The RBA, the banks and interest rates:

Justin Templer writes: Re. “Giving the banks the bashing they deserve” (yesterday, item 24). Australians families should momentarily stop ogling Olympic gold and concentrate on “The Great Interest Rate Debate” — if only to ensure that the debate remains above the puerile depths being plumbed by people like Stephen Mayne and Kevin 08. Kevin’s weird economics you can understand — he is a populist politician (tautology?) for whom economic reality is a moveable feast. But Stephen –- oh, so disappointing, especially when only two days ago I was defending you to a colleague who argued that you are a light-weight rabble-rouser with no understanding of economics. Needless to say I’ll be apologising to my colleague tomorrow in the light of your blatherings about interest rates and your suggestion that Labor should direct the Future Fund to compete with the banks in the home loan space — so dangerous and Whitlamesque an idea as to not even be risible. And too many B’s Stephen — “big banks, belligerent banks, bashing, brave, bunch of bankers, bloody-minded, billions”. What a load of balderdash. Stick to the arts.

John Mant writes: One advantage the CBA has is being the only bank to issue an Assurance of Support Guarantee under the Department of Immigration’s rules for issuing certain long tern visitor visas. The Guarantee has to be backed by a term deposit for the amount of the guarantee, which would seem to make it a low risk promise. The term deposit can be between $5,000 and $14,000 up to ten years. The interest rate on the deposit is around 3%, ensuring that the deposit, when returned after ten years, will have lost value. Why should shareholders of the bank profit from this rip-off at the expense of visa holders’ families? Was the CBA’s monopoly on issuing ‘guarantees’ backed by deposits put out for bid? How much cheap money has the bank got from this monopoly? Would some other bank be prepared to do the job for a proper return to depositors? Have any guarantees been called and, if so, at what loss to the bank? I hope, at least, immigration officers get asked to the bank’s christmas party.

Michael Cooper writes: Re. “RBA says rates to fall. Banks take note” (yesterday, item 1). About time the Reserve Bank went into bat against the banking cartel. How quickly the banks forget that it was the Australian public who went guarantor for them when the global credit crisis torpedoed their cash-flow. Through the Reserve Bank interventions in money markets the risk to the cartel shareholders of institutional collapse was underwritten by you and me. For the banks to now claim there is no implicit social contract here, and they have no obligation to the population when interest rates start reducing, only to their shareholders, just demonstrates yet again that the market economy is based on fear and greed, and that corporate ethics is an oxymoron.

Peter Costello:

John Goldbaum writes: Re. “The Costello Memoir Part 2: The “challenge” that never was” (yesterday, item 12). In light of the push to draft Peter Costello, I consulted my naturopath. Her advice is that Peter should be given calcium, magnesium and Vitamin D to strengthen his spine, potassium phosphate for nerve, acidophilus for intestinal fortitude, milk thistle to prevent lily liver, omega-3 fish oils and Vitamin E to give him ticker. For the benefit of Nick Minchin and Tony Abbott, they are available at a health store near you.

Qantas:

Brian Harvey writes: Re. “Qantas 737 saga a deadly dangerous farce” (yesterday, item 2). What is really galling is that any general aviation company that acted so slovenly would have their Air Operators certificate pulled straight away and put out of business. One could write a book on the challenges general aviation faces today and the fact that they just crucify anyone that oversteps.

Reba Meagher:

Ava Hubble writes: Re. “Smith departure overshadowed by Meagher’s taxi hijinks” (Tuesday, item 12). There have been renewed rants about NSW Health Minister, Reba Meagher. Last week, when she decided to travel home from a night spot in a cab with a companion, she is said to have neglected to advise her ministerial driver. Ms Meagher is reported to have blamed a staffer for neglecting to pass on the message. In any event, her chauffeur was reportedly kept waiting for her all night — and without overtime. He has attracted profound sympathy, not least from The Sydney Morning Herald‘s Miranda Devine. Yet I wonder if it was misplaced. La Devina complains that the exhausted chauffeur ended up falling asleep in the ministerial car. But surely, after waiting for a reasonable time, he should have hit the car phone to check out the minister’s whereabouts. After all, she might have fallen foul of a bouncer. She might have been kidnapped. Yet even more riveting is the thought that the once audacious, witheringly insolent Australian worker has become tamed, cowed and unimaginative; quite prepared to wait up all night without overtime for the boss — even if that boss is a member of the current, allegedly Labor, NSW Government.

Russia v Georgia:

Keith Perkins writes: Martin Gordon’s contribution (Wednesday, comments) is most remarkable for its factual exclusions than by its nonfactual inclusions. In referring to the present conflict between Russia and Georgia he claims that the first shots fired coincided with the first starter’s gun being fired at the games. The inference being that Russia fired the first shots and that they were timed to coincide with the games. Utter nonsense. The first shots were fired when Georgian troops invaded South Ossetia and slaughtered approximately 2000 civilians in its capital Tskhinvali. No doubt Martin Gordon didn’t have a problem when Kosovo demanded independence from Serbia but displays symptoms akin to hysteria when 90% of South Ossetians want a similar deal from Georgia… Martin should remember the old adage that claims, or should claim, “what is good enough for the goose should also be good enough for the turkey in Washington”.

Martin not the first:

Wayne Worladge writes: Re. “NT most politically correct ministry in Oz” (yesterday, item 3). Bernard Keane wrote: “…and remember Clare Martin was the first female State or Territory leader elected outside the ACT, in 2001.” What about Joan Kirner in Victoria? According to Wikipedia:  “Joan Elizabeth Kirner AM (born 20 June 1938), Australian politician, was the 42nd Premier of Victoria, the first female to hold the position, which she held for two years prior to a landslide election defeat.” Regards and keep up the great work.

Keane v Rundle:

Richard Scott writes: Re. “Corruption, autocracy and democracy. Again. Again.” (Wednesday, item 18). I’ve quite relished the stoush between Bernard Keane and Guy Rundle. It took me a few sentences to work out Keane’s effort was parody, but that’s always true of post-modernism and discourse analysis. But I have to give the points to Rundle on substance. On a digression, Bernard needs to read the FOI Act and Guidelines sometimes — his bleat a week or two back about how FOI would be improved if there was an avenue to consult with the applicant. The Act actually mandates that consultation, and it has worked very well in several FOI exercises I’ve been involved in, including one which dribbled over the headlines for some time.

A black day for swans:

Toni Pride writes: Re. “Video: Open season on black swans in Victoria” (yesterday, item 16). It is dreadful that people can see slaughtering native animals as a solution to local problems. It is unlikely that removing what are perceived to be the causes of local problems can be solved by the removal of local fauna etc. Has Australia become the land of the short-term solution (regardless of the long-term costs)? Wasn’t it Victoria that introduced the ban on duck-shooting?

The proof is in the packaging:

Michael Brougham writes: For Julian Gillespie’s benefit (yesterday, comments), the reason all that air is in your packet of chips is so the chips don’t break in shipping and stocking. Chips aren’t particularly hardy things, and if their makers threw them around in packets designed to fit snugly to their contents, they’d soon find themselves selling bags of flavoured crumbs. The alternative to oversized packets full of air is to eat your Twisties with a spoon.

Mike Newbold writes: Julian Gillespie may like the manufacturers to save on packaging, but the rest of us like to by packets of whole chips. The pillow pack is full of air to protect the contents from getting squashed so we don’t buy packets of crumbs. Julian can save the earth and fight the obesity epidemic in one foul swoop! Don’t buy them.

A giant leap:

Graham Hobson writes: Re. “Telstra: where talk is cheap but executives are not” (yesterday, item 25). What calendar is Adam Schwab is using? It must be a double leap year, 29th February, 31st June?

GetUp:

Ed Coper, Campaigns Coordinatorat GetUP, writes: John Richardson’s letter (yesterday, comments) criticised our renewed efforts to raise funds for an ad campaign, suggesting that we should simply ask Seven to refund our money and run the same ad. Naturally, we’re expecting a refund. But unfortunately the content of our original ad, asking Kevin Rudd to raise the issue of Tibet with the Chinese leadership, is no longer relevant as the Prime Minister has since returned from China. We’ll use the current fundraising to produce a new ad that aims to make sure that human rights are not forgotten once the world takes its eyes off China. Seven will then be given an opportunity to prove they aren’t censoring us by showing it during the Closing Ceremony. The anonymous tip — hinting that our ad got bumped because we had a cheap slot — was odd on a number of counts. First, it badly underestimated the outlay for the ad slots. Second, it didn’t explain why the slots before the opening ceremony weren’t honoured. Third, while it hewed suspiciously close to Seven’s latest “line” on this issue, it didn’t explain why Seven offered three different explanations over the weekend as to why the ad was bumped. Spin won’t get Seven out of this mess — honouring its commitments would have.

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Peter Fray

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