Peter Costello and the Liberal Party leadership:

John Goldbaum writes: Re. “Peter Costello: empty vessels make the most sound” (yesterday, item 2). Peter Costello was never cut out to be a leader. He was lucky to be the treasurer in a long economic expansion and that’s it. He didn’t have the self-belief to try to be the leader in 1994 so the party picked Downer. He didn’t have the balls to challenge Howard and to wait his turn on the backbench. He ducked his duty after the 2007 election loss and delivered the leadership to Nelson in order to spite Turnbull. He’s only a pretend leader and a pretend moderate. He has no vision for the future. His post-election self-serving dillydallying has weakened the Liberal Party as much as Howard’s egomaniacal rule. The only way for the Liberals to regain government is to stop carping and whingeing and to focus on policy for the future instead. Costello doesn’t want to do the hard policy work. Nelson has no vision except to try to prevent a civil war in the party. The only true leadership material is Turnbull. The policy which will win Turnbull the prime ministership is lower and fairer taxes. Rudd owns emissions reduction. Rudd owns gay rights. Rudd owns respect for workers’ rights. Turnbull has to do a Rudd and try to set the agenda. Taxation reform is the future. Turnbull is the man who can talk the talk and walk the walk. Minchin and Abbott should make way for their future. Put the marionette back in his box. Brendan has done his warm-up act. Now it’s time for the main act. Malcolm, come on down.

Walt Hawtin writes: Bernard Keane’s summary on Peter Costello is close to the mark. After the Federal election last year, every declared-Liberal supporter that I knew expressed amazement at the electorate’s apparent disdain for Mr Costello. They literally could not understand how a smart, articulate, moderate politician like Costello did not resonate with the general public. Many swinging voters declared to these gob-smacked Lib acolytes that Costello’s failure to challenge John Howard and step up to the mark when his Party needed him most sent a message that he didn’t have the ticker to challenge! “Look at Keating,” they would say, “we didn’t like him but at least we respected that the bloke had the courage to challenge, lose, then challenge again”. Australia likes a tough politician to be the country’s leader, although the 48.97% primary vote for Kim Beazley in 2001 may give the lie to that. Most PMs we’ve had back to Menzies had a mongrel streak, and Whitlam, Fraser, Hawke, Keating and Howard all stepped up and took their party’s leadership in relatively ruthless fashion. Rudd continues in the same the fashion. Peter Costello’s apparent comments at the time that he didn’t want to disrupt the Party, now ring hollow. He is a smart guy who waited until he was invited, and so he has missed his chance to lead this country. Unless he has some hidden strategy that he intends unleashing at an “appropriate time”, it seems that nature has already sorted out Peter Costello.

Emissions trading and global warming:

James McDonald writes: Re. ” Crikey’s green paper: these are the climate option ” (15 July, item 2). Crikey’s Green Paper included a “Do Nothing” option but carelessly overlooked the even more attractive “Make it Worse”. The Rudd government’s action plan turns out to be waving hands in the air while actually tilting the field in favour of high-emission transport modes. Thanks to Margaret Dingle ( Monday, comments) for pointing out that railways are facing ETS costs while only road transport will be compensated. The railway industry had great hopes for a transport-inclusive ETS, and the graphs below, taken from a recent submission by the Australasian Railway Association, show why. (LCV stands for Light Commercial Vehicle; H&R stands for Hire and Reward; MJFFC stands for Megajoule on a Full Fuel Cycle.) Super-efficient shipping, at the bottom of the graph, will also suffer.

Margaret I like your optimism that the proceeds might be used to rebalance the harm, but you know that’s a pipe dream: proceeds will be used only on politically expedient projects with a patina of carbon reduction, and the potential benefits of freight reform are just too widely dispersed to have much vote-buying value. And anyway the whole concept of the exercise was supposed to be harnessing market forces to favour low-emission choices.

Michael O’Hara writes: Whether or not global warming is caused by the activities of man, it seems Australia will be implementing a complex system to try to limit our contribution to any worsening of it. And this is causing an awful lot of verbal emissions — not all of it relevant to the point at hand. Let the scientists argue the validity of the effect and its cause — but I would dearly like to see our political system provide a better central repository of any consensus, conflicts of opinion and underlying data for the average Australian. There is only so much that the average person on the street can do. Paying to make your car “carbon-neutral” by someone planting a tree somewhere (with no obligation to maintain that tree) is hardly going to dent our national output. If we all rode pushbikes the impact may be large but it would not be material. Our biggest sin is coal-fired power stations. If we really want a change and quickly then all we need do is estimate the cost of replacing them with greenhouse friendly stations and then determine who pays how much of it. How about using the carrot and the stick? Legislate for business to get the big changes underway then offer incentives and information for the average Australian to show how they can do their bit. A trading system may or may not be efficient — but it will add complexity and introduce costs and “middle-man” profits. Reducing incentives for people to install solar power (or other alternative energy) sources is hardly helping the average person to make a difference. I don’t think that Australians are being given enough information (as opposed to data) to help this debate about our actions to be any more than another form of greenhouse gas emission.

Tamas Calderwood writes: Mark Hardcastle (yesterday, comments) repeats his assertion that Earth’s “average” temperature can be inferred from around 150 years of data. The Earth is 4.5 billion years old, so I maintain that basing an average temperature on 150 years of data is meaningless. Glen Fergus (yesterday, comments) claims that atmospheric CO2 levels were constant before humans entered the picture. This claim is false. Harold Thornton says he has done the hard yakka of observation and the scientific method — by reading the Garnaut review — an thus labels me a “denier”. The global warming hypothesis is based on computer models, not observational evidence. Dr David Evans recently pointed out that there is no “greenhouse signature” in the tropics at 10km elevation, suggesting that the greenhouse effect is not the cause of recent warming. Questions like this, combined with recent observations of global cooling, suggest that uncertainty abounds in this supposedly “settled” debate and thus caution should guide our climate policy. Finally, if Australia were to cut its CO2 emissions by 20% tomorrow, we would reduce the amount of carbon-dioxide going into the atmosphere every year by around 0.0001. Wouldn’t that be an achievement worthy of the billions it would cost?

The enemy of my enemy is my friend:

David Liberts writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 8). Crikey yesterday published a claim that the ALP would “pump a huge amount of money into the Greens” for their Mayo campaign. This sort of claim is often made in the media — but I’ve never seen such a claim substantiated, and certainly not anything relating to the South Australian branch of the ALP. Providing non-financial support to sympathetic independents (e.g. getting spare bods to hand out favourable how-to-vote info or helping out with a bit of in-house printing) does occasionally happen, but your tipper who reckons that the ALP would provide funding to the Greens is having a lend. Presumably, this sort of rumour is based on the suggestion that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”, but the reality of the ALP is that it just doesn’t work that way. Labor also knows that a non-Liberal victory in Mayo would be a short-lived thing too. Anyone with access to the Greens financial statements is free to prove me wrong, but I’m not holding my breath.


John Mair writes: Re. “Immobilised by Apple’s MobileMe, even without an iPhone” (yesterday, item 3). Tsk Tsk Crikey! I would have expected to see this article in the Daily Telegraph, not within your hallowed pages. If people are having problems, this has little to do with the product or Apple. I’ve been a .Mac member since March 2002 when it was called iTools. My transition to MobileMe has been without incident and I find the new format far easier to use and much more customer friendly. The real problem is that our telcos — and most people — had very little idea what the iPhone was all about before it went on sale. And still don’t. Look at the plans they are offering. The iPhone is a data transfer “machine” which is also a telephone. In other words, if you only want a telephone, don’t buy an iPhone. MobileMe also gives you 200 GB of data usage a month for 12 months for $119 where Telstra gives you 1GB for $89 a month. That’s $1,068 vs $119 a year on top of your phone plan! And 1GB will take you nowhere (songs, games, photos, films, internet) — dedicated users will need 5GB per month at least. Telstra’s biggest data package is 3GB for $119 a month. Next month’s iPhone Bills are going to give most users heart failure! And that’s not Apple’s fault either…

Simon Hoyle writes: Like the MobileMe users mentioned yesterday, I have had no access to my .Mac e-mail account for a while (although other synchronisation services — like calendars, contacts and web browser bookmarks — seem to be updating sporadically). But I have not received the “apology” email from Apple, nor any other information or updates on when service will be resumed, either … presumably, it’s all being sent to my .Mac e-mail account.

John Williams writes: “Although, in a very unusual step, it has apologised to .Mac users, sending this email.” Nice thought, but I’m just wondering what good Apple’s email would do when the affected users could not get ANY email at their registered address for the service?


Luke Miller writes: Re. “US08 Media Wrap” (yesterday, item 16). Regarding Guy Rundle’s video interview with DailyKos blogger Elise. When does the hunted become the hunter? I used to visit DailyKos and welcomed it as an exciting 21st century tool for ordinary people to fight election-stealing Republican spin. But I realise now that all hard-core partisan machinery (Left or Right) needs constant targets to hate. Deprived of Bush, DailyKos has all too easily turned against good people like Hillary Clinton and John McCain. Despite strident opposition to the war and a progressive voting record second to none, Clinton was painted as a racist war-monger and McCain, who in 1999 came closer than anyone other than Al Gore to stopping George W Bush, is being painted as the New Bush. With friends like DailyKos, who needs enemies?

Top Gear:

Carl Gruber writes: Re. “Media briefs: Newsroom backstabbing, Top Gear loses stig” (Tuesday, item 21). The BBC International Version of Top Gear that SBS screens enables a number of ad breaks to be shown during the hour long telecast. The British Version runs for the entire hour without any ad breaks at all. While I have no doubt that SBS does not edit the episodes as they are received, it stands to reason that if a 60 minute show is condensed into 45-50 minutes, then some segments will be lost. Blame the BBC!


Steve Pivetta writes: Re. “Media briefs: Eddie tell-all boned, journalism by McDonald’s” (yesterday, item20). The new Batman gets busted. Assault & bat-tery? I’m still waiting for the poster “CHRISTIAN BAILED”.

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