Gary Price writes: Re. “A poor pundit – and a worse PM” (yesterday, item 1)Christian Kerr nailed it when he remarked that the PM is afraid of tax reform – and the reason is because he wants to be able to bribe us with our own money. Never a truer word written. Carrots and sticks; bribes and fear; fealty, foes and favourites: the whole extent of this PMs policy drivers.

Geoff Alford writes: Re. The buyout of Qantas, I find it extraordinary that no-one has raised the question of what a PE buy-out may mean for the Qantas brand, “Qantas, the spirit of Australia” and “I still call Australia, my home”. Iconic brands do have value. So what happens if Aussies come to the view that Qantas is just another airline, just like Singapore Airlines or Emirates? It gets broken up, there are large job losses, it loses its Australian identity. If a PE Qantas suffers for the reasons outlined – who will wear the misery? The PE buyers will likely have sold on by that time and pension and super funds will be left holding the damaged goods. Commentators and politicians do not seem to recognize the significance of these issues I raise. But any marketing person can see the potential straight away, that Qantas’ brand equity may suffer severely. Good luck to Qantas shareholders, who may profit by selling their shares, but I fear for the future of Qantas.

Grant Ye writes: Re. “Palestinians told to keep voting till they get the right result” (yesterday, item 15). Charles Richardson states that the Palestinian President’s desire to call early elections in the Palestinian Authority would, anywhere else, be considered a “crisis for democracy”. Poppycock! Most democracies have a safeguard that permits a head of state to sack a dysfunctional government (our own Governor General exercised this right in 1975). The Hamas led government has not been able to pay public servants for many, many months, social services are virtually non-existent, and it refuses to honour international agreements made by the previous government – surely it is dysfunctional! Why is it “fair enough” that Hamas refuses to recognise Israel before negotiations? “Western Governments” are not asking for Hamas to agree borders upfront – simply that it recognises that a two-state solution is the only solution (as Israel has). The Hamas charter calls for the end of the Jewish state (and indeed the death of all Jews) – surely if they cannot agree to the principle that Israel has a right to exist, there is nothing to “negotiate”. “Western Governments” recognises that Israel’s very existence is not a point for negotiation – Hamas must recognise this to get past the deadlock or they surely are in the way of what what (one hopes) is the desire of the vast majority of Palestinians and Israelis – the desire to live in peace.

Bill Castleden writes: Viewers beware; what happens on the SBS today will come to the ABC tomorrow. The media buyers have had their win; I guess they’ve wined and dined and leaned upon the Board and Management of SBS, and now SBS has taken the quality-destroying step of interrupting its programmes with tawdry TV advertisements. Last week it was a gruesome documentary on the early years of Chairman Mao decimated by “Officeworks” Christmas tinsel and other incongruous  consumer delights. Last night it was “Cutting Edge”, Anton Enis on the SBS news and the subsequent doco that were polluted. Ironically “Cutting Edge” was about spam and the programme was extended by 10 minutes with several interruptions of SBS’s self-solicited spam; and all of this sneakily-introduced in the run-up to Christmas when viewers are least likely to have time to make a complaint. Why are SBS doing it? So they can increase local programming, especially news programmes… that they can then interrupt with even more advertisements! Meanwhile the previously-uninterrupted quality of their existing programmes is trashed. What can a dedicated SBS viewer do? Answer nothing, except to switch off and snuggle up with a good book. Alternatively, make a personal vow to boycott any advertiser who succeeds in intruding a previously-intact SBS programme.

John Turner writes: Henry Thornton (yesterday, item 22) is entitled to share his delight at Australia’s recovery of the Ashes, but it’s another thing for him to rely on Cricket Australia’s puffery to underpin his economic analysis of the state of cricket. In Saturday’s Age Charles Davis  exploded the myth that our cricketers have increasing workloads. He claims that international workloads peaked in the 1980s and 90s but have declined since. CA’s talk about increased attendances also overlooks the fact that this season is, under the current arrangements, the peak of a four year cycle. Given the pulling power (and collateral tourism benefits) of England test tours, why can’t the Ashes be contested here every two years? Wouldn’t this be a demonstration of market forces in action? Player workload could be kept in check by sending de facto second XIs to some of the many one day tournaments: we’ve started down this path by agreeing to Shane Warne’s  request to be excused from one day cricket and by “resting” other key players.

Russell Edwards writes: Re. Guy Rundle’s vivid imagination (yesterday, item 17). I have seen Apocalypto. Has Guy Rundle? Mel Gibson certainly knows how to make an action movie. It is incredibly gripping. But then I sat through Ten Canoes and squirmed, thinking, “I am supposed to like this, because it is all so earnest, and correct…” But dull, dull… Yes, of course, an AFI winner. Mr Gibson is not boring. I guess some people are going to automatically dislike the movie because it doesn’t neatly fit our western guilt trip notions of “the noble savage”. And because it was made by a looney right wing religious nut and anti-Semitic drunk, it must be unacceptable. But I never thought they would simply invent a “message” that simply wasn’t there. Maybe violence is ok provided it is “ironic” and self-referential, like Tarantino. But if it’s crafted to keep you heart thumping, on the edge of your seat, in a cold sweat – ie. appealing to “the masses”, how appalling!

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Peter Fray

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