Crikey’s witch burning of ABC Learning:

John Stitch writes: Re. “Why we don’t like Eddy and his ABCs” (yesterday, item 24). What a witch burning! Why has poor old Eddy Groves come in for so much rough treatment? Plenty of good businesses have been built hand in hand with the government. Perhaps some of you whinging buggers should have done it yourselves instead of just sending your kids to his centres and knifing the bloke in the back! Why didn’t you complain about Rudd’s wife building up a multi million dollar business on government money and under-paying her employees? Because she was providing a service as Eddy is? If Kevin Rudd’s so good I’m sure he’ll fix it all up anyway so you’ve got nothing to whinge about now anyway.

Stephen Magee writes: In the constant tut-tutting of the commentariat about nasty Eddy Groves, one fact is constantly overlooked: Eddy’s success is a direct result of the takeover of childcare in Australia by academics and public servants. 20 or 30 years ago, childcare was a happy go lucky affair: community-run centres operating out of church halls with enthusiastic amateurs, parent volunteers and a handful of paid staff were often the norm. Then the “experts” arrived. Self-appointed public service bureaucracies began imposing heavier and heavier “standards” on child care centres. Parents were, apparently, no longer capable of deciding what was appropriate for their children — and could not devote the long hours needed to cope with the paper-shuffling processes of accreditation. Slowly but surely, the weight of it all led to the rise of the childcare professionals and mobs like ABC. Eddy was simply meeting a need that the public service had created.

Warwick Sauer writes: In Thomas Hunter’s hatchet job on ABC Learning, he claims that ABC “appealed the (Hoppers Crossing) decision, seeking to blame its low-level staff, thereby challenging the well-established legal principle of vicarious liability, which implies companies are responsible for the actions or omissions of their employees.” Contrary to what Mr Hunter thinks, Hoppers Crossing had nothing to do with vicarious liability. Hoppers Crossing was a criminal prosecution; vicarious liability only applies in civil cases, not criminal cases. The (quite understandable) basis for ABC’s appeal in Hoppers Crossing was that it should not be held criminally liable for criminal acts of its low-level employees.

Kim McDonald writes: Clearly Thomas doesn’t understand the fiscal impact of Government policy on us (travelling) taxpayers with the “protection” of Qantas. To call ABC Australia’s most subsidized company is consistent with the rest of his superficial and emotive “analysis”.

Dean Cadee writes: Re. “Accounting games at ABC as Groves faces the dreaded margin call” (yesterday, item 23). Re. Adam Schwab and Thomas Hunter’s items. These articles are a disgrace. Talk about a hatchet job. Whatever happened to the Crikey of old publishing with some level of substance and journalistic integrity? Are you catering to (what used to be) your audience, or trying to appeal to a new one?

Andrew Lewis writes: Regarding ABC Child Care, there are many within the industry who have wondered how the Led Zeppelin has flown this long. Virtually nobody in the industry knows how one can turn a profit on an individual child care centre. Even given all the subsidies, and the most voracious child unfriendly cost cutting, there is still no margin for profit. As a general rule, I would suggest that a business that can’t make any profit out of its core business is probably one to avoid investing in. I wonder how early investors Michael Kroger and other well connected Libs have gone. I bet they sold out a long time ago. On a lighter and brighter note, kudos to Guy Rundle and Bernard Keane for these two priceless comments. From Guy (“US08: If anyone can stuff it up, it’s Barack Nanki-Poo Obama”, yesterday, item 5): “I wish one of us would die and I am less concerned about who than that it happen soon.” And from Bernard commenting on Nick Minchin’s current climate change position (“Labor’s new federalism shows its first cracks”, yesterday, item 8): “Evidently the road to Damascus is a two-way street.” Worth the price of subscription alone.

The dermatologist and the invisible institutes:

Gabriel McGrath writes: Re. “A Crikey special investigation: The dermatologist and the invisible institutes” (yesterday, item 4). Now THAT’S the kind of story I want to see in Crikey. The kind you’d never see in papers/TV shows… who coincidentally might carry advertising from the company in question.

Scandal in Wollongong:

James Burke writes: Re. “Gong-gate is just the tip of the dog turd” (yesterday, item 15). Trying to get an overview of the NSW ALP scandals on the Sydney Morning Herald website is absurdly difficult. The morons who run it obviously think that their entire readership is only interested in celebrities, lifestyle crap and bizarre crime stories. (By the way, those “most read” articles are surely skewed by the fact that the SMH website headlines give no geographic info. You get all alarmed thinking the samurai cannibal s-x murderer might live next door to you, only to find out he plies his trade in some backward US shantytown, about which no one other than Barack Obama even pretends to care.) REAL newspaper websites have hub pages devoted to major issues of the day, where you can easily navigate between related stories, rather than rejigging search criteria every couple of minutes. But the halfwits at Fairfax seem to think that I want to use their site to access information about Paris Hilton. Surely, if I cared about Hilton, there would be other websites with rather more detailed coverage? And, Alex Mitchell smugly refers to the “politically controlled police” helping keep “Emerald City” “out of ICAC”. I note that Milton Orkopolous was kept well out of ICAC. The police just charged him – 36 times.

Rupert’s Adventures in China:

Venise Alstergren writes: Re. “Re. “Rupert’s minions and the gentle art of self censorship” (Tuesday, item 4).” This book makes very interesting reading indeed. Bruce Dover manages to imply the gossip element rather than coming straight out with it. But then, what would happen to him if Rupert took him to court? Wendi Deng comes across as a soul sister to the late Jackie Kennedy/Onassis. Scheming, brazenly money- hungry and altogether loathsome, possibly incestuous; all the qualities possessed by Jackie O. James may be an adventurer, but equally he appears to be a young man dogged by an overwhelming father, subliminally throwing himself onto the bars of his spectral prison. Rupert seems almost human, a man possessed of the most phenomenal luck in history. No matter how much he loses in one adventure then yet another fortune falls into his eager hands. However, it is the shareholders who stand to lose a fortune when the old boy dies and not even he can last forever. The thought that Wendi Deng and James would be battling it out for control of all his companies is hair-raising enough. Factor in all the other family members, not to mention previous wives and a heap of children, grandchildren, et al make all the Hollywood soaps like Dynasty, etc. look pallid and boring.

The PM’s moral panics:

Martin Gordon writes: Re. “Kevin’s moral panics channel the worst of Blair” (yesterday, item 10). The moral panic that has gripped our PM seems amazing. He is suddenly concerned about binge drinking which is hardly a new issue nor unimportant. All the odder though as only a few weeks ago there were reviews about a show at the Adelaide Festival of Arts and a show Lovers and Haters: The Turbulent Times of Don Dunstan. One of Dunstan’s “great” reforms was ending 6pm closing in hotels in 1967 in SA. Given that one of Rudd’s party reforms has proved disastrous will an apology be forthcoming for this error? Will wowserism come back into fashion? Will censorship, flares and all other manner of 60’s and 70’s icons come back (God help us)? Will the wowserist charge be lead by the ALP – the answer may well be yes!

Leave Kevin alone:

David Lenihan writes: Re. “Labor’s new federalism shows its first cracks” (yesterday, item 8). It’s obvious your recruit for the Canberra Office, Bernard Keane, is way out of his depth. He pursues the easy copy, negative. I have waited for any sign of his first positive script to grace Crikey but it appears he is having great difficulty in coming to grips with Rudd and his Governments lightening footwork, constructive follow through (as promised) policies and lack of real turmoil. May I suggest he concentrate on the opposition for a few days, there is no shortage of stories there. Plus they are simple, uncomplicated, lacking in substance and a breeze to nitpick. Try Nick Minchin for starters, he is as shallow as any of the current Liberal pollies and makes as much sense as Downer on his shock jock stint. Any journo that can’t get a bagful of meaningful offerings out of the opposition should give up. You may find Bernard that the PM is just a little cleverer than you give him credit for. I suspect he has your measure, judging by your efforts so far. Go for something easier to kick start your career, thus far an emerging “Super Scribe” you are not.

Sir Rod Eddington:

Lyall Chittleborough writes: Re.”What is Rudd playing at with his Murdoch embrace?” (Yesterday, item 3). Why is it that prejudice based on race or s-x is reprehensible yet you seem to think that you can make a prejudicial judgement against someone on the basis of him having a knighthood? I am no supporter of Imperial honours but I cannot accept that Sir Rod Eddington is an unsuitable choice for chairmanship of Infrastructure Australia, simply because of his knighthood. Rather than vaguely smearing (both Rudd and the knight), a churlish practice too common amongst politicians, you might serve the interests of Crikey readers better if you acknowledged that the PM is capable of transcending the limits of ideological correctness, or are you determined to join in the Barabbas-loving mob in finding fault?

Predictable, Crikey:

Martyn Smith writes: Re. “Memo PM: a list of pretty handy women for the 2020 summit” (yesterday, item 2). Regarding Crikey’s coverage of the 2020 summit over what feels like an eternity. Enough already! So we have an actress on the panel. So what? Crikey’s readers know your views writ large, so how about reporting some news. Can we please move on until after there is a report on its achievements or otherwise? Much to my surprise I’m beginning to miss Christian Kerr.

Nuclear Power:

Charlie McColl writes: Willem Schultink (yesterday, comments) is in La La Land if he thinks that having “…the stable geological and climate structures in isolated areas…” is all that is needed for the long term storage of nuclear waste. The global village has been around a long time now and nowhere is ‘isolated’ – probably never was. If anyone has a storage/disposal technique that is foolproof (i.e. not even a fool would bother), it should be possible to put the stuff anywhere, at least in the car park of the nuclear facility that is creating it. Since no inventor has yet met that standard or been “game” enough to claim it, nuclear waste as we currently make it, is still regarded as intractable. If it’s dangerous we should be keeping an eye on it at all times, not hiding it.

Jim Hart writes: Willem Schultink is on the money with the idea that Australia should be the site for the rest of the world’s nuclear waste. But we can do better than just bury and forget. Decaying fission materials generate heat so if we bury some pipes with the waste we could then build a geothermal power station on top, thus eliminating the need for nuclear power.

Ken Lambert writes: Kieren Diment (yesterday, comments) wrote: “Burn more fossil fuel than you need to so you can get less back from a wind powered solar panel!” That stinks. Ken Lambert, have you got some figures to back that up? Try these figures (US Cents for consistency): Coal fired electricity costs 2 – 4 cents per kWh depending on plant and location. Australia has some of the cheapest coal fired generation in the world. Current wind turbine technology costs 5 – 8 cents per kWh for a 2.5MW turbine with 40 metre long blades on a 50m high tower onshore. Offshore turbines are considerably more expensive and difficult to maintain. To get the equal capacity of one modest central coal fired power station of say 3000MW, you need 1200 of these puppies going flat out 24 hours a day. To get near 3 – 4 cents per kWh, the length of the turbine blade needs to increase to 90 metres sitting on a 100m high tower. That is a turbine the diameter of 2 football fields sitting on a 35 storey building weighing 300 tonnes. Still on the drawing board. The site needs to be windy, and these tend to be remote from high population centres and upset conservationists (and parrots). These figures ignore storage devices (molten salt, compressed air etc) or the extra transmission costs to deliver the power. At its best, Wind is more than double the cost of Coal and in 2004 made up 0.064% (less than a tenth of one percent) of the total world primary energy supply. Coal made up 25.2% and Nuclear 6.5% despite German phase-outs and no US building since 1979. Wind will grow, and in some suitable places rapidly, but it is still tiny and its costs depend on a dominant fossil fuel economy. Tune in for Solar and some more non-Wong facts tomorrow.

The ABC logo:

George Michaelson writes: Vivien Kluger (yesterday, comments) wrote: “Hi Crikey, I hate the intrusive new logo like lots of other people, but I guess I’ll get used to it. What I find curious is why they have the old logo on during the news and The 7.30 Report and then revert to new type for other programs. Maybe they’re not so confident after all!” The ABC sells a significant volume of news and current affairs internationally. It makes more sense to brand this material with the corporate logo, not the channel logo. The news segments are repeated on-air in both ABC1 and ABC2. So I begin to suspect that the logo is burnt into the tape for some material, and not for others. And, that the deciding factor is the ABC’s convenience, not the viewers. And, that the logo choice reflects hard cash decisions, and we’re wearing it domestically when the value (selling the IPR offshore) dictates they get the nicer, simpler version.

Correction:

Crikey writes: In Crikey’s tips and rumours on Friday the 8th of February, Crikey published a tip about Shane Goodwin, who is running for Redland City Council against Cr Helen Murray. The tip claimed that Cr Helen Murray is Goodwin’s godmother. That is incorrect. Cr Helen Murray is not Goodwin’s godmother and is not related to him or anyone in his family.

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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