David Lodge writes: Bob Cole (Friday, comments) wrote in reference to Abbott and the Liberals “whether Rudd works or fails will be immaterial…”. Err excuse me? Are you serious Bob?

Can Crikey please do one full article with the words “Rudd wins 2007 election” so that readers such as Bob know who won government and therefore who needs to be held accountable for their actions? Say what you will about Abbott or his “new” old team, but funnily enough they are not in government so constant conjecture around their policies or platforms doesn’t count for much seeing as they don’t run the country.

Here’s a suggestion for Crikey and its readers — closely watch Abbott and the Liberals at your peril. If, as you say, they have buckley’s chance at winning the next election there’s really not much point in salivating over their every move, is there? I could only imagine Howard getting this much political lee-way during Beazley, Crean’s or Latham’s reign.

David Lenihan writes: Once again John Shailer (Friday, comments) bursts into print, waving the ole blue lib flag , all guns  blazing and as usual firing blanks. He copies the Liberal line to the letter, except for the gay abandon bit: “71% of February’s job’s (slush) fund of $132m has been allocated with gay abandon to mostly marginal Labor electorates, and only 17% to Coalition seats…” — within an hour of that utterly false outburst by the Opposition, Minister Albanese provided the real story.

Put simply, so as Mr Shailer finds it simple to understand, the Departments decide who gets what from the allocation. The Minister has nothing to do with who the recipients are. Does anyone really believe a Minister has the time to sit down and divvy up every project that will receive money? Thousands of them. While it is very easy to pluck one month from 12, as the Opposition has done, overall in fact it is Liberal seats who have received 40% of the Shailer so called “slush” fund.

Not bad given the makeup of seats in the Parliament. Compare that with the billions that were handed out in the months preceding the 2007 general election by the Howard Govt to coalition electorates.

That is real pork barrelling.


Margaret Miller writes: Re. “Crikey clarifier: the difference between home loans and banana smoothies” (9 December, item 4). Westpac doesn’t seem to have the monopoly on humour lately. My bank sent me a message that says: “Great news! Your NetBank Saver standard variable interest rate will increase by 0.50%p.a. on Wednesday 9 December 2009. On Tuesday 1 December 2009, the Reserve Bank of Australia raised the official cash rate by 0.25% p.a. to 3.75% p.a. On top of this increase, we’re giving your savings an extra 0.25%p.a., which is a total increase of 0.50%p.a., so you can now watch your savings grow faster.”

Great news for whom? The new superduper savings rate is 3.75%.  My mortgage rate has increased by .62% in the last two months.  Once they have gouged us for the mortgage increase and with their almost 20% credit card rate, most of us won’t have a brass razoo to save. Do they really think we are complete idiots?

Perhaps the Feds should legislate to allow people to change lenders without any penalties and fees if the banks vary the agreement by increasing their charges …  is that too much to expect when faced with such unbridled greed?

City of Sydney:

Irene Doutney, Councillor, City of Sydney, writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (10 December, item 7). Crikey published; “Why is it that City of Sydney councillors Irene Doutney and Shayne Mallard attended the 2009 Christmas party of United Resource Management (URM) while the company was in the middle of a contract competition with SMS Municipal Services and Veolia Environmental Services for the City of Sydney residential garbage and recycling collection services?”

Regarding the implication of impropriety in relation to my attendance at a URM Christmas party, I wish to make it clear that I did not have a clue URM were tendering for a contract. Councillors do not know this until confidential papers come to the Council meeting. This was one of a large number of invitations that come across my desk.

When I saw the Council papers and realised URM was a tenderer for an item of business I declared a non pecuniary interest before it came to both Committee and Council. If I had known the company was a tenderer I would not have attended. I know no one from that company and have never had conversations with anyone about anything to do with their business.

I hope you will print this letter as Crikey’s comments have implied improper behaviour and a friendship which is absolutely non existent.

Fire safety:

Garry Muratore writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (Friday, item 6). In Friday’s “Tips and rumours” the article on “Victorian government has mailed out its Fire Ready Kit” may be more about being serious about fire safety rather than government waste (as your tipster alludes to).

My wife and I live in a designated bushfire region and recently attended one of the many “Bushfire Awareness Presentations” run by the CFA at a local school. One of the questions that came up was why did the government send multiple fire ready kits to single households? The CFA representative responded that they (CFA I presume) had asked the government to send the kits in such a manner which were addressed based on electoral role information. The reason being that it was felt that unaddressed mail such as “To the householder” is less likely to be read than a personalised addressed piece.

He then went on to say that the research the CFA undertook that in many households the adults live virtual independent lives so a single publication had no guarantee of being passed along or even discussed ala “Family Meeting”. The CFA representative also made that point that each adult in a household needs to consider their own fire plan in case they find themselves isolated from others.

Made perfect sense to me, we have a university aged daughter still living at home who works a variety of part time jobs and may (or may not) be in the area at the same time as us during a fire emergency, I feel a little more comfortable that she had her own fire ready kit so as she can make informed decisions for herself.

Fire safety is a serious matter, and this is a case where government excess is not an issue.

Department of Immigration and Citizenship:

Sandi Logan, Department of Immigration and Citizenship spokesman, writes: Re. “Australia has form on deporting the sick and mentally ill” (Friday, item 11). Contrary to the assertions in Crikey (Australia has form on deporting the sick and mentally ill by Greg Barns, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) takes every possible care when exercising its duty towards people with no lawful right to remain in Australia, and in its obligation to remove people who are legally unable to remain.

It is important to remember that the department only removes people who have no lawful right to remain in Australia — that is, people who have exhausted all claims to remain in Australia, through visa applications, the court system, appeals tribunals and ministerial intervention processes.

Many people receive a series of warnings about their criminal behaviour before their visa is cancelled.

A decision to permanently exclude someone from Australia is not taken lightly.  All relevant information, such as ties to Australia, Australian resident children, and rehabilitation are taken into account.  These are weighed against past criminal conduct and ongoing risks the person poses to the Australian community.

People who are scheduled to leave Australia receive a medical check-up to assess their fitness to travel and to identify ongoing health and welfare needs.  DIAC receives expert advice from doctors when planning the removal of people who it has been determined should be removed from Australia.

We make arrangements on an individual basis to provide for the immediate needs of people when they leave Australia.  For example, the department ensures continuity of health care and assists with initial accommodation, if required.  The department also makes sure people have enough money to meet initial living costs ahead of them making their own welfare arrangements.

When people are being removed for character reasons, the department lets families overseas and foreign agencies involved in prisoner support know of their imminent return. Contact is made with health and welfare professionals when there are special considerations and ongoing health issues.  When people arrive in their home country, they are always put in touch with relevant agencies to meet their individual needs. These include health providers, counsellors and employment and accommodation services.


Ava Hubble writes: I went to the Sydney GPO late last week to buy stamps for the last of my Christmas cards.  I asked for the 50c special Christmas rate stamps. After glancing at my cards, the young lady behind the counter pronounced them too big for the special rate.  Yet my cards seemed to me to be very modestly sized.  Even so, it turned out that they measured 140mm x 140mm.  So she was right. They were fractionally too deep to be eligible for the special 50c rate.

I discovered it applies only to cards which are no bigger than 130mm x 240mm. Okay.  So I asked if I could send my cards at the small letter rate of 55 cents.  No.  I was informed my cards were also too big for the cheapest letter rate.  The sales assistant insisted my cards would have to carry a $1 stamp.  She warned that otherwise the recipients would have to pay the excess postage or, if my cards carried my sender’s name and address, I would be hearing from Australia Post and billed for the excess postage. I wished the young lady a Happy Christmas.  She did not like my tone.  “Don’t blame the messenger,” she snapped.

This seasonal tale may be too late to be of any value this year, but it’s worth bearing in mind for next year, especially if you have a large circle of friends and associates.   In the meantime, it may be worth your while to check out all of Australia Post’s regulations and charges, including the letter rates.

Perhaps, too, retailers and charitable organisations which sell greeting cards may consider Australia Post’s regulations and charges when ordering new greetings cards.

Climate change:

Tamas Calderwood writes: Matt Andrews (Friday, comments) can choose any date he wants and I will be happy to show that the numbers do not show dangerous global warming.  For example, I have done a linear regression on the UAH satellite temperature data from November 2009 back to November of the following years.  Have a look at the temperature trend:

2006 -0.05C
2005 -0.10C
2004 -0.17C
2003 -0.11C
2002 -0.10C
2001 -0.13C
2000 -0.06C
1999 +0.06C
1998 +0.12C
1997 -0.03C
1996 +0.05C
1995 +0.13C
1979 +0.39C

See the NEGATIVE sign in front of those recent years?  Notice that there basically hasn’t been any real warming since the mid 1990’s despite record human CO2 production?  Note the trend back to 1979 is just 0.39C?  All up we’ve had just 0.7C of warming in the past 140 years and that’s according to the “hide the decline” CRU data!

Geoff Russell (Friday, comments) insists that despite this trend the 2000’s have been warmer than the 1990’s and 1980’s.  Geoff is correct.  The past decade was — wait for it — +0.16C warmer than the 1990’s and a MASSIVE +0.26C warmer than the 1980’s! Think that might just be natural variability?

Steve O’Connor (Friday, comments) is passionate about free speech and all that, just not on this subject.  Thus, more than 11 million Australians, 30 million Brits and 160 million Americans that do not believe in man-made global warming must shut up because Steve thinks the topic is too important to be debated.

Finally, Jim Ivins (Friday, comments) went up against the first law of thermodynamics… and lost.  The fact that Earth is cooling means it is losing more energy than it’s receiving despite that 0.00038 concentration of energy-trapping atmospheric CO2.  So the first law survives and Kevin Trenberth’s leaked email remains unanswered:  “where did the heat go”?

Viv Forbes, Chairman of the Carbon Sense Coalition, writes: Re. “Consensus melts away at Hopelesshagen” (Friday, item 8). Right now, over 15,000 green hypocrites, mostly funded by the world’s suffering tax payers, have winged their way in comfortable carbon-fuelled air travel to Copenhagen’s best VIP accommodation. There they will be seeking ways to forcibly reduce our carbon footprint while inflating theirs.

Top rated airlines are booming as prominent people top up their frequent flyer carbon credits. Concierges are smiling as limousines glide in, full of exalted envoys with their entourage of minders and courtiers. Lights are blazing, air conditioners humming, kitchens cooking, champagne bubbling and caviar disappearing.

The Global Warming Industry will also be there, creating scares, drowning polar bears, melting ice, generating publicity, demanding handouts, seeking exemptions, defending paper credits, and pushing for subsidies and special deals.

And of course we will have battalions of largely gullible and fawning media, many also from government media monoliths touring on the tab of the tax payers.

We are told that Australian tax payers have sent 114 official delegates there, all concerned to reduce our consumption of carbon fuels.

If they are fair dinkum, they should all lead by example, use Green Energy, and walk home.

Omar Khayyam writes: I’ve been reading this debate for some time now and notice many people call for Tamas and Co to be left out of the argument. I ask that this not happen as nowhere have I read such clear and pithy explanations of the science than in the (albeit somewhat testy) answers to his claims. My education has been furthered due to his persistence. Thanks to all concerned.