ABC Learning:

Brian Mitchell writes: Re. “ABC learning collapse = government policy failure” (Friday, item 1). Clearly child care should come under the Education policy umbrella (and note it is Gillard, not Macklin who’s running this issue) and be treated essentially as a pre-cursor to kindy and primary school, which is where they should be co-located. Of course, the complete multi-billion dollar cost of child care (what parents pay plus the rebate) should be added up and that’s how much our taxes should go up by: Child care is a cost the entire community should meet as part of the tax burden. To those who scream it’s unaffordable for the community to pay the full cost of child care please remember that we do it for kids aged six to 17. Why should it be any different for younger children?

With the above in mind, while a billion dollars is a lot of money, the Government would be well advised to close its eyes and sign the cheque. It creates certainty for parents and staff and will put an end to what would otherwise be a running sore for years to come that would still, inevitably, have cost the Government hundreds of millions of dollars, plus it avoids the heartache of centres closing, staff losing jobs, parents unable to find alternatives. Once the Government owns ABC’s assets it can then go through the process of folding child care into the education sector, with requisite standards of care.

For other private sector child care operators who wish to remain in business, they could be treated in a manner akin to independent schools — as long as they meet the required standards of care, staffing, etc, there is no reason why they should not continue.

Henrie Ellis writes: The sins of the Howard years, like over indulgence in fatty foods, now clog the arteries of the Rudd government and we have the unedifying spectacle of Julia Gillard forced to bail out temporarily the house of cards built by Eddie Groves. Groves — a n-ked chancer and opportunist who rode a rollercoaster on a track of government subsidies while community operated quality childcare centres were blithely ignored by an ideologically driven Howard government that honestly believed that any form of private provision in education was better.

This infection spread like wildfire especially into local government in Victoria where many Councils were n-kedly encouraging private childcare operators to set up shop which conveniently allowed them to ignore support for community based childcare. Research around the world and by the OECD is unequivocal — community based quality childcare is better than most privately provided childcare, yet the Howard Government deliberately chose to adopt a hands off approach to accountability for funding private provision and look what we have been left with, an unholy mess.

The US election:

Martin Gordon writes: Re. “Rundle08: Sailing into the harbour of grace” (Friday, item 3). Congratulations to Barack Obama on his election. Congratulations to John McCain for his inherent decency. Victors can write the history but it is not that long ago that John McCain lead in the polls and the economic tsunami was yet to hit. For months race was discussed, yet it is Obama that has exploited race and people have justified their enthusiasm (in the US and elsewhere) for Obama on the basis of his race. Now the reality of having to deal with taxes, trade protectionism, economic management and massive deficits, endless domestic demands, foreign conflicts (Russia got in quick) will bring us back to earth.

The absurd expectations so many had can be dealt with as an American journalist David Freddoso proposed in a book that Obamamaniacs should ask themselves more often. “Do you hope Barack Obama will change politics if he becomes president? On what grounds?” The book canvasses Obama’s history which is not a flattering as his image makers have made him, certainly speeches do not substitute for substance. As for the cult of Obama, personality cults are dangerous, shortly fans will become apologists or disillusioned. As astonishing as it sounds now even Robert Mugabe was feted around the world with great fanfare in 1980. Try finding them now?

I have never cited Pravda (truth in Russian) before but they summed it up well the other day:

It is always interesting to note how much the world and its peoples like to believe in fairy tales and lies…Americans, the world and Europeans especially have once again deluded themselves in believing that the “new” wind in Washington, this time Obama, will some how change the way things have gone. Once more they are in for a post narcotic painful wake up and it will not take long.

Welcome back to reality, and I hope it is not Jimmy Carter in continuation.

Stephen Magee writes: What a hoot! Your contributors and readers fall over themselves to hail Obama as some kind of messiah, while damning Palin as an ill-educated hick. There is no substantive evidence for either position: Obama hasn’t walked on water (except perhaps in drug-fuelled dreams), and the goss about Palin is just that – a toxic combination of “he said/she said” and visceral hatred. The real difference between the two is that Palin has convictions, while Obama has only a career plan. I suspect that, in the long run, Palin will prove to be the better President.

Tony Kevin writes: Re. “Obama, race, religion and Albrechtsen” (6 November, item 27). I‘m embarrassed by the parochial crassness of much Australian professional commentary, in its almost obsessive focus on Obama being “black”. Of course we know Obama’s ethnic data. But this man campaigned and won, magnificently, as a worthy leader for one American nation now in crisis. We could, now that he is President-elect, give him the courtesy of seeking to comprehend his own vision of what he brings to American public life, rather than imposing one defining cultural stereotype on him. We expose our own guilty racial ghosts by dwelling so much on Obama’s ethnicity.

Rather as white South Africans used to be, much of our commentariat reveals itself as a bit race-obsessed. To me, the most important things about Obama are his vision, his decency, his idealism, his intelligence, his grace, his hope for his country. And Rundle’s “Sailing into the Harbor of Grace” (Friday, item 3) was beautiful inspiring writing, a fitting finale to the book we look forward to seeing on our shelves. It expressed what I feel about the significance and hope of Obama’s election, and have tried — however imperfectly — to reflect elsewhere.

James Harper writes: Garth Wong (Friday, comments) says that “Of course the 97% Black vote for Obama was racial” and asks how anyone sensible could deny it. Well I’m quite sensible and of course I can deny such a senseless blanket generalisation. I would postulate that a large proportion of that 97% have voted Democrat in previous Presidential elections for white candidates. Black people in America are largely at the lower end of the socio economic spectrum and it is only natural that a large proportion of them would vote for the party that will best protect their interests. That party has not historically been the Republican Party.

Alex Rose writes: Garth Wong writes, “Of course the 97 % Black vote for Obama was racial. How can Bernard or anyone sensible deny that was the case?” In the 2004 election, 88% percent of the black vote went to the white democratic candidate. In 2000 it was 90%. If by “racial” you mean that blacks in 2008 predominantly voted for Obama owing to the colour of his skin rather than his party or platform, then your assertion appears to be false.

Justin Mansfield writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (Friday, item 8). Regarding the tip about Sportsbet not paying out on the American Presidential election until inauguration day. It sounds like your Tipper-Offerer is having a little tanty (maybe he bet on Obama and is ticked off at having to wait 10 weeks to collect?). Sportsbet always lets you know when bets will be settled before you place them. I checked their Presidential odds a while ago and their payout date was clearly stated. Not happy with January? Go elsewhere. Pretty simple decision, no-ones forcing you to bet with them.

Geoff Perston writes: Re. “First Dog on the Moon” (Friday, item 7). I must admit I’m sometimes bemused by First Dog’s wry sense of humour, but the Obamas’ visit to the dog pound was so left-of-centre I had NO idea of its point — was there one? And if so, could someone kindly fill me in.

Garry Muratore writes: Re. “Obama destroys world’s forests, shock” (Friday, item 14). The collage as you say “was certainly impressive” wall to wall Obama and deservedly so. But scroll down towards the bottom and you might notice a familiar masthead. It appears that north of the Tweed the leader of the free world is Bart Cummings.

Where’s the balance?:

Michael Cavanagh writes: Could you return to a more balanced reporting of the issues in politics. I find the majority of the articles to be left leaning. I agree that Australia needed a change to restore some political balance after 11 plus years of one party but I can’t help feeling that had the previous government delayed releasing critical info until there was an international event to distract the attention, then they would have been in for a bucketing from your journalists. Yet this fact remains largely unreported by your publication. Regardless of the political party, when governments act in such a deceitful way, it is up to the journalists to hold them accountable. This is but one example of a soft approach taken to the current government. I wish for your publication to hold all governments accountable for their actions.

Politicial prognostications:

Keith Thomas writes: Re. “UK takes evasive action as IMF predicts a sluggish 2009” (Friday, item 30). Glenn Dyer wrote: “Shares around the world slid again overnight, with stocks in Germany, France and the U.K. falling about 3%, and Japan plummeting more than 6%. Wall Street fell by more than 4% and the Dow is down 928 points in the two days since the US elections.” It was just yesterday that Lindsay Tanner told us the worst was over and Malcolm Turnbull (out biggest national disappointment of the year) tagged along behind like a programmed “booster”. I hope someone in Crikey is keeping track of politicians’ prognostications — perhaps tracking them against graphs of the All Ordinaries, the price of oil, the Baltic Dry Index, the drought, biodiversity loss and a few other key indicators.

A vexed subject:

James Holyoake writes: Re. “Burying the OHS National Harmonisation Agenda” (Friday, item 14). What an excellent and informative précis. This is what you do NOT get from mainstream media, or at least only part of the story. I have no interest in this area except as a taxpayer and that taxpayers like myself see it is an increasingly vexed subject. Surely this is yet one more example of how individual state and territory interests hold up a progressive national agenda?

Wayne Swan:

John Kotsopoulos writes: Re. “Richard Farmer’s political bite-sized meaty chunks” 96 November, item 24). Is Richard Farmer trying to settle an old Labor party score with his slap at Wayne Swan? So Wayne Swan did not have a specific figure for the inflation forecast in his head. Big deal. I suggest that the erratic and contradictory fumblings of his opposite number Julie Bishop and her ex-merchant banker boss are far more of a worry at a time when confidence is at a premium. Based on the opinion polls at least 45% of the voting pubic may be taking their cue from the jabbering duo.

Golf on the Yarra is not a water hazard:

Nick Innes writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (Friday, item 8). Crikey published: “Over the past 18 months, many golf courses along Melbourne’s Yarra River have undertaken course work to build huge dams, in anticipation of losing the right to take water from the river. Courses believed the government and water agencies would stop them taking millions and millions of litres a year from the Yarra last year, but so far nothing has happened…” Where/who did you get this from? Not a good idea to publish these sorts of diatribes.

As a member of one of these courses, yes I can tell you my club has built a dam, as the club is not entitled to take water from the Yarra when flows fall below a certain level which usually occurs during summer. The dam allows the club to store water from the Yarra when flows are high and use the stored water when not allowed to draw water from the Yarra. An investment paid for by all members of the club and a good outcome for both golfers and the environment. I believe other clubs on the Yarra have the right to draw water from the Yarra at any time and to my knowledge aren’t/haven’t built dams.

I doubt/don’t think the government could stop courses taking water they have the right to take, it would require the government to buy these water rights and courses to agree to sell at the price offered. I think your publication of this issue is a bit overblown. To my knowledge the Yarra’s flows are not dangerously low and under environmental stress? Certainly don’t look to be to me. The whole paragraph is a misrepresentation and misinterpretation of the whole situation in my opinion.

Climate change:

Paul Reefman writes: Crikey readers seem always ready to debate or debunk the climate change denialists. Though totally convinced that the world needs to clean up its act on pollution, I’ve been reading a geologists rather convincing view suggesting carbon might not be the pollutant the IPCC and the moral majority are suggesting. I cannot locate anything to debunk the views put by Tom Segalstad. His arguments are compelling in regard to carbon longevity in the atmosphere, and the ocean’s ability to store amounts of carbon in excess of what mankind can generate. He does not appear to be tainted by links to big oil, Lavioser etc. There’s many links to his findings, and I’d love to hear any rational arguments to counter his claims so I can go back to believing we should support an ETS, and believe in Garnaut and IPCC to lead the debate on climate change.

Jon Jenkins writes: Re. Friday’s editorial. What a load of tripe! The Antarctic is at its largest extent (i.e. more ice) since measurements began in 1970 and the Arctic is refreezing with an increase of 10% this year alone. In the 1930s the Arctic melted much worse and ships navigated the whole strait unhindered! Extract from Washington Post: “Arctic Ocean Getting Warm; Seals Vanish and Icebergs Melt… great masses of ice have now been replaced by moraines of earth and stones, … at many points well-known glaciers have entirely disappeared.” Sound familiar? Of course it does, this headline was from the Washington Post: Nov. 2, 1922! Stop publishing/forwarding this rubbish, this is completely irresponsible to publish this with out checking the veracity of these stories regardless of the source!

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Peter Fray

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