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Letters to the Editor

From time to time, a commentary on the world will bubble up inside of me to the extent that I'm forced to write a letter to my local, metropolitan, daily newspaper, The Age. This is where I blow of some steam. Feel like venting too? Add your own comment or visit my homepage.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

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Unexceptional Circumstances

We can't go on calling it "exceptional circumstances" when billions are spent year after year across half the farms. Instead, it should be the "Real Aussies Preservation Program" and run out of the Heritage Department.


Monday, October 16, 2006

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Proximity No Measure For Compassion

I reject Prime Minister John Howard's assertion that we should show the same "level of compassion" to Australian victims of drought as to victims of the Boxing Day Tsunami. That terrible tragedy in 2004 killed over 200,000 people, leaving a further 1.7 million people displaced. Whole villages were literally wiped off the map. Many of those affected live in extremely poor areas where their governments lack the capacity to support them or help rebuild their lives. Quite simply, the scale, intensity and relief required are of an entirely different character and order of magnitude.

For John Howard to equate that with a few thousand Australian families facing temporary financial hardship is nationalistic and insular. Of course, these citizens will be looked after by our well-resourced governments. But in our global age, the days when physical proximity, skin colour and accent dictate our levels of compassion are long gone.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

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Media Reform and Public Choice

The paucity of debate on media reform has thrown up an ugly prospect: local content and diversity are goals only for policy wonks, journalists and National Party backbenchers. The rest of us just doesn't seem to care. Even that famed reader of the public sentiment, Prime Minister Howard, regards this as a "second-order issue".

It's worth remembering that the present regulation is only necessary if you believe that the public, if given its druthers, is unwilling to pay for the diversity and local content it deserves. Maybe Australians just don't wish to pay for more newsrooms and "live and local" radio with increasingly frequent ads and higher subscription fees? Is that not a valid public choice?

It's easy to dismiss the Chicken Littles' concerns as special pleading - journos want more employment opportunities while agrarian socialists want any subsidy, grant, special allowance or political favour going. But if there are real concerns that go beyond ideology or private interests, then we need to hear about them. Monica Attard on Media Watch has gone some way to highlighting problems in regional cities. Let's hear more examples of why diversity and local content are worth the steep price.