Amanda Little, Managing Director of Edelman, writes: Re: “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 7). Since someone’s obviously unduly concerned about the mechanics behind the Starbucks announcement, the facts below should allay their concerns (and those of any other readers) and put the matter to rest:

  1. Regarding the media release — to ensure media information is coordinated with information given to other stakeholders (including employees, regulators and share markets) it is common practice — in fact in many instance legally prudent — to ensure head office has input;
  2. The reason another PR firm is listed on the Starbucks website is that the firm in question is the PR company that assists Starbucks in Australia with their daily campaigns. Edelman Australia was engaged to assist with this announcement.
  3. Starbucks employees in Australia are not union members.
  4. Edelman contacted relevant members of Parliament about the matter for their information. Most of your readers will know that the Lobbyist register is for those who, “contact Government representatives for the purpose of lobbying activities”. According to the register, “lobbying activities means communications with a Government representative in an effort to influence Government decision-making.” It does not include, “statements made in a public forum”. Contact was made as an FYI courtesy — not to lobby. Therefore no code was broken.

Christian Kerr’s anti-Crikey strike:

Raoul Dunk writes: Christian Kerr is spot on with his comments yesterday. Instead of having group w-nking sessions dreaming up funny stories about Brendan Nelson and Peter Costello, and defending the climate change evangelists no matter what, Crikey needs to get back to deeper journalism — and getting the bloody thing out on time — I got mine at 5.30pm yesterday.

Mark Hardcastle writes: It’s lovely that Christian Kerr seems to have found his ideological home within the embrace of the editors at The Oz. Though I have missed his hysterical brain purges. His latest outrage is up to par, employing selective pedantry to deny Howard’s dismal low watermark in Australia’s treatment of refugees. Though we should express our bleeding-heart compassion for Christian, it must feel quite threatening that not quite every media voice is answerable to his master’s preferences.

Bill Holmes writes: Christian Kerr, please, please come back. You are sorely missed!

Sean Hosking writes: I had to laugh at Christian Kerr’s bitter little rant yesterday. Good to see he’s settling in with the earnest, self-styled free market hard folk over at the hilariously titled “heart of the nation”. This is the sort of invective-ridden rant that you need to get a gig on the op-ed pages over there, so well done Christian. He even managed to drop in a sarcastic line about frappacinos — very witty. It’s what all the loopy lefties are drinking these days hey Christian, including no doubt the Naomi Klein loving folk at Crikey. “Glib, biased and ignorant” indeed! I can just see Janet A standing approvingly over his shoulder…

Richard Scott writes: It may just be me — but if you edit Christian’s last sentence in his rant slightly, he seems closer to the money: “Staff who have been sacked or left gave you your reputation. What are we left with? [The Australian]. Glib, biased, ignorant and wrong.” I didn’t mind Hillary, but Christian really started to grate towards the end. I am very happy with Crikey’s balance (but not too much Andrew Bolt please).

Mark Freeman writes: Thanks Crikey for allowing Mr Kerr his right of reply. Thumbs down to Christian for such a poor effort. Can’t say I’ve really noticed his absence — now I remember why. “Glib, biased, ignorant and wrong.” Hmm.

Brendan Nelson’s Mr Planet suit:

John Goldbaum writes: Re. “Brendan Nelson tries on his Mr Planet suit” (yesterday, item 2). When Brendan Nelson recovers from his hard landing, he needs to order a leak inquiry to discover which fool in his shadow cabinet deliberately told Samantha Maiden the exact opposite of what had really transpired. It is no coincidence that the Murdoch press pilloried Nelson on Wednesday whereas the Fairfax press let him off reasonably lightly. The lesson to be learned is don’t lie to a journalist or her brothers and sisters will do you over.

A Captain Planet fan writes: Sorry, I couldn’t read Bernard Keane’s item yesterday without thinking of Captain Planet:

Wikipedia — Crikey, get a life:

Chris O’Regan writes: Re. “Keane: This Wiki sh-t is really Whack” (yesterday, item 3). Bernard Keane, you have discovered that (a) Wikipedia articles about politicians can easily be defaced, and (b) this amateurish vandalism is invariably replaced and the offending account blocked. Congratulations. You have just reached an equivalent level of knowledge to any one of thousands of bored high school students around Australia every day. I’m sorry, Bernard, but that was not an article. Why not read about Wikipedia, and how it deals with tens of thousands of vandals everyday, and say something insightful about that? Nobody pays for Crikey to find out how you amuse yourself on a slow afternoon.

Luke Miller writes: Why do journalists feel the need to add mistakes to Wikipedia? There are many other public services they could be sabotaging … lying in front of ambulances to test if they will go up on the footpaths, setting fire to fire stations to see how long it takes the firemen to respond, or even dialling 000 repeatedly to see if they can jam the phone line. If a journalist wants to test Wikipedia, they should take an article and then independently check it for comprehensiveness and accuracy … and maybe feed back their findings into the article … oh wait, that sounds too much like hard work!

Housing problems? Move to Gulargambone:

Shirley Colless writes: Re. “Building approvals down. Rates to follow?” (Yesterday, item 1). Building approvals, whether from Councils or high-handedly through the Minister for Planning, are one thing. Completed projects are another. And this adds to the problem of insufficient housing to meet the demand either for purchase or rent. There must be thousands of vacant houses around Sydney sitting on blocks of land where approval has been given for demolition and rebuild but where neither demolition nor rebuild has occurred. I would guess that no Council would be able to offer even a guestimate about the amount of vacant housing stock in its area, particularly given that the vast majority of construction certificates are being approved by private certifiers. Perhaps the only reasonable pointer to this waste of housing stock lies in the last Census, which must have recorded the number of houses/units about which no returns were made. But for tree changers, particularly elderly ones, there is hope — there are a number of vacant houses out at Gulargambone, either in town or out on properties — with the added benefit of lots of room in the cemetery.

The AFP:

Pappinbarra Fox writes: Re. “Keelty’s pursuit of Haneef is beyond the pale” (yesterday, item 9). I have a real problem when people start to suggests that governments ought to interfere in the day-to-day managerial decisions of police. Once the government can decide who police should investigate or not then we are all in trouble. Imagine if the AFP wanted to investigate Julia Gillard for some nefarious act and the government had the power to instruct the AFP not to investigate. I don’t think Greg Barns has really thought through his concern. On the other hand the AFP should not be continuing the investigation once it is clear that there is no substance to the matter being investigated but it is not for governments to decide that.

Mandatory detention:

John Shailer writes: Re. Tuesday’s editorial. Kevin Rudd is releasing most of the illegal immigrants currently in detention, so that they can disappear into the wider community and undercut the pay of working families. I don’t remember him saying during the election campaign he would go soft on border security. This looks like the thin edge of the wedge — what next? Naval escorts for incoming boat people?

Internet filtering in Tassie:

Michael Meloni writes: Re. “Internet filters a success, if success = failure” (Tuesday, item 15). The Tasmanian filtering trial is a failure. Why? The miracle filter Senator Conroy says showed less than 2% network degradation was also one of the least accurate at identifying adult and inappropriate websites. All of the filters were ineffective (on average thirteen clicks before a filtered user could access pornography) and there was an unacceptable rate of overblocking. Worse, there was no analysis of circumvention methods and that’s crucial to understanding why filters are generally regarded as futile. Filtering can be bypassed in minutes by a savvy net user and in an hour by anyone following instructions. Take into account that Senator Conroy wants to block websites that are “inappropriate” for children and you’ve got to wonder why only 3930 URLs were tested. How small does Senator Conroy think the internet is? Kevin Rudd made his mark in history on Sorry day. Now I think Senator Conroy wants to make his.

Telemarketing wars:

Wes Pryor writes: Re. “The day that telemarketing crossed the line” (yesterday, item 4). Robots, subcontinental students and underhanded surveys are one thing, and like Stephen Downes, they’ve tested me. But three weeks ago, an Australian Red Cross caller made even the robots seem pleasant. When asked for a donation, I gave my stock response “I really support your organisation, and I do try and help in other ways (like for instance working full time in development in South Asia), but I’m sorry I object to being called at home for this purpose.” Her response? “Well, it’s the 20th (sic) Century, so it’s gonna happen. Click…” Is there a Crikey prize for rough telemarketing?

Video games:

Abe Black writes: Re. “Desperately seeking a sensible discussion about videogames” (yesterday, item 17). Please get Gabriel McGrath back more often… finally some gaming commentary on a news site from someone who gets it. I was watching that Q&A too, unbelievable the ignorance of people who comment about something they know fork all about.

Emissions trading and solar power:

Peter Wood writes: Re. “Greenpeace: coal exports undermine Rudd climate case” (yesterday, item 13). The Green Paper contains a subsidy for coal exports that Emma Pittaway’s article forgot to mention. According to Appendix D of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Green Paper, black coal mining has emissions per unit of revenue of 1,722 tonnes CO2-e per million dollars of revenue. This would qualify it as an “emissions-intensive trade-exposed industry”, eligible for 60% free permits. If it emitted more than 2,000 tonnes CO2-e per million dollars of revenue, it would qualify for 90% free permits. One of the problems with the way that the Green Paper proposes that free permits are allocated is that you need to emit over 1,500 tonnes CO2-e per million dollars of revenue to qualify. There is therefore a massive perverse incentive to have a low carbon productivity.

Mark Byrne writes: Marilyn Shepherd (yesterday, comments), unfortunately Labor has crashed the growing solar installation industry and has not allocated your “$768 million per annum” for renewables. Labor instead offered ten times less, a mere $83 million pa for 6 years. At the same time Labor failed to cut the $4.9 billion p.a diesel fuel subsidies to that go to the likes of coal miners and heavy road transport. Nor did Labor cut the extra $1.2 billion p.a. subsidy for coal-fired power generators. Nor did Labor not cut the $1.1 billion p.a. in Fringe Benefits subsidy given to drivers of salary packaged cars who can contrive to clock up more miles. Labour did not cut the $900 million p.a. subsidy on aviation fuel. The opportunity cost of these fossil fuel subsidies is suppression of more sustainable alternatives, and the development of an economy/society with higher dependence on fossil fuel and thus more vulnerable to energy shocks.


Stephen Riden, manager, Information and Research at the Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia, writes: Re. “Richard Farmer’s political bite-sized meaty chunks” (yesterday, item 11). Richard Farmer seeks to discredit me on the basis that I stand by figures from the Liquor Merchants Association of Australia that demonstrate the unintended consequences of the Government’s ill-conceived 70 percent tax hike on pre-mixed drinks. The government is hiding behind the fact that alcohol sales are seasonal. This year’s increase in total spirits sold is twice that of last year — and the tax is responsible. An extra 21 million standard spirit drinks — or 266,000 litres of alcohol – were sold following the introduction of the tax. Why? Because if you narrowly focus a tax hike on only one alcohol product, consumers will move to others — in this case straight spirits and the potential for unmeasured over-pouring. Like Mr Farmer — a former wine merchant — retailers and spirits makers understand their customers and their purchasing behaviour. It’s these very facts that journalists have covered. Nothing more, nothing less.

Buying and selling:

Alan Phillips writes: Re. Julian Gillespie (Monday, comments). Things must have changed since I studied commercial law. I learned that from the legal pint of view in the sale of goods, the offer is made by the customer and acceptance by the vendor, despite what is said in advertisements. Is Julian Gillespie trying to over-simplify the case or trying to pull wool over our eyes?

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