Crikey got it wrong on Free TV Australia:

Julie Flynn, CEO of Free TV Australia, writes: Re. “Interesting times at Free TV Australia” (Wednesday, item 22). The article contained several errors of fact. The chair of Free TV rotates between the three metro commercial broadcasters every two years. Seven has held the chair since November 2006; Nine has not held it since 2004. By definition, that renders false the assertion that a change in the chair impacted last week’s announcement that the Free TV broadcasters would provide their program data to electronic program guides. As with all Free TV initiatives, that agreement was reached and signed off by all members in a considered, structured manner. We’re puzzled by the statement, “The Free TV industry will not be carrying the Foxtel signal” and imagine our pay TV colleagues would be similarly perplexed.

The Great Global Warming Swindle:

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Christian Kent writes: Rationality and facts took a back seat a few times during the Swindle coverage, from both sides, really. I was dismayed to see that Tony Jones got “stuck in” to Martin Durkin’s character as his opening salvo — this sort of personal dirt digging may work on political figures, but it should only provide a notable support to a demolition of the facts themselves, not the other way around — it honestly does not matter a fig’s leaf to me whether he had some barmy ideas about breast implants and passive smoking; all I was waiting to see was whether his (and his guests’) intriguing assertions were true or false. Even more dismaying was the congratulatory back-slapping from one or two of the expert panel for Tony Jones’s personal attacks, or even the odd assumption before the show began that the ABC should even have an opinion about climate change, let alone whether it is reflected by the documentary it was broadcasting. In the wash-up, there seemed to be a few unchallenged facts left that were news to me: I now know who the rusted-on lefties are on the panel; Durkin never showed a graph that went back any further than human history, crucially to the time when fossil fuels formed, begging the question as to whether we wanted to live in a prehistoric climate and what kinds of risks this posed; Surely the sun and CO2 could both be large factors in the climate, and the correlation samples showed by Durkin could well be valid, while at the same time, CO2 is becoming an overriding factor as it has in the distant past?

Justin Templer writes: After watching The Great Global Warming Swindle I have but one comment – can I please have Tony Jones’ job? I would enjoy, at taxpayers’ expense, being able to arrogantly and with no semblance of the impartiality one would expect from a professional journalist impose my views on the Australian viewing public. My “independent” panel would similarly include industry consultants from the coal industry and the like who would wring their hands and not dare to publicly imply any scepticism of the global warming debate. As regards the naysayer’s, I would just talk over them. The documentary itself is cr-p. But I could have reached my own conclusion, thanks Tony.

Mick Callinan writes: To Michael Shrimpton (yesterday, comments), if Denise Eriksen was sacked months ago, it was very sweet of the ABC to put her name on the credits for the Swindle show wrap-up.

Mungo MacCallum writes: The only thing we learned from The Great Global Warming Swindle was that Durkin is jerkin his gherkin.

The warming truth?:

John Peak writes: Re. “The warming truth? Nature couldn’t care less” (yesterday, item 16). I understand Humphrey McQueen’s observations on the Climate Change debate, but I think it’s simplistic to reduce, or return, attitudes to that kind of Genesis-born anthropocentrism. There is a philosophical argument here and a cultural/ historical one that could go on and on – but be fair, people don’t have to be (consciously or unconsciously) pining for humanity’s lost position in the moral structure of things – they might just be realising that while we are only one species amongst the life on our planet, we are probably the only species that can have the extensive effect on our environment that we do. (More philosophically, we are probably the only species that can be conscious of what we do, and can attempt to measure it; and indeed that can moralise about it. In that sense, we may be the only species that can feel we are at the centre of anything … ). Once we start looking at what we do, and measuring it, we have to worry. In some instances our actions are clearly destructive; in others we can’t be sure. It’s not about control of nature one way or the other; it’s about what we understand that we are doing to the world we see around us. The earth will probably survive in some form or other anything we do, but isn’t it worth turning our capabilities to protecting (from ourselves) what we see and are able to appreciate? It isn’t that “our decisions still decide what happens to nature” – our actions can determine that some things don’t happen. And speaking anthropically, I think Humphrey turns a little towards a sort of anthropomorphism when he finishes: “The hardest truth is that nature is indifferent to our dreams and our nightmares”. Nature is no more “indifferent” than we are at its centre. If we are part of nature, than what we do is nature. We just like to feel good about what we do, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Mike Martin writes: I don’t know whether Humphrey McQueen has been smoking what Peter Garrett may or may not have, but that might explain McQueen’s belief that climate change is all about deluded scientists who think they have “the power to redirect the patterns in nature – climate”. McQueen is a better historian than I and may correct me, but I thought that the last person who believed he had the power to redirect the patterns in nature was King Canute (or was it the late Don Dunstan?). Climate scientists are more concerned with discouraging the human race from interfering with things that we don’t completely understand – in point of fact, with saving power rather than exerting it. They are not saying, “we will command the pig to sing”, but, “stop trying to teach the pig to sing; you’ll not succeed and it’s seriously annoying the pig”.

Scepticism is a good thing:

Mike Smith writes: Re. “Global warming, big oil and silicone breasts: the links” (yesterday, item 5). Ben Oquist: Scepticism and critical enquiry in science is usually regarded as a good thing – it brought us such innovations as the Copernican model of the solar system, Darwin’s theory of evolution, etc. Words such as consensus and belief will lead you to Intelligent Design. I’m not denying climate change, but I’m also not prepared to accept it merely because it’s popular. Is there a carbon trading equivalent to ExxonSecrets, that shows who the lobbyists there are connected to? Scepticism: Not a dirty word. Belief, Consensus: dirty words.

Keating, Hitler and Howard:

David Donohue writes: The first quote you attributed to Hitler, “Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it” was actually from his Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda Joseph Goebbels.

Judith Gamper writes: The only quiz answer that I got wrong was A. I wonder how many others will get A wrong?

Di Keller writes: Disappointingly, this was very simple!! No matter how much you disagree with Hitler’s statements, they were far more intelligent!!

Derek Barry writes: Poor old Johnny Howard. First he forgets his candidates name and then gets compared to Hitler. Is that Goodwin’s Law or Godwin’s?

Lennon government is poison:

Margaretta Pos writes: Re. “Lennon government is poison: ALP stalwart tells” (yesterday, item 2). The Labor Party member in Hobart is right to be critical of the Lennon Government’s dubious methods to ensure the Gunn’s pulp mill is built in Tasmania, and he or she is right to be concerned about the environmental effects and the impact on tourism in the Tamar Valley. But he/she is wrong to say: “I don’t buy the argument that the forest industry in Tasmania is unsustainable.” Gunn’s would not be investing in the pulp mill without getting timber at an artificially low price from Forestry Tasmania, and without government investing heavily in the roads and railways it will need. If Gunn’s had to bear the real costs, there would be no mill. And without the political will to keep it going, Forestry Tasmania would be unsustainable.

Brough’s pork barrelling:

John Goldsworthy writes: Re. “NT mining royalties land in Mal Brough’s Queensland electorate” (yesterday, item 1). Chris Graham draws quite a long bow in his lead item. Firstly to qualify as pork barrelling the expenditure must be within cooee of an election. Secondly, it needs to be spent to elicit votes within his electorate. And thirdly, maybe it could be even handed to spend some of the Aboriginals Benefit Account on places other than the Northern Territory. Too much money and not enough work is part of their problem anyway. In case someone has forgotten, Aboriginal Management and Funding is the responsibility of the States. The only reason the Northern Territory attracts attention from the Federal Government is because it is not a State. This item challenges Crikey’s boast of independence in reporting because this item has a deliberate left bias. John Howard is not all bad.

Geoff Croker writes: More allocations by public servants and politicians not going to help the poor Aborigines and this is a surprise? Hardly. Your example is just a $100,000. Not much. I can give you an example of $600 million spread over 30 years. Try looking at the Federal computer budgets supposedly spent for Aborigines over the last 40 years and then try and find some computers actually used by or used for the direct benefit of Aborigines. I suspect this is the tip of a $10b iceberg called public servants with noses in trough. The Aboriginal industry has become bigger than the Aboriginal problem.

Use the internet, stupid:

Shane Murphy writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 7). Just why is Coonan MAILING out software on a CD-ROM? Broadband in Australia not up to the task of downloading it from the internet obviously! It would be hugely more expensive that way as well – figure something like $2-$5 per call at the call centre, around $1.50 production/mailing costs + whatever the software costs. Just how much would it cost to host online? I mean unlike other promotions, you are GUARANTEED your target market has access to the Internet! Quite pathetic from what is supposed to be the Department of Communication and Information Technology. Even AOL gave up on sending out CD-ROMs in the post! Anyway hopefully we see some question time activity, poking fun at the plan.

Detention and torture:

David Lodge writes: Well Duncan Beard (yesterday, comments), the whole letter I wrote (which was not all published) contained “we know this man is related to one of the would-be bombers and we know he spoke to one of the bombers the night before the half-assed attack” which makes a very clear distinction between innocent bystander and person of interest. If a magistrate is happy to extend the detention that should be good for enough for lefties who are so intent on making any future suspect the new David Hicks to support their warped ideology.

Military toys and talk et al:

Peter Ball writes: Thanks for the history Ozato (yesterday, comments), I gather you have served. The history is very interesting and important, there is no doubt we all enjoyed the L1A1 and the L4 Bren and the AR. The M60 was good too. But we felt the MAG 58 was better. We also liked the L42A1 and the Parker Hale 82 etc. The point is that our principal ally uses the M16A2. We conduct for the most part all our exercises with the USA. It makes logistic sense to have compatible equipment. My soldiers and I felt the Steyer F88 was not robust as it could have been. Readers will note Australians do use the M16. I particularly liked my L1A1 as a reliable rifle with great knock down power. Your comments about the AK47 are valid too, having handled it myself, a good piece of kit. But times change, having experience with both rifles and armed with the feedback from my soldiers at the time, we would have preferred the M16A1. The same applies with all weapon purchases; we must buy the best equipment available and not let history repeat itself, full support to Dr Kopp.

Bill Ronald writes: OK, All the talk about replacing our ageing warplanes suggests that the replacement has to stack up against the Russian built beauty. Why don’t we just buy the Russian plane? How much are they anyway? I see the USA buys their space toilets from the Russians so their stuff can’t all be cr-p!

Appalling taste and judgement:

Wendy Farrow, NSW State Manager of the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia, writes: Re. “Cancer rejects Stan Zemanek” (yesterday, item 22). Was this heading meant to be humorous? Appalling taste and judgement if that is the case.

Well played Andrew:

Rob Pickering writes: I’m writing in response to the two commentators on Andrew Scott’s excellent coverage of the 2007 WSOP (yesterday, comments). Firstly, I for one found the coverage quite interesting – I am a bit of a poker buff, but Crikey shouldn’t be criticised for allowing some different matter into its publication apart from Business and Politics. Some of the other stories in your coverage I skip personally but do not criticise you for publishing them. Mr Gregory should do what I do when I’m not interested in one of your topics and hit the Page Down button. Secondly, it’s very difficult to judge a player’s all in bets (or any action for that fact) without taking into consideration a number of things at the table including the stack of chips at the time (Andrew was reasonably short stacked) and the previous play of your opposition – which was already stated to be fast and loose. I think that Andrew did the correct thing with an overpair and a high flush draw to prevent someone with A-K or another high hand hitting a card on the turn or river to beat him, especially considering the table was already loose. A bet of 3k to 4k would have been pot committing and probably would have been smooth called by your opponent to trap Andrew on the river anyway, simply delaying the inevitable. The alternative is that his opponent may have been holding an ace of spades and a rag in the hope that he will get 4 card on the board straight and all in should have been the only bet to prevent him drawing to this as well. Anyway – that’s just my input into his play, I wouldn’t have played it any differently. Bad luck to Andrew – bad beats happen all the time, I wish I had a dollar for each one I had.

Will the real Bruce Hardy please own up!:

Tom May writes: Re. “The politics of venture capital” (Wednesday, item 5). I apologise in advance to Bruce Hardy (if he is a real person) but a CV full of senior positions in Qintex, HIH and One.Tel is just too much. In addition, extensive research (ie. Googling) has failed to find any references to this “respected industry practitioner, experienced financial engineer and well known bon vivant”. Will the real Bruce Hardy please own up!

High & Dry:

Guy Pearse writes: Yesterday brought another error-laden personal attack from former Howard government and Woodside spinner, Matt Brown (yesterday, comments). He laughingly claims to be playing the ball after almost 400 words playing the man—the ball still lies untouched waiting for him to deal with the substance of High & Dry. Having “refuted” mischaracterizations of me by others Brown now says the use of the term “former Howard government adviser” on the blurb on the back of my book was deliberately meant to fool everyone into thinking I was employed with the official title “Adviser” (under the Members of Parliament Staff Act 1984) as distinct from the many other ways one can advise a government. What a wonderful example of the fish-eyed self-important view of the world to which some political staff succumb. For Matt’s information book covers and blurbs are ultimately decided by publishers not authors so he would do well to focus on what I’ve said in the pages. Even so, I have no problem with the book blurb and I’ve already dealt with the various ways in which I’ve “advised” the Howard government and the Liberal Party more broadly over the years (See my comments on 12/7). Brown says he has more “a-ha” evidence that I had no policy role in Hill’s office—claiming this goes to my credibility. Problem is I never claimed to have had a policy role in Hill’s office—only a ministerial speechwriting role, the detail of which I have already spelt out. Apparently unaware of that detail, Brown still wrongly says I was a “public servant” rather than “consultant” (a difference Matt knows). He then he leads with his former boss’s chin with an erroneous account of my falling out with Hill. I didn’t “threaten” to bring the Secretary of the Environment Department in when Hill rang asking me to write the Coalition’s 1998 Election Environment Policy (strange though that Hill would ask such an outsider to do it?). I told Hill we had to consult the Secretary for two reasons. First, Hill’s chief of staff had previously informed me and the Secretary that I was not on the list of party functionaries to be seconded to work on the 1998 election campaign (again strange that the issue would even arise with such an outsider?). Second, as a consultant, to avoid allegations that Hill was mis-using government resources I would probably have had to temporarily suspend my ministerial speechwriting contract given that writing the Coalition’s environment policy was clearly party-political business. So the Secretary had to be consulted. Brown’s next error is to say I did not ask Hill for input in my PhD research—wrong again. Hill chose not to respond to my written request. Brown must be running out of straw men to knock down. There is surely limited point in a continued debate over my job title almost a decade ago—a role which provided virtually none of the material used in High & Dry. Having now dismissed my book as fiction, perhaps Matt will move on to discussing precisely which aspects of my account of the Howard government’s response to climate change are incorrect. There’s a growing list of facts and stats on the High & Dry website to get him started.

Christian Kerr writes: When is a Howard Government adviser not a Howard Government adviser? Easy. When they’re not one. A row has been running in the pages of Crikey – and elsewhere – over the employment status of Guy Pearse, author of the greenhouse book High and Dry. Pearse has been called a former adviser to the Howard Government’s first environment minister, Robert Hill. This has been disputed by a former Hill chief of staff, Matt Brown. Pearse’s comments on the matter get deemed worthy of a run as stories in Crikey. Brown’s are relegated to the comments section. Pearse’s publisher’s PR material fudge the issue. It reads: “He’s been an industry lobbyist, political minder, consultant and spin doctor. He wrote the speeches of Australia’s former environment minister, Robert Hill.” That suggests he was a staffer – but doesn’t say he was. This is where I need to declare an interest. I’m a former adviser to Hill myself. Pearse certainly wasn’t on the staff back then. When was he – if he was? A well placed government source has provided Crikey with details of Pearse’s formal employment in political roles. Pearse worked for Senator Ian Macdonald for three years as an electorate officer before leaving in 1993. He then came back and worked for about five weeks from December 1996 to January 1997 as Macdonald’s private secretary. Macdonald had been appointed as Hill’s parliamentary secretary on 11 November 1996. Crikey understands that Pearse did no other formal paid employment for any other parliamentarian. To revert an old saying, one summer does not a swallow make. Pearse’s departmental work is largely irrelevant. Sure, he may have worked in the Department of the Environment and prepared speech notes for Hill, but that doesn’t make him an adviser. It means he was just another public servant, doing what plenty of other public servants do.

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