Niall Clugston writes: Re. “AFACT’s appeal against iiNet decision dismissed — but just you wait” (yesterday, item 1). The commentary of Stilgherrian and others on the iiNet case confuses practicality with morality. Simply because copyright is hard to enforce with the advent of the world wide web does not mean copyright owners no longer deserve protection.

Real piracy — as opposed to the swashbuckling buccaneering of cyberspace — flourished with advent of global trade. New technology meant every kid had an ocean-going vessel, and the world’s governments were powerless to police the high seas.  That didn’t make looting and mayhem OK — though it does look fun.

The use of property rights to reap profits is fundamental to capitalism, but the digerati only seem to find it objectionable when it’s online. Even today, intellectual property is not all about the internet, as the “Down Under” case shows.

While the personal consequences of the copyright suit might be tragic, the fact is that Men at Work’s livelihood was ensured by the same law that later came back to bite the band. No, the composer Marion Sinclair and the Girl Guides never got millions from “Kookaburra”, but then Van Gogh never got millions either and that doesn’t make his paintings cheap.

Jen Robinson:

Justin Templer writes: Re. “Who stopped Robinson? The inhibition of responsibility” (Friday, item 2).  Bernard Keane writes that the supposed application of “inhibited status” to Julian Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson at Heathrow is “all part of the constant process of delegitimising dissent.”

Get your hand off it, Bernard. DFAT deny knowledge as does the UK Border Agency. Yet Bernard is tells us emphatically that: “Plainly a government agency is either lying or knows far more than they are letting on.” Gosh, yes — plainly, Bernard.

I always thought that Heathrow was solid concrete, but Bernard’s inductive reasoning has detected a grassy knoll.


Terry Mills writes: Re. “Hockey goes off the reservation on handouts — at long last” (April 19, item 2).  Joe Hockey points to Asia and in particular Singapore and Hong Kong as a reference point for Australia in matters of welfare. In Singapore they have the Central Provident Fund (CPF) a government-controlled compulsory savings system — similar to our compulsory super — to which all workers and their employers are required to contribute.

Currently the level of contribution for those earning over $1500 per month, in the 35-50 age group (the majority) is 36%, made up of employees 16% and employers 20%. The fund is a social catch-all picking up retirement benefits, unemployment, housing loans and basic healthcare. Private healthcare insurance is separately provided by employers following the American model.

So, one way or another we pay for the benefits we want, whether as a dedicated compulsory savings fund as in Singapore or a taxation pool as is the case here.

So, apart from the world’s best parental leave scheme, what is LNP policy, again?

Aged care:

Robert West writes: Re. “Something new for something old: Gillard’s aged-care package” (yesterday, item 9). The government’s reforms of aged care is very welcome. One aspect needing attention is the near-quadrupling of aged-care workers needed in the next decade or so. Where will they come from?

One option is the many millions of English-speaking workers in places such as the Philippines or Malaysia.

I would suggest that Asian attitudes of respect for the elderly and a tradition of care for parents would make them very suitable to fill the gap, whether on contract or as potential permanent migrants.

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