The emissions trading scheme White Paper:

Les Heimann writes: Re. “Polluter assistance and 5% target: Rudd’s CO2 fail” (yesterday, item 1). Bravery costs! The arrangement on climate change proposed by this government is not brave — as Crikey points out. However, it may be shrewd. Ultimately an expensive scheme foisted on a wounded economy could ultimately see this government out of office. If one believes the scientists it’s a minute to midnight and anything short of almost shutting down energy consumption will not work and the planet will die. Well, why do anything at all?

Of course we must but to think that one can change the direction of the ship of state in the midst of a howling economic tsunami by simply spinning the wheel is plain stupid. The time to act decisively is when we get the biggest bang for our buck. This scheme is politically possible in the present circumstances — and it can be built on when we are in calmer waters. The critics point to Rudd as busy doing nothing. The critics may be proven right in time — or not. However, right now we should give Rudd the benefit of producing a sustainable stepping stone, right for the times.

Dr Mark Duffett, Research Fellow in Geophysics at the University of Tasmania, writes: Re. “Hamilton: White paper runs up white flag” (yesterday, item 3). Clive Hamilton is justifiably outraged at the weakness of the White Paper targets. I can see why he might want to sacrifice nuance in favour of simplicity and force. But I really wish he wouldn’t represent the work of climate scientists as a single monolithic opinion.

Yes, there have been some reasonable estimates by well qualified people that there may be an summer ice-free Arctic Ocean before 2015. But my reading of the current literature is that this does not yet represent mainstream opinion, and moreover that “may” is a crucial word that Hamilton leaves out.

There is a real danger that this sort of wolf-crying by climate advocates like Hamilton will lead to a critical loss of political credibility by climate science, well beyond the current crank denialosphere, should (as is more likely than not) the Arctic retain some sea ice in the summer of 2015 — when the political battle will still be far from over.

John Craig from the Centre for Policy and Development Systems, writes: Re. “Our biggest polluters have won” (yesterday, item 2). Bernard Keane suggested that: “The surrender is virtually complete. Our biggest polluters have won, and the rest of us will be paying for it under a joke of an emissions trading scheme that encompasses a significant transfer of wealth to our largest polluters…” With respect, no one has won.

Here is the CPRS White Paper Policy Decision Summary, which makes it clear that the ETS would be a bureaucratic nightmare (and thus incredibly costly) to administer. The real tragedy has been that there has been no commitment to look further at the science of anthropogenic global warming underlying this proposal because (a) there is a real risk that the ETS may be a massive over-kill of a trivial problem and (b) there is also a risk that the proposed ETS may be a totally inadequate response to a very serious risk — as your article suggested.

Michael Kieran Harvey writes: Although I’m a green supporter, I must say that the contrast between Rudd government’s attitude to anthropogenic climate change and the Howard heads-in-the-1950s flat-earth Sunday-school denialism is stark. At least Rudd admits there is a problem, and if I was one of the homicidal polluter elites I would be feeling very unwell at the moment. Nevertheless I’ll be proudly attending the protest today to get a 40 percent greenhouse gas emissions reduction by 2020. There is simply no more important issue on the international agenda.

Drew Turney writes: Didn’t anyone else watch the DVD Labor sent to everyone before the election? Rudd said quite clearly he was a financial conservative. Since climate change is a financial concern to politicos and big, dirty businesses, we should expect nothing less than Howard-esque ignorance. Signing Kyoto and the other exciting noises he made were big fat “I’m not like the other financial conservative, I’m a whole new kind of financial conservative — but I’m still a conservative” gestures.

David Hand writes: Finally, Andrew Bolt has some illustrious company. Yes, that’s right. All you warriors for the beleaguered planet, defenders of Gaia, champions of our carbon reduction crusade have a new enemy. Kevin Rudd, beloved of 70% of us, patron of Channel Seven and “generally good bloke here to help” is a climate change sceptic.

Stuart Mackenzie writes: Yesterday saw the media and climate lobbyists of all persuasions comparing the Federal Government’s proposed 5-15% cuts in greenhouse gas emissions with the European Union’s recently announced target of 20% cuts. Can someone explain how these are comparable when the EU’s cuts are from 1990 levels but Australia’s are from 2000 levels?

Marty O’Neill writes: Well, Rudd’s done me in — his 5% reduction is unbelievably obscene. I will immediately start working to have the coalition returned in 2010 — they are incapable of doing WORSE with the environment than the ALP.

Mark Byrne writes: Please Mr Turnbull, please give us a better alternative to support over Rudd’s pathetic targets. The Green vote is enough to swing it for you by 2011. Create clear differentiation here and watch the support flood back.

The Northern Territory Intervention:

Sidney Watts, Yitija Leader, Arnhem Land, NT, writes: Re. “Whitewash! Territory’s black budget underspend coverup” (10 December, item 1). The Northern Territory Intervention & Emergency Response reality is that our children do have more food in the fridge and do not have to rely on chips, bread and polony to fill their tummies. This can be attributed to the voucher system, but we need to go one-step further and quarantine a percentage of the welfare payments for rent and power to ensure our children have a roof over their heads and available electricity to live comfortably.

Our children are regularly attending school and now have access to education, which leads to further opportunities to gain meaningful employment. An increase in education, balanced with attending to our cultural responsibilities will provide our children with increased resilience, self-esteem and confidence. This in turn will create a stronger Indigenous-society with a greater ability to stand up for our rights.

There is less alcohol being consumed, which leads to less violence, less drunks and less destruction of our children’s property and increases our desire to lead our people from the depths of what is a seemingly endless cycle of poverty.

And although there has been limited child-abuse referrals, these referrals are still children who have hopefully been saved from abuse, depravation and the total destruction of their entire being. We need to become a society where we proudly report child-abuse and stand-strong through our fears from the repercussions from cowardly boys and men.

We are becoming parents who teach our children that survival means the welfare system, being a man means beating your wife, drinking deals with your problems, smoking Marijuana is cool and schools are only for white people. How absolutely disgusting it is that we now stand up and fight for our right to continue this path of the total self-annihilation of a proud and ancient people.

There are so many opportunities in this intervention for Aboriginal people to participate in positive-assimilation and self-determined change: yet we continue to sit back, criticise, abuse and act as negative, self-absorbed victims.

It takes courage to stand up and say “I support the positive-aspects of this intervention”, when I know that there are Aboriginal people around me who will say that I am blind. But seriously, what else were they supposed to do, when all we gave them was “justification and reason” to intervene and help our children?

We can be kept busy by sitting there all day and focusing on the negatives or we could give them a chance by actively-participating in the policies that will directly affect your children’s future.

Be prepared Australia, because the intervention road-show is coming to a theatre near you, because 60,000 years cannot go to waste!

Shoe throwing:

Simon Drimer writes: Re. “Crikey Clarifier: Shoe throwing … it’s an Arab thing” (yesterday, item 13). A classic example of over-analysis from our expert on the Middle East at Melbourne University, and support for the aphorism that if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. I’m sure that all that Dr MacQueen says is true, but, guys, check with me first before you are tempted to write something ludicrous.

I suspect that the Arab journo threw his shoes at Dubya because they meet all of the following criteria: (1) they were the only articles of clothing he had on him with sufficient weight, that they would reach their target before air resistance pushed them up, down or sideways (2) they are quick to take off (3) they might actually cause some (superficial) injury if they hit their target.

Call me a pragmatist, but what else is he going to throw? A bit of lint from his forward right hand trouser pocket? A sock? A button? For crying out loud! Historians will also note that Nikita Khrushchev, at the UN General Assembly meeting in 1960, pounded the delegate’s desk in front of him not with his handkerchief, jocks or socks, but with a shoe.

Denise Marcos writes: Reacting to an Iraqi journalist hurling his shoes at the hapless Leader of The Free World, George W. Bush blurted, “I dunno know what his beef is!” That remark, in a nutshell, is an accurate summation and representation of his two onerous terms as a bewildered and unenlightened president.

Gerard Henderson:

John Addis writes: Re. Gerard Henderson (yesterday, comments). Crikey already makes use of the services of a very capable but frequently supercilious pedant for its fact checking. Someone one should tell Gerard he got the job years ago.

Andrew Dempster writes: Re. “Crikey readers’ choice awards 2008: The finalists” (yesterday, item 7). Surely now you have announced your nominees for you’re arsehat awards, there should be a moratorium on contributions from nominees? Gerard Henderson’s note yesterday was clearly an attempt to improve his chances in the “bore of the year” category…

Police reaction:

Steve Martin writes: Re. “Teenage deaths in Athens and Melbourne: A comparison” (yesterday, item 16). The police are entitled to protect themselves from armed criminals and someone who appears in this case to have been, at least temporarily, an armed nut case. They tried capsicum spray after attempting to reason with him, and finally resorted to firearms when one of the officers was cornered. At least that is the story that I am getting from the news media.

What puzzles me somewhat is that four officers had batons, (and no doubt are trained in their use,) and yet were not able to make use of them to disarm or disable the lad. There are now calls for the police to be issued with tasers to be used rather than firearms in similar circumstances to minimize the use of lethal force. I would support such a move as long as it doesn’t result in the police using tasers as a first response. A safeguard that could be built in would be for the use of a taser to be investigated in the same manner as a discharged firearm.

Victorian election:

Denis Moriarty writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 9). Crikey published: “Caller “Early Election” claims the Victorian Government will call an election next year. He says the next election must be called two years from now, but an early election can legally be called early next year. — 7.11am 3AW (Melbourne)”. Don’t think so. We have fixed elections.

Wilfred Burchett:

Simon Nasht, who is currently researching a film biography of Burchett, writes: You now things are getting wacky when people intent on character assassination make comparisons between the object of their hate and Hitler.

Stephen Magee (yesterday, comments) is not the first to make bizarre comparisons between the Australian journalist Wilfred Burchett and Adolf — otherwise lucid thinkers like Mark Aarons have also made this unfortunate analogy — but it takes the cake as James Jeffrey does (yesterday, comments) to lump Burchett with David Flint! According to Jeffrey, Burchett did great damage to Hungarian journalist Tibor Meray.

Formerly a Communist Party cultural commissar, Meray later made his career as a CIA-funded hack by denouncing Burchett. He travelled the world attacking former friends and colleagues, with Right Wing groups picking up the tab. It supplemented his income as a poorly reviewed writer of Cold War novellas. Time Magazine, not noted for its Pinko sympathies, was being kind when it wrote in 1959: “Exiled Hungarian Journalist Tibor Meray is a plodding novelist but a masterly expositor of black-is-white party dialectics and the mechanics of self brainwashing.”

Sitting in a Paris apartment while his former friends in the Hungarian Party were jailed or exiled, it is laughable to suggest that Meray’s life was ever endangered by anything Wilfred Burchett ever wrote or said — quite the contrary. And while many people hold many strong views about Burchett, most would never question his courage as does Jeffrey. Then as now many sit at their desks and write their opinions, yet Burchett was almost always putting his life at risk in the front line of conflict. His alleged ‘crime’ seems to be that he was on the wrong side of that line. Still, the Australian Government spent the best part of two decades searching for a charge they could bring against him and never found one. Please name the crimes he committed Mr Magee?

Burchett’s well-documented mistakes and, especially in his early career, misjudgements are all on display, and for the most part admitted by the man himself. In a long and passionate career at close range to some of the 20th century’s most turbulent events it would be miraculous if he had not made errors, even serious ones. Yet any considered appraisal of his career must weigh these against his many insights and achievements. Comparisons with Hitler or fables about Meray do nothing to progress the debate about a remarkable, controversial and confronting Australian figure.

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.