About that septic tank …

Sue Spencer, executive producer of Four Corners, writes: Re. “Did Four Corners repeat the error?” You failed to inform your readers that more information (from the Report of the Inter-Departmental Group on Mother and Baby Homes) has since come out since the June 2014 media reports. It reported:

  1. The deaths of 796 children at the Tuam home between 1925 and 1961. (it’s worth noting that the General Registers Office identified 1101 births for this period).
  2. Garda enquiries confirm reports that skeletal remains were discovered in an underground structure near the site in the mid 1970’s with no record of Garda/coroner involvement at the time….
  3. In relation to lawful burials – prior to 1994 there were no conditions applying to burial sites attaching to religious homes and no onus to report or give notification of burials therein to any authority.

Surely enough information to warrant further investigation , which the Irish government is planning to do.

The Soviet Union’s unhappy history

Charles Richardson writes: Re. “The not-so-united Soviet Union” (yesterday). Chris O’Regan is quite right to point out that Yugoslavia didn’t stay under Soviet control for long, but it definitely started out that way, and even after Tito broke with Stalin it remained clearly communist and broadly in the Soviet camp — for example, Khrushchev sought Tito’s approval prior to the invasion of Hungary in 1956. So I think it’s permissible to treat it along with the others. His other points are perfectly valid; as to (non-Soviet) Europe lacking a unified identity prior to 1939, I agree completely — that’s why I think it’s so interesting that there are common themes in its history in the last 25 years.

Why the Palais needs saving

Peter Holland writes: Re. “Razer: Tex Perkins belongs on your iTunes, not your ballot” (yesterday).  Helen Razer states:  “UnChain vice-president Peter Holland has stated that it [the future management of the Palais] will not be the current team despite their fine work.”

This is completely false.  The Port Phillip Council meeting on October 28 considered whether to endorse an invitation for expression of interest for the long-term lease of the Palais. An alternative was to extend the current lease. I addressed the council and said that the “current team” had done a fantastic job. However, I also supported calling for expressions of interest as the proper way to proceed. I also said that I hoped that the current team would win this. So Razer has completely mis-stated my position. I thought that the proper journalism practice would be to check before making an assertion like she has.

More importantly, Razer has completely missed the point. The Palais is ranked No. 18 of the world’s theatre concert venues and No. 1 in Australia. The officers’ report that went to council on October 28 estimated that between $25 million and $40 million was required to bring the Palais up to compliance standard and to repair structural and other building fabric issues. The report said that this funding is urgently required to enable works to be undertaken to keep the Palais open. Taking the mid-point of this ($32.5 million), the council resolved to contribute $7.5 million, if the state government contributed $25 million. Tex Perkins is standing as an independent candidate in the seat of Albert Park to try to get a firm commitment from the political parties to protect the Palais. Razer claims that she spent “a day reviewing the recent history of the building”. Surely good journalism practice would include reading the basic documents like the council reports and communicating their essence to your readers.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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