Gavin Gatenby writes:


Actually things are worse than Peter Faris maintains (yesterday, item
1). The real problem is that all real no-holds barred competition
within the same niche leads inevitably (and very quickly in an economy
the size of Australia) to extinction of one competitor after another
and therefore to monopoly. That’s a law of nature even more than of
economics and a classic example of its operation can be seen in the
airline industry. Once we had two domestic airlines, one private, one
public. From the fifties onwards, various Australian governments worked
hard to maintain this semblance of choice by heavily
regulating actual competition
between the two. At one stage TAA (the government airline) got the
upper hand by purchasing superior aircraft so the government ordered
TAA to give half its fleet to Ansett! As soon as the government chucked
the two-airline policy and mandated real competition Ansett was doomed.
Ditto Compass. Of course if the two entities don’t occupy exactly the
same space in the market, some limited “competition” is possible. An
example of that is regional airlines taking up some of the long-haul
work during peak periods (I once flew Sydney-Perth in an Airlines of
NSW 50-seater), but examples of this are rare. In big
heavily-capitalised industries the tendency towards monopoly is
relentless and even duopolies can only be maintained either by
collusion or by constant interference by the state. It would be much
simpler, more democratic and more transparent just to have one
government-run operation. But of course ideological rigidity means that
this can no longer be permitted.

John Hayward writes:

If they have no other rights, aside from freedom of interstate trade,
Australians should be guaranteed freedom from any more News Ltd
polemics that a bill of rights would shift legislative powers to
unelected judges. Balder –. A bill of rights merely seeks to restrain
legislators from infringing principles so universally revered that even
a closet despot with control of both houses of a parliament usually
isn’t game to attack them except with a dog whistle. A BoR is actually
an attempt to protect the average citizen from what is statistically
the world’s greatest threat to freedom and safety from one’s own
government.

Sinclair Robieson writes from the UK:
No, Charles
Richardson (yesterday, item 21), Camilla will NOT necessarily become queen. Indeed, the
longer the present monarch lives, the less chance Camilla has. Queen
Elizabeth II will be 80 next year. Given her robust health, family
genes and the care of the finest doctors in the business, there is
every chance she will emulate her tough-as-old-boots mum and live to a
very ripe old age. Should she survive into her 90s before going to that
great throne room in the sky, Charles would be 70. Would the UK public
accept a new king of that age? They might, just, if he was widely
respected. Charles, however, will never live down his perceived
treatment of Diana. Neither will Camilla; opinion polls continue to
show a majority of Britons, especially women, simply don’t want her as
queen. That interview phrase of Diana’s – “there were three of us in
that marriage” – continues to be remembered even though Diana has been
dead for a long time. But she remains regularly on the UK’s front
pages. She simply will not go away. The hard fact is that both Charles
and Camilla continue to be seen as adulterers. This might not matter
these days for the average Joe but it matters a great deal when you’re
the heir to the throne and his consort and the next nominal head of the
Church of England. Moreover, the whispers that Diana’s death was not an
accident continue to circulate. Assuming the Queen does live into her
90s, Charles inevitably will come under increasing pressure to stand
aside in favour of Prince William. Not least from the nation’s media
which, already, has an ambivalent attitude towards him. Who, after all,
would want an old age pensioner as monarch in a world where youth is
king? If I were a betting man, I’d have a few quid on Charles
eventually seeing the light and opting for an old age talking to his
plants at Highgrove. But it all depends on the Queen’s longevity … or
otherwise.

Campbell Fuller writes:

What has
Michael Pascoe been smoking to alter reality in such a manner? What
pathetically snide, petty, pointless digs at Melbourne (yesterday, item
10). Did he have a reason for this self-indulgence, or did a Melburnian
hurt his feelings at some time? Most Melburnians will admit to the
city’s flaws, but Michael’s vitriol is misplaced and shows gaping holes
in either his knowledge or his memory. Melbourne’s parochial little
code draws more supporters to its games nationwide than NRL – or union
or soccer or tennis or netball or basketball. This minority sport is a
majority sport – it has a greater domestic TV audience than the NRL or
soccer (even a business writer would surely understand that’s why the
TV networks are willing to pay tens of millions of dollars more for the
broadcast rights). And it’s also a more entertaining game – at least
something happens. Yes, Melbourne has gangs and crime and shonky
business people. So does Sydney (in fact, more of them). Michael, I
hope Crikey didn’t pay you for yesterday’s tripe. Surely there was a
business story waiting to be told that might have been more
informative. You can do much better work than this.

Lachlan McLean writes from Canberra:
So
Sydney’s the new capital of Australia is it? Well as a citizen of the old
federal capital, I move to censure Melbourne. A testosterone-starved
Melbourne has dithered whilst power and success has concentrated in
Sydney. Melbourne, you’re great at being a perpetual runner up or
deputy. If Sydney is unable to perform her obligations as capital,
we’ll give you a call (if Brisbane doesn’t beat you to the punch).

Trevor Best writes:
Any 1930s schoolboy knows that most
countries have a designated seat of political power which is the political
“capital.” The commercial capital, as in USA,
S Africa,
Australia
but unlike in UK, is a
different city. What’s so hard about that, and why would anybody but a
journalist who makes his money by beating up political controversy, think that
politics was more important than commercial or social factors?

Daniel Gardiner writes:
Muttiah Muralitharan keeps on saying he will no longer
come to Australia on the grounds that Australian crowds call him every time he
bowls a ball. The no-ball from the crowd is fair enough. If you read the Laws of
Cricket he is a chucker. I am sure the same morons who racially abused the South
African players recently would say the same things to Muttiah but repeating
myself, he gets abused because he is a cheat. I would love it if a dropped
batsmen took the ICC to court if they were dismissed a few times by the
chucker.

Andrew Tubb, IAG Corporate Affairs, writes:
Here is a statement
in response to Anthony Stavrinos’s article: “Back to the drawing board
for NRMA Insurance” (21 December, item 21). Any commentary that it is
“back to the drawing board” or that “NRMA Insurance looks like it will
have to dump its web based repair system” is ill-informed.