We have kept all the Bali feedback out of this particular yoursay as there are some other things happening in the world.

Bicycles and the wheels of democracy

No wonder this country is f****d, if the crap that came from parliment house about bicycles is any indication of what occupies the minds of our elected reps and the highly paid morons who staff them. It is enough to make you vomit.

These people are not worth two squirts of cats’ piss. Anyone would think they were a bunch of pimply-faced school kids bragging about their first hard on. I weep for this country if we are in the hands of those drongos.

It shouldn’t take ’em too long to find my address, and send the boys with their toys to smash my front door in with their so awfully big hammer. I need a new one anyway.

God help us. Great stuff Crickey, keep it up.

regards

Cliffy

Shooters take aim at Crikey

I looked at your site a few days ago after being directed there by a friend.
In turn that took me to the SSAA site after I read some of your comments, also the first visit to that site.

As an impartial but interested observer, I sent you my thoughts about the respective writing and thinking skills of the pro and anti components of the gun debate. The pro side wins hands down for clarity of thought and maturity.

I am not a shooter or gun owner. After visiting your site, I reflected awhile and then posted the following note on the SSAA, too and figure you’d be edified to see it.

J. Connolly

For the life of me, I cannot fathom the Crikey.com site or its purpose. If
the intent or purpose of reading is to educate, inform or amuse, it fails
miserably on all fronts to provide the necessary information or stimuli.

Thank God it is electronic and not printed material, for it would distress
me greatly to see trees felled to form a base for such tripe.

We only have so many hours of leisure in any given day. Why, after a single
reading of that site, anybody would return to it a second time, defies
imagination and would be a gross misuse of any portion of our allotted span.

It is like a bad cross between a cheap tabloid, an equally cheap girls
magazine one discovers while waiting in hairdressers, a MAD comic and a Uni
Prosh paper.

In that context, it trys to be current, newsy, titillating, risque and
critical. Again, it fails on all counts. It is nauseatingly repetitive and
ultimately (and very quickly) boring. Worse, while claiming to expose
dishonesty, it is itself dishonest.

It is cheap, tacky, gaudy, poorly laid out, and seriously un-funny, badly
assembled by people who think they are incisive, witty, clever and
politically knowledgeable but in fact have about as much flair for humour
and critique as Andrew Denton and Woody Allen combined.

Apart from some of the lurid porn sites which I, like all of us, have had
the misfortune to have appear unsolicited on my screen from time to time, it
is possibly the worst piece of media it has been my misfortrune to behold.

If it were a postcard, it would be entitled “A fine view of the Gasworks as
seen from the Addington Street toilets”.

If it had an odour, it would be described as “slightly reminiscent of an
open grave with hints of disused gas-main”.

I trust I have made my sentiments plain.

J.C

CRIKEY: Better stick to those lurid porn sites, JC. They seems more your style.

Who’s the worst minister?

Fabulous Phil writes:

Crikey

You should start running a poll on your website with the following question:

Who is Australia’s worst Minister?

(a) Shonky Eddie Obeid

(b) Dodgy Doug Shave

(c) Andre Hairdryer

(d) John ‘Buffy’ Olsen

Personally, I think it is a two horse race between Obeid and Shave!

Kind Regards

Phil”

CRIKEY: What a good idea. It’s a high calibre field. Hillary, can you give us a
form guide for the runners?

Who’s the worst minister – a new contender

A new and talented candidate has emerged from the pack to challenge the Fab Four
– Eddie Obied, Andre Hairdryer, Doug Shave and John Olsen – as Australia’s Worst
Minister. Step forward Peter Batchelor!

Writes Norm from Nunawading;

Worst Minister: Peter Batchelor, Victorian Transport Minister

‘Pentridge Pete’ is Australia’s number one crim-turned-polly. It is because of
his Nunawading dirty deeds in 1985 that we now have registered How To Vote
Cards! Now this crim is in charge of Parliamentary Business in Victoria’s
Parliament (in a supposedly ‘honest, open and accountable’ Government!).”

CRIKEY: Hmmm. Norm is going just a little too far here. Calling Slippery Pete a
“crim” is not polite or reasonable, and we disassociate ourselves from these
comments. But that doesn’t disqualify him from our competition, for which we are
organising a grand prize to recognise the winner of this honour.

Open, honest and accountable…?

Good Afternoon,

Yesterday the Bracks Government tabled 123 reports in State Parliament. In the
last parliamentary session before Premier Steve Bracks can call an early
election, this is what we expect from this so-called ‘open, honest and
accountable’. Scrutiny of Government is alive and well under the Bracks Labor
Government!

One of these 123 reports was the most damning report in the last three years.
The Auditor General presented the Annual Report for 2001-02 on the ‘Finances of
the State of Victoria’. I encourage you to read this report and it is available
at www.audit.vic.gov.au The Auditor said “there are a number of vulnerabilities
and emerging pressures which require careful management.”

Across the whole of Government sector, the Auditor General revealed:

– $1.5 billion increase in expenditure in 2001-02, largely on increased wages
($962 increase in staffing in 2001-02 alone and expected to blow out to $1.47
billion by 2003-04!);

– $999 million wiped off expected investment income due to global sharemarkets;

– $601 million increased Stamp Duty taxes;

– $330 million guaranteed loan to MCC together with capital grant of $77
million;

– $235 million wiped off the 2001-02 Budget Surplus forecast, now Victoria only
has a $273 million surplus in a $25 billion budget;

– $129.6 million increase in regulatory fines to $424.4 million;

– 64% increase in traffic camera fines to $138.6 million;

– 20% increase in employee entitlements since 1999 (from $7.86 billion in 1999
to $9.42 billion in 2002);

The Auditor General states that “the State remains vuluranable to funding
sources not directly with its control.” Citing the dependence on strong property
markets, international equity markets and Commonwealth grants.

In the Transport portfolio:

Public Transport:

– Found that “the franchisees accepted a number of key commercial risks,
including the failure to achieve projected levels of growth in fare revenue and
movements in the rate of fare evasion”;

– One then needs to ask why did the Government then ‘bail-out’ these private
multi-national companies with a $105 million package in February 2002 to
alleviate these key commercial risks which were accepted by the franchisees who
entered the contracts with their ‘eyes wide open’;

– Found 141 claims were lodged in February 2002;

– 45 claims remain unresolved including changes to the Operational Performance
Regime (OPR) which establishes key performance indicators and rewards/penalises
good/bad performance – a Liberal Government will not alter these OPR regimes;

– Found that if the franchisees terminate their contracts before 30 June 2003,
the Government will receive $270 million in performance bonds;

– If they terminate after 30 June 2003, the Government will receive $165
million;

– He also found that the franchise agreements provide the “government with the
right to gain control over all the franchisees’ assets and personnel that may be
needed to secure the ongoing operation of the transport services.”

Regional Fast Rail:

– In three years to 30 June 2002, only $209 million of the $1.575 billion
‘Linking Victoria’ infrastructure investment program has been spent (adding to
the ‘2002-03 Public Sector Asset Investment Program’ report finding $0 was spent
on ‘new projects’ in 2001-02 – they really are a ‘do-nothing’ Government!);

– Found the $573 million Regional Fast Rail Project was “narrowly focused” on
express journey times.

– Therefore he found the projected benefits were concentrated on these “narrowly
focused” travel times;

– Found the regular stopping all stations service journey times would not be
known until March 2003;

– Found the failure to attract the $260 million in private funds meant the
project would now be delivered as a “traditional public sector delivery model”
(god help Victoria with their current record on such delivery options indicating
massive blowouts – Geelong Rd, Fed Square etc.)

– Found the Department justified three wasted years chasing private funds and
the subsequent failure to attract such funds as a decision based on “value for
money considerations” (we all know from Day One the private sector was not
interested).

Geelong Road

– Found a potential $134.4 million blow-out on the $270 million Geelong Road
Project (50% blow-out!) was in the pipeline with contract variation claims
lodged against the Bracks Government incompetent delivery of this project.

Speed Camera fines

– Found $271.4 million was collected from traffic and speeding fines in 2001-02,
up 34% and expected to climb to $426.7 million by 2004-05 (it was only three
years ago under the former Liberal Government that speeding fines was $99
million in 1999);

– Found traffic and speeding fines are “becoming an increasingly important
source of funding for government operations”;

– Found that the increased traffic fines were largely the result of a 20%
increase in the value of fines, 50% increased speed camera hours of operation,
the 50km/h residential speeds and 55 new and converted red light cameras at key
intersections.

Spencer Street Station

– Found the $1 billion Spencer Street Station “funny money” deal transfers key
risks to the private sector;

– The business case for public provision of the station costed the project at
$294.4 million;

– The business case for private provision of the station costed the project at
$234.4 million;

– One then has to wonder why then the Government has allocated $300 million for
the private financing of the project.

– Found $66 million was paid by the private consortium to the Government for the
30 year lease of the station and a 99 year lease for the remainder of the site
comprising of office and residential towers;

– Found that the Government still retained a 50% risk for land remediation
works.

Certainly a bad news day for the Bracks Labor Government and it is little wonder
that they released 123 reports on the same day! Bracks and his Ministry are
paying lip service to democracy, openness and accountability. Based on these
revelations from the Auditor, we now know WHY Bracks will run to an early
election when he calls it on Monday.

Regards

Geoff Leigh MLA

Victorian Shadow Minister for Transport

Member for Mordialloc

CRIKEY: There you go, readers. That’s called fair & balanced coverage of politics. One item about the Transport Minister, followed by an item from the shadow Transport Minister. How more even-handed could we be?

Graeme Samuel’s Liberty Oil conflict

Thanks for your piece on Fels & his successor Graeme Samuel. You ponder as ACCC Chair, would Graeme Samuel do anything against his mates David Goldberger and David Wieland of Liberty Oil.

He may have his chance sooner, not later. A Liberty Oil outlet was one of 9 independent fuel retailers surveyed in Sydney this month with higher than recommended levels of ethanol substituted in their fuel. SMH reported that tests proved Liberty was among thirty percent of independent retailers who substituted MORE THAN 20% ethanol, double the amount at which car manufacturers void engine warranties. Given Manildra, the largest maker of ethanol, is a cosy contributor to Liberal party coffers, I wonder what lengths Samuel would go to investigating these matters concerning Liberty Oil.

Road Rager

CRIKEY: You would expect Graeme would declare his Liberty Oil conflict and not involve himself in any such matter. However, given the scale of his networks, this might just happen all too often when he heads the ACCC.

Bombers deserved what they got

A subscriber disagrees with Patrick Fitzgeralds assessment of AFL socialism in todays first sealed section.

Crikey:

But right now it’s Essendon paying its own price in its own way. Not for
the rule it broke, but the rule it couldn’t change. A rule that in fact
should encourage Hird and other champions to stay put at the one club.
What true fan doesn’t want that?

Does Crikey *automatically* publish Patrick, no matter what rubbish he says?

Patrick, as usual, misses the point of the rule. The AFLPA pushed for
this rule so that older players could be kept on lists – not just long-
time servants – not just for clubs to accomodate large salaries.

Carlton has been hit with this one too, assuming Koutoufides’ backloaded
contract could be easily accomodated. Bradley’s retirement may have been
influenced by this situation. Tough. Essendon’s baby bomber philosophy
has finally bitten it. Tough. Melbourne’s young list makes the
veteran’s list redundant. Tough.

Clubs have to work to the rules as they are, not as they’d wish them to
be. Everyone knew the rule when they signed player contracts, if they –
and the player managers – screw it up, they can’t blame the rule.

Random.

Bulldogs will never go to Sydney

Dear Crikey

I take issue with Patrick Fitzgeralds rant on the plight of the AFL’s Western Bulldogs. Where is his logic in suggesting a move to Sydney as the answer. Given that it has taken over 20 years and who knows how much money to establish the Swans how long does he think it would take to establish a second side. The Swans and the Lions for that matter have only experienced relative success on the back of very generous draft concessions and much additional funding the like of which was in the case of draft picks never made available to the Bulldogs and in the case of funding only recently made available.

Perhaps Patrick could concentrate his efforts on getting a full and proper disclosure of the Swans books he may find they are not travelling quite so well.

The key issue in AFL is the money generated by television. This money was not paid because of either Sydney or Brisbane as evidenced by the fact of the networks reluctance to televise AFL in those states and its poor ratings. Victoria is where these funds are generated and so called struggling Melbourne clubs have more of a right to these funds than any interstate club.

Whilst AFL is a business it is foolish to judge each club as though they are a self sustaining entity. The AFL is the sum of its parts as soon as you begin to chop away bits particularly in its Victorian heartland you may end up killing the goose that laid the golden egg. In any competition you will always have some clubs that are relatively less well off but this does not logically mean that they should be chopped. To follow this argument to its conclusion would leave you with a coemption of only a few clubs and a far less interesting or exciting one.

Regards, Bulldogs fan

The madness of turning around the rivers

Do people really think that turning the Ord river inland is a good way to
help farmers? We have only just started cleaning up the mess that the
Snowy scheme left. Trading off long term environmental vandalism for
short term financial gain has long been a mainstay of Australian farmers,
but this is ridiculous.

After Media Watch estimated the cost to be $88 billion dollars, I thought I might find a better way to spend that money. The investment earnings (in real terms) on $88 billion would be about $4.4
billion a year. There are 409,000 people employed in agriculture according to the ABS.

If we assume 1 bad drought year in every 4 then we could pay every individual employed in agriculture $43,000 per year during droughts. Sounds like a bargain to me.

Ian Irrigator

Gene Simmons Misbehaves Shock

Can’t pass on names but heard from a couple of mates who saw it happen.

Gene Simmons, ex-KISS, has been doing the rounds of Melbourne media
outlets these past couple of days. And while in the offices of media
outlets he’s been visiting staff member offices – especially those where
women work. Hands down pants leading to claims of harassment and even
assault followed by a quick exit of said buildings.

Morals Policeman

CRIKEY: Who’d have believed it? A rock star accused of misbehaving! Seriously, Gene is a good Jewish boy. We read it in his autobiography. But maybe they should have re-named the band GROPE.

AOL muck-up

Hi all at Crikey

As a journalist who spends most of my days researching on the net and receiving emails from overseas papers with requests for stories, the changed AOL “terms of service” is a pain in the arse. And, might I suggest, contrary to the terms of the agreement to which I signed nearly two years ago, which was “unlimited access and unlimited download?”

Sure, AOL has had its share of financial woes – what big company hasn’t in these days of corporate uncertainty – but the least they could do is honour the agreement for subscribers that signed up in good faith under the old terms.

AOL’s new pricing policy of cutting off users they think are availing themselves of the service too heavily after 20 minutes has forced me to another ISP.

Now I have to change my email, alert people all over the globe half of whom will forget about the change and continue to email AOL, change my business cards etc.

Trust you won’t be in that 50% who ignore this!!

Keep up the excellent work – we need more good rollicking, bollocking stories to shake ’em up here in Australia.

Cheers

KA

Peter Fray

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