Olympics et al:

Justin Larkin writes: Now here’s a funny thing, in 2010 (so, well outside the living memory of any current Australian athlete or official) the Australian Winter Olympics team hung an enormous boxing kangaroo out the window of its hotel. The International Olympic Committee asked, then demanded, that it be removed as it was a commercial symbol. Australian team officials refused — point blank. The then deputy prime minister, Julia Gillard described the IOC order as “ridiculous” and “a scandal”. In the end, no lesser luminaries that Jacques Rogge and John Coates met and agreed that the flag could stay. The concern was that the flag was a commercial symbol and could detract from the Olympic brand.

At these Olympics, athletes have protested and threatened to disrupt the Games because their personal sponsorship deals fall foul of a bylaw of rule 40. It is incidental but illustrative that rule 40 of the Olympic charter is solely to do with an athlete’s eligibility to compete and it is only in the bylaw that advertising restrictions become the dominant concern. There is much consternation and attempts to work through a solution that protects the athletes’ deals and the vast money making apparatus of the modern Games.

Compare those two situations to that faced by a young Aboriginal man who is so proud of his country and his people, that he wore one of his country’s official flags on his T-shirt. A flag described by the Governor-General, in his proclamation as “a flag of significance to the Australian nation generally” and recognised under the Flags Act 1953. Not just any symbol, not just any flag but a flag of Australia, flown above our parliaments and here, worn by an Australian to honour his people. He was threatened with disqualification and publicly upbraided for his “display” and warned about “Rule 50” which is almost entirely about advertising (as is the modern Olympics) but that also prohibits political and religious demonstrations.

What does it say of us as a nation that we have kowtowed so cravenly on one of our national symbols but held firm on a sports mascot? What does it say to Aboriginal Australians that, at an event bedecked with political symbols and swamped with advertising, their flag, our flag, is seen as an unacceptable political demonstration? Why does any Australian sit and let this insult remain?

Price gouging:

John Richardson writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 7). While the notion that Microsoft’s software pricing is out of whack in Australia due to an internal exchange rate might seem plausible to some, the idea that local management would be confronted with impossible revenue and profit targets, were the rate adjusted to reflect contemporary currency exchange realities, simply isn’t.

Having laboured for one of America’s most profitable corporations for many years, I can assure readers that business planning activities, including budgeting, were all completed in the local currency.

It may be that Crikey‘s tipster has stumbled across a significant transfer pricing issue, just begging to be investigated by the ATO?