Interest rates and inflation:

Greg Angelo writes: It’s now becoming increasingly obvious that inflation is still not under control, and that reliance on monetary policy alone is insufficient. With the latest official interest rate increase, the Reserve Bank has signalled that inflation will still be a serious problem in the coming 12 months, and the impact being felt by homeowners and other borrowers is becoming severe. Blaming the previous Liberal government for the current round of inflation is not the issue. The Rudd government is now in control, and it must seriously consider the inflationary effect of the proposed tax cuts. Notwithstanding the cynical politics of the Howard government in the use of core and non-core promises, it would be appropriate for the Rudd government to send a serious message to the community that the tax cuts will be deferred for a period of time in the interests of helping to curb inflation. Such a response, although painful, would signal that the government is serious about managing the economy and would be the first sign that the government is taking a serious hard step rather than the tokenism that has characterised the first 100 days of the new government.

Brendan Nelson, bloodied nightwatchman:

Chris Graham writes: Re. “Comitatus: Brendan Nelson, bloodied nightwatchman” (yesterday, item 4). I’m not sure if anyone else has pointed this out already, but Brendan Nelson’s popularity is just slightly lower than the official interest rates. So, ipso facto, Nelson is almost, but not quite as, popular as an interest rate rise.

Paul Howell writes: Should Brendon Nelson’s approval rating fall from its current level by 6%, the motorcycle riding Opposition Leader might be considered for membership of the Hell’s Angels, the original 1%ers.

Housing and housing foreign workers:

Shay Gordon-Brown writes: Re. “Rudd’s housing plan would have the RBA worried” (yesterday, item 20). Glenn Dyer wrote: “And then there’s the plan to import 15,000 building workers, mainly from the depressed US housing sector, over three years. Firstly there’s a skills problem. Most US homes are built differently: there’s far less brick used, more wood and fibre cement products.” I think the skills problem is thoroughly journalistic based and has nothing to do with the qualification of US tradespeople. All Australian buildings are built in accordance with the Building Code of Australia and Australian Standards. All tradespeople are required to be qualified and registered regardless of country of origin. Perhaps Glenn Dyer is not aware that the USA is a big country much like Australia, both having cold areas, dry areas, hot humid areas etc. There is a different style of housing in the US for each different climate, not that dissimilar to Australia. For those of us who live in Queensland we often have the same argument about Mexicans (NSW, Vic, SA ) who immigrate north who insist on building houses without eaves, designed with air-conditioning in mind rather than natural ventilation and in brick in a hot humid climate. I won’t bother to mention their rabid and incorrect belief that daylight saving works better closer to the equator!

Pamela Curr writes: Where are the 15,000 building workers going to live while they are building houses for the Australian homeless?

Peter Logan, Councillor for Emerald Hill Ward, City of Port Phillip, writes: Re. “Keep Melbourne’s Grand Prix? The numbers just don’t add up” (yesterday, item 17). Andrew Maitland is to be commended for telling us the truth on the Grand Prix, specifically the phantom 100,000 patrons that are just not there. As ward councillor, I can also say that more businesses lose than win on Grand Prix week, because the event disrupts an otherwise excellent tourism experience and drives the locals away. Thankfully, last year the Auditor-General expelled the voodoo economics claims that the event delivers an economic benefit. It never has. Amazingly, economists from the left’s Kenneth Davidson (The Age) to the right’s John Roscam (IPA) and just about everyone in between were also telling us for years it is not economically or environmentally rational but with bi-partisan support, it was very hard to get the facts out of the government. I predict that after it leaves Melbourne we will finally get the real truth on losses, attendances and free tickets but not before.

Dennis Brown writes: As a past manager of a motor racing circuit in Australia I find it amazing that the public has taken this long to wake up to the facts. Inflating the numbers by many means is a common practice of all segments of the sport especially the TV’s, Indy and the Australian Grand Prix. They count every person who enters the precinct as a spectator/person regardless of the fact of payment, volunteer, employee, official, resident etc. That’s not the worst though, if that person attends say three days they are counted as three persons regardless of the fact that they only occupy one motel room and they only have one wallet so the money spent has a smaller value than say three persons or three wallets. This allows the promoters usually IMG, SEL, or AVESCO etc to attract larger fee’s and contributions from governments and for series rights such as beer, spirits, advertising etc as well as the huge funds that our governments such as SA, VIC and QLD tip into these events on the grounds that they attract a huge overseas interest. In most cases the boards and heads that run these events are ex politicians or political appointees of the incumbent government. I guess that’s why when the V8 series went to China it lasted one year only and last year they went to Bahrain and the crowds would fit into my lounge room. But in both those cases the overseas promoter/government would have paid a huge fee to AVESCO and SEL would have retained the majority for their expertise extracting it.

Angela Munro writes: “Victorian taxpayers would not be asked to meet the cost of the event, with the State Government only prepared to act as guarantor for loans required to establish the race.” The Hon Jeff Kennett, Premier of Victoria, Herald Sun, 18 December 1993.

Paul Custance writes: You’ve got to hand it to Bernie Ecclestone… and we did.

The most disadvantaged Australians:

Niall Byrne writes: Re. “Meet the Jilkminggans — the most disadvantaged Australians” (yesterday, item 1). Ten least disadvantaged areas: Corio? Residents of Geelong generally regard Corio as one of the city’s rougher suburbs. So how could it be the second least disadvantaged areas in Australia? The map reveals all – this collecting district covers the Shell oil refinery, a giant fertiliser depot, abandoned factories and Geelong Grammar School. I’d guess that almost all the respondents in this district are teachers and boarding students at Geelong Grammar.

Russia:

Tamas Calderwood writes: Re. “It’s not democracy in Russia, but does it matter?” (Yesterday, item 14). Charles Richardson says it doesn’t matter that Russia isn’t really a democracy. This is disingenuous. It does in fact matter that there is no rule of law or free media in Russia and that any capable competitors for the Presidency were excluded from running. Would Medvedev have won if he’d been up against a serious rival? And then there are little things like ballot boxes being stuffed. If it’s not OK for these things to happen in a real democracy like ours then it’s not OK for them to happen in Russia either. Charles’s argument that the “mechanism” of an election is irrelevant so long as the leader is broadly acceptable to a country’s population is invalid because he doesn’t know what the Russian people actually wanted and nor does anyone else. They weren’t consulted via a ‘mechanism’ that presented an alternative. I’m astonished that he’s defending the thugs that run this racket rather than brave journalists like Anna Politkovskaya who gets shot for speaking out against it.

Rudd bashing:

Jenny Morris writes: Re. “Richard Farmer’s political bite-sized meaty chunks” (yesterday, item 10). I really enjoy Richard Farmer’s bite-sized meaty chunks — in fact, it’s third of my list of “must check today” items, after “Tips and rumours” and First Dog on the Moon. But the occasional bit of gristle does rather spoil the chunky feast. I don’t think the Rudd bashing in today’s piece is uncalled for. After 11 years (surely it wasn’t so long, was it Daddy?) of Howard, the new PM needs to make his mark in the public consciousness. He got them elected, he kicked Howard out – let him have his time in the sun. The heat of office will beat down upon him all too soon.

Union balance sheets:

Paul Tulett writes: Re.”Stars align for serious campaign finance reform” (yesterday, item 9). Stephen Mayne wrote: “Forcing political parties to reveal their balance sheets, such as the $1 billion plus of net assets controlled by the ALP and its affiliated unions”. Can we also include the balance sheets of the employer unions such as the BCA, ACCI, the Australian Mines and Metals Association, the NFF and the Master Builders?

Outrage in Kalgoorlie:

Mike Winkler writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 8). Crikey obviously doesn’t read the Koori Mail. Crikey published: “Kalgoorlie hosts an annual Variety Club style charity bash called the Undies 500. This year a team thought it would be funny to dress up as Aboriginal people and call their car the Foul C—s” (an alleged pun on Falcons). St John Ambulance who was to benefit, commendably won’t take a cent raised through such bigotry.” There was a comprehensive story across all of page five on the Kalgoorlie outrage in the Koori Mail on 27 February.

Guy Rundle in the US:

Mikey Hughes writes: Re. “US08: Hillary to go on past Texas? Oh god, she can’t, can she?” (Yesterday, item 6). Guy Rundle said it was an old Kentucky Fried Chicken sketch that had “blacks without soul”. Alas it was Amazon Women on the Moon. The sketch also featured Don “No Soul” Simmons who was featured singing such greats as Tie a Yellow Ribbon round an Old Oak Tree, and country club African Americans astride their golf cart proudly stating they vote Republican. In fact – here’s a YouTube of it!

Wrong recommendation:

Christian Guerra, communications, media and entertainment research at Goldman Sachs JBWere, writes: Re. “Morning Market Report” (yesterday, item 24). Marcus Padley wrote: Seven Network (SEV) down 14.4% in the last 4 days, hits 6 month low. Were’s cut their recommendation to HOLD from BUY. SEV down 31c to 1064c.” We actually cut our recommendation from Hold to SELL not Buy to Hold. See here.

Life insurance:

John Bevan writes: Re. “Life insurance” (yesterday, comments). The automatic enrollment of clients in life (or death) insurance is in my experience a common event even by industry funds (who profess the primacy of their members savings). I am a member of an industry fund who for the first time this week told me that I had paid premiums of $76.09 from my fund total of $163.33 during the period 30.607 to 31.12.07. If you were getting regular super payments it would be OK, I suppose, but most months my pay is below the value for super eligibility so my super is topped up very rarely. Some how I feel I’m being ripped off.

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Peter Fray

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