James Burke writes: Re. “Off to war we go” (yesterday). “Daesh is a long planned, false flag operation run by the West”, Richard Middleton writes. No ambiguity there. He is not arguing that the West is ultimately responsible for ISIS because of Charlie Wilson, Donald Rumsfeld, Saudi Arabia, etc. He is arguing that from the beginning, ISIS’s actions have been planned and directed by the United States Government.

This insults not just truth, reason and your readers’ intelligence. It insults the dead and the bereaved (including many Australians). Thousands have been murdered by ISIS. In lying about the reason for their deaths, Middleton is mocking their memory. Which wouldn’t be such a problem if he was just a  crank on the wider web, but Crikey gave him a platform. It’s the equivalent of inviting the Westboro Church into the funeral.

Nip this in the bud, or you set a dangerous precedent. In time Crikey readers could be regaled with Alex Turner’s insights into 9/11 or Fredrick Toben’s explanation of what never happened at Auschwitz. Those few Crikey readers who still bother, that is.

ACMA on the attack

Peter Matters writes: Re. “ACMA armed to the teeth: prepare for a media-regulation brawl” (yesterday). If the odd team of Abbott and Turnbull try to emasculate ACMA, the Senate must not under any circumstances agree to it. If against all the odds they do agree, the Opposition must take the legal reinstatement of ACMA into the 2016 election as a main plank. While constantly screaming “defend freedom of the press”, Murdoch has also equally constantly abused that precious right and in the process has  thereby ensured his principal off kick’s opportunity to do his utmost harm to Australia as a prime minister whom history will define as a buffoon .

Mayne’s motives are murky

Geoffrey Heard writes: Re. “Mayne: blocking foreign investment? Xu gotta be kidding me!” (Wednesday). Stephen Mayne wrote of the Future of Melbourne Committee’s proposal to the Melbourne City Council that it write to the Federal Government opposing any change to foreign investment rules:

“Melbourne is benefiting strongly from an open and welcoming approach to foreign investment in all asset classes.”

In what way is it benefiting? This is a kind of slogan. And in particular — WHAT IS MELBOURNE? Is Melbourne the bunch of ordinary people, most of the five million who live in it, or is it something else? And if it is the bunch of ordinary people, how are they benefiting? He wrote:

“As the Melbourne economy transitions away from its historical manufacturing base, inward Asian investment in property — including offshore purchases of new and existing dwellings — has been an important driver of economic activity and engagement with the region.”

Is this one of the benefits? How does this benefit work? Does it make more housing available for the 5 million? Does it reduce the price of housing — which is grossly higher than it should be (you can get a very nice house in Austin, Texas, on a quarter acre block for about $200,000 — try buying a decent dunny with that in Melbourne. Jeez, sounds like the old Australian dream, except the houses look better.

He wrote:

“This is particularly evident in the education sector where Melbourne has joined London, Paris and New York as elite members of the ‘big four’ globally when it comes to hosting international students.”

Terrific, there are now 11,000 foreign students on the Melbourne univerisity campus with 20,000 predicted for 2020. And what does this do for the 5 million? Provide more university opportunities for them? Nope — it shuts down local opportunities as governments packed with hypocrites who received free or very low cost tertiary education use the income universities grab from overseas students to cut university funding. And as the foreign students flood in, there is simply no physical room for Australian students. You know — the ones the university was built for in the first place.

He wrote that Haileybury College’s purchase of a site near the Flagstaff Gardens:

“Is an exciting development as the City of Melbourne had population growth of 11.5% in 2014, the fastest growth of any council in Australia, but most inner-city schools are now bursting at the seams.”

How big an impact will the very pricey (and even more pricey given the site cost) Haileybury College have on the alleged population pressure on inner city schools? He also wrote that 42% of the city’s burgeoning population is students. How many of these are married with kids? Are we sure they have sufficient income to afford Haileybury’s stratospheric prices? He cites 11.5% growth in the population of the City of Melbourne; sounds impressive, but the City of Melbourne is a pretty small place so 11.5% is not a big real number. In fact, it has only 105,000 residents of all ages according to the City of Melbourne (2013).

When Mayne is talking about the population, who is he talking about? Residents, or visitors, or students, workers, etc, who flood in every day and go home at night? Mayne is also happy to cite Melbourne’s “most liveable city” label conferred by newspaper. It has lost that title of course — as it was bound to do. One of the reasons why it would lose that title is because of the insane rush to build residential towers all over the place by the previous state government. And while we are promoting the”development” of Melbourne, can we spare a thought for the investment Melbourne really needs? Where are the electricity and water going to come from, Mr Mayne (bearing in mind that the desalination disaster demands an increase of 20% in Victoria’s electricity generation capacity) and where is all the shit to go — to say nothing of the piss and vinegar of the “suck in foreign capital at all costs” brigade?

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey