Sam North, Managing Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Sun-Herald, writes: The piece about Harvey Grennan in yesterday’s media briefs is totally incorrect. Harvey is an excellent reporter who covers a difficult round very well, as even a moment of checking would show. A couple of months ago he broke the yarn about the State Government planning to gives its agencies and councils power to compulsorily acquire private land to re-sell to developers at a profit. The yarn caused a furore within the government and councils and eventually forced the proposed change to be dropped. He is a good operator who has a very specific round and your anonymous correspondent appears to have some sort of axe to grind. I’m disappointed that Crikey obviously made no effort to check. I’d appreciate if you could remove the item and issue an apology.

CRIKEY: We would like to apologise to Harvey Grennan for any imputation against his journalistic professionalism or ethics made in yesterday’s item.

Peter Costello speculation (and book flogging).

Mary Cunnane, Mark Latham’s literary agent, writes: Last night I watched Louise Adler on The 7:30 Report call The Latham Diaries a “revenge manual” while heaping praise on the forthcoming Peter Costello memoir. How the worm has turned: three years ago Mark Latham’s book put Melbourne University Press on the map as a publisher of major political books; and its CEO was vociferous in her praise of it, not to mention very, very grateful indeed that MUP was chosen — over stiff competition — to be the publisher. As Mark Latham’s literary agent, and as someone who has spent 30 years in the book industry, I can’t recall another instance of a publisher publicly disparaging — even inadvertently, as may well have been the case last night — one of her own books in the cause of spruiking another. Let’s hope it doesn’t start a trend.

John Kotsopoulos writes: Martin Copelin (yesterday, comments) may be correct in saying that Peter Costello is waiting to be drafted by the Liberals but all his other assertions are way off. Costello is no Keating. I would characterise him as the poor man’s Paul Keating, ie Keating without the wit or the dress sense. Costello’s arm waving hysterical rants may play well with elements of the press gallery and the ninnies on his backbench but they turn off the average punter as successive polls have shown. As for the political effects of Rudd’s climate change policy, the Government has already flagged that revenue from the sale of carbon permits will be used to eliminate the pain of higher petrol prices and help ameliorate the effect of higher electricity prices. In any case, Costello will be long gone before any of this comes to pass.

Steve Johnson writes: There was a plethora of Peter Costello apologists letter-writing in The SMH and The Weekend Australian. The belief that Costello (and this from the man himself, too) didn’t challenge Howard in 2006 because he didn’t want to split the party must now be seen to be disingenuous in the least. Oh so unlike Keating, they said, without actually going on to explain that Keating became PM. And it did not split the ALP. Since the federal election last year, Costello, this apparent paragon of humility, has unselfishly collected his publicly-funded backbencher’s salary and written a book … about himself. Dare we assume that he will keep the royalties on offer? And while his beloved Party wallows in the doldrums, he smiles away like the Cheshire Cat, allowing the publicity to fuel what will be bumper book sales for his riveting story of yesteryear. So, far from making a public contribution, Mr Costello actually appears to be clawing back what he believes he is owed after years of selfless public service to the Nation. Are we, the public and the media, perhaps behaving a little rudely by making all these horrible assumptions about him? Well, no, because Mr Costello can step up and correct us all at anytime. But he doesn’t. And he won’t.

John Goldbaum writes: Watching Tony Abbott wooing Peter Costello in public got me singing in the bath with my Rubber Duckie, just like on Sesame Street:

Petie Sweetie, you’re the one,
You make QT lots of fun,
Petie Sweetie, we’re awfully fond of you;

Can you be wooed?

Petie Sweetie, joy of joys,
When we praise you, you make noise!
Petie Sweetie, you’re our very best friend, it’s true!

Can you be wooed, be wooed?

Every day when we
Make our way from our lunches
We find a fella who
Roars and bellows and punches


Petie Sweetie, leadership calls
Show John Hewson you’ve got balls
Petie Sweetie, we’re awfully fond of you.

Every day when we
Make our way from our lunches
We find a fella who
Roars and bellows and punches

Petie Sweetie, you’re man of the House
We’re so lucky you’re not a mouse
Petie Sweetie, we’re awfully fond of –
Petie Sweetie, we’d like to hold on to-
Petie Sweetie we’re awfully fond of you!

Can you be wooed?

Business as usual at World Youth Day HQ.

WYD spokesman Jim Hanna writes: Re yesterday, tips and rumours section which said “World Youth Day — many suppliers and contractors remain unpaid with World Youth Day Trust in breach of various contracts with cleaning companies, plumbers, electrical contractors who get told that they will get paid when the public servants get time to pay them. Many millions are owed!” At the risk of provoking an unpaid sub-contractor somewhere, I’d like to point out that World Youth Day 2008 has paid many of its larger bills (or a substantial portion of them) upfront. I’m not sure why anybody is accusing the organisation of refusing to pay its bills when standard payments terms are 30 days from receipt of a tax invoice and it’s barely two weeks since the Pope arrived back in Rome. Some work is still being carried out on sites as we prepare to hand back Randwick Racecourse and Barangaroo to their owners, so some payments are still in the pipeline and will be made when that work is complete. Pretty normal and boring, really.

Climate change matters.

Martin Gordon writes: Re. “Flannery: the flaw in Nelson’s climate thinking“, yesterday. Tim Flannery’s attack on Brendan Nelson was a bit pointless. Yes we need to confront climate change, but no amount of action on Australia’s part will carry much force at all at Copenhagen. If our authority is indeed proportional to our emission reduction efforts, Australia could cease to exist and our emissions would be more than made up in months, and no-one would thank us. Tim fails to recognise that China and India have to do nothing at all under Kyoto or Bali, and in all likelihood they will do nothing meaningful for many years, even if they sign up to something in Copenhagen. They have plans to build some 750 new coal-fired power stations in the next decade. I think the politics of symbolic sacrifice will have no impact at all in Copenhagen. That is not denial but realism.

Steve Robinson writes:

Whilst I would never describe myself as an advocate of nuclear power it should be noted that coal fired power stations generate significant quantities of nuclear waste. Indeed it has been calculated that those living near to coal fired power stations have greater exposure to radioactive waste than those living nearby nuclear power stations. This article from Scientific American examines the relevant data. The coal industry, not surprisingly, remains very quiet about this. The answer would seem to lie in rolling out of large scale renewable energy sources – the question is: do we have the will and are we prepared for the inevitable cost increases – at least in the short term.

Where’s the Storm Channel Nine?

Les Heimann writes: It happens every Friday night, when Melbourne Storm plays. Channel 9 plays re-runs and other rubbish in Melbourne. This coming Friday night provides an absolutely fascinating insight into the total ineptitude of Channel 9 program management. Seeing their rival 7 will be choked with Olympic theatregoers one would imagine the folks at 9 would be overjoyed if they could possibly steal a few viewers away. Guess what! Eureka! The biggest NRL game of the year is on Friday night — Grand Final replay featuring the current top two teams in the competition, Manly & Melbourne Storm. What a beauty! What an absolute screamer! Well, just when you think they might – they don’t. If any reasonable person actually managed Channel 9 there would be blood all over the floor and mass boning. Clearly the Melbourne boss is, no, couldn’t be, an AFL hit man? It’s so, so unfair and so, so stupid.

Peds under the beds.

Cathy Bannister writes: Well, well, now we have someone unidentified rattling their ribs over a photograph of a fully dressed model on a bed, (yesterday, Crikey, media briefs) apparently looking ‘sultry’, with a glass of orange juice. Admittedly, the pun was unfortunate (bored sub-editor syndrome?), but other that that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the picture. Anyone who thinks the model is looking sultry needs to examine their responses — she looks more pained to me. She’s sitting on a bed, drinking orange juice, shock horror. In fact, the whole thing is made completely ridiculous when you consider that the model is clearly over 16. Look at the musculature of her arms, the sinews in her hands — this isn’t a child. If anyone needs to grow up, it’s those people looking for paedophilia under every bed. There’s real paedophilia out there, real people doing real children real harm. It would be better to aim effort at finding ways of dealing with real situations, rather than steaming at the ears every time someone vaguely south of sixty is photographed while not covered head to toe with a sheet. Clover more.  City of Sydney Councillor Shayne Mallard writes: For the fourth year in a row Clover Moore’s administration has failed to deliver on its much hyped capital works promises. This year they managed $120.4 million of a promised $174.8 million in capital works. This reinforces my long held view that this orgy of spending is unsustainable and should be spread evenly over a 10-year period. Whilst ratepayers’ invested money may have been protected more by luck than any management ability – Clover Moore has now adopted a new budget that yet again has big spending promises and is underscored by a new, bigger, cash deficit of $295 million over the next four years. That’s Clover spending the equivalent of a $180,000 top of the range Mercedes every day for four years. How financially sustainable is that? Will the banks follow Reserve Bank’s lead? Russell Bancroft writes: If the Reserve Bank cuts rates at some stage, what guarantee do we have that the banks will pass the rate cut on to customers? What is stopping the banks continuing to increase rates independent of anything that the central bank does? And given their track record, should the rate cut be passed on, no doubt this will be offset by increases in fees and charges.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey