Rob O’Connor writes: Re. “Have you met Brian Burke? 38 MPs tell” (yesterday, item 3). So one MP and one Senator responded to Crikey’s query with “who is Brian Burke?” or words to that effect. It’s a response that displays either appalling ignorance, or disdain for an issue which the PM chose to make a front-page item across the land. In any event one has to wonder what the hell they are doing in Parliament.

Bob Hawksley writes: I have a confession to make. I’ve had dinner with Mr Rudd. He won’t remember me, of course, because 90 other people were there. But I’m wondering if my background is dangerous to him. At the age of 15 I was trained to be a terrorist. I was a good shot, I could throw hand grenades, I liked especially the thought of stringing piano wire across a road and slicing off despatch-riders’ heads. And I was taught to kill people with, and without, a knife, to break their arms or crush their unmentionables. Sadly these skills were never used in anger even though they were at the service of my country for ten years until 1953. Then I left the armed services and pursued a civilian career. But, I’m forgetting, because full disclosure is important in these matters. I met Mr Rudd a second time and shook his hand. It was at a funeral. Was that wrong of me? Of him? Life is full of these anxieties. Perhaps your readers can assist?

Rowen Atkinson writes: Yesterday, your editorial read: “perhaps it’s time for some neighbourly assistance. From the country with possibly the world’s safest airline system to the country with possibly the worst.” Great idea! Perhaps Qantas could locate its maintenance in Indonesia and we could split the difference? I wonder if the idea ever crossed Airline Partners Australia’s collective minds?

Joe Boswell writes: Re. “British MPs vote unexpectedly for democracy” (yesterday, item 9). It was touching to read that British MPs have voted for an elected Upper House to replace the House of Lords, but your interpretation (a vote for democracy) was naive. Some voted this way in the hope the government and Lords will find it too poisonous to swallow. Others were sincere; but they want proportional representation with party lists, where the real elections are the ones that decide who goes to the top of the lists. Members of this Upper House will be, first and last, creatures of their parties; so much for democracy.

Marshall Roberts writes: In response to My Barry Chipman’s query (yesterday, comments) as to whether I am “actually suggesting that Gunns is causing climate change”, I am confused. Is Mr Chipman actually suggesting that Gunns isn’t contributing to climate change? Such a position would seem to undermine any genuine conviction to reducing emissions. However, I’m the first to admit that I am yet to unravel the nuances of carbon offset principles – eg, whether the emissions created by harvesting mature trees with fuel-guzzling heavy machinery and transporting them in large trucks can genuinely be offset by planting seedlings which will in turn be harvested later. Perhaps Mr Chipman would like to urge Gunns to submit their proposal, and summary of their overall forestry operations, to the IPCC for independent comment with regard to carbon emissions. This would go some way to alleviating the confusion caused by propaganda from both sides, and may also ventilate some of the foul air around the resignations of two members of the Resource Planning and Development Commission as a result of the Government’s Pulp Mill Task force attempts to “heavy” the Commission.

Ebony Bennett, Media Adviser to Bob Brown, writes: Oh, Barry… (comments, 8 March). I’ll pass your comments on to the IPCC, but you have to promise to let me know when the congratulations arrive for Gunns Ltd’s pulp mill (psst, most people in the scientific community frown upon logging forests and burning them as a means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – mainly because it actually makes things worse).

Tim Thomas writes: In response to Geoff Russell (comments yesterday), it actually doesn’t matter how big the animal is, only the efficiency of converting pasture into meat. The larger macropods have about the same meat yield as a sheep. Australia has about 100 million+ sheep and 25 million+ cattle, these could presumably be replaced with more than 200 million greenhouse-friendly roos leading to considerably more than the current maximal sustainable harvest. Since kangaroos have similar or indeed greater efficiency in converting plants into meat then it is at least theoretically possible replace domestic ruminants with macropods. The greenhouse effect seems, more than anything, to produce people armed with a solution looking for a problem. Everyone from vegans to nuclear power proponents is out trying saving the world. However, the question of population growth doesn’t get much airplay. Just suppose we all ride a (push)bike to work, turn the light off, live in a cave etc  – and cut emissions by 50%. The world’s population is expected to almost double by 2050 (high end prediction), this means that it is pretty hard to imagine a solution to global warming that doesn’t include stabilising human population, ideally below current levels. Especially a solution where everyone has a “reasonable” standard of living.

Donald Allison writes: Re. “Cars, underpants and the benchmarks of doom” (yesterday, item 14). John Button wrote, “The car manufacturing industry is an industry which the Australian public likes to have.” This is probably a half-truth as there is no real consideration of the alternative choice. Most people probably do think having a car manufacturing industry is “nice”, but would rather have cheaper cars if they had a choice. Everyone I meet from NZ seem really happy about how much cheaper cars are (compared to here) and I very much doubt they would agree to pay thousands more to have an uncompetitive manufacturing industry. Similarly, Button’s assertion that “For the public it is more falling levels of employment that attracts attention and concern” is sort of true. No one expresses “concern” over car prices – they would just like them to cost less. I am not sure who this “public” refers to – I have not heard any concern about falling levels of employment for a very long time. Maybe it is an eastern states thing.

William Bowe writes: Too right, Roslyn Pike (yesterday, comments). We have come to expect the mainstream media to propagate the patriarchal myth that women aren’t better off when their husbands are dead – we should hope for better from a progressive publication like Crikey.

Troy Rich writes: Perhaps Diana Simmonds (7 March, comments) is onto something: shouldn’t we all be more worried about nuclear power stations built in an earthquake prone country with endemic even cultural problems of maintenance, training and corruption, than superbly built and maintained power plants built in Australia? Strangely very little has been said in the Australian media, and there has been even less reaction to it, about Indonesia’s current and active plans for nuclear power by 2010, even in light of recent earthquakes, sinking ships and crashing planes which have already taken Australian lives. Everyone has a right to electricity, but the stakes are higher in our neighbour which is not really so far away. To understand it more, go to Google, search for: nuclear power; site:thejakartapost.com. Easy. Scary.

Geoff Tapp writes: Re. “What you don’t know about women of the world” (7 March, item 11). The link to Louis Nowra’s Australian Literary Review piece on the dramatically worsening plight of Aboriginal women and children – murder, violent beatings, rape, sexual abuse and more – is one that I am sorry I followed. An initial feeling of profound sadness was overcome by even greater feelings of sickness and guilt by the end of the article. That traditional elder leaders of some communities not only condone and promote but also perpetrate these horrific practices with apparent immunity in the name of traditional culture defies all belief and logic. A cynic could be forgiven for thinking that governments’ policies to remedy the problem are working well, ie, cultural suicide and eventual population extinction. Also, I lied – I am glad I read it but no less sickened.

Tamas Calderwood writes: Harold Thornton (comments, yesterday) says “so what” that Hicks fired on Indian troops. Well, the Indians are investigating Hicks now so perhaps he should ask them so what? And Andrew Lewis (comments, yesterday) draws a distinction between defending the rule of law and supporting Hicks. Fair enough. My point was that many Crikey commentators don’t distinguish between the two. I agree Hicks has been held without trial for far too long. But If the anti-American crowd want to make him a poster boy for their cause then they are welcome to him – any reasonable person who looks at what he actually did won’t be particularly impressed by him.

The Kooka Brothers write: That “Jay Walker” (surely not his real name) chappy was so right about us yesterday (comments). The Kookas wouldn’t know the difference between methylamphetamines and metholated spirits. We have also never tried shooting up heroin, smoking crack cocaine, Russian roulette, strychnine, wrestling stingrays, eating box jellyfish, kissing taipans and patting funnel-web spiders. Jaywalking is only a misdemeanour. Taking “party drugs” is attempting suicide and selling them to kids is attempted murder. We’d rather have a quiet beer at the local any day.

Campbell writes: Further to not paying the ticketed mortgage rate, I have had great success in lowering the amount I’m paying to my bank. One email to my banker and my Visa interest rate was chopped by almost seven percentage points and my Mastercard by about four. And the bank matched a new loan interest rate with a low rate I was receiving on a mortgage, saving about 0.4 points. Thanks for the tip, Crikey readers.

CRIKEY: We’ve updated Crikey’s list of Politicians’ Children: Where are they now? Check it out on our website here.

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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