A people’s bank:

Martyn Smith writes: Re. “Back the debt truck up — we need big ideas like the People’s Bank” (yesterday, item 2). Bernard Keane’s support for a “People’s Bank”, plus discussion from Glenn Dyer and Joshua Gans is commendable. My recollection is that once upon a time we had several people’s banks, both State and Federal, in Australia. “Which Bank” do I hear you ask? Why, now the most money hungry, price gouging of them all, the misnamed Commonwealth Bank, which absorbed at least one State bank.

A politician, ostensibly from the Left, called Keating sold off the old Commonwealth Bank and wouldn’t help out the State Bank of Victoria. This “Legend in his Own Mind” told us that as the world’s greatest Treasurer, he knew what he was doing was going to give us the four pillars of competition and we would for ever be in his debt. Assuming that a new “People’s bank” was successfully created, what’s to stop some venal, ratbag politician, from selling it off when the whim took them.

It’s been done before to just about every asset we in this country have ever had.

Les Heimann writes: What’s all the fuss about a people’s bank? We already have one; actually over 230 of them in fact right around the country and growing; a new one about every twenty one days. These banks are locally owned and guess what! They give their profits — to the people. They are called Community Banks. They are public companies with local shareholders and their rules require that of their profits only a maximum of 20% can go by way of dividends, the remaining 80% are given — yes that’s right, given, to the community.

How long has this been going on? Just over ten years now and tens of millions of dollars have been pumped in to communities across Australia. Why is it that our economists, business leaders and so on don’t talk about these institutions … because they frighten them? By the way they are take-over proof as well. It’s not one vote per share; it’s one shareholder one vote and the rules allow only a maximum of 10% share ownership, directly or indirectly, with the Board of Directors required to police same.

That’s people power folks and we lead the world.

Nigel Brunel writes: Definitely do a Peoples Bank and call it Ozbank. Run it out of Post Offices like we do in New Zealand with KiwiBank — it’s a huge winner for Kiwis — absolutely stunning success — much to the oligopolies chagrin.

Niall Clugston writes: Re. “A bank is a bank is a bank” (yesterday, item 23). Glenn Dyer claims “if they like it or not most Australians are part-owners of the big four banks through their super and retirement funds.” Really? Is that some legal ownership with voting rights etc? No, it’s purely imaginary. I no more own the investments of my super fund than I own the investments of my savings bank.

Political gimmicks:

Shirley Colless writes: Re. “A brief history political gimmicks and debt trucks” (yesterday, item 9). Malcolm Turnbull has assured us mug voters that the latest manifestation of the debt truck has been paid for up front, quite honestly, cross his heart and spit his death. However, given not only his assurances re the validity of the ute-gate “documentation” and the interesting history of West Australian political scams, I would like him to produce for media dissemination:

  1. The invoice;
  2. The cheque/credit card docket; and
  3. The receipt,

All of which would quite clearly indicate who or what produced the invoice and paid the bill. These details could then be the subject of intense media scrutiny, speculation, spin, etc., with regard to whether or not who or what is “friendly” to the WA and Federal Coalition parties.

Oh, and of course, Lindsay Tanner should provide the same documentation re the “I’m all right Jack” truck the Labor Party now has on the road, one hopes properly registered.

Frank Birchall writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. Crikey talks about President Obama’s dignity and contrasts it with Malcolm Turnbull’s recent behaviour. Taken together, the fake e-mail and debt truck are a paradigm for the usual crude, clumsy and dishonest Liberal Party political tactics.

Turnbull may be intelligent (whatever that means) but his political behaviour can be simply explained: if he wants to remain Leader of the Opposition, he is required to do whatever it takes (by fair means or foul) to unseat Labor and regain government for the “born to rule” brigade, aka the federal Coalition.

Turnbull will be measured by the ends, not the means. His apparent acceptance of this benchmark might bring his intelligence into question but it certainly says a lot about his political ethics. Those who hoped for a fresh, less negative approach to politics from Turnbull are bitterly disappointed.


Channel Seven’s Simon Francis writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (Tuesday, item 6). Crikey published:

If the public humiliation over a public nuisance charge or being unceremoniously evicted from their love nest in front of the waiting media weren’t enough, now sordid allegations regarding Ryan Stokes’ “disgraced” Home and Away starlet ex-girlfriend Jodi Gordon’s “strip club shame” have been breathlessly revealed in New Idea, owned by Pacific Magazines, owned by Ryan’s dad Kerry’s media group, Seven Media.

Wonder how long before Ms Gordon’s character is killed off on one of Ryan’s dad’s TV network’s best rating shows? Talk about cross-promotion — or is that cross-assassination? Hell hath no fury as a billionaire’s son scorned? But what does it say of Seven Media’s editorial independence? And did Ryan really not know anything about his girlfriend’s habit of cavorting with strippers? Puh-leez!

Now, only problem with this rant is that the story didn’t appear in New Idea. It was published in Woman’s Day which as we know is published by PBL Media. So I suspect all the other blathering conspiracy theories in the tip and/or rumour are without foundation.

Why the NT is Pollyanna Land:

Ari Corcoran writes: Re. “The truth about the NT intervention and government consultation” (Tuesday, item 10). Chris Graham’s piece had much to say about the bizarre text being produced as part of revisiting the Northern Territory Intervention. But — apart from a couple of passing mentions — did not pay much attention to the truly Orwellian imagery in its presentation. The way Macklin’s crew tells it, things are so good that every blackfella in the Territory has died and gone to heaven. And this heaven is presided over, of course, by the earnest, smiling, good natured Government Business Manager: red hair and neatly trimmed beard, who appears in a third of the images.

Every person in the 15 image slide show is perfectly dressed and coiffed. Every house is in immaculate suburban condition. Everyone appears completely, achingly, blissfully healthy — a credit to the skills of their dentists and fine dining. There’s no one in a wheel chair. There is not a single person — not even a kid — in bare feet. It’s sensible walking shoes all round. There’s not a single camp dog in sight. It’s a land where everyone is in fixed-grin smiling mode — with the exception of the confrontation with the evil p-rn pusher. There are a couple of oldish looking blokes, distinguished by their grey hair. But there are no old ladies, unless there’s more hair dye and face lifting going on here than meets the eye. And — given this whole exercise was supposed to be about protecting children — there are no babies … not a single one. Just where have all the babies gone?

Welcome to Pollyanna Land. But of course it’s a land that could only have been created in the Ministry of Truth. Macklin — long known for her paranoid desire for media control — must be pleased. The images have been produced as a Power Point. That, of course, goes to the whole style of the so-called consultation that is going on in the Northern Territory. Power Point presentations only work in the dark, and in relatively small, indoor settings. They are not designed for large, outdoor, daytime meetings.

The lack of consideration of anything other than a rose-tinted view typifies the Macklin approach to consultation: the last thing she wants is any kind of debate, or the consideration of any alternate views. According to an archaic definition of the word “consult”, it’s a noun that means “a secret meeting”. Macklin is in the process of reviving this ancient meaning.

Skinny Blondes:

Geoff Munro, National Policy Manager, Australian Drug Foundation, writes: Re. “Skinny Blonde’s Norg-a-Rama: offensive advertising or manufactured outrage?” (Yesterday, item 18). Mel Campbell misses the point, and by a long way. I will spell it out, although Mel could be expected to be sufficiently media savvy to have got it by herself.

Point one is the alcohol industry has the privilege of regulating its own advertising, via the Alcohol Beverage Advertising Code (ABAC).

Point two is the alcohol industry wrote the ABAC, so it cannot argue with its terms.

Point three is ABAC states alcohol advertising must inter alia.

  1. Present a mature, balanced and responsible approach to the consumption of alcohol.
  2. Not encourage excessive consumption or abuse of alcohol.
  3. Not have strong or evident appeal to young children or adolescents.
  4. Not suggest drinking may create or contribute to a significant change of mood or environment.
  5. Not suggest drinking is the cause of sexual or other success

I think the current Skinny Blonde campaign has a case to answer under each of these. Point 4 is the alcohol industry should be accountable for its actions. If it is unable to adhere to the code — and the example of Skinny Blonde is only the latest — it is open to government to make other arrangements.

No one is suggesting that this is the worst case of objectification of women in the world Mel, but where in the code is that listed as a defence?

War stories:

Journalist and film make Thom Cookes writes: Re. “Media briefs: Hollywood Gossip gets catty … FBi saved … Vogue goes bargain bin” (Monday, item 17). A correction to Guy Rundle’s pity spray regarding Afghanistan, Dateline and 7.30 Report etc on Monday.

I filmed the story on Afghanistan that ran on The 7.30 Report — there was no “crew” — I reported, filmed and largely edited the story single-handed, that’s the only way it could have been done, given the extreme conditions (40+deg heat, all-day foot patrolling in full body armour etc). That’s how Dateline (SBS) stories are mostly done as well — the whole idea of the approach is (or at least was) that the story should be the star, not the reporter.

Since up until now, the only access the media has had to the ADF in Afghanistan has been highly-controlled press visits, and since this was the first time that any journalist has filmed Australian troops in combat in Afghanistan (and probably since Vietnam), it seemed appropriate to report exactly what I saw … I had extraordinary access, there was no censorship of my vision, and it was a story I initiated during a month-long reporting trip across Afghanistan.

It’s up to you and your readers to decide if that makes it “state propaganda” or not.

The Ashes:

Peter Barnhurst writes: Re. “Ashes 09: A Crikeyish preview of the First Test” (yesterday, item 17). Once again the Ashes series seems to have encouraged a spate of articles focusing on the Brits reporting on the Ashes. If I may be so bold as to suggest to these reporters that we’re enduring similar hype here in Australia from the popular media.

A recent Sunday paper, for instance, had a double page article about ” How the Poms cheat”. It diminished several notable achievements, including Jim Lakers, and, of course, gave Bodyline yet another spin (if the roles had been reversed how would that particular series be remembered?)

So it’s all fair in love and war, so please ask your correspondents not to be so tedious, or indeed precious, and report on what happens on the field

Earth Hour:

Tony Nagy writes: Re. “Media briefs: NZ’s bleeding billboard works… Fosters marketing trying to kill VB?” (Yesterday, item 20). Regarding Eleri Harris comment on WWF campaign and Earth Hour titled “Earth Hour’s (somewhat empty) new campaign for Copenhagen”. I think this is just plain snide commentary.

To paraphrase Darwin, in the end everything is marketing: in evolution’s case it is question of genetic material getting through to the next generation. In politics and public policy it’s a case of ensuring out global policy makers are aware that there will be consequences if they fail to act effectively on dangerous climate change. The eyes of the world are watching and time is precious.

Earth Hour and its campaign is a good way to convey this message. We can argue the toss regarding the best solutions (ETS, tax etc), and certainly there are major flaws in the Rudd/Wong model — which unfortunately has much in common with what we would have got under a Howard/Costello government. But these can be addressed. A good example was provided in Crikey itself the other day in its discussion of the dangers of methane, and it is arguable the proposed CPRS will fail to adequately deal with this dangerous emission. So we need to get the design of the scheme right.

I suggest Eleri would have been wiser to click through the piece and read the link to the New Scientist opinion by Professor Kirk Smith rather than take a cheap shot at WWF and Earth Hour. It seems that alongside climate change sceptics we now have the fashionably cynical.

Crikey would better serve its subscribers by continuing to give them access to quality information.

First Dog:

Alan Lander writes: Re. “First Dog on the Moon” (yesterday, item 6). My day was really going to pieces … until Kevin Rudd’s cat playing the Pope hit my inbox. Then all of a sudden, the world made sense again. Thank you dog#1; it’s the little things…

Animals, methane, climates change et al:

Animal Liberation SA’s Geoff Russell writes: Re. Bruce Graham (yesterday, comments). There is no disagreement between myself and Barry Brook in the relative importance of methane and CO2 controls and Graham’s quote from Barry doesn’t contradict anything in my article. And that “detailed article by Dr Brook” that Bruce links to was co-authored with me.

Bruce says that it is a problem for my argument that most livestock methane comes from ruminants. He assumes that my argument is really just a camouflaged plea for people to stop eating animals … wrong again.

My argument is that ruminant production on any large scale is a major climate forcing that is relatively easy to eliminate. This implies that such production is incompatible with any serious concern for a habitable climate. This argument may well drive people who are truly concerned about the climate but who don’t give a damn about chicken suffering to eat more chicken. So be it.

I’d much prefer people cared about both issues but if they don’t, what can I do? I can’t make people care, I can only try and accurately point out the consequences of their actions. Of course, a consequence of large scale chicken production will be pandemic bird flu … the only unknown is when!

Andy Cole writes: Chris Hunter’s suggestion (yesterday, comments) of attaching bags to the rear ends of cows would not hold water — or indeed methane. The bulk of methane produced by bowel bacteria in cattle is excreted in the breath. The technology exists however, I understand, to immunise cows against the methane-producing bacteria. This has the double whammy effect of reducing methane output and increasing meat yields. A more practicable solution I would suggest however is to eat less meat… I can’t imagine why the industry is not promoting this eminently sensible approach.

Rosemary Stanton writes: Chris Hunter suggested attaching an expandable bag to cow’s rear ends to collect the methane (comments). Most methane is burped, not farted.


Baethan Mullen writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 7). Crikey published:

Last night on The 7.30 Report the CEO of Dymocks said that Australians could buy Tim Winton’s Breath online from overseas cheaper than they could buy it in Australia. I went to Amazon and found the cheapest new copy at US$7.78. Delivered to Australia via standard shipping the total cost was A$26.65. Both Readings and Dymocks have Breath for sale for $24.95. Dymocks says their price is an “online price” what ever that may mean. I don’t know why the ABC didn’t check this statement.

Your tipster queries why the ABC didn’t check the accuracy of the statement by Dymocks CEO that Tim Winton’s Breath could be purchased cheaper overseas than in Australia. I suggest that they may well have. The Book Depository retails the book for £7.19 (around A$14.71), delivered free.

Peter Frank writes: Your contributor is soooo out of date. Who uses Amazon for books anymore? A quick on-line check just now, with the UK-based bookseller I use, delivers a copy of the book in question to my mailbox for around AUD 15.00, including airmail delivery, which usually takes 3 to 5 working days (depending on stock situation). The Dymocks CEO (and the ABC) obviously more up to date than your correspondent.

Rosemary Swift writes: $24.95 may well be an online price, but it’s definitely the in store price as well. I bought a copy at Dymocks Broadway (NSW) about a month ago – there were lots of copies and it wasn’t on special.