Youth Insearch:

Matt Davidson, CEO of Youth Insearch writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (Monday, item 7). Crikey posted an article on Monday suggesting that Youth Insearch Foundation was involved with “rather creepy hug a kiddy interventions”. The article also suggested that Youth Insearch was the beneficiary of undeserved largesse at the behest of former Prime Minister John Howard, so that Youth Insearch could “continue kiddy hugging”. To malign the Youth Insearch organisation in this fashion is simply contemptible.

Youth Insearch, founded by Ron Barr AM, has received support at various times, from all sides of politics over the last two decades, including the current Federal Labor Government. They have also attracted the support of corporate Australia and from many individual donors. Youth Insearch is solely concerned with assisting vulnerable youth in improving their self worth and broadening their horizons. It is purely an adolescent early-intervention program and has assisted some 27,000 young people to date.

Almost without exception the youth we help have experienced some of the problems that seem endemic in the modern world including poor self-esteem and a sense of hopelessness. These are the drivers that lead to drugs, crime, binge drinking, homelessness, anti-social behaviours and sometimes even suicide — huge costs to the community, let alone the individual. Youth Insearch seeks to break this cycle and equip these youth with the tools they need in order to gain a sense of hope and new direction.

The then Prime Minister John Howard was particularly taken with the success of Youth Insearch and its ability to motivate young people to address the underlying causes of their problems and he gave the program his unreserved support. However, to suggest that Youth Insearch is somehow “creepy” or involved in “kiddy hugging” is an unfounded slur that is in direct contradiction with the values and ethos that has driven the organisation for the last 23 years.

In regards to the claim the program lacks an evidence-based approach; numerous assessments have been carried out over the years which clearly demonstrate the high level of success of the program including more recent academic reports such as Urbis (2003 and 2008) and Lamond (2006).

Leaving aside the dubious ethics of the author of this anonymous piece, one must question his/her professional standards. No question was ever put to Youth Insearch regarding, for example, whether independent assessments had been conducted regarding Youth Insearch’s “efficacy”. If the question had been asked, this error-ridden article would not have been published. Journalists should complete their education before being let loose in this sort of defamatory way, on anybody, let alone a program supported by successive Federal Governments, welfare agencies, police, school counselors and State community service departments.

Auction numbers:

Enzo Raimondo, CEO of REIV, writes: Re. “Jigging auction numbers” (Monday, item 24). The REIV collects and reports on around 90% of all auctions held each weekend in Melbourne within hours of the last hammer falling. This is a valuable and timely source of market information provided free of charge by the REIV. The REIV does not manipulate the data – it reports the results transparently, recording when the rate goes up and when it goes down. Given that it would be appreciated if Adam Schwab actually learnt something about the results before writing about them as he did on Monday.

If he had taken to the time he would have found that, contrary to his claim the auction clearance rate does NOT include private sales, he would also have noticed that the market reporting by the REIV is far more than a bland single clearance rate. The REIV provides the community with all of the detail; the number of auctions scheduled, held, sold before, sold after, sold, passed in, passed in a vendors bid and even the number with no result.

This enables market watchers to look at the overall clearance rate OR the detail, allowing them to make their own assessments. In contrast to the REIV’s transparent reporting Mr Schwab criticises our data collection but completely fails to explain the methodology he used to arrive at his rate of 43%.

The REIV uses the same methodology to calculate the clearance rate as it has for four years; this ensures that the results are comparable weekend to weekend, year to year. If the REIV changed the reporting methodology then it would be rightly accused of hiding the state of the market — quite the reverse applies as the REIV reports when the rate goes up, and down.

The REIV Auction clearance rate calculation is as follows:

100 x (Sold + Sold Before + Sold After) / (Sold + Sold Before + Sold After + Passed In + PI Vendor Bid)

The figures in the Sunday Age (7 Dec) were:

S Sold at Auction: 293

SB Sold before Auction: 84

SA Sold after Auction: 12

Passed in: 314

Passed in on vendor’s bid: 212

Clearance rate: 55%

Auctions with no result: 68

So:

100 x (293 + 84 + 12) / (293 + 84 + 12 + 102 + 212)

= 100 x 389 / 703

= 55.33

The clearance rate measure includes all properties sold as a direct result of an auction marketing campaign that includes those sold before the auction, on the day of the auction or the day following the auction. Sales after that are recorded as private sales. I encourage all readers to look at reiv.com.au each Saturday night to see the results of auctions reported, in detail and for free.

Shehana Teixeira writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 8). While changes to the Community Housing Rent Policy were introduced in August 2008 the NSW Government, conscious of the financial impact of the changes, capped any increases to no more than $10 per week in any one year.

Community Housing tenants are entitled to Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA). The Policy was changed to ensure that CRA is used for rental payments and not for other expenses.

The changes will result in community housing providers having more funds to build new homes and provide maintenance services. The changes also bring NSW in line with Victoria and Queensland.

Community Housing providers act independently from Housing NSW. They have the discretion to alter arrangements in individual cases of financial hardship.

ANU and the Beazleys:

Jane O’Dwyer, Office of the Vice-Chancellor, The Australian National University, writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (Monday, item 7). The rumours reported in Crikey today on Monday about the announcement by our current Chancellor Allan Hawke that he would be stepping down in 2009. Professor Beazley was appointed because his distinguished political career and academic background made him an outstanding candidate. He will also continue a Beazley family tradition — his father Kim Beazley Snr was key figure in the establishment of ANU and served on the inaugural Council of the University.

Setting history to rights:

Nick Shimmin writes: Re. “Manning Clark, agent of influence?” (Yesterday, item 12). Thanks to Jeff Sparrow for yesterday’s trashing of the execrable Peter Kelly. At a time when The Oz is in its best position yet to take control of the entire quality broadsheet market due to the collapse of Fairfax standards, it’s a tragic own goal that they still give the likes of Kelly column space. These old Cold Warriors seem even more tragic than they did when their poodle was in Kirribilli House, and the fact that they are reduced to such craven regurgitation is testament to the hollowness of their flimsy bleating. Manning Clark, Wilfred Burchett et al will be admired and respected long after the likes of Kelly, Manne and Henderson are forgotten, and this of course is a major reason for their envious sniping.

Music:

Andrew Owens writes: Re. “CDs: Alive, selling and better value than a new telly” (yesterday, item 21). Ross Stapleton got the bit right about Peter Garrett (and others) complaining but got the date way out. It was in 1998, not 1990 — I still have the Don’t Stop The Music promo CD that ended up in bargain bins all over Australia shortly thereafter. The book Culture in Australia (2001) by Tony Bennett and David Carter, p.52, available on Google Books, states it came about out of an Inter Departmental Committee Inquiry into CD Prices in February 1997 and was a theme in the lead up to the 1998 election, when the Copyright Amendment Act (No.2) 1998 regarding parallel importing passed on 12 July 1998 despite strong opposition from the ALP and the industry itself. The Prices Surveillance Authority was not involved.

The NSW economy:

Dan Willis writes: Bernie the optimist (yesterday, comments) wrote: “Please stop reporting on the NSW economy which is all doom and gloom…” Please don’t stop reporting on the NSW economy — as someone who actually lives there it often feels like Crikey is the only news on it I get. Most of our media either ignore it, beat it up, or just talk about it in passing while banging on about federal issues. Look, I know we don’t have any representatives capable of doing anything about the damn thing (or anything at all, really) but on the faint hope that someone electable materialises in 2050, we should at least be thinking up solutions rather than pretending that Aunt Mable isn’t in the psych ward and it will all magically fix itself.

The state of the Liberal Party:

Barry Welch writes: Re. “Nelsonian Newspoll figures for Turnbull” (yesterday, item 10). The further complexity to the LNP is the partial takeover by Family First with at least three candidates in Brisbane’s northern electorates being avowed fundamentalist Christians, one a Family First candidate in both state and federal elections. Pastor’s ability to compel the flock to turn out to hand out on election day might be the significant pre-selection factor. I have had to change my thinking from the Nats consuming the Libs to Family First consuming them both.

The Aussie dollar:

John Addis writes: Re. “Crikey Clarifier: The Aussie dollar” (yesterday, item 26). I venture to suggest that Amanda Tan, currency specialist at St George, failed to emphasise the primary reason why the Australian dollar has fallen so rapidly compared with the US dollar, given our economy is holding up relatively well (so far). Since the abolition of the gold standard the US dollar has become the de facto global currency and what one might call the currency of last resort (or “safe haven” to use Tan’s expression), the place where investors feel, if not reassured, then the least nervous, when everything goes t-ts up.

I’d say this is the primary reason why the Euro has fallen by about 25% against US dollar in the past three months and our currency by an even greater amount. The British pound has fallen by a third and even countries to which the US is heavily indebted, like Taiwan and Korea, have suffered currency falls against the USD (the Japanese Yen appears to be the only major exception to this, as Tan stated).

Currency markets over the short term are just like stockmarkets; a place where hordes of people with not the faintest clue as to what’s going on express their most irrational beliefs which, in this case, is that an economically powerful country approaching bankruptcy is a safer bet than anywhere else.

Keith Thomas writes: Amanda Tan has given us a bit of a non-answer. If “it’s fear driving markets rather than fundamentals”, how is it that the US dollar is so strong? The ability of the US taxpayer to fund the Bush/Paulson handouts/tax-cuts (and those expected from Obama) is so stretched now that the US dollar is bound to collapse in a heap within a year. On another point, recall it was just a few months ago that the experts at Westpac were forecasting parity between the US and Australian dollars by March 2009 and other commentators — not to be outdone — predicted it before Christmas.

Climate change is not cool:

Stephen Morris writes: Re. Tamas Calderwood (yesterday, comments). I am sorry but I find it impossible not to comment about the absurdities of the “logic” put forward by the redoubtable Tamas based on the graph included in Richard Farmer’s piece on the 8th. Firstly is the absurd proposition that “the entire global warming case rests on a warming trend over the past 30 years”. This is totally incorrect. No authority on global warming that I could find confines their argument to the period 1978 to 2008.

The theory is that as we add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere the planet warms. This has been happening as an overall trend for much longer that Tamas’s self defined period. Global warming as determined by increased carbon dioxide would just as much be happening from 1900 and not limited to post 1978. A further point that gives me great concern about Tamas’s ability to interpret a simple graph is that the “cooling trend between 1945-1980” from the graph he is commenting on is actually a warming between these two exact dates of about 0.1C (-0.08C to +0.01C according to the trend line, and -0.01C to +0.08C from year to year).

Even his proclivity for cherry picking the best two years to suit his theories seem to have deserted him on this occasion. Quite why the GW theory needs to provide an explanation of cooling between these two dates, when there was no cooling but rather warming, is a puzzle that in this instance is readily falsifiable.

Tim Marsh writes: Calderwood is being mischievous again. Really, Tamas, you’re starting to sound like A. Bolt and science notwithstanding, you cannot claim a chilly Melbourne early December as proof positive that GW/AGW is a furphy/slowing/etc; statistically that is impoverished thinking and it’s intellectually childish (perhaps you were being a bit cheeky or ironic?). What next sir; some rain in January means the drought is broken?

You continue to seem to ignore or recognise the broader concerns about high CO2 (and related CH4) emissions creating a long-term positive feedback with unknown consequences and to cherry pick little titbits on a micro-level in a disingenuous manner. For what it’s worth, I’d rather act, and be wrong (and on the way develop sustainable energy and reduce reliance on Big Petro), than not act and be wrong. Wouldn’t that be a monumental stuff up?

Matt Hardin writes: Global warming theory can explain the apparent cooling from 1945 onwards. Changes in the way ocean temperatures were measured are explained here based on a Nature paper. I don’t think anyone can deny the general increasing trend in temperatures over the century. The theory is falsifiable but I would want to see 20-30 years of sustained cooling before I abandon the hypothesis; there is simply too much evidence from too many fields to support it.

To assist me in abandoning the hypothesis I would like to see falsifiable hypotheses as to why an increase in greenhouse gas concentrations has not contributed to warming and how chemists, oceanographers, atmospheric scientists and meteorologists were all so completely wrong about such fundamental material.

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