Medical Observer magazine responds

Deana Henn, Medical Observer associate publisher, writes: Re. “When media become lobbyists: #scrapthecap backed by mags” (Wednesday). The lead and story suggest Medical Observer has demonstrated self-interest in lending support to the “scrap the cap” campaign. Medical Observer does not offer educational services to its readers — directly or indirectly — and our publication has no commercial or financial interest in supporting this campaign. Medical Observer lent support to the campaign in response to alarm voiced universally by readers who are concerned by the potential impact of the tax cap on educational expenses — especially in rural and remote areas where educational opportunities are limited yet the need for ongoing training is great.


Crikey writes: Re. “Tips and Rumours” (yesterday). We said former prime minister Billy McMahon died in 2010. This is incorrect. He died in 1988; his wife Sonia McMahon died in 2010. The tip caused some confusion among readers because it said: “the most recent [Australian prime minister] to die — in terms of when office was held — is Billy McMahon, who held the top job in 1971-2 …”. Several readers wrote in to note that McMahon was not the most recent PM to die, and they’re right. The tip was intended to note the most recently serving PM to have passed away, measured by how recently they served, not by when they died (all seven PMs who followed McMahon are still alive). We thank our eagle-eyed readers for improving Tips.

Those super-sized Senate ballots

Professor John Wanna from Australian National University’s School of Politics & International Relations writes: Re. “Supersized ballot papers: is e-voting the answer?” (Wednesday). Some Senate ballot papers in this year’s federal election may contain over 100 candidates and up to 50 parties or groups (depending on how many run in each jurisdiction). Voters can vote for parties above the line but not for ungrouped independents or single candidates. All voters can also vote below the line (their own choice), and the Australian Electoral Commission expects these voters to vote for every candidate sequentially with no mistakes.

However, voters below the line do not have to vote for every single candidate to make a formal vote. To lessen the number of informal votes the AEC accepts that 10% of the candidates shown on the ballot may not be numbered and the vote still count if the rest are sequential; or if a mistake is made in sequencing up to three numbers can be changed (by the AEC returning officer) to make the vote formal. Hence, voting below the line requires voters to vote for at least 90% of candidates shown on the ballot (which could be up to 70-90 sequential numbers if current predictions are accurate); and not make more than three mistakes in the sequential order (ie, missing out a certain number in the sequential order). The intention is to help the voter (who may be aged, ESL, non-numerate, etc) cast a formal vote; but it can also reduce the informal votes recorded for the main parties which could affect their later public funding.

Rundle’s propaganda

Glenn Phillips writes: Re. “Rundle: Labo(u)r’s little union problem” (Wednesday). Guy Rundle sometimes has interesting observations, but it’s fundamentally unalloyed propaganda, viz this article:

“The Right, by contrast, is a thin veneer over capital.

“It is stunning to note what a dead weight the Right becomes when things start to go wrong again, and how — in Australia, at least — it has to be pretty much propped up and moved around by capitals’ agents, Weekend At Bernie’s style, or like a dead cow caught on the front of a steam locomotive.”

Why doesn’t this come with an “advertisement” warning, or at the very least “opinion”? I can only assume that you just couldn’t be bothered whether or not the not insignificant portion of Australians who vote for a conservative party read Crikey. Aspiring to be the in-house organ of the left? Targeting “Green-Left” as your main competition?

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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