Crikey writes: Yesterday in TV ratings, Crikey said SBS had a 45.0% ratings share. That was wrong — we typed a stray ‘4’ in front of the correct figure. Thanks to the readers who noticed our figures added up to 118.5%.

On success

Peter Burnett writes: Re. “Losing Andrew Robb exacerbates the danger of Joyce” (February 11). Bernard Keane describes Julie Bishop as one of the few successful ministers in the Abbott government. Pull the other one! This is a minister who has:

  • been unable to resist a massive, unprecedented cut to overseas aid (nearly a billion dollars or 20% gone last budget)
  • abandoned long-held, bipartisan targets to increase our overseas aid commitments
  • allowed Australia’s commercial interests to play a larger role in shaping the aid program
  • overseen the merger of the independent statutory agency AusAID into the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), with the loss of many staff experienced in development programs
  • allowed Malcolm Turnbull’s pledge of a billion dollars in climate funding to be taken completely out of the overseas aid budget, even when she criticised Labor for using aid for this purpose
  • been responsible for the lack of funding predictability which has bedevilled development practitioners and overseas partners (how much more aid will be cut in this year’s budget?).

Last September, Steve Ciobo was appointed as Minister for International Development and the Pacific. After just five months, the job has been handballed to Connie Fierravanti-Wells. If this is a success story, gawd help us all!

On campaign funding

David O’Neil writes: Re. “Mayne: can Cormann (and Stuart Robert) fix our broken campaign finance system?” (yesterday). Why do we continue to beat about the bush with euphemisms like “assisting campaign finances” or “developer donations” or  “party fundraisers” when, under the present regulations, they are all, one way or another, just bribes? Why not refer to them as such? I doubt that those making the “donations” do so without expecting a return.

Peter Fray

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