Pre-election spending

Howard and Costello’s reckless pre-election spending spree has been
roundly condemned throughout the financial community as a threat to the
economy. Peter Costello should answer this critical issue rather than
persist in peddling partisan accusations about Mark Latham’s time as
Mayor of Liverpool which have already been refuted by an independent
investigator Professor Daly (Latham cleared of imprudence – (Laura
Tingle) AFR 11/8/04) who found no evidence of imprudent financial management.

John Kotsopoulos

SMH burries schools story

Today (29 Sept) The Sydney Morning Herald buried the story of
the Catholic and Anglican Church’s criticism of Labor’s schools’ policy
on page 8. Surely the Sydney broadsheet readership of the Herald,
made up, I suspect, of the families of those doctors’ wives who are
sending their kids to the schools targeted by Labor, would be
interested in the Churches’ view on this policy?

Yet, instead of running a story that may challenge their readership’s views, the Herald resorts
to type and runs a front page story on a letter from a bunch of
scientists to the PM. For Pete’s sake, how many of these stories can
they publish? I am a vet looking for some limelight.
Perhaps I should write a letter to the PM, give it to the Herald and
get my name in print. I can see the headline now, “An eminent vet and
his dog write to the PM about the mistreatment of pets under the new
Iraqi regime”.

PS. Sally Loane and Mike Carlton (both on the payroll of the Herald) are also going head to head on Sydney radio and taking the Red Rag’s mantra to the airwaves.

Danna Vale’s election material

While visiting relatives in Sydney of late, I had the misfortune of
coming across some campaign material for Danna “which radio station
does Alan Jones work for again” Vale. It’s all the fairly
standard stuff except for one page, and I’ve put a photo of it here.

Have a look at the footnotes. Do you really think that she got
information on Home Loan interest rates from the Dept. of Education,
Science and Training? Or that she got information of funding for aged
care places from the Department of Employment & Workplace
relations? Check them out, they’re all totally mixed up (except for the
Local Apprenticeships note, which is probably a coincidence if you look
at the pattern – if you go down the list, they should be numbered 1, 2,

Which makes me think, and puts a line from her party’s advertising in
my mind (with some modification of course) – Ms. Vale, if you can’t
organise a pamphlet….how can you run a government department (let
alone a federal seat)?


Senate Preferences in Victoria

A check of the preference arrangements of the 65 Senate candidates in
Victoria is enlightening. While many minor parties and unendorsed
groups claim they want to keep the Senate honest these claims are not
backed up with their choice of preferences.

Only The Australian Progressive Alliance and the Aged & Disability
Pensioners Party have put the ALP & Liberals at the bottom.

This would indicate to me that many minor parties and groups are happy
to see one of the major parties elected with their preferences. They
should declare this to the voters.

Adrian Jackson
Campaign Manager (Vic)
Australian Progressive Alliance

AFL coverage north of the Murray

Patrick Fitzgerald is one of my heroes for his regular drawing
attention to the contemptuous cherry-picking by the two free-to-air
broadcasters (9 & 10) in their national AFL coverage, and the way
they treat us north of the Murray. Having now endured 3
poxy years of the worst broadcasting “agreement” ever negotiated by the
guardians of the game, I face the Mecca Cricket Ground in Jolimont
every night and pray that Channel 7 gets the AFL back again when this
current aberration has run its course. I’d even put up with Sandy
Roberts again.

What I find really peculiar is that the AFL schedules night games,
including the preliminary finals, ostensibly to suit the television
audience, but then the TV channels delay the games until the television
audience in NSW and Qld has gone to bed. To quote the PM: “Hullo!
Hullo!” The only games we see live up here are those played on
Saturday and Sunday afternoons, which the AFL reckons doesn’t reach a
wide enough audience, yet the night games are shown when there is no
audience. They say they are throwing lots of development dollars
into the local competitions up here – but it’s badly undermined by the
cynical TV coverage.

Cr*pped off in Canberra.

Lets have a proper abortion debate

Who could possibly argue against ‘full disclosure of all the risks
associated with having an abortion’ – although, of course, bearing in
mind the maxim ‘never say never in medicine’ and the realisation that
to list all the risks of anything is a bit like listing all the names
of god, perhaps we could restrict ourselves to ‘all the risks which are
likely to influence the decision whether or not to have an abortion,
including any risks which might appear to be of particular importance
to the woman for whatever reason after a detailed discussion aimed at
discovering what issues are important to the woman’.

While we are at it, would we be allowed to provide a full discussion of
all of the potential benefits? These benefits might also take some
time to enumerate – providing, of course, that one takes a humanist
perspective and considers benefits in this life, rather than focusing
purely on the eternal hell and damnation reserved for the killers of
unborn children.

After twenty years of medicine, I have yet to observe an abortion
debate. It is almost always just ideologues with incompatible
preconceptions preaching to their own (secular or religious) churches.

Still, I am quietly hopeful. Violent American anti abortionists seem to
have done their own cause a disservice, and the anti abortion movement
is concentrating more on supportive engagement as a tool to modify
behaviour of potential patients. Similarly, pro abortion lobbyists
(they hate that term: They are not ‘pro abortion’ they are ‘pro
choice’) are now focusing more on the detriment to children of being
born unwanted, (rather than the older ‘a woman’s right to choose’
logic). The factions still are not talking to each other, but by
responding to the public the debate evolves.

At a purely practical level, regarding ‘informed consent’. People who
present for an operation are vulnerable and wish to trust. Even handled
with complete integrity, most people will choose a course of treatment
which the practitioner they have consulted advises. The logic of
rational decision making founders in the emotional overlay.

If a government wishes to discourage abortion, then compulsory
counselling with ultrasound as recommended by Andrew Evans would
probably be fairly successfully. It is probably more electorally
palatable than outright prohibition. Pro-active contraceptive
education is also highly effective, but one suspects that Evans would
not support teaching 16 year olds about condoms.

Conex – Division of The Crane Group

Having just been on your website, and reading about the annual meeting
from the Crane Group, I thought that I would share some light on the
reasons for the decline in performance for the group and in particular
Consolidate Extrusions, its metals company. I am a reasonable size
brass user and have been amazed at how Conex has been allowed to buy up
all of their competitors Extruded Metals and McKeknie Metals over the
past 2 years in Australia.

What did the ACCC do about it? In short nothing. They sent out a letter
to me and some of my competitors and asked for feedback. I don’t know
of anyone that agreed to the take over or anyone who thought it was a
good idea. I thought that the ACCC’s purpose in life was to protect us
all from large monopolies – I guess it is all about what industry we
are talking about and how much sexy media coverage it receives?

Surely when it involves a large publicly listed company like the Crane
Group, something needs to be done! There has definitely been no
protection from anti-competitive behaviour especially when you see your
prices being driven up and up by the Conex monopoly.

The only glimmer of hope I have seen over the last twelve months is
from a couple of small companies that have set up and started to import
copper and brass. I hope they are successful in bringing a bit of
competition back into the market, however knowing Conex and their track
record I’m sure that they will try and drive these small guys out.

The management at Conex are not only arrogant but dumb – one of their
senior managers recently gloated to me that they have put plans in
place to close these new small companies down by bombing them on price.
He also took pride in telling me that he has set up their distributors
with special pricing to destroy the new guys business – he laughs about
it. If Conex is successful in driving these couple of small guys out of
the market I know what will happen – my bloody prices will go through
the roof just like they did the last time they bought out the last of
their competitors. And the Australian manufacturing industry will
suffer as companies like mine cannot afford to buy high priced raw
materials and remain competitive.

I just can not believe my eyes when I see how low Conex prices go when
one of the new small companies supply me a bit of brass. If it’s not
Conex slashing my prices it’s their distributor ringing me to see if
I’m buying from these new guys in the market. It’s a pity that Conex
and its old collusion buddies of the past, Extruded Metals and MCK
Metals, didn’t offer me this level of pricing when I really needed it –
because over 75% of what was my product range is now being made OS.

Why can Conex now offer this kind of pricing – because they want to
drive a couple of small companies out of business – they don’t want any
competition – they think it is their god given right and that they own
the market….I hope Conex get what they deserve, they have almost put me
out of business twice over the years with their inflated pricing.

I am sure that the shareholders for the Crane Group would love to know
that not only has the company faced significant loses because of its
computer system saga, but the decline in sales and margin from Conex is
due to them giving the product away, boxing at shadows and running
scared of a couple of small business – it’s a joke! The Australian
Dollar is not the cause of the bad performance from Conex. If I was a
Crane Group shareholder and found out that one of the divisions was
using predatory pricing, then I would be seriously questioning my
shareholding and Mr Sedgwick – the companies’ management and strategies
obviously need to be scrutinised.

For the record on principal I will not buy from Conex ever again!

I would love to have a chat with Mr Sedgwick and tell him what is really happening in the trenches.

Get Crikey for $1 a week.

Lockdowns are over and BBQs are back! At last, we get to talk to people in real life. But conversation topics outside COVID are so thin on the ground.

Join Crikey and we’ll give you something to talk about. Get your first 12 weeks for $12 to get stories, analysis and BBQ stoppers you won’t see anywhere else.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
12 weeks for just $12.