Illegal logging is a serious issue in PNG:

Greenpeace Asia-Pacific Forests communications officer, Tiy Chung, writes: Re. “The Greens simply don’t want any forestry in Tasmania” (yesterday, item 11). On Friday 5 October, Khalil Hegarty, senior consultant at ITS Global, continued to push the line that there is no illegal logging in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and that any assertion is the domain of NGOs like Greenpeace. ITS-Global refuses to consider the mountain of evidence contradicting its position. Instead it cherry picks facts and then accuses NGOs like Greenpeace for inventing the problem. This suits their clients, Malaysian logging giant Rimbunan Hijau (RH) – which controls up to 70 per cent of all logging in PNG – just fine. Illegal logging is a serious issue in PNG. In it’s most recent report on Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (August 2006), the World Bank estimated that up 70 per cent of all logging in PNG is illegal. This was not news. In July 2005 the UK Timber Trade Federation warned members not to purchase timber originating from PNG and the Solomon Islands as: our own investigations… found that little evidence can be obtained to give even a minimum guarantee of legality. Any wood from these countries must therefore be deemed very high risk.(note from UK TTF Chief Executive John White to Trader, 28 June 2005). A list of more reports on illegal logging and Greenpeace’s rebuttal of ITS Global and RH’s position can be found here. Logging’s contribution to the PNG economy is short term at best and will be disastrous in the long term. A diagnostic report into sustainable forest management in PNG by the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO), concluded that the PNG Forest Authority (PNGFA) is focussed “almost exclusively on exploitation of the forest resource for the primary financial benefit of the national government.” The report went on to say: “The government and industry have not been able to demonstrate integrated, economically viable, ecologically compatible and socially acceptable forest management practices in line with the ITTO Criteria and Indicators. Forest management is reduced to monitoring logging operations at the expense of overall Sustainable Forest Management.” This from the global industry watchdog, and quite a conservative one at that. This is hardly an endorsement of the logging industry being beneficial to PNG’s development. It suits ITS-Global’s message to say that NGO’s fabricate information on the logging situation in PNG. Occasionally it comes back to bite them. On October 4, 2007, ITS Global was forced to print the following apology in the Australian Newspaper: “… Whilst [director of ITS Global] Mr Oxley was critical of the [Australian Conservation Foundation], it was not his intention to suggest ACF had concocted the material upon which the report, “Bulldozing Progress”, draws. If that impression was given, then Mr Oxley withdraws the same without reservation and apologises.” Greenpeace believes that the people of PNG would be better served if corruption, illegal logging and unsustainable forest practices were addressed instead of being glossed over and denied by the likes of ITS Global.

Bashful conservative voters?

Travis Gilbert writes: Re. “Then suddenly, the polls got interesting” (Friday, item 1). Correct me if I am wrong but it seems that Morgan polls have in recent times tended to overestimate actual primary support for the ALP and underestimate primary support for the Libs. As Morgan polls are conducted face to face as opposed to via the phone, are we to assume that Liberal voters are too bashful to admit their neo-liberal/neo-conservative leanings when the pollster can see their face?

Guy Rundle’s Boothby analysis:

Dave Liberts writes: Re. “Rundle: Swing seats and social change, Part 3” (Friday, item 11). I grew up in Boothby, and I’m a bit disappointed with Guy Rundle’s analysis. He’s right that it lacks much soul or culture – it’s a blend of elderly suburbanites on the plains, trendy young families in the foothills and stuffy old money at Netherby (where the ALP got 11% primary vote at a booth in the 1993 state election – a record low?). Thus the Labor vote is never too high but the Democrats have done alright from time to time at past elections, and so the Libs have held it since the war. What Rundle didn’t mention was Labor’s candidate, who has attracted a lot of (mostly) negative media attention in Adelaide. Having run enthusiastic branch members at previous elections (including an excellent candidate in 2004 who is now a well regarded state MP in a traditionally Liberal seat) without success, Labor has run a “celebrity” candidate this year – former newspaper columnist and swinging voter Nicole Cornes, wife of Adelaide footy legend Graham. She’s been written off as out of her depth since day 1, and any time she puts a foot wrong she cops it in the Advertiser and on radio. This level of scrutiny was to be predicted, I guess, but it’s much more than any previous Labor candidate for Boothby has ever seen, and it’s tougher for Nicole than for the incumbent Liberal MP, Andrew Southcott. The chatter in Adelaide is that Labor’s candidate for Sturt, former young South Australian of the Year Mia Hanshin, would have been just right for Boothby, but that Nicole Cornes can’t get up given the media’s reaction to her.

Stop calling the Federal Parliament “Canberra”:

Michael Coley writes: Re. “Canberra’s shallow gene pool” (Friday, comments). Oh for god’s sake, stop calling the Federal Parliament “Canberra”. By definition, with four exceptions, they come from somewhere else!

“Hannibal Howard” and “Scipio Rudd”:

Martyn Smith writes: Re. “Flint: Rudd’s Maginot Line caught in Howard’s pincer move” (Friday, item 9). Reference David Flint’s comments concerning the Maginot Line, I would draw the erudite professor to a more pertinent comparison, a little further back in time. In the brave days of old a Carthaginian called Hannibal crossed the Alps with a number of elephants and lots of ferocious Nubian horsemen. At the battle of Cannae he all but annihilated the Romans, but he didn’t take their base, Rome itself. After about twenty odd years of defeating the Romans Hannibal faced a new Roman general called Scipio, who had studied Hannibal’s way of war and Hannibal himself in detail. As the history books said, “In Scipio, Hannibal faced a Roman version of himself”. The story ended in Hannibal’s defeat. There is a parallel today with “Hannibal Howard” and “Scipio Rudd”. This contest is no more about ideals than the Carthaginian wars, its all about power and the contestants are well matched. Flint’s analogy fits Beasley, Rudd has already countered Howard.

Harold Thornton writes: The old duffer is as amusingly woeful on his strained military metaphors as he is in his political analysis. Flint, my dear chap, a pincer movement is applied to an advancing army, not one sitting in fortifications. You may have heard of the classic Stalingrad double pincer – indeed, after only a few more of those sherries you’ve been downing you’ll be telling us you were there. Come to think of it, shell shock would explain much of your analysis, so I’d be inclined to believe it.

David Havyatt writes: Shock! Horror! A David Flint contribution with no mention of Alan Jones. But it did have a bit of French – history though not some delightfully irrelevant little quote. Quelle dommage. But can the ex-Professor explain why “Apart from being an unavoidable distraction from what is being said, a worm yielding claque would be as representative of undecided voters as say, the gallery is”. I suspect the only group that is “representative” is one that would vote for JWH.

Unionism:

Sandi Keane writes: Re. “Labor’s unionists” (Friday, comments). My local Liberal Party member for Indi, Sophie Mirabella, was a member of the student union at Melbourne University. Julia Gillard’s only links with a union was also as a member of the student union. Using Liberal Party criteria, that makes Sophie a Union Boss. Furthermore, Sir Robert Menzies must also be a former Union Boss since he was also a member of the Melbourne University student union. There must be many more members of the Coalition who were members of student unions. Perhaps Crikey could list them to demonstrate just how ridiculous the Coalition’s anti-union campaign is.

Tax:

Martin Gordon writes: Re. “Tax cuts” (Friday, comments). The ALP seems to be tax me-too-ism mode. This seems to be no surprise; do they have any ideas of their own? The elective surgery money will disappear very quickly and probably make a barely noticeable impact on waiting lists which requires a never-ending focus and not short term fixes like this (like dental waiting lists too). The bigger problem will be the education giveaway as Michael Dirkis of the Taxation Institute has identified. At a maximum of $375 or $750 rebate for two thirds of school children it will be an administrative nightmare with handfuls of receipts and paid as a lump sum after the end of the financial year. The expenses are so narrowly defined to exclude school fees, does not take account of different year splits between primary and secondary grades around the states. It is quite possible for many households who are most in need to receive virtually nothing at all, as they spend way under $750 or $1500 each year per child on computers, internet, printers, education software, and text books. The solution would be to up the FTB amount and pay fortnightly or at the end of the year. But this scheme has Wayne Swan’s fingerprints all over it, like arguing last election when he argued the $600 of money for families that was not real money!

Betting markets versus polls:

Andrew W Scott writes: Re. “Errington: Time to get over the election betting markets” (18 October, item 8). As a professional punter who actually makes money at such things, it is really amusing to observe the current debate on betting markets versus polls as predictors of the election result. At least 80% that has been written on the subject is so much piffle. I would love to set you all straight, but sadly that would mean pointing out some glaring inefficiencies in the betting market; and inefficiencies in markets is the very thing people such as me need to make money from it. The more inefficient, the more we make. Betting markets are incredibly similar to financial markets, and skill at one usually means skill at the other. At the risk of incurring the wrath of my professional gamblers, I’ll give three hints. Hint 1: at some point after the election (presumably on election night, but perhaps later), the probability of either side winning will be either 100% or 0%, right? That’s self-evident. Think about reverse engineering it all the way back to today from that final point. Hint 2: this is an emotional market where Coalition money and ALP money do NOT have the same value. Hint 3: I will have made all my money BEFORE election night. Happy punting!

The Chaser:

Denise Marcos writes: Re. “Why bagging The Chaser is bad policy” (Friday, item 20). Has legislation been passed forbidding Australians to call a spade a spade? The Chaser eulogy lyrics were candid, accurate and funny: edgy writing by Chris Taylor and fine execution by Andrew Hansen. The fact that both Howard and Rudd disapproved makes it even more delectable – a disgruntled PM exhorting The Chaser team to “pick on someone who’s alive” was an open slather invitation (and an ideal grab for future Chaser promos). No song has elicited such a belly laugh from me since Max Gillies courageously performed the ‘Goanna’ piece on his ABC series – it seems like eons ago, way back in the 20th century when it was culturally acceptable to call a spade a spade.

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