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Australian letters

26 September 2015

9:00 AM

26 September 2015

9:00 AM

Tur(n)bulence ahead

Sir: I find I disagree with the sentiments expressed in your cover article (Turnbull’s Treachery) of 19 September.

It could be that “Horses for courses” will prove to be the ideal way to choose our leaders in the tur(n)bulent times which appear to lie ahead of us.
Maurice Johnson
Bondi Beach, Australia

Bloody disgrace

Sir: I enjoy The Spectator. This week’s attempt to blacken the new PM was shocking. The cover was bad enough. Your description of Mr Abbott as a ‘class act’ was ludicrous. David Flint’s page, once again, hit a new low. At least James Allen had the nous to write that ‘Abbot wasn’t half the man he was as Opposition leader’. I hope next week’s Spectator will be a (little) more balanced and mature.
John Levi
Malvern East, Australia

Ugly business

Sir: I am a great follower of The Spectator Australia Magazine and was always enjoying the editorials and the political coverage on the Australian Government. I want you to know that I happen to think that Malcolm Turnbull’s win over Tony Abbott will be better for the country but that is not the purpose of my critique of your latest edition of the magazine with the despicable front page depicting Turnbull and Bishop having blood on their hands. It is the most ugly artwork that I didn’t think would ever appear on a cover of your magazine that I’m fond of. I realised your displeasure, after the outcome of last Monday’s events, as I’m watching you and Paul Murray every night on Sky News and saw the disappointment and anger emanating from you. So the fact that your editorial and the following pages in the magazine is condemning the outcome and Malcolm Turnbull’s success of the spill does not surprise me. I am from a country where I had to live under communism. I value the fact that everyone is allowed to give their opinion on politics in Australia. I am pleased that I have chosen to live in a wonderfully, free country and am part of a democratic society.
Maria Finlay
Double Bay, NSW

Bookish Brandis

Sir: It is reassuring to have Attorney-General George Brandis so forthcoming about his love of books (‘On books and pollies’, 19 September). Any politician, especially a senior minister, prepared to make time to read more than the required parliamentary material, deserves not ridicule but commendation, unreservedly. Reading literature and other works in the humanities, arts and sciences is, after all, more than a little helpful when it comes to sound political decision making. I do have a couple of quibbles, however.

One, reading poetry just to stay awake during late night Senate Estimates is worrying. It means that the A-G is not paying proper attention to what is under consideration. Moreover, it is not in any way conducive to adequate appreciation of the creative efforts of the poets involved.

Two, Mr Brandis highlighting John F Kennedy is problematic. As several respected historians have pointed out, JFK was sadly cut down too early to credit him with great political leadership, despite the appeal of the Camelot rhetoric. Presidents Johnson and Nixon actually achieved a good deal more. Additionally, there is serious evidence that JFK’s writings, including Profiles in Courage, were researched by other people and very highly ghosted to boot. Regrettably, the award of the Pulitzer Prize (as with so many Kennedy matters) remains tainted by the covert but powerful influence of Joseph P Kennedy.

Nonetheless, we are lucky to have an A-G not frightened to advocate for ‘a culture of reading’.
Alfred P Zarb
Leura, NSW

No mention of Paula

Sir: With regards to Simon Barnes’s article about drugs in sport (‘Our drugs cheat’, 19 September), I have not ‘outed’ Paula Radcliffe as anything, let alone as a drugs cheat. I put a question to the chairman of UK Anti-Doping in a three-hour hearing that referred to concerns expressed in the media about British athletes. I did not mention Ms Radcliffe, made no allegation, and categorically denied the suggestion on the Today programme the next day.

None of the other members of my committee believes that there was any reference to her. It was made quite clear that the hearing was a general one and not tied to individuals. David Bedford, who had been race director of the London Marathon at the time, sat through the entire UKAD testimony and introduced himself to me afterwards without the slightest suggestion of impropriety on my part.

For your article to use the language of ‘outing’ is highly unfortunate. As the dictionary definitions make clear, ‘outing’ generally refers to claims that are true.
Jesse Norman MP
Chairman, House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee, London SW1

Sir Keith’s insult

Sir: As a reader of The Spectator I am pleased that Charles Moore was given the opportunity to defend Sir Keith Joseph and attack me (Notes, 12 September). However, since 1964, I have referred to my interview with Sir Keith numerous times, both before he died in 1994 and since. Charles Moore’s case against me is based on the notion that this happened at Nottingham University, which caused him to question whether the interviewer who made the comments to me in 1964 about growing bananas, despite having Sir Keith Joseph on his name plate, was in fact Sir Keith Joseph.

On the Radio 4 programme The Life Scientific, I said I had been interviewed by Sir Keith and others at Reading University, not Nottingham. Since Mr Moore based his article on an incorrect assumption, an explanation or an apology would be nice, but not necessary.
Professor Sir Geoff Palmer
Penicuik, Scotland


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