Parliamentary secretary shuffle:

Chris Kelly writes: Re. “Wong the biggest loser in Rudd’s mini-shuffle” (yesterday, item 10). Paul Gilchrist has it slightly wrong in his assessment of a senior opposition backbencher’s position as being the best job in the world. They still have to put up with those annoying consituents who insist on whingeing about some mundane matter.

No, I noticed in 1975, at what I thought was the height of my political awareness, that a gentleman named Kerry Sibraa was number one on the ALP senate ticket, thereby absolutely assured of a job unless he upset his political masters. Kerry who, I thought? The good gentleman served 19 years in his senate position including seven years as Leader of the Senate, and then got the usual plum diplomatic postings. Who can name one thing he achieved in that time? Have a look at his Wikipedia entry.

No contact required with the messy public, no evidence of achievement required, just vote along party lines and be part of the unrepresentative swill, as Keating so memorably christened them. No, the Senate is a joke, and a high position on the ticket is surely the world’s best job. How many people, even the politically savvy Crikey readers can name any of their state’s Senators? The only time the Senate matters at all is when some poindexter manages to fluke the balance of power and wields influence so far beyond his/her capabilities as to be farcical. No names required.

Where do I apply?

Niall Clugston writes: Bernand Keane’s analysis of the Parl Sec reshuffle seems to have all the accuracy of a sawn-off shotgun. To describe the appointment of Greg Combet to Climate Change as “giving business a friendlier face” depicts the ACTU as more of a poodle than it actually is. I’m not really sure why people feel their environmentalist credentials are enhanced by denigrating Wong and Garrett. Doesn’t the appointment of more political personnel elevate rather than degrade the issue?

Climate Change:

Michael James writes: Re. “Obama shows up Aussie counterparts on climate challenge” (yesterday, item 15). The ACF’s Phil Freeman was right to be dismayed at the appalling complacency of Australian politicians of both major parties when it comes to grasping this amazing opportunity to develop an industry around renewable energy. This continues the long tradition of keeping us mired in mediocrity, exporting jobs and skills offshore. And we spent $23B importing oil ( FY2007).

The New York Times fretted about the US falling to sixth ranking in the world for innovation (based on a new report). Australia confirms its mediocrity at position 19 out of 40. In case some people think this is pretty good, the countries below us are Lithuania, Estonia, Slovenia, Portugal and the like, while Singapore is number one and S. Korea is fifth. The ITIF report has a very timely quotation as its frontispiece:

It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change. — Charles Darwin

Tony Kevin writes: Not to dump on Phil Freeman’s thoughtful piece, but the main reason Obama’s wonderfully radical rhetoric on transition to renewables-based energy works in the US but would not yet work here in Oz is in a key difference between the two societies. American voters know that their economy and environment are seriously stuffed, and are ready to look at radical Keynesian solutions to both.

Australians have not yet worked through this — we still think, wrongly, that we are just going through a temporary downturn (we are not — we will be in this recession or worse for several years). And we think our economy depends on our biggest export earner, coal (it needn’t, but we’re too timid to think along that unfamiliar pathway).

So we cling to the status quo, which is why Rudd and Turnbull are stuck in their deeply unsatisfactory present policy frame. Neither man is prepared to really lead Australia on renewable energy, as Obama is leading: they are both just going with the flow, doing what the focus groups are telling them.

3G Mobile:

Joe Boswell writes: Re. Optus and Telstra being Kafka-esque with ‘Return to Sender’ mail (yesterday, tips and rumours). I’ve had the same with Hutchison 3G. After returning letters for over a year all marked “addressee unknown — return to sender” I contacted the company and was informed it would have nothing to do with me because I’m not the addressee. The company also got mightily huffy about the outrage of me, after a year of this, opening a letter and asking why it was sending monthly bills for $0.00. I asked TIO to help, but that took months and was useless. Eventually I sent a letter to Hutchison 3G and the problem was solved.

Andrew Bolt:

Michael James writes: Crikey has given Robert Mullins a huge amount of space to say we should tolerate Andrew Bolt essentially because he is entertaining (to some). I could not disagree more. On important issues like climate change we need as much discussion and reasoned argument as possible. We do not get this from Bolt, quite the contrary, we only get closed and prejudiced minds.

There is no need for anyone to visit his execrable website more than once because the lamentable low quality of his bloggers is a huge turnoff to anyone interested in genuine discourse. As to Mullins’ statement that Bolt does no harm, how is this possible when he spreads ignorance and disinformation on what may be an issue critical to the survival of us all?

With this attitude we would support the proliferation of the likes of African politicians who do nothing about AIDS ravaging their countries because of their absurd distortions of the science. Flat-earthers like Bolt can have powerfully destructive effects.

Crikey seems to have an unhealthy obsession with Bolt, but you simply are giving him oxygen. There are plenty of anti-Denialist websites that will do a much more comprehensive job than Pure Poison can hope and they deal with the same misinformation that Bolt never initiates but merely recycles, so it is particularly pointless.


Ignaz Amrein writes: Re. “Governments should prep for the next vaccine scare” (yesterday, item 14). Which drug companies sponsored this article? It always amazes me how proponents of “vaccinate everybody against everything”, like Julie Leask, consistently ignore the countless cases of bad reactions and sometimes deaths (they usually blame something else for it) after vaccinations. There are alternatives for a lot of vaccinations but this information does not get passed on to the general public. There should be a real debate about the whole issue, with equal time given to the pros and cons.


Gavin R Putland writes: Following the release of the Dreyfus committee’s report on Federal whistleblower laws, the Oz carried much sanctimonious comment on why the committee’s half-baked proposals are insufficient. But nowhere in yesterday’s coverage, or anywhere else, do the media tell us that the law already provides a comprehensive protection for whistleblowers. It’s called jury nullification — the power of the jury to acquit the defendant in defiance of the law. The media can protect their sources by running stories on jury nullification to educate prospective jurors. But they neglect to do so. Worse, it has been my experience that readers’ letters advocating jury nullification for the protection of whistleblowers are not published. Could this be because the media, like governments, are beneficiaries of unjust laws that they don’t want nullified by juries?

Catholic rebellion:

Tim Mackay writes: Stephen Magee (yesterday, comments), so let me get this right, the Catholic Church is basically a hierarchical club that holds significant assets. Those in charge do with those assets as they see fit and only share the benefits as a reward to those members who conform. Those that disagree with Church orthodoxy will be materially punished. What a very Old Testament approach.

I am still however confused. Can you please explain to me how the Catholic Church is a broad enough Church for the Pope to readmit a senior Bishop who denies the holocaust (and has done again subsequently to his readmission) but somehow is not broad enough to allow a rebel priest who allows his congregation to participate actively in the mass at the expense of the priest’s traditional role. A part of me thinks Jesus would be spinning in his grave at the inconsistency. Church authorities were more than aware of this ‘Bishop’s’ unorthodox attitudes before readmitting him as a member. Now this is a person that I am not proud that the authorities have deemed acceptable in my Church.

This is how this somehow acceptable Roman Catholic ‘Bishop’ reacted when questioned on his views — “Historical evidence is at issue, not emotions. And if I find this evidence, I will correct myself. But that will take time”. So the Church gives this character all the time in the world to find ‘the evidence’ of the holocaust (if he ever finds it) while the Church seeks to rid itself of this meddlesome Brisbane priest ASAP.
Ken Lambert, if as you say a main aim of the Catholic Church is just to continue on successfully as a materially wealthy, earthly empire for another 2,000 years and to punish those that challenge its continued authority, then it has seriously lost its way from Christ’s teachings and deserves to fail. Further, live or die, Jesus would never have faced the practicalities of setting up a Christian Church. He was NEVER interested in setting up a Christian Church – he was born, raised, actively practised and died as a faithful Jew. Christianity as we know it was partly Paul’s idea, well after Jesus died.


Gavin Findlay writes: Re. “Strong ABS investment figure prompts positive GDP talk” (yesterday, item 1) The mixed metaphor of our generation… “the general economic slowdown gathers pace”


Judy Bamberger writes: 1 July 2005, Telstra share price was AU$5.06. 3.5 years later, Sol Trujillo announced his pending departure [26 February]. With Telstra stock nearing a record LOW on Trujillo’s watch – AU$3.68, we’re informed that Sol will take with him his AU$13.4 million pay package for this year *PLUS* another AU$30 million payout. Plus his eight-digit salary each of the previous three years.

For the past four years, Trujillo spent a significant portion of his time outside Australia, distant from the iconic industry he purports to manage. (Does Trujillo use NextG to manage from afar?)

For the past 12 months, he focused intently on landing his next job … while finishing his promised lay-offs of 12,000 Telstra employees. (Is Trujillo helping them in their job searches?)

Trujillo has spent four years pillaging a major Australian asset, receiving perhaps AU$70 million, while driving down the value of the shares owned by Australian citizens.

I don’t know which is more pathetic: The nearly 30% loss in stock value; Trujillo’s AU$30 million payout; or Telstra employees learning today about Sol’s resignation through its announcement by the media!

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