World Youth Day:

John Goldbaum (a founding member of the Secular Party of Australia) writes: Re. “WYD: Sydney converted, it’s time to rein-in Spain” (yesterday, item 2). The Pope was welcomed by the governor-general to Australia as a head of state yesterday and then sailed to Barangaroo and launched an attack on our system of liberal secular democratic government. He told the young pilgrims that the Church is universal, that there is something sinister which stems from the fact that freedom and tolerance are so often separated from truth, and that secularism is an ideology which seeks to impose a world view. Secular government has a two hundred year modern history. It accommodates all faiths, or none, and allows members of a multi-cultural and multi-faith society to live in peace and harmony. The alternative to secular government is a government which seeks to impose one ideology on its entire people. In the opinion of the Pope, that ideology is rightly Roman Catholicism. It is no coincidence that News Limited journalists have been waging a campaign against so-called “sneering secularists” for the past week. It is a strategy sanctioned by the Vatican. Cardinal Pell declared that Australia is composed of a majority of Christians and that the Roman Catholic religion is the largest denomination in Australia. The Pope has previously described the various Protestant denominations as cults. The Pope and Cardinal Pell are outrageous. They have the audacity to tell Australians that the Catholic Church should have a leading role in the government of the people and at the same time Cardinal Pell, some Catholic journalists and leading Catholic politicians such as Tony Abbott wonder and complain about a perception of sectarianism. They should thank their lucky stars that their nemesis in Australia is Phillip Jensen rather than Ian Paisley.

David Lenihan writes: Magnus Vikingur (yesterday, comments), I also listened to the PM make his welcome speech to the Pope but my recollection is that Rudd was dignified, warm, friendly and even overawed by the Catholics leaders presence. To insinuate that “Rudd very badly attempted to change his manner, diction, voice and accent to suit the occasion,” is a pathetic attempt at stirring. Your dislike of the Labor leader is your prerogative, but to attack him for speaking in a manner to suit the occasion magnifies your total misunderstanding of public speaking. Perhaps you would have him address the Pope screaming at the top of his voice, waving his arms around, while hopping on one leg around the Pontiff’s chair. The smell of a combination of anti Labor, anti Pope lingers after reading your contribution. That you compare an interview of Molly Meldrum really sums up your grasp of language, diction and delivery.

Hamish Craib writes: You’ve pointed out News Limited putting on the kid gloves for WYD. But what’s with the free marketing from Nine, Seven and Ten?

Rick Nehmy writes: Am I the only one who thinks that the syndicated photo of the Pope, hands on the railing, windblown hair, billowing red cape and steely mid distance gaze, is eerily similar to Charlton Heston in Ben Hur?

The Green Paper:

Nigel Martin writes: Re. “Green Paper: ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?” (Yesterday, item 1). Who says the ETS is about saving carbon emissions or the environment? It’s the economy… (You know the rest) and it is the only reason that makes bipartisan political sense to lead the rest of the world with an emissions trading scheme. As you know Australia makes a bucket load of money out of coal exports, and as Bernard Keane said the other day, projections of coal sales into markets like China are just silly big numbers. The biggest threat to this is, if countries start taking this climate change thing seriously and maybe China might even starting thinking more about gas, nuclear and other options. How to mitigate that risk? Well what about a massive public subsidy to develop “clean” coal technologies? Sound familiar? If the technology works, there is a ‘holier than though’ green message to the rest of the world that will support our coal exports, our coal fired power industry will have benefited from the public investing in the technology they need to capture and store their carbon emissions, and big industry will benefit from the comparative advantage of cheaper base load electricity, again thanks to the public investment. In the early stages of the ETS they only need to generate enough money to support the research and early stage development of “clean coal”. Over the next five or so years there are no big capital expenditures in carbon capture and storage that are ready to go. There can be no better way to mitigate your risk than to get somebody else to pay for it, AND have them feel good about themselves for doing it.

Tamas Calderwood writes: Re. “Hamilton: Shameless political capitulation” (yesterday, item 9). Clive Hamilton keeps banging on about the “urgency” and “seriousness” of climate change. However, world atmospheric temperatures have plateaued since 1998, ocean temperatures measured by the Argo-buoy program have fallen slightly over the past five years and satellite measured sea levels have fallen for the past two years — all while we have continued to pump CO2 into the atmosphere. This inconsistency between recent observations and climate-model predictions suggests that caution and pragmatism should guide our climate policy. If we were to deny this empirical climate data and embark on a crash program to cut emissions anyway, it sure would be a huge victory for the global-warming “mafia” (to use one of Clive’s terms).

David Green writes: Re. “Milne: Still time for PM Rudd to lead” (yesterday, item 12). Isn’t it odd that the only sensible policy position in Australia is coming from the Greens? Immigration is adding one million people to Australia every three years and we have the Victorian government looking forward to Melbourne having five million residents; but where are the water, and housing, and food going to come from? They’re a bunch of spineless gits, all of ‘em. Discussing the ETS with colleagues, we’ve started to come to conclusion that no government will do anything about the major risks that come with Climate Change. So why should we (individuals) do anything? Loy Yang is burning some 80,000 tons of brown coal each day so why should I bother with my personal energy consumption — it’s insignificant? If the government won’t do anything then we’re waiting for a catastrophe to occur to get action; perhaps the Murray-Darling drying up would do the job, or how about the North Pole melting, or sea-level rising a metre or two.

Marilyn Shepherd writes: Federal and state governments must now deliver pronto on the public transport they should have been delivering years ago. Not only that but another tax on petrol would be three major taxes when two has always been an absurd proposition which the Howard government imposed on everyone. The costs of city parking have just been released as well which exposes the con about petrol prices affecting people, particularly in Sydney. It is nothing much to do with the petrol, but the parking which is on average $200 per week. Again though, in the absence of public transport in places like Sydney which is only beaten on price by London, many people will have to pay the price or not get to work. Others can take up the slack if they live close to the CBD and take the trains and buses. Either way emissions will be cut.

Banks and fee-gouging:

Gerard Brody, deputy director, policy and campaigns of the Consumer Action Law Centre, writes: Re. “UK regulator exposes bank rip off…we ignore it” (yesterday, item 5). Michael Pascoe is right when he suggests that we maybe should outsource our consumer regulator’s job to the OFT. An important difference between UK’s regulators and ours is their ability to undertake in-depth studies into particular markets, to determine how competition is working and how consumers are faring. These “market study” powers are diagnostic and enable the regulator to be on the front foot, highlighting particular problems in particular markets, as the OFT has done with the banks in the UK. The Productivity Commission’s recently undertook a wide-ranging inquiry into Australia’s consumer policy framework. However, the final report made no mention of “market studies”, despite consumer groups pointing to their value in submissions. Unlike UK consumers, Australian consumers do not have a regulator they can turn to ensure markets are working and providers are not engaged in fee-gouging, as the banks are with bank penalty fees.

Jason Falinski:

David Hand writes: Re. “Liberals saddle a trojan horse for Warringah election” (Tuesday, item 10). Last November, after the Coalition defeat, it was pretty clear to me that the Liberal Party would need to go through a period of change and so I joined the Mona Vale Branch whose secretary is a bloke called Jason Falinski. I don’t know him that well but was surprised to read in Tuesday’s Crikey that “Six days before Brogden quit the party’s leadership and made an attempt on his life, Falinski transferred his party membership from Vaucluse to Pittwater.” Why was this vital piece of news was missed by all the media at the time? They focused on other factors, totally ignoring the fact that Mr Falinski had moved back to Pittwater. Should I lock my children up? Maybe wave a placard outside his house until he “blows back to Bondi”? Or is this a badly written piece of satire from Wendy Harmer on behalf of the lovers of Warringah? The Northern Beaches Liberals voted not to endorse candidates in the upcoming local body elections though it would be fine if Liberal party members ran as independents. I think this is what Jason Falinski and his team are doing and I would be surprised if they hid their Liberal Party affiliations even though they cannot campaign as Liberals. The Lovers versus the Liberals. Well, at least the battle for Warringah won’t be boring.

Bloggers vs. journalism:

Duncan Riley writes: Re. “Bloggers: the biggest whingers since journalists” (yesterday, item 18). What delicious irony from Jonathan Este in his contribution to the bloggers vs. journalism debate (Crikey June 17), when as a journalist he was failed to use the correct name of the blog network acquired by The Guardian last week three times in as many paragraphs. The company acquired was ContentNext, not FirstContent, and its main blog is paidContent (they publish no title by the name of FirstContent). Bonus points to Jonathan on the acquisition price, which was $30m US not 30m pounds.

Dick Pratt:

Les Heimann writes: Re. “Jewish community defends Pratt. Why?” (Yesterday, item 15). More to the point — why the article? Apart from a somewhat shallow form of anti-Semitic gun slinging the point is? Well there is no point. Would have been a tad more strategic if it pointed out that the ACCC boss Samuel was up for a contract renewal — and got his new contract after the prosecution was announced. Would have been interesting if it postulated an argument legal sort of like — when is a deal not a deal? Might have posed the question — what about the other mob ‘cos they also cheated; will the ACCC drop the deal with them too? All’s fair is it? Really, really not Greg Barns. So why write this. We don’t have to guess, what a shame.

India:

Kevin Easton writes: Re. “Richard Farmer’s political bite-sized meaty chunks” (yesterday, item 16). In regards to “Pressure to sell uranium”, India would have no shortage of uranium for its nuclear power reactors were it to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty… of course to do so it would have to follow the example set by South Africa and dismantle its nuclear weapons program.

Crikey:

Duncan Beard writes: Ross Copeland (yesterday, comments) suggests that Glenn Dyer’s TV Ratings be cut (apparently Ross only watches Foxtel so the FTA ratings mean nothing to him). And I seem to remember someone suggesting a similar cut to the aviation pieces being proposed recently by someone who doesn’t fly that often. People, could you please take notice of the fact that there are, in fact, other people out there in the world (some with interests quite distinct to your own). If you don’t like a particular part of Crikey, scroll down a bit — it ain’t hard. I don’t read most of the business/market section of Crikey, but I’m not so self-absorbed as to suggest they be cut.

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