Yesterday Crikey thanked independent Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie for voting against the government’s internet censorship bill on Monday evening. In fact, she wasn’t in the chamber when the vote was taken — Hansard appears to have included her name rather than Scott Ludlam’s, who is mysteriously recorded as absent for the vote on a bill he lead the debate on in the Senate. Crikey apologises to Senator Lambie, whose views on internet censorship remain unclear.

On ABC’s apology

John Richardson writes: Re. “Aunty apologises” (yesterday). Whilst I readily accept that many will have been offended by Zaky Mallah’s remarks on Q&A on Monday, I have to say that I was equally offended by Steve Ciobo’s contribution — or lack of it — and even more by the ABC’s Tony Jones and Director of ABC Television, Richard Finlayson. Whilst “Team Australia” routinely huffs and puffs about its primary responsibility to “keep Australians safe”, its parliamentary selectors have little if anything to say about their sworn duty to uphold the constitution and defend the rights of Australians, including their right to the presumption of innocence, to confront their accusers, to a trial by jury, to not be arbitrarily deprived of their nationality & to not be set upon by ignorant politicians intent on placing themselves and their own half-baked prejudices ahead of our courts and above the law.

That Tony Jones, Richard Finlayson and “Aunty” felt obliged to apologise for Mallah’s comments, whilst offering only silence in response to Ciobo’s arrogant and equally offensive anti-democratic musings, highlights just how fragile our democratic freedoms have really become in the face of cynical, fear-mongering politicians on all sides and their lazy or inept enablers in the media.

Mary Sinclair writes: What is the government worried about? The only people who came out of this looking good were the politicians (a rare call for Q&A panels) and in particular Steve Ciobo. There’s a point to a country being adult enough to allow different voices: Zaky Mallah’s appearance did more than any journalist or government official could to reveal whether we are dealing with “terrorists” or “nutters”.  Well handled by Tony Jones as well.

He came in like a wrecking ball

Andrew Owens writes: Re. “The wrecking-ball PM? Abbott destroys Labor’s legacy, while Howard’s lives on” (yesterday). The author makes a statement:

 “While Gillard battled in a minority government, Rudd enjoyed control of both houses, meaning he could have reversed more Howard-era policies if he had wanted.”

For the first seven months of Rudd’s 2.5 years as PM (until 1 July 2008), he had a Coalition-controlled senate (39 out of 76), and then for the remainder of his term, he had a Senate where the Coalition controlled 37 seats and simply needed to find another person out of Nick Xenophon or the Family First senator to block any legislation, which it did on numerous occasions. Gillard had a minority controlled House of Reps, but from 1 July 2011 until her defeat on 27 June 2013, Labor and the Greens shared 41 of the 76 seats in the upper house, and her agreement with the Greens allowed most things to get through unhindered.

Fuel excise indexation

Peter Matters writes: Re. “Game of pass-the-excuse finally restores fuel excise indexation” (yesterday). Fuel rising in line with excise will of course provide governments of the future with some badly needed extra money and at the same time is intended to persuade people to use their cars less. However, it also infers that if we are to use our cars radically less, the extra money should be used to radically upgrade public transport. The big question: What is the Abbott government going to do with the extra money?

Next in line

Steven Haby writes: Re. “News Corp regionals brace for change” (yesterday). As a Geelong lad, the ‘Addy’ (as the Geelong Advertiser is fondly known) was never the same since News got their grubby hands on it and changed the paper to tabloid size from broadsheet.The Addy used to be a paper of record for Geelong and South-Western Victoria and my grandparents used to purchase it regularly. Once it went tabloid the quality of the content went downhill. If what is said is true and News does establish a ‘regional’ version of the Herald Sun it will do so at its peril. Residents of “sleepy hollow” do not take kindly to change particularly if it is detrimental to the city and the region, and more so if directed from Melbourne or Sydney. Residents are very loyal to Geelong which has been through alot in recent years and this sort of change will not help. Interestingly there is a new independent paper in Geelong which seems to be doing well so perhaps over time that paper can establish itself as a true voice for Geelong. What makes matters even worse is that Geelong does not have an ABC station unlike Newcastle or the Gold Coast to provide an alternative.