Reaching the 2020 Summit:

Paul Howorth writes: Re. “2020 Summit snubs over-75s and Queenslanders” (yesterday, item 3). When one gives the 2020 participants list a decent browse, it’s easy to find quite a lot of names from the stock standard “elite”. A lot of these names have been around for a long time, giving governments of all colours the benefit of their policy wisdom and advice, through various means. If, as is apparent, this elite represents a fair proportion of our best and brightest, and if they have been giving advice to us all for a long time, why are we having an ideas summit to solve our “top ten” policy problems? Implication: If the elite were any good at their self-appointed job of steering society with advice and opinion, I venture we wouldn’t face at least half of these problems. What I think this is really all about is a mix of networking and a recruitment drive to enable a technocrat leader to re-establish a technocrat corps (witness how the mandarin courts were historically established in China, a mix of examination and public display of argument). Watch out for talent spotters and cheque books aplenty, but don’t watch out for solutions…

Chris Graham writes: Re. “Wanted: Canberrans to host celebrity 2020 Summiteers” (yesterday, item 4). I’d like to get my bid in early to be the host family for Gerard Henderson during the 2020 summit. While unaware at this point in time of the reserve price for the auction on Mr Henderson, I would be willing to contribute up to $3.50, in addition to a bag full of lemons from the tree in my backyard (so that delegates may access home-made lemonade during proceedings… although please note I will only provide the lemons, not the sugar and water). I would also be prepared to guarantee that upon completion of the summit, Mr Henderson does not make his flight back to Sydney.

Mike Smith writes: A curiously written article, Bernard Keane. You make it appear that Canberrans will be charged for hosting delegates via an auction, rather than charging them for accommodation. Surely this cannot be right? I would have thought that we’d be submitting bids for how much we’d charge…

Ron Kerr writes: After that snide remark by a “senior member of the organising team” about it not taking long to show off the sights of Canberra to those coming, I don’t think there will a rush to help.

CRIKEY: Gotcha, April fools…

Wayne Carey:

Trevor Best writes : Re. “Carey and Denton — a media match worth $2.21 million” (yesterday, item 1). If we subscribe to something called “Australian values”, how can it be believed that anyone at all could be found who would want to listen to Wayne Carey whether on Enough Rope, or out in the back lane of a suburban pub? What next? Will he be invited to the 2020 conference? Perhaps with our “values” it could be deemed better to invite him along with the other media personalities and some “ordinary punters” rather than, say, members of Mensa?

Rudd and Rusty:

Jim Hart writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. Regarding Kevin Rudd’s fondness for celebs’. According to The Sunday Age, he was more than keen to accept an invitation from Russell Crowe to drop in for a chat while in Washington. No surprise there. More interesting however is the protocol involved. As reported, when the actor’s people called the PM’s people, the message was that “Mr Crowe” thought that “Kevin” might like to meet him. Which demonstrates not only the extreme graciousness of our Rusty but also that surnames are only needed in Hollywood, not Canberra.

Earth Hour:

Rod Hamilton writes: Re. “Earth Hour: Sydney turns off turning off” (Monday, item 3). I chose not to switch off the lights during Earth Hour because, in my case, it would not have helped the Earth very much at all. My house generates its own power (around 10-12 Kilowatt hours per day) using 18 solar panels on my roof. Sure beats turning the lights off for Earth Day and… the solar panels were made in Australia!

Justin Templer writes: If I understand Hamish Craib correctly (yesterday, comments) the Smart State’s idea of contributing to Earth Hour is switching off the lounge room lights before piling the kids into the Falcon and driving up to Mt Cootha to see the effect. That should work.

Steve Elliott writes: Brian Hooper (yesterday, comments) wrote: Just wondering if anyone can give us a heads up on the volume of carbon emissions created from all the candles burning during Earth Hour on Saturday night? :)” Well Brian, paraffin wax is predominantly C25H52. So one tonne of solid paraffin wax candles contains about 852Kg of carbon and 148Kg of hydrogen and if completely burned would use 3455 Kg of oxygen to produce 3125 Kg of CO2 and 1330 Kg of H2O. Now how many tonnes of candles were consumed?

Stephen Harrington writes  Re. “This news is brought to you by our sponsors” (Monday, item 19). Now, I am certainly NO photography expert, but even I can pick the problem with The Sunday Herald Sun‘s before/during photographs of Melbourne’s CBD for Earth Hour. The “During” photo seems like a much longer exposure time (as seen by the excessive brightness of the lights in the foreground – all of which should have not changed), and thus you cannot reliably compare it with the “before” shot. If you look at The Age‘s two photos, however, the lights in the background (which seem to be along roads etc., and presumably remained on the entire night) are at least roughly the same brightness in both photographs, suggesting that these are a little more credible. Although that still doesn’t rule out the chance that the buildings have been artificially darkened after the photo was taken, they at least appear to have not taken the easy route to champion their own viewpoint.

The Sunday Age:

A comparison of the Melbourne skyline on Thursday night, and at 8.01 on Saturday night. The Sunday Herald Sun :

A before and after shot.

Four Cornered on debt:

Nick Coates writes: Re. “Four Corners didn’t pursue the full debt story” (yesterday, item 19). Glenn Dyer, I only thought crediting reporting agencies were capable of this type of mental gymnastics. If anything positive credit reporting was a partial cause of the US sub-prime collapse. Positive credit reporting allows lenders to push the loan to the limit and beyond what they could with negative credit reporting. They then compensate that risk with a higher interest rate based on a profile of consumer’s full credit history (good and bad). That allows the lender to target and reach these so-called sub-prime sections of credit card and mortgage marketplaces (that previously would not qualify for a loan). But in the case of the sub-prime loans, those calculations were ultimately found to be wrong. One factor that probably saved us from a widespread sub-prime style collapse in Australia is that we have negative credit reporting and the banks were more cautious, albeit relative to their US counterparts, with their lending practices based on the more limited credit information.

Peter Rosier writes: Glenn Dyer’s comments on the inadequacies of the Four Corners piece on Monday night mislead in at least one way: he says that the homes being repossessed are the bank’s homes and that you do not own your home until the mortgage is repaid. It is absolutely true that a mortgagee has a right to sell a property to recover its loan when there is a default under the mortgage; indeed, ultimately it has a right, as a very last resort, to ask that the property be transferred to it in satisfaction of the debt (this is foreclosure in its proper sense). But since the introduction of the Torrens title system, the legal owner of the land is the mortgagor (i.e. the householder) and the mortgagee’s rights to recover possession and to sell are quite severely prescribed in the land legislation of every jurisdiction. Glenn must be an old man if he thinks that the so-called Old System title is of much effect anywhere in Australia these days. The pre-Torrens system did indeed require a transfer of legal title to a mortgagee but even that required that the mortgagor be able to redeem her or his equity on repayment of the loan.

And justice for all..:

Dave Liberts writes: Re. “The law, not emotion, should determine Towle sentencing” (yesterday, item 14). Peter Faris’s article contains a couple of sentences which highlight my concerns with our adversarial legal system: “To me, it is inconceivable that any jury could acquit Towle, but that is what happened, largely (I think) because of the brilliance of defence counsel Robert Richter QC who outgunned the prosecution. In any event, the verdict of the jury is final and we must accept it.” The question this automatically prompts is why should the quality of one’s lawyer be one of the biggest factors in determining the quality of justice one receives? We all know that this is the case, but why do we tolerate it? It entrenches two justice systems, one for folks who can afford top quality lawyers, and one where folks take their chances. If justice is blind, why do those with great lawyers do so much better?

Rod Raymont writes: Has sub-judice and the presumption of innocence become almost meaningless to the media? Last week we had newspaper reports that, according to classmates, the Sydney boy accused of stabbing his father to death and seriously injuring his mother had compiled “death lists” of people at school who bullied him. Not prejudicial? Now we have on the front page of yesterday’s Telegraph a headline asserting that swimmer Nick D’Arcy had made a “cruel attack” on Simon Cowley and therefore should be kicked off the Olympic team. Whether he should be kicked off the team is a whole other debate but bugger me, can we wait for Police and Olympic officials to complete their inquiries or doesn’t anyone care about proper legal proceedings anymore? Some former State Attorneys Generals can testify to the outrage from media companies when they dare charge them with contempt over some of these reports but it looks like it might have to happen more often.

Carn the saints:

Doug Melville writes: Re. “Nine still gutless on NRL in Melbourne” (yesterday, item 21). Glenn Dyer wrote: “It’s not that the AFL game on Seven this Friday is all that imposing: Western Bulldogs vs. St Kilda.” Perhaps Glenn could stick to commenting on TV, as what he knows about AFL is seemingly unrelated to the current state of play – and mired in 20 years ago. Whereas the Storm have lost their last two games, the Bulldogs and the Saints are currently both unbeaten, and two of the three form teams of the competition, with St Kilda tipped to be a real threat to Geelong this year. Seems to me the Storm game is the one that isn’t that imposing. Or perhaps Glenn is still seething after the Swans were beaten by the Saints last week?

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