Tina McElligott, Suncorp Corporate Affairs, writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 7). Crikey published: “I just got a letter from Suncorp regarding my variable home loan. In anticipation of the RBA rate cut next month, they’ve independently increased my variable home loan rate by 0.2% effective 9 September.” Suncorp has definitely not increased its variable home loan rates in anticipation of a RBA rate cut next month. The bank has not increased its variable rate since 14 July. Letters may be received in the weeks after this, depending on a customer’s repayment cycle.

Reporting on the road:

Peter Morris, Seven News, Melbourne, writes: Re. “Media briefs: Watch out for this man on the roads, accessing p-rn, a how to” (yesterday, item 21). Re. “Watch out for this man on the roads”. That man is me….And I think “disgraceful” is a little over the top. The two traffic officers I was working with on Eastlink both saw Tuesday night’s story and they had no issue… and no, I didn’t run anybody off the road, drift out of my lane, exceed the speed limit or smash into anything. Incidentally, look out for me on the Calder Highway… I’m on it every day and if my driving is that disgraceful… keep your distance!

The Beijing Olympics:

Michael Latz writes: Re. “What do you want? Gold medals or schools, hospitals …” (yesterday, item 3). I agree with yesterday’s editorial and Charles Happell’s sentiments regarding sports funding. I’d go further and suggest (tongue-in-cheek) that a salary cap should be instigated for Olympic teams. I mean… as we move towards the limit of (undoped) human achievement in sport, maybe we could lose the compete-and-win-at-all-costs mindset and actually pay more than lip service to the idea of participation being the main thing? Meanwhile, if a poor slob like me feels like shooting a few hoops every now and then, there simply aren’t any public facilities. I wonder where we could get some money to pay for stuff like that…

Steven McKiernan writes: We have a situation where taxpayer funded elite sportspersons excel at their chosen sport, and yet the likes of Max Markson appear from beneath the wainscoting to ejaculate “Stephanie Rice is worth millions.” How about having some form of HECS based scheme where AIS funding is repaid to the taxpayer? Either the competitor is racing for themselves, their sponsors or their nation. If the nation’s taxpayers fund this level of persistence and excellence then what does the nation get in return?

We had the situation in the Mens Cycling Road Race where the competitors were permitted to wear their professional team colours and keep their personal sponsorship contracts. Who were they racing for? The winner Samuel Sanchez was wearing his Euskatel-Euskadi colours, a team made entirely of riders from the Basque region of Spain and France, the ultimate Poseurs, happy to be Basque and Spanish.

Part of me wishes for a return to the Australian result of Montreal 1976 and the sterling silver work of Rick Charlesworth. Maybe then Australians can get over this four yearly (two yearly with the Commonwealth games) jingoist media frenzy that happens when “we” expect to win gold in every sport and game including synchronised farnarkling.

Jenny Morris writes: Re. “H.G.’s Golden Nuggets: Slivers of silver for Fat A-se nation” (yesterday, item 5). Two pieces of news put together today made me wonder… H.G. tells me that every gold medal won at the Olympics costs $40 million. I assume that includes the cost of all the athletes who don’t win gold or anything else (we’ll deal with them later). Yesterday morning the Herald Sun told me that Stephanie Rice will be an “instant millionaire” as major corporates are “circling her” (maybe that should be a new Olympic event?). So, should athletes who bring home the metal be required to contribute some of their sponsorship loot to a pool (as it were) that funds sport and athlete development for their country?

Justin Templer writes: Re. “Britain spending itself into a depression for 2012 Olympics” (yesterday, item 19). Glenn Dyer’s article is right on the mark; except, the people who live in Britain are Britains, not Poms. The schoolyard Pom pejorative is less demeaning of the British than it is of Dyer as a serious journalist with a persuasive argument. Further weakening his position, Dyer mentions “Australia for that matter” as a throw-away example of Olympic extravagance. It is not a matter of “for that matter” – Australia is a perennial high-achiever in the obsessive statist pursuit of taxpayer-funded Olympic gold and, as such, has set the unconfident and impressionable Poms (sic) a very poor example.

Denise Marcos writes: The Australian media are complicit in inundating us with reports of the Olympics. The avalanche of information about our athletes has led almost every news bulletin I’ve had the misfortune to see or hear on radio or television for the past two weeks. In an effort to preserve sanity I no longer bother to tune in: if Russia declares war on the USA I won’t be in the loop until after the 24th August. It seems that all news editors are sport fanatics – their obsession is so rank that a lead story frequently reports when an athlete doesn’t win a medal. Apparently this is rated as newsworthy. If I never hear Beijing mentioned again it will be too soon.

Paul Graham writes: Forget all about whacking out monster dollars for the glam sports – has anyone thought of giving Stephen Bradbury a BMX bike and a ticket to London? He’d be a lay down misere for the Gold – and he wouldn’t even have to train! Bargain… Come to think of it – Steven is actually at the top of the preferred list of Lib leaders too – we just didn’t realise it. He seems like a rather nice chap – and definitely wears a hat…

John Dowden writes: When the Olympics are over there will no doubt be a series of publically funded parades, receptions and other events for our ‘heroes’. Perhaps Crikey could award medals to the politicians who attempt to get the most mileage from reflected glory?

The Crikey poll and the Liberal leadership:

John Goldbaum writes: Re. “Crikey poll: A Presentable Fellow With A Nice Hat moves on Nelson” (yesterday, item 10). The Presentable Fellow With A Nice Hat looks like a cartoon depiction of Malcolm Turnbull. Liberal backbenchers and powerbrokers need to realise that Peter Costello’s performance in question time when he was treasurer is not relevant in opposition. If Costello became their leader, he would only get to ask the questions, not answer them. He would not have the same opportunity to display his parliamentary skills. Oppositions need new policies if they wish to win government.

(Listen to Crikey Editor Jonathan Green and Crikey’s Canberra Correspondent Bernard Keane discuss the Crikey poll and the Liberal leadership here — or subscribe to our podcast feed for free here).


John Richardson writes: Re. “Our AFP and the total Haneef c-ck up” (yesterday, item 2). When it comes to the AFP, the only thing that continues to surprise is the fact that its entirely discredited Commissioner, the loopy political dilettante Mick Keelty, is still at the wheel. Given that Inspector Gadget claims po-faced that Haneef is still under investigation, it is little wonder that the affair has all the hallmarks of a high farce. Whilst the Rudd government might think that there’s some political kudos in subjecting Keelty to ritual humiliation, there is surely a risk that its own judgement might come under question because of its failure to cut the incompetent down.

Christmas Island:

Chris Johnson writes: Re. “Inside the Christmas Island detention centre” (yesterday, item 4). Any self-respecting Rudd front-bencher wanting to distance from our insidious Christmas Island Detention Centre might consider turning it into a marketing and multi-media location? Our very own Universal studios in the Indian Ocean could be a training ground for those infotainment and production outfits so badly short-changed by the government that gave us the CIDC.

It’s an ideal location for a series of major reality blockbusters like Fantasy Island — where we send people with dreams of what they want and give them what they deserve! Ruddock’s Backyard with Phil personally giving his tips on “how to change the way we live and see the spaces around us”. A Brat Camp for obnoxious MPs like Neal and Buswell who’ll need expert navigation and orienteering skills to get back to the mainland. Then we upgrade the “facility” via mainstream productions like Backyard Blitz, Changing Rooms, The Block and Ground Force and let magazine editors loose on amyriad makeovers! First one in gets to do cosy bathrooms or lead lighting!

Luke Weyland writes: Could Christmas Island be a holiday resort for commonwealth politicians — it’s a tropical island, very secure, and inaccessible for nosy media.

The Levy family write: How about using the place for a TV show or a holiday camp?

The banks:

Simone Rosenberg writes: Re. “RBA minutes show the first hint of nerves” (Tuesday, item 1). How is it that Crikey and the media are so soft in their comments about the banks? These are monopolies, there is no real competition between them and the non bank lenders have been driven out. The banks make huge profits yet when their costs increase they don’t wear that they just pass on the costs to the mortgage holders. The Australian economy is clearly suffering and the Reserve Bank is clearly concerned but what the media speculate about is whether the banks are going to pass on the full rate cut! My bank has increased interest by 0.6 % on top of the RBA increases so there is plenty of scope to cut now and keep cutting. Come on Crikey, you can exert a lot of pressure and influence!

Downloading and p-rn:

Duncan Riley writes: Re. “Media briefs: Watch out for this man on the roads, accessing p-rn, a how to” (yesterday, item 21). What an interesting quick dig at the mainstream media from Neil Walker. While there are many regular occasions to call out News Ltd, this isn’t one of them (although the Gary Glitter link was in poor taste). Those who wish to access this sort of content would already know how to do so, and naming Limewire hasn’t created a new wave of evil kiddie p-rn downloaders.

If anything, highlighting the depravity of Limewire’s content may actually serve as a warning for some to not use the service. Most sane people downloading content already know to stay away from Limewire and stick to something moderated like a BitTorrent tracker that won’t accidentally deliver this sort of rubbish with their latest download of Top Gear. Sometimes you have to name names to make people aware, or does Walker prefer a head in the sand approach that believes that speaking no evil will mean that evil will go away?


Angry Telstra Customer writes: Re. “Dear Telstra: take your Next G an … (sorry, dropped out)” (yesterday, item 15). About one hour after my emails to Crikey were published yesterday I got a phone message on my mobile from Pierre at Big Pond Public Affairs and he “is eager to make sure that my Big Pond wireless service is working for me”!

Peter Habib, Public affairs advisor, BigPond, writes: I read with interest your reader’s correspondence with BigPond (Dear Telstra) Rest assured we have contacted the customer to sort out his problems. We couldn’t let this opportunity go by with out mentioning the Australian wireless market is one of the most competitive in the world, yet strangely it is only Telstra who has invested infrastructure across the nation to enable coverage to 99 percent of the Australian population. Sure Telstra isn’t perfect, but our content, speed and coverage obviously isn’t too bad if we are outselling our nearest competitor by a factor of four.

Paul Hampton-Smith writes: I feel for the frustrated Bigpond NextG user and the automated responses he is getting, but he should actually get off his bum before whingeing and take the advice that they have provided, i.e. to try an external antenna. The fact that he can at one location experience high signal then dropouts is normal in low coverage areas. Remember that a reliable connection is two way — how much signal is the base station getting from him? Contrary to what is commonly thought, we do not move about in a smooth soup of radio waves, but amongst a wildly gyrating signal strength due to standing waves from reflections off the various objects near to us. The external antenna will hopefully boost the gain sufficiently so that reception and transmission is continuous even at the bottom of each standing wave. The last comment really is unfair: Telstra has no monopoly at all with NextG — there is absolutely nothing apart from normal commercial realities stopping another telco installing a mobile tower 50 metres from his house.

The world’s biggest radio telescope:

Denis Goodwin writes: re. “So what’s so good about the world’s biggest radio telescope?” (Yesterday, item 12). Surely the answer that this big telescope seeks is 42. (42 characters excluding the answer). Apologies to Douglas Adams.


John Bevan writes: Re. Yesterday’s edition of Crikey. Where was the usual Qantas horror story?

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