Interest rates:

Murray Stirling writes: Re. “Interest rates: Does the RBA have its target right?” For so called intelligent people, the Reserve Bank’s method of inflation control by raising Interest Rates again in the current economy belies belief. The Reserve Bank has to understand the majority of the people currently spending are not affected by interest rate rises. The people who will be hurt are the pensioners, those on the basic wage and the would-be First Home Buyers. Already Australia has about the highest interest rates in the developed world. Maybe we should be looking at taxing items that the pensioners, low income workers and first home buyers don’t buy. In other words leave food and other basic commodities alone and really hit the remaining with a Luxury tax, say 50% for Cars over $50,000, Caravans over $50,000 and so on, including expensive TVs and like. All clothing over a reasonable price, everything the average person cannot afford. Let us look at cars that use a lot of petrol as well. I guarantee if this was introduced inflation would start to fall. The revenue raised could go into the Future Fund. It is about time the pensioners and low income worker had some say into how the economy was managed. Having high fliers like the members of the Reserve Bank controlling interest rates is ridiculous, any rate rise for them is a joke and as well they have ability to borrow at rates a lot less than the normal rate. It is fairly obvious that the reduction in Tax Rates looks after politicians in their retirement. The coming tax rate adjustment should be shelved and rates above $100,000 should be increased until inflation is at 2%.

Kevin’s 100 days:

Chris Hunter writes: Re. “100 days of wonky stunts” (yesterday, item 1). Perhaps I can add another angle to Bernard Keane’s summation of Kevin’s first 100 days. It’s all caught up with Helen Clark’s appearance during her recent visit — she looked radiant, relaxed, at home if you will. Sure, they are birds of a feather yet there was more to it than that. Christ, I’d go so far as to say she looked younger and happier than I’d ever seen her — like she’d just had a fast spin with Kev in his Chev. This bodes well for the nation. I mean, we’ve gone from camel lot to Camelot have we not?

Noel Courtis writes: Did Kevin write

his 100 day report with his crystal ball? It was presented on the 97th day. When you consider how long it would have taken to write plus the time at the printer, you would have to think it should have been called a 75th day report.

Bill O’Connell writes: There are 52 references to the “Rudd Government” in the Department of Kevin’s Quarterly Report. There is one reference to the “Rudd Labor Government”. Must have been a typo.

Guy Rundle in the US:

Dave Liberts writes: Re. “US08: Hillary’s mean girl v Obama’s Mr Nice” (yesterday, item 5). Guy Rundle’s missive yesterday was his best yet, and that’s saying a lot. Out of all of his one-liners-which-paint-pictures-worth-a-thousand-words so far, the Butkis County superdelegate who “don’t much like uppity types” has gone to the top of my list. Rundle’s reports cover the mechanics, issues and celebrity of the campaign in terms Australian political junkies can easily understand, and considering how US politics seems to operate almost oppositely to our systems here, that’s no mean feat. I look forward to Rundle’s columns being published post-election in a volume which will sit happily alongside Hunter S Thompson’s Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail – one of the most thumbed-through books on my shelf.

Leave Julia’s hair alone:

Greg Samuelson writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. Crikey is making a regular habit of commenting about Julia Gillard’s hair. What next, does the carpet in her parliamentary suite match the curtains? I know you give Brendan Nelson’s hair a spray from time to time, but as the 73rd most ridiculous thing about the man, surely you could find heaps of other stuff to pull the rug from over him about. Seriously though, Crikey should desist from commentary on the Deputy PM’s appearance, and other women in the public eye as well, in the interests of giving women in power a fair go.

ICAC and Wollongong:

Ailie Bruins writes: Re. “Time to close NSW MPs’ personal fundraising accounts” (yesterday, item 10). So the elected body of Wollongong Council is to be the sacrificial lamb. This exonerates the NSW Government which has presided over Wollongong’s corrupt environment for at least a decade. What was it that eventually prompted ICAC to investigate Wollongong Council, when complaints going back at least fourteen years have been ignored? And, how long will it take ICAC to find anything against the real power brokers behind these corrupt dealings? The question that nobody (ICAC, the media, politicians) is asking is – where is the NSW government body that is responsible for Local Government? Our experience in Hornsby is that the Department of Local Government sees its role as protecting Councils from public scrutiny. This sort of action by the Department makes them complicit in the sorts of corruption being exposed in Wollongong. ICAC needs to be far more proactive to maintain its credibility.

Health funding:

Les Heimann writes: Re. “What do you think we’re running here? Medicare?” (Friday, item 4). During the week ending 29 February PM Rudd made the point that when it came to Federal Health funding the Feds had run down their share of spending on health to about 40% of expenditure with the States putting in around 60% and stated the Feds would have to put in more to get it back to around 50/50. Think about the opportunities … for example Victoria could do a lot about housing affordability or problem gambling. If the Feds give more and the total spend stays around the same or just a little more then Victoria could reduce stamp duty on houses or reduce the overall number of poker machines allowed in the State. It’s all about bang for the given buck and each State should be asked to do their bit … or is it just let’s all spend more?

GM food:

Nick Evans, editor of BioTechnologyNews.net, writes: At the risk of boring the rest of Crikey’s readership, Katherine Wilson (yesterday, comments) is again disingenuous in her response to my criticism last week: to say that a reporter focussed on the sector is “a part of the GM industry” is the equivalent of accusing Alan Kohler and Stephen Mayne of being a part of the financial services industry. But if you’re not with us, you’re clearly being paid off, right, Katherine? And I generally agree with most of what Dr Rosemary Stanton had to say, by the way (yesterday, comments). Research on GM products, (and drugs and medical devices, for that matter) should be investigated in an open and transparent manner – later stage trials should be registered and the results published, positive or negative. But to halt research at early stages, as Wilson seems to want, because definitive safety data isn’t available is the equivalent of saying that you can’t trial new drugs in mice until you prove they’re safe in people.

Life insurance:

Joe Boswell writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 7). You ran an item that mentioned that; “BT Superannuation… come April… will sign all under insured members up for (in general) $250,000 of life insurance unless you call or write them to say you don’t want it.” Such compulsory, or near-compulsory, life insurance (a more accurate name is “death insurance” but the focus groups are not keen) is already common. Some people have no reason to subscribe to something that only increases the size of the estate they leave when they die. Why is it acceptable to force this on them?

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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