Allen Young writes: Re. “Howard: ‘I never take my seat for granted'” (yesterday, item 3). Given John Howard’s evident devotion to the good burghers of Bennelong, can he give an unequivocal undertaking that if he’s re-elected but with a Labor government, he will continue to represent them for the full parliamentary term?

Dave Fawkner writes: I know that work experience boy, Christian Wang (it’s only fair to reveal the Asian component of his complex ancestry in the face of the Obama middle-name controversy) Kerr, has been having trouble coming to terms with the PM’s sudden U-turn on climate change, David Hicks and just about every other core promise. However, even the Crikey tea lady could have got yesterday’s four part, 1600 word, Howard/Bennelong epic down to a single story of fewer than 400 words.

Barrie O’Shea writes: Re. Hybrid cars. The owners of hybrid cars have been conned into thinking that they are helping the environment. Sadly, they are choosing their vehicles on the basis of their energy use during only part of the vehicle’s life cycle. They take no account of the energy expended in building a car which has a petrol motor, an electric motor and a large battery pack, let alone the higher cost of recycling at the end of the vehicle’s life. They seem to ignore the fact that these cars are heavier than normal vehicles of the same size, and that they are still powered solely by petrol. A UK test found that the Prius used 12.2l/100k in consistent city driving. A study of the life cycle costs of vehicles available on the US market found that the Prius rated 50th, (behind several low tech 4WDs!). Until manufacturers of all consumer products are required to provide a life cycle energy rating for their products, we may well continue to damage the planet unwittingly by buying products which are “environmentally friendly” for only part of their lives.

Diana Simmonds writes: I would like to call Christian Kerr’s attention to another killer that inexplicably never gets media attention: driveways. The media in general goes off the deep end every time some unfortunate reverses down a driveway in a 4WD or other (probably silent hybrid) vehicle and squashes a tot or granny or beloved pet. Statistically speaking, driveways are the real culprits — any number of very different and perfectly innocent vehicles are blamed for tragedies which are actually caused by one thing and one thing alone: driveways. They should be banned.

Peter Elliffe writes: Regarding yesterday’s editorial, please understand that not all of your readers share your prejudices against religion, nor assume that the way forward is to follow the European example of progressive secularisation. If you subscribe to the view that the WOT is a figment of the imagination of opposing religious war mongers, you should be corrected. As Lawrence Wright argues in The Looming Tower, the roots of al-Qaeda are in Islamic opposition to the forces of secularisation in the Middle East as much as Christian “crusaders”. Zawahiri’s radicalism was born of the secular Egyptian modernisers. Bin Laden’s fury was directed not against Christians so much as the Saudi princes that asked for Western support for their only semi-Sharia regimes, and who thereby sullied the land of Mecca and Medina. Of course 9/11 did bring a backlash, and the administration of GW Bush was not going to take such action lying down. But you should remember that although Bush is a born-again Christian, he always framed the WOT as opposition to the Islamists’ misguided violence, not as a confrontation between Christendom and the world of Islam. Meanwhile, Europe has not been free of Islamist violence since 9/11, and their societies’ future hold many causes for concern, so they may not be the places to look to for leadership in the 21st century.

Simon Nasht writes: Re. David Hurley (yesterday, comments). Iraq rages, the climate burns, the election season upon us, yet a senior Nine Network executive is fuming about … who paid what to whom on a rival tabloid trash show. Meanwhile, the inquest into the apparent murder of a Channel 9 journalist in East Timor continues to go unreported by the pygmy inheritors of a once fine news organisation. And this ‘news’ man is giving lectures about journalistic ethics? It’s a strange sense of priorities you get when you have our head in the dunny.

Chad Ravlich writes: Good on you David Hurley – you have finally exposed Glenn Dyer for what he is, an unashamed apologist for the Seven network. I look forward every day to reading his TV column, not for any facts (of which there are very few) but for his adoration of anything concerning the Seven Network. I would love to know under what circumstances led him to leave Nine – it must be quite a story.

Chris Hunter writes: In response to Peter Costello’s case for the “prosecution” (yesterday, item 5). His main concern was that David Hicks may have attacked Australian troops. My understanding is he was picked up unarmed at a bus stop by bounty hunters who turned him over to US custody. It’s laughable to suggest this man was threatening the lives of highly trained and armed Aussie soldiers. That’s really weak Peter, don’t give up on your day job – emulating the leadership aspirations of Kim Beazley. As far as Guantanamo Bay goes, you’re just flogging a dead Hicks!

Wayne Robinson writes: Of course David Hicks wasn’t captured in Afghanistan with a copy of “The Backpacker’s Guide to the Galaxy” (Peter Costello on Meet the Press). Any fool would know that it is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Niall Clugston writes: Re. “When did Australia really commit to going to Iraq?” (yesterday, item 6). With reference to Pentagon plans for an invasion of Iraq back in 2002, your reporters, Jane Nethercote and Sophie Black, state: “This was before UN inspectors started searching Iraq for Weapons of Mass Destruction”. In fact, weapons inspections had been conducted, on and off, from the end of the Gulf War in 1991, a full decade earlier. This amazing ignorance of recent history merely underlines the ease with which the pro-war “mass deception” was carried out.

Geoff Walker writes: Re. “States and Canberra to fight for the emissions windfall” (yesterday, item 15). What better way to avoid the bunfight between the states and Canberra over the revenue from the sale of carbon emission permits than by initially vesting them directly in the citizens of Australia? That way we individual citizens can sell them ourselves and cut out the middlemen. $20 billion between 20 million people gives us $1,000 each – thank you very much.

Steve Moriarty writes: How come everyone is on Peter Garrett’s case about old song lyrics and the potential for another US base here. How come his opposite number is a mad republican and yet that republican’s boss is a staunch monarchist? While we all assume a difference between Garrett’s personal values and his Labor party’s policy, can’t the same be said about Malcolm Turnbull?

Terry Kidd writes: I’ve got to say that I’m a little disappointed. I expected some sort of story about Peter Beattie’s grand plan to divert the northern Queensland rivers, but found nothing in my Crikey ezine. When I scanned the various newspapers’ internet sites yesterday I thought I had been caught in a time warp. Here was a proposal to reverse the rivers … hadn’t Malcolm Fraser espoused such a plan in an election campaign 20-something years previously? Wasn’t this the third or fourth incarnation of Bradfield’s Depression era plan? Let us ponder for a moment. Is it possible to divert water from northern NSW and northern Queensland coastal rivers inland? Yes, probably. Would it work to rejuvenate the inland rivers, change local climate patterns and transform inland Australia? Possibly, if the water wasn’t simply hijacked by Cubby Station monoliths. Is it worth looking at? Possibly. However, it is more likely a grand scheme cooked up in Peter Beattie’s mind to hijack the water summit and gain headlines. Still, tis a pity that Crikey could find no space to comment.

Don Mackay writes: I used to love Crikey. I couldn’t wait for it to arrive in the morning. Under the new regime, it’s progressively become a snobbish, preaching, politically smug publication that increasingly turns my stomach. Now I often don’t read it – and don’t feel a need to. I detest the opening editorials, so smarta-sed and open to challenge. Thinking of cancelling my subscription. Love him or hate him, Christian Kerr’s stuff was on the edge. It’s now submerged by Richard Farmer’s copy – a space-filling pontificator at best. I reckon I can’t be the only subscriber feeling like this. Crikey has really become a bore.

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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