We take a break from the Victorian election coverage; other issues include sound business practices as demonstrated by the major banks, Telstra and the Carlton Football Club amongst others…

Going by the front page of the business section of the SMH this morning the combined profits of the 4 major banks are now at about A$10.5 billion. In US dollar terms this equates to about US$6 billion even with our depressed exchange rate.

Microsoft, who basically has a worldwide monopoly, can only manage US$7 billion in profits. Coca-Cola only manages $4b.

For a group of financial institutions basically servicing a minuscule economy (the majority of their profits are local, look at their dreadful overseas performance) this is pretty ridiculous. Talk about gouging the local economy.

Jairus Ashworth

Crikey: We must ensure that more rural branches are closed and customer service further deteriorated in order to continue these outstanding profits.

Bank economists haven’t got a clue

Isn’t it about time we all adopted a more critical stance in regard to the media tart economists who regularly present their heavily biased opinions in our papers and on our airwaves. The Saul Eslakes, the Chris Patons, etc., etc., who we tend to forget have definite interest in influencing economic and treasury policy in this country.

How many times have these “experts” braced us for interest rate increases that didn’t happen? How many times did we hear the line “the next shift in interest rates will be in the other direction”? Strange how we non-economists have become quite adept at reading the signs emanating from the Reserve Bank board that economists don’t seem to pick up.

If these employees of the banks keep trying to talk up interest rates and keep getting their forecasts wrong, then lets treat them with the derision such poor performance deserves. And let’s get them and their “expert opinion” out of the media.

Bill the Beancounter

Crikey: They were bullish interest rates for some time but have finally changed tune when even the next door neighbour knows a global recession is in place. But my personal favourite was the AUD in the mid 60’s! They all recommended buying the AUD as it would quickly return to the 70’s. Most Australian resource companies now know how incorrect they were.

Royal Monarchy no example

The Melbourne Age and Crikey pages suggest it high time we became a Republic and ceased to allow the Royal, privileged group to influence us. The shenanigans of the Royals are disgusting and yet there seems little we are doing about them.

When will we wake up and grow up. Let’s have a Republic of our own and a ‘home grown’ figure to which we can look up to with respect. To be sure there are times when we get one for whom there is little respect, (like the present incumbent) but at least if we make a bad choice we can make sure we don’t repeat the offence.

David Gothard

Crikey: And we take control of our dogs in public places.

High speed motors more dangerous than handguns

Regarding the proposed buyback of semi auto handguns. I heard a slightly hysterical
woman on ABC radio saying that ” we don’t need handguns in suburbia”.
Spot on but we also don’t need cars and bikes that are capable of in excess of 200 KPH.

I can go out tomorrow and for not a lot of money buy something like a Subaru WRX or
a Yamaha R1. I believe the rev limiter in the WRX can be bypassed quite easily and is then
capable of over 200 KPH. The bike will (in theory) go close to 300 KPH.

Point is, with legal speed limits of around 100 -120 KPH why are the Federal and State Govts’ allowing machines like this to be sold? I’d say that “London to a brick on ” more people are killed
in high-speed car crashes than are killed by handguns.


Melbourne no comparison to speeding San Francisco

What is the big deal with speeding fine revenue? It is the easiest ‘tax’ to
avoid! I am currently holidaying in San Francisco, and am amazed at the way
drivers here consistently speed. It is of no surprise to me that I have seen
numerous accidents and been held up in traffic as a result, many times over the
past couple of weeks. There is a very low police presence on the highways and
no speed cameras. So all those who whinge about being slugged for speeding
should spend some time in California and see what it is like without speed
cameras and a high police presence on the roads. Not pleasant!


Aussie Pay TV ridiculous

Australian PayTV charges the highest in the world. Surprise, surprise.

On ABC Radio, it was mentioned that PayTV is running at a loss
because Australian charges are amongst the highest in the world. To find out
why just look in the street – there are two cables, which will now be
sending the same programmes. This massive double-investment must lead to
high user charges.

Why is it so – yet another flawed Government communications policy. The
government wanted competition, but even in totally competitive America you
only see one cable in the street. The government allocates cable areas and
compares performance to ensure competitive behaviour. Company A will operate
in the north part of town and company B operates in the south part of town.
If service or prices vary significantly then the Cable Operator needs to
explain why.

Will the Government ever learn ?

Since I work in the Industry, I do not want my name associated with this.


‘Manly Stan’ migration benefits both states

OK Crikey, he’s a mad bastard all right with not much between the ears and too much jaw. But I suspect that your dislike of Manly Stanley has heaps more to do with the fact that he’s a Sydneysider than the fact that he’s a right arsehole.

Your geographical prejudices (not for the first time – ‘Thugby League’!) are showing. There’s not much south of the Murray that’s not bettered north of it (with the clear exception of Stanley, of course).

To paraphrase Robert Muldoon, Stan’s emigration south increased the IQ of both States.

Peter Piper

Bush battlers brainwashed by Telstra inquiry

The Estens inquiry into Telstra is an absolute joke. Any improvements that Telstra may have made over the last few years are born entirely out of avarice on behalf of the Government, Telstra and Telstra’s shareholders, and not out of the wonderous emergence of some new found corporate philanthropy.

There’s a huge bucket of money to be had here, and they can’t let a bunch of hillbilly rednecks stand in their way.
If the report was half-genuine, it’s recommendations would be contingent upon the improvements continuing to expand and be suitably maintained over the next
25 to 50 years. Then and only then, might we consider having another look at the prospect of privatising the rest of Telstra.

If the people in outback and rural communities are stupid enough to be taken in by this report, or any of the hare-brained promises of future miracles tied directly to the sale of the rest of Telstra, then they deserve to be repeatedly shafted by the corporate high flyers and the sanctimonious blue bloods that are the Liberal party of Australia.

If the rest of Telstra is sold based on the recommendations in this report, I for one will no longer give a second thought about the plight of the battlers in the bush. After all, you reap what you sow. I’m sure I won’t be the only one expressing these sentiments.

Keith Warren


Crikey: With Ziggy recently installing a super-chip in his Toorak mansion to ‘improve’ his mobile coverage, it appears all hurdles have been met for the final privatisation of Telstra.

Lay off Linnell Crikey

I know nothing of the Bulletin’s internal politics, but I think you are desperately unfair to Garry Linnell in today’s sealed section. Anyone who has been following his work over the last few years knows that he is one of the best magazine writers in the country, and without the pretensions and preciousness of many others who would claim that title.

Anyone who knows him (and I have – for more than twenty years) knows that he is a sensitive soul, even if he would be embarrassed by the description. If a larrikin air, a self deprecatory sense of humour and an interest in sport precluded literary ability, then the original Bulletin would never have existed.

Margaret Simons

ASX torn between transparency and profit

Here’s an interesting case in point demonstrating the ASX’s perpetual
tension between transparent market supervision and profit making.

According to their web site:

‘ASX Business Rules regulate how trading may take place on ASX. Among other areas, the Rules cover:

How clients must be treated, eg. that client orders must be entered
into the market as soon as they are received, etc.’

A shame that the clients can’t actually read the rules to find out how
they should be treated without paying for them or borrowing them from
the library! Surely the spirit of transparency would dictate these are
made freely available on the web or other medium.

Without that, you have to trust your broker to reflect these rules in the terms & conditions they offer you
as a client.

Mark Waddington

Crikey: God help us if we have to trust our Brokers!

NB: The ASX Business Rules may be purchased from ASX Customer Service for a
charge of $253.00 (no updating service). You may also subscribe to the
updating service (for an extra fee of $253.00 p.a) which will provide
with all amendments to the rules.

The ASX Business Rules are not available on our website. Alternatively,
may wish to try your broker or the State Library in your capital city,
also hold a copy.

ASX the ‘friendly watchdog’

Regarding your item on the function of the ASX being a ‘watchdog’ on corporate behaviour. We used to have a little dog that was very friendly. Once he was described to us as being a good “watch dog”. This was news to us as he was very friendly. The response was the “he sits and watches”.

When you consider it, that’s all he did. So maybe our corporate “watch dogs” do just that, sit and watch and watch, but do nothing. So we do have good, well trained watch dogs!

Doug Crawford

Carlton deserves the worst

Why not give Carlton the same penalty that was given to the Canterbury Bulldogs in rugby league for salary breaches in 2002? They lost all their points. OK, Carlton didn’t have any points to take away in 2002. Why not carry the penalty forward, so Carlton plays through 2003 without points, or maybe just half points should they happen to win a game in 2003. Or maybe they should be forced to play out 2003 with John Elliott at centre half forward!


Crikey: I agree. Given that only 12 points were earned in 2002, the loss of draft picks should also be included. And why not throw a large fine in as well!

John Elliott; the man, the legend

My fondest memories of John Elliott (whom I’ve never met thank goodness), was the story of the wedding invitations sent for his (I think) second marriage, in which he failed to even mention the name of his bride. They appeared to be personally sent by him, for his wedding. No mention of the poor woman. No wonder she too has absconded.


Crikey: Not to mention John’s eloquent habit of ‘butting’ out his cigarettes on carpeted board room floors.

Hillary ‘Tory’ Bray and Mark Latham

Just had a brief chuckle at M. Bray’s anointing of Iron Mark as the Labour heir apparent. The quasi-infatuation, wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that he is one of the most hard-case economic rationalists in the ALP would it?

All this dull talk about the ALP shifting to the left in response to the Green’s resurgence (recycled paper-tigers if you ask me, but…) has certainly left quite a few Liberals pining for the old days… for blokes (yes, almost always blokes) they could have something in common with, say, the latest knee-slapper from the Centre for Independent Studies (“Ohhh, Des Moore… MESSIAH!”).

Simey’s been doing a lot of tinkering in the workshop, but his few attempts to take the old banger out on the road have been unimpressive, at best. His mates in the NSW Right have been sniggering from the roadside and gleefully sprinkling tacks on the road.
Now the NSW Right is in disarray, and the wonderful unanimity of opinion is beginning to disappear. There is even a risk (slight, as yet) that you may be able to tell MPs of the two parties apart!

It’s getting to the point where traditional politics (IE Repackaging the same policies with different trimmings) won’t do the job for Labour, so they might be forced to actually differentiate the core disparities between the parties! (Cue: Gasps of Horror from Market Analysts)

Hence, the coming of the Messiah. Sort of like Paul Keating, minus the charm, but with equal personality. Safely enamoured of small government and the Calvinist work ethic, Mark Latham is an inspired choice to reunite the parties to their common Freidmanite dreams.

Not to disparage Hillary’s prescience at all, of course. Should no one better present themselves, he IS at least a brand name. (Then again… so was John Elliott!) I’m just wondering how seriously we can take a wistful endorsement for ALP Leadership from a Tory insider who wouldn’t vote for the ALP if he/she/it was staked out on an anthill and lectured at by Alan Ramsey.


Melbourne art scene all but dead

For many years now Melbourne has been dying a slow but certain artistic ‘death’.

Yes, I agree with Buffy’s lament for the Church Theatre in Hawthorn. It mounted daring but entertaining works. I was always under the impression that its demise was brought about not by its efforts but that it “fell from grace…& funding” because it did not fit the “mould” favoured by the political forces in power at that time.

Let’s be blunt! I am sick of so called major events, by the likes of ministers like Mary “do nothing ” Delahunty for things such as essentially Women’s’ Theatre, kiddies face painting, street clowns
and other floss masquerading as serious artistic events. Imagine if someone had the cheek to announce they were starting Men’s’ Theatre and then expected public funding!

Go back to Moomba in the fifties, held in the Botanic gardens, with two operas staged, a ballet and symphonic concerts for free!
I have seen so many sub standard performances over decades, I have given up the ghost. I prefer to stay home and watch the comic lurches of artistic boards, media writers and political fundees try to put “new spin” on the increasing gloom.

If a top seat in the theatre cost 30 shillings in 1960 and wages were about 20 pounds, at the rate managements charge today, it works out TWICE what they charged then.


ABC cricket coverage a welcome return

I have read your diatribe over the ABC’s cricket coverage with interest. I
think you’re rather missing the point. Personally I love the radio coverage
of the cricket. I look forward to it after long months of moronic football.

Your major premise seems to be that all Australians want CNN-type 24-hour coverage of electioneering. I think the radio “survey” you comment on in
today’s sealed section gives the lie to that. Anyone who thinks that
politicians making promises that they have little intention of keeping,
simply to gain or maintain a lifestyle and a sense of power is riveting must
need their head read. I also wonder who on earth is going to sit and watch
this drivel through the hot summer afternoons (except in Melbourne where it’s
too cold to go out). If we must have football ad infinitum, then we should
also have cricket.

However, I do have a major argument with the ABC and its summer programming.
Normal summer programming excludes almost all current affairs programs on
radio and TV. Someone at the ABC seems to think that most Australians turn
their brains off over summer. Worse it puts current affairs in the same
basket as high quality entertainment, ditched in the silly season.

It is
high time that the head honchos at the ABC realised that there is a place
for serious informative news analysis 365 days per year. In a globalised
society, taking its eye off the ball for the summer holidays makes the ABC look
like a 1950s organisation (remember when they played the national anthem
before closing down at midnight).

And while I’m on the ABC, what is this nonsense of doing away with “Asia
Pacific”. Having recently spent 3 months in Malaysia where press coverage
is held in check by Dr M, “Asia Pacific” was a refreshing perspective on
life and news in the region. But then, if you generate a program from
Melbourne you probably don’t realise that other parts of the world listen or
appreciate your work.

Cricket fan

Crikey: If you’re not into sport, summer television is the equivalent of watching cement dry. Bring back ‘Blake’s 7’ or ‘The Kenny Everitt Video Show’.

Forget the cricket

One word to describe the ABC’s decision to broadcast the cricket (regardless
of the coming election) is appalling.

I am sure there are many like me who “turn off” as soon as the cricket intro
music plays. The results of the survey on the evening show last night
probably says more about the demographics of evening talk back listeners
than it does about the desire of morning show/drive listeners to hear
cricket on the radio.


‘Sporting shooters’ only interested in ‘cardboard targets’ and ‘feral animals’

In response to Colin Bolton’s remarks about sporting shooters only firing on targets that can’t return fire,
I wish to point out that any sporting shooter with a pistol license will be shooting at cardboard targets.
May God have mercy on their souls for the damage they inflict on the poor, poor pieces of paper. The term
‘sporting’ is applied because the shooting is conducted as a competition with other shooters.

The only animals that licensed firearms owners attack (legally) are pests like feral cats and rabbits. Mr Bolton
probably chose to ignore this fact though, since it paints guns in a positive light, which of course, cannot be tolerated
in this brave new world of ours.

Sean Rigby

Danger! Clay pigeon targets may shoot back!

I agree that shooting at something that can’t shoot back is not very
sporting, but surely that is preferable to the nightmare alternative in
which hi-tech ‘clay pigeons’ zip about indiscriminately firing upon
anything that moves?

Rob B

And a final word from Robocop…

“We rob banks to get money to buy coke, then we sell the coke and make even more money!”
“Why don’t we just rob more banks?”


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