Children s-xualisation furore, round two:

Paul Gilchrist writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. Your editorial talked about the latest photos of children and expresses your contempt for representatives of the “general community”. A word of advice. Next time there is any survey about public opinion of this matter, whether it is a professional or ad-hoc poll, have a good hard, look at the figures. Then look at the publishers of a magazine with a circulation of 5,000 and a hefty government subsidy and ask yourself who is really standing there n-ked.

John Pryzibilla writes: Re. “Art Monthly editor plays into Hetty’s hands” (yesterday, item 19). If the depiction of n-ked children in photographs is inappropriate in and of itself, as Rudd and many other politicians now seem to be arguing, has anyone asked them if they have ever (a) taken photographs of their young children in the bath, and (b) shown those photographs to other people (family, friends, to embarrass the child at 21st parties, etc)? I’m frustrated at the imbecilic simplistic elements in this debate.

Geoff Tapp writes: Who is to say when a n-ked child is not to be shown in all its natural beauty and wonder? At birth? After their first birthday? After their sixth birthday? When? N-dity only equates to s-x when a sicko wants it to — and when some bigots need a new drum to thrash — and unfortunately the world will never be rid of either.

John Kotsopoulos writes: It seems no issue is small enough to justify a shot at Rudd. Whoever wrote the editorial in today’s Crikey should offer up one of their kids for the next cover of Art Monthly if they really believe that this latest provocation can be justified in the name of artistic freedom.

Ian Swan writes: If there is to be any silver lining to this particular cloud, let it be the removal of all Anne Geddes images from everywhere.

Bob Hudson writes: From a well-wisher who wants to see that dirty old Raphael put in his place. The n-ked child picture Art Monthly should have run:

The Catholic Church:

Michael Byrne writes: Re. “Catholics, s-x and other major events” (yesterday, item 10). What an unimaginative contribution by Bernard Keane. And what bile! Keane’s pathetic antipathy is best displayed in his reference to the Catholic Church as a “strange belief system”. Hardly strange, as the world in which it is situated is founded on its values and proclamations of faith and reasoned morality across the millennia. Only the unreflective fool admires the flowering of our humanity across time without appreciation of the roots that underpinned it. You cannot simply jump from the Ancient Greeks to the Renaissance to declare human advancement. The Emperor Constantine gave the Church a special status which set it on a particular path that would have destroyed it if it was just a “strange belief system”. The Church lives today, as it will until the end days. I suggest it is perhaps best equipped of all institutions over time to provide direction and sustenance to people who do wish to find purpose and meaning in these dying days of our sterile mechanistic confined rationalism that is thrashing around with its own religious fervour on every cause under our dying sun; which, by the way, is our physical sustainer as it too dies.


Keith Thomas writes: Re. “Coming clean on geosequestration technology” (yesterday, item 12). Dr Peter Cook is overlooking the gorilla in the room. He says that “carbon dioxide (CO2) is only a very small part of air and we cannot easily extract it.” But nature extracts CO2 naturally and before we felled the original forests and destroyed rich soils, nature was extracting every year up to 40 times as much CO2 as we emit today. Look at the numbers: To date we have released some 300 GTC (billions tonnes of carbon) from fossil fuels and we release a further seven GTC each year. However, over 2,000 GTC may have been released by deforestation and soil degradation beginning with the [once] Fertile Crescent. Historically the planet’s lost forests may have bio-sequestered some 300 GTC annually. Restoring just 5% of this lost bio-sequestration capacity (i.e. 15 GTC annually) should enable us to balance the seven GTC we are currently emitting. We appear obsessed by techno fixes like CCS when wise old nature shows the way.

Mark Byrne writes: Peter Cook glossed over the technical problems of CCS (carbon capture and storage) saying that, “Like all technologies, we expect that the cost will come down steeply as it becomes more widely available.” CCS optimists are hoping to overcome this technical bottle-neck within a decade. Yet renewables are available now and ahead of CCS on the cost reduction curve. This has been achieved despite the federal government “closing down …every single one of the renewable energy strategic funding agencies while transferring large sums of money into the fossil fuel industry”. The Rudd government’s spending is continuing to widen the gap between research funding for CCS and renewables.

The coalition and climate change:

David Hand writes: Re. “Comitatus: the climate age puts Liberals in a bind” (yesterday, item 14). Possum Comitatus attempts to make the point that older voters, who generally vote for the coalition, are more sceptical about climate change, but his own graphs show that it is not really significant. The Newspoll ETS graph shows that age demographics are virtually irrelevant. There is overwhelming belief across the entire population that climate change is a major problem and that we are willing to pay more to combat it. There is more scepticism among 50+ people about whether or not an ETS will combat climate change but it is still over 50% and you could put this down to experience. We remember Y2K, the internet bubble, and other panics where, when the dust settled, the most visible outcome was a new cadre of nouveaux riche buying up Point Piper mansions after the killing they made. This is less a problem for the coalition and much more a problem for Kevin Rudd and the ALP who must actually make decisions and face opposing pressures between climate change (prices must rise) and election promises (prices must not rise). We are right to be sceptical that the ETS will merely channel vast amounts of cash to as yet unidentified people who have speculated on climate change policy but will have no impact whatsoever on climate change. We may well pay the price but get no benefit. This is a politically, environmentally and economically huge decision surrounded by the noise of fundamentalists demanding a “de-industrial revolution” now. Life experiences such as the one we are about to have are what cause the idealistic young to re-evaluate their view of life and politics.

Implementing Garnaut:

Mark Hardcastle writes: Re. “Kohler: Garnaut — the beadle and the dietary” (yesterday, item 2). Like Alan Kohler on one particular point, I believe it will be very messy to implement Garnaut’s proposal to compensate trade-exposed emissions-intensive exporters (with payments of 30% of the emissions permit revenue). And like Kohler, I cannot yet offer a better alternative. We need a price on carbon and in setting a price we need to draw well defined lines. The need for Garnaut’s export mechanism is to reduce market-share “leakage” to “greenhouse-worse” competitors. But we can expect that the corporations which will win compensation will be the already powerful, with greatest voice. The test for compensation might be improved by requiring clear demonstration that the dominant competitors are actually more “greenhouse-intensive”. And there is a possibility that the only thing worse than this messy compromise is to not have it.

Peter Wood writes: Alan Kohler is concerned that Garnaut is proposing that all polluters must buy permits and that only 30% of the money raised will be handed out to “trade exposed emissions intensive industries.” In fact, 30% of all permits is incredibly generous, will probably cover more of the economy than is truly ‘trade exposed’, and will probably lead to many polluters making large windfall profits. According to the governments own figures , non ferrous metals, iron and steel, other mineral products, the chemical industry, paper, printing, textiles and clothing contribute a total of 17.2% of Australia’s emissions. Agriculture (not including land clearing) is responsible for an extra 15.6% of Australia’s emissions, but this also includes production for domestic consumption and agriculture will not be included in an emissions trading scheme for a very long time. According to a recent article in The Economist , damage to energy intensive firms could be offset with handouts that cover just 15% of their emissions. Handing out 30% of the money raised from selling permits to polluters represents a huge opportunity cost. The money could be better spent on RD&D, compensating households with low incomes, or reducing emissions in sectors that are not initially covered in the emissions trading scheme such as land use change and forestry.

Fixing politics:

John Goldbaum writes : I am indebted to Peter Lloyd (yesterday, comments) for inviting me to expand on my succinct response of 2 July. I agree with him that shareholder democracy in public companies is woeful but that is because of the lack of courage among institutional shareholders, not just apathy among individuals. My proposal would see taxpaying-proportionate voting rights flow through companies and trusts to be distributed to the underlying individual shareholder or unit holder in proportion to their holdings. Where the shareholder is an opaque structure, the voting rights would extinguish. Individuals would accrue voting rights by paying GST, income tax, capital gains tax, and land tax, or by their companies paying company tax, payroll tax, FBT, etc. The cash economy would diminish and there would be more incentive to use transparent structures for share ownership. The use of electronic payments and computerized company share registers make voting rights as easy to calculate and distribute as frequent flyer points and franking credits. Voting can remain compulsory whereas for shareholders it isn’t. This system of see-through voting rights could even be implemented for public company shareholders, thereby eliminating the ability of institutional shareholders to avoid rocking the boat, but I am not advocating that measure as companies are supposed to maximize profits whereas individual citizens can exercise their votes for personal benefit or altruistic purposes.


Tim Falkiner writes : Re. “Australians buying gas-guzzlers in record numbers” (4 July, item 2). One reason to buy an SUV is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to park sedans in off-street car parks as you cannot see past an SUV to back out.

Oil and camels:

John Taylor writes : Re. “Briefly Business: Bernanke’s mistake, Austock, Oil vs camels” (yesterday, item 25). Couldn’t help noticing the remarks of Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum that his grandfather rode on camels and eventually we will revert to his grandchildren riding on camels. Australia has the world’s largest population of camels. Saved again! You beauty!

Newsreaders’ O faces:

Walt Hawtin writes : Re. “Media briefs and TV ratings: Newsreaders give us an O … Nine scores a ratings try” (yesterday, item 20). Just on that item about catching newsreaders offering us their O Face — we used to refer to it as “Quasimodo winning the lottery”. The facial expression is usually supported by some rhythmic shoulder hunching, just to hammer the euphemism home.


Maria Conidaris writes : Re. “Fighting global warming — now where’s that magic bullet?” (yesterday, item 1).  Epsilon minus for Bernard Keane’s Latin and Theatre Studies classes this semester. Aren’t we all looking for a deus ex machina to rescue us from misusing the ablative?

Thanks Crikey:

Magnus Vikingur writes : Re. Bob Joyce (1 July, comments), who wrote: “A series of minor financial hiccups saw the Commonwealth Bank charge me three times in a month for going over my account limit … I mentioned that I had read in Crikey that there is some doubt about the legality of the over-limit fee.” Oh darn, I just closed my NAB account after 25 years and opened an account with the Commonwealth as the NAB also overcharged my account and I got a little angry. Have I jumped from the pan and into the fire? Then again, thanks to Crikey and Bob Joyce I know what to do if this happens to me with the Commonwealth. Count me in as one that will renew my subscription.

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