In Crikey’s story yesterday “MPs behaving badly: a Crikey list” (item 3), we mistakenly said that journalist Carmel Egan was the subject of Noel Crichton-Browne’s comment that “I will screw your t-ts off” if she reported how he voted at a party conference in 1995. It was in fact journalist Colleen Egan at the end of that endearing exchange. We apologise to Carmel for the error.

Hybrid cars and Rudd:

David Harris writes: Re. “Car subsidy shows Rudd’s true colours” (Wednesday, item 3). When I bought my Prius a couple of years ago I worked out that I’d halve my fuel costs and save $9,000 in fuel over the 5 years I intended to keep the car. In comparing it with a non-hybrid I felt justified in taking this off $9k off the purchase price of the Prius, making it a $25,000 car, i.e. pretty cheap really. In my sums I assumed that petrol would double in price over the 5 years. In fact, it has doubled over two years, so I am already in front. If Toyota would now bring out a LNG version my fuel costs would be halved again. If your aim is to reduce your carbon footprint, the hybrid, in the longer run, is a simple and cheap way to do it. By the way, it’s also a great car to drive.

Trevor Best writes: It is hard to credit that people are still writing in supporting intervention by politicians in the commercial market place using our money, in favour of Hybrid cars. Robbie Kelman (yesterday, comments) says correctly, “It would be tempting but foolish to wait around for some magic bullet pollution free private vehicle technology. Get on with what we have now, . . .” However, what we have now is LPG, requiring extremely small extra cost over that for a petrol or diesel car, (and about half the cost of a hybrid), giving immediate reductions in emissions and fuel cost, better vehicle performance than hybrids, and no battery replacement (as hybrid owners are already lining up for at $3,000 each). We also have other forms of gas, and Australia is afloat on it. End of discussion, hopefully.

Steve Martin writes: I think that Robbie Kelman is correct in his assessment of hybrid electric vehicles versus hydrogen powered vehicles. Of course as one writer noted you are merely transferring part of the emissions from the vehicle to a power station, but hopefully new power stations will be built that have reduced emissions. One further point the best technology is not necessarily the one that is taken up by the market; most can remember the fate of Betamax in the battle with VHS.

Pollies behaving badly:

Noel Hadjimichael writes: Re. “You’re unpleasant Belinda, but you’re no LBJ” (yesterday, item 2). Given that Belinda Neal is the same Sydney University rightwing Laborite of my university days, I would never be surprised that she has shown a strong and unambiguous awareness of the right of her cause. She was a tough political operator then and probably has not mellowed with time. Pollies are not elected to be vicars, social workers or nice people. However, abuse of power or even the hint of abuse of process is a serious issue. If the alleged wrongdoer was a Police Officer, Lawyer, Local Government Councillor or Senior Public Servant – they would be stood down until it was fully investigated. When I take the kids to the Commonwealth Parliament next time I want to tell them that our elected representatives might play hard but within the rules. But then I believe in responsible government!

Dave Horsfall writes: As a long-time ALP member (over 30 years), I will never again vote for Ms. Neal (my local member) nor Mr. Della Bosca (my MLC representative). Feel free to publish my name; I don’t care what happens afterwards, as neither of them are fit to represent me.

Keith Binns writes: Re. “MPs behaving badly: a Crikey list” (yesterday, item 3). Maybe I’m just naive, but it has always been a mystery to me why John Brown copped so much flack for having s-x with his wife. I was of the understanding that having s-x with your wife was one of the few s-xual things a politician could do with impunity. As long as the door was locked I would just be wishing him luck and feeling a bit envious. Have I missed something?

A harm reduction approach to religion:

Willem Schultink writes: Re. “Bad religion: A harm reduction approach to God” (yesterday, item 14). Michael Gordon-Smith makes the mistake of thinking that religion is limited to some people, and can therefore be seen as a sort of addiction. But everybody has a religion of some sort. Everybody has a motivating set of beliefs that constitutes his or her religion. Everybody has someone or something that his or her life focuses on. That is their god and that is their religion. Michael then goes on to say that religion can cause harm, and therefore we ought to treat religion as an addiction similar to a drug addiction. But if everyone has a religion of some sort it is obvious that religion is much more than an addiction — it is at the very core of human existence. So attempting to treat it a just an addiction does not just miss the point, it sets up followers of one religion to judge the followers of another religion as to their religion’s “relative harmfulness”. That’s another name for religious bigotry.

John Goldbaum writes: Michael Gordon-Smith is correct to advocate a harm reduction response to religion but, just like our zero-tolerance approach to drug dealers as opposed to drug users, I think we should arrest, prosecute and punish the pushers of religion. Kevin Rudd has done the right thing in snubbing the Dalai Lama and he should follow up by snubbing the Pope. I would also urge Hetty Johnston to widen her child protection crusade to include religious indoctrination as well as s-xual abuse. And PETA shouldn’t just protect lambs from mulesing; they should also protect the foreskins of male babies from superstitious, barbaric, ritualistic mutilation.

Zachary King writes: Outstanding article. I have long thought that rearing a child with religious beliefs borders on child abuse. At least they find out that the Easter Bunny isn’t real eventually.

World Youth Day:

Christian Street writes: Re. “WYD heaven-sent for brothel industry” (Wednesday, item 12). Once again I see another bullsh-t story about WYD boosting Sydney’s brothel industry during July, this time gracing the pages of Crikey. While it may be the case that WYD will boost business in all areas during July, and most probably the s-x industry too, this whole song and dance made by people such as yesterdays writer Chris Seage are just a swipe at the Catholic Church who opposes and will continue to oppose the s-x industry. Stories such as this one and others relating to disadvantages for Sydney during WYD week are just indicative of the general publics unfounded negative view of the event and I find it saddening that it’s all too easy for people to moan rather than support the general ideas behind the event, whether religious people or not. Was there opposition like this for the Olympics or Commonwealth Games, events of similar scale?

The future of Aussie golf:

Alan Kennedy writes: Re. “The future of Australian golf is in bogey territory” (yesterday, item 6). As golf is just an excuse for a lot of overweight blokes to get out of the house and parade around in crook clothing before getting legless at the 19th hole, why should any of us care about the future of golf in Australia? Around the world television stations are finding audiences switching off as viewers finally work out it is as boring as batsh-t. Only Twenty20 golf will save the day or putt-putt golf where Tiger and his partners in ennui have to get the ball through the hoop, up the hill and into the lighthouse. It’s all played on astro-turf and you don’t need a buggy or a caddy. I loved it when I was a kid on holidays at Ettalong.


Keith Thomas writes: Re. “Morning Market Report” (yesterday, item 23). Your Morning Market Report says “Oil price up $5.05 to $136.43 after … [US] oil inventories fell by 4.6m barrels last week, analysts expected a much smaller decline”. Sometimes the reasons given for market price movements are a bit far-fetched. The US uses 21 million barrels of oil a day and a 4.6 m barrel fall would be the equivalent of about 5 hours US consumption for a day or 40 minutes consumption over a week. The world uses about 87 m barrels a day. The decline in US reserves is not likely to be the leading reason for a rise in the world oil price of about 4%.

ABC advertising:

David Lenihan writes: Re. “The ABC’s free kick to the ad industry” (yesterday, item 18). ABC Managing Director Mark Scott, spins like the proverbial top, name a topic, Scottie spins it. Yesterday in Crikey it was advertising. Of course the ABC is ad free (nudge nudge), never let it be said Auntie would soil her saliva by mentioning a commercial enterprise, or would she? In the space of two hours during a sleepless early morning recently I counted 13 direct commercial references, followed infrequently by an announcer giggling through hand over mouth…”woops, not supposed to say that”. I’m sure the ABC M.D. wouldn’t want an all out assault by listeners advising of their “ad when you are not having an ad”, experiences, would need a new department of the broadcaster to check them all. So spin away Mark Scott, it’s not as convincing as the PM’s version, but you sure spread it on thick.

Legal protection:

Chris Meibusch writes: Re. “Civil litigation goes a fee too far” (yesterday, item 13). I don’t know where Greg Barns got that bit about lawyers mortgaging client’s homes. He should review the protection for Qld personal injury claim clients under Section 347 Legal Profession Act (Qld) 2007 – see here.

Crikey turns far right:

Marilyn Shepherd writes: Crikey has been infested by Piers Akerman’s little ranters with their vile opinions about anything and everything. Stephen Magee (yesterday, comments) claims that being decent is a bad thing; others in yesterday’s Crikey think that hybrid cars are the spawn of the devil and the Crikey’s Editor seems to have taken a swing to the right somewhere to the right of Genghis Khan. Pity about that. Hardly makes it worth reading.

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