Telstra’s nowwearetalking Election 2007 section is not pushing any point of view:

Nowwearetalking Political Editor Jeremy Mitchell writes: Re. “When is a news site not a news site?” (Friday, item 22). Margaret Simons’s article was not only highly insulting but down right defamatory (just how much so our lawyers are currently looking into). The fact is that Telstra’s nowwearetalking Election 2007 section is not pushing any point of view full stop. It is giving everyone the same opportunity to say what they like, regardless of their political affiliation or attitude to Telstra. We are not editing what is said. We are not doing editorial or commentary of our own. We are providing a service whereby the politicians can explain their policies and non-Telstra participants can comment on and discuss those policies as well as providing interesting insights into the campaign. We are giving all political parties exactly the same opportunities. Whether they take them up is a matter for them. Annabel Crabb is not conflicted in any way. What she said in this interview was totally a matter for her. What she says elsewhere is totally a matter for her. Only the most extreme conspiracy theorist would think that Annabel has been sucked into some subterranean plot by Telstra. But maybe that is where we have got to in the modern media world, nothing is as it seems and there must always be a hidden agenda or a sub-plot going on. Unfortunately, for Crikey, no such subterfuge exists and Election 2007 is a posting box to enable others to explain and discuss telecoms policy issues.

Come on Crikey, lift the game a little!:

Executive Officer of the Physical Disability Council of Australia, Sue Egan, writes: Re. “Without a leg to stand on: hating Heather Mills” (Friday, item 4). On reading your article on Heather Mills aka McCartney, I am really disappointed that the writer had to resort to jokes and aspersions about Ms Mills amputated leg as per “unbalanced, unbalanced geddit, and doesn’t have a leg to sta-… and so on.” As the Executive Officer of the Physical Disability Council of Australia (PDCA) I work for and represent many people who have had amputations over the years resulting in physical disability and to use this as a joke to get a message across is shameful! People with disabilities in Australia are among the most marginal in Australia, and whilst there was no intention read into the remarks to be disparaging to people with disabilities, it was nevertheless an area that should have been left alone. The woman clearly suffered trauma when her accident happened and to make fun of the result of that accident is deplorable. The rest speaks for itself, and didn’t need window dressing. Come on Crikey, lift the game a little!

Niall Clugston writes: Sorry, Guy Rundle but I don’t find Heather Mills particularly dark or satanic. A lot of people go through relationship breakdown and mental anguish, but those of us who aren’t celebrities don’t have our passing experiences and expressions broadcast and dissected. And I don’t find the hypocritical blood sport of celebrity hunting particularly uplifting. But then I’m not in the self-justifying circle of media insiders.

Flint on super tax:

Alan Kennedy writes: Where’s the outcry asks Lord Flint in his latest note from behind the barricades in Bondi. Keep it up Crikey, Dave is better than the Chaser. Flinty has had one two many Pimm’s before penning his latest dispatch; Labor will tax your super says Lord Flint and as proof he pulls out the long bow to link Keating with Rudd and then Ben Chifley is exhumed and found to have been spinning in his grave. God what is going on? Let’s hope one of those new super dooper 24 hour clinics is opened up near him ASAP he may be needing it on November 24.

John Taylor writes: With Friday’s effort David Flint has put himself in the same category as Piers Akerman as a wild-eyed desperate looking annihilation in the face and clutching at straws which are so absurd as to be laughable. At least Piers spouts his nonsense in the Daily and Sunday Telegraphs, where much of his readership accepts what they read because it’s in the paper. Surely Flint doesn’t think that the Crikey readership, having paid for the privilege, is stupid enough to accept such rubbish. David, mate, if a government, any government, wanted to reign for one period and one period only in the next 50 years, the quickest way to ensure their landslide loss would be to increase the GST and cancel the tax-free withdrawal of super after age 60. Won’t happen mate, look for another rabbit and publish it to gullible mugs, not to the readers of Crikey.

Sonja Davie writes: Prof Flint’s rave on Friday about taxing superannuation is deliberately misleading. Peter Costello is not removing tax on superannuation. He is removing tax from pensions. But only if they are paid out of an already taxed super fund (15% on contributions and earnings, same as under Labor) and are paid to pensioners 60 years or older. With the first of the Baby Boomers turning 60 it is clear who this policy is aimed at. I have no idea whether a Rudd Labor Government will reverse this policy or not, but I can guarantee that we will see many more changes to super (for better or worse) in the years before I’m able to retire.

Philippe Charluet writes: Another reality check: super is a fair way to pay tax. What about all the fat cats who put away hundreds of million away in their super last June, absolutely tax free. A sure way for the rich not to pay tax backed by from our Feudal Lords. Not something us little people can do in a hurry I am afraid.

Late deciders:

Jenny Jackson writes: Re. “Sol Lebovic’s obsession with the late deciders” (Friday, item 13). I have no doubt that many voters do make up their mind at the (relatively) last moment. But I suspect that polling organisations keep telling us this as an excuse for when their polling is proved wrong. Anyway, if voters do change their minds, then you would have to reason that about half will go one way and the other half the other way. In other words, things should roughly even out. Not exactly even out but barring some dramatic circumstance, the disparity should not greatly influence the overall outcome.

Abbott’s behaviour is in the stars:

John Hughes writes: Re. “Rundle: Groping for grace as Tony goes catacomic” (yesterday, item 8). Guy Rundle’s probably right in believing Tony Abbott gets it “so wrong, so often” because he’s “essentially a medieval Catholic”. But perhaps another reason is that Abbott is one of the thirty percent of John Howard’s cabinet who were born under the Scorpio star sign. Astrology charts show Scorpios to be among the most difficult characters in the zodiac, their biggest challenge being how to choose between the “power of love and the love of power”. I doubt it’s a coincidence that the two other Ministers in the headlines of late for all the wrong reasons – Kevin Andrews and Malcolm Turnbull – are also Scorpios. (Incidentally, Scorpios are reputed to have “difficult relationships” with Leos, so post-election John Howard and/or Peter Costello may need to watch their backs. Brendon Nelson would probably be able to handle himself OK, however, as although he too is a Leo he’s also an “ex-union official”!)

Gratton Wilson writes: I had to write – today’s piece about Tony Abbott is brilliant. My sides hurt.

Paul Byard writes: Mr Rundle states that “We’re all born in sin after all”. Well Mr. Rundle may have been, and Mr. Abbott almost certainly so (and he’s wallowed in the stuff ever since if his politics are anything to go by) but this humanist was not and nor were any of your Buddhist readers. Please do not attempt to tar all of your readers with the same Christian brush of guilt. Jah wobble.

Rundle’s haiku:

Ian Nance writes: Re. “Rundle’s morning haiku” (Early Campaign Edition: Day 22, item 7).

Each Rundle haiku
gives rise to careful thinking
of election truth.

Michael Stanley writes: Today’s Haiku is not the real deal – it’s syllables, not words that are counted to make 5/7/5 rhythm. Line 1 has 5 words but 6 syllables – oops! On a good note – First Dog On The Moon is inspired.

First Dog on the Moon:

Sam Highley writes: Keith Thomas (Friday, comments) writes in regard to First Dog on the Moon: “…will someone with the patience of a good teacher explain to me how one – any one – of these pieces is so brilliantly clever and funny?” I’m afraid if it needs explaining, then it’s just not your type of comedy Keith. Fair enough, I can see how it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I love it, so keep on rolling the First Dog.

John Peak writes: In response to Keith Thomas’s questions re First Dog on the Moon, I’m a teacher of around 35 years experience, and I think I’m patient, but there’s no way I can explain how this brilliantly clever and witty cartoon is what it is. Maybe it’s like religion, you just need faith. But I respect your disconnect in the same way as, being atheist, I must respect the belief of others in gods I can’t see the point of. We are all different and that’s why we have elections. Oh, and most importantly, small or otherwise, this is no claque!

The Greens:

Simon Rumble writes: Re. “Sparrow: It should be a Greens election but it ain’t” (Friday, item 10). Jeff Sparrow says “we all know about preferential voting”, and I’m sure all the politico-nerds reading Crikey really do understand it, but the general public sure doesn’t! Campaigning for The Greens in bohemian inner-city Newtown last weekend, I had to explain preferential voting to a disturbing number of people. And these weren’t stupid, uneducated people but smart, rich and trendy inner city types. The “a vote for a minor party is a wasted vote” myth is still very strong. Of course the duopoly parties do nothing to dispel the myth.

John Hayward writes: Jeff Sparrow shouldn’t be puzzled over the failure of the Greens to attract more support, despite being the only party offering any alternative to an approaching ecological train-wreck. The explanation is no secret: Goebbels was spot-on about the efficacy of repeated bullsh-t. Much the same applies to the knee-jerk rejection of any greenish ideas, which are treated by most of our conservative media (yes, even in Crikey) by reflex scorn rather than argument. Agreement with a call not to destroy the planet will usually include some form of the disclaimer “I’m no green, but…” The relative stasis of the Greens or green vote is probably due to nothing more mysterious than the fact that a very modest percentage of the grandly named H sapiens can actually think independently of their respective clubs. Just look at our elected leaders.

WiFi risks:

Katherine Wilson writes: David Hyatt writes (Friday, comments) that I am “seriously misguided” by pointing out the large body of studies that suggest health risks from radio frequency wireless communication (including WiFi). He writes: “I haven’t heard of any health concerns with radio.” Perhaps he should click some of the 25 links in my article to see the studies and learn why his views are at odds with the tens of thousands of scientists and doctors who have apparently reviewed the literature and added their signatures to the appeals I document. Hyatt also writes that “Fifteen years is a long time to have seen no health effects” from mobile phone use. Magda Havas, Professor of Environmental and Resource Studies at Trent University, Toronto, recently told the Chicago Sun-Times: “Studies that consider all kinds of brain tumours in people who’ve only used cell phones for, say, five years don’t show an association.” But when these studies include people who’ve used a phone for ten years or more, they “give the same answer very consistently: there’s an increased risk of tumors.” As a link in my article shows, Microwave News reports that the literature is split on this issue 50-50. Around half the studies show effects (including cancer, loss of calcium ions from cells and depressed immune systems), and half don’t. This, to me, suggests that sensible precautionary measures (like wired networks) should be taken until conclusive studies are done. Hyatt writes: “Could we please therefore not run around with fear campaigns and certainly not deny our kids access to the internet in their homes, schools and universities because of the same circle of fear mongers talking to themselves.” No-one is arguing to deny people these things: wired technology and limited use of wireless are perfectly sensible precautions until we have scientific consensus on these issues. Instead of smearing these studies as “misguided. fear campaigns” by “fear mongers talking to themselves”, Hyatt might consider a less emotive approach, and survey the evidence rationally. He would then see that the jury is certainly out on this issue, and more studies are needed.

The mining industry:

Ben Ash writes: Christopher May’s letter (Friday, comments) mentions that there aren’t too many folks in the mining industry who are so emotionally attached to the job that they wouldn’t prefer to be doing something else. Perhaps not, but I’d say there are a fair few who are financially attached. It’s probably worth considering that there aren’t too many jobs these days that only require year 10 and a decent work ethic that will allow you to earn $100k.

A zero emissions target:

John Kramer writes: Kevin Cox (Friday, comments) reckons “we would generate enough energy for a zero emissions target if we invested $32K per person. … This is not unaffordable and is doable within 10 years.” Really, Kevin? Did you actually go to the bother of working out how much $32K per person actually comes to? Not even Peter Costello thinks we have a spare $650 billion to splash out. Besides, why would you invest $32K per person in a centralised renewable power station when a family of four could supply their own energy for less than that by sticking some solar panels on the roof?

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