Climate change and politics:

Kevin McCready writes: Re. “Liberals need a climate deal, anything else rains havoc” (Friday, item 1). Please tell me it was a misprint. Please. Did Bernard Keane really say “Any climate scientist worth a damn will say … you can’t be sure higher temperatures have any relation to climate change”? Or please tell me that perhaps Bernard was using the word “sure” to mean 100% sure and maybe Bernard meant a decent climate scientist would say we are 99.999% sure.

Please don’t tell me that Bernard is scientifically challenged and doesn’t understand how science is conducted or have a clue statistics in science. Otherwise he’s been well and truly Minchined.

Does Bernard think it a statistic fluke that 13 of the 14 warmest years on record occurred between 1995 and 2008 and that annual temperatures for 17 of the last 19 years have been warmer than average?

Alister Air writes: Re. “You can’t moralise on climate change unless you’re a monk” (Friday, item 13). Simon Mansfield needs a short lesson in the difference between the Australian and US political systems. He claims to have been a Greens voter, but changed his mind after the US Presidential election in 2000. Simon, anyone commenting on politics really needs to understand that the US electoral system does not allow for the allocation of preferences, whereas the Australian system does.

This makes an event in Australia with Green primary votes leading to a Liberal/National win in any given electorate unlikely — a vote for the Greens will, if the Greens candidate does not get elected, transfer as the voter sees fit. The other piece of political illiteracy is to make the rather odd assumption that the Greens are a global monolith; that, somehow the Australian Greens in 2009 are accountable for what Ralph Nader did in the US in 2000.This makes as much sense as blaming Kevin Rudd for Tony Blair’s support of the invasion of Iraq.

I can handle criticism of the party I’m a member of without any problems at all, but it’s always preferable if it’s done with at least the starting point of understanding the basics.

Daniel Patman writes: You don’t need to be a monk in a forest to understand why Christine Milne and the Greens could not support the Government’s ETS. The reason, Mr Mansfield, is that Rudd’s scheme will see emissions increase for a couple of years before decreasing by only 5% (on 2000 levels) by 2020. As Clive Hamilton said “small actions don’t mean sh*t” and he is spot on here.

The IPCC tells us that we must reduce emissions by 25-40% (on 1990 levels) by 2020 to avoid catastrophe. 5% just won’t cut it. And as the biggest per capita emitter in the world I believe Australia should be at the upper end of that bracket.

Especially if, say, we were about to try to broker a deal with world to save this place.

Marcus Ogden writes: Two points, Simon Mansfield. Firstly, why is it so hard to accept that the reason the Australian Greens oppose the CPRS in its current form is because it’s a completely inadequate, and in many ways counterproductive, response to the risk of climate change?

The Greens are the only party in the Federal Parliament pushing for amendments to the CPRS to bring it into line with what the science is telling us is actually required to solve the problem. What would you have them do?

Secondly, the reason Ralph Nader’s 2000 presidential campaign hurt the Democrats was that the US doesn’t have preferential voting. A complete red herring when it comes to Australian politics.

John Poppins writes: I had a good chuckle over the contribution by Viv Forbes, chairman of the “Carbon Sense Coalition” (Friday, comments). It is a perfect example of a particular approach to debate. Well worthy of inclusion into a text book on clear thinking, for analysis by secondary students.

It represents the classic “Attack the persons. Ignore (totally) all the peer reviewed science and the increasing daily experiences of the population — which is overwhelmingly contrary to the view of the protagonist.”

Sadly some of those in our parliaments seem to be from the same school as Viv.

The Courier-Mail:

David Fagan, Editor, The Courier-Mail, writes: Re. “Fagan’s Courier Mail perfects the art of rumour-based reporting” (Friday, item 18). Your anonymous correspondent Terry Towelling asserts that I told the Brisbane Development Association that The Courier-Mail is the real opposition in Queensland. I didn’t say it and I don’t think it (in fact I think quite the opposite) however the person who introduced me made that claim. There’s quite a difference. More broadly Mr/Ms Towelling complains that The Courier-Mail sometimes uses anonymous sources. It strikes me this is a bit rich from someone who writes under a pseudonym.

The Perkin Australian Journalist of the Year Award:

Minter Ellison Partner Peter Bartlett writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (Friday, item 7). An anonymous contributor claimed in Crikey on Friday that The Age was seeking to downgrade the Graham Perkin Award for Australian Journalist of the Year as a cost saving measure. The only accurate fact in the article was the recognition that the Perkin is Australia’s ultimate prize in journalism.

As Vice President of the Melbourne Press Club and The Age‘s senior Media lawyer, I have led discussions with The Age over the future of the Perkin Award. I favour moving organisational control from The Age to an independent body, the Press Club. During the 33 years of its existence, the Perkin award has been won by many of Australia’s finest journalists from a wide range of newspapers. But amongst some people, there is a perception that The Age and Fairfax were too close to the administration of the award.

The aim of the present discussions is to further enhance the independence, strength and prestige of the Award. Discussions are continuing. In all discussions it has been clear that The Age (through Don Churchill, the MD and Paul Ramadge, the Editor in Chief) is fully committed to the Perkin. They see that the future of the Award could be strengthened by moving control to the Press Club with a long term financial commitment from The Age.They do not favour the prize money being reduced.

I would hope that The Age and the Press Club could be in a position to make an announcement in a few weeks. It is disappointing to see the reputation of the Perkin Award, The Age and its executives, damaged by such unfoundered and inaccurate rumours.

Housing affordability:

Sean Reynolds, Housing Affordability blogger, writes: Re. “Public sector keeps wages growing faster than they should be” (18 November, item 21). Just how fast should wages be growing in today’s economy? Apparently it’s perfectly OK for house prices to double over five years due to banks liberalising credit, thus creating huge interest bills for households to repay, and it’s OK for “rents to go through the roof” once in a while based on dummied up cases by the REIs, but it’s not OK when workers agitate for wage rises to try to compensate for the skew caused by a housing bubble.

We took Ross Gittins to task over this some time ago on the GHPC forum, who argued in a recent article that employers had of late completely broken the unions and you would not see wage inflation in the 00s the way it occurred in the 70s – he was forgetting the public sector unions, which are still pretty strong, and can roll fairly pliable public sector management bosses still by collective action, regardless of hiring freezes and possible job losses due to departmental budget cuts.

But it amazes me that all sectors of the community seem to welcome booming house prices with their associated pathologies as a sign of a healthy thriving economy, but then expect that a massive general inflationary spiral won’t then commence in compensation, and that there won’t be increased wage demands and wage inflation – apparently you can just inflate housing in isolation — which is actually a huge (and fairly unproductive) percentage of the total economy — and somehow people will still have the wherewithal to pay on their old salaries.

The actual response in the economy can be two things: a house price crash (triggered by the GFC, which in turn was caused by the housing boom), or else wage inflation. As you might expect, you will probably see a bit of both in varying amounts as people try to compensate one way or the other for the irrational exuberance of the last few years.

However, never forget that ultimately the banks directly caused this whole problem by themselves –  they are almost solely to blame for the rollercoaster ride of capitalism with booms and busts over the past two centuries by profligate lending leading to collapse.

Stolen vs. Forgotten generations:

Julian Robinson writes: Re. Friday’s editorial. Your editorial makes a mountain out of nothing at all. “…why was there no protest over the Apology to the Forgotten Generation, as there was over last year’s Apology to the Stolen Generation?” No politics involved, no skulduggery and no racial overtones — it’s simply the fact that most of us realise that the “stolen generation” was at the time a well-intentioned thing and not deliberate abuse at all.

The sin there was supposed to be the “stealing”. On the other hand the Forgotten Generations were clearly subject to intentional abuse and intentionally appalling situations. The sin here was the actual conditions and treatment these children got. Chalk and cheese. That’s why.

It p-sses me off to see worthy editorials trying to stir up trouble where there is none.

Asylum seekers:

John Shailer writes: Re. “Datapig: the facts on boat people, graphed for your pleasure” (19 November, item 12). Kevin Rudd’s spin machine maintains that the deal with the 78 Tamil boatpeople is a “non-extraordinary” deal — they are all guaranteed a fast-track to resettlement within 90 days, and inevitably most them will end up in Australia.

The rest to their compatriots have already been waiting up to five years before they are assessed, but according to Kevin it is definitely not a “preferential” deal! Another socialist leader, Bill Clinton, “didn’t have s-xual relations with that woman!”

Come on Kev! Your nose is growing longer!


Keith Perkins writes: How deliciously ironic! After a decade, or so, of reducing the quality content of major newspapers around the world, in pursuit of a political motivated dumbing-down process, the media, and in particular the newspapers, have succeeded to such a degree that many intelligent people have given up reading them altogether

Having almost completely succeeded in their endeavours to intellectually castrate the human race, the media moguls are now worriedly attempting to work out just why they are irreversibly accelerating toward insolvency.

Their readers have either been dumbed-down so successfully that they have lost all interest in serious news items or, like me, they refuse to accept the trash that is now offered as serious news, retained some semblance of sanity, and cancelled all their subscriptions to major newspapers

Scientology, Religions, Taxation and a secular society:

Gil Elliot writes: Excellent! So presumably Mark Edmonds (19 November, comments) and Shirley Colless (Friday, comments) would be happy to join in campaigning for the tax-free status of religious activities (i.e., the marketing rather than the charitable) to be removed. If their groups pay all taxes anyway, it would make no financial difference to them, and would remove the stigma of being subsidised by unwilling taxpayers whose beliefs may be very different – justice would be seen to be done.

I suggest that an issue for Mark and Shirley is that no matter how ethical and altruistic they and their particular groups may be, in this world you are often judged by the company you keep. So they are in the company of other “religions” such as the Episcopalians, Scientologists, Hillsong, Seventh Day Adventists, Southern Baptists, Exclusive Brethren, Roman Catholics etc, which range from slightly dotty but relatively harmless via blatantly commercial to utterly cold, calculating and ruthless in pursuit of their own power and wealth.

To me, anger against religions arises partly from the exemption from taxation, but overwhelmingly from the manipulation of the governments of supposedly “secular” societies by religious institutions to impose their rules on everybody using the criminal law of the societies.These things are not about faith, belief or “saving souls”, but about money and power.

Gay marriage:

Chris Hunter writes: Re. “Rudd’s divorced from reality when it comes to gay marriage” (Friday, item 16). The question is whether or not marriage is all about sex. With dodgy humanity, a better option might be to marry your garden, or even your car. Kevin needs to lighten up, the God approach is all very well, but some of us live in a broader, funnier, universe.

National Archives:

Justin Pettizini writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (Friday, item 7). Your so called tipster said Ross Gibbs, the Director-General of the National Archives of Australia (NAA) is “a career public servant who, before assuming control of the entire collection of Australia’s largest archival collection, had never so much as shelved books in a local library”.

The brief bio for Gibbs on the NAA website shows that he worked in the Australian Manuscripts Collection of the La Trobe Library in the State Library of Victoria in the early 1970’s, that from 1991 until early 2003 he was Keeper of Public Records and Director of the Public Record Office Victoria and that he has been a member of the Australian Society of Archivists since 1991. He has been President of the Australian Council of Archives and Convenor of the Australian Society of Archivists in Victoria.

Your tipster presumably thinks that by belittling Gibbs’s knowledge of Archives people will be more likely to oppose the closure of Archives offices. I take the opposite position. If you need to tell lies to get support you can’t have much of a case on which to seek support in the first place.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey