Crikey readers have their say on asset sales, Malcolm Turnbull and tobacco plain packaging
On privatisation and legacy assets
John Bushell writes: Re. “State privatisation schemes a dumb idea, regardless of the spin” (Friday). It’s just as well the Romans didn’t have to sell existing assets in order to raise money to build the vast amount of new infrastructure they created. Of course some of this infrastructure is still in use 2000 years later. OK, they had some help from the slaves but we have tonnes of machinery and computer assistance to design and build new infrastructure now. What is really needed is government borrowing and a thoroughly transparent procurement process in which the value of the investment to the community is demonstrated to the community. If this cannot be demonstrated the investment should not proceed.
Malcolm Turnbull: the Hugh Grant of Australian politics
Evelyn Goy writes: Re. “Razer’s class warfare: stop loving Malcolm Turnbull” (Thursday). It would be easy to love Malcolm Turnbull, just looking and listening at him. He is attractive, well presented and very suave. A bit like Hugh Grant. But when you really listen to what he stands for, what his priorities are, it is a bit more challenging to like him. I remember the Godwin Grech story, which showed both savage vindictiveness against Labor and lack of judgement. He does not shrink from dirty work when it is required. Malcolm looks better today, compared to Tony Abbott: people have short memories. But both Turnbull and Abbott are cut from the same cloth, dear friends all, and these friends include Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt. There is little left to like when one remembers the cash for comment story, the slander against Indigenous people which the Coalition is trying to repair by changing the Racial Discrimination Act and the systematic hits against Howard’s erstwhile “battlers” in this budget. Malcolm Turnbull is knowledgeable, articulate and clear thinking. He is also very pragmatic and looks after his own interests. He knows that the Coalition’s approach to the National Broadband Network is rubbish and will leave rural Australia even further behind, with outdated and expensive technology, but he does not care — his IT needs are fully met. The more I think about it, the more I compare him to Hugh Grant: nice to look at, but you would not want any of it.
The weighty issue of tobacco sales
Col Taylor writes: Re. “Oz exclusive: Big Tobacco-funded research hates plain packaging” (Friday). I also understood, from other reports, that there had been a move away from premium to cheaper cigarette brands. As a former “social” smoker I was reminded of the difference between my chosen premium brand and my chain-smoking (now reformed) sister’s cheap brand. My packs of 20 were about the same size and weight as her packs of 50, and the cheap ciggies much skinnier. On recent figures smokers are a bit less than 20% of the eligible population (say over 15 years of age) which would generously be 4 million out of around 20 million. So 59 million individual cigarettes divided by 4 million is an increase of 14.75 per annum, or 0.04 per day, among the addicted population now preferring skinnier cigarettes. How about some real stats based on the weight of tobacco sold in Australia?