CRIKEY: In yesterday’s Crikey Mark Alridge was incorrectly attributed the byline of ‘South Australian Independent Legislative Councillor’ but he is not currently a member of parliament. The mistake was made in the subbing process.

Mark Latham:

Niall Clugston writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. What is it about Mark Latham that he brings out all this compulsive psychobabble? Where is the psychoanalysis of John Howard? Why did the master politician allow himself to be steamrolled by the unions and Kevin 07? Was he blind to or frozen by the coming defeat? Why are there so few books about one of our longest serving Prime Minister anyway? What about Kim Beazley’s successive failures? Surely they warrant some soul-searching (his, not ours)?

But no. It’s all about Latham. I suspect because he bucked the system, the Empire relentlessly strikes back with these psychoanalytical clones … And spare us your editorialising about the electorate’s mystical prescience, this talk that the “voters subtly but firmly detected and rejected” Latham’s personal flaws. How exactly did the voters, most of whom care little about politics, have such greater insight than a multitude of commentators and reporters?

Fundamentally, Howard in 2004 had not yet outworn his welcome. Don’t deify the electoral cycle!

A former RUP/FXJ employee based at a non-daily regional paper writes: Re. “Channel Seven to buy Fairfax?” (yesterday, item 5). Regarding the Citigroup analyst thought on a possible Seven takeover of Fairfax.

A major sticking point in this is the acrimonious departure of Tony Gillies from RUP to WAN. I mentioned Tony to Barry Potter (Publishing Services Manager @ RUP) once upon a time during a broad-ranging discussion, and was told to “never speak of that name again”. Apparently there was alot more to it than what we mere “rank and file” employees were told.

Given that FXJ is now RUP by another name, I do not see any of the FXJ management wishing to be associated with WAN. There are some issues there that for the moment are smouldering below a fire blanket, but a takeover bid could end up ripping that fire blanket off and pouring a very large tanker of petrol onto the embers.

I cannot see any former RUP employees/shareholders that were issued shares under the company deed of arrangement during the FXJ takeover (lets call it for what it really was) will think that even $1.85 will be enough. Remember that the FXJ shares were issued at $5.09 (plus scrip) to former RUP shareholders.

I now have my average cost on my FXJ units below $1.85 but not very far below that at all. I would certainly be looking for a share price of $2.20-$2.30 and dividends back to the $0.20-$0.25p.a. per share before I would be looking to sell.

The Budget:

Andrew Lewis writes: Re. “The ugliest Budget in decades way behind schedule” (yesterday, item 2). Bernard Keane comments on the upcoming budget that “Now there is no low-hanging fruit to pick.” I agree entirely if he is talking of political decisions, as the low hanging fruit does seem plucked (may as well be in the same boat as the rest of us!). From an economic point of view however I would argue there is plenty of fruit still hanging, and a GFC could just give the government the political impetus for some bold decisions.

First cab off the rank would have to be the iniquitous halving of the tax rate on capital gains (when held for 12 months). This was never a good economic move and has no economic justification. It was always a political decision and is ripe to be unwound.

The second would be a tightening of tax laws for superannuants. The current regime is a ticking demographic time bomb that someone is going to have to defuse. It’s hard to nominate which of the thousands of pages of superannuation tax laws are worst, but I would start at the rort where people who have acquired the legal superannuant age who continue to work can draw down their pension while salary sacrificing their entire current pay.

Third would be some adjustment to tax treatment so that individuals who earn $60k p.a. on super. Pay some tax! No doubt the usual rent-seekers would cry blue murder at such outrageous demands, the real estate industry being at the head of that queue, but when did these lobbyists look at a government decision and not cry “We’ll all be rooned”.

A courageous budget with well targeted economic stimulus would be a smart political move. Nobody should be holding their breath.

G20:

John Craig writes: Re. “G20 ends era of unregulated international finance” (3 April, item 1). Bernard Keane’s article suggested that:

All the suspects in the GFC (except the politicians and regulators who oversaw it) have been locked a new interlocking global/national system of regulation (i.e. hedge funds, institutions too large to fail, credit rating agencies, tax havens, derivatives, excess remuneration for short term risk) while a new Financial Stability Board will monitor the whole system.

Unfortunately your suggestion that the G20 summit imposed tough regulation on ‘all suspects in the GFC’ reflects only a partial view of the problem.

The macroeconomically-unsustainable economic and financial systems that have been adopted across East Asia are critically important “suspects in the GFC” which received no attention from the G20 even though the failure to do so must prevent sustainable economic recovery.

Furthermore the failure to address the radically different interpretations of the purposes of economic and financial systems which exist in various parts of the world must render any attempt to develop a uniform ‘global’ regulatory regime futile.

Cenitex:

A CenITex worker writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 9). Crikey published: “Crikey.com blocked for ALL staff in Department of Treasury and Finance and at CenITex. Cenitex/DTF-GSG fiasco is a LOT deeper and a LOT worse than you have reported to date, keep digging! Love your work.”

This is a false statement. I work for Cenitex and read crickey.com on a daily basis here at work. Please check your facts before posting them.

Therese Rein:

Julie Marlow writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 9). Crikey published:

In all the fuss over Therese’s pirate shirt why has the fact she is wearing a NZ designer not worth a mention? She was also wearing some more Trelise Cooper at the G20 dinner.

I thought she looked very dashing. And no disrespect to Ms Rein, I reckon she’s wearing Trelise (and other NZ designers no doubt) because it’s a size issue. New Zealand designers make classy fashion-forward clothing for the traditional build without resorting to hideous pastel synthetics and mother of the bride brocade. Very few Aussie designers of similar calibre go beyond — shock horror — a 14, and a few (Sportscraft, David Lawrence, Chelsea, Suzanne, but they’re all high street mainstays) even go 16, which is the average size for women.

Two chain stores, Taking Shape and My Size, have a go at larger size clothing but they’re ubiquitous chain stores and even they make the serious fashion faux pas on trying to put women in horizontal stripes and Capri pants, a distinct non-starter for even the most recalcitrant fashionista.

Designer clothing of style and taste is pretty thin on the ground for non stick-insects, so until Australian designers wake up a bit, Therese Rein might not have many options.

Kevin Rudd:

Rod Metcalfe writes: Re. “Kevin Rudd: the PM who can do no wrong” (3 April, item 3). I would have thought the RAAF would have got the PM’s food order right given that he had been in the job for more than 12 months and done lots of official flying. Is this another case of the RAAF — or a bit of the Dept of Defence — taking on the Government?

And by the way, if you are a coeliac and have it on your Frequent Flyer profile at QF, don’t expect a gluten free meal unless you specifically ask for it before flying. Seems your FF profile only really matters if you are travelling business class — or so I was told by a steward. My response was in line with that of Kevin.

Lookalike:

“Malcolm X” writes: Re. “The Liberal party’s long history of playing the race card” (yesterday, item 12). Don’t know if you want to have a bit of fun with this, but in this Esquire article the former US president James Buchanan bears an uncanny resemblance to Malcolm Turnbull. Buchanan being the historically terrible president who mishandled the run up to the American Civil War. Turnbull … well you get the picture.

Questionable fines:

Gavin R. Putland writes: Re. “Secret police enforce airport parking monopoly” (yesterday, item 6) & “SA Labor government: ‘screws civil rights’” (yesterday, item 17). Items 6 and 17 in Monday’s Crikey concern wrongful or questionable fines. Here are two possible comebacks.

First, have you ever paid stamp duty on a new (not used) car or motorcycle or caravan in the offending State or Territory? If so, the reasoning of the High Court in Ha vs. NSW (1997) indicates that the duty was an excise and was therefore unconstitutional. So you could indicate that if the fine is imposed in spite of your objections, you will seek to have it deducted from the stamp-duty refund, which takes priority because of the supremacy of the Constitution (or perhaps because you need the refund to pay the fine).

Will the State risk having a tax declared unconstitutional in order to collect one lousy fine? (Of course, if you just want to get even, you can sue for the refund unconditionally.)

Second, if your offence has been induced by some provable action or omission of your opponent, presumably that action or omission was itself an offence (incitement). By threatening a private criminal prosecution for that offence, you could extract a reconsideration of whether your behaviour amounted to an offence. This is relevant to John Mellor, who was the victim of an obscured sign, and to the man who was fined for obeying the signs that recommended driving with his lights on.

I am not a lawyer and the above is not advice.

Southampton FC:

“Gordon Strachan” writes: Re. “The business case for pro-sports evaporates” (yesterday, item 27). A small tip to Glenn Dyer, Southampton are not in the English Premier League having been relegated at the end of the 2004/05 season. They currently sit in 23rd place in The Championship and are facing possible relegation to League 1, the third tier of English league football.

Pilots:

Steve Simmonds writes: I normally dislike the tit for tat responses in the comments section but now I understand why it perpetuates. I now feel the need to respond to Jim Hart’s comments on my comments (yesterday, comments). I’m not looking for racism; I’m just looking for reasoned comment from contributors.

If Ben Sandilands meant to indicate that students have difficulties communicating on the radios then this is what he should have written, as to me it is irrelevant as to the students back ground as to where they come from, with the only relevant fact being that they are a student (i.e.: inexperienced). To say otherwise IS racist, whether looking closely for it on my “racidar” or not.

To say otherwise is to suggest that if two people satisfactorily pass what ever competencies at each stage of the learning process, the non-English backgrounded student is somehow less competent than the other WASPy student, if this is not the case then the system must be very flawed indeed, ‘cos I know plenty of WASPy people that have difficulties with a Melways and have trouble understanding them on the phone … but I’m sure they’d make great pilots, ‘cos they speak such good Strine.

And what is wrong with my “inferring”, or would I also make a crappy pilot if traffic control started to tell me to get out of the way as I was inferring with the bigger planes in the sky?

Climate change:

Tamas Calderwood writes: Stephen Morris (yesterday, comments) says that CO2 has recently increased to the “unprecedented” concentration of almost 0.0004 of our atmosphere and says this increase “almost exactly corresponds with the large temperature increases over the last 50-100 years”.

First, CO2 has been more than 10x current levels in the past.

Second, what large temperature increases is he talking about? Once again, we’ve had zero warming in the past 10 years, less than 0.4C in the past thirty years and around 0.7C in the past hundred.

The data are available to anyone with access to Google and the ability to type “temperature data”.

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Peter Fray

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