Carbon trading and emissions:

Niall Clugston writes: Re. “Will a national carbon market be a market failure?” (Friday, item 4). In Friday’s Crikey, Henry Thornton (item 30) and Humphrey McQueen attack “carbon trading” from different angles. So why does this strategy have any support? A major contribution to Greenhouses gases in Australia is the largely government-controlled electricity generation. How would a market-based scheme help? Then again, the scheme is not really “market-based” but a peculiar bureaucratic apparatus that would require incessant government tinkering. The benefit of “carbon trading” is purely ideological. Pseudo-ecologists are happy to see any action on the environment — even if it doesn’t work. And pseudo-economists will support anything that conforms to “flea market principles”.

Jeff Bye writes:  Am I the only one who needed to read Humphrey McQueen’s article on carbon trading more than once to understand his logic? I’m still a little confused, but was he suggesting that the Government would prefer a carbon trading scheme over a carbon tax because it would be analogous to a tax cut – because liable parties can buy carbon credits rather than pay a (non-tax-deductible) penalty. Picturing “greedy carbon emitters” finding loopholes to paying tax by investing in clean, green energy sources is laughable and ignores the fact that the loss of tax revenue from the carbon emitter ends up as revenue to the abator which opens up as a new source of taxation, thus cancelling any overall tax cut. The only difference between a carbon tax and a trading scheme is taking the decision on how to best abate CO2 out of the hands of government and into the hands of the market. The Howard Government’s pick-and-stick strategy with clean coal, nuclear and solar, at the expense of cheaper, more commercial technologies, demonstrates why the latter is a more effective response to climate change in the real world. Oh, and a couple of tips – whoever wrote Humphrey’s byline should at least know how to spell his name, and if Crikey wishes to be taken serious on the Greenhouse front, stop writing C02! Carbon dioxide has one atom of Carbon (C) and two of Oxygen (O2), not 0xygen.

Bob Wittrien Lapstone writes: The federal Coalition continually rants about the prospect of a Labor government being controlled by union bosses. How interesting then to see the members of the Prime Minister’s carbon emissions trading taskforce. It’s made up of senior government officials and business executives of the coal, oil, transport and power industries. So if the unions are to control a Labor government then we already know who controls the Coalition. This is hypocrisy of the highest order.

Polls and scandals:

Noeline Brown writes: Re. “Morgan: Labor dips as some soft support exposed” (Friday, item 7). Crikey wrote: “Morgan says the poll of voting intention shows the Therese Rein IR scandal has had a negative effect on ALP support”. When did the business of Kevin Rudd’s wife being sold suddenly become a “scandal” as it says in Crikey? Please explain.

Kerry Lewis writes: Some consternation about the number of polls and the results. Just a layman’s observation. There seems to be a “long held” acceptance that “infrastructure” is important to a lot of us (haven’t various polls borne that out?). Take away certainty on the employment front, white-ant pay and conditions, make house prices so high that the dream is moving further into the mist, take the cost of further education to the rarefied air of the affluent, structure our living standards so that both partners have to work, arrange child care costs so that half one wage, at least, goes there, discount the impact of the cost of dental care on our budgets (by removing that part of “health care” that softened that blow through subsidies), not to mention ignoring the cost of other general health procedures and associated after-care, creating “waiting lists” that extend our suffering. Make the economics of training our own kids a priority over actual future needs, so that less are trained, thus creating a “skills shortage” that has to be filled by overseas recruitment. Consider also the cost of petrol (with it’s own federal tax on a tax), the rate of personal debt, the cost (with regular rises) of health insurance and the level at which that is now. Then in an election year, in the budget, “buy” votes with tax cuts of less than $20 a week. It might work if we could use that $10 or $15 to build our own hospital or university in the back yard, if we could afford to buy that house that is so overpriced because of tax structures assisting so many others to own several houses, because of “equity”, and the rent we have to pay that eats away at the chance of building a deposit (unless we have “rich” relatives). Then wait for the polls to “bounce” — they’re not listening, “its infrastructure, stupid”! There are certain necessary “costs” to living that those that work and take home less than $50,000 a year are stretched to cover, believe it or not some “essentials” are “too dear” in a budget that has to be “prioritised”, just to exist and $15 a week won’t change that.

More rural stories please:

Peter Redfearn writes: Re. “Water, water everywhere: a Murray farmer tells” (Thursday, item 4). Well done to Crikey for publishing an article from Phil O’Neill. An excellent portrayal of some of the serious issues facing irrigators and water managers in the Murray-Darling Basin. More rural stories please.

Kevin Reynolds:

Brad George writes: Re. “‘Fatty’ Reynolds, Multiplex and friends in high places” (Friday, item 8). Kevin Reynolds doesn’t live in the Raffles Tower; he lives in the apartments below the tower next to the Raffles Hotel. Same complex, completely different price range!

Hugo Chavez:

Jenny Haines writes: Re. “Trouble on the pampas: the retro and mad Hugo Chavez” (Friday, item 19). It would be so much more convenient for people like Andrew Bolt if the poor of Caracas would just starve quietly!! How dare they stand up to American power trying to steal their oil! Particularly when they need the oil revenues to feed, clothe and educate their children, run their health system, and run their industry. It seems like Chavez’s socialism is doing it for the people with the reduction in poverty from 60% to 35%. Chavez is most welcome in the current bleak political landscape of Australia, where selfishness, greed, callousness and lies predominate.

Tag clouds and damn statistics:

Justin Templer writes: Re. “The week that was — in words and numbers” (Friday, item 25). “Want to read a wrap of everything that happened in current affairs this week but itching to get down to Friday drinks down the pub? Swallow this …” This is really dumb … Do you want to be taken seriously or not?

Roger East:

Andrew McMillan writes: I refer to Humphrey Hollins’ comments (Friday, comments) that Roger East “never rates a mention” and “What amazes me is the lack of accountability after all these years for these lost journos by their brothers in the game.” If he wants a song to kick off a campaign, he’ll find “Roger East” –written and performed by journos from the typewriter act Darwin’s 4th Estate — here. Conflict of Interest?: I’ve been the acting chief of staff for Darwin’s 4th Estate since 1991. I co-wrote and sang on “Roger East” (from our CD Bleeding Fingers – Not A Limited News Recording 001). I’ve also referred to Roger East in my second book Death In Dili (Sceptre, 1992).

David Hicks:

Neil James, executive director, Australia Defence Association, writes: Various correspondents (Friday, comments) illustrate the problem of trying to debate the legal issues and facts surrounding David Hicks objectively. International humanitarian law is universal and applies to everyone – even if you wrongly think Australians (including David Hicks) are somehow exempt because they are dumb, misguided, anti-American, Callithumpian or whatever. In summary, Hicks was either covered by the Geneva Conventions or he was not. What’s more the difficult bits (indefinite detention until the war in Afghanistan ends) applied to him as much as the nice bits (protecting his rights by quashing his original separate criminal trial by military commission). Whether his second criminal trial was fair is a legitimate concern but irrelevant to the legality of his detention as a captured belligerent (he was never on remand awaiting trial). Now, like parts of the Bush administration in the early days, or Marilyn Shepherd, Michael de Angelos, Alex Can, Andrew Cameron, etc, you can argue that Hicks’s actions, rights, responsibilities, liabilities and protections were somehow not covered by the Geneva Conventions — but you then have to accept that the UN, the ICRC, Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists, the US Supreme Court, etc, all disagree with you.

Tasmanian logging:

Barry Chipman. Tasmanian state manager, Timber Communities Australia, writes: It is rather interesting that the Ecology Action Australia spokesperson (Friday, comments) didn’t choose to tell the full story about the nationally agreed criteria (JANIS) for Australian forest conservation, which has brought about Tasmania’s world-class forest reserve system of 47% forest biodiversity, 80% old growth, 97% wilderness. What was overlooked is the following very important element and quoting directly from application of the criteria: “Flexibility in the application of reserve criteria is needed because of differing regional circumstances. The criteria are considered to be guidelines rather than mandatory targets. In some circumstances and for some criteria, lower levels of reservation may prove adequate. The extent of potential social and economic impact may limit the ability to meet reserve criteria (see Sections 5.2, 5.4 and 6.1.1 of the JANIS document). Where different configurations of reserves are identified as meeting the criteria, the option that imposes the least cost on the community should be adopted.” Also worth noting is one of the key environmental scientists deeply involved in the development of this criteria and then helping bring about Tasmania’s balanced world-class forest reserve system gratefully accepted in 2003 the Member of the Order of Australia (AM) medal of his involvement. That citation reads:  “Professor James Barrie KIRKPATRICK, Member of the Order of Australia (AM). Citation: For service to environmental conservation, particularly in relation to World Heritage assessment and the development of forest reservation criteria. Date Received 09 June 2003.”


Warwick Sauer writes: Re. “One woman’s blackmail is another man’s… what?” (Friday, item 17). Did Michael Pascoe’s proof reader sleep in on Friday? He writes of “…the chance for me to ask the m’learned Crikey Army friends” [sic], and also “…a way of achieving that ends” [sic]. And then he refers to “Manildra’s co-operation to raise the price of floor” [sic]. Note to Mr Pascoe: Manildra’s a miller, not a discount rug vendor.

Yesterday’s typos (house pedant Charles Richardson casts an eye over the howlers in the last edition of Crikey): Item 22: “… and they removed the email enmass from our inboxes.” I don’t think “enmass” is a word; try “en masse”. Then the very next sentence: “Dateline has been told it’s too grim, too lighten up its stories …”. The first “too” is fine; the second one should be “to”.

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