Crikey writes: Yesterday’s item in Tips and Rumours claiming that trainee journalist Sanna Trad had been employed by The Australian newspaper as part of a legal settlement with her father, Keysar Trad, was entirely without foundation. There is no legal action between Mr Trad and The Australian. Ms Trad has been employed entirely on merit. Crikey apologises to both for the error.

Kyoto, nuclear power et al:

John Shailer writes: Re. “A weird day in the climate change debate” (y3esterday, item 18). Signing up to the Kyoto protocol is the cornerstone of Kevin Rudd’s climate change policy. On Monday morning Kevin announced that a Labor Government would sign up, irrespective of high-polluting, developing countries, such as India and China, not signing. By the afternoon, following some flak from John Howard over job losses, Kevin sent out his patsy, Peter Garrett, to announce he had reversed his stance regarding the developing countries. He did the same thing last week regarding the expulsion of rogue unionist Joe McDonald from the Labor Party.

Tamas Calderwood writes: Re. “Campaign wrap” (Early Campaign Edition, Day 17, item 1). Jonathan Green asks us to look at the “objective circumstances” and then goes on to claim that “by pretty general agreement we face a global ecological cataclysm within a generation. Dislocation of vast populations, famine, disease, deconstruction of entire economies, war…” and so on. First, I ask Jonathan to point to the “general agreement” for the above claims given the far more modest projections outlined in the IPCC’s 2007 report Summary For Policymakers: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. I also refer him to the IPCC’s 2007 Summary for Policymakers: The Physical Science Basis, in particular page 12 that states: “for the next two decades a warming of about 0.2C per decade is projected”: and page 13 that provides a table showing the maximum sea level rise by 2100 will be 59cm. I therefore ask him to support his claims of global eco-catastrophe “within a generation” given the IPCC’s less hysterical analysis. If he cannot, then the basis of his environment-related political analysis seems pretty weak.

Kim Easton writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. From your opening today. I thought it was a bizarre choice of words for John Howard to use “weapon” and “nuclear” in the same sentence about nuclear power. “There’s no one single solution to the problem of climate change. You need every weapon in the armoury, and one of them, of course, is obviously nuclear power.” – 31 January 2007, Fox News

Gary Carroll writes: It’s about time the electorate understand clearly that a vote for John Howard in this election is a vote FOR the nuclear power option. It’s a referendum, John Howard has made made his position on this matter clear, he has also indicated a continuity of policy when [?] he departs.

Peter Wood writes: Australia leads the world on climate change because we are the largest greenhouse gas emitter per capita of all Annex I (industrialised) countries. Rudd’s 60% reduction by 2050 target would mean that our emissions in 2050 will be about the same as the European Union’s per-capita emissions today.

Assoc. Prof Tilman Ruff, Australian chair of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, writes: On 3 September, the Herald Sun published an opinion piece by myself and retired diplomat Prof. Richard Broinowsi on the failings of the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office (ASNO), the Canberra-based government organisation which is meant to minimise the risk of Australian uranium being diverted to nuclear weapons production. Our opinion piece summarised a detailed paper which we sent to Foreign Minister Alexander Downer. We asked him to respond to our recommendation for an independent, public inquiry into the operations of ASNO. We were rather astonished to find that Mr Downer asked ASNO to respond on his behalf! Talk about putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop. Not surprisingly, the ASNO response fails to respond to any of the substantive issues we raised – indeed our original paper noted ASNO’s “conspicuous failure” to address substantive criticisms. The ASNO response also repeats the lie that safeguards “ensure” that Australian uranium will not contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Australia relies on the International Atomic Energy Agency to safeguard our nuclear exports, yet the head of the Agency concedes that its safeguards system suffers from “vulnerabilities” and that efforts to improve it have been “half-hearted”. It may be expedient for the government to have a safeguards office which asserts that “nuclear power is not a proliferation risk”, but basing public policy on a tissue of lies hardly makes for good public policy and is all the more lamentable when it involves the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Frederika Steen writes: Pollies can make wilful, ill considered decisions, but they do have to contend with the public servant advisors and experts, who presumably have the national interest at heart. Can someone please focus on the politicised role of the top of the public service and have a guess at which political appointees will get shafted if there is a change of government, or whether Kev and co will have respect for the ancient tradition of frank and fearless advice from professional bureaucrats? Aren’t Treasury officials who manage the analysis and data and “the economy” the resource both sides share?

Steve Johnson writes: “What the papers say” (Early Campaign Edition: Day 17, item 6). At the risk of attracting catcalls of “snob”, the Daily Telegraph’s piece declaring that many of their readers mistook the Kyoto Protocol for a Japanese food dish, amongst other things, is probably a reflection of the Tele’s readership, rather them the general population. Having said that, at the Brisbane Expo in 1988, a number of people in the queue to view the Magna Carta thought they were lining up to see a newly released model from Mitsubishi. Disclaimers: I am Brisbane-born and raised, and I read the Tele – but only for the sports! I never look at Piers Akerman’s column. Fair dinkum.

Howard and Costello catch the fire:

Anthony Long writes: Re. “Howard and Costello catch the fire. Why is this not a scandal?” (Yesterday, item 3). I am far more inclined to believe Fredrick Töben’s version of Danny Nalliah’s speech to the Australian League of Rights than Nalliah’s belated denial to the contrary (31 October edition, item 3). Whilst the League may not actively push Holocaust denial to the same degree that Töben’s Adelaide Institute does (the League has a far wider range of conspiracies to peddle than does Töben), it is far from accepting of those who reject Holocaust denial. Given the occasion and list of attendees, I do not accept that Nalliah could have so blatantly rejected Holocaust denial – even more so without Töben commenting on it (and harranging him since this time). Then again, why should Howard and Costello distance themselves from Nalliah, seeing Alexander Downer spoke at a League of Rights meeting Adelaide in 1987? It can hardly hurt their standing within their party when a colleague (and his father) was more closely associated the League than they themselves are…

The next Liberal leader:

Ralph Curnow writes: Re. “MacCormack: Does anyone not want to be like John Howard?” (Yesterday, item 8). If the Government is returned the transition from Howard to a new leader is likely to occur before mid 2008, not some time in 2009. Firstly, it is in Costello’s interest to act quickly otherwise the likes of Turnbull et al will have time to position themselves as an alternative, and secondly, why would you otherwise keep a leader who has indicated that he will go in that term. Joh Bjelke-Petersen said he would resign after reaching the milestone of being Premier for 20 years (and after Expo88), but we know that his colleagues got rid of him before that! Howard is the same – he wants the luxury of a final farewell and he thinks his colleagues will indulge him. The only reason the Liberals didn’t get rid of Howard this year is that the election was too close.

The Costello/Swan debate:

Dave Horsfall writes: Re. “Mitchell: Costello disappoints” (yesterday, item 10). Alex Mitchell writes that the “official” result of the Costello/Swan debate was 56-38, and that the ABC failed to mention this. Given the revelations by a recent contributor that they are committed whilst claiming to be swinging, the instruction to ignore the “neutral” buttons, and the small sample size I would say the ABC did the right thing in not reporting a completely meaningless result.

Fury on the Mersey:

Margaret Walker writes: Re. “Fury on the Mersey: Nurses keen to avoid another fiasco” (yesterday, item 20). This seems an ideal opportunity for Rudd to make some real political capital out of the Government’s own struggles to avoid placing the Mersey staff on AWAs because they would end up seriously disadvantaged. This makes a nonsense out of the much touted “fairness test” as a way to ensure this doesn’t happen!

Childhood obesity:

Nutritionist Dr Rosemary Stanton writes: Re. “Rudd’s backtracking in obesity policy is pathetic” (yesterday, item 15). Melissa Sweet is correct in noting that we will only solve the obesity problem when governments act and one of those actions is to stand up to large companies. Those of us working in public health were pleased when Labor proposed banning the use of cartoon characters and promotional toys that are used to entice children to junk food. Their back flip in the face of opposition from industry is a sad commentary on their lack of confidence to take on the big boys. McDonalds says that banning the pester power tactics they cleverly use on kids would have an adverse effect on their sales. Excellent! Just what we need! But McDonalds say Happy Meals account for 20% of their sales and could ultimately cost jobs. That’s what cigarette companies said when bans on advertising led to big falls in cigarette sales. It’s also the refrain we heard from the scare campaigners who told us pub trade would flounder when smoking bans came in. Our current low unemployment rate almost certainly means that those who currently peddle junk to kids could find gainful employment elsewhere.

First Dog on the Moon:

John Peak writes: Re. “First Dog on the Moon” (Early Campaign Edition: Day 17, item 4). First Dog On The Moon yesterday morning was one of the best! Please let it outlive the elections!


Rowen Cross writes: Re. “Rundle’s morning haiku” (Early Campaign Edition: Day 17, item 5). I’m loving Rundle’s morning haiku. Tuesday’s was particularly funny, and yesterday’s was pretty good too.

Reality check:

Dave Liberts writes: Re. “Reality check: Talking and walking heads to the tune of Benny Hill” (yesterday, item 23). Richard Farmer’s lists of popular news website articles make the point that not many punters are checking election details too often online. His list today also highlights how unreliable these lists really are for determining the priorities of Aussie web-surfers, although he doesn’t pick this up. On ‘The Australian’ list, the second most popular article is listed as “Muslim leader blames women for…” Although this article is indeed among The Australian’s popular articles for the day, what is its date? It’s over a year old – October 2006. It’s about Sheik Hilali’s infamous “uncovered meat” comments blaming women who wear revealing outfits for rapes. I’m not sure why it would be on today’s list – I can only guess that its link has been included on a very popular political website or e-zine somewhere. Whatever the case, these lists really can’t be relied upon to make the conclusions Richard Farmer draws.

Conservatism’s slow creep:

Tom McHugh writes: Re. “Robert Manne asks: Why does Gerard Henderson lie?” (Yesterday, item 5). The SMH had a headline yesterday entitled “The slow creep of conservatism” under a picture of said Mr Henderson. A bit unfair: he’s not that slow.

Anthony Casey writes: I am left wanting after Robert Manne’s defence of his position in your latest edition. He clearly believes that he did pay a significant cost for his principled beliefs against communism. But I struggle to understand the size of that cost. “After I had debated Ben Kiernan on the question of the crimes of Pol Pot, I was treated as a pariah.” By whom was Robert Manne treated as a pariah? By anyone important? How did this affect his career or other aspects of his social welfare? Also… “a young Cambodian woman who said I would not be welcome in People’s Kampuchea”. Had Robert Manne previously attached a great value to being welcome in the People’s Kampuchea? What was the value of his forgone appointments there? I would be grateful for any information you can provide.

Peter Faris:

Steve Martin writes: Re. “Why I’m quitting the Victorian Bar: Peter Faris” (yesterday, item 6). Peter Faris wrote: “…in fact, when I made my media comments about drugs in the legal profession, I made it very clear that I was relying upon anecdotal evidence.” Since when can anecdotes be other than rumours; they certainly are not evidence and it seems strange for QC to call them evidence.

Bruce Armstrong writes: Peter Faris seems to be confusing the right of free speech with the law against slander. His implication that drug use is rife in the legal profession is a smear, not a fact. And it was not in particularly good taste to throw mud while wearing his other hat as a journalist. If he did know the rules then he ignored them, if he didn’t know the rules I wonder how he became a barrister? Every profession has ways and means to keep its image and it’s functions as good as they can be, and it seems to me that the bar council is just doing it’s job in protecting it’s good reputation. At least he is getting the attention he seems to crave so desperately.

Alex Mitchell writes: There was a glaring error in Peter Faris’s eccentric announcement in yesterday’s edition about his decision to quit the Victorian Bar Association. He wrote: “Over the past five years I have had a very high media profile…” No, it was a very low one. As for his claims to being a journalist – made three times in the course of his piece – they are simply hilarious.


John Kramer writes: Re. “IPA’s WiMax report is a double edged political sword” (yesterday, item 27). Chris Berg’s IPA report on broadband is an interesting, but flawed, analysis of the broadband problem. While it rightly puts the boot into the coverage problems of WiMax, as Margaret Simons reports Berg also criticises Labor’s plan to build fibre-to-the-node with public money. Berg’s main issue with the Labor plan is that Telstra wanted to fund a FTTN network privately, and he implies that Labor could save us $4.7b by simply letting them, using (unspecified) “regulatory reforms”. If Telstra proposes an over-priced, anti-competitive pricing structure which would screw every competitor, and every consumer in Australia, especially in rural areas where it is not economic to build competing networks, why exactly should the ACCC roll over, or face being “reformed”? The ACCC didn’t have a problem with the G9 proposal to build a similar network, after all. When the chips were down, Telstra wasn’t so “desperate” that it was prepared to fund a network with a fairly priced access regime. So Labor will. Good for them!


James Edwards writes: Re. “REX does its bit for the war on terror” (Tuesday, item 4). I have been quite annoyed by all this talk of REX endangering us all by having such a relaxed attitude to security matters. As someone who flies from Sydney to the bush on a regular basis, I can say that I absolutely adore the low key, and friendly way that the REX staff operate. Having seen the way that they treat their fliers, I’d be willing to bet that they let that passenger in the cockpit because they knew them by name. Probably a regular. When I disembark from their tiny planes (that would hardly dent The Bridge) into the daggy serenity of Griffith or Wagga airport, I am always hit by a wave of calm and common sense, which makes the wannabe security consciousness of Sydney Airport seem like the paranoid self importance that it is. The folks in the country have a drought to worry about; I don’t think they are too concerned by Al Qaeda. REX is one of the last bastions of true blue Aussie laid-backness, and I thank them for it. If we all become up tight gibbering neurotics, then the terrorists really have won.


David MacCormack writes: Mark Edmonds (yesterday, comments), I have an entirely positive opinion about Christ. I rate him as a worthy, if derivative, philosopher. It’s the deluded and deranged who think he was a god that I have problems with, especially when they want to control other people because of it.

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