On Abbott and press secretaries

Geoffrey Briot writes: Re. “Bypassing the filter: Abbott snubs journos in Iraq, but will it work?” (yesterday). Myriam Robin’s otherwise commendable story contained an error made more unfortunate since it could mistakenly be attributed to what Laurie Oakes said in his Radio National Media Report interview. Robin stated: “In the Whitlam government, the prime minister was the only one with a press secretary”. As the answer to House of Representatives question on notice 915 given on 21 November 1973 makes clear, 18 ministers other than Whitlam had a press secretary. Oakes’ reference in his interview to Graham Freudenberg was as press secretary to Whitlam as Opposition Leader. Even in the two years before Whitlam won government, Lance Barnard and Lionel Murphy each also had a press secretary.

North Korea and The Interview

Niall Clugston writes: Re. “How one of the world’s most dangerous nuclear states became a joke” (yesterday). Why is it that North Korea is the Dementia Zone for Western commentators? Paul Millar makes some good points regarding the Sony hack and the comedy movie, The Interview,  but still he manages to be utterly ridiculous.

For a start, it seems highly unlikely that North Korea had anything to do with the Sony hack. Secondly, the fact that North Korea complains about a movie is hardly news. They called the 2002 James Bond film, Die Another Day, a “dirty and cursed burlesque”. So what? Tell us when North Korea doesn’t complain. Thirdly, Millar makes a joke about North Korea’s “trite threats emptier than the bellies of its oppressed peoples”.  This is not funny, and is out of date, because the economic crisis was 20 years ago. Fourthly, the reason Asian countries are not interested in the film is probably not because of any threat from North Korea but because Asian audiences don’t particularly enjoy white people making fun of other Asians. Finally, I would have to take issue with his description of the DRPK as “Earth’s most bellicose state”. In reality, it has never attacked another country. The Korean War was a civil war, which the USA, Australia, etc intervened in. The USA is by far and away the most bellicose state on the planet. It currently has 30,000 troops in South Korea. It has military bases around the world, in Australia and even in Communist Cuba. No, I am not a supporter of North Korea. I am a partisan of the truth. Please check your facts.

Don’t look to the newspapers for recession warnings

Roy Ramage writes: Re. “Watchdog or Lapdog: why did financial journos fail to see the GFC coming?” (yesterday). It is heartening to see that you are concentrating on the business of reporting business. It is entirely predictable that we are headed into recession of some magnitude. Oil prices have come down as global GDP has dropped off and the Saudis have reacted to the US attempt at energy independence driven by the unlimited fracking/ shale oil claims.

The ponzi scheme that is “fracking oil” is exploding through financial circles as the price of oil falls through the floor. The drillers, having borrowed billions to frack for oil, were doing so as they could make a profit at $90 to $100 per barrel while global demand escalated. Not so at $47! The shale/ fracking towns are now firing staff and looking to avoid paying back millions of zero interest loans. The further exacerbation is that when shale fracking yields oil, the find tends to peak very quickly. This severely limiting factor is rarely mentioned by business reporters.

This will not only have a serious economic consequence for the US but also for the Saudis. As they lose money while they end America’s claim to infinite oil, they will have to think how they keep a lid on their overpopulated country where their oil money has kept lots of thirty somethings dependent on it — content. If the standard business press does not get the energy, economy and environment equation, and it appears they don’t, then Australians face some nasty economic shocks in 2015 completely unprepared.

Peter Fray

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