Liberals in turmoil:

Les Heimann writes: Re. “Rundle: the Liberal party is trapped in a death spiral” (yesterday). Guy Rundle expresses it well — but only part of it. Not only the “blues” are fading — so also the “reds”.  Labor is really a soft ephemeral pink and the Liberals a diaphanous azure and both parties are quickly drifting, almost out of sight.

Both parties have succumbed to simple — and quite naked — seeking of power because it’s there. The evidence pointing to renewal or emerging  genuine political groups is there — there are none! Both “parties” ( and that’s a complementary term they don’t any longer deserve) know not what to do as they are not driven to do any particular thing.

The outcome is poll driven nonsense under the guise of “policy”.  We haven’t even got the guts to vote on being a republic. So now we see our workforce plundered with the country rapidly approaching 40% under employment. Manufacturing and industry generally atrophying, imploding, dying the death of a thousand cuts or just … gone. Even our sporting results are suffering — god forbid.

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Ultimately something or somebody fills the vacuum — and that’s got to be a real concern because, as history has demonstrated, a vacuum created by the lack of vision is filled by an extremist response.

David Adler writes: Re. “The Libs are far from finished with Turnbull” (yesterday). In his piece Bernard Keane effectively argues that Turnbull having earned the demonstrated no confidence of 35 of his colleagues, won’t be with us much longer.

I disagree. Turnbull will be with us until after he leads his Party to a massive defeat in the next Federal election. So much damage and division has been inflicted on the Liberal Party under his leadership that any serious candidate as an alternate Prime Minister would recognise that unless Rudd shoots himself Labor will be comfortably returned with an increased majority. Why set yourself up to do a Beazley?

Much better to let Turnbull complete his self destruction and the inevitable damage to the Party, and challenge after the election when there would be sufficient political space and time to have half a chance to rebuild a credible team.

Megan Stoyles writes: If  Kevin Rudd can recognise, and reward the talents of Peter Costello by appointing him to  a key government position, why doesn’t he recognise and reward the equal if not superior  talents ,and policy positions  of Malcolm Turnbull ( in areas as disparate as  republicanism and the ETS), by offering him a Ministerial position in his government?

It could benefit both the government and opposition.

Social media:

Stephen Browning, Director of Corporate Affairs, News Digital Media, writes: Re. “Is social media killing the web as we know it?” (yesterday). Stilgherrian should have followed his first, sceptical, instincts. The graphs showing supposed Australian news website traffic couldn’t be more wrong.

Here are the correct numbers (and growth rates) from Nielsen Market Intelligence for the period covered by Crikey’s graphs for News Digital Media’s sites:


Crikey obviously didn’t check its own data either. According to the graph it had around 6k daily UBs in Oct 09, but the correct, Nielsen, figure is almost twice that – 11.5k.

Maybe Stilgherrian and Crikey should think twice in the future about the reliability of information sourced from an intern in London.

Stilgherrian writes: Google Trends data seems out of line with everyone else’s — to say the least! — even though I typed in the queries myself. We won’t get Google’s response until after the Thanksgiving weekend. The project’s forums include complaints of reports showing far less traffic than Google’s own Analytics product, but question have gone unanswered for months. My guess is that Trends, as Google Labs product, has been abandoned, and all we’re seeing here its slow degradation due to lack of care and attention.

And if you want a chart of typical Nielsen NetRatings daily unique browser figures to go with that, here it is, courtesy of Andrew Hunter, Head of News, Sport and Finance at NineMSN.


Lift your game:

Ben Harris-Roxas writes: On Tuesday afternoon Jenny Macklin briefed a small number of journalists about her plans to massively overhaul welfare in Australia by extending the Northern Territory Intervention’s income management regime.  This is the biggest change to welfare in a generation and represents one of the Rudd government’s most dramatic changes to social policy.

Some of the journalists tweeted about the proposed changes on Tuesday evening.  I expected coverage in Wednesday’s Crikey email to be limited due to the Liberal Party’s sideshow.  There was none.  I reassured myself that you would cover it in detail today.

Imagine my surprise today to find nothing on the extension of the income management regime.  Not a single word.  The only mention? On Croakey, the health blog (for which Crikey recently withdrew direct financial support).

I know that your resources are limited and I value your team’s contributions.  We are, however, approaching a point where you will have to decide if you are a credible media outlet or Friday Funnies for media luvvies.

Slow news day?:

Marnie Clarke writes: Re. “Media briefs: Robbie Williams hunts houses, UFOs … iTunes for magazines … blogging vs. microblogging” (yesterday). Regarding your media brief concerning Triple J’s farewell present to Channel Seven‘s Ian Ross. How is cutting out Ian Ross’s eyes even remotely humiliating? It was obviously a joke. Slow news day or what?

Talkin’ turkey:

Niall Clugston writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. Crikey‘s editorial stated the Presidential turkey pardon is an “excruciating American tradition”. I think it goes beyond this.  The USA is the one of the few developed countries with the death penalty.  And it treats it as a joke.

Melbourne Uni:

Christina Buckridge, Corporate Affairs Manager, University of Melbourne writes:  Re. “VCA accidentally leaks its own website attacking critics” (yesterday). Crikey readers may be re-assured that the  extensive consultative process on the key challenges and opportunities facing the Faculty of the VCA and Music and the University in higher arts education is not in “chaos”.

On the contrary, it’s just getting underway with the release of a discussion paper — Defining the Future for the Faculty of the VCA and Music at the University of Melbourne — two weeks ago. This  week the independent chair of the Review Committee, Dr Ziggy Switkowski, was announced. The Hon Mary Delahunty has agreed to join the Committee as the community representative.  Other members of the committee will be announced shortly.

The discussion paper canvasses input on a range of options for the Faculty of the VCA and Music, around the three critical areas of structure, curriculum and finance.

Questions posed throughout the discussion paper encourage engagement in the consultation process. The consultation is not limited to these questions but invites new questions as well as ideas, comments and proposals from staff, students, alumni, employers, the arts community and the wider community.

The consultative process provides a critical opportunity to contribute to the future direction of this Faculty and I would urge various interested parties to make submissions to [email protected] by 12 February 2010.

Climate change:

Tamas Calderwood writes: Steve O’Connor (yesterday, comments) recommends I read the latest IPCC scare-report to check out where this global warming has snuck off to.  Good idea.  Let’s look at their weasel words that spin the lack of warming in their summary report:

“Over the past 25 years temperatures have increased at a rate of 0.19C per decade, in every good agreement with predictions based on greenhouse gas increases. Even over the past ten years, despite a decrease in solar forcing, the trend continues to be one of warming. Natural, short- term fluctuations are occurring as usual but there have been no significant changes in the underlying warming trend.”

That 10 year trend is 0.06C according to the UAH data.  But go back to 1998 and the trend is minus 0.05C!  Either way it is utterly inconsistent with their claimed 0.19C of warming per decade.

But hey, don’t take my word for it.  Here’s another leaked email from Kevin Trenberth, a key IPCC author from the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, just last month: “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.”

Settled science?  Warming trend?

Viv Forbes, Chairman of the Carbon Sense Coalition, writes: The Wong Ration-N-Tax Scheme will sell carbon ration cards to increase the cost of carbon fuels, thus forcing consumers to survive on less energy. But it also creates a loophole by allowing industry to buy dodgy foreign ration permits, and allows profiteers to create and trade in these worthless bits of paper.

It will have a trivial effect on global emissions, and no beneficial effects on climate or pollution. But it will destroy real jobs, increase the cost of living, and create a carbon trading bubble economy.

But instead of totally rejecting this silly scheme, the true believers appointed Malcolm Rudd and Penny Macfarlane to fix the unfixable.

The new scheme they concocted will compensate some consumers, at the expense of others, for the increased costs of energy. It also gives free permits to the biggest producers of carbon dioxide. It has even less chance of reducing the use of carbon energy, and can have no beneficial effect on climate or pollution.

Why bother with Wong Lite? The subsidies we get from Canberra are the taxes we sent to Canberra, less freight charges both ways.

Let’s give real industry some real certainty and scrap the whole stupid idea, right now.

As a Crikey subscriber and someone who began working as a journalist in 1957, I am passionate about the importance of independent media like Crikey. I met a lot of Australians from many walks of life during my career and did my best to share their stories honestly and fairly with their fellow citizens.

And I never forgot how important it is to hold politicians to account. Crikey does that – something that is more important now than ever before in Australia.

North Stradbroke Island, QLD

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