David Flint should stick to propping up the Queen:

Barry Everingham writes: Re. “Flint: et tu, Daily Telegraph?” (Yesterday, item 18). David Flint’s tendentious comment that “with a few notable exceptions, most (of the media) had never wanted Howard in the Lodge” could have been said for members of his own Parliamentary party. After the disaster of the Downer “leadership” all they had was Howard and in desperation he was elected by default. Their indifference turned to surprise when he not only won that election, he snared a few others. “We was wrong” they said through clenched teeth — but he showed them how it was done. Fear, lies, obfuscation — but, as the polls are showing, he fooled some of the people some of the time — now most of the people are seeing right through him. Flint should stick to his other obsession, apart from Alan Jones; the Australian head of state and how to prop her up.

Nicholas Latimer writes: Nice of David to start with a sweeping, unfounded generalisation, that the media “have never had such access to a prime minister as they have had since 1996”. In his efforts to praise Howard and conjure up a media conspiracy, Flint conveniently ignores Curtin’s term as PM, during which he conducted regular, off-the-record briefings with the press gallery.

Ian Pavey writes: David Flint wrote “More importantly, without a proprietor, the slant is moving against Howard, as it has elsewhere.” Is Mr Flint blind to the real point he seems to be making — that for some reason he presumes that being a “proprietor” means that you will automatically act as a PR agency for John Howard?

Richard Hurford writes: You know you’ve entered Bizarro World when David Flint starts complaining about the political bias of the Daily Terror.

Sean Quinlan writes: David Flint wrote: “One consequence is that Nine’s national breakfast program has been, as Errol Simper puts it, shorn of its ‘main intellectual component’: Alan Jones’s editorial.” This sentence is so funny — I can’t write any more from laughing.

Do you guys have any sense of restraint?

Catherine James writes: Do you guys have any sense of restraint? Crikey’s political coverage is getting so one-eyed it’s sickening.

Woolworths and the rivers of grog:

Gage Rossiter writes: Re. “Woolworths asks: how can we enforce grog limits at the checkout?” (Yesterday, item 14). The Northern Territory Department of Justice requires all Nominees to undertake a “Responsible Service of Alcohol” (RSA) course. Everybody who works in retail liquor in Queensland and New South Wales has to complete an RSA course. In Victoria, it is compulsory for all staff that work alone or are in charge of a retail liquor outlet. The concept of standard drinks is taught nationally in every RSA course; a standard drink is any drink containing 10 grams of alcohol (in Australia). Mandatory labeling of standard drinks exists in Australia for all packaged alcohol. The Northern Territory government should make it compulsory that all staff complete their RSA, the service staff should add up the number of standard drinks in a sale and the Police should prosecute breaches.

Will Parsonage writes: Oh, please. Sometimes I despair at the way technology can be used readily by a 10 year old to hack into the RBA central computer (well, maybe not but you get the idea) and yet the concept of totting up the total alcohol content of a number of bottles is seemingly impossible for an organisation with the grunt of Woolies. Well get this, each of those bottles of grog also has another individual characteristic at the check-out…yes, you guessed it the…the price. Oh no, all those bottles, all slightly different prices, infinite permutations, no prices on the bottles…Aaaargh…too hard…doesn’t seem to be a problem though, does it? So why not do the same with the alcohol content…reason…nothing to do with feasibility, just cold, hard cost to the organisation.

Telstra and Sol’s pay:

Director of Telstra news services Andrew Maiden writes: Re. “Options not the only option for Sol” (yesterday, item 27). Adam Schwab writes: “If Telstra wanted to truly align management with shareholders, they would do what private equity owners require of their management — put their own skin in the game.” What Schwab obviously doesn’t know is that Telstra now requires its executives to hold Telstra shares worth between 50 and 100% of their fixed remuneration, depending on seniority. For Sol’s top line, this means holding shares with hundreds of thousands of dollars – in some cases millions. That’s more than just skin in the game – it’s an arm and a leg. Schwab could be forgiven for not knowing, as this shareholding requirement has gone largely unreported, except for in The Sydney Morning Herald.

Nick Callil writes: Hang on a moment Adam. Give adequately-hurdled options to Sol – or any other executive – and price them into his overall pay, you have provided genuinely “at risk” remuneration. That is, if the options don’t vest due to inadequate share returns and/or company performance, they are worthless. Provide shares instead (including the myriad of variations such as interest free loans to purchase shares) then you reward the exec with the value of those shares even if things do turn bad. The interest of shareholders – presumably, to maximise shareholder returns – would seem to be better served by options provided they are properly designed, including most critically that there is a suitable “stretch” in the option hurdles.

Sydney Anglicans:

Greg Melleuish writes: Re. “Sydney Anglicans threaten worldwide schism” (yesterday, item 12). The headline is clearly a beat-up. If Jeff Wall had read the current issue of First Things he would know that Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi, Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, the 2nd largest Anglican province in the world, in an article entitled ‘What is Anglicanism?’ wrote: “if the present invitations to the Lambeth Conference stand, I do not expect the Ugandan bishops to attend.” Whatever one may think of Peter Jensen, the fact is that he is not behaving like some sort of rogue wrecker in this matter. Unless we take some sort of racist view that the Anglican churches in Africa are somehow inferior to those in Australia, England and North America then we must accept that Jensen is simply a part of a larger Anglican movement that represents a significant section of contemporary Anglicanism.

Oh, Christian:

Rosemary Swift writes: Re. “Spinning Howard’s end” (yesterday, item 2). Christian Kerr wrote: “And the PM can hope for another echo of Johnson’s departure – that one of the main people who forced his hand will get shot.” Oh, Christian. It was quite a clever little piece until the end. That nasty, egregious, throwaway comment just ruined any chance of taking you at all seriously.

Wrong date:

Stephen Holt writes: Re. “Is Kevin07 heading for a 1969?” (Yesterday, item 9). Yesterday, Paul Comrie-Thomson wrote: “You can lose a Federal election and still know that you’re on a winner. This happened with Gough Whitlam in the House of Representatives election held on 5 October 1969.” Actually the 1969 election was on Saturday 25 October 1969, not on Sunday the 5th. The events of the 25th are etched indelibly on my mind. I knew someone who was at the original Don’s Party hosted by Dave “Lofty” Williamson.

Stop jumping at shadows and start helping environmentalists:

Australian Conservation Foundation spinner Josh Meadows writes: Re. “Why should green groups take the leap of faith for Rudd?” (Yesterday, item 13). David Spratt works himself into a lather trying to prove his thesis that Australia’s environment movement is disjointed and divided. But he is seeing things that aren’t there. Environment groups setting up more than one website for engaging the public on climate change does not equal conspicuous division. ‘Who On Earth Cares’ is designed for a mainstream audience and complements – not competes with – the excellent, information rich ‘The Big Switch’. In the blog on Spratt’s website he says “ACF’s general stand on climate change is soft: the targets it advocates are substantially lower than the other peak greens and clear contrary (sic) to that which the science demands”. Wrong. ACF, Greenpeace, the Wilderness Society and the state-based conservation councils stand shoulder-to-shoulder in calling for all political parties to commit to emissions cuts of at least 30% below 1990 levels by 2020 and at least 80% by mid-century. Hardly “welded onto Labor”, which supports a much weaker target of 60% below 2000 levels by 2050. Spratt would do well to stop jumping at shadows and start helping environmentalists push climate change solutions into the public debate, instead of sledging from the sidelines.

Australia really does need politicians who have technical competence:

John Craig, centre for policy and development systems, writes: Re. “Political favours and climate change: what goes around …” (yesterday, item 8). I noted your Crikey article which ‘blew the whistle’ on the climate change scepticism of the federal member for Tangney, Dr Dennis Jensen — and implied that this perhaps affected the entire federal government. However, with respect, I suggest that you might consider whether a bit of official ‘question asking’ about received wisdom on the link between climate change and greenhouse gas emissions is overdue. Dr Jensen’s suggestions about this (eg in The Mysterious Disappearing Hockey Stick, February, 2007) seem to be touching upon real scientific uncertainties. He drew attention, for example to the invalidity of claims about the ‘hockey stick effect’ (on which assumption all modelling of the correlation between global warming and greenhouse gas levels was based) and the apparent warming of other planets. These points, and others outlined in a document I assembled about the ongoing and unresolved scientific debate (Climate Change; ‘No time to lose’ in doing exactly what?), suggest that the IPCC’s consensus view of climate change is probably overly simplistic and could well be revised a great deal over the next year or two. Australia really does need politicians (and advisors to government) who have the technical competence to appreciate these complexities.

The realpolitik of Iraq:

Lois Achimovich writes: Re. “Howard shows Iraqis how to do chutzpah” (yesterday, item 15). Great item from Jeff Sparrow re. Howard’s embarrassment of a letter to Maliki — and the realpolitik behind it.

Angus & Robertson:

Bernadette Clohesy writes: I’ve noticed a difference in the way A&R operate of late too. (Yesterday, comments). As an author who was happy to get two former books on the shelves in my local A&R bookshop in past years I was disappointed when my latest book (The Damage Undone: Jane Rowe and the Mirabel Foundation) published by Lothian in June, 2006 was totally ignored by the same bookshop. The excuse was that they couldn’t order in a book that was not on A&R’s general listing unless requested to do so by a specific customer. How are people to know about a book if it is not even on the shelves? Where is this company’s support of Australian writers? If they can’t even give a little bit of encouragement to a local author writing on a Melbourne person running an Australia-wide children’s charity it shows that they are a company without much heart.

Triple J:

Julia Finn writes: From what I can tell from discussing this with my friends, people in Sydney didn’t love Triple J in its high rating hey-day, they just didn’t have an alternative. They just hated Triple J less than 2Day or Triple M. Then along came Nova and FBi to eat away at each end of the audience — the older, independent music lovers who thought Triple J played too much awful, whiney, commercial angst rock and the younger, more commercial pop audience who couldn’t understand why if they play commercial acts like U2 and the Black Eyed Peas, they won’t play R&B. Add to that the huge audience for hip hop ignored by Triple J for years, and you’re getting a lot of people who were listening without any great enjoyment.

Explanation needed – interest rates:

Andrew Brown writes: Just wondering if you could get someone to explain how raising interest rates serves to ameliorate inflation. To me, if raising interest rates is supposed to achieve this, it arguably has an unintended consequence of feeding back into inflation by way of increasing the income that people require in order to service their financial commitments.

A Crikey apology:

Stephen Mayne writes: Re. “Ironies aplenty as secretive Brambles gets into the outing business” (9 August, item 28). Apologies for missing the fact that Mark Burrows retired from the Brambles board late last year after 19 years and is therefore not involved in any of the deliberations around the recent Toll and Asciano share purchases.

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