Commonwealth Bank spokesman Bryan Fitzgerald writes: I refer to Stephen Mayne’s statement yesterday: Given Australia’s plunging foreign reserves after our central bank undertook controversial policies such as buying $15 billion of home loans from the Commonwealth Bank, I argued last week that Reserve Bank dividends should be suspended for the time being. What the Commonwealth Bank has done is identify a portfolio of Residential Backed Mortgage Securities that could be used for repurchase by the Reserve Bank, if required. The Commonwealth Bank has no intention of undertaking this transaction with the RBA at the present time and would only use this option if liquidity conditions dramatically deteriorate. The transaction simply provides additional protection to the already high level of excess liquidity that the Bank has been holding during the credit crunch.

What about the environment?:

Darren Walters writes: Re. “Hamilton: Climate change should inform every budget decision” (yesterday, item 6). So much for the Rudd Government’s green credentials with one of the staggering budget decisions to scrap the $8,000 rebate for PV solar panels, but only to families earning over 100k. Politics of envy aside, this decision really means the government doesn’t want to invest in solar generation at all but still wants to appease “working families” (who voted them in) while slugging the supposed rich (who probably didn’t). I can’t see too many sub $100k families placing PV generation at the top of their priority list so it’s a win-win for the government. Would it not have been more honest to state the rebate was too successful and just take it off everyone? The funds already allocated could then be used to encourage schools to have PV units installed. It’s a shame this rebate has gone and PV generation is now out of reach (my family income is just over 100K). This decision came just as I was preparing to spend $5k to install an entry-level 1Kw system that was only economically feasible with the rebate. Without it, the payback period has ballooned to about 40 years – not even worth considering. So now I’ll be taking my $5k and spending it on something else. A deposit on a new SUV or an electricity guzzling air conditioner is looking good. It’s not easy being green.

John Hunwick writes: Clive Hamilton is right when he says the budget has not been framed with Climate Change uppermost in mind. This can be traced to the fact that most people involved in dealing with the details of the budget do not have anything resembling an ecological education and therefore cannot see the connections between the various budget components and their effect on climate. We would know that the penny (sorry cent) had dropped if public transport was rated over roads; if the price of fuel went up (not down) so as to reduce its use; the idea of “clean coal” was discarded in favour of wind, solar and geothermal; money was made available to buy back 1500 gigalitres of water for the Murray in the next three months to restore it as a matter of urgency; and desalination (if it all) was accompanied by renewable power stations and the direct recycling of treated sewage water for drinking. As for population growth, we should never forget the words of Prof Paul Ehrlich: “you can solve every environmental problem you like but if you have not deal with population control you have been wasting your time”.

Professional women and the baby bonus:

David White writes: Re. “Davidson: A Pinocchio, not Robin Hood, budget” (yesterday, item 14). A Labor government should have delivered a budget which looked after career minded women. My wife is well qualified, respected in her field and earns a good wage accordingly. As such our combined incomes put us just over the $150K magic number which Labor has decided now qualifies us as filthy “rich” and ripe for the picking. We have studied and worked long and hard to get what little we have and are now looking to start a family. Only to be unfairly disadvantaged because we have had a go and both work in professional roles. Abolish the baby bonus completely and replace it with $5,000 worth of paid maternity leave (Not welfare), paid in weekly instalments for every woman who has a child regardless of their income. Because the reality is most of the women the means testing is taking the bonus away from are the women who have to give up the most to have a child in the first place and because of their income they are contributing more than their fair share and are just as entitled to it as everyone else.

Working families:

Jim Fogarty writes: Re. “Wayne Gump balances the soft and hard centres” (yesterday, item 4). Why do working families (read dual-income families) have to have such a massive advantage over single income families earning the same amount each year? This government’s constant reference to working families needing a boost from the government’s coffers is beginning to tweak my melon. A dual income family earning the same income as our single income family currently has an after-tax income 25% higher than ours and my family will suffer further cuts to available allowances and services in this budget because we are “rich” and they are “in need of further support”! Go figure!

Gen Y:

Kirill Reztsov writes: Re. “Gen X and Y talk back to the budget” (yesterday, item 27). Since when does Crikey use bullsh-t terms like “Gen Y”? Firstly, everyone who carps on about Gen Y seems to refer to a slightly different age range. Secondly, the characteristics of this so-called Gen Y are so vague and broad they can be applied to anyone. Thirdly, why is sorting people based on age ok? Would we see an Asian or a gay take on the budget? Didn’t think so. I think Gen Y is the latest piece of w-nkery designed to allow people to pontificate and pretend they are insightful. I hope Crikey refrains from lazy, inane catchphrases like this in the future.

Well done Crikey:

Dave Liberts writes: Great budget wrap-up, guys and girls at Crikey. Possum’s analysis of the health insurance changes was better than anything I read in The Australian, Bernard’s assessment of the political implications for the Libs was more than sound and Mungo is welcome to put the boot into the Murdoch press any day. I’m just not convinced, however, that Kevin Rudd’s cat would actually want anything to do with Gordon Ramsay.


CRIKEY: Re. “Quiggin: Swan avoided the hard decisions” (yesterday, item 5). In yesterday’s edition we incorrectly published that John Quiggin was from QUT. He is in fact an academic at The University of Queensland.

The Democrats and Al Gore:

John Taylor writes: Re. “US08: Tracy Flick strikes again” (yesterday, item 3). I wonder if it’s dawned on any of the hierarchy of the Democratic Party yet that neither of their much vaunted candidates can actually win the Presidency. Let’s be frank, if racist or sexist: one’s black and one’s a woman, thus excluding them, one way or another from a large part of the normal Democratic constituency. As it stands at the moment McCain looks to be a shoo-in. Their only hope would seem to be something we have only read about in fiction: a deadlocked Convention, giving the bosses in the “smoke filled rooms” the opportunity to anoint Al Gore as the nominee. You heard it hear first. Denny Crane!

Westpac and St George:

David writes: Re. “Westpac and St George: the minus merger” (Tuesday, item 22). Best I can do on short notice…

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