Dymocks:

Don Grover, CEO Dymocks, writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (Friday, item 6). Your anonymous correspondent has got it spectacularly wrong on the moves to scrap the unfair restrictions on the parallel importation of books. We’ll gloss over the first obvious error — describing Brisbane’s Craig Emerson as “NSW Labor”. And maybe the second, which is saying that a backbench committee has recommended the Government keep the unfair and uncompetitive rules. They haven’t, because no such backbench committee exists.

The ALP National Conference established a working party to investigate the issue, which included printing union representatives and several backbench MPs with printers and publishers in their electorate. It’s a bit different — and a bit less credible — than a backbench committee and it’s no surprise that this heavily stacked working party recommended against scrapping laws that currently enrich the publishing industry — most of which is owned by multinationals.

But the most reprehensible comment made — and one that is all too regularly thrown out by the publishing industry — is that changes to these unfair laws will hurt small businesses and benefit “large booksellers like Dymocks”. While Dymocks is a large company, more than 90 per cent of our stores are owned and run by our franchise owners. They’re small business owners. Dymocks stores in places like Bendigo, Coffs Harbour, and Toowoomba ARE the small bookshops.

Under the current laws, which essentially ban competition from the Australian book market, these small business owners are watching their customers disappear to online booksellers. Online bookshops based in the UK, America and New Zealand are undercutting the prices in Australia’s bookshops because they have real competition — something we don’t have.

Ending parallel import restrictions won’t be the end of the world for Australia’s bookshops. But if they are kept in place, the internet will kill off the local bookshop more surely than a “large bookseller” ever will.

Climate aid:

Nic Maclellan writes: Re. “Climate aid to developing nations: what’s in it for us?” (climate aid). Bernard Keane suggests that a lot of Australian funding for climate adaptation will be spent here rather than in developing countries. But this process has already begun with the government’s $150 million climate adaptation fund — the International Climate Change Adaptation Initiative (ICCAI).

In 2008, the Pacific Islands Forum leaders’ official communiqué stressed: “The priority of Pacific Small Island Developing States is securing sustainable financing for immediate and effective implementation of concrete adaptation programs on the ground” — but already much of the $150 million adaptation fund is being channelled through the World Bank or funding initiatives in Australia.

For example, in March this year, Climate Minister Penny Wong announced the Pacific Climate Change Science Program. This program will support the Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research, run by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO.

On the strength of Minister Wong’s $20 million allocation, 24 positions were advertised last April for scientists and researchers — to be based in Hobart and Melbourne. Useful science no doubt, but how does it translate to action on the ground for food security, water supply and coastal management in low-lying atoll nations in the Pacific?

Sugar:

Andy Cole writes: Re. “Big Sugar dresses up as Santa” (24 September, item 16). For someone who has written a book entitled Sweet Poison, why sugar makes us fat David Gillespie seems confused about his terminology.

“Sugar” can mean two things. In common usage, e.g. in shops, it usually means sucrose. It is also a generic term for a number of carbohydrate molecules, including, sucrose, glucose, fructose, galactose and many others. Sucrose is a “disaccharide” – i.e. it is a molecule composed of two “monosaccharides”, in this case glucose and fructose.

Monosaccharides are 6 carbon atom chains, and disaccharides have 12 carbon atoms. Most dietary carbohydrate (in non-fad diets) comes from starch in bread, potatoes etc. Starch is a polysaccharide consisting of long chains of glucose. Free glucose is not found in significant amounts in our diets, except in honey. Sucrose tastes sweeter than glucose, but not because it is half fructose. Sweetness is a property of the molecule, not of its constituents.

Dietary sucrose is broken down to its constituent monosaccharides after it is ingested, so you won’t taste the fructose. There is some experimental evidence in animals to suggest that a high fructose diet is more likely to lead to obesity but there is no consensus that this is ‘unequivocal’. It is best not to dabble in technical terms if you do not understand them.

The message that should be promulgated is not that this or that sugar is bad for you — the message should be EAT MUCH LESS SUGAR, any sugar.

Rudd:

Phil Amos writes: Re. “Rudd shuns NYC headlines to push his G20 plan instead” (Friday, item 8). The New York Times may not be covering our PMs visit with any enthusiasm, but this is in stark contrast to Carnegie Mellon University which rebranded their whole webpage to celebrate Kevin’s speech there. Kev’s smiling face across a big Australian flag background now greet visitors to the university homepage.

They clearly hold Kevin PM in great esteem — the link to video of Bill Gates’ Sept 22 speech at the University is relegated to the News and Events column on the left of the homepage.

Ferguson:

Niall Clugston writes: Another misconception in the Ferguson furore (Friday, comments) is the claim that North Ryde is a “family suburb”. The fact is, there are children all over Sydney. Look in a street directory. Try to find a page without a school.

The vigilantes seem to think it would be better for a potential child molester to lurk either in inner-city anonymity or in semi-rural isolation. No, sorry, they don’t seem to think. But I challenge anyone to suggest a location where Dennis Ferguson should settle.

Port Phillip Bay:

Stephen Bradford, Chief Executive Officer, Port of Melbourne Corporation, writes: Port of Melbourne Corporation is not surprised by Jenny Warfe’s letter (23 September, comments). The Channel Deepening Project is a major lynchpin in the strategy to remain competitive, helping to safeguard jobs and economic prosperity not only during leaner economic times such as those being experienced at present, but into the future when the world economy picks up, and it will.

In spite of the global financial crisis, container trade through the Port of Melbourne remained resilient in 2008-09, (down just 4.4%).

By way of a simple example of what is actually occurring now, in July-August the export of fully loaded containers — a key economic indicator — rose over 5% compared to the same months last year and 22% over the same time frame in 2004-05.

These 15,000 extra full containers during July/August, as opposed to the same period five years previously, created or supported jobs in a wide range of industries.

So, Jenny, export trade from Victoria is growing and will continue to grow. That is why we need a deeper channel.

With this in mind, the Channel Deepening Project remains very much viable and the business case has received strong endorsement over a long period of time.

From an environmental perspective, the methods and procedures associated with channel deepening are proven and, with major dredging within the Bay now completed, assessments show that the project has progressed largely within compliance and that the Bay is in a healthy condition.

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