First Dog on the Moon:

Shaun Cronin writes: Re. “First Dog on the Moon” (Friday, item 8). Dear Crikey, the following may be of use to some readers regarding First Dog’s cartoons that discuss religion. They can circle the word(s) that apply:

I wish to complain/praise/seek clarification about the First Dog cartoon that criticised the Christian/Islamic/Jewish/Atheistic/Buddhist/AFL/NRL/Other religion that ran in Crikey today.

I found it offensive/outrageous/funny/unintelligible.

This is just another example of Crikey‘s left/right wing bias.

In regards to my Crikey subscription, I shall be suspending it/cancelling it/renewing it/still wondering how I got one in the first place. I didn’t pay money for this did I?

You are all a bunch of upstanding folk/slightly strange people/bitter and twisted reprobates.

Regards, Outraged/Bemused/Amused of (Insert your suburb of residence here).

The National Broadband Network:

David Havyatt writes: Re. “Telstra set to embrace National Broadband” (Friday, item 24). It would be useful if Glenn Dyer and others reporting on business matters could stop acting as if individual analysts reports have more substance than being the financial models of people interested in valuing equities. The report that Dyer reports on errs in a number of ways.

The first is in considering the options for the NBN Co in building infrastructure if Telstra doesn’t co-operate. The author lists three alternatives — an aerial deployment, new NBNCo ducts or duct sharing with other utilities. This ignores the fourth and most likely option — using the Telstra ducts under the existing facilities access regime, including any modifications thought necessary to speed up deployment and provide pricing certainty. Telstra’s High Court own goal on the validity of access regimes has de-risked this scenario.

However the value of Telstra’s infrastructure should not be over-estimated – it is hard to use it to draw fibre as well as retain the copper.

The second is that the big regulatory stick will be about denying Telstra access to spectrum for LTE. That is a 2011 issue at best, so not a particularly relevant consideration. Other more immediate actions (outside of any strengthening of separation) include reduce land and facilities access powers for non-structurally separated terrestrial networks and ministerially determined prices for access to Telstra’s network.

The news is that Telstra is not in the driving seat on the NBN, they will not obtain an inflated value for their access network, and they will suffer significant regulatory downside as retribution for the last eleven years of regulatory gaming (it was just as bad under Blount and Zwitkowski – just not conducted through a megaphone).

The RBA:

Niall Clugston writes: Re. “Glenn Stevens’ high wire act on rates” (Friday, item 25). Sinclair Davidson discusses the dilemma posed by the “legal obligations” of the RBA. However, the Reserve Bank Act, with its talk of “maintenance of full employment”, is relic of the social-democratic Post-War Period.

The RBA, on the other hand, is in the grip of the monetarist mania of “inflation targeting”, associated with the rise of the New Right in the late 1970s. The bank deals with its “rather uncomfortable” “legislative duties” merely by ignoring them!

The Wilderness Society:

Philip Dalidakis writes: Re. “More to Wild Rivers than meets the eye” (Friday, item 5). What breathtaking hypocrisy from Tim Seelig, Queensland Campaign Manager for The Wilderness Society. When Tim’s ideologues down south campaigned for the creation of Victorian National Red Gum Parks (which Premier Brumby did against the benefit of own scientific and environmental studies), the Wilderness Society specifically campaigned that the local indigenous community supported such a National Park creation and as such we (non-indigenous) should respect their voice.

Now they are faced with an indigenous community who does not support or lend their voice to their latest political campaign and they argue they know how to better manage their land and the public should not see this as a “black versus green” debate. If being hypocritical wasn’t bad enough the Wilderness Society can now add patronising to their list of attributes of being in their own words, socially progressive, or should that really read “socially progressive when it suits us”.

Real estate:

Robert Larocca, Policy, Communication and Research Manager, The Real Estate Institute of Victoria, writes: Re. “The ins and outs of underquoting” (Friday, item 27). In Crikey on Friday Adam Schwab wrote “The raids drew an angry response from Enzo Raimondo” and then selectively quote from an opinion piece in the Age last week. In Schwab’s selective quoting he missed the following points, which if you had included would have shown that the response was indeed far from angry!

The Real Estate Institute of Victoria supports the action of Consumer Affairs and we would like three changes. We have asked the minister to change the law to ban advertisements that use “price plus”. If accomplished, this will make it much easier for consumers to compare property ads, as agents will have only three options: no price, a range, or a flat price. This is a position we have held for two and a half years.

We want increased education about the state’s laws and how auctions work, so consumers can be better informed. The more access to information about the auction process there is, and the more information there is about what similar homes sold for, the better consumers’ judgments will be.

Finally, when an estate agent uses a price in an advertisement, we want the agent to show every prospective purchaser the comparable sales that were used to reach that judgment. This will enable the purchaser to make the best judgment about how much they want to spend on the day — and the highest bidder will win.

The University of Melbourne:

Christina Buckridge, Corporate Affairs Manager, University of Melbourne writes: Re. “The University of Melbourne gags VCA staff” (Friday, item 10). Andrew Crook has well illustrated how you can make something sinister with some carefully selected quotes from a ‘leaked’ email or two. There is no ‘gagging’ but simply, as with any organisation, the University asks that only delegated staff talk on its behalf; other staff are perfectly free to speak on any topic as individuals. And staff with research expertise regularly give commentary on and engage in public debate in their particular field.

Also routine in large organisations is the process where a CEO in responding to a query about a particular department of that organisation would seek the input of the head of that department in forming the response. It makes perfect sense that such a collaborative response would then become the basis for further communications on the subject.

And rather than “stripping” the Faculty of the VCA and Music of ‘key funding’, the University has provided the Faculty with more than $16 m in additional funding in 2009 and has committed similar amounts in 2010 and 2011.

How puzzling:

Jason Ives writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (6 August, item 7). When I read the “tip” and/or “rumour” that the SMH would be cancelling its online crossword section by the end of August, I immediately jumped online to see for myself, and sadly confirmed the truth.

However I noticed that the notice was attributed to the “Fairfax Digital Puzzle Administrator”.

Here’s my question: does this notice mean that there will also no longer be an opening for the “Digital Puzzle Administrator” at Fairfax?

Damn! Another alternative career path bites the dust.

Send your comments, corrections, clarifications and c*ck-ups to [email protected]. Preference will be given to comments that are short and succinct: maximum length is 200 words (we reserve the right to edit comments for length). Please include your full name — we won’t publish comments anonymously unless there is a very good reason.

Peter Fray

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