Farewell to Christopher Pearson

Michael Cooney writes: Re. “Rundle: vale Christopher Pearson, God’s Maoist” (Friday). Every 10 years or so Crikey gives me a passing mention eccentric enough to merit a response.  I enjoyed Guy Rundle’s Friday thoughts — even the reference to me raised a smile.

To quote one of the great Catholic sybarites and rogues of the last century, “there are some incidents in my career, as you doubtless know, which are very easily capable of misinterpretation”.

Perhaps Christopher had a crush on me — my wife certainly thinks he did, and he was only human, after all — but if so, he expressed it chastely. His charity, if often counter-productive, seemed always pure; and his contrition seemed always perfect.  Our last conversation was about an interview with Graham Greene in The Paris Review, of course. I am really sad that we won’t speak again in this life.

God knows, he’s not the only one who hopes to spend a millennium or two in purgatory. That’s what it’s there for, after all. May he rest in peace.

ABC to staff: Your wages are ‘not sustainable’

Sally Cray, head of ABC corporate communications, writes: Re. “ABC wage stoush: staff fact-check management ‘propaganda’” (Thursday). The ABC has been fully transparent with its staff during these wage negotiations and completely rejects the suggestion that management are trying to mislead staff.

All of the ABC’s communications with staff have been factually correct. Stephen Long’s flyer mostly refers to the wage price index, which is an entirely different economic measure and not one which the unions or the ABC have ever referred to as part of these negotiations. The ABC’s communications with staff have only ever compared its wages against inflation (CPI) and average wage ordinary time earnings (AWOTE) which is consistent with the practice generally adopted by most employers in these types of negotiations.

In any event, over the last two agreements, the ABC’s cumulative collective wage increases have grown by 24.8% — as compared to the “all industries” wage price index, which grew by 25% (this included the mining sector). Perhaps the more relevant wage price index comparison for the ABC is the WPI for the information, media and telecommunications sector — which only increased by 20.8% over the same period.

The facts are that wages growth at the ABC in recent years has outperformed inflation and our own base line funding. This is simply not sustainable.

We are not ready for a female PM

Paul Johanson writes: Re. “Keane: leadership is a distraction, Labor is broken” (Thursday). I’m a card-carrying member of the ALP, looking forward to voting in the likely meaningless preselection in Batman in a few weeks.

The party is broken, but it has been for a long time. There are notionally 100 members of my branch, but only seven or eight turn up regularly to meetings. And I’ve not been one of them lately, too busy with my infant son. The rest of these invisible members are presumably part of the massive branch stack in Batman.

It appears to be possible that, if you had enough resources, you could in fact buy yourself a seat in Parliament. Which fits the definition of corruption. This is not confined to the ALP — didn’t Malcolm Turnbull spend hundreds of thousands of dollars “securing” his seat?

The party is broken and needs to fix itself, but why does this have to involve at least one term of a government lead by that frightening incompetent maniac Abbott and his rich cronies? Why does the entire country need to punished because the party is beholden to the NSW Right and Kevin Rudd’s ego?

I am actually a fan of the Gillard government, it has been far more progressive than would seem possible in a hung Parliament. With the glaring exception of its handling of boat-borne refugees. That “policy” makes”me want to leave not just the party but indeed the country.

The federal ALP, looked at from a policy and economic perspective, does not deserve the extraordinary level of vitriol that’s been directed at it . Listening to Julia Gillard in Parliament, she comes across as tough and smart, and the government sounds far saner than the clowns in opposition who treat the place as a circus. But there’s some weird disconnect between the performance of the government and the way is perceived by voters. Partly because of News Ltd running a sustained campaign against them, partly because of the way Gillard came to the office. But I hate to say it, it’s also been because of the extraordinary ongoing misogynist shit-storm around Gillard. It’s awful to watch, makes me lose my faith in my fellow countrymen. The answer to the often-asked question “is the country ready for a female prime minister?” is no, and that makes me sick to my stomach.

So we can all look forward to an Abbott-led recession, the winding back of environmental and social policy, and no doubt more outright s-xist policies. And if we’re really lucky more drowned refugees. A great outcome for all.