Housing in NSW:

Shehana Teixeira, Media Advisor for the NSW Housing Minister, writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (Monday, item 8). Contrary to the claims in your piece the Aboriginal Housing Office continues to have an active budget. The home described as a four bedroom dwelling was actually a five bedroom home with features that included extensive landscaping, granite bench tops and a spa bath.

It was not the type of property that is normally purchased for any public housing tenant. At no time did the Minister ever utter the statement that the writer attributes to him.

Resitech purchases homes on behalf of AHO and Housing NSW. They have very strict specifications on what they acquire — spa baths and granite bench tops don’t make that list.

With respect to this particular property, the Department in keeping with policy looked at a range of properties in order to find the most suitable keeping within existing budgets — a program we have had a lot of success with. The family have been found a home.

It is clear that a local campaign being run anonymously is making mischief about this serious matter. It is not usually our policy to make comment on unsubstantiated claims from anonymous sources but in this instance the Minister felt it important to set the record straight.

The NSW Government is committed to housing anyone in need, especially in these tough economic times. Any assertions otherwise are absurd.

Global doom and gloom:

Les Heimann writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. Crikey points to what “a few economists have been saying…” They have been saying for a long while now that we are living beyond our means! I have been ridiculed at many a dinner party for a long time also by daring — yes daring — to point out, ever so politely at first and much more stridently of late, that ultimately one must pay for what one acquires and the cost of not paying is financial ruin. Welcome to the ruin!

Of course we are actually seeing the beginnings of the very worst economic scenario ever experienced. The so called “Great Depression” pales into insignificance. However, there are solutions but they require men and women with vision and courage.

This is the time for a global approach. For uniformity of action. For a new financial system. For regulation and not deregulation. For co-operation not exclusivity. For thinking well beyond the current paradigm and acting thus. There is no courage in rhetoric. There is no progress in denial.

A bold approach to “forgive debts” among nations provided they sign up to internationally enforceable regulatory regimes. To forever halt “money gambling”. Make it illegal to do anything other than buy and sell shares through a highly regulated government controlled mechanism. No trading in currencies and all countries adopt the Unit as a universal currency.

Ignore it at your peril. You have — again — been warned.

Nicholas Roberts writes: No doubt, if Crikey and Milton had been reading, let’s say, the arch-lefty Noam Chomsky for the last 50 years, we wouldn’t be reading and writing such dire news. No doubt, the opportunistic Crikey will be attending the next World Social Forum along with The Economist.

Fortunately, for many of us, even those on the left, we have been way ahead of this curve and have tried to get a message of revolution through the media miasma.

Congratulations Crikey, you are officially now in 1968 … and have left the free market illusions of the post war boom behind. Only 41 years to catch-up to the rest of us.

Niall Clugston writes: Your editorial states “Thomas Friedman is no soft-left fruitcake”. Yes, but he is a fruitcake — right? Did the Great Depression happen because we were “living beyond our ecological means”? Downturns are nothing new. We’ve had one at the turn of every decade since the 1960s. We got off too lightly last time and now we’re paying heavily for an extra decade of profligacy.

The ecological crisis is real but different. It won’t go away when the economy recovers. But we can use this downturn to restructure our energy sector, build public transport infrastructure, and reorientate society.

Or we can indulge in self-flagellating pseudo-philosophy like Flat Earth Friedman.

Jeff Ash writes: Crikey wrote: “Every day brings another twist and turn in the phenomenon we have come to know as the Global Financial Crisis. Some days it looks contained. On others it leaps control lines and blazes on anew. Uncontrollable and fierce.” A bit soon for bushfire analogies isn’t it?

Andy Cole writes: Re: Kirk Broadhurst (yesterday, comments). I am most grateful for your solicitude with respect to my pension. I should make it clear however that I am not advocating generating hyperinflation of the Weimar/Zimbabwe model, only a modest level, say up to 20-25% for a short period.

Once it looks as though this level is approaching the brakes should then be applied. By that time enough extra cash should have flowed into the economy to get it back on its feet.

Nor do I expect this to guarantee an increase in the value of my pension fund. My main objective would be to slow its current rate of attrition, and I believe that could be achieved.

I don’t think Wayne will heed my advice though, because we are ‘so much better placed than the rest of the world’ to weather the storm. We shall see.

Climate change:

Nigel Brunel writes: Re. “How Wong and Rudd ate their own ETS” (yesterday, item 2). You guys should wake up and smell the carbon. No ETS in its initial form will be perfect. I’m convinced that version 1.10 will be radically different that 1.0. What’s happening presently is that you are all sitting around and arguing your own positions without caring for the planets position or the generations to come.

China and India should not be expected to cut massive amounts off their footprint to begin with — why should they? Our economies created this climate mess — we can’t accept China and India to pay for it. he best alternative is to implement an ETS which encourages development of green energy in developing countries.

Big polluters should not be allowed to be part of the argument — it’s nauseating listening to these behemoths — it’s like listening to real state agents telling us the property market is a buy — their agendas are too big.

Personally — I’m not sure if AGW is real but I am of the view that we are given so much free energy everyday and we ignore it — instead we choose to dig and chop and burn with reckless disregard. We are quite happy to pay money to oil producing countries that don’t even like us — yet we argue vehemently that changing to a renewable free source is beyond the pale — go figure.

I look at it quite simply:

  1. Do nothing and climate change is fake — nothing happens;
  2. Do something and climate change is fake — we lose money;
  3. Do something and climate change is real — we possibly avert disaster;
  4. Do nothing and climate change is real — disaster.

When I look at my young kids — point 3 is the only option.

Tamas Calderwood writes: Four more hysterical Climate Change articles from Crikey yesterday (your editorial and articles 3, 14, 15). All assert the mantra that we are in a period of dangerous climate change. As usual, none actually looks at the real world data.

So after about six minutes of “research” I can confirm the following: The RSS satellite data for February, 2009 shows a temperature of +0.23C above the 30 year average. Warmer months occurred in 83’, 87’, 90’, 91’, 95’ and 97’ through to 07’ but not in 08’. The temperature today is 0.36C warmer than February, 1979 and still hasn’t risen by more than 1C in over a hundred years.

So where’s the crisis? Reality is just relentless and is showing Crikey’s climate doom-mongering to be, well, cute at best.

Pacific Brands, the Oz and the Tele:

Peter Wilms writes: Re. “Mumbrella: Tele’s attack on PacBrands is madness” (yesterday, item 17). It is not unusual for the Daily Telegraph to differ in its approach to responsible journalism from its stable mate, The Australian. One of the most recent examples this was when Jim Selim, the founder of Pan Pharmaceuticals, was awarded some $55 million from the Federal Government for the egregious behaviour of the Therapeutic Goods Administration and a number of its senior executives in conspiring to bring down the company and pursue its founder on a range of what proved to be trumped-up criminal charges.

The Telegraph, rather than concentrate on the facts of the case — that Selim had been a target of the TGA who the regulator believed would accede docilely to its illegal actions and had subsequently been vindicated — went for the populist approach and found a couple of members of the public who had allegedly suffered and were still suffering from the effects of taking Travacalm, a travel sickness medication that led to Pan’s demise. Why, the newspaper asked, were they not given the $55 million instead of Selim? After all it was they who suffered, not Selim. Not stated was that Selim had lost only his company, his shareholding and his reputation

The Tele‘s assumption failed any number of journalistic tests of both ethics and honesty, not to mention testing the interviewees on their claims. It was banal, inaccurate and misleading reportage that had nothing to do with the court’s decision.

The Australian, by contrast, treated the court decision as a case study, acknowledging the judgment as a vindication of Selim’s position — one he had maintained successfully through a number of court appearances — and one that reflected adversely on the TGA. It was accurate reporting of the actual event and its follow up stories were a reflection of what can happen when a regulator with the powers of the TGA thinks it can operate with impunity outside its statutory powers.

Same horse …. different jockeys!

Brian Haverty writes: Re. Video of the Day. Does anyone else find it odd that news of Pac Brands’ hiring of a PR company appears on the same day that nineMSN and the Today Show (and Crikey) are bombarding us with report after report about a kangaroo and a “hero in Bonds undies”. Count the number of times “Bonds” is heard in the video interview on the Today Show (which ran twice in its entirety) and the word’s appearances in the nineMSN article. Money well spent?

Costello:

Shirley Colless writes: Re. “Costello’s mission to destroy the Liberal Party” (6 March, item 1). As a reflection on Bernard Keane’s comment: “It’s unclear what ideology Peter Costello holds, beyond that bizarre religious wingnuttery to which he enthusiastically subscribes”, I am reminded that following the appearance of both John Howard and Peter Costello at Hillsong, my minister, pastoring a parish a bit to the west of the inner city and administering a pastoral program to people in desperate need, asked Costello if he would attend one of his services.

Costello’s response to this invitation to see a bit of life in the social and economic raw was, “Mate, when you draw 20,000 people to your services, I’ll come”. ‘Nuff said?

Anna Bligh:

David Zuric writes: Re. “Carrara stadium funding political football raining goals for ALP” (yesterday, item 19). My Impression of the current Qld government is that their main concern is to stay in POWER and nothing else matters. This government is anti-cultural as well as anti business. Control and power is their main goal.

There is no other inspiration there. Unfortunately there is complacency in Queensland and as long as there is a promise of more football arenas, where the votes can be herded, into, they will be voted back. The problem is that this cabinet has been governing for years after Beatty was asked t go, without being elected.

Has anybody noticed this or is it just me?

Fuel reduction:

George Morris writes: Re. “Fuel reduction burns made no difference on Black Saturday” (yesterday, item 5). Simon Birrell’s piece on what he perceives to be the uselessness of fuel reduction burning is, at best, disingenuous. For a fire to rapidly reach the intensity of the fires that decimated Victoria, an initial heavy fuel load is required. Once such a fire is burning, especially in the hot windy conditions that prevailed, it will easily burn through previously burnt areas, paddocks, fire breaks and the like.

The critical issue is the initial starting point of the fire. If it starts in an area of low fuel load, there is every chance that it can be extinguished before a “critical mass” situation arises. This is basic fire science. No Simon, the environmental movement is not off the hook on this one.

Political spouses:

Leah Marrone writes: Re. “Beyond Hyacinth: a new era for the political spouse” (yesterday, item 10). Bernard Keane, I applaud you for this article. However I would go further still and say that it is impossible and ridiculous to think that political spouses are to have identical politics to their partners.

It is entirely inappropriate to focus on the spouse of an MP. The fact that the media and politicians from opposite sides so often do this is a big part of the reason why many, more private people, do not enter politics.

Crikey is computer illiterate:

Kieren Diment writes: Re. “Media briefs: TV flops don’t last a month… Facebook opens Oz office…” (Yesterday, item 20). In regards to “Gordon Brown is a c-nt — according to Twitter”. Actually I’d suspect that the telegraph.co.uk guys have implemented way they respond to URLs wrong, not the computer illiteracy of Twitter users.

If you leave off the page name off the end of the URL it usually means the web server is looking for a page like index.html. The Telegraph isn’t doing this, which results in a web page which can be displayed with a non-unique URL.

This is fine if he author of the page chooses the non-unique URLs, but not if the user can.

Anyway, I tested it, and the address http://www.crikey.com.au/Politics/20090310-Crikey-is-Computer-Illiterate.html exhibits the correct behaviour.

Well done!

Colonisation:

Bruce Graham writes: I enjoy watching Ken Lambert (yesterday, comments) and Rundle duke it out. This just a pedantic quibble from the sidelines, but it was actually Mussolini who told Anthony Eden that if the British had any sense they would just shoot Gandhi, and shoot anybody who protested after Gandhi was dead. No doubt, Hitler would have sympathised, but I know of no reference to suggest that he even knew who Gandhi was.

Hitler’s dreams of empire were essentially a European dream of surpassing the first (Roman) and second (Holy Roman) empires. Mussolini wanted to supplant the British empire with a (second) Roman empire. In the years prior to WWII he laid claims that various pieces of the French and British colonial empires should be handed over to Italy.

These matters are covered in Anthony Edens political memoir Facing the dictators.

Sol Salbe writes: There were other colours on the map. Not just Pink. While lamenting the demise of the British Empire and its pink bits on the map Ken Lambert manages to supersize it by including the Emperor Bokasa’s Central African Republic (French Empire), Mobuto’s Congo (Belgium) and his clincher argument of Rwanda (Belgium).

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Peter Fray

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