Niall Clugston writes: While I have never doubted the Greenhouse Effect, Crikey’s editorial statement that sceptics “can look out the window” is bad science. When this issue emerged in the early 1990s, Sydney was hit by torrential rain and was claimed as evidence of climate change. Now we are in drought, and this is seen as evidence.

Ewen Finnane writes: What a tragedy it is that action on climate change can only happen when the crisis stage is reached, when we are looking into the abyss. Doesn’t say much for our so called civilization that we can ignore our most eminent scientists and thinkers who have warned about this for years.

Tony Sadgrove writes: If it wasn’t so tragic, I would be in stitches right now. Your introductory rant (yesterday, editorial) is so ironic. In the ideological 60s and early 70s, when I was an impressionable teenager, the so-called “radical left” was busy lecturing anyone who would listen, which was usually only other members of the “left”, about the dangers of industrialisation, over use of petro chemicals, cutting down of forests, etc etc. This was at the same time as “we” were protesting about the Vietnam War and were anti-establishment on other issues like education. The “counter culture” it was labelled. At every turn we were ridiculed by the conservatives. So don’t tell me that global warming is non ideological. I know better. It has only become a mainstream issue because profits are now at stake. Had we been listened to all those years ago by the troglodyte right who run the world, we would have more forests, more alternate energy, better water conservation and so on. Let’s hope it’s not too late.

Democrats Senator Andrew Bartlett writes: The editor of the Sydney Star Observer, one of the largest gay papers in the nation, admits that the Democrats’ “body of work in gay law reform is the best in the country”, yet sees no problem in omitting the Democrats from their “best of” list of gay friendly pollies (11 October, item 9).  And then has the gall to suggest it’s the Democrats that have an identity crisis?! It is ironic, although not really surprising, that Stacy Farrar’s two shows of contempt and disdain for the Democrats came in the very week that we tabled yet another Committee report pointing out new legislation that widens discriminatory capital gains tax provisions in the Tax Act and once again brought on for debate our 11 year old Sexuality Discrimination Bill – prompting probably the clearest statements yet from Liberal Senators backing the removal of legislative discrimination against same sex couples. When it comes to improving the rights of gay and lesbian people, it seems that concrete action and actual results (in a highly inhospitable political environment) matter far less than just being popular. The potential decline of the political party with “the best body of work on gay law reform in the country” is clearly not something that the Sydney Star Observer thinks should be of concern. Rather, it’s a case of “if you manage to be popular again, we might acknowledge you then”.  And they wonder why it’s taken so long to build wider public support for these changes?

Andrew Burke, Greens’ National Campaign Manager, 2004 federal election, writes: Wow, a Democrat bagging the Greens for doing the wrong thing with preferences. Talk about leading with your chin. Chris Ridings asserts (yesterday, comments) that the Greens have never offered the Dems preferences, a statement so spectacularly untrue that I can’t believe he would put it in print. In fact, the Greens have preferenced the Dems ahead of the majors and conservative minors consistently in the Senate over the years, contributing to the election of countless Democrat Senators. The Dems in 2004, on the other hand, were single-handedly responsible for electing a Labor Senator ahead of a Green in South Australia by preferencing Family First ahead of the Greens (if those prefs had come to the Greens then Brian Noone would have stayed in the race long enough to collect Labor prefs and get elected) and also contributed to Stephen Fielding being elected in Victoria at the Greens’ expense. If I were a Democrat, I’d be keeping very quiet about preferences.

Tony Thompson writes: Re. “Ministers not off the hook on AWB” (yesterday, item 7). If charges are laid against executives and others from AWB will their defence lawyers have the gumption to call as witnesses Ministers and, or, those political advisors whose role is to screen information from their Minister, and seek to have them declared as a “hostile witness”? Watching them under cross examination from a team of defence barristers would be worth paying money to. I think more realistically such a move would see a plea bargain achieved to save the political fallout.

James Matthews writes: Re. “Outsourcing dodgy lending coming back to bite the banks” (yesterday, item 25). Michael Pascoe’s item on Mortgage Broking raises some good points about the dodgy end of Mortgage Broking and the need for responsibility from the sector regulators but he appears to have a rather limited understanding about how business works. Firstly, Banks didn’t “…hand over their most valuable assets…their customers…” to Mortgage Brokers. When deregulation of the banking industry occurred their customers were taken from them because they were unwilling or unable to provide the levels of service Mortgage Brokers were able to offer. Of course, there are the “shonks”. There are dubious practices and people in all sectors of industry, not least amongst the large financial institutions themselves, as the recent AMP advisor fiasco amply demonstrates. As Michael rather grudgingly concedes however, most Mortgage Brokers are “straightforward business folk”: honest, ethical individuals committed to and dependant on, excellent long-term customer service for their livelihoods. Those of us who find reprehensible the actions of that very small unethical minority welcome regulation in our industry. At the same time however, we are already taking vigorous action, developing and demanding professional standards of Brokers and seeking to promote a wider understanding of the benefits these changes have brought to the public. Needless to say, we strenuously resist the painting of the profession as a corrupting influence in our community. Unfortunately Michael’s piece, in seeking to focus almost completely on the negatives, fails to present a balanced, truly informative outcome and thereby defeats his undoubtedly honourable intention of consumer protection.

Paul Gilchrist writes: There is a lot of emotion and suspicion around the new “Editorial Policies 2007” for the ABC which have just been released by Mark Scott. Maybe there is a very simple way of looking at this. As far as I know, there is no audit of bias in the commercial media, but the argument goes that the ABC is publicly funded, so an audit is only needed for “our” ABC. Fine, as long as the process is transparent. I would like to know the results of any audit, and any complaints which are being assessed or acted upon. That sounds fair to me.

Brad Lacey writes: I’d just like to welcome back the presence of Guy Rundle of late. Though Crikey has retained a slight libertarian streak, lately it seems to have swung a little right. I’d hate to whinge – in fact I quite enjoy reading Christian Kerr’s tirades against what he perceives as the limp-wristed Left, even though I’m probably one of them – but it’s still nice to see a little from each.

Send your comments, corrections, clarifications and c*ck-ups to [email protected]. Preference will be given to comments that are short and succinct: maximum length is 200 words (we reserve the right to edit comments for length). Please include your full name – we won’t publish comments anonymously unless there is a very good reason.

Peter Fray

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