Bob Brown:

Michael R. James writes:  Re. “Rundle: Greens will survive the Brown-out” (yesterday, item 3). While one can only agree with Guy Rundle when he reports about “the acres of identikit propagandorial … (t)hroughout News and Fairfax” over the weekend, he probably filed just a little too late to notice a subtle shift in emphasis — from the Red Regiments to Light Green — reported in Monday’s AFR.

In two articles, on the front page no less (and both open access), Sophie Morris and Gemma Daley described Christine Milne’s appeal for a better economic vision from the likes of Business Council of Australia and other industry groups, which was neatly juxtaposed a story of the likely replacement for Bob Brown’s Senate spot by a Light Green:

Mr Whish-Wilson, who worked in equity capital markets for Merrill Lynch in New York and Melbourne and for Deutsche Bank in Hong Kong, Melbourne and Sydney, moved to Tasmania in 2004 with his wife and two children. The 44-year-old runs Three Wishes Vineyard and has been the lead campaigner against the Gunns Ltd pulp mill, which can be seen from his trellises. His 2005 chardonnay won a Gold Medal at the Tasmanian Wine Show this year.

With that CV, plus growing up in Karratha and once working for BHP Billiton, what are the anti-Greens going to say? I suppose a sneer along the lines of Chardonnay Socialist will be unavoidable from lightweights such as country accountant Barnaby Joyce (not unknown for turning a whole chiaroscuro of reds perhaps in contemplation that the Greens vote is three times that of his National Party).

No wonder there is nothing on this from Christian Kerr or The Australian. They’ll need their customary pause/regroup to come up with an appropriate strategy and propagandorial. Their continued dismissal and disdain of those pesky 1.6 million Greens voters is increasingly shrill and desperate. To many readers it seems Bile Green is becoming the mainstream media’s preferred shade of self-colouring. They could try washing away the sick taste with a glass of crisp Tassie chardonnay — someone please send a crate to Christian Kerr and Barnaby, please.

Niall Clugston writes: Re. “Richard Farmer’s chunky bits” (yesterday, item 12). I think Guy Rundle and Richard Farmer are denying the obvious in attacking the “Brownout” thesis.

Without Bob Brown, the Greens don’t have a strong and respected leader. They are obviously vulnerable to state-based splits, as Matt Davis’ letter illustrates, and personality-based splits.  And, yes, I’m sorry, left-right splits as well, manufactured or otherwise. What else can you predict from a party whose electoral standing relies on footholds both in the progressive inner-city and in the affluent Liberal electorates?

OK, deny the certainty, but don’t deny the risk.

Industry funds:

Alan Kennedy writes: Re. “Mayne: time for unions, councils, super funds to embrace ASX-style disclosure” (yesterday, item 13). Stephen Mayne’s mother must have been frightened by a wharfie while carrying  Stephen for his anti-union utterings are beyond those of knee jerk and border of pathological.

His piece on Super is itself contradictory where he notes that … “Yvonne Chaperon who returned her $19,947.50 to the ANF.”

But then he adds without any evidence:

“Union officials have pocketed millions from not-for-profit industry funds over the years and it is time someone constructed a comprehensive list detailing how this largess has flowed.”

I find this hard to believe as all funds have to lodge their financial documents and  I am sure director’s fees are disclosed in them. A little evidence, Mr Mayne, would be useful.

Now Kathy Jackson is another matter. She, it seems, pockets her fees.

Jackson is the St Joan of the anti-union forces including Stephen and the  H.R. Nicholls Society. I have no special information but the more I see of what is going on in the HSU the more I see her as the female equivalent of  the wonderfully named Godwin Grech. I just see tears before bed time for  Jackson’s wild gang of supporters who are only hearing what they want to hear.

I became a little suspicious of the whole deal when Jackson announced the shovel and pile of dirt brouhaha. All a bit too Mario Puzo for my liking but with obvious appeal for her media acolytes who don’t pay attention to the way the union movement runs itself.

I would speculate that Jackson’s decision to keep her fees is the exception rather than the rule. On The Drum recently a CFMEU official and  a director of his industry super fund, disclosed he gave all his fees back to the union.

It is the same in my union and I know it happens in others. I suppose we should welcome the disclosures of fees as I am sure  it will embarrass the retail funds yet again. It is amusing that Mayne imposes no moral obligation on the directors of these underperforming, high fee charging retail funds to donate their fees.

But  people should be concerned about the background rumblings over the industry funds which have been a stye in  the eye of the smug retail fund managers who are regularly shown up for their incompetence and their avarice in their accumulation of fees. As we have come to expect of the One Percenters, when in trouble get your government mates to bail you out. Heaven forbid that you might lift your game.

It is clear Abbott would move to nobble the industry funds in any way he could just as Costello did when  he was treasurer. This union bosses trousering the comrades’ hard -money is part of the campaign in which Mayne appears to be a willing dupe.

The ACTU’s new boss David Oliver has been brought in to lift the profile of the union movement. A hands-off-our-super Tony campaign run with the sophistication of the work choices campaign would be a winner.


Justin Pettizini writes: Re. “Come in Spinner: unexpected mystery at the atheists’ convention” (yesterday, item 15). Noel Turnbull proclaims that “Good atheists don’t take anything on faith. They want evidence and reason.” Yet his article about Ayaan Hirsi Ali at the Melbourne Atheists’ Convention lacks any evidence for the two major points he tries to make.

He says it is a “mystery when you hear at an atheists’convention what a good job Christians are doing to help defend the rights of women against fundamentalist Muslims.” Why? Because Turnbull takes on a priori position that Christians do not support women’s rights. The fact that there may be abundant evidence of Christians not supporting women’s rights in a whole range of areas (an argument he does not make by the way) does not mean that some Christians do not support and work well and effectively for women’s rights, perhaps better in some cases than some atheists or agnostics do.

He then attacks Hirsi Ali’s assertion that Western liberals are more of a problem for Muslim women’s rights than Christians are on the grounds that she is a resident scholar at a conservative think tank. The fact that her colleagues may be right-wing fossils of the Bush years does not  mean that what she says is incorrect.

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