Steve Johnson writes: Christian Kerr certainly seems to be very attached to Kevin Rudd’s “Krudd” nickname. Throughout his piece yesterday (“Does Rudd really realise where the PM’s gone too far?” – item 2) he refers to John Howard as “John Howard” and “The Prime Minister”. The Opposition Leader instead gets “Krudd” and “Kruddy”. Rudd’s real name only pops up in the heading, which is just as well because otherwise you’d have to guess who it was about. Is this some of lame balancing act undertaken to offset Christian’s critique of John Howard in yesterday’s Crikey? Again, there was no disrespectful name calling of the PM in that piece, either.

Andrew Frost writes: Christian Kerr wrote: “Why the hell does [Kevin Rudd] keep banging on about Fred von Hayek? Unless it’s some sort of play on subliminal racism, there can’t be a single vote in it.” Aside from the fact that there’s nothing wrong with actually naming your source, the strategy is plain to see – Howard is all over the place denying he’s NOT a market fundamentalist. Rudd’s plan is working beautifully.

Bob Smith writes: Thanks for the consistent jets of thought-provoking steam. However, please do not discourage Mr Rudd from talking about Hayek. Hayek sets tests for policy that are worth taking seriously. Hayek’s deconstruction of the welfare state is required reading for all aspiring social democrats and “new liberals” – painful and bad-tempered though some of it may be. Further, Hayek exemplifies in a very clear way the values of “old whig” British liberalism which various generations of “new liberals” have tried to modify. In sum, if you want access and compassion but a treasury with money still in it, learn from Hayek. Then push on with rigorous policy analysis rather than uncritical hope.

David Walsh writes: Re. “Timber communities plan to put the chainsaw on the Libs” (yesterday, item 10). Christian Kerr asserts that “Whoever wins Bass tends to win government.” Actually, Bass has been government-held for just three of the past nine federal terms.

Alona Hunter writes: If you are really serious about being an alternative media option, you had better change Christian Kerr’s job description. If he is a political journalist, then he needs to do a bit of investigation, not just rehash press releases from the likes of Barry Chipman, or any other like-minded rednecked organisation which backs devastation of our wilderness at any cost. Instead of telling a story of a wonderful victory for our wildlife in Tasmania, all we get is the same old tired drivel about a few jobs at risk. Bob Brown is an extraordinary individual who put everything he owned on the line to challenge Forestry Tasmania and their questionable logging practices. He won, not for himself, but for the future generations of Tasmanians who he thinks have the right to enjoy the wilderness the way we and previous generations have. Why not applaud that altruism instead of commiserating with the self-interested and unpatriotic Barry Chipman and his cronies!

Mike Burke writes: Has there been a change of editorial policy or has the Crikey readership demographic changed dramatically? Whole weeks have gone by without Christian Kerr being seriously, and serially, abused by the kiddies. Perhaps there really is something in the air in the Crikey bunker other than bullsh-t.

Steven McKiernan writes: Re. “ACT coroner adds fuel to the fire for better “hazard reduction burning” (yesterday, item 9). There is something important missing in the debate about fuel reduction and wildfires. That is an analysis of how European settlement has changed our forests and bushland. One outstanding example is a fenced wildlife reserve in the hills to the east of Perth, Karakamia Reserve near Walyunga National Park. There are no feral animals in the reserve and the numerous marsupials constantly turn over and consume the leaf litter under the trees. It hasn’t been burnt for years and yet there is very little fuel load. Unfortunately, populations of native mammals in most forest and bushlands have been devastated by feral animals and land clearing. Another missing piece of the puzzle is the impact of logging. Once, large jarrah trees hundreds of years old formed a canopy over WA’s southwest forests, hampering understory growth and trapping moisture in the forest. Now in most areas numerous smaller trees with a dense and seasonally dry undergrowth dominate. It isn’t all just about how often we burn, it’s also about ecological integrity and the balance of our forests. Sadly, with climate change and increased burning we are likely to see forests and bushlands further invaded by feral animals and gradually changing to an ecosystem dominated by fire-tolerant – and easy burning – plants. The bushfire problem is as much human made as natural.

Mikey Hughes writes: Nice one guys. Trying to imply the role the Stanhope government played in the failures during the Canberra fires is the equivalent of the Coalition’s manifest failure of governance over AWB is a truly pathetic comparison (yesterday, editorial). One – Stanhope inherited the service as is from the then Liberal government of just a couple years before, with not much time to get that service into better shape. Two – Fuel loads were largely on the NSW side of the border which led to the fire problem in the first place. Three – Stanhope personally risked his life to save a helicopter pilot who crashed his helicopter during that emergency period. I don’t recall any coalition figures doing the equivalent of that. I tell you what. When John Howard personally risks his life in Iraq to pull someone out of fire from bullets purchased with AWB money then maybe you can put the boot in and attempt a valid comparison.

Peter Burnett writes: Re. “John Howard, foreign policy radical?” (yesterday, item 7). You cite Paul Kelly, who has been touting his wares as a foreign policy expert in The Australian and in a new report for the Lowy Institute called “Howard’s decade”. But in the Lowy study, Kelly writes about the whole decade of Howard foreign policy without once mentioning the South Pacific. Surely he might have found time to talk about the RAMSI deployment? Or placing police commissioners in Fiji and Solomon Islands? The activities of the AFP, from Vanuatu to Fiji to Tonga? Government attitudes towards the Pacific after the 2000 coups in Fiji and Honiara saw a fundamental shift, but don’t rate a mention in Paul Kelly’s analysis. Hardly surprising, given that there isn’t one daily newspaper in Australia which has a full time correspondent covering the islands region. Australian media coverage of the Pacific region is full of pat explanations about “ethnic tensions” and “failed states”, yet they’re stumped to try and explain what’s happening when trouble erupts in a monolingual, strong state like the Kingdom of Tonga!

Martin Pool writes: Re. “How Qantas has screwed Melbourne and Brisbane” (yesterday, item 22). Stephen Mayne wrote: “Qantas simply refuses to add more services as it can make more profit forcing customers to go through Sydney.” Well of course it does. What kind of shareholder activist wants companies to prefer less profitable activities?

Shane Howlett writes: Re. “Car industry cracking under pressure” (yesterday, item 3). Maybe Australia’s car industry needs to start building the hybrid-equivalent of the original “people’s car”. Demand for petrol-electric hybrid cars vastly exceeds the world’s meagre supply of expensive Toyota Priuses. Plenty of issues around cost and intellectual property rights, but so too with the status quo.

Andrew Owens writes: Re. “Why stop at Mayan? Some ideas for Gibbo’s next project” (yesterday, item 15). Ulster Scots is an official language? I’m from NI and it’s the first I’ve heard of it. Neither the UK Government nor the Good Friday Agreement recognises it as an “official language” or compels documents to be written in it (although some are) – it is however recognised as a minority language, for which the GFA set up the “Ulster Scots Agency” to manage and promote, and is funded by the NI Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure. That, however, gives it about the same status as Basque or Friulian.

John Bevan writes: Re. Blood donations. I decided recently to return to making blood donations. Walked into the Red Cross in Sydney only to be told that I needed to make an appointment at a time suitable to the organisation to give my blood. Once I used to be able to walk in when I had a spare half hour or so. Don’t think I’ll be bothering now.

Ross Bozen writes: With all the media bombast surrounding Warnie’s impeding 700th wicket you would think he inhabits these stratospheric heights all on his lonesome. But lurking just 24 wickets away is Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan who reaped ten wickets against New Zealand last weekend. With just two Tests left in the Ashes and no Australian test series scheduled until next November (against Sri Lanka), Warne’s supreme achievement (143 tests, 699 wickets at an average of 25.49) may be short lived as Muralitharan (110 tests, 674 wickets at average of 21.73) passes his total and adds some more as Sri Lanka is scheduled to play Bangladesh then England before journeying to Australia at the end of the year. While I respect Warne’s achievements maybe the story would have more spice if portrayed as a two man race.

Colin Chilcott writes: Re. Crikey Honour Roll. I have to object to your choice of Sports Team of the Year. Basketball is not even close to my chosen sport, however, I know that to win the World Championship is to climb to the top of the mountain and beat the best of the opposition in that sport on the planet. The Opals have been working towards this goal for decades now. The win this year was by far the biggest achievement in Australian sport, including Australia’s reclamation of the Ashes. By comparison, the Socceroos made only the quarter-finals in their tournament. I concede that they have also been trying since 1974 to get back into the World Cup, however, the bottom line is that they did not win. They did not beat the best the world has to offer. In fact, Brazil gave Australia a pasting if I recall. The Opals’ World championship win was clearly the greatest achievement by an Australian sporting team in 2006 and they should have received far more media exposure to recognise their success.

At the request of News Limited Manager of Corporate Communications Steve Davis, here is his full response to Crikey’s questions about Melbourne Victory supporters and a perceived bias against them in the News Ltd press: Obviously the supporters that complained to Crikey did not read the following parts of the stories in the Telegraph and the Herald Sun: “a few unruly fans aimed a flare at Sydney FC supporters at the final whistle of the goalless draw, in front of 50,333” … “It’s really a case of the minority spoiling it for the majority” … Victory CEO Geoff Miles said: “We have to keep this in perspective. There are more than three arrests at AFL games and at the Boxing Day cricket Test” … “There were a small number of people who didn’t want to move on when asked by police. There were no blues between supporters. This was not a case of mob violence” … Telstra Dome spokesman Haydn Lane said, “But with more than 50,000 people and a draw, to have a couple of idiots fighting is not that much fuss.” Clearly the Herald Sun and Daily Tele reported what happened at the ground, and noted many times that these were the actions of a tiny minority of a record breaking crowd. If (Crikey) or the supporters can provide evidence of actual exaggeration or factual inaccuracies we will be happy to comment on them. Further, unlike the free to air network that acknowledged buying the rights to the old NSL in order to “suffocate soccer”, News is a major investor in the future of football in Australia – easily the biggest investor in the sport’s history, evidenced by the Fox Sports deal that has secured the future of the sport for years to come. News is 50% owner of Fox Sports – there are 120 million reasons why it is in News Ltd’s interests for the A-League and all the A-League clubs to be as successful as possible.

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Peter Fray

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