Warren Pitt, Queensland Minister for Communities, Disability Services, Seniors and Youth, writes: In response to yesterday’s article by Graham Ring (item 8), three facts need to be highlighted about the report that will detail areas of disadvantage for Indigenous communities in Queensland. One, it is not a secret report. The baseline report was referred to explicitly in last year’s Ministerial Portfolio Statement as part of the documents prepared for the 2006-07 State Budget. Two, it has not been shelved. The report is currently in draft form and is being finalised for consideration by the government. And three, it has not been suppressed. It has been widely circulated across government departments and agencies as part of the consultation process. The completed report will be an important tool to guide future decision-making about policies and services affecting Indigenous Queenslanders. As the minister responsible for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander policy in Queensland, I can assure your readers that the government remains committed to implementing the Partnerships Queensland initiative, which provides an overarching framework for policies and services affecting Indigenous Queenslanders. I am also confident that the changes made to the administration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander policy in Queensland will improve service delivery to Indigenous communities. By being part of the bigger Department of Communities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander policy is stronger through having greater stature and clout.

Louise Alley, Senior Communications Executive, BBC Worldwide Ltd writes:
Sorry to burst your bubble, but the idea that we would edit Top Gear for reasons of political correctness is just laughable (yesterday Media Briefs Item 19). If we cut out a segment every time Jeremy Clarkson offended someone then we’d barely have a show. Contrary to assertions, Top Gear is not entirely composed of “self-generated” material. We don’t, for example, compose all the music, which can incur significant clearance costs depending on the artist, sometimes to the point where our licence fee would have to increase considerably before we could afford to sell the show. Nor can BBC Worldwide control the appearance fees of various celebs who turn up from time to time in the Star in A Reasonably Priced Car segment. If a royalty fee is so high that we’d have to pass on the cost to customers, then, frankly, we’d try to avoid this at all costs. The simple and really rather dull reason the poll was cut was that, in the interests of getting a 60 minute BBC version down to a 50 minute international version, we felt that a British-based poll on reliable cars would have less interest to Top Gear’s global audience (120 countries and counting) than the rest of this week’s show. You can relax – there is plenty more political incorrectness from Jeremy, Richard and James in series to come.

Michael Rook writes: Why is the economic value of water tanks (John Kotsopoulos yesterday, comments) routinely calculated by reference to how much the tank holds when full? Does it only get used once? Wouldn’t it be more accurate to work out how many times it would get filled over a year based on average annual rainfalls/catchment areas, or perhaps even how much actually gets drawn from it?

Coralie Le Nevez writes: John Kotsopoulos (yesterday, comments) sounds like one of those people who never makes a decision in his life without checking sensitive antennae for price signals decided by other people, who also decide what should be factored into these price signals. When I installed my two water
tanks about 18 months ago, I didn’t justify it based on the cost of water and don’t know anyone else who does. Of course, what water is worth as opposed to what it costs is another matter. But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t do any calculations (and it was my money, not the taxpayers’). My 7000 litres of storage cost around $6000, (which I think is too expensive, but costs can surely come down). Say I used my two tanks for 10 years, was it worth $600 a year or so? Well yes it was, in terms of the following – from an environmental standpoint I’m saving a heap of a diminishing scarce resource, (my town water usage has dropped to around 80 litres per day per person, basically for showers and drinking water), I’ve doubled the water available for the garden (since my house takes up about half the yard) and now have plenty (even if I ran the whole lot out as described, it’s basically replenishing every 8 weeks or so). I can water when I want to, wash my car, all without any environmental impact to speak of.

David Fawkner writes: Re The water tank debate (yesterday, comments). Sorry guys, but based on the price of bottled water in the local supermarket, the water in my 5000-litre tank is worth at least $15,000.

Keith Perkins writes: Michael Pascoe writes (yesterday, item 20) “It’s called throwing the Nats a bone, or perhaps just an empty can of dog food.” Could he possibly have meant an empty dog food can?

John Sparkman writes: Re ACCC destroys few remaining media diversity hopes (yesterday, item 3). I have complained before about this, apparently without success. The ACCC does not handle media diversity. What is not clear about that? Maybe you should spell out the acronym – Australian COMPETITION and Consumer Commission, when writing about media ownership. It is not the ADCC. It is probably a bit much to expect that Michael Pascoe, a business journalist, would know the significant difference between competition in media and media diversity, but surely Crikey’s editors, who continually bleat about media diversity, could point it out to him?

John Craig writes: Re “Why do radical sheiks have a following among young people? (yesterday, item 10). The question should not be why radical Sheiks have a following among young people in Australia, but rather why they have a following among young people anywhere. The latter is the real problem to solve. It is not enough just to try to isolate Australia from problems that are pervasive in Muslim communities elsewhere – because otherwise the risk of “reinfection” will always remain. My attempt to suggest why some young and intelligent people are attracted to radicalism (and what is probably wrong with the ideology they find attractive) is presented in Discouraging Pointless Extremism. This also suggests (a) that Muslims in Australia should be able to play a role in discrediting the radicals’ ideology globally and (b) it is not enough merely to isolate Australia from problems that exist elsewhere without solving them.

Matthew Greensmith writes: Congratulations to Irfan Yusuf on his excellent piece. It really exemplifies why thinking people are deserting traditional media for alternatives. While the issue at hand may be contentious and troubling, Sheik Faiz Mohamed is a symptom, not the cause. To concentrate on actions against him and bemoaning how such a thing should come to pass is essentially a cop out from having to deal with the real issue. I have no idea whether Irfan is right in what he states in his article, but he is at least asking the right questions. What caused this man to have these views? Why do people listen to him? and how do we address these root causes. Silencing the Sheik’s words do not silence his ideas, just put them underground where it is harder to deal with. As a culture we must remember(learn) how to think and reason, rather than just react.

Fabian Musci writes: In late December I found a torn piece of recycled A4 in my mailbox. On it, in texta, in a large and pleasant hand, the words; “stop watering your lawn”. Many of my neighbours received the same note. A couple of days ago I found the drip sprinklers in my front yard had been tampered with (turned off). On the train I heard two “suited” businessmen discussing the water cheats on their streets. TV campaigns urge us to wash our vegetables over a bucket, it save nine glasses! A fridge magnet and 1300 number and we are blaming ourselves and dobbing on each other. Governments are playing us for suckers, and it appears they are making the right play.

Chris Hunter writes: You gotta laugh. The reader advocating skipping the Christian Kerr bits to an equally disenchanted reader (yesterday, comments). What do they expect for their Crikey dollar? I only read the Kerr bits; the rest, well its just not quite to my taste. Kerr’s got a unique style and as a charisma carnivore (bite-sized meaty chunks) I can barely wait for another dollop of his broth.

Brent Pearce writes: Over the last few months, like many Australians I have tuned into Channel Nine’s broadcast of the cricket. All the usual elements are there with the gimmicks and promos etc… One thing I have noticed is that the commentators are often talking about the odds of each team winning, etc, throughout the broadcast. The first time I heard Bill Lawry talking about it I thought he was referring to it in a metaphorical sense during the Adelaide Test run chase. However as the target was being reduced and the wickets fell I was constantly being reminded of what the odds are for each result. Is this related to any affiliation to PBL’s gambling arm, or Eddie’s affiliation to his venture into online betting a few years ago? I thought it was quite ironic for a sport that has regained some of its match fixing credibility from the mid-90s that its chief broadcaster was stating the odds mid-match.

Peter McDonell writes: Re Greenhouse targets. I have yet to see any comment on the impact recent, and current, bushfires are making on greenhouse gas emission “targets”. That, plus uncalculated bovine exhaust gas emissions, seems to make a mockery of the adoption of an arithmetic approach to the practicalities of measuring air pollution.

Keith Bales writes: Re John Howard’s Broome visit. What a cheap and pathetic attack on the Prime Minister. This is a man who works tirelessly for the Australian people and is paid very badly compared to “a not as smart” (in my opinion) Alan Moss of Macquarie on $20 million per annum, and other captains of industry? He works Saturdays, Sundays and all hours God gave. He broke into his annual holiday to go to the Asia Pacific conference and then to James Killen’s funeral in Brisbane. What a pathetic attack on him for taking a one day and night break en route to Brisbane rather than flying to Sydney and then to Brisbane. And what a wonderful boost to tourism he has given Cable Beach and Broome. He is usually working or travelling when most critics are enjoying themselves or asleep! Where are people’s (and the media’s) brains? They don’t work a tenth of his hours. Be proud of who we have leading this country.

John Taylor writes: I hear that Channel Nine are on the point of changing their slogan from “Still the one” to “It’s good to be three”.

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