CORRECTION: On Friday (27 April 2012) a series of quotes and references in our article ‘How Australia’s media giants put the squeeze on freelance journos’ were wrongly attributed to Leonard Cronin. Crikey profusely apologises for any embarrassment this may have caused.

PM puts parliament before the rule of law:

Les Heimann writes: Yesterday, Sunday April 29, 2012, will go down as the day when the rule of law in Australia was junked.

When a Prime Minister put “respect for parliament” above due legal process.

Now we see just how shallow our parliament really is — made up of individuals, regardless of political persuasion, who will resort to any popular position simply to remain or obtain power.

Julia Gillard sacrificed the dignity and, by inference, the reputation of two men who stand accused of “crimes and misdemeanours” by demanding they step aside from their positions or status in parliament before any legal proceedings determining their guilt or innocence.

Thus the PM puts parliament above and before the rule of law.

Parliaments, parliamentarians, political parties all come and go. However, at least until now, the law has remained a constant and above and beyond parliament and parliamentarians. The law has not ruled on the two men nor has it been asked to thus they are as innocent as you and me.

If either or both Peter Slipper and Craig Thompson were convicted of a criminal offence of course they should go.

We should all do well to remember the law belongs to us and is there to protect the innocent and punish the guilty, neither man is legally in question at this time, and may never be.

What this PM has done is inexcusable. She is not above the law and, as a lawyer she knows that. For what she has done it is she who should now face a vote of no confidence.

We the people need to uphold our law and throw out anyone who suborns its supremacy.

Gillard has committed the unpardonable sin in this case and her flimsy excuse relating to the reputation of parliament is so opaque to be no stronger than an ancient spider web.

For all this we the people are, as usual, the loser.

We do not have much of a choice were there to be an election. Tony Abbott has dropped all pretence concerning labour laws when this weekend he addressed the Victorian Liberal conference pledging five years jail to unionists who do not toe his line — he has learnt nothing.

Labor is without a reason for being and must be entirely exhausted from so many suicide attempts beginning with the unwillingness to force a double dissolution on an emissions trading scheme, the double-crossing of Andrew Wilkie on gaming machines when the voters were 70%-plus supportive and now junking the rule of law (Gillard featured in all three of these disasters.).

Who will save Australia now? For nothing will save Julia Gillard PM

Examining Anzac Day:

Niall Clugston writes: In attempting to provide some Anzac daylight, Guy Rundle could have pressed his point even further (Friday, comments).  He mentions the defence of “New Guinea” in World War II.  In fact, Australian New Guinea fell to Japan with hardly a fight. It was Australian Papua that Australian troops and their native forced labourers were defending. The two dependencies were amalgamated after the war to become the tautologically named PNG, which Australia graciously granted nominal independence to a whole 30 years later. So much for fighting for freedom!

While Gallipoli is christened Australia’s “baptism of fire”, the seizure of German New Guinea (which became Australian New Guinea) was Australia’s first military act in World War I, and the good news, kids, is that it was an unqualified victory, although one of Australia’s first submarines disappeared without trace.

What is the point of this pedantic historiography?  That the world wars occurred in the context of the British Empire, of which Australia was a metropolitan outpost, and not in defence of the country.  The Japanese troops defeated on the Kokoda Track were not trying to conquer Australia but to knock out Port Moresby, which was being used to attack them. Nor could they. It’s part of Australia’s weird lack of self-awareness that it fears being invaded by land.

Many Australians died on the first Anzac Day, but remembering is the polar opposite of falsehood and distortion.

Peter Lloyd writes: Sorry Guy Rundle, if you didn’t smear “all” the troops in your piece on Thursday, you certainly did by the time you finished your response to Ken Lambert.

Rundle is all too keen to play down the wrongs of the West’s opponents: “By 1941 the Japanese had been blockaded in the Pacific” could have come from a Japanese school textbook, removing the context that the oil and steel embargo was merely the last of many steps designed to curb the Japanese military’s ambitions.

Further, he directly compares that nation’s war conduct — the militarisation of society, the deliberate use of military training to extinguish morality and make brutality an automatic response, the propagation of a cult of death in the Emperor’s name ultimately to be imposed in the nation itself, without any real resistance — with the treatment of civilians in Allied-controlled territories (“… equally brutal and disdainful”).

He is perilously close to using the Bengal Famine as a sort of catch-all response to claims we acted better than our enemies: the famine reflected poorly on the British rulers of India, but was hardly orchestrated or ignored by them, and Indian nationalists played their part. Unlike, say, the famine in northern Indochina that followed the destruction by the Japanese of French-built dams and water-control systems.

Of course he considers strategic bombing to be, basically, genocide, with its unspoken corollary that Britain should have in 1940 contemplated years of quietly being crushed by the rampant Nazis, confining its efforts to trying to control the Libyan desert as was the only option open to them at the time.  As George Orwell pointed out in the 1930s, air power was about to remove the certainty of safety for the “civilian” jingos who wished so fervently for war, and there were far more of these in the Axis countries than in the West, where isolationism and anti-war sentiment emerging from World War 1 were dominant.

Sorry, Rundle, finding isolated examples of outrageous behaviour and juxtaposing them with systemic, politically motivated and widespread “equivalents”, or distorting paternalistic racism into something equivalent to policies of genocide, does you no credit. There are occasionally good wars, and admirable people with admirable qualities sometimes fight in them. Rundle’s piece is a sort of historical equivalent of a climate sceptic article, cherry-picking the facts to distort the overall picture.

It is crucial we retain a sense of what made us “good” and our enemies “bad” in the Second World War, because this reference will help us avoid our repeated experience of more recent decades, when an apathetic and unthinking public have backed cynical and short-sighted politicians into wars against people who mean us no harm.  Just as the Germans and Japanese did in the 1930s.