No risk of ABC dead air:

David Pendleton, Chief Operating Officer at the ABC, writes: Re. “Don’t forget your hardware” (Friday, item 21). There were significant errors in the Crikey report, and the Telstra claims, published on Friday, notably: There was never a risk of “dead air” – transmission lines were ordered well in advance and installed on schedule on 28 March in time for our on air date of 1 April. Talkback calls would not have been impossible. Even if a new PABX line had not been installed in time for the launch, a back up option was available using an ISDN line. As it turned out this was not needed. The ABC takes seriously its obligations to local communities around Australia. It would have been useful if Crikey had bothered to check its facts rather than relying on an internal Telstra puff-piece.

Rudd’s 2020 summit:

Edward Stratton-Smith writes: Re. “2020’s finest: the greatest hits of 1995” (yesterday, item 2). I was impressed by some of the ideas that came out of the 2020 summit even though a great many of them were not new. My particular favourite because of my personal interests was the “sustainable cities” idea. According to the interim report from the summit, “Through a National Sustainable Cities Program the federal government could lead a nationally consistent approach to urban and regional planning which drives water efficiency and reductions in emissions. This could be supported by the implementation of tax and other policies that encourage the use of public transport relative to other modes of transport.” All brilliant ideas. I hope someone points out that the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment and Heritage investigated this three years ago and produced the excellent Sustainable Cities Report. Not a single one of its recommendations was adopted at the time. However, it is all there for Mr Rudd if he wants it.

Ken Lambert writes: Apart from trying the JFK route of co-opting vaguely leftist celebrities, our mandarin candidate has revealed what we always suspected – he hasn’t got any ideas of his own! The tax system is an anarchic shambles which few experts understand, Federal-State relations are dogged by ad hoc encroachment and waste, street kids and child neglect are rampant, aged and health care is on a relentless spiral of cost blow-out and robotic servicing, Indigenous Australians are neglected, public-private partnerships threaten to MacBank the country with the corruption of networking deals and finance spivs rort the mums and dads super without their knowledge. So what big ideas do we get from the chosen 1000? The Republic, a Bill of Rights, votes for 16-18 year olds, more money for the Yarts, and a cringeworthy salute from Geraldine Doogue.

Sean Hefferon writes: Bernard Keane wrote: “Only a couple of genuinely new, or at least hitherto-under explored, ideas rose to the surface … A HECS-based Community Corps.” This is not a new idea Crikey so please stop spreading the myth. Liberal Senator Fifield outlined the idea of HECs discounts for voluntary work in his maiden speech in 2004. “What we have here is a government that seems determined to engage the minds of its constituents, which is something of a contrast”. Oh please! Errant statements like the above only serve to reinforce why I have not continued my subscription to Crikey. The composition of the summit would have made an ALP branch stacker smile.

Joe Mallia writes: Give me a bloody break. It’s like a New Idea launch about Cate’s new baby. Does being an actor mean you are really smart? Let’s face it, Cate’s profession is to pretend she is something she is not. She is an actor … a pretender. She imitates people. I haven’t heard a smart word come out of anyone’s mouth at that useless summit. How much has this thing cost us … the tax payer?

John Goldbaum writes: My big idea is to develop a happy pill strong enough to work on Andrew Bolt and Piers Akerman.

Mike Burke writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. Jesus wept! What is wrong with you people down there in LaLa Land? Why aren’t you doing your job instead of acting as cheerleaders? This is nothing more than a cynical exercise in herding the chattering classes into the tent to silence them or at least to encourage them to sing the spin-doctor’s song. We have an elected Parliament for this sort of thing and, as the chattering classes have no difficulty making their views known as it is, there is no need to give them special treatment. Our Emperor is stark, naked and it’s your job to shout it from the rooftops, not to stand there cheering him on or even applauding quietly from the sidelines. Grow up!

Chris Fowler writes: Crikey wrote: “…this 2020 weekend has served a cathartic collective ejaculation for Australia’s repressed liberal elites.” Phillip Adams – a repressed liberal elite? What are you thinking of?


Dr Peter Phelps, unemployed former chief of staff to the Special Minister of State, writes: Re. “Hughes: 2020, GetUp!, and the getting of influence” (yesterday, item 13). Andrew Hughes wrote: “If it fails to act impartially then GetUp! will notice that the 18-39 segment is also fickle and will leave it in droves.” Is he kidding? Since when has GetUp been anything other than a stalking horse for the ALP Left? It is completely compromised by its overt partisanship. Prior to the last election GetUp had an “online voter guide” which purported to show the “right candidate for you”, based on a your responses to various policy issues. So I did three different tests, using a different persona in each case. The first was a Green-Left approach. Result: You should vote for ALP’s Mike Kelly. The second was a Christian cultural conservative. Result: You should vote for ALP’s Mike Kelly. The third was a libertarian Right. Result: You should vote for ALP’s Mike Kelly. In fact, whatever answers you put in, the result was ALWAYS a vote for the ALP’s Mike Kelly. And that is impartial? While you’re at it, ask George Negus about what he thought about the so-called “public debate” down on the coast that was put on by GetUp. And George ain’t no conservative! The simple fact is that GetUp was explicitly set up by Labor-affiliated people to defeat Howard. The only thing that they wanted to “get up” was a Rudd Labor Government. If there are people who were suckered in to the organisation can’t see that, then they never will, irrespective of what it says or does at budget time.

The Summit and the Republic debate:

Walt Hawtin writes: Re. “Flint: 2020 governance panel is a laughing stock” (yesterday, item 16). David Flint is fast-becoming a little island, a delusional bulwark to a rising tide of virtually bipartisan support for this country to become a Republic. His comments are contradictory and all are easily dealt with, a sure that if he is the last of the Monarchist defenders, it is time to move on, as the Queen herself so devastatingly accepted. The argument to retain a constitutional monarchy has been fought and lost. Let’s now argue what the new model should be, and leave the Flint-hearted to play with their toy crowns and coronets.

Mark Edmonds writes: David Flint is a professor? 45% are in favour, but this is not a majority? Only if more than 45% are against a republic – which they are not. In point of fact, according to the “recent” Newspoll (January 2007 is the most recent I could find on the site), 36% are against and 19% are undecided. That would make it a majority, a year ago. I am glad Flint feels the need to dispense elementary legal advice (though I caution those on the receiving end), as his observations on statistics and Australian society leave much to be desired.

Rob Williams writes: Re. “Barns: Don’t be fooled by Summit’s republican zeal” (yesterday, item 15). The Westminster system as we have made it is the best system in the world. It is the envy of every other government; especially the Republics that have had their presidents assassinated several times. Canada rues the day they went to the leaf. And I say, what’s wrong with having a history of pageantry, blood and guts and beheadings. The cricket, the footy, the Queen’s horses. We have them and, unlike England, we also have a Constitution as well. The GG is already our head of state. Why don’t Republicans learn a bit of history? Rule Brittanie and all the rest can make their own arrangements I say. Have a look at all the flags of the world. You can immediately tell the ones still in the Commonwealth. I teach my grandchildren to be proud of our ancestry and to honour our flag.

Denise Marcos writes: Clearly I’m not alone in failing to understand the urgency of the Republican debate. The occasional cursory tug of the forelock aimed at the British monarch seems harmless enough for the moment. Keep your eye on the rabbit, we face far more pressing problems, folks!

The Age:

Barrie Hughes writes: Re. “What Age journos did next: it’s fight or flight time” (yesterday, item 20). Is it just me or does it strike others that it’s hypocritical in the extreme that a committee of journalists – The Age Independence Committee – supposedly committed to public transparency gets grumpy when the media outlet airs their own leaked discussions on the machinations of how their newspaper functions? Aren’t they the first to the barricades claiming the public’s right to know whenever the “national treasure” of The Age is under threat?

Charles Goode the ghost?:

Joe Boswell writes: Re. “2020: Where were John Howard’s four favourite chairmen?” (Yesterday, item 23). Stephen Mayne wrote: “The Australian’s Adele Ferguson has today called on ANZ chairman Charles Goode to give up the ghost after 13 years in charge.” Really? I think Ferguson suggested Goode should leave his current job, but stopped short of calling for his death.

Babcock & Brown:

Marcus O’Callaghan writes: Re. “A 211-page report? What does Babcock & Brown have to hide?” (Yesterday, item 24). I query the numbers used by Adam Schwab. More importantly the analysis seems flawed. He states the “All Ordinaries Index” has increased by 58% since October 2004. On Oct 29 2004 (that month’s last trading day), the All Ordinaries Index was 3,786.3 (data sourced from ASX). Last Friday’s close of 5,504.1 gives difference of 45.4%. But maybe Schwab has different numbers? One can only presume it was the price index that was used as it was compared with the BNB price movement. Measuring a company’s performance by comparing its price movement against a price index is close to meaningless. What about dividends? The total shareholder return (i.e. movement in price plus cumulative dividends) versus the All Ordinaries ACCUMULATION index is a truer comparison. Maybe that data was too hard to source? As to BNB “barely beats the index”, well the main positive driver to the Australian market’s performance over this period has been resources (especially BHP). So this financial services company might have done ok compared to its peers? Negative articles about a company written by contributors who are shorting that same company should be backed by greater logic and reason than this one. And I don’t have an interest in BNB.

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.