Piers Akerman and apologies all round:

Piers Akerman writes: Re. “Piers Akerman’s research skills on display” (Friday, item 20). Two points, one Ms Suzanne Clarke could explain how the ABC gets it wrong on its website – as the below shows Sandy McCutcheon was “reminded of his responsibilities” and second, McCutcheon was still listed as host of the program when I checked Monday. Maybe she should apologise… ABC complaints for April-June 2003 notes: “There were two complaints from ABC Online users that a feature on a peace symposium on The Public Record was biased, as the anti-war views were not counterbalanced. The complaints also stated that Sandy McCutcheon’s participation in the symposium, as reported in the story, was a conflict of interest with his ABC position as host of Radio National’s Australia Talks Back. The ABC did not agree that a feature on the symposium constituted bias, and emphasised that alternate opinions had been comprehensively reported in the ABC’s coverage on the Iraq war. However, the ABC agreed that Mr McCutcheon’s involvement in the symposium could have given rise to a perceived conflict of interest with his presentation of Australia Talks Back, which had also examined the subject of the Iraq war. ABC Radio advised that Mr McCutcheon had been spoken to, and reminded of his responsibilities in relation to ABC guidelines on engagement in outside activities and conflict of interest. The ABC also acknowledged that The Public Record site should have clearly indicated that the opinions expressed by Sandy McCutcheon at the symposium were his own and not those of the ABC.”

Telstra says don’t break up Telstra:

Telstra spinner Rod Bruem writes: Re. “Telstra sues Coonan, court of public opinion waits” (Friday, item 1). Every time Margaret Simons writes about the woes in Australia’s telecommunications industry she always concludes that the answer lies in breaking up Telstra and hiving off the infrastructure. The biggest problem facing the sector is a serious shortfall in investment. This is why the government has been forced to throw a billion dollars at SingTel Optus. Perhaps Margaret can explain how breaking up the only company that is seriously investing will lead to a better outcome? If you look at all the countries that lead the world in broadband investment, none have gone down the path Margaret Simons (and Telstra’s key competitors) suggest.

Gary Carroll writes: There has been something shonky about this matter from the outset. Howard and his merry men and women talk up the sale of Telstra Shares to Mums and Dads, then do a deal to advantage Telstra’s competitors. It’s called being shafted!

Marginals, pork and a few gremlins:

Lynda Hopgood writes: Re. “Winning in marginals: any pork in a storm” (Friday, item 2). I’m sure I won’t be the only person to point this out, but the Modbury Hospital is actually in Makin, not Wakefield, but it’s still marginal and one that Labor need to win, especially since the endorsed Liberal candidate is millionaire businessman Bob Day (who has, incidentally, been making sure that his face is seen at all the Modbury Hospital public meetings). And this was before the PM’s stated intervention in Tassie. Sounds to me like this is something they had planned all along. Incidentally, Modbury Hospital was another one that had been privatised under a Liberal State Government and has been recently returned to public management by an incoming Labor Government. A bit too much of a coincidence, if you ask me…

Ben Corry writes: Friday’s story noted that in the seat of Eden Monaro patients from Cooma had to travel four hours to Canberra hospital. If any residents truly take four hours to drive the 109 km down the major highway to Canberra Hospital, a drive that usually takes less than an hour and a half, they do have a problem: namely that they have not traded in their horse and cart for a car. It just goes to show how ridiculous claims can be at election time.

Ross Copeland writes: I fail to see how restoration of the Long Jetty at Port Welshpool, Wilson’s Prom in Victoria is going to influence mortgage belt voters in Lindsay, in western Sydney. Please explain.

John Yealland writes: It looks like the gremlins have struck, as a resident of LINDSAY I am pretty sure we don’t have the longest jetty in the southern hemisphere here on the Nepean River.

Soft Labor voters and Haneef:

Mark Hyland writes: Re. “ALP lead steady despite Haneef: Morgan” (Friday, item 3). Christian defines soft Labor voters as “voters who say the country is heading in the right direction but also say they would vote Labor if an election was held today.” How about replacing “but also say” with ‘because”…

Adam Llewelyn writes: Tony Early (Friday, comments) suggests that the average law abiding Aussie punter, whatever that is, isn’t worried at all by the High Court’s approval of civil rights restrictions on anyone the Government deems a terrorist risk. I would suggest that there is probably an equal amount of law abiding Aussies who think that our Government’s increasing encroachment on our privacy in the name of our own protection is very worrying indeed. The old adage of “if you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve nothing to worry about” is a load of bullsh*t. Maybe Tony believes that there are no innocent people locked away in prison as well?

Zachary King writes: I am a law abiding citizen Tony Early and the high court backing the government in a continued slide towards McCartythism scares the hell out of me. Wake up Early, before it’s too late.

John Kotsopoulos writes: John Shailer (Friday, comments) was so quick to pounce on an anti Haneef story. Too bad that the “dossier” has already been disowned by the Bangalore police who were alleged to have compiled it. The only rhetoric which belies stated intentions is coming from the Howard government, its patsy Mick Keelty and the likes of Mr Shailer.

Childhood obesity:

David Tanner writes: Re. “Childhood obesity isn’t cartoon simple” (Friday, item 15). Dr. Rosemary Stanton is having a lend of herself. There is but one cause of obesity. It is called affluence.

Sonja Davie writes: As a mother of three kids I have used the following techniques to avoid pester power (which also applies to toys). While my kids were young enough for me to control their TV viewing, they only watched the ABC Kids programs. I go to some lengths to avoid going supermarket shopping with my kids. This makes me the weak link when I buy ‘convenient’ snack foods for kids’ lunchboxes. Also, my son will eat Weetbix out of a Soccer branded packet, but not a Wiggles branded packet because he’s grown out of the Wiggles.

Lacking qualifications and affiliations:

Dick Letts writes: Re. “So you want to eat fresh-caught Australian fish?” (Friday, item 16). It would be good if Crikey published qualifications and affiliations of its writers. Lionel Elmore’s message is very partisan, lots of unsubstantiated opinions. He goes against received wisdom but we have no basis for knowing whether he is credible.

The Mersey Beat – hospital and education funding:

Louise Crossley writes: Re. “The Burnie Diversion and the Jealousy Factor” (Thursday, item 11). Richard Farmer should know that it is not true that “almost all the 15,000 people of Devonport could just pop down the street for an operation or to visit a patient rather than drive 30 kilometres to Burnie.” The Mersey hospital is not in Devonport, but in Latrobe, 10-15 km away for most Devonport residents. And it’s actually 45 km to Burnie… Nonetheless, the only question that needs to be asked about this radical “new model” for hospital funding is: would Mersey Hospital have been chosen for this experiment of throwing Federal money at a state run amenity if it had not been in a marginal Liberal electorate? The answer must be an unequivocal “no”.

Liz Johnston writes: Re. “Focus on education” (Friday, item 6). Teachers at state schools visited by Julie Bishop over the last few months have been puzzled as to why she has closely questioned them on their attitudes to federal education funding through P&C Associations. Obviously the quizzing of principals is another step along the way to a Mersey Beat for schools.

Your over the top rantings regarding Packer are becoming tiresome:

Matthew Pinder writes: Re. “Packer grapples with ATO but cleans up elsewhere” (Friday, item 26). What is Glenn Dyer’s problem? He seems to be having some sort of hissy fit regarding the valuation of some Packer investments. As far as I know James Packer is well within his rights to attempt to negotiate the best possible deal regarding his taxes. I was also of the opinion that valuations for his many investments would be required to be signed off by the auditors who would have considered issues such as impairment. Your over the top rantings regarding Packer are becoming tiresome. Informed comment please, and leave the childish grudges alone.

Four Corners and Gunns:

Lynn Good writes: Re. “Four Corners can’t see the Gunns for the trees” (Friday, item 4). Lindsay Tuffin’s critique of the ABC’s Four Corners’ air-brushed piece on the Gunns pulp mill surely deserves an answer. The best I can do is suggest that the mainland public would have found an unexpurgated version of Tasmania’s reality implausible. The sight of a heli-borne Paul Lennon descending on the beery conscripts at the pro-mill rally (which was closer to 1/4 than 1/2 of the anti-mill assembly) like some Wagnerian hero, is an example. Even Tuffin seems reluctant to mention that the judge he cites as quashing the 1993 charges against Gunns director David McQuestin also spared him and Robin Gray from the slammer in the 1991 Rouse bribery affair. The judge went on to produce a remarkable one-off judgment in 2000 which invalidated existing planning law, including one of his own judgments of the previous year, which allowed the state’s planning commission to approve logging in a zone where it was prohibited. Parliament swiftly revalidated the existing Act, while also passing a separate Amendment Act which validated the anomalous version on an ad hoc basis. With both Howard and Rudd smitten by the mysterious charms of the CFMEU and Gunns, we can’t expect our national broadcaster to be risking life and limb in very deep muck.

Poll bloggers:

Tom Osborn writes: Re. “Poll Bloggers: Keeping the b-stards honest” (Friday, item 17). Despite the impression from Denis Muller I think Possum Pollytics blog is much more statistically informed than Oz Politics. They are both good value, as are the other two, but Oz Politics has lots of data, charts and information. Possum has carried some well disciplined statistical modelling into 2PP response against various plausible explanatory variables including timelags, and historical events. He not only states what things look like they might mean, but presents highly arguable conclusions with statistical significance and also states limits to his claims.

Support your local milk bar:

David Fawkner writes: Pamela Curr (Friday, comments) can rant as much as she likes about hating Coles’ Brunswick store. The real question is why she bothers to spend so much time traveling between the milk and bread in Coles when a number of family-owned businesses within the surrounding area stock both products within feet of each other. They’re called Milk Bars, Pamela.

Melbourne-centric, not Sydney-centric:

Jeremy Davis writes: Pull your head in Michael Mullin! (Friday, comments). What else happened in the A-League this week? I would have thought that if anything, Crikey is, appropriately or not, Melbourne-centric.

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