Telstra CEO Sol Trujillo is not “bagging 20 million big ones this year”:

Telstra’s director of news services Andrew Maiden writes: Re. Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 7). Another day another correction. Telstra CEO Sol Trujillo is not “bagging 20 million big ones this year”. His total remuneration for 2007/08 is $3 million salary, up to $6 million in annual bonus, and a long-term bonus that can’t be determined without knowing the share price next year, but almost certainly will be less than $11 million. If your correspondent knows Sol’s salary will be $20 million, they should quit wasting time on Sol’s salary and get a career in the futures market. I’ve yet to see an example of accurate reporting of Sol’s salary.

Acquisition and assimilation in the NT:

Sasha Marker writes: My personal opinion on the NT land grab is that there are some rather lucrative mining permits, exploration licences and contracts waiting to be had. Disenfranchising the indigenous people all over again for greed should be a wake up call to the rest of the country. Who will be next? When we are told that that nuclear power station has to go ahead as the Howard government has locked us into a contract that is “too expensive” to break, who’s land will be forcibly acquired next as part of the deal? Using the sexual abuse issue to push through their own agenda, whether it is financial or social (assimilation) is vile.

Philip Carman writes: Howard and Brough’s “new deal” for Aboriginal Australia is a worse and more blatant version of what we all signed up for when we elected these idiots more than a decade ago. The sale of publicly-owned assets (and the application of the proceeds to interests other than in exactly the same ratio as they originally existed) is no more than redistribution to someone else – theft! The same applies to the assets that the Commonwealth removes from ownership of indigenous Australians, and it too is theft. Question: Why don’t Australians wake up and fire those that can’t or won’t act lawfully and fairly? Answer: Because it suits those who benefit and who have more power and authority than those who don’t. History tells us that power shifts until it becomes too corrupt for those outside the dwindling ranks of the beneficiaries to bear, and is then overthrown, but meantime, those who look, see and do nothing are perhaps enjoying the additional fruits of the system – hence Mr Howard being able to (at present) get away with saying “They never had it so good.” Another way of putting it might be “If you’re not fighting the problem you’re part of the problem.”

Sandra Sue writes: I am wondering if Henri Ivrey was listening to ABC 702 Sydney, when at around 9.15am yesterday morning I was interviewed by, made a comment to, Virginia Trioli that what was being mooted by Howard, Cheney and Mundine regarding the current situation of Australian Aborigines sounded like assimilation to me. Or, are Henri and I on the exact same wave-length and seeing things as they really are, not as the spin doctors for both major parties would like us to believe. Ivrey is also on top of things with his comments in regard to the CDEP programs and the effect the closure of these will have on Aborigines who have chosen to forego welfare benefits to work for the benefit of the community for “wages”. I also spoke of the loss of the CDEP in my discussion with Trioli, along with the perceived denigration of those of us who live a “mainstream” life, whatever that is. That many of us are lucky enough to have received an education, to live in “nice” suburbs, work for a living, but not be one of those who are the supposed “leaders” of Aborigines. Frankly, I would like to know when there was an election to put these “leaders” in the position whereby they can speak for me. I am a 62 year old Aboriginal woman who received her university education at age 52 thanks to Prof. Di Yerbury, then Vice Chancellor of Macquarie University (1985-2005), who strongly believed in building relations with Aborigines through education. I have worked and paid taxes for the majority of my life so I suppose I am a member of the denigrated Aboriginal mainstream and frankly, I can speak for myself! Thanks Crikey, for being game enough to use that 19th century abomination – assimilation and for telling it like it really is.

Christina Hayes writes: Re. “Aboriginal assets to be seized, then rented back for profit” (yesterday, item 1). I’ve just read your piece on the acquisition of Aboriginal lands etc etc and I am so angry I simply had to write to you. Can you send the piece to Getup? As a privileged white person I can’t sit back and let this happen. Where is the Opposition? Where is mainstream news coverage? I’m so grateful to you that I’m going to subscribe once I’ve written this.

A bit more Turn and a lot less Bull:

Christopher Ridings writes: Re. “That pulp mill: Questions for Peter Garrett” (yesterday, item 11). Apart from the vital ecological issues involved, there is the frightening vision that the little island south of Melbourne is virtually renamed Gunnsmania with a big commercial firm telling the State and Federal Governments where they get off instead of vice versa. When this happens it means that we are a democracy only on paper and that we have become a plutocracy instead. So, Malcolm, what we need is a bit more Turn and a lot less Bull and for Peter to come down from his Garrett.

All the world’s best leaders have been up for a bit of passion:

Ian Pavey writes: Re. “S-x in politics: we don’t really give a rat’s” (yesterday, item 9). Bravo Guy! Frankly, just about all the world’s best leaders have been up for a bit of passion. Think Churchill, Kennedy, Hawke, Clinton and even (surprise) John Major, about whom my folks in the UK gushed so fulsomely (prior to the Currie revelations). Nevertheless, it’s only the French who can embrace endemic hanky panky within their political system with such panache. Francois Mitterrand, when musing over mass resignations of Brit MPs for indulging in extra marital coupling, declared “But if I was to sack any of my cabinet for having an affair wiz zair secretary, I would ‘ave no one left but pooftairs!” How fitting, when the same man was laid to rest, that both his wife AND mistress turned up to the funeral, chatting away to each other no less! What Gallic finesse, and how drab does our current mob of wowsers and school prefects look in comparison?

Too much regulation:

Kevin Cox writes: Re. “Cutting red tape with more red tape isn’t working” (Tuesday, item 11). Nicholas Gruen says that we have too much regulation and he is correct. He is also correct when he says we need to rethink how we do regulation. One rethink is to change the system compliance mechanisms. Presently we build systems where it is advantageous to “cheat” or to find loopholes in the regulations. We then try to stop cheating by blocking the loopholes (more regulations) and by fining people when we can prove they have breached the regulations. This is extraordinarily difficult to do when people do not feel obliged by their social contracts to obey the spirit of the rules and where the payoff is great for finding loopholes. We can however modify our systems so that it is not worth people’s while to cheat because they will be discovered. We prove cheating because their actions have resulted in certain outcomes NOT by proving they disobeyed the rules. If the outcomes are not as agreed then we do not care why they occurred it is much easier to prove that something happened rather than that a person has breached a regulation. We punish by not allowing people to participate in the particular activity where they cheated. This not only punishes but removes the problem people. How can it be done? There is not enough room in comments of Crikey to explain but it is relatively simple to introduce and is guaranteed of success.

Crikey’s alternative reality:

Mark Hardcastle writes: One can rely on the more subversive readers of Crikey to take an ambiguous phrase and turn a serious issue into a joke (yesterday, comments). Yet I am consoled with the knowledge that in the real world, outside of Crikey’s alternative reality, the market has decided what truth is. Australian families, with their own free will, choose Piers Akerman’s version of truth. That is democracy. And 70% of Australia’s consumers vote for Rupert Murdoch everyday. The market is always right. I can already hear the chattering class spitting their lattes in outrage against this proposition. But it is undeniable with any simplistic assessment. The free market is incorruptible and impervious to manipulation. The Haters who cannot accept this need to ask, how would News Corp succeed if it wasn’t fair and balanced? Ultimately, fair news is essential for a just democracy. And a just democracy is essential for a fair and open media to continue. Thus, as Australians are continually informed about the issues that matter, our democracy and media are in safe hands. For example, The Herald Sun gives enough information on the context of war. Where as Stalinist academics would expose our children to seditious information, which would threaten the nature of our democracy.

Not a “bin laden trade”:

Nigel Brunel writes: Re. “Tips and rumours — From the grassy knoll” (yesterday, item 7). I am pretty sure it’s not a “bin laden trade” – mainly because it’s deep in the money calls – not deep out of the money puts – it’s had to know exactly what the transaction represents but it could be entirely innocent and most probably is. It may be a possible exchange for physical transaction or equity swap – probably between professionals – an example being – a fund manager wants to get long the US market – doesn’t have all the funds to buy today – so buys deep in the money calls to get some leverage and full exposure – a professional derivative trader probably took the other side (sold) for a fee over in the money value. The fund manager will most likely take delivery of the futures (when options expire) and then probably turn the futures into a physical transaction when his funds arrive. That’s one explanation – there are many others as well and they are probably more plausible than a disaster trade being expected in next 4 weeks.

Send your comments, corrections, clarifications and c*ck-ups to [email protected]. Preference will be given to comments that are short and succinct: maximum length is 200 words (we reserve the right to edit comments for length). Please include your full name – we won’t publish comments anonymously unless there is a very good reason.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey