Rugged individual

With new-found enthusiasm for Fair Work Australia, The Australian (Editorial, 10/8) trumpets the Qantas decision as upholding “the right of any company to run its operations as it sees fit”. Presumably this means Alan Joyce is now free to exercise the same management style he used to run Ansett into the ground, typified by his histrionic lock-out last year which stranded thousands of passengers without warning or purpose, and which the editorial incorrectly attribute to the TWU.

Joyce’s combative approach has earned him the ire of every segment of his workforce from pilots to cabin crew to engineers to baggage-handlers, and of his shareholders, who have recently seen their their stocks plummet and their first losses in twenty years. But as long as one rugged individual is free to do exactly as he wants, I’m sure it’s all worth it.

Leaders

The Australian’s editorial (“Exercising a democratic right”, 27/7) defends Chris Bowen’s intention to vote against marriage equality, on the grounds that MPs should always vote according to majority opinion in their local electorates. This is disingenuously naive: they must also consider the broad national view, their party’s policy, informed opinion, and their own knowledge and belief. Should Southern U.S. Congress members have voted against repealing race laws simply because most of their constituents were rednecks? Sometimes leaders should lead.

You can’t vote out a corporation

Many are rightly concerned about the potential for government interference in media regulation. But to simply cry “Free Speech!” and compare even a public interest test or an independent watchdog to Soviet repression is simplistic and melodramatic. Threats to free speech can come from any quarter, not only government but commercial and political interests and media monopolies as well (yes, I’m talking to you, News Ltd, among others). How do opponents of any regulation propose to deal with this? By doing nothing?

Ideally, information should be both unfiltered and unbiased, but these ideals can conflict, especially in the presence of well-resourced interests. The complex task of balancing them is patently not served any better by the “free market” than by centralised control. The significant difference between governments and corporations is that the latter cannot be voted out.

Playing politics with the disabled

In their rank desperation to stymie Labor at every turn, from refugee policy to the NDIS, Liberals both state and federal are clearly willing to sacrifice the needs and dignity of Australia’s most vulnerable on the altar of political ambition. Shame is too gentle a word.

Real exploitation

Real exploitation
18 Jul 2012

John Francis’ letter is among several published in The Australian recently which make the erroneous claim that “minorities such as the Greens…exploit the senate’s electoral system”. The Greens are represented there in direct proportion to the votes they received, and they are grossly under-represented in the Lower House by virtue of their widely-spread support.

On the other hand, The Nationals, with about 4% of the vote, have an exaggerated presence in Parliament due to the narrow geography of their support, and have used this to ensure the victory of almost every conservative government in living memory. Now that’s exploiting the system.

Back to school

John Kidd’s arithmetic is sorely awry in his claim that “the voting system prevailing in the Senate gives the Greens a much higher profile and influence than justified by their direct votes” (Letters, 16/7). Given that the Senate has 76 seats and the Greens polled over 13%, they actually deserve one more than the nine seats they hold.

 

 

Education causes godlessness

It seems The Australian would drum up a green “class war” of its own with the claim that “those struggling to afford their daily bread…subsidise richer people who can afford solar panels” (“Gaia ousts God in the latte hubs”, Editorial, 13/7). As always, the first casualty of war is truth: in fact, uptake of solar rebates has been predominantly in Australia’s mortgage belts, not by the dreaded “urban elites”.

But nothing beats religion as an aid to warmongering, thus the equally silly claim that “it is not rationalism…but the gospel of the Greens” which is behind the godless worldviews of these “black-clad inner-city hipsters”. Education has always correlated with less religious and more progressive views. You can’t blame the Greens, nor the city, for that.

The best way to stop the spread of these pernicious ideas is to ensure people don’t get too educated. Keep up the good work, The Australian.