Derek Yach, Senior Vice President, Global Health Policy, PepsiCo, writes: Re. “Drinking with the enemy: the soft drink marketing wars” (yesterday, item 15). The pity is that Melissa Sweet clearly did not absorb the objective data I offered regarding modest but important examples of change across food companies (from 60% less calories sold in schools in the USA; to tonnes of less salt in many products in the UK; to 90% reductions in certain ads to kids across Europe; to 30,000 products reformulated for many nutrients; to real impacts of portion sizes on total calories consumed)…all the data being measured and mostly independently audited!

Many of these changes do not come with increased profits in the short term and are part of deep structural changes underway across industry. They include responding to the World Health Organization’s call for support of the Global Strategy on Diet and Physical Activity; developing coordinated approaches across many multinationals to tackle a variety of nutrition issues; and stepping up investments in innovation. Further, to call addressing hunger a distraction is the very worst type of cynicism.

I attach our CEO’s speech from last week at the World Food Prize on this. Some might call it a giant distraction — most I work with regard it as an imperative we cannot and must not avoid tackling! Melissa would do well to relisten to the debate and take note of the above points as well as many impediments to progress in tackling obesity that require more effective actions by governments, NGOs and individuals. For Australia this includes fully supporting the new Preventative Task Force recommendations.

The SMH:

Louise Hall, Reporter, The Sydney Morning Herald, writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (Tuesday, item 6). On Tuesday you ran the following tip: “Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald had a tragic story about the closure of the only school in NSW (the Palm Avenue School at Seaforth) that has a live-in program to teach rural dyslexic kids how to read.”

The tip claims the story is not true and the SMH has not printed a retraction. As the author of the story, to my knowledge, a retraction has not be requested.

This is because the story is correct.

Please see this statement by North Sydney Central Coast Area Health Service confirming that the Palm Avenue School’s residential (live-in) program (which is the core service offered by the school) is to close. It will not be re-opened anywhere else, or re-located. It will no longer be offered.

The statement also confirms the NSCCAHS has yet to figure out if and how the services currently provided at Dalwood Assessment Centre will be provided.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me for any further information. I have been inundated with parents who are devastated at the closure of the residential program.

Furthermore, the Departments of Health and Education, following the outcry the story created, has this week set up a working group and external facilitator to look at the changes proposed.


Jules Scarlett, Director Customer Service & Satisfaction, Telstra, writes: Re. “A case of Telstra’s service (or lack of it) being shanghaied” (yesterday, item 17). Jim Gobert, you’re right. The service you experienced was not up to standard and we need to do better. I apologise for the inconvenience and frustration you have experienced. Telstra must be a company that’s easy to do business with and provides a great experience for our customers every time — your experience shows that we have some way to go.

Rest assured, we get the message. We have a strong focus cross company on improving our customer service and are driving initiatives to deliver that improvement. We have also set new targets across the company in regards to how we handle complaints.

It will take us some time to improve our performance across the entire company, but in the meantime, we want you and other customers to know we don’t take your business for granted and we understand that we need to earn your support going forward through providing improved customer service.

Wayne Robinson writes: I’m a Telstra shareholder. I don’t think that there is any problem with the telephone assistance people, once you finally get to talk to them (and that takes a long time most of the time). It’s just that the system Telstra has in place is just so infuriating.

I have transferred my internet and home phone accounts to another carrier, and on the occasions I need technical support, I get to speak to a real person almost immediately instead of having to listen to the prolonged pre-recorded list of things to try, or if not, offer to phone me, with an estimate of the delay.

Mitchell Holmes writes: I get a monthly email to advise me that my current phone bill is online for viewing. The email contains a link to Telstra’s website, where you sign on with a user name and password in order to view your account details. This month, for the best part of a day (a week day) there was an error message saying account details were unavailable and to try again later. Or else navigating to the account page simply timed out and would not display. And yes, my internet was working for any other site.

I know every business has to take their site offline for maintenance from time to time but seriously, this is one of our largest businesses that is allegedly in a technology intensive business. Biggest gripe about Telstra’s inquiries number: waaaaaaaay too many menus to negotiate.

Trioli and Crikey bias:

John Arthur Daley writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. I am sitting here trying to work out why I subscribe to your news letter. You continually amaze me with your biased comments and constant attacks on the opposition and their policies. I have had to put up with a couple of weeks of being exposed to Virginia and Joe on their morning show. They are a pair of biased left wing ABC stooges with inflated egos and delusions of their own self importance.

Barnaby Joyce is entitled to state his opinion on K.Rudd’s drivel without being attacked by those second grade media personalities. If they had to rely on ratings in the real world neither would have a job.

You rewarding them with an ongoing award only deludes them further. Please try be less biased in your reporting.

Rundle on asylum seekers:

Ken Lambert writes: Re. “Rundle: asylum at last from the sado-conservatives” (yesterday, item 4). I have had just about enough of Guy Rundle’s line on asylum seekers who buy rides in boats to Australia.

I personally would take the whole load of those bright articulate “Alex” types from Sri Lanka— English speaking, cricket playing — and there might be a decent spinner amongst them. I am sure they would put our indolent lower orders to shame in the hard work stakes in a short time if they didn’t find our welfare system more attractive. And I am impressed that any Tamil Sri Lankan can raise $10,000 for a smuggler boat ride to Australia. Just the sort of initiative needed in a new Australian.

There is just a small issue of the other 200 million refugees who don’t have a razoo, rotting in UN camps in first refuge countries. Given that our refugee intake is finite, the $10,000 Tamil boat rider is likely taking the place of one of those poor losers who can’t rake up the cash to make the voyage.

So the morality of the Rundle position is that Guy would accept those who help themselves, and his public policy would turn a blind eye to the inequity of the desperate with cash getting into Australia while the desperate without cash meekly wait years in the rotten UN queue.


Tim Falkiner writes: Re. “Excuse me, minister, but what will your CPRS actually do?” (yesterday, item 2). This article fails to mention that the scheme will entitle the polluting industries to compensation should the arrangements be changed. It essentially locks Australia into high emissions. That is what the scheme appears to do. It would be far better to have no scheme at present.

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