-and-white TV interview with his son, Sir Frank Packer, who replied when asked how he had started in business that it was quite easy since his father had left him a publishing business and £1 million!

Janet Morrissey writes: I think you will find that it was Frank Packer, grandfather of James, who had it out with Ezra Norton on Derby Day 1939. I despair the lack of history or at least  the failure to check the facts of some of these young people!

Peak oil:

David Worth writes: Re. “Kohler: the death of peak oil” (yesterday, item 20). Alan Kohler should know better that “peak oil” doesn’t mean that the world is running out of oil and gas, but when the world’s production level has peaked while demand increases.

Throughout the 20th century world oil production doubled every 10 years, but has only grown 10% since 2000, and not grown at all since July 2005 when it reached 74.5 million barrels per day. Since 2000 WTC price has increased from $US20 per barrel to more than $100. This means the cost of any shale oil operations also increases as all of their machinery operates on diesel.

The only way the recent growth in gas production from shale will help the US if it transforms its existing car fleet to gas operation. The US used to produce 10 mbpd of oil-equivalent products in 1970 from its own operations, and went down to 5 mbpd in 2007. After massive investments in shale oil and gas drilling, it has only bounced back to only 6 mbpd in 2011 and the US will never be independent from oil imports. Meanwhile, WTC and Brent prices (for oil, not gas) will increase and strangle any economic recovery in US and other Western economies dependent on liquid transport fuels.

Global peak oil production was in 2005, in the US it was 1970.

Guy Rundle:

Phil Lusted writes: Re. “Rundle12: think Kevin & Julia are bad? Imagine if Romney was your front runner” (yesterday, item 1). Guy’s critique yesterday really was a standout example of quality journalism. The pace, imagery and spot-on trashy narrative are what make him the most exciting and refreshing alternative to the zombie copy that passes for comment just about everywhere else.

Fair Work and free association:

Niall Clugston writes: Re. “Keane: when a lock-out means locked out from work and home” (yesterday, item 2). Crikey’s revelations about the Fair Work Act highlight the contradiction in the prevailing attitude to unions.

In attacking closed shops and other union privileges, the New Right achieved a historic victory under the banner of freedom of association, and unions are now considered just another organisation with no special status. But freedom of association cuts both ways, and if this principle is to be followed, then all laws specific to unions should be repealed right away!

If workers didn’t attend work on a specific day for religious reasons there is no way that the law would mandate they be thrown out of their homes. Similarly, the NSW government has just enacted laws fining unions $200,000 a day for wildcat strikes, but if you chuck a sickie to watch the cricket, there’s no way you’ll be fined $200,000 a day.

And why is Craig Thomson’s use of a credit card a matter for anyone except the “association” he belonged to?

Or was all the talk about freedom of association just a smokescreen for people who wanted to deregulate banks but regiment ordinary workers?

A potted history lesson:

John Gillroy  writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 7). Crikey published:

“Some time in the seventies, a failing NSW Premier Lewis was summarily sacked by his cabinet and caucus. The thief in the night was Eric Willis who became Premier without any apparent concern by the populace, the media or anyone else that an elected Premier had been snuck up on and the voters had been denied their revenge. “

Tom Lewis MLA never went to an election as premier as your rumour monger suggested yesterday. Bob Askin was the elected premier (November 1973) and Lewis took over (by party ballot) on Askin’s resignation in January 1975. He was deposed by party ballot in January 1976, the next state election being held in May 1976.

Peter Fray

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