The NSW Rivers and Foreshore Act:

Andrew Lewis, executive director, office of the Director-General, Department of Water and Energy, NSW, writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 7). Regarding the tip that the NSW Government is about to turn off the NSW Rivers and Foreshore Act, this is definitely not the case. The rules in the Rivers and Foreshores Act that relate to works carried out in, on or under waterfront land will now be regulated under the latest water management legislation — the Water Management Act 2000 – which has stronger environmental protections and will involve less ‘Red Tape’ for landholders. This is part of the NSW Government’s commitment to better managing the State’s waterways, and ensuring our precious water resources are protected and shared fairly and sustainably for the long-term.

The economy:

Martin Gordon writes: Re. “Kohler: Soft landing or crash?” (Yesterday, item 3). The Federal Labor Government seems to be talking up doom and gloom about the economy. In two months in office we are back to (official and variable mortgage) interest rates like when Labor was last in power 12 years ago. The most bizarre part of all this hysteria is that Australia already has amongst the highest interest rates in the industrialised world, our inflation is amongst the lowest in the industrialised world and the world (lower than China, the US, most of Europe) and unemployment lower than virtually all the world. Most of the world would love to have our so-called “problems”. It is unclear what purpose is been served by all this economic hysteria. By all means manage inflation but this over-blown rhetoric of a “war on inflation” is just lubricious. Perhaps it could be added to the 2020 summit in April, for phone a friend or ask the audience solutions, as all the other agenda items are basically federal, state and territory Labor government responsibilities (health, infrastructure for example) and they have not adequately addressed any of them.

Frank Birchall writes: Interest rate increases are a crude tool that focuses on the one-third of families with mortgages. Bad luck for them and good luck for unborrowed people who benefit from rate increases on their term deposits. This benefit then feeds into increased demand. Rate increases also increase inflation through “cost-push” effects. To the extent that capital investment is deterred by rate increases, infrastructure and capacity constraints are not addressed. So the sheer crudity of rate increases may result in minimal downward pressure on inflation, hence motivation for more rate bludgeoning. On top of this we face neutralisation of rate increases via tax cuts, a very high exchange rate and a continuation of the seemingly interminable current account deficits financed by overseas borrowing. How long can this go on?

Keith Thomas writes: Alan Kohler refers to the effect of the coming Olympic Games on the Chinese economy. But is the effect of the Games really significant, or is this just the view from sports-obsessed Australia?

Determined to be different:

Danny Blackburn writes: Re. “You can now bank on the banks to lift their rates again” (yesterday, item 20). I was wondering how the Commonwealth Bank would make good on it’s new U.S. developed marketing line “Determined to be different” to a cynical public that see all banks as the same. I guess increasing your interest rate by more than the RBA increase is different?

Jihad Sheilas:

Roger Colman writes: Re. “ABC’s Jihad Sheilas give Islam a bad name” (yesterday, item 17). Irfan Yusuf still does not understand that ABC’s Jihad Sheilas are representative of a disproportionately large group of Islam’s adherents who expose violence in forms unacceptable in most modern civil societies. The costs of Islamic violence is to be seen in the security costs of air travel, anti terrorist expenditures largely directed to preventing Arab or Islamic militants from weaving destruction around our societies, and the restrictive laws necessary to protect our civil society. What other group, other than people operating in the name, and supposedly the teachings, of the Koran, kills en mass, civilians in Madrid, London, New York, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, India. Pakistan, Bali and on and on the list goes. Now unless this religion can police or at least distance itself from people using its name, or more rapidly defrocks those teachers who espouse what the Jihad Sheilas have picked up, I am afraid that these rantings on the ABC should be accepted as precursors to unacceptable behaviour of, not just two ladies, but by a high risk group that can be identified as nearly entirely supported by some form of Islamic religious institution.

David Lenihan writes: After watching the ABC doco on those two Jihad crusaders I am now very confused. Why? Well take this from the program… Ms Hutchinson nor Ms Douglas has ever faced terrorism-related charges but both are known to the authorities for their alleged links to extremists and terrorist groups. Dr Haneef was arrested and confined by our feds on an assumption he was, through his link with his second cousins, half a world away, associating and perchance plotting with a terrorist. No actual proof, just hunches, misinformation, assumptions and bravado. Here we have two Jihad associates, known, no arguments, proven connection to terrorists. One even formally married to a killer… what action did Mr Keelty’s high flyers take? None, zilch, forget it. Former Minister Andrews, silence. I’m confused because that’s illogical. These two were known to the Feds long before the good doctor became a scapegoat for action. The former Minister must have been told of their backgrounds, silence. The only conclusion I have drawn is that the election has been lost. There is no gain. Not even in King Keelty’s public self congratulations of himself.

Bob Smith writes: Well put Irfan Yusuf; nicely judged.

Rundle, First Dog and the US elections:

Cally Martin writes: Re. “US08: Nothing clear, Romney looking brownish” (yesterday, item 1). Guy Rundle wrote: “…also to the support of Ted Kennedy, whom Hispanics treat as a sort of pants-less, red nosed alcoholic God.” And this brilliant description is why I am adding my voice to the band of Crikey readers thanking you for Guy Rundle’s contributions. I’m looking forward to reading everything he has to write on this hilarious beauty contest.

Moira Smith writes: Re. “First Dog on the Moon” (Tuesday, item 6). Brilliant! I enjoy Guy’s missives but this is a great piss-take. (Did Guy help write it?)

Virginia Gordon writes: Re. “US08: This ain’t Kansas Mac, this is Chinatown” (Tuesday, item 3). Rundle and First Dog. What a daily double – both have been so inspired and otherworldly. Rundle’s Chinatown piece so smoky so moody. First Dog’s ability to weave as many multiple narratives as is possible in a mere four squares is just brilliant. The Daily Telegraph meets Late Night Live with some whimsy in between. Rundle is on fire. For those of us political and campaign junkies who had considered going over to join a campaign, he has satisfied all our needs. Virtually. Totally.

Noel Pidgeon writes: Can Crikey stop using GOP when it refers to the Republican Party or at least occasionally explain what it means? Several people I have asked had no idea what I was on about and the others were adamant it meant “Government of the People” or “God’s Own Party”.

Mitsubishi:

Randall Berger writes: Re. “Blogwatch: the Mitsubishi edition” (yesterday, item 12). Why are they closing Mitsubishi? Why not step in … the Government or Lindsay Fox … nationalise the factory or buy it at 10 cents on the dollar … and put those men to work building cars that Australians want! Diesels and hybrids. The 380 engine is bought in … existing 3rd party diesel engines fit, as they have already had test models on the road … within weeks there could be 380 diesel models coming off that line with little or no retooling. Holden developed a hybrid power platform for this sized vehicle in 2000, but it was shelved. It just needs someone to be proactive and throw some weight around … It would cost Lindsay less than he was willing to put into ANSETT. Imagine the positive PR of driving along with 50,000 diesel “Fox 380s” a year from now … tuned and running on 100% Australian produced, Farm-grown Biodiesel … and driving Australia towards sustainability. The Australian farming sector would recover smartly, too. Talk about passing another Fox! I’d buy one and I had no plans to buy a new car. Let’s start filling the glass, not emptying it!

Electricity services in NSW:

Jenny Haines writes: Re. “Why have Iemma and Costa woken the privatisation gorilla?” (Yesterday, item 10). Iemma and Costa have created this situation, and they can undo it by pulling back from the decision to privatise and giving the whole planning for future electricity services in NSW some more thought. Mark Byrne of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre recently recommended in New Matilda that if NSW wants access to more electricity at peak times, we could build a new power station Iemma and Costa’s favoured option); we could source more power from interstate or we could encourage greater energy efficiency. The Owen Report only looked at the need for more baseload generation. Even if we do need more electricity, it does not mean we need another baseload power station. The company responsible for running the $7 billion dollar electricity market in Australia, NEMMCO, recommends using a peaking or intermediate plant. It also suggests paying end users to reduce their demand in peak times. Mark Byrne says that without the need for a new baseload plant, there is no need to privatise electricity in NSW. None of these ideas have been seriously addressed by Iemma or Costa and I suspect that the Unsworth Committee will not address them either. There is a way out for Iemma and Costa and they should take it. Drop the proposals to privatise and consider more options for the future of our electricity system in NSW.

Vegetarian:

Simon Chapman, dead lamb fancier, bacon priapic and fruit lover, writes: Re. “BHP goes hostile on Rio with crafty all-scrip bid” (yesterday, item 4). What did Stephen Mayne mean to readers to conclude by describing BHP’s Marius Kloppers as “44, a South African and a vegetarian”? Age and nationality are conventional descriptors, but the semiotics of “vegetarian” is interesting. Is it code for weird? Untrustworthy? Risk averse? Boring? Stool watching? Disciplined? It would never occur to me to describe someone as a “meat eater”.

The Anglican Church:

Justin Templer writes: Mark Edmonds (yesterday, comments) writes that Archbishop Jensen can claim ownership of the Anglican Communion as he adheres to the principles on which the Anglican Church was founded – it is up to those who disagree to go elsewhere. But Jensen’s 2008 acceptance of Anglican dogma would be wildly at variance with the dogma of one hundred or one thousand years ago. I do not see Jensen rampaging through Sydney, applying the principles of the Old Testament and raping or stoning those who disagree with him. Jensen is already a dissenter and “soft” interpreter – and thus adheres only to a modern day perversion of the foundations of the Anglican Church.

Peter Wotton writes: The Archbishop of Nigeria has stated that he is comfortable with polygamous Anglicans and apparently has the support in this from Archbishop Jensen on the basis that polygamy is a matter of culture in Nigeria. Presumably this support comes from reading the Old Testament where this was allowed but not by reading the New Testament where Jesus was more than somewhat opposed. Adhering to the “word of god” some times becomes a little confusing. A little more conformance with the Gospel of love in the NT and a little less reliance on disputed texts in the OT, might see the so called Evangelicans back at Lambeth.

Judaism, Kevin’s summit and the Hawks:

Simon Wilkins writes: As a (cultural) Jew I have to disagree with Zachary King’s “Summit Darwinism” remark (yesterday, comments). Ours is a vehemently secular society? OK, let’s run the summit one month earlier, ooh let’s say over the Easter weekend, then we’ll see how many Australians feel their best and brightest while they should be enjoying a purely “secular” holiday. As for me, I won’t be able to make it to Canberra on the 19-20th April as I have a higher calling – the Hawks are playing Brisbane. Actually it could be a long day of prayer. On the other hand, Passover is a joyous festival that celebrates the escape of the “chosen” people from the iron rule of a tyrant known for reneging on “non-core” promises…could be an entirely appropriate theme for such a summit then.

Send your comments, corrections, clarifications and c*ck-ups to [email protected]. Preference will be given to comments that are short and succinct: maximum length is 200 words (we reserve the right to edit comments for length). Please include your full name – we won’t publish comments anonymously unless there is a very good reason.

Peter Fray

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