Budget 09:

Les Heimann writes: Re. “Swan’s boom-era budget should sail” (yesterday, item 1). Thanks Crikey for high standard commentary. Do we like the Budget? The governments income and expenditure proposals presented to Parliament are quite appropriate and totally in accord with their clear and transparent program to deal with the GFC. But does this Budget  protect us from the financial pandemic sweeping “swine-like” around the world? Well this “Budget” doesn’t really do that.

This Budget adds vast amounts of public debt onto huge amounts of private debt to create — a blanc mange of unsustainable debt that, in economic terms, will collapse one day and smother us in monetary and fiscal slime. What’s missing is an antidote to the debt virus. And there is a vast stockpile of this antidote.

The government must now legislate to slow down private debt. Rein in credit availability. Demand equity before borrowing. Stop the level of private debt growing. That’s a balanced budget.

David Thackrah writes: It seems to me there was no mention of the manufacturing element of the Australian economy at this time of monetary juggling. Thus all those citizens that like to be working in manufacturing are being forced to find occupations in other spheres. Not a good look for women and men who have given their lives to date to work in orderly groups “making things” … for whichever way politicians look at this sector of the economy they have been grossly responsible for its’ decline.

It is all very well saying we make room for people in poorer countries but stripping out manufacturing exposes the retail sector to poor quality off-shore produced product that inexorably makes access to things like well made clothing, bedcovers and hardware a thing of the past. On the other hand, the small farmers and food producers also missed out.

Meanwhile ship loads of American oranges and Chinese sourced vegetables circumnavigate the continent.

Matthew Johns:

Michael Winkler writes: In response to Rosemary Swift (yesterday, comments): my intention in Tuesday’s item was to challenge reporter Sarah Ferguson’s coverage of an important and troubling issue. I believe that the report’s failure to clearly differentiate between private behaviour that offends some people’s morality (completely consensual group s-x) and criminal behaviour (rape, s-xual assault) meant that it also failed to adequately explore the varying shades of grey in between.

I agree entirely that there are double standards about male and female behaviour — I would have thought my listing of recent cases completely overlooked by Four Corners demonstrates that I am alarmed by the situation, but I think it is far more complex than Ms Ferguson showed. I also agree with you that the seminar answers from the young players were both instructive and worrying.

I continue to think that using overlay of Charmyne Palavi applying fake tan was gratuitous and undermined the interviewee, perhaps an unintentional acknowledgment by the program producers that she was a poor interview choice. No male interviewees were shown doing anything similar.

Lastly, Rosemary, you do your own argument about judging women a disservice by suggesting that Ms Palavi “demonstrate(s) that there are indeed some women who are prepared to have group s-x with footballers” — this is a complete assumption on your part, since at no point did she say she has had s-x with more than one player at a time.

The program transcript can be checked here. Did the fake tan make you think she was up for it?

Chris Johnson writes: Can we now list the NRL and Channel Nine on SackWatch for laying off Matthew Johns? The corporate shame of Nine and the NRL is that they should have booted the boy for his “embarrassingly, painful” group s-x experience years ago.

Shield laws:

Peter Evans writes: Re. “Journalist shield laws do not go far enough” (yesterday, item 5). Christopher Warren’s article on journalist shield laws was unfair to Chief Judge Rozenes. Judges are obliged to apply the law of the land, and this is what Rozenes was doing. It is not a matter of judges “who either cannot understand or do not value the vital part played by this confidentiality in bringing important information to the public”.

I have no doubt that Rozenes understands the problem, but was correctly applying the law as it currently is. The problem has to be corrected by Parliamentary legislation, not by judges exceeding their authority and usurping Parliament’s legislative function.

Housing foreclosures:

Julian Gillespie writes: Well they say a picture paints a 1000 words, so for those that may think the data is getting good out of the US think again — below is the latest housing foreclosures chart which is still climbing which means BAD, very bad.

James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac:

Total foreclosure activity in April ended up slightly above the previous month, once again hitting a record-high level.

Much of this activity is at the initial stages of foreclosure — the default and auction stages — while bank repossessions, or REOs, were down on a monthly and annual basis to their lowest level since March 2008. This suggests that many lenders and servicers are beginning foreclosure proceedings on delinquent loans that had been delayed by legislative and industry moratoria.

It’s likely that we’ll see a corresponding spike in REOs as these loans move through the foreclosure process over the next few months.


Peter Lloyd writes: It’s getting a bit tedious hearing the same old Orwellian rhetoric and plucked-from-the-air figures from the likes of Gunns “Sustainability” Manager Carlton Frame (yesterday, comments). Paul O’Halloran did not refer to “old growth” forest in the correspondence to which Mr Frame responds, so he has to drag it in anyway because in Tasmania there is a carefully chosen set of proper nouns used to allow forests containing trees many centuries old to be dismissed (and chipped) as mere “regrowth”.

Similarly, the number of jobs to be created by the pulp mill is a figure that has gone all over the place depending on whether the information was from Gunns itself, the tendentious reports commissioned by Paul Lennon. These figures have been further blurred by the consideration — or otherwise — of issues such as how many jobs would go to Tasmania, and how many would be the “indirect” jobs such as the tourism boost predicted in an ICT Global report deriving from those who visit towns to look at pulp mills. No adverse effect on the Tamar Valley’s booming winery and eco-tourism industry has ever been acknowledged. Gunns also uses chemicals such as 1080 baits and atrazine, banned in most EU countries.

Indeed the stuff turned up last week in Hobart’s water supply though Water Minister David Llewellyn was indifferent because it was “only a little bit” — a nice precedent for the likely non-reaction when the mill proves poisonous.

The main game for Gunns — and the likely reason the mill will use “unprofitable” non-plantation timber- is to clear-fell as much as possible of the remaining forest with high heritage value, and put it under plantation, before their party goes the way of so many similarly destructive and toxic industries. Which was exactly the point made by Mr O’Halloran and not refuted by Mr Frame.

Climate change cage match (now with its own blog):

Ken Lambert writes: All that can be said “beyond reasonable doubt” is that we are in uncharted waters regarding the effect of the current levels of CO2 (around 385ppm) on the Earth’s temperatures, sea levels and the environment. Some say that higher CO2 levels will enhance plant growth, increase water vapour in the atmosphere and produce higher crop yields. Others say the opposite.

Has climate change affected human civilizations dramatically in the past? You bet it has. And it was all done by natural forcings — not industrial release of CO2. He reason I have taken a sceptical view, was initially prompted by the “shoe shine boy” effect.

You know the story — when your Yankee shoe shine boy is offering you stock tips— it is time to get out of the market! Well, when pimply youths and fervent schoolchildren start lecturing their elders about the calamities to come from “climate change” — then its time to take a hard look at the evidence and the observations.

What I found was an uncritical acceptance and alarmism by public commentators, academics and the media, that climate change was novel and “inherently bad”. I am indebted to Dr Chris Schoneveld (WE Australian Feb 2008) for this elegant proof of the falsity of this premise:

One only has to take about 50 things humans like (butterflies, cave paintings, wine, peace, health) and 50 things we don’t like (sharks, feral cats, jellyfish, allergies, crime, drought, floods) and perform a Google search for each in combination with the term ‘global warming or climate change’ and the following will emerge: anything we like will be negatively affected and anything we don’t like will benefit.

For example, you will never find butterflies thriving and cockroaches suffering. Since the forces of nature are insensitive to the preferences of humans, one would expect a balanced outcome of thriving or declining likes and dislikes. Since this is not the case, the statistical significance of this exercise allows us to draw the conclusion that the science of climate change is alarmist and subject to severe bias.

Try this yourself, and reach the same conclusion.