Your comments on issue 3 and our election coverage


A Kerry-Latham pacific solution?

I would love to believe you are right and that a vote for sanity here has an impact over there – but I think you are assuming that Americans know that Australia is part of the “Coalition of the Willing”. From what I hear, the American public are woefully ignorant about us and I would think the US Media will endeavour to keep them that way.

Peter Bayley

The public broadcaster, the archive and the filmmaker

Editorial integrity be damned. This smells very much more like political pressure being brought to bear on the ABC. And I am not notably a conspiracy theorist. If this were a conservative documentary maker (if that’s not an oxymoron) wanting footage of John Howard talking about traditional Australian values, you can bet your bottom dollar that this problem wouldn’t’ve come up.

I wonder if anyone at the ABC (or elsewhere) would be prepared to state publicly and honestly exactly what is meant by ‘editorial integrity’. Add to that, how that could be compromised by use of their footage in a documentary. For heaven’s sake, the original use of the footage when it was first aired is a political statement. maybe we’re looking at the first stages of ABC censorship to prevent anything embarrassing to the government being shown on ‘our’ ABC.

One tiny glimmer of hope is that David Marr has been allowed to air this controversy on Media Watch. It will be interesting to see if there is any fallout from that.

Andrew Kinna

Kicking down the bedroom door

would it be possible to arrange to have laurie oakes sit in on a ‘private’ lunch conversation between piers cackerman & allan jones & john howard then give his viewing public a clearly unbiased commentry on the content of their discussion? it shouldn’t take long.
further to this, would it be possible toget piers to have a one man debate on tv on the subject of bias, in prime time of coures

don smith

Unchristian soldiers

As I underestand the theology of it, marriage is a union entered into voluntarily by two people. To underscore the importance of fidelity, and to support families in their community, the Christian church began at an early date to publicly bless private unions. In much more recent history, and for reasons of property and blood line, the state began to publicly ratify private contracts for members of the ruling classes.

In countries where church and state are more clearly separate than they are here, couples may have both a state and a church ceremony. They do not, however, marry twice; they merely have two distinct recognitions of their personal contract.

Though both church and state have hedged these public recognitions about with caveats about consanguinity, gender and age, neither can tell two people who have agreed to marry that they are not married.

My lesbian daughter and her partner are as married as any couple I know, and blessed, I think, in a hundred ways by God. But though the church may deny them its public blessing, the state is denying them their legal rights.

Joan Dugdale

Dear John … you’re dumped

For a slightly more light-hearted version of the ‘Dear John’ theme, see the recently published book by Richard Berry – humour with a distinct edge which features a letter from John Howard’s office containing the immortal words: ‘You may think John Howard can be your pen pal – but he can’t’.

Bob Sessions

First week

The government is running campaigns on the economy. The economy is important but it has its place. At the moment the economy is trespassing and stealing from our well-being and our future. Economic management doesn’t have to mean we are managed by the economy.

Money has gained influenced in our lives. Money means so much in our life today than it did 10, 15 or 20 years ago. Money is gaining power in the way it determines:

¢ the health care you get,
¢ the education you get,
¢ the representation you get.

Money also influences the opportunities you are presented with. Is the increasing importance of money a good thing? Is it a problem?

It’s important to be clear about the effects of the increasing power of money. Some people state that systems and structures which reinforce the power of money provide incentive for people to be more productive. Well, if people are more productive then we get better stuff, including important stuff that improves the well-being of people.

But what if this claim of increasing productivity has limits? What happens if things go too far? Can money gain such importance that it has us doing stuff that hurts us. Can the importance of money gain such power that it unbalances the system. Can the increasing power of money actually decrease productivity on top of the damage to well-being. What might that look like? How would we recognise if it happened? Maybe it’s already happened?

¢ What feeds greed? And what does greed have us doing?
¢ What feeds corruption and abuse of power?
¢ What causes short term profiteering rather that investment for sustainable well-being?
¢ Does money reward people fairly for their efforts and the importance of their work?
¢ What increases self-interest? What does increasing self-interest blind us to?
¢ What are some of the things we’ve lost in our lives?

What are some of the promises made by money that weren’t fulfilled.

We need a better balance for a better future.


Mark Byrne

The missing great debate

Thank you Greg, thank you, thank you. I saw this one for what it is last week and saw nothing about it. You are dead right, it is bad enough when they use OUR money to try bribe us but when they use OUR citizens it is beggars belief.

I don’t necessarily blame the politicians they will try and get away with whatever they can (as sad as this fact is), it is up to the media and the citizens to keep them accountable, as highlighted in this case both, once again, have failed miserably.

What to do?

Ben Egan

Letter to an expatriate friend

I take aboard what Anne says.

I will have no trouble NOT voting for my local sitting Liberal member

However if I were in Richmond it would not be so easy

My daughter votes in Richmond and is active in youth work. Larry Anthony has been supportive and they are on first name terms. I do not know how she will vote.

Larry is a good man. We need good men in Federal parliment. He is the future of our system of govermment. I might just be persuaded to vote for him.

I know we should play the ball not the man,but what is the lesser of two evils?

Brian Poole

Anne, you have raised some pertinent points about regional, marginal electorates – (could be true of the WHOLE nation?) – people are apathetic, even annoyed about the election in general and politicians in particular.

I live in Page the adajecent marginal electorate to Richmond and last election handed out for the ALP and scrutineered for the first time. Many voters appeared angry and brushed past booth workers from all parties. Experienced party helpers told me they had never seen such behaviour.

I can only imagine that people are sick of having to vote every three years, sick of the broken promises and blatant pork barelling that both major parties engage in.

The train issue in both Richmond and Page is huge and questions need to be asked as to why Latham couldn’t keep Costa and Carr under control until after the election?

I was at Murwillumbah station some weeks ago when Jenny Macklin and Martin Ferguson announced that a Latham labor government would provide the NSW government with the funds to re-open the Casino Murwillumbah railway. It was quite farcical. There was Larry Anthony holding a rival press conference at the other end of the station, attacking labor’s announcement. Unusual for a candidate to crash his opponent’s press conference, but Larry knows the train issue could make or break his re-election chances.

Larry might not be as competent a minister as his father Doug, but he does seem to be a good local member. Last election the ALP sent up a very competent candidate from Sydney and threw heaps of campaign resources her way. What did Larry do? He got on his push bike and rode around the electorate.

I think this is important in an election where neither side’s policies are dominating. It’s hard for opposition candidates to cut through if the sitting member is seen to be doing a good job.

Page takes in Lismore, Ballina and Grafton and we are currently ‘served’ by the Hon. Ian Causley. His opponent is Kevin Bell who held a public meeting in my hometown, Casino, last week. Apart from the National party member who turned up to spy, it was the usual few party faithful present. Whatever we might think of Ian Causley – it’s difficult for a relatively unknown candidate to establish his credentials against a high profile sitting member.

If the ALP wants to win these marginal regional seats, they need to foster local people as candidates and help them establish a profile over a number of years.

And overall, Labor is the party of reform. Why don’t they take on the big picture, hard issues, like promising real reform of the health and the tax systems? This is what people want. Not just a few extra dollars a week. What is a budget surplus for? It’s our taxes and it should be spent on the services that most Australians want.

Therese Schier

Where are the opinion leaders?


Someone told me before the 1987 or 90 election that the ‘mob’ won’t make up their mind until they hear what John Laws or George Negus think. Personally, I found this level of ‘opinion leader’ influence dispiriting and disturbing. It seemed to me then and does now that this is an excessive level of trust being placed in what are after all fairly ordinary thinkers.

I think what has happened in the meantime is that the opinion leader field has become far more crowded – there are just many more individuals and organisations filling the airwaves and print media, and more recently cyberspace, than ever before. We now have books on every issue flying off the bookshelves and so on. In fact, there heaps of people making a living out of being ‘public intellectuals’.

I can remember handing out Vietnam moratorium material to my mostly uninterested Year 10 or 11 colleagues at Peakhurst High School in south-west Sydney, 35 years ago and my recollection of the response I got was not much different to my teenage daughter’s experiences when she organised a lunchtime protest at her school last year.

I just don’t buy the idea that the world has suddenly gone all selfish and I’m glad we live in a world where the flow of information and ideas is becoming much greater and more diverse all the time.

If anything, my teenage children are better informed about the world than I was at their age – but they are still in the minority. Some things never change.

What’s more they have more social contact through sms, chat, blogs, email etc than any previous generation. They just resist joining regimented organisations with archaic debating rules, lock-step factionalism and rigid adherence to the ‘platform’.

I think the flaw of those who look back in wonder at the late sixties and early seventies is that they expect the following generations to carry on where we left off. The world has changed.

I’m also surprised by Rod’s belief in a growing timidity – outspokenness in the form of Andrew Wilkie, Mike Scrafton or the 43 former officials seems to be a virtually unprecedented level of willingness to go public.


Trevor Cook

In response to ‘Where are the opinion leaders?” by Rod Cameron i can only say i wholeheartedly agree with his sentiments. My name is Hetty Johnston. As an Independent running for a Senate seat in Queensland I can tell you just how hard it is to get the media interested in an ‘opinion’ from anyone other than the registered political parties or their ‘paid experts’ – that is unless you come up with some totally radical and irresponsible. Common sense has no place in the current debate. The system is stacked against the little guy having a voice in our illusionary democracy. Australia’s political parties have become the talking heads of the multinationals who stoke their campaign coffers with millions of dollars in return for favorable treatment. Meanwhile, the ordinary little ozzy is treated like a sheep, ignored, patronised, regulated, controlled and sidelined to death. Australia’s democracy is being ground into the dirt while the existing political donation system continues to sabortage it. Our major parties do not represent the people as a priority – if at all. They increasingly represent a corporate democracy where the ‘experts opinions’, international interests and economic gobblygook take precedence over what is best for our own small businesses, rural sector, health, education, children and families of Australia. I am fighting back to reclaim our democracy for ourselves and I hope the average voter flexes their muscle on election day and votes 1 for an Independent – their only chance of reclaiming a voice in this dysfuncional, illusionary democratic sytem.

We’ve had enough and we are not going to take it anymore.

Hetty Johnston

Thanks Rod. An important but obviously vexed issue. One wonders at times whether or not ‘big picture’ issues are but the domain of those who can afford to express their opinions and concerns, but in this current political climate it seems that a social virtue has been made out of self interest and the ready dismissal of others needs. John Howard’s contempt for the ‘elite’ and Mark Latham’s targeted appeal to the ‘battlers’ doesn’t seem to leave any middle/fertile ground for restoring social ethics, eg., Keating’s Redfern address, back onto the national agenda. Worrying times in the land of Oz.

Sean Gilbert, Adelaide

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