Julian Sheezel, State Director of the Liberal Party of Australia (Victorian Division) writes: I wish to correct the facts contained in a Crikey article which appeared on Friday, 25 August (item 11): 1) My salary has been reviewed, as provided for under my contract, however, I have not taken a pay rise as reported. In fact I have not received a salary rise for two years. My salary has declined in real terms since I took up my position more than three years ago. 2) I am not earning over $200,000 – I am earning significantly less. In fact I am paid less in real terms than all previous Victorian State Directors over the past 20 years. 3) The Federal Treasurer has no involvement in considering the pay of Party officials – this is a decision made by the Party organisation exclusively. In my view the story, as reported to Crikey, was an attempt to try and damage me in my role as State Director and is false.

Scott Chapman writes: With the government getting nervous about inflation, is it too much of a conspiracy theory to suggest the upcoming fire sale of Telstra is (at least partly) a proxy for deflationary fiscal policy? The sale will basically siphon about 8 billion clams from the economy directly into government coffers – and out of the pockets of pesky consumers. Whilst some of this will be funded by private sector debt, a significant proportion will not. Call me cynical, but the timing (share price at the bottom of the well) and scale (roughly proportionate to recent tax cuts) of the sale make me wonder. If this is the case, every taxpayer in Australia is being short changed.

Martin Field (disgruntled Telstra shareholder) writes: A song for disgruntled Telstra shareholders. To the tune of O Sole Mio (Now or Never for Elvis fans). Altogether now:

O Sol Trujillo, get on yer bike,

Your plans for Telstra we just don’t like.

The share price is way to low.

My dear amigo you’ll have to go.

Your payout will make us cry
But we’ll pay gladly, Adios. Goodbye.

Kim Jubb writes: Maybe with the number of advisers and other “interested parties” in the proposed T3 sale you should have made more than a passing reference to the whole thing being more like Snakes on a Plane!

John Donovan writes: Michael Pascoe says (yesterday, item 25) Telstra’s broadband business is working and growing nicely. Bollocks. Every day we are told about new developments in content on the internet, particularly relating to streaming video and other audio visual content. All of this is completely unworkable in Australia. I have 2Mbup/512down at $100 per month, and the start/stop nature of streaming video at these speeds is unworkable. I’m not a geek. I would simply like acceptable performance for a fairly substantial outlay.

Jay Walker, former Australian correspondent for High Times magazine: While researching censorship in Australia for the first issue of a new cannabis-related magazine along the lines of America’s High Times and Canada’s Cannabis Culture (both of which are Prohibited Imports and banned ie: Refused Classification), I was reminded of the state of affairs pre-Don Chipp by an interview he did with Denton and wrote as follows: “While we’re punching above our weight in the world of sport, we’re not even winning bronze in the free speech stakes against other liberal democratic societies. The darkness lifted briefly during the late 60s, early 70s, when the power to censor was mainly in the hands of the federal Customs minister and the position was held by senior Liberal Don Chipp”. Many thanks, Don, for your attempt to bring free speech in all its uncontrollable glory to Australia.

Leone Healy writes: Re. “Flannery’s doomsday talk may be too scary for some” (yesterday, item 10). No, Ian McHugh, we as individuals can’t unmake the impacts of climate change and our imminent extinction. Political will can but unfortunately our politicians only see as far as the next election. They will use climate change as an excuse to sell and possibly process uranium, instead of limiting coal fired power and providing incentives for renewable energy. God help my grandchildren.

Tony Barrell writes: My father used to say converts were always worse than true believers. The same seems to be true of those climbing about the nuclear band wagon. They always want things to be simpler than they are. But in all Tim Flannery’s enthusiastic embrace of fission power, he forgot to include one important factor in the cost of making electricity in nuclear power stations. reactors. These behemoths don’t last very long, thirty years and they need replacing. The cost of decommissioning them is colossal. The estimate price for dismantling twenty of them in Britain is $175 billion. Has that been added to the unit cost of electricity? Of course not. And in Japan they’ve only ever decommissioned one (out of 55). Built in the sixties at Tokai, on the seaside north of Tokyo it’s going to take seventeen years to dismantle. In fact, several Japanese power stations have already reached their use by date, but, because it’s so expensive to break one down, the power utilities just keep on running them. Which means they get ever more susceptible to accidents. So, when the next celebrity convert speaks out, ask the same question: when a nuclear power station reaches the end of its life, who will pay to demolish it?

Tim Hollo, stay-at-home Dad and climate obsessive, writes: Those who attacked Four Corners “Lords of the Forest” program should be up in arms about last night’s “What Price Global Warming”… In a program which purported to be about costing the options for tackling climate change, reporter Jonathan Holmes (whom you may remember was behind last year’s pro-nuclear propaganda piece) mentioned renewable energy options precisely twice. The first time was to dismiss them with the one-liner: ” Renewable energy like wind power is currently too expensive and too intermittent to provide base-load electricity.” The second time was to express astonishment that geosequestration has to compete for government funding against solar thermal energy. It’s actually solar thermal which blows the largest hole in Holmes’s argument. If he watched his own broadcaster’s science program, Catalyst, Holmes would be aware that, according to a CSIRO report for the CRC for Coal in Sustainable Development, solar thermal energy is capable of providing Australia’s entire energy demand — yes, with steady supply for baseload. It is neither too expensive nor too intermittent, and is far more mature and market-ready than geosequestration. There is also plenty of evidence from around the world that goethermal, solar photovoltaic, bioenergy, wave and wind, can more than deal with our energy demand, and that’s before you even factor in the 30% minimum efficiency gains that are possible. Holmes’s comments on the forum afterwards confirmed that he is both ignorant about and biased against renewable energy technologies, while being totally enthralled by coal propaganda.

Mark Byrne of the Uniya Jesuit Social Justice Centre, writes: After weeks of haggling in the UN Security Council, the Australian Government appeared to have got its way with the announcement last Friday that the new UN mission for East Timor would not include a military component, which would remain under Australian “green helmet” control. The victory was only temporary, however. The Security Council has requested a review of the security arrangements no later than 25 October, when it will “consider possible adjustments”. There are two issues here. One is that the East Timor Government, supported by the UN and most of the other nations involved, stated that it wanted it to be a blue beret force. It is time for Australia to say what it wants for East Timor: a client state humbly grateful for a share of the royalties from Timor Sea oil and gas and subject to our periodic bullying, or an independent nation supported during the early years of independence by a strong and unified UN presence. The other issue is why it was so important to Alexander Downer to insist on an Australian-led force. It’s not a logistical issue: the parallel experience after the 1999 referendum was that the Australian-led INTERFET mission gave way to UNTAET in 2000 with no great dramas. Other than national ego, perhaps our government wanted yet again to show its fealty to the US, which refuses to have its troops in UN blue berets anywhere in the world. If so, it would be sending the message that this is more important than respecting the right of the East Timorese people to decide who goes there and the circumstances in which they go.

Stephen Feneley writes: Jonathan Tjhia (yesterday, comments) accuses me of being “downright foolish and self-serving” because of my story on curator Alessario Cavallaro and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (25 August, item 16). I reported that Cavallaro co-founded the artists agency Novamedia and that artists represented by the agency had been included in shows curated by Cavallaro at ACMI. Tjhia suggests that it’s OK for Cavallaro to be linked to an agency that represents an artist of the calibre of Stelarc because “Stelarc is a world-leading pioneer in his field”. Hey, Jonathon, so what? I wouldn’t care if Stelarc was the reincarnation of da Vinci. I’m entitled to ask questions about the appropriateness of Cavallaro — a public service employee — putting Stelarc in an exhibition at a taxpayer-funded institution when Stelarc is listed as being represented by an agency to which Cavallaro is linked. And guess what, Jonathon? I’m not the only one who’s asked questions about this. Cavallaro’s connection to Novamedia and his selection of Novamedia artists in ACMI shows was the source of much disquiet within the organisation. Tjhia says that ACMI’s boss should refuse to engage me on this issue. To Sweeney’s credit, he’s not taking Tjhia’s advice and, instead, has agreed to investigate the matter.

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