DIAC’s technical difficulties:

A DIAC departmental spokesperson writes: Re Friday’s tips and rumours:

  • The Department of Immigration and Citizenship has extended until 5pm on Tuesday (30 October), the deadline for lodgement of applications to its Settlement Grants Programme.
  • The extension follows a system problem from 2.30am until 10am last Friday (26 October), which prevented the completion of applications on-line.
  • All registered applicants were advised on Friday about the extension which will ensure fairness to all applicants.

NT News: We are proud of our local election coverage:

Northern Territory News Editor, Julian Ricci, writes: Re. “Citizen Crikey: Missives from the marginals” (Friday, item 16). In response to your Darwin correspondent Kirsty Gowans’ comment, “Election? What Election?” on Friday, I must say, “Eyesight? What eyesight?” We’re prepared to take our slings and arrows. God knows, we deserve them often enough. But this time Ms Gowans is just plain wrong. She wrote: “Nothing that has occurred to date has warranted front page coverage in the NT News. In fact, the election has not yet made it into the “news” pages where the staples remain, crimes, car accidents and crocodiles. Each day, the election stays stubbornly in the national news section. Other people’s problem. The local candidates are rarely mentioned.” I don’t even need to check the file. I know that on 14 October our front page splash was on the election being called that day. The next day we again splashed on the election, concentrating on what the local candidates were saying. Most days since then (space permitting) we have run two pages of coverage, always in our local news pages from 1-9. Not once has the election been consigned to the National pages. And we always concentrate, where we can, on the local issues and candidates (that’s why the coverage appears in the local pages) because the NT News and the Sunday Territorian proudly and staunchly focus on local coverage.

No political stunt in Cricket Australia funding:

Cricket Australia’s Michael Christo writes: Re. “Cricket Australia bowled over by political stunt” (25 October, item 28). I write to correct claims made in Jeff Wall’s article. Cricket Australia and its state and territory associations receive funding from governments, state and federal, to run a number of cricket programs across the country. In announcing funding for these programs, administrators of the game regularly attend functions and meetings with politicians from both sides of politics. The location of the announcement was based on the fact that the Cricket Australia Centre of Excellence is located in Brisbane and has been since 2004 when it was relocated from Adelaide. In addition, the announcement made by Senator Brandis was not an “election commitment” as the article claimed. The funding will be available regardless of the outcome of the election.

No spin zone:

youdecide2007.org Editor, Jason Wilson, writes: Peter Lindsay, the Federal member for Herbert, suggests (Friday, comments) that the Mark Bahnisch article (“Bahnisch: The race for Herbert goes nuclear” 25 October, item 12) was based on “Labor spin”, whereas it was actually based on a story I developed for youdecide2007.org, an independent citizen-led coverage of the 2007 Federal election. I am not in the employ of the ALP, nor even a member: I’d suggest that Mr. Lindsay might like to check his facts as thoroughly as he recommends Crikey does. Further, if it was a simple “update” as he claims, why did it remove every reference to nuclear power from the site? This, rather than spin, was the basis of the yarn.

Interest rates, tax cuts and the apocolypse:

Jonathan Case writes: Re. “We’ll all be rooned, said Costello “(Friday, item 2). Peter Costello has gone from a crowing Rooster in House Question Time, to a Chicken in not taking on Howard for the leadership, to “Chicken Little” for claiming that the economic sky will collapse if Labor wins. The former member of the student leadership team of the Social Democrats looks so uncomfortable spouting about the evils of union membership and leadership, while the Coalition anti-union advertisements continue to breach the bounds of “truth in advertising” on this matter. Now he’s claiming that “technical measures” of inflation aren’t nearly as important (or understandable to us poor ignorant voters) as they were when he was using them as his crutch last year as CPI hit 4%.

Robert Edgerton writes: The “Interest rates will always be lower under the Coalition compared to Labor” quote is simply a motherhood statement that can never be tested as its proponents know. However, what can be tested is our government’s ability to keep rates commensurate with other major nations within the global economy. This is tracked by the Reserve Bank and, on relative ability to keep interest rates low, John Howard and Peter Costello would appear to be the worst economic managers in the nation’s history. Uniquely they have managed to keep our rates markedly above all other major countries graphed by the Reserve Bank for six consecutive years – and still counting. For more than half that period we exceeded US rates by >3%! No wonder they are pleading for a reprieve from the “independent RBA”. Interestingly, even during Keating’s “recession we had to have”, our interest rates topped the globe, but only for a relatively few months and not much above UK and Canada. It is Howard and Costello who have related low interest rates to superior economic management, yet no other government since Paul Keating floated the Australian dollar seems to have managed to rank top with interest rates for more than one year. Can we afford a seventh as guaranteed by the “try to claw our way back” spending spree?

Eric Lawson writes: Ho hum – another $34 billion of tax cuts, mostly to people who don’t particularly need them. There are record budget surpluses. Meanwhile, we can’t afford to train and reasonably pay enough nurses, teachers, police etc and can’t find enough skilled workers, having destroyed the TAFE system. Neither side of politics is putting up reasonable policies for immediate action on global warming, considered by most other countries to be the greatest threat to the future of our planet. Nor are they prepared to spend the necessary billions on alternative energy sources; people with great ideas in this area have to go overseas to develop them. People with disabilities and their carers are in deep poverty and the carers are increasingly suffering mental illness brought on by impossible stress. Yet here we are, say the pollies, in the midst of unprecedented prosperity. Am I missing something?

Brian Taylor writes: The $34 billion tax cuts are funded/promised/assured by ongoing prosperity. Now we see Costello predicting a tsunami in financial markets regardless of who wins in November. Are the tax cuts the first non-core promise of this election?

Adesh Goel writes: Instead of both parties promising tax cuts which will only add to inflationary pressure, they could offer to plough some of the $34 billion surplus into cutting fuel excise. This more responsible approach would keep inflationary pressure down and hence reduce the upward pressure on interest rates. I have no real right to comment on Australian politics as being so disillusioned by both parties, I have had myself removed from the electoral roll.

Thank God for Adam Kilgour:

John Taylor writes: Re. “Kilgour: Howard and Costello don’t really like workers” (Friday, item 12). Thank God for Adam Kilgour. Greg Combet and Bill Shorten are exceptional candidates who will make an enormous difference to the polity of this nation for many years to come, whether in Government or Opposition. Kevin Rudd should say so. This election is still his to lose and if he doesn’t get on the front foot about his former Union leader candidates, he may face history as John Hewson Mark 2: the man who lost the unlosable election.

The end of the TV grab:

Wendy McMahon writes: Re. “Rundle: How the Coalition could win… Part 2” (25 October, item 8). Now wouldn’t that be something! A politician relating to us as partners and intelligent ones at that. I can really hold a picture like that! Imagine a fresh honesty and co-operation in democracy instead of the idiotic “30-second grab” for commercial TV news. Bring it on.

The Lowy principle at work:

Tele Santana writes: Sydney FC (owned by Frank Lowy) is taking the p-ss out of FFA (run by Frank Lowy) over the suspension of new coach John Kosmina. Kossie is currently banned by FFA from having anything to do with the team from one hour before the game until one hour after, and can’t use any phones or two-way radios to communicate with the assistant coach and players. But through the simple device of having a “runner” pass on messages, Kosmina effectively “coached” the team at SFS yesterday in defiance of the ban. Would any other team in the A League get away with this or is this the Lowy principle at work?


Shirley Colless writes: Re. “Reality check: Digger’s death v Can-crushing bar maid” (Friday, item 20). So both Stirrup and Ashdown regard Afghanistan as “lost”? Well, the British armed services should have had a hard look at their previous involvements in that country before getting involved in another hopeless cause. The First Afghan War (1839-1842) was an unmitigated disaster for the Brits; the Second War, which dragged for decades at a huge cost of lives, may have seen a technical win; and the Third War saw a reluctant but realistic acceptance of the fact that it was a No-Winner, with Afghanistan achieving independence. In those days the Nasty in the Woodpile was Russia. And funnily enough it was another Russian intervention that led to the US supporting, guess who, the Taliban. Another case of the more things change…

First Dog on the Moon:

Wendy Harmer writes: Please pass on my congratulations to “First Dog on the Moon”. A truly hilarious cartoon that unfailingly gives me a laugh during an otherwise lacklustre campaign. Today’s effort is another cracker.

Keeping our skies safe:

Stan van de Wiel writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (Friday, item 7). As a pilot I can fully appreciate the great role our ATC and particularly Tower controllers play in keeping our skies safe. But for them to expect Air Services or for that matter the (world’s best?) air safety regulator to appreciate this they must indeed be living with their heads in the sky. Both of these government enterprises are focused on dollars. That’s why they are “enterprises”. The FAA in the USA has now privatized ATC and see what a mess – guess what! An Australian “enterprise” is involved. Don’t think a change in government will change things; as usual it’s a major accident they’re waiting for.

Look after the forest communities:

Yati Bun, Executive Director, Foundation for People and Community Development (FPCD), Papua New Guinea, writes: Re. “Khalil Hegarty” (24 October, comments). Despite ITS-Global’s assertion that logging in PNG is beneficial to the country’s economy, most of the logging in PNG is unsustainable at best and illegal at worst. Forest landowners are paid a pittance for their timber (10 kina, or AUD $4 per log) and any infrastructure development by the companies is primarily for resource extraction and fall into disrepair once they leave an area. The handful of locals actually employed by logging companies are paid exploitative wages of approximately K80 (AUD $32) per fortnight for manual labour. Meanwhile the rest of PNG’s 6 million people can only watch as millions of hectares of their collective natural heritage are signed away to loggers. Almost all of this logging is unsustainable. Logging companies claim to be doing sustainable forestry management (SFM) (you will probably find that word in all their documents) but the ITTO diagnostic survey in early 2007 proved them wrong. The only exceptions to the rule are community forestry projects and eco-forestry projects supported by NGOs like FPCD and FORCERT. Proof of sustainability for these projects is highlighted by a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certificate recently being issued to FPCD supported work in Madang. Logging companies have no credible evidence, like third party independent certification such as FSC, to show they are doing SFM. Instead they use spin doctors to speak for them. Over the long term the cost to PNG from these unsustainable operations far outweigh any benefit they provide now. The best metaphor for this is the small island nation of Nauru where resource exploitation by a large foreign company, couched in the terms of development, and coupled with bad governance (and PNG has it’s fair share) has turned it from being one of the world’s richest countries to being one of its poorest. This happened on a micro-scale, it is less visible in PNG due to the sheer size of the country. Community forest projects are not failing. With eco-forestry, landowners are in charge of their forest resources. They know what the value of their forests is and currently under the programme we have, they are getting the maximum benefits. They are earning 2-3 times what they would get locally from logging companies for their sawn timber. International demand for sustainable timber is making these types of projects viable over the long term. ITS-Global and their clients Rimbunan Hijau would be happy to see these types of projects fail. It would enable logging companies to keep taking the lion’s share of profits offshore with only the bare minimum trickling down to forest communities.


Guy Rundle writes: Patricia Anderson (Friday, comments) says that Quadrant is the only magazine that will publish long essays on Australian and international art and literature. Spot on – with the quibbling exception of Meanjin, Overland, Griffith Review, Heat, Arena, Quarterly Essay, and others. Difference being that these publications don’t have a booster squad in the mainstream media.

Too long to wait:

Stephen Turner writes: Re. “Another fallacy of the digital world exposed” (Friday, item 32). Once again, I don’t think that Glenn Dyer gets it, even if he thinks he does. He claims that people who wanted shows “fast tracked” are wrong because the ratings figures show the demand still isn’t there for the shows. I think he’s falling for the network’s own hype and not doing even the slightest amount of research. If he took five minutes to look, he’d see that a show like Heroes, for all of Seven’s “fast tracking”, is still on here almost two weeks after its US airing (and a similar gap can be seen for every other show supposedly “direct off the satellite”.) That may not seem like a lot to him, but for the fervent fans that have been downloading these shows, it’s still too long to wait. I know an enormous amount of people who still download Heroes weekly, because they want to see it immediately, because they know they can, and because they want to discuss it with American friends online. I think that to this crowd, two weeks could just as easily be two months (or six) — it’s still too long to wait. And of course, for younger audiences more likely to be out a lot, downloading is as easy as taping a program with your VCR used to be, and has largely replaced that function for most young people. And again, the only programs that won’t be affected by either of these is the locally made Aussie shows (many of which are enjoying their best ratings in years.)

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