Peter Lindsay: Don’t believe ALP spin:

Peter Lindsay, the Federal member for Herbert, writes: Re. “Bahnisch: The race for Herbert goes nuclear” (yesterday, item 12). The ALP sold you a story that has no basis in fact. If you check my entire website you will find that we did a comprehensive refresh of all the material. Our strategy was to localise the information as much as possible and to remove material that had little relevance for Townsville electors. Yes the nuclear reference may have been updated, but so was everything else. Don’t believe ALP spin without first checking for yourself.

George Colbran, Labor candidate for Herbert writes: Your piece on Herbert MP Ted Lindsay should read Peter Lindsay, Ted Lindsay was the much admired Local member who served five terms for Labor.

David Flint’s white flag:

Harold Thornton writes: Re. “Flint: Will voters trust the ALP to run all nine governments?” (Yesterday, item 9). I am frankly disappointed that Professor Flint has run up the white flag. Put some steel in your spine, man! Just as the mere inconvenience of American soldiers invading the Presidential palace across the river did nothing to diminish Comical Ali’s enthusiasm for the cause, we expect to hear from Our Man Flint how the polls reflect a clever Howard scheme to deliver victory. How another interest rate rise a fortnight before Election Day was always part of the cunning plan, and how millions of voters need only that signal to flock back to the Howard fold? Bolt has deserted, now Hendo is spreading defeatist poison – surely you won’t leave our Prime Minister on the burning deck alone? Must we rely on the Chaser for our fix of political absurdism?

Dave Liberts writes: David Flint’s article makes an excellent point for once, probably because it’s not the point he’s trying to make. The growing debacles engulfing the NSW state government are instrumental in explaining why tired, old governments need to be replaced with keen, attentive ones every now and again, but voters will only do this when the alternative is viable. The NSW Libs are hopeless, and have been since they lost office in 1995. Similarly, Federal Labor wasn’t looking very electable under Beazley, and positively unelectable under Crean and Latham. If the NSW Libs can find a Kevin Rudd (a slightly cleaner-cut John Brogden type) and put aside their factional squabbling and actually get to work opposing the Government, they should be a shoo-in in 2011. Flint hasn’t identified a reason not to vote for Rudd, he’s actually highlighted how a re-elected Howard government will probably be even more irresponsible and out-of-touch than it is now.

Steve Johnson writes: I would have thought an old lawyer-monarchist like Sir David would understand that a federal government ruling over both the House of Representatives and the Senate rings far greater alarm bells than having wall-to-wall Labor governments. Just picture all of the states as Labor-run, with a federal Labor government. Now picture one of the states as Liberal-run with a federal Labor government. What is the real meaningful difference? That’s right. None. And there has never been a meaningful argument for not having single-party government. This argument of Flint’s and others lacks substance and pales in importance next to a federal government that runs both Houses. This has been demonstrated with the vexed introduction of WorkChoices, arguably without a mandate.

Adam Rope writes: David Flint’s comments on New Labour in the UK, culled from The Spectator, that “untold billions poured into our public services have not brought about the revolution in health and education promised in 1997”, are broadly accurate. What he fails to note is that New Labour plunged headlong into Public Private Partnerships (PPP’s) and Private Finance Initiatives (PFI’s), whereby certain private companies were enlisted to help the public sector, by creating consortia to better build and run NHS Hospitals and Trusts. The idea behind it was that, as every fool knows, private companies are better than public entities at running businesses more effectively, and thus the consortia would give better value for money. Unfortunately PPP’s and PFI’s have broadly proved to be a gross and very costly error, with many PFI consortia having huge cost and time overruns. As Private Eye has repeatedly pointed out throughout New Labour, many of the PFI projects now cost far more, are completed late, and hospitals are built with less beds (for patients), than if the NHS had built the hospitals themselves. That’s where the “untold billions” went, into private coffers, with no return to the taxpayer.

William Cattell writes: OK David Flint, you’re catching on. Labor gets elected federally and, at some later stage, a state Labor government gets booted. Yep. Governments change. After you’ve observed democracy for three or four years, as I have, you start to see how it all works.

Nicolas Brasch writes: When David Flint loses all hope, as he obviously has, then it’s game, set and match.

Interest rates:

Gary Carroll writes: Re. “Only a disaster can save us now” (yesterday, item 4). The PM has adopted a clever, if dangerous, strategy. If interest rates don’t go up he can claim their experience and guidance was the main factor. If they do go up, he can launch the greatest fear campaign of all time. He will be well prepared for which ever option presents. The question will be to the media, will they let him get away with it, I’d bet they will.

Harold Levien writes: An interest rate rise is a very inefficient means of fighting inflation. It’s somewhat like fighting a bushfire by burning down a forest in its distant path when several water-bombers could have been employed to attack its course. The purpose of possibly raising interest rates at present is, of course, to suppress demand since the demand for some skilled labour exceeds the supply. Until the banks were deregulated in the mid-eighties the Reserve Bank could freeze part of the deposits of the banks according to its assessment of this excess demand. At the same time it could direct the banks not to reduce lending to sectors it considered of high priority on economic or social grounds and cut lending to those sectors of lower priority where there was a skills shortage: for example directions against cuts in housing or farm loans but reduced or no lending for shopping malls or speculative purposes. With the use of interest rates as the sole anti-inflationary weapon there is a great deal of unintended collateral damage to people, firms and sectors of the economy while often large corporations can avoid the intended impacts as their monopolistic position allows them to pass on the higher rates to customers. When will our political leaders have the courage to reassess this backward step in the eighties?

John Taylor writes: It would seem that, if nothing else, the Governor of the Reserve Bank may have learnt one extremely good lesson from the position in which he now finds himself: when asked questions about future interest rate movements the best comment is “no comment”. By stating to the Senate Committee that, regardless of the election cycle, if circumstances warranted it he would increase interest rates, he has put himself, now, in a no-win situation. Irrespective of what the media pundits say, a rise in official rates in November is a 50/50 proposition but having said as he did Mr. Stevens is now damned by the Liberal party if he does and damned by the Labor party if he doesn’t. Whichever way he goes he will be seen by half the electorate as having interfered in the electoral process. Anyhow, I’m betting he doesn’t.

John Shailer writes: The clamour by Kevin Rudd’s supporters, in the media and elsewhere, for a November interest rate increase is almost deafening. There is no concern at all for its effect on working families, struggling with mortgage payments, grocery, petrol bills etc. With Bernie Fraser as Governor, Paul Keating once famously declared: “I have the Reserve Bank in my backpocket”. Let’s hope Glenn Stevens is not another Bernie Fraser!

Allen Young writes: Isn’t there some irony in the statement by Glenn Stevens “If it is clear that something needs to be done, I do not know what explanation we could offer the Australian public for not doing it, regardless of when the election might be due.”, given that the RBA steadfastly refuses to comment when it leaves rates unchanged, only issuing a Media Release when there’s a change?

Dean Galloway writes: Re. “Why interest rates matter, in pictures” (yesterday, item 1). Cold, hard facts: what a treat! Such a nice change from the recent avalanche of op-ed.

The Prime Ministerial Power Walk:

Helen Sedgman writes: Re. “Long live the Prime Ministerial Power Walk” (yesterday, item 17). Sophie Black asks “has the PM’s morning power walk become a political liability?” If comments amongst my colleagues are any guide the answer is a very big ‘yes’ – but not for the reasons in Sophie’s article. With those rounding shoulders and stiffening legs the PM is looking more and more like an old man walking – definitely not the most positive image to be hitting our screens daily.

Brendan Wynter writes: I remember meeting the Norwegian Prime Minister in an Oslo Delicatessen. His bike was chained up out the front and he had his socks pulled up over his trousers. You can approach Scandinavian pollies without security or toxic staffers getting in the way. Contrast that with having to shut a city down for a meeting. I desperately want Howard to lose, but leave him alone during his walk.

Irresponsible spending:

Jenny Morris writes: Ian Close (yesterday, comments) referred to the current government as “a lazy squanderer of the financial bounty of a once-in-a-generation resources boom”. I’ve no argument with that. The current spendthrift behaviour is highly irresponsible, and I know all we get will be taken away in interest rate rises for those of us with the good fortune to owe their bank money. My issue is with the reference to “once in a generation”. Will there be another boom like this? Once the raw materials are gone… what’s left? Uranium. Oh yeah, Honest John’s got that one covered too, right? I see the bunny in the hat glows!

Quadrant:

Patricia Anderson writes: Re. “Windschuttle could be the death of Quadrant: Rundle” (yesterday, item 5). A lone voice with a kind — even affectionate — word for Quadrant. Firstly, being a committed Labor supporter has never disqualified this writer from Quadrant’s pages. Secondly, there is no magazine in this country, not even The Monthly, which will publish 5000–8000-word essays on Australia’s art and literary world, let alone on Isaiah Berlin, W.G. Sebald, Andre Malraux, etc. etc. Christian Kerr may have had his mail box tampered with. In my experience, the cheque (yes, it’s tiny) arrives within 48 hours of publication.

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Peter Fray

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