A loophole in the NT legislation:

Peter d’Abbs, School of Public Health, Tropical Medicine & Rehabilitation Sciences, James Cook University, writes: Re. “Senate paves the way for NT ’emergency intervention'” (yesterday, item 4). Crikey readers will recall an episode a few weeks ago, when a group of Country Liberal Party members in the NT flew to the Tiwi Islands (where alcohol bans are in place) and headed off on a fishing trip where they sank a few bottles. Whether they actually drank beer on the island as well as on the boat is apparently a matter of police investigation. It seems, however, that the draconian restrictions on Aboriginal access to alcohol in communities just announced by the Federal Government won’t be allowed to interfere with such activities in future. The Northern Territory National Emergency Response Bill 2007, after defining an offence of taking, possessing or consuming liquor to or in a “prescribed area”, then states:

(Part 2, Division 2, Section 12(3)) “It is a defence to a prosecution for an offence . . . if the defendant proves that, at the time the conduct referred to in paragraph 2(a) was engaged in: (a) the defendant was in a boat that was on waters in a prescribed area; and (b) the defendant was engaged in recreational boating activities or commercial fishing activities; and (c) the boat was not on waters covered by a declaration made by the Commonwealth Minister under subsection (8)”.

Subsection 8 authorises the Minister to exclude specific areas from the defence allowable under Section 12(3). In other words, unless the Minister has expressly disallowed the defence in a particular area, it’s OK to load up a boat, head into a prescribed area, and start drinking. One wonders what the response will be if Aboriginal residents of coastal communities in the NT decide to avail themselves of the same loophole.

Marlene Hodder writes: Re. “The Tiwi Islands 99-year lease – not a done deal yet” (yesterday, item 9). This whole affair is very worrying, particularly in view of the legislation currently before the Parliament. The Government’s master plan in totally disempowering remote communities, quarantining their incomes or otherwise impoverishing them further with Centrelink confusion, opening up the lands to exploitation on the pretext of creating employment or a better life for the children, is now being revealed. What guarantees are there that proper process will be followed in negotiations re subleasing of land for business or enterprise development etc.? Will appropriate anthropological or legal expertise be available? Will independent interpreters be on hand to assist with communications? Or will Brough in his arrogance deem them not to be necessary. Will “$50 bribes” be used again by this magnanimous big brother government?

Come on, offer an alternative view:

Matthew Weston writes: What is it with Chris Graham and his ilk, when are they going to offer an alternative? Why is it satisfactory to now sit on the sidelines and snipe? Be they Labor or Liberal, or Green or Democrat they just whine and whinge. How is this constructive? Has Rudd’s “look at me I’m the same but vaguely different” now become the standard for debate in this country, or is it mindless criticism the go? Is this what we can expect from opinion leaders and politicians? These light weights that can do nothing but snipe are tedious, how about getting some one who has the gall to offer an alternative to write for Crikey, instead of this tired mediocre bleating?

Daryl Sluggett writes: What about some detail on ALP policies. What about giving the ALP froth and bubble some scrutiny? The opposition leader when he is PM will need to employ Mr Howard as a consultant on policy. How about getting some balance back to the Crikey site?

John Richardson writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. Crikey’s observations regarding the passage of Mal Brough’s legislative framework in support of the federal government’s Northern Territory intervention – three bills, more than 500 pages and eleven hours and three minutes of debate – are elegant proof that our federal parliament has been reduced to the status of a highly expensive venue for shallow theatrics, directed by the executive. We can only wonder how many of our hard-working politicians managed to read and digest this package or, indeed, even tried? But spare a thought for the state of democracy in the land of the free where, on July 30, the US House of Representatives passed 36 bills. Assuming a 9-hour day, a bill would have been read, debated, and voted on every fifteen minutes. But that couldn’t have happened, because the House also managed to pass 17 resolutions. How could the House accomplish so much in one day? By not reading or even considering the bills and resolutions they passed. All in all, the House passed 48 bills in the last week before the August recess and the Senate passed 32. Meanwhile, George and John trot the planet, lecturing the less free on the value of liberal democracy. Phooey.


Gerard McEwen writes: Will the ACCC investigate the apparent collusion between journalists Paul Daley, Michael Brissenden and Tony Wright as to who would report what and when it would be published regarding?

Danny Nalliah’s letter: Real or parody?:

James Tiffin writes: Re. “Costello: God’s own Prime Minister” (yesterday, item 7). I enjoy Crikey very much, but I read lots of news services, and I sincerely hope that your inclusion of “Pastor Danny Nalliah” of the Catch The Fire Ministries was a p-ss taking joke. If the inclusion of “Pastor Danny” in your contributors line-up was really just a joke to illustrate just how awful things can get …then ok. If Pastor Danny is to become a regular contributor then may I suggest you could include a separate subheading of your news articles …maybe under “Comics”, but certainly not in the “Politics, the Universe, etc” section because Pastor Danny clearly is not firmly rooted in this universe or has any idea of what Politics is all about.

Andrew Lewis writes: Your piece from Pastor Danny Nalliah of Catch the Fire Ministry is too good, or too bad, to be true, isn’t it? That’s the trouble with evangelists, you can never tell whether it is parody or for real. The question is why are our elected leaders are meeting with people who are borderline nutters?

Luke Miller writes: Ok, this is a serious question – maybe my brain is tired after a long day and I haven’t gotten the joke – but was that purported letter from Danny Nalliah real? Or was it one of your parody letters that I missed the big signpost saying “this is satire”?

William Wilberforce as a shining example?:

Kenneth Cooke writes: At the beginning of his speech at the 2007 Make It Count event organised by the Australian Christian Lobby last week, John Howard put forward William Wilberforce as a shining example of a Christian who has played a role in the development of western moral values through his efforts to abolish the slave trade. It may also be notable that Wilberforce was, during his political career very much against unionism and the right of workers to engage in collective bargaining for the purpose of improving their wages and working conditions. Wilberforce also spoke out against the concept of universal suffrage at a time when only one in a hundred British citizens had the right to vote.

Skeptical about climate change:

Kevin Tyerman writes: Re. “Government dissenters have their say on climate change” (yesterday, item 13). In yesterday’s Crikey, Thomas Hunter echoed a theme that has been running through Crikey for some time. When addressing the Government’s slow uptake on Climate Change, he states “there is one thing we know with certainty — voters care about climate change”. I have a question for Crikey readers in regional, rural and outer suburban areas — if you do a straw poll of the people you encounter or know, what is the general attitude to climate change? When I attend country auctions, when the chat turns to the subject of climate change, the attitude is very much skeptical, and the over riding belief is that the “dry”, the “heat”, the whatever, is simply cyclical, and that Australia faced the same concerns about a hundred years ago. While they may be overlooking how the weirs and locks have changed the flow of major rivers, I have heard discussion of photographs of ancestors with horses and buggies in dry river beds, which still had water in them during the most recent drought. When I talk to friends in suburban Sydney and Melbourne, the attitude to climate change is cynical, or at best only believing that man made emissions may be adding to the effect of what is essentially a cyclical climate. I am really curious as to how much those outside of the top-end-of-town or the educational institutions are really concerned by the theory of climate change, as opposed to what they perceive as “cyclical” drought or weather.

Good on you Mungo, more power to your pen!:

Robin Wingrove writes: Re. “Howard in Iraq — the screenplay” (yesterday, item 15). Just how good is it to see Mungo back again! Please make him a permanent feature. I for one need his scatological wit on a near daily basis to eviscerate this amoral bunch of second rate politicians that we have the misfortune to call our ‘leaders’. It lightens the load. If only John Hepworth et al were still around as well like in the Nation Review days – just what fun they too would have had with this lot. Good on you Mungo, more power to your pen! PS. Just loved the joke about John Hunt being a coward.

Bruce Armstrong writes: Special thanks to Mungo MacCallum for the Iraq screenplay. I’m racing out in the morning to get my “John Hunt is coward” bumper stickers printed. I hope you don’t object. Brilliant. Shine on you crazy diamond.

Garth Wong writes: I wish you would not pad out the daily email with puerile hypothetical’s contributions which do not contribute anything to a sensible factual debate on our international policies.

Betting markets:

Richard Green writes: Re. “Two puzzles in the election betting markets” (yesterday, item 10). Simon Jackman appears to neglect a 5th possible interpretation of the betting market probabilities which remain a very likely outcome. The predictive power of betting markets and the “wisdom of crowds” element it is drawn from, is reliant on… well, crowds. In an American population of 280 million, a crowd is inevitable, but in the Australian population this isn’t guaranteed. Since your ordinary punter can get similar returns on the doggies tonight, or have his choice of any number of two runner sporting contests on the weekend, why would he lock up his cash for a modest return that won’t come for 2-6 months (with all the chaos that could occur in the meantime)? Not many rational, money inspired punters would do so. Instead, at this point, the only people likely to be churning money in will be political junkies, most of whom subscribe to received wisdoms and myths about the power of political strategy and indeed the prowess that Mr Howard holds, and there is far less of them putting money on than looking at the results. So the betting market may simply hover around 50-50 to 60-40 until there are just a few weeks to go, when the eventual winner will drop dramatically to $1.04 or so. Indeed, this has happened in the previous Australian elections analyzed. Just like opinion polls, betting markets are immensely useful as long as one respects the caveats.

Crikey is becoming so boringly predictable, but thanks for the socks:

David Horkan writes: Crikey is becoming so boringly predictable that I am starting to regret that I allowed the offer of a pair of socks to seduce me into renewing my subscription. It is a couple of weeks since I have bothered opening the daily email, but I did so today find yet another inconsequential whinge from Barry Everingham (yesterday, comments) at the top of the comments section. I was saddened but not surprised, and continued reading the other contributions relating to the original article by David Flint. I could not imagine what the Professor could have said to produce such rancour, and immediately trawled through my inbox to find out. I was disappointed. All I found was a reasonable piece calling for objective reporting of the news. Is there another contribution that I have missed? But then, who am I to comment? I am only one of the misguided rednecks (who actually represent a large majority of Australians) who voted ‘No’ in 1999 because we don’t trust people like Barry Everingham. I am happy with my socks, however.

Sydney Anglicans:

Christopher Ridings writes: Greg Melleuish (yesterday, comments) didn’t say whether he was a member of the Sydney Diocese of the Anglican Church but from my reading of the scene, it would appear that Sydney Anglicans are the best-heeled among the dioceses in Australia and probably is better resourced than the Anglicans in Uganda. Sydney Anglicans, now led by Peter Jensen, are therefore recognised world-wide as significantly influential and are main players on the Anglican stage. As a non-Anglican, I am well aware of a great struggle going on around the world between religious fundamentalists of many flavours who resist most militantly any attempt by religious progressives, again from a number of faiths, who have common dreams to build bridges on living and working together before these fundamentalists plunge us all into catastrophe. That’s why the Sydney Anglican Diocese, with its flat earth society at prayer attitudes, worries me.

Telstra and Sol’s pay:

Adam Schwab writes: You can’t help but feel for Telstra spinner, Andrew Maiden, whose job seems to consist primarily of writing to Crikey to defend Sol Trujillo’s pay packet (yesterday, comments). Maiden claimed that “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.” The requirement to hold TLS shares was pretty clearly in Telstra’s announcement on 9 August (it was the second sentence), but that doesn’t diminish the argument in any way. Even if Sol held 100% of his ‘fixed’ salary in shares, that is only $3 million worth of shares. Sol is believed to be worth more than $100 million but is most likely worth far more (due to an abhorrent US$72.5 million golden parachute after he controversially departed US West in 2000 following its merger with Qwest). Therefore, if TLS shares dropped to zero, it would have no material effect on Sol’s wealth, by contrast, if TLS rose by 40%, Sol stands to make tens of millions of dollars. Therefore, despite their best intentions, Telstra directors have again failed to ensure that management’s interests are truly aligned with those of TLS shareholders.

Geoff Walker writes: When Nick Callil (yesterday, comments) says that providing options to management best aligns their and shareholders’ interests, I conclude that he is not a long-term share investor himself. Shareholders are generally either long-term investors rewarded by dividends from the company, or short/medium-term traders rewarded by capital profits when they quit their investment. In many people’s opinion, companies are better served with investors in for the long term rather than “here today and gone tonight” traders, so it is the former’s interests that management’s should be aligned with. On that basis, management should be given incentives based on dividend increases rather than on price increases as with either share- or option-based schemes.

The auditory pollution they call music:

Wayne Robinson writes: Re. “Could copyright hit Coles’ and Woolies’ bottom line?” (Yesterday, item 26). Personally, I think it is a very good idea that venues should be charged hefty fees for inflicting their patrons with copyright music. Perhaps they will be forced to stop, so that I will be able to go to the local supermarket or my health club, and not be inflicted with the auditory pollution they call music. If they don’t want to pay copyright material, then there is plenty of non-copyright classical music from the 18th and 19th centuries available.

Triple J:

Kellie Higginbottom writes: Re. Triple J (yesterday, comments). Anyone suggesting Triple J is, or has ever been, irrelevant to its audience vastly-underestimates the impact the station makes on regional Australian listening audiences, and I suggest (as a former city resident and listener of Triple J myself) many city-folk too. Is there even another FM station that can be tuned into from so many (most?) parts of the country?

Explanation answered – interest rates:

Tamas Calderwood writes: Andrew Brown (yesterday, comments) asks how raising interest rates reduces inflation: Consumer Price Inflation occurs when aggregate demand for goods and services in the economy outstrips aggregate supply. Throughout the economy, consumers, companies and governments buy goods and services with money from income, borrowings and/or savings. Rising prices (inflation) indicate excess demand so by increasing interest rates the Central Bank makes money more expensive to borrow and more rewarding to save. This will lead to less borrowing, more saving and a fall in aggregate demand – thereby bringing the economy back into balance and lowering inflation. Andrew’s point that higher rates will require people to raise their incomes (presumably by working harder) to meet their financial commitments is accurate. However by working harder, they add to the productive capacity of the economy and therefore increase aggregate supply, which helps to check inflation.


Dermot Browne writes: Separated at birth? Can’t handle the truth?

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