CORRECTION: Yesterday, Glenn Dyer reported (item 4) that Tracey Spicer is using the same Sydney law firm — Hillman Laxon Tobias — as Jana Wendt in her legal battle with Network Ten. That is incorrect — Wendt’s solicitor was Michael Harmer of Harmer and Associates workplace lawyers. It was Mark Llewellyn, the sacked news director at Nine with the explosive affidavit who defected to Seven, who used Hillman Laxon Tobias.

Bill Scott writes: Re. The Cole inquiry. Saddam could have saved us the $30 million cost of an enquiry by calling the money “Stamp Duty”. The State governments have been doing it for years! Creaming off a percentage of all real estate sales and doing absolutely nothing in return for it. Yet when he does it with wheat sales, it’s a no no.

Allan Morton writes: Re. “New levels of madness in Iraq” (yesterday, item 19). Whether one supports the war in Iraq or not, the article by Charles Richardson is so knuckleheaded as to be an embarrassment to both the writer and yourselves as hosts. Elementary logic says that in war there will be casualties and it is hardly conclusive that a record for casualties should be a call to action. After all in the absence of any previous casualty the first would be a record. Would this be enough to send an army home? The casualties in Iraq at the moment are primarily civilian and sectarian and it is at least arguable that they would occur with or without the presence of foreign troops. It is also arguable that they would get far worse. Mr Richardson also cavalierly states that early withdrawal of troops is “the course favoured by public opinion in both Iraq and the west”. See, you have to define “west” and you have to show what you are using as a proxy for public opinion. It’s hard to use the recent elections in the US (as undoubtedly Mr Richardson would like to do) as that proxy since many surveys are now revealing that the issue of fiscal responsibility was at least as important as any other in voting trends. As for Australia, our PM still looks a likely winner and there is no doubt at all on where he stands on troop withdrawal. It’s ok to have an opinion on the war but personally, I have had it up to the neck with atrociously poor logic and lack of any meaningful analysis whatsoever. And I for one think it grossly irresponsible to state that we should just leave and see how it turns out.

Chris Colenso-Dunne writes: Charles Richardson’s argument that withdrawing US troops from Iraq is best because then the locals will have to sort out their own problems is a bit like arguing that the NSW police ought to have withdrawn from the Cronulla riots so that the local yobbos could thrash out their differences. Charles cites Nigeria: so – what about Rwanda? Having gone into Iraq, Iraq’s foreign occupiers are now responsible for law and order. More soldiers will die. Tough, that’s ultimately what they get paid for. Soldiers join a combat force to fight, to kill or be killed. Modern Iraq was a powder-horn from its re-invention in 1932. Today’s internecine slaughter has started because there’s no longer a strongman to keep the thugs down. Learn from Yugoslavia and the death of Tito: the only workable solution now to the thirteen hundred years of enmity between Iraqi-Arab Sunni and Iraqi-Arab Shia Ithna-Asheri clans is the re-imposition of a tyrant or Iraq’s partition. Pulling out of Iraq now would be worse than putting Saddam back into power.

Andrew Burke writes: Re. “Never mind Kyoto, NSW court goes internationally green” (yesterday, item 14). Michael Pascoe is being alarmist about the NSW Land and Environment Court’s decision in Gray v The Minister for Planning & Ors. It’s a decision in keeping with established jurisprudence, following closely from Queensland’s Nathan Dam case. The implication is that, when assessing the environmental impact of a proposal, one has to include the impact on global warming. What’s so silly about that? The more interesting angle is the political one. Having declared on Monday that climate change will be a key election issue, will Iemma be prepared to appeal the decision? It wouldn’t be a good look.

Paul Howorth writes: While Australia’s foreign ministry and its packet of prize-card diplomats goes about “nation building” in the Pacific – which includes what amounts to folding hands re. the possible Fiji coup – little old New Zealand steps up and mounts what is in effect a bipartisan tilt at settling Fiji’s power brokers down. Winston Peters uses lateral thinking to encourage NZ-based talks with Fiji’s opposing camps and PM Helen Clark takes the opportunity to acknowledge this effort, and to step up to the wicket to attend and drive the talks. Spot the difference? Australia – no Pacific relationships built on some level of interactivity and trust. NZ – at least still holds some respect in the Pacific league. NZ – opposing parties realise the gravity of the situation and coordinate an attempt. Australia – call for “bipartisanship” and listen to the vacuous echo. Australia – the PM is at 2UE, he has the foreign ministry to deal with childish issues. NZ – the PM personally fronts up to matters that threaten the stability of the region. Lesson for Australia: don’t “manage” issues with double-speak, participate in them with respect.

Ric Althuizen writes: Re. “Who’s afraid of the big bad editor of The West?” (yesterday, item 3). If Armstrong reckons it’s such a good paper, pretty soon he’ll be reading it by himself. I’ve reduced my subscription in the past couple of months so I only get the weekend sport, midweek motoring and Monday’s weekend sport review. I don’t like to be spoon fed news which he thinks is news worthy and modified to his point of view, if I wanted that, I’d just get the Liberal party press releases. It’s not only him, but all the opinion piece so-called journos as well. As for the Sunday Times, that’s just advertising and dribble.

John Sparkman writes: Laurie Patton (yesterday, comments) makes the self-interested claim that community television covering the AFL is somehow going to be better than subscription television. Community television is a joke – a bunch of amateurs who have been gifted an extraordinarily valuable amount of publicly-owned spectrum to transmit garbage to the handful of people capable of getting their signal. In the case of the Sydney service, there continue to be serious questions about its viability. The AFL has every right to be alarmed that this mob might be carrying their product. The sooner the community sector is shut down and their spectrum handed to someone who can use it properly, the better.

John Taylor writes: Re. The Ashes. From a betting man’s point of view, the only thing to be considered now is whether they’d be game to stooge up a draw and a loss in the next two tests to ensure that Melbourne and Sydney aren’t dead rubbers before a ball is bowled.

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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