Fred Nile:

Walter Vanderpoll, CDP NSW State Manager/Director, writes: Re. “Re. “Fred Nile’s coup inside Christian Democrats” (Monday, item 10). Your article regarding Fred Nile and the CDP NSW Annual Convention needs some corrections:

  1. Under the original CDP NSW Constitution (dated 2001 and amended in 2006), the NSW State President, Rev Fred Nile, has always been entitled to remain the State President until he resigns or dies.
  2. Rev Dr Gordon Moyes declined to accept his Jnr Deputy President nomination at the CDP NSW AGM so it was his choice to not stand for election to the CDP NSW Management Committee.
  3. Ken Gregory is still the CDP National Secretary and Party Agent, he was just legitimately and democratically defeated for the new CDP NSW Secretary position by Elwyn Sheppard (previously CDP “Minutes” Secretary for 3-4 years).
  4. In recognition of his great service to the CDP, Ken Gregory was the proud recipient of one of the 10 inaugural FLAD Awards (Faith, Loyalty and Dedication Awards) at the CDP Convention Gala Dinner.
  5. Arie Baalbergen was legitimately and democratically defeated by Michael Darby, the new CDP NSW Treasurer.
  6. John Phillips declined his nomination to the CDP NSW Management Committee at the CDP NSW AGM after not receiving a seconder for his nomination.
  7. Phil Lamb, the previous CDP NSW State Director, unexpectedly resigned from the CDP after serving only four years of his five-year contract, to join the National Party as their new NSW State Director back in February 2008 and this was six months before the CDP NSW Convention.
  8. Ben Carpentier, the previous CDP NSW Office Manager, resigned of his own accord from CDP NSW, after far less than 12 months with the CDP and he left on 17/7/2008 and this was also well before the CDP NSW Convention.
  9. Fred Nile is actually only 73 years young, has 27+ years of legislative experience, improves most bills in parliament and has served longer than anyone in the current NSW Parliament.
  10. “Fred Nile Group” is a registered addendum to the CDP’s name.

Sarah Palin:

Les Heimann writes: Re. “The Crikey guide to Sarah Palin” (yesterday, item 9). Sarah Palin is a beauty (no pun intended). A plain talkin’, gun totin’ sporting gal — multiple mother to boot — just the type y’all want in yer corner when the bullets start flyin’. Yep, a great choice for Vice President and a real choice. Now who do you really want? Obama with a dull old man as partner or a war vet rebel and a feisty young mother as sidekick? That’s what the Pittsburgh boilermakers, Kansas farmers, Californian lay-abouts, Kentucky hillbillies and New York malcontents get to choose from. In America, my guess is McCain’s done it again and it’s bye bye Barry Obama.

Christopher Ridings writes: US VP wannabe Sarah Palin brings back not too pleasant memories of the Democratic Labor Party, active here during the Vietnam War. The DLP ran on the absurd contradiction that it was anti-abortion and anti-VE yet insistent on sending Australian troops to fight in Vietnam. Sarah Palin appears to subscribe to the same contradictory philosophy that it is only OK to terminate life when it is done violently. Since the US place on their coins “In God we trust” yet insist on the right to bear arms, I should not be so surprised.

Geoff Russell writes: Is there anything scarier than the thought of John McCain with his finger on the button to end all buttons? Absolutely… John McCain having a day off.

The RBA:

Sean Hosking writes: Re. “Sharp slowdown is further off than the RBA thinks” (yesterday, item 2). There is something amusing about the fact that for all its gravitas and importance, the Reserve Bank essentially has one big lever that they can pull either a little bit forward or a little bit back. That monetary policy and indeed, core economic management has devolved to the point of having a control panel roughly equivalent to a steering system on a bark canoe suggests that our civilisation is indeed devolving. If your article today is on the money, there is a good chance that the Reserves ‘big chief’ Glen Stevens having, with all due import and technical proficiency, pulled the lever a tiny bit back, may have to return soon after and humiliatingly pull it a little forward again. In the primitive totemistic world of modern economics this would constitute a drama of Shakespearean proportions, guaranteed to have the dismal scribes in a lather for months afterwards.

Tasmania:

John Lawrence writes: Re. “Tasmanians are struggling as much as their trees” (yesterday, item 13). Celebrity barrister Greg Barns, in trying to convince readers of The Mercury on 25th August that Tasmania’s current levels of corruption are nothing to be alarmed about, stated that “Tasmania is small-town, provincial and barely functional as a state”. A debatable but not a controversial proposition. Yet in yesterday’s Crikey, Greg used various statistics to unfavourably compare Tasmania with other States. But given that Tasmania is small town and provincial as Greg asserts shouldn’t he be comparing Tasmania with small town and provincial areas in other parts of Australia. Compare apples with apples. If you excised Melbourne and larger metropolitan areas from Victoria and then compared the remainder with Tasmania, how would the latter compare? Probably quite favourably. All you’ve really stated, Greg, is that rural and regional Australia differs from urban areas. Quel revelation! Please don’t bother to help identify corruption if it occurs, or try to help interpret statistics. Just stick to your day job.

Paul O’Halloran writes: It seems that Greg Barnes doesn’t see the link between an economy based on exporting huge volumes of low value undifferentiated products and poor retention rates, low skill rates, socio-economic disadvantage and poor health outcomes. When we have a government that thinks sending shiploads of native forest and old growth woodchips to Japan to burn in forest furnaces is clever, as has been happening and will happen in increasing amounts, then there is no hope. We fund job shedding industries at the expense of job creating clever 21st century industries. Add a native forest polluting pulp mill and one can see that the trees as well as Tasmanians are struggling and that they just might be linked! Perhaps that iconic author Richard Flanagan just might have it right.

Lynelle Briggs:

Stephen Murray writes: Re. “Public Service chief refuses to investigate lying allegations” (29 August, item 4). In last Friday’s Crikey Bernard Keane accused Australian Public Service Commissioner Lynelle Briggs of “failure” and blatant buck passing in declining to investigate serious allegations of an organized effort to mislead a Senate Committee. I have no brief for any of the parties to the matter, but I fail to see how Commissioner Briggs could have acted in any other way. You don’t need Harry Evans to advise you to steer clear of investigating; Section 16(3) of the Parliamentary Privileges Act makes it pretty clear:

In proceedings in any court or tribunal, it is not lawful for evidence to be tendered or received, questions asked or statements, submissions or comments made, concerning proceedings in Parliament, by way of, or for the purpose of:

(a) Questioning or relying on the truth, motive, intention or good faith of anything forming part of those proceedings in Parliament;
(b) otherwise questioning or establishing the credibility, motive, intention or good faith of any person; or
(c) drawing, or inviting the drawing of, inferences or conclusions wholly or partly from anything forming part of those proceedings in Parliament.

It’s a ready made grounds for a successful appeal if Commissioner Briggs had made any adverse findings on the basis of Parliamentary proceedings. If she had to unpick the evidence given to the Committee, she’s stymied. Yes it is an absurd situation. If it involves something done or said in Parliament or before a Parliamentary Committee, they’re expected to catch and kill their own. I recall the NSW ICAC not being able to investigate allegations of “cash for questions” in Parliament a few years back for the very same reason. But unless you truncate Parliamentary privileges, any outside body is hindered by them.

DFAT:

David Lenihan writes: Re. “Phuket it! Where was DFAT and Qantas?” (Yesterday, item 15). I have thus far been quite impressed with Foreign Affairs Minister Smith. However last weekends closing of the Australian Embassy in Bangkok, while chaos ruled in Phuket, was unforgivable and reflects poorly on Minister Smith’s Department and in particular his staff in the Embassy from the Ambassador down through the ranks. Surely someone had the common sense to realise, Australians would require assistance. That’s what we are told to do, if in trouble contact the Embassy. Similarly it was very poor judgement by Departmental Officials in Canberra not to check if the Embassy was being manned. Someone higher up than the office clerk must have thought to check, if the well being of Australians was being protected in the trouble areas. All in all a very poor performance and Stephen Smith should be demanding answers and providing some of his own. If he was out of the country, a phone call would have at least alerted him to issue some orders. Bad bad show. Backsides should be kicked and hard. The business of Foreign Affairs doesn’t close down for the weekend, neither should our Embassies.

Beating the drum:

Paul Dwerryhouse writes: Re. “Redefining the role of SBS in the digital revolution” (yesterday, item 17). Clearly Bernard Keane hasn’t been subjected to the sheer banality of commercial music radio in Australia’s regional areas — and from the sounds of it, doesn’t listen to Triple J either, if he can’t differentiate it from Nova. For those people (especially young people) who have the misfortune to be located anywhere outside Australia’s largest cities and yet have an interest in hearing music and talk that is more challenging than the tired rubbish served up by either the local “Top 40” station or the local “oldies” station (more often than not owned by the same company, and probably not even live after 6pm), Triple J is a joy. That Nova’s emergence in capital cities caused Triple J’s ratings to flat line is irrelevant: Nova’s pop format is barely different to that of Austereo’s Today radio network, which also infests metropolitan airwaves. Triple J may be a shadow of its former self, but I’ll take it any day, over any of Melbourne’s lightweight commercial offerings.

Woolworths:

Katherine Stuart writes: Re. “Full marks to Woolies for fronting Four Corners” (yesterday, item 25). Stephen Mayne wrote: Pushing out supplier terms to the extent where Woolies now has $4.8 billion in payables and only $3 billion in inventories on its balance sheet, just demonstrates brutal market power at work. Brutal it is, and they do it because they can. Were this a labour market, the supplier side of the contract has the option (at least theoretically) of withdrawing their labour. But where it concerns the viability of Australian food growers, by the time this sort of bullying behaviour turns around and bites Woolies in the bum (as it surely will), stupidly irreparable damage will have been done.

In my view, the Four Corners programme did not make enough of the legal issues surrounding this duopoly, such as the arguably anti-competitive nature of the limiting clauses in Woolies’ lease contracts — nor it appears did the ACCC enquiry. Where too is the legislation to protect truck-drivers from being required to queue for delivery for such extended periods of time, when it is clear that the effect of this is to simply reduce Woolies’ warehousing costs? While the law does not intervene to correct a “bad bargain”, it should intervene to protect drivers from being effectively forced to work without pay, and in the process endanger themselves and the rest of us on the roads through lack of sufficient rest, simply to further inflate the share price of the market leader. Because Woolies’ share price clearly is inflated if the practices described in Monday night’s programme underlie its current market capitalisation.

Afghanistan:

Andrew Baker writes: Re. “Afghan dog pen demeans us and emboldens the insurgents” (yesterday, item 16). I found this diatribe offensive and hypocritical. This is the same Keysar Trad who is a well known as an apologist for the disgraceful comments of Sheikh “uncovered meat” Hilaly of Lakemba mosque. If you are going to offer these extreme views a pulpit, at least have the decency to offer a more conservative counter-view. And what exactly is the resources grab we (Australia?) are allegedly on in Afghanistan? Opium? Sand? Kabul as the capital of the eighth state of Australia? This is an intellectually bankrupt and thinly veiled attempt to defame Australia’s soldiers who are doing unbelievably brave things out there in harms way.

The future of journalism:

Gabriel McGrath writes: Re. “News Corp and Fairfax not the future of journalism” (yesterday, item 18). Dr John Cokley’s piece was superb. This is the sort of thing I want to read for my Crikey subscription. Well written, challenging accepted wisdom, looking to the future and backed up with facts. I’d much prefer one piece from Dr Cokley… to 3,485 more “pretend” Peter Costello diaries or “pretend” Peter Costello leaks. Please drop them. Leave “funny” to First Dog or zero punctuation.

The Wallabies:

Zachary King writes: Re. “We’re the Tri-Nations lightweights. That’s the truth.” (Yesterday, item 21). I think a little credit where it’s due here Michael. Sure Australia lacks the depth of our competition, but it has always been that way (too many bloody codes, I reckon). We have always punched above our weight in this regard. The Wallabies managed to defeat both the All Blacks and the Boks on their home turf this time round, which is no mean feat. Using your measuring stick of two wins away from home, we are all of us equal. The Boks only managed to defeat the Kiwis once on home turf (we missed our one shot) and in return the All Blacks have had one away win defeating the Bokkies at home (as did we). So we already hold the Mandela Cup and if we win the next game we have a firm grip on the Bledisloe. What more could we possibly achieve in a single tri-nations?

Sour grapes:

John Bevan writes: Re. “The ABC heavies and their $100,000 European vacation” (yesterday, item 19). What a bunch of very bitter sour grapes, I can understand why the anonymous correspondent hasn’t the guts to identify his/her self.

Far off Sydney:

Tom Richardson writes: Re. “Media briefs: Russian police killing web site owners, sub editor stuff ups” (yesterday, item 20). No doubt because he’s from “far off Sydney”, Glenn Dyer appears to have his AFL teams mixed up in his piece about City Homicide. It seems he’s confusing the Collingwood Magpies with the North Melbourne Kangaroos. Unless there’s been a player s-x scandal at Collingwood in the last few years I’m not aware of.

Kelly Gardiner writes: Re. “Media briefs: Russian police killing web site owners, sub editor stuff ups” (yesterday, item 20). Ain’t it the way? Make a joke about sub-editors and what happens? Two errors in the media column (“was was” and ” their was the outline”). Or perhaps you were trying to make a sub-conscious point about the value of copy-editing. Sorry, but I couldn’t resist. No doubt sub-editors all over the country have already pointed this out.

Global warming tag team:

Tamas Calderwood writes: Matt Hardin (yesterday, comments) misses my point. I accept that global warming has happened over the past 150 years, it’s just that there’s very little evidence to suggest that humans caused it. I agree with him that if the world cools for another 20 years (which combined with the 10 already in the bank would give a statistically significant sample) then we can reject the global warming hypothesis on that basis alone. Shay Gordon-Brown and Michael Rook both point out that high enough concentrations of CO2 are a pollutant. This is true in concentrations above 0.01 but atmospheric concentration is currently 0.00038, so we are at least two orders of magnitude away from calling CO2 a pollutant. Shay’s other arguments (and condescending insults) make little sense and I would point out to Matt Hardin that the catastrophes he foresees with global warming did not occur during the Holocene Optimum or Medieval Warm Period (the Barrier Reef and Kakadu are still with us, etc). The whole idea that we can control our climate via the thermostat of carbon emissions seems awfully utopian.

Matthew Auger writes: Perhaps Shay Gordon-Brown (yesterday, comments) should stop sipping Fair Trade Coffee (has this become Crikey’s sledge du jour?). I haven’t heard anyone apart from yourself claim that we are going to suffer 0.7 degrees of average annual warming. Your final paragraph is simply ludicrous (although mathematically possible), Tamas Calderwood simply pointed out we have only had 0.7 degrees of warming OVER 100 years, not per year.

Geoff Perston writes: Will be interesting to see what “proof-of-warming” spin the climate panic merchants put on Sydney’s coldest winter for 64 years.

ABC Learning:

Adam Schwab writes: Eddie Groves’ biggest fan, Warwick Sauer, is at it again (yesterday, comments), continuing his solo defence of the embattled former Rich Lister. Sauer even accused me of being “biased” and attaching ‘”a level of scandal” to Groves’ sale of $40 million worth of ABC shares. Sauer claimed “[Groves] won’t be the last director to (for whatever reason) sell shares at one point and then buy more later”, noting that Groves had actually purchased millions of dollars worth of ABC shares “on 24 May 06, 25 May 06, 16 June 06, 30 May 07 (1m shares), 31 May 07 (1m shares), 18 June 07, 27 June 07, 28 June 07, 9 July 07, 11 July 07, 17 July 07, and 29 Nov 07.”

How ironic for Sauer to make accusations of bias and twisted evidence when his arguments were at best a misunderstanding of the facts and at worst, a complete misrepresentation. Sauer noted Groves’ share purchases but conveniently neglected to acknowledge the actual value of ABC shares which Groves bought. Below is a table of Eddie Groves’ recent share purchases in ABC:

Date Number bought Cost Total
24-May-06 280,000 $6.85 $1,918,000.00
25-May-06 500,000 $7.09 $3,545,000.00
16-Jun-06 315,000 $6.40 $2,016,000.00
30-May-07 1,000,000 $7.25 $7,250,000.00
31-May-07 1,000,000 $7.17 $7,170,000.00
16-Jun-07 405,000 $7.02 $2,843,100.00
27-Jun-08 150,000 $7.02 $1,053,000.00
28-Jun-07 150,000 $6.90 $1,035,000.00
9-Jul-07 300,000 $6.85 $2,055,000.00
11-Jul-07 200,000 $6.87 $1,374,000.00
17-Jul-07 200,000 $6.71 $1,342,000.00
29-Nov-07 200,000 $5.29 $1,058,000.00
Total $32,659,100.00

As the table shows, Groves’ ABC purchases were in mostly relatively small parcels, totalling $32.7 million. By contrast, Groves sold almost $40 million worth of ABC shares during that time. So while Sauer is quick to make accusations of bias, he clearly misled readers by implying Groves was a buyer when in totality, since May 2006, he was a net seller of ABC shares (which is what the original article noted).

Sauer also conveniently ignored some of those other pesky issues like: ABC paying Groves’ brother-in-law more than $70 million for renovation work; or the company providing a $9 million loan to one of the sponsors of Groves’ basketball team; or ABC paying Austock more than $30 million in fees when Groves has a sizable stake in the broker.

As for Groves being a “soft target”, one would think that the CEO of the world’s largest listed childcare company who oversaw the destruction of billions of dollars in equity (while partaking in lucrative related party transactions) and stubbornly refuses to stand aside is fair game.

As a shareholder who lost thousands in ABC shares himself, perhaps Sauer should be venting his anger at the man responsible for the mess, rather than sending half a dozen flawed letters to Crikey shooting the messenger.

Send your comments, corrections, clarifications and c*ck-ups to [email protected]. Preference will be given to comments that are short and succinct: maximum length is 200 words (we reserve the right to edit comments for length). Please include your full name – we won’t publish comments anonymously unless there is a very good reason.

Peter Fray

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