Pokies and clubs:

David Costello, CEO Clubs Australia, writes: Re. “Will Woolies give Labor $20m for pokies empire?” (Yesterday, item 4). Yet again, the anti-gambling lobby have revealed their ignorance on the subject of poker machines. No sooner had the ALP stated they intended to sell their four ACT clubs then the likes of Stephen Mayne and Nick Xenophon were quick to make public comment. The only problem was the comment was all wrong.

The Canberra Labor Club is a club, not a hotel. As such it can only be owned by a not for profit organisation. Woolworths’ $1.6 billion profit last year should have been the give-away to Stephen Mayne that Woolies doesn’t fit that category and as such, can’t buy any of the four ACT clubs.

If Stephen Mayne or Nick Xenophon had taken the time to speak with the Canberra Labour Club President or for that matter ClubsACT or even read the Canberra Times article that revealed the impending sale, they would have learned that the reason for the sale of the clubs is that the ALP can derive a far greater income by investing the expected $20 million from the sale than by relying on gaming revenue which has fallen by around 15% during the past few years in Canberra.

Clearly this is a decision that has nothing to do with any personal view of the Prime Minister but everything to do with maximising a dollar. Perhaps the reason for the lack of media coverage was not about conspiracy as suggested by Crikey but rather an informed media who actually understand the difference between a club and a hotel. Stephen, for the record clubs are very different to the hotels Woolworths likes to invest in.

Clubs are 100% not for profit, and return their revenue to the community via way of donations and grants to charity, sporting groups and community organisations. It’s also why they provide more than $3 billion in sporting facilities around the country. I doubt the shareholders of Woolworths would be interested in such a benevolent industry even if they could invest in clubs.

Andrea Ho, Manager, ABC Local Radio & Online, ACT, writes: Regarding the story in yesterday’s edition, I would like to offer the following correction. The story about the ACT branch of the ALP announcing plans to sell the Canberra Labor Club was actually broken on 666 ABC Canberra. 666 Breakfast aired an interview by reporter Tim Gavel with Canberra Labor Club President Brian Hatch at 7.10am on Monday 25 May, followed by Ross Solly interviewing ACT Secretary of the CFMEU Sarah Schoonwater at approx 7.15.

Ross Solly then interviewed ACT Labor Party Branch President Bill Redpath at 8.35am. Coverage continued on 666 Breakfast today, including follow-up interviews with Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Worker’s Union spokesperson Lyndal Ryan on the staff reaction, Brian Hatch in response to the LHMWU, and Chief Executive of Clubs ACT Bob Samarcq.

I trust this stands as a record of 666 ABC Canberra breaking the story and providing comprehensive coverage of the issue. P.S. The link from your email to the ABC Online feature mentioned in the story is also incorrectly linked.

Local government:

Cr Rose Iser, President, Victorian Local Governance Association, writes: Re. “ALP councillors who are MP staffers: a Crikey list” (yesterday, item 3). The Victorian Local Governance Association supports Councillors as they work hard for their communities, fulfil their demanding duties with little remuneration. Any departure from good governance by Councillors is unacceptable and must be dealt with quickly through appropriate avenues of law enforcement.

While transparency is important, publishing a list of Councillors who are not accused of any wrong-doing is inappropriate, despite all qualifications offered in Crikey’s article, and can serve to undermine the good work being done by these and other Councillor across Victoria and Australia.

While the local government sector continues to debate the best ways of ensuring good practice, including the declaration of party affiliation at elections, the alleged misconduct of a few should not tarnish the reputations of others.

We ask that Crikey continue to debate the issues, rather than unnecessarily target hard-working individuals.

Penberthy to Naparstek:

Georgia Webster, General Manager, Student Youth Network, writes: Re. “Penberthy to Naparstek: they tried to tell us we’re too young” (yesterday, item 5). Youth is a tumultuous and difficult time. Sufferers inhabit a world of extended sleep-ins, misguided arrogance, impulsive behaviour — risk taking with alcopops and newly acquired driving skills. Young people’s brains are underdeveloped and addled by a cocktail of hormones. They can’t be trusted to take on tasks requiring good judgement. Or so the rhetoric goes in the all-too-regular “What’s wrong with your teen?” tabloid feature.

Would this wash if we were talking about women? Or black people? It used to. Then society grew up.

It’s a shame that this week’s discussion of Ben Naparstek’s appointment to editor of The Monthly has been sullied by inferences of inability, tokenism and naivety. Coverage has ranged from tentatively hopeful, to patronising, to bitter. Would it have been acceptable to incessantly refer to “Sally Warhaft, a woman” in each piece of coverage she received during her tenure in the job? No, it would be sexist, insulting and unacceptable by the large portion of people.

Why is it that Naparstek’s age (23, in case you missed its incessant reference in every mention of the appointment) is a story? Sure, his application for the role at the age of 18 was tenacious, and makes for an interesting angle. And his appointment at 23 is certainly remarkable for its rarity (though maybe there are so few young editors because of this same set of barriers and attitudes? Maybe it’s remarkable just because he’s broken through?).

But the inferences that because of his age Ben Naparstek, without evidence of his credentials, will be a puppet to enact Manne’s and Schwartz’s agendas (Crikey editor Jonathan Green) or that he should defer to older colleagues (offered as a fatherly piece of advice by former Daily Telegraph editor, now editor of Punch, David Penberthy) point to a dangerous trend towards labelling young people as incapable of tackling the professional bastions that have been traditionally held by those who’ve “worked their way up”.

We should be asking the question — does Naparstek have the right stuff to do this job? Today that was addressed when Naparstek spoke to The Age, but there was still an overarching tone of incredulity at his appointment.

Young people aren’t disabled because they’ve spent less time on the planet. Just like broader society, some of them use their time well and are inherently talented people. Let’s judge them on their merits, and not temper that judgement with assumptions and prejudices about their age. As Naparstek himself has said, “I’d like to let my editorship speak for itself.”

Bob Ellis:

Martin Steadman writes: Re. “Bob Ellis v. Margot Saville: from farts to Ingmar Bergman” (Monday, item 15). Well, I’ll happily state that I’ve read even less of Ellis’ book than Bob charges Margot Saville has — just one page, in fact. But it’s enough to add to the impressive litany of characters contained with Ellis’ book, and provided humbly by the man himself in Monday’s Crikey: one Julian Grylls [sic] (page 394).

It appears Bob has created his own political Frankenstein’s monster, one part Brendon Grylls, the leader of the WA Nationals, and one part Julian Grill, disgraced former Labor MP. Perhaps Bob’s confusion resulted from the fact that Grill’s expulsion from the ALP came when he donated money to Brendon’s party.

Still, if Brendon Grylls is going to be sprayed by Ellis’ considerable invective (Brendon is a “lisping bush socialist” and “resembles a Hobbit” — my paraphrases) he could at least show the man the courtesy of getting his name right.

No doubt Ellis considers this a matter beneath him — perhaps the responsibility of the subs — but I wonder how WA’s Minister for Regional Development feels about the error?


Ray Sanders writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 8). Crikey published:

Yesterday I rang Citylink to register a 2nd car on my Citylink account and to obtain a 2nd e-TAG for my 2nd car. I asked Citylink how long it would take to receive the 2nd e-TAG? They said it would take five to seven business days. I asked, “now that I have registered the 2nd car on the account, can I drive the car during the five to seven business days while a wait for the e-TAG on Citylink?” I was informed that I can but would be charged an additional 0.75 cents for each trip as an untagged car on top of the normal fare.

I can’t believe I have to pay for the privilege of Citylink’s inefficient practices. I do the right thing and register a 2nd vehicle and I pay for the privilege of their incompetence of organising an e-TAG to be mailed to me even though the vehicle is registered with Citylink — now that is a good business if you can get it.

The writer yesterday who complained about Citylink must be public servant or technologically illiterate. If you don’t have a e-TAG at a checkpoint, your vehicle is photographed and the rego number recorded. A Citylink staffer then has to extract the information about that rego number from their database and post a debit against your Citylink account. As this takes time and effort, a small charge is applied which is fair enough.

Issuing an e-TAG obviously takes a few days so what’s the alternative? BTW, I don’t work for Citylink (I live in regional Queensland) but I lived in Melbourne in 2005-2008 and have a Citylink account still.

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

Adam Rope writes: I’m somehow not surprised that Tamas Calderwood (yesterday, comments) keeps re-entering the discussion around climate change, but I for one would really, really appreciate it if, prior to further commentating, he might actually read some of the scientific articles to which he has been previously directed — for example New Scientist’s “Guide to the Perplexed“, or the Hadley Centre’s FAQ site.

Tamas, repeating discredited rhetorical distortions of scientific data, which have been previously disproved or explained, is not “debating”, it’s a simple denial of the facts, and does your further arguments no good at all. Your repeated furphy of “zero increase in global temperatures for over 10 years” is simply based on the fact that 1998 was a record year for global temperatures (due to a specific El Nino event), and the distortion is that world temperatures have never again reached that record mark, and hence your “zero increase”.

This distortion of real facts has been previously explained by many reputable sites, and the 1998 El Nino record shows up rather obviously even on the only graph Andrew Bolt has resorted to using. Tamas, if you are repeatedly disingenuous with the scientific data in one of your primary arguments, what credence do you think we should apply to that which follows?

Ken Lambert writes: Michael James (yesterday, comments) is right about two things:

  1. Solar hot water makes some economic sense with a payback period of seven to 10 years and;
  2. CCS is most likely BS. I have yet to absorb the full summary on the Callide A$188 million “oxyfuel” CCS project — so this might be the exception; but CCS from coal fired plant absorbs about 30% of the energy output, needs pipelines to pump CO2 into sedimentary basins, and if not pipeline — cryogenic transport vessels mounted on trucks or railcars taking it to a big hole in the ground somewhere.

This is BS. We would be better off pumping flue gas into lakes of green slime, harvesting it and feeding moo cows, or encouraging market gardeners to plant around coal fired power stations where the CO2 rich atmosphere and water vapour spurs luxuriant growth.

Prof Ian Plimer says that CO2 is plant food — we need more of it to prevent another ice age. PV Solar works in Germany with a massive subsidy (about 60 US Cents per kWhr) by the German Government. It has had worse ideas — like attacking the Soviet Union.

Bruce Graham (yesterday, comments) should get stuck into the energy companies flogging PV solar “home power systems” about their profiteering. They must all be colluding because the $4000 net figure for an “installed” 1kW system was common. A Nimbin company had similar pricing — does that mean that the Flower Children are ripping us off?

Lastly, Tamas Calderwood (yesterday, comments) is right — as usual.

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