The Senate:

John Taylor writes: Re. “Senate dithers, rest of the country drinks the Ruddopop” (yesterday, item 1). Bernard Keane says the “alcopop” tax is popular in “voterland”. I don’t know whether it is or not but I’d suggest there is not a vote in it one way or the other by election time.

Keane mentions Coalition IR Spokesman Michael Keenan. Interesting. Never heard the name before. Must be doing a sterling job. Probably lucky to have a Coalition IR spokesman, post “WorkChoices”.

Regarding the Senate disruption. What would you do if you were Steve Fielding? There is absolutely no possibility of him being a Senator after the next election so why not make as much noise as you can in the meantime. And if you’ve listened to the parliamentary broadcasts you’d know he is a screamer.

And Penny Wong must have the most difficult portfolio in the Government. With a recession looming no one wants to exacerbate the problem and anything to do with climate change policy will have to wait.

Actually, Alan Kohler hit the nail on the head yesterday. Removal of subsidies to coal-fired power stations after 2015 will solve our problems, as far as the proposed carbon reduction is concerned. The coal fired power stations in the Latrobe Valley will go broke and close thus producing the carbon reduction required. Unfortunately no one in Victoria will be able to cook piece of toast or grill a chop but what the hell we will have averted Armageddon.

Pauline Hanson:

“Spun Out” writes: Re. “Hanson: Media Watch ‘dangerous’, Press Council waits” (yesterday, item 2). News Ltd’s PR man, Greg Baxter accuses Media Watch‘s Jonathon Holmes of hypocrisy over his criticism of News and the (alleged) Pauline Hanson photos. Is this the same News Ltd whose newspapers (most recently the Daily Telegraph) criticise other companies under the gun like Pacific Brands for hiring PR people? Oh and by the way, Greg Baxter’s previous PR job was at James Hardie…

Alison Webster writes: I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw excerpts of the interview with Jack Johnson from ACA’s Monday night program. Was it a paid interview — or did he just negotiate to have his face obscured? I can’t believe Channel Nine granted him facial anonymity.

Gerard McEwen writes: It’s time to draw a distinction between The Public Interest and mere public prurience.

David Havyatt writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. In your editorial you fulminate about the Murdoch press and the Hanson photos saying “In short, you can never underestimate the intelligence of you readership, nor its appetite for prurience and sensation.”

I hope you realise that that sentence equally applies to the low grade satire you’ve run under the name of fake Stephen Conroy, and indeed the sensationalism you’ve applied to the subject of the internet filter trials.

Sound Relief:

Fiona Marsden writes: Re. “Career relief: John Farnham sniffs out a worthy cause” (yesterday, item 15). Ross Stapleton’s article about the Sound Relief gigs seems to me like a case of misplaced journalistic cynicism. I agree that $5m doesn’t seem like much of a donation from an event as big as Sound Relief, given that the broader Australian community raised more than $100m from donations in the days immediately following the bushfires/floods.

And I certainly hope a big chunk of the proceeds from any CD/DVD sales will be donated to the relief effort, rather than going into the concert promoters’ well-lined pockets. But given the rather grim atmosphere that seems to be blanketing Australia — aided by a mainstream media and government obsessed with telling us we’re on the brink of financial oblivion — any event that takes our minds off things can only be viewed in a positive light.

Even better, Sound Relief put Peter Garrett back where he should be — onstage, flailing his arms around like a madman and calling for social change.

Beats the hell out of seeing him in Parliament — straight jacketed in a suit and tie, trying to change the system from the inside.


Andrew Lewis writes: Re. “Protectionism is fine when it comes to people” (yesterday, item 11). Charles Richardson makes many valid points about immigration.

First of all, the 14% reduction in migration will still see Australia taking in more migrants than last year, so while a reduction is a reduction, the nett effect is that we will still be taking in more migration than last year (the figures I have seen at least).We will still be at or near record levels in raw numbers.

My second point relates to the fact that skilled migration particularly is business generated in reality more than govt policy generated, although I concede that government effectively sets a ceiling. There has been anecdotal evidence that the skilled migration programme (457 visa) has been somewhat abused in more recent times, and sometimes has been used to undercut wages, particularly in concert with the previous IR regime.

The apparent reduction in skilled migration may require employers to work a little harder to find whether there are in fact employees within the national workforce before resorting to overseas recruitment. While this is supposed to be a pre-requisite for all skilled migration, it is not necessarily so due to oversight difficulties.

Given the downturn in the economy, and if it was being properly administered, it would be reasonable to assume that the migration visas would have dropped substantially of their own accord.

In essence, a reduction in the skilled migration quota may look like a form of increased protectionism; my point is that the waters are a little more muddied than what Mr Richardson implies.

Rundle vs. Henderson:

Nick Evans writes: Re. “Rundle: Henderson’s Media Watch Dog. Epic fail” (yesterday, item 16). I reckon the underlining in the Henderson blog might be his version of hyperlinks — after seeing them in other places, perhaps he thinks it’s merely enough to underline a word to have the reader magically transported to another place on the intahwebz? And he’s got nerve to be complaining about The Monthly not having a letters page — on a blog that allows no comments…

Also, I thought Crikey had a blanket ban on the mention of both Gerard Henderson and Robert Manne in the same paragraph, lest we bring the crazy back to the Crikey letters page…

Buying off the plan:

Financial adviser Matthew Auger writes: Re. “Beware ‘buying off the plan’” (yesterday, item 22). In yesterday’s Crikey, Adam Schwab talks about buying investment property “off the plan”, all good advice however Adam doesn’t acknowledge that to help with cash flow investors can fill out the Income Tax Withholding Variation (ITWV) form available online from the ATO.

Basically the ATO will advise your employer to adjust the income tax taken out of your pay to take into account the tax deductions associated with the investment property, such as interest, depreciation etc. This way you get your tax refund through the year, rather than at the end. By doing this it helps the cash flow of the property.

ITWV is also available for other items. If for example you have an expensive Income Protection policy, you could fill out an ITWV and get the deductions back through the year instead of waiting for your tax refund at the end of the financial year. Bear in mind the ATO takes a dim view if you were to fill out an ITWV and overstate your deductions. They really don’t like that.

As always, anyone interested in using an ITWV, talk to your accountant or check out the ATO website.

ABC Mobile website:

Chris Winter, ABC Innovation, writes: Re. “ABC Mobile website fails accessibility test” (yesterday, item 18). Tom Worthington has picked up some relevant points on accessibility for the visually impaired on the ABC Mobile site. The ABC has corrected some of these and further corrections will take place in the next few days. Thanks Tom.

The Global Financial Crisis:

Raoul Dunk writes: So Brian Mitchell and ALP comrade (yesterday, comments), still thinks unfettered capitalism caused the Global Financial Crisis? Well have a look at this New York Times article dated Sept 30th 1999:  Just think — If the kind hearted types in the Clinton Administration did not interfere in the cold, vicious lending decisions of the bankers, none of this would have happened.

Climate change sh-t storm:

Nigel Brunel writes: Are you a gambler Tamas Calderwood (yesterday, comments)? Both sides of the climate debate have intelligent and convincing arguments. What about this line of thought — otherwise we could sit around and argue till the carbon comes home — I think the real point(s) may be getting missed here: Let’s suspend the climate-change argument for a moment and look at it in other ways.

Instead of digging and drilling holes in the ground and burning everything we find in the only cradle humanity has ever known – doesn’t it make sense to change the “bulk” of our energy source from finite dirty energy to renewable unlimited clean energy?

Wouldn’t it make sense to develop solutions that harness all the abundant free energy given to us everyday rather than rely on theocratic foreign governments to provide us with a limited fossil based energy supply that fluctuates madly in price? Rather than giving everyone a thousand dollars to stuff under their mattress or splash on the pokies — why not build renewable energy projects that gives us cheaper energy or new ways to make plastics.

Would it not make sense to spend up large on Infrastructure renewable energy projects in this recession rather than build 6 lane highways to nowhere?

World population is increasing and already resources are scarce — doesn’t the next 100 years need to focus on building renewable energy sources for the burgeoning energy-mad masses to follow? Wouldn’t the majority agree that pumping our ecosystem full of our waste can’t be good for it or us in the long run?

A global ETS system will provide financial incentives for creation of clean renewable energy projects (CDMs) in developing countries that need it most as well as developed countries. It’s the market based trigger that provides the incentives to act. The cap and trade system within the ETS pits businesses against each other — if one can be more “carbon efficient” over the other — you have both a marketing edge and price edge in the market You won’t get the ETS right first time — bring in the basics and get it running and then ramp it/change it if and when required

Don’t let big business trivialise or harangue the government over this — they create most of this mess — they shouldn’t be part of the argument — it’s not political. At the end of the day — business will pass cost onto consumer — aka — us. Big business should stop whining. A carbon tax is not the right way — no one else in the planet is going the carbon tax route — they are all going with ETS models — Europe has been doing it for over four years — better to let the market set the price and incentivise the process.

And of course this view — what if the “greenies” are wrong and all this climate stuff is not man made — we basically have no impact — good or bad – we end investing a heap of money in renewable energy sources — that doesn’t appear to be a loss to me? But if we go with your side of the argument and you are wrong — then we’re toast.

Are you a gambler Tamas?

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