A different approach

The Australian has published a range of opinions on Alan Jones’ latest atrocity, including the perfectly valid view that he was wrong but it was free speech, and that he has apologised so let’s move on. Odd then, that The Australian did not air such views last year during its protracted, months-long crucifixion of Larissa Behrendt over an off-colour but significantly less vicious tweet.

Nudge wink

Frank Furedi (“Don’t wink at the nudge plan”, The Australian, 5/10) paints a truly terrifying picture of a looming dystopia in which governments make people become organ donors, drive safely or give up smoking through persuasive “nudge techniques” rather than compulsion. I hereby call for a ban on all such techniques, including advertising of every kind. Or does Furedi only object when the techniques are used for the public good rather than private profit?

Keep ’em coming

It seems Jim Ball (Letters, 4/10) has already decided the outcome of his proposed Abbott-led inquiry into the ABC: a “clean-out of the organisation from top to bottom”, and putting Alan Jones in charge of the resulting asylum. In other words, a Soviet-style political purge. Please keep these ideas coming, because as the electorate begins to apprehend such prospects, the likelihood of an Abbott government diminishes.

Super shelter

The Australian’s editorial warns us to “expect tax increases on the long-term retirement savings of workers” (“Political interest rates are highest in the wrong areas”, 3/10). From what quarter should we expect this? It can’t be from this government, whose proposal is to reduce the anomalous tax concession for the wealthiest 1%, to the same level as the rest of us enjoy.

It’s time for some perspective to balance the “hands off our super!” hysteria. Australia’s richest 1% currently receive a 30% tax break on their contributions, almost twice what those on ordinary incomes get, and at an annual cost to the taxpayer of $30 billion and rising. The government’s proposal to reduce this concession to 15% will partially level the playing field. But the 30% perk will still apply to those earning from $180,000 to $300,000 a year, indicating that, if anything, the changes do not go far enough. Super was never intended to be a tax shelter for the super-rich.

Back-to-front war

Paul Kelly shows commendable candour as a conservative commentator by admitting that “Gillard has long been subject to unfair, often misogynistic attacks” (“Hypocrisy rules but both sides of politics are courting danger”, The Australian, 3/10). But clearly he has little time to listen to the radio, if he can seriously assert that “Labor, in effect, has declared war on Jones and 2GB”. This is back-to-front. For years now Jones and his company have been running a round-the-clock anti-Labor diatribe with no regard for balance or decency. What we are seeing now from Labor is a late defensive manoeuvre.

Man up on boats

It should be clear by now that the offshore “processing” regime has failed to stop a single boat and thus amounts to nothing more than pointless additional cruelty, that “pull factors” were always a parochial fantasy, and that an international effort to empty the camps is the only real way to help refugees. To those who so vociferously insisted upon it: as someone once said, “there are days when you just have to…man up, say you got it wrong”.

Is Deveney loud?

Did Catherine Deveny “shout down” Archbishop Jensen on Q&A as The Australian’s editorial (“Questions and mockery”, 12/9) and several letter-writers would have it? Or is that an illusion caused by antipathy for her message?

An analysis of the transcript¹ shows that Deveny spoke 1,259 words to Jensen’s 2,592, and that both interrupted other panellists three times each. It may be that Deveny has the louder voice, but it is not possible to tell from TV audio, which is compressed to eliminate volume differences.

It seems that when someone we disagree with speaks even half as much as someone we support, it’s still too much for some.

 1. http://thatsmyphilosophy.wordpress.com/2012/09/13/defending-deveny/

Muslim smile

Of all the many unsubstantiated generalisations about Muslims which have been selected for publication by The Australian in place of reasoned debate over the past week, the most ludicrous would have to be from Andrea Wright (Letters, 20/9), who adds to their supposed endemic flaws her observation that “They also appear to be humourless. Do you ever see them smile?”. I personally often see Muslims smile, just as all human beings do. Maybe there’s something about Ms Wright’s attitude that stops them doing it when she’s around.